Split-Attraction Model

This page is an amalgamation of direct quotes from various pro-MOGAI wikis

The split attraction model or SAM is a model of attraction used by many ace-spec and aro-spec people to describe their identity. The SAM states that for some people sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two different things. For explain, an asexual person may feel romantic attraction, and an aromantic person may feel sexual attraction. In those cases the a-spec person may describe their identity using the SAM.

If someone's sexual and romantic orientation are the same they can use one word. For example, one would not have to say 'pansexual and panromantic' they could just say they're pansexual.

There are several ways to express their split attraction. If someone is aromantic but still feels sexual attraction toward people of the same gender they could identify and 'aromantic and homosexual'. They could also identify as 'aromantic and gay/lesbian'. Either way the a-spec person identifies both their romantic and sexual orientation.


The first recorded instance of a model of orientation taking into account split attraction was in 1879, by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German writer, who published 12 books on non-heterosexual attraction. In those books Ulrichs came up with various classifications of orientations which are fairly similar to modern LGB+ identities. Amount his works he described people who are 'konjunktiver and disjunktiver' or 'conjunctive and disjunctive bisexuality'1
The first is described as one who has both 'tender' and 'passionate' feelings for both men and women. The second is one who has 'tender' feelings for men, but 'passionate' feelings for women (if the person was a man- the reverse if they were a woman). However, Ulrichs' model never caught on due to the complexity.

The next instance of separating sexual and romantic attraction was in 1979 by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov. With the publication of her book 'Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love'2. In the book Tennov described 'limerence' a form of attraction which could be described as a crush, or an infatuation with someone. Although Tennov viewed sex as being a part of limerence she acknowledged that it was not the main focus of it.

The first hints of what would become the modern SAM began with 'affectional attraction/orientation' which was coined at some point in the 1980's. It's unclear when the term was first used. Coining for the terms as often attributed to Curt Pavola, a gay rights activist from Washington, and to Lisa Diamond, a psychologist. However, there are instances of the phrase that predate both of these individuals.

Around 2001 there was a push for a way to classify asexuals. One of the earliest instances to still is the ABCD classification system on AVEN[3], which recognizes that some asexuals may feel romantic attraction. Around the same time there was a Yahoo e-mail group known as 'Haven For The Human Amoeba'[4], where in 2001 there was discussions of term 'hetero-asexual'. It wasn't until 2005 that the modern form of the SAM was created on AVEN3. By 2007 the terminology was widely used in asexual circles4.

Types of Attraction Covered by the Split-Attraction Model

Sexual Attraction

This section is a word-for-word rip from the MOGAI wiki.

Not everyone agrees with this definition of sexual attraction

Sexual attraction is an emotional response sexual people feel where they find someone sexually appealing, and often results in a desire for sexual contact with the person. Sexual attraction can be experienced towards any person and any gender, or even any thing/concept. Sexual attraction can be based upon many qualities of a person. Physical qualities can include, but are not limited to; appearance, movement, smell and clothing. The effect to which a person is successful at drawing sexual attraction based upon physical traits is known as sex appeal. Physical qualities that result in a sexual or erotic response affect a person’s Primary sexual attraction. Qualities that are not instantly available such as psychology, individual genetic and cultural influence can also lead to sexual attraction. Secondary sexual attraction is an attraction that develops over time based on the relationship and emotional connection with another person. There is currently no single accepted definition of sexual attraction. A common definition of sexual attraction is that it is defined as a directed libido.

Different combinations of sexual attraction result in different classifications such as heterosexual attraction (sexual attraction to a person of a different gender), homosexual attraction (sexual attraction to a person of the same gender) and bisexual/pansexual attraction (sexual attraction to two or more genders). Those that lack sexual attraction are asexual. Sometimes asexuals will desire sexual contact for other reasons other than attraction. Such reasons include making a sexual partner happy, to satisfy a curiosity, to have a child, or to prove to themselves or others that they are ‘’normal’’. It therefore becomes difficult to define sexual attraction exactly, as it is not considered by many asexuals to be the same as desire. It is commonly held that sexual attraction involves a desire for the sexual act itself, rather than its social consequences. Some models of asexuality make distinctions between different kinds of sexual desire and allow for asexuals to feel some varieties, while some do not.

Sexual attraction is often experienced alongside other forms of attraction—such as romantic, aesthetic, or attraction—or an emotional connection. However, sexual attraction can be independent of other attractions or emotional connections, which results in only desiring sex. There are different models and methods to approaching sexual attraction. It should be noted that sexual attraction is not the same as a sex drive, although in sexuals the two often go together. When asexuals experience a physical desire for sex (a libido), it is not connected to attraction or desire to another person, and thus can be satisfied without a partner. Some asexuals identify with autochorissexuality, which is a disconnection between oneself and the object/ target of one's arousal. Autochorissexuality describes a lack of emotional desire to participate in sexual activities, and is not a sexual identity, but a label/trait.5

Romantic Attraction

This section is a word-for-word rip from the MOGAI wiki.
Romantic attraction is an emotional response that most people often feel that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Many asexual people experience romantic attraction even though they do not feel sexual attraction. Romantic attraction can be experienced towards any person and any gender. This has provided the need for a distinction between sexual orientations and romantic orientations. Usually both orientations are aligned and match, however in the asexual community it is common to find mixed combinations of romantic and sexual orientations. This does not mean that there are not sexual people whose romantic orientation doesn't line up with their sexual orientation. For example there can be an aromantic heterosexual with no romantic attraction but sexually attracted to the opposite gender. Romantic attraction can be based upon many qualities of a person. Physical qualities, while more commonly associated with Primary sexual attraction, are the most immediate traits that can result in a romantic desire. Aesthetic attraction very often associated with this kind of romantic attraction. Qualities that are not instantly available such as psychology, individual genetic and cultural influence more often lead to a romantic interest as opposed to sexual. This form of interest is an attraction that develops over time based on the relationship and emotional connection with another person.

Different combinations of romantic orientations exist as counterparts to sexual orientations. These also result in different classifications such as heteroromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to a person of a different gender, homoromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to a person of the same gender and biromantic/panromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to two or more genders. Those that lack romantic attraction are known as aromantic who frequently identify in addition to asexual.

As mentioned in the Aromantic FAQ, not all aromantic people are asexual; there is as much variance in their sexual orientations as there is among people who experience romantic attraction. Sometimes aromantics will desire relationships for other reasons other than attraction. Such reasons include companionship and a desire for a deeper relationship with a person.

What exactly constitutes a romantic relationship or romantic attraction is difficult to define, as some asexuals reject the romantic/aromantic dichotomy altogether. A romantic relationship is often considered activities that hold little to no sexual aspect. Romantic actions can range from dinners, movies, long walks on the beach, sharing hobbies and can include kissing and cuddling. There is no clear-cut location where a romantic action ends and a sexual action begins. Some define a person's approach to relationships as partner or community-based. Partner-based intimacy takes place between an exclusive pair of people, whether or not this pair of people are sexual or traditionally “romantic”. Community-based intimacy takes place between a group of more than two people. People who depend on community-based intimacy do not see a need to pair off into couples, but this does not necessarily mean that they are less capable of forming strong emotional connections with others.

Crushes and Squishes

A crush, also known as limerence and infatuated love, is an emotional desire for a romantic relationship caused by being romantically attracted to someone (see above). It is a desire that is possibly temporary in nature and possibly never acted upon. With a crush there is often an overwhelming desire to have the feelings reciprocated. There are many components to crushes that make them difficult to act upon. The fear of rejection is the largest component that often prevent people with crushes from acting upon them. As the emotions and desires felt when a person has a crush are so powerful, there is a large, and arguably rational, fear that whatever relationship currently exists may be damaged. Therefore this fear often prevents the person from acting. On the other hand, there is also the potential for hope. The secret desire that no action would be required and the "crush" would make the 'first move'. The smallest of gestures can result in massive fantasies and hope. Gestures such as "They held the door open for me" or "They send me a text message!" are often taken as overreactions, amplified by the extreme emotions, that do not fit the situation.


A squish is the aromantic counterpart for a crush. A squish is a strong desire for some kind of platonic (nonsexual, nonromantic) connection to another person. The concept of a squish is similar in nature to the idea of a "friend crush". A squish can be towards anyone of any gender and a person may also have many squishes, all of which may be active.

There can be a fine line between a crush and a squish. Both crushes and squishes could involve persistent thoughts about the person of interest, self-consciousness around that person, desires to be with them, fantasies about physical (not necessarily sexual) contact with them, or any combination of these. However crushes sometimes entail jealousy of partners of the person of interest, and a desire for romantic contact (such as kissing), a dating relationship, or marriage, while squishes may not. In both cases emotional attachment can be formed toward the target of the crush/squish, regardless if it is reciprocated. The type of the relationship is defined upon the desired actions and the actions shared between the pairing. Romantic relationships, or desired romantic relationships, frequently hold more romantic or 'loving' behaviors versus a platonic relationship, or desired platonic relationship, where the purpose is to know them well and be close. The lines between the two frequently become blurred with one transforming into another.6

Romantic orientation

Romantic orientation refers to an individual's pattern of romantic attraction based on a person's gender. This is considered distinct from sexual orientation, which refers specifically to a person patterns of sexual attraction, which is distinct from romantic attraction. There are many romantic identities just like sexual orientations.

Romantic orientation terminology follows that of sexual orientation terminology for example:

  • A heteroromantic person is someone romantically attracted to a different sex or gender.
  • A homoromantic person is someone romantically attracted to the same sex or gender.
  • A biromantic or panromantic person is romantically attracted to multiple sexes or genders
  • An aromantic person is someone who is not romantically attracted to any sex or gender.

There are also some people who do not find the concept of romantic attraction useful, who may use terms such as "WTFSexual".

Like sexual orientation, there is a gray area between aromantic and romantic, which is called grayromantic. They may feel romantic attraction, but very rarely, , or very weak.

For many people, their romantic orientation and their sexual orientation may be in alignment, so the gender(s) of the people they fall in love with are also the gender(s) they are sexually attracted to. For others, however, their romantic and sexual orientations may not match. This is true not only for asexuals but for people of all sexual orientations. Although -romantic terminology is mostly used by individuals in the asexual community, the concept is considered applicable to people of all sexualities.

For asexuals, who do not experience sexual attraction, it is often their romantic orientation that determines which gender(s), if any, they are inclined to form romantic relationships with.

Outside of asexual discourse, where the concept of romantic orientation is often not used, the term "Sexual Orientation" is often used to refer to a persons overall combination of both romantic and sexual attractions, rather than differentiating between the two.7

See Also

Tertiary Attraction

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