Let’s get something straightened out here quick: Romantic orientation is not the same as sexual orientation, some people choose not to identify with a romantic orientation and other times, some folks’ romantic and sexual orientations align.
According to our beloved Wikipedia (among other sources: here and here), romantic orientation is characterized as an attraction to somebody based on romantic attributes rather than a physical, sexual attraction to someone (or several someones).
It “indicates the sex or gender with which a person is most likely to have a romantic relationship or fall in love,” and is “based on the perception that sexual attraction is a single component of a larger dynamic,” Wikipedia stated.
The history of romantic attraction dates back to the 1800s, as noted by the LGBTA Wiki. In 1879, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs — German lawyer, journalist and writer, regarded today as a pioneer of sexology and the modern gay rights movement — classified bisexuality into two types: conjunctive and disjunctive bisexuality.
Ulrichs described conjunctive bisexuality as having both tender and passionate feelings for both men and women, while disjunctive bisexuality was described as having tender feelings for the same gender but passionate feelings for the opposite.
Furthermore, psychologist Dorothy Tennov published Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, which described “limerence” (or being “in love”) as something distinct from sexuality.
The identification (though perhaps not used in its specific terms wider-known today), has been used rather regularly since the 1980s.
However, according to the LGBTA Wiki, “its contemporary form, the concept of romantic orientation, was popularized by the online asexual community in the early 2000s. For example, it became common for asexuals to identify as gay, bi, or straight to express a partnership preference, and the term “aromantic” entered circulation in asexual spaces around the year 2005.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an extensive (though not complete) list of some types of romantic orientations, such as:
- Aromantic: individuals who do not experience romantic attraction toward individuals of any gender(s)
- Biromantic: romantic attraction toward males and females
- Heteroromantic: romantic attraction toward person(s) of a different gender
- Homoromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender
- Panromantic: romantic attraction towards persons of every gender(s)
- Polyromantic: romantic attraction toward multiple, but not all genders
- Gray-romantic: individuals who do not often experience romantic attraction
- Demiromantic: an individual who does not experience romantic attraction until after a close emotional bond has been formed. People who refer to themselves as demiromantic may choose to further specify the gender(s) of those they are attracted to (e.g. demi-homoromantic).
Some of these terms will be addressed in future posts and linked once they are.
And for you parents scouring for more information and how to address things like this (more specifically on the ace/aro spectrum), follow this nifty guide I found.
Happy knowledge hunting.