PRIDE SUNDAY: A non-expert’s guide to romantic orientation

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the final blog post in a series of five blog posts celebrating Pride Month in 2019. The Pride Sunday series will return in June 2020!


I am not an expert of any kind when it comes to relationships. However, as part of my coming out story that I published earlier this month, I wrote about how I came to view sexual orientation, gender identity, and romantic orientation as part of a three-dimensional spectrum.

Most, if not all, people reading this blog are probably familiar with the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, there may be some people who are reading this blog who are not familiar with the concept of romantic orientation, so this blog post will consist of my attempt to explain the concept of romantic orientation.

Romantic orientation, in short, indicates the sex(es), gender(s), and/or gender identit(y/ies) of people that a person is capable of being romantically attracted to. Romantic orientation is not the same exact concept as sexual orientation, because romantic attraction is not the same exact concept as sexual attraction. Romantic attraction is the state of being attracted to someone in a manner consistent with a loving relationship between significant others, whereas sexual attraction is the state of being sexually attracted to someone. It is possible for one to have a romantic orientation that is not consistent with their sexual orientation, and that’s okay.

Here are some common labels, as well as their definitions, for various romantic orientations:

  • Heteroromantic – This means that a person is romantically oriented towards people of the opposite biological sex (i.e., a man being romantically oriented towards women or a woman being romantically oriented towards men).
  • Homoromantic – This means that a person is romantically oriented towards people of the same biological sex (i.e., a man being romantically oriented towards other men, or a woman being romantically oriented towards other women).
  • Biromantic – This means that a person is romantically oriented towards people of two different biological sexes.
  • Polyromantic – This means that a person is romantically oriented towards people of multiple, but not all, biological sexes, genders, and/or gender identities (An example is someone romantically oriented towards cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, and people of a non-binary gender, but not cisgender men, although this is not the only possible form of a polyromantic orientation.). The term polyromantic can be thought of as an intermediate term between biromantic and panromantic.
  • Panromantic – This means that a person is either romantically oriented towards people of all biological sexes, genders, and gender identities or is romantically oriented towards people without regard to the other person’s biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
  • Aromantic – This means that a person is not romantically oriented towards anyone of any biological sex, gender, or gender identity, in other words, not capable of being romantically attracted to anyone. Remember that aromantic does not equal asocial; it is possible for an aromantic person to have normal social relationships with family members and friends.
  • Demiromantic – This means that a person is only capable of being romantically attracted to another person after forming a deep personal bond with the other person.

As I wrote earlier in this blog post, it is possible for one to have a romantic orientation that does not completely match one’s sexual orientation, and that’s okay.