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Aesthetic attraction: What is it? And how does it affect your dating life?

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Attraction is a universal experience that prompts us to gravitate towards certain people. For instance, aesthetic attraction refers to the desire to gaze at someone and admire their appearance without necessarily wanting a relationship with them.

But can we only feel this way because we find someone good-looking? And just how important is it to be aesthetically attractive? How do we even know when we feel it?

The good news is you don’t need to take an aesthetic attraction quiz or any test to understand why you find certain qualities attractive or not. With our guide, you can learn everything you need to know about aesthetic attraction, how it differs from other forms of attraction, and what it means for your dating life!

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What Is Aesthetic Attraction?

Aesthetic attraction involves feeling drawn to the physical appearance of a person, which can include an appreciation for their style, facial features, figure, or overall look. 

The term aesthetic attraction was first coined in 2005 within the asexual community. Many asexuals experience feeling visually interested in what a person looks like but have no desire to have sexual, physical, or romantic contact with them.

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What Does Aesthetic Attraction Feel Like?

Aesthetic attraction feels like a magnetic desire to gaze at someone and admire their physical appearance. Some compare this feeling to seeing an eye-catching photograph or painting that you can’t help but stop and look at.

When you feel aesthetically attracted, you may catch yourself looking at a person for an extended period without necessarily wanting to go over and talk to them or form any relationship with them.

Aesthetic Attraction vs Physical Attraction: What’s The Difference?

Most people confuse aesthetic attraction’s definition with physical attraction since there is quite a bit of overlap between the two.

As mentioned, finding someone aesthetically attractive is based on the appreciation for the visual qualities of a person. On the other hand, physical attraction refers to the desire to share a space with someone and touch them.

However, some people believe that physical attraction is a general term that includes aesthetic and sensual attraction. Sensual attraction is the desire to physically touch someone non-sexually, such as holding someone’s hand.

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Aesthetic Attraction vs Sexual Attraction: What’s The Difference?

Put simply, you experience sexual attraction when you want to have sex with another person. Interestingly, you may experience either or both types of sexual desire: objective and subjective sexual attraction.

Objective sexual feelings involve wanting to have sex with someone considered conventionally attractive even if you may not be attracted to them personally. Meanwhile, subjective sexual feelings involve wanting to have sex with someone you find attractive, despite other people thinking otherwise.

Other Forms Of Attraction You Can Feel

People can find someone attractive in more ways than one. To help you make sense of all the unique ways people develop attraction, we made a list of other terms you can familiarize yourself with!

Romantic Attraction

Experiencing romantic attraction is most easily defined by the desire to form loving, romantic relationships. When you experience romantic attraction, you may go through the typical process of dating, committing, and marrying.

For example, someone monogamous may be romantically attracted to another and pursue a romantic relationship with them. On the other hand, someone polyamorous may feel romantically attracted towards several people and form relationships with all of them.

In addition, the way you experience romantic attraction can be affected by your romantic orientation. For example, the term demiromantic describes someone who experiences romantic attraction only after they’ve formed an emotional connection with them.

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Emotional Attraction

People who feel emotionally drawn to someone may display admiration for someone’s personality, humor, values, or attitude. The emotional closeness present in their relationship fosters intimacy, which explains why lots of people feel romantic attraction alongside their emotional admiration.

Intellectual Attraction

Although not as common as romantic or sexual attraction, intellectual attraction is another way to experience a dimension of desire. It is the genuine appreciation for the ability of people to share deep insights or hold thought-provoking conversations with them. Sometimes, what people find most attractive is understanding how an individual makes sense of life and the world around them.

Platonic Attraction

Have you ever wanted to befriend someone you just met really badly? If you have, that’s what platonic attraction feels like! It may not involve intense feelings or a desire to gaze at one’s aesthetically-pleasing features, but it’s something that almost everyone experiences.

And when the desire to befriend someone grows into a genuine friendship, platonic love forms, helping us feel warm and valued. For example, in queerplatonic relationships, a friend is emotionally intimate and affectionate to their friends, even though they are not sexually attracted to them or interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.

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Is Aesthetic Attractiveness Important To Everyone?

Not at all! Everyone has a different set of preferences when it comes to the type of attraction they value most since desires are not necessarily shared among people. For instance, some people may feel an emotional bond and want to have sex with someone, despite not being aesthetically attracted to them. Alternatively, others may prioritize aesthetics or physical attractiveness over intellectual and romantic attractiveness.

Fun fact: People who are non-aesthetic or ansthetic don’t even consider aesthetic attractiveness necessary to be considered attractive. 

How Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Affect Aesthetic Attraction

Regardless of your sexual preference or gender identity, anyone may be interested in the aesthetics of an individual. Some heterosexual people even shared that they’ve thought someone of the same sex was aesthetically attractive.

Since appreciating aesthetics is purely visual, it doesn’t change your sexual preference or gender at all. If you think about it, you could consider your friends as aesthetically attractive people even if you don’t want to form romantic and sexual relationships with them.

As mentioned, experiencing sexual attraction involves the desire to have sex with someone, and romantic attractiveness refers to the desire to become romantically involved. Therefore, your admiration for one’s aesthetics doesn’t directly affect your sexuality or gender.

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Can Aesthetic Attraction Turn Into Sexual Interest?

Yes, it’s possible for people to feel aesthetically interested in someone at one point, and then their perception of that someone can change later on. Based on their sexuality, someone may or may not develop the desire to make sexual contact after initially finding someone aesthetically attractive.

For example, allosexuals (people whose sexuality involves the possibility of becoming sexually interested) may find a person’s short hair and brown eyes aesthetically attractive when they first meet. And after spending time with them, they may find them sexually attractive and become interested in having sex.

However, asexuals (people whose sexuality does not involve becoming sexually interested) won’t ever find even the most aesthetically attractive person to be sexually attractive. On the other hand, if a person is pansexual, they can perceive someone as aesthetically attractive regardless of their gender and develop interest emotionally, sexually, or romantically.

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We Like What We Like

The key to understanding all the different forms of attractiveness is to remember that we experience attraction towards people subjectively. Gender, sexuality, and personal preferences each play a role in developing a mental guide that tells us what we’re into or not.

While some can be aesthetically drawn without developing sexual or romantic attraction, others can be emotionally interested in someone and quickly develop romantic feelings. By embracing our differences, we can continue to spread a message of acceptance as we recognize all the unique ways we become interested in people.

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