The evolving language of sexualities

This Sexual Health Month, the experts at the language learning app Babbel offer us some insights into the evolving language of sexuality

Aromantic

The aromantic flag 

“Aromantic” is used to describe a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others.

Aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships (although they may experience sexual attraction and have sexual relationships). The term started being used in the late 70s and is thought to have been first used in Dorothy Tennov’s book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, published in that same year.

As with many terms for sexuality however, it’s actually a human experience that has existed over history long before its coining.

Allosexual

This sexuality label describes people who experience sexual attraction in general and may have any sexual orientation.

The word was specifically conied by the asexual community to help reduce the assumption that allosexuality is “normal” or default and asexuality is “abnormal”, or other. 

Autosexual

An illustration of a femme person looking in the mirror with love

If you identify as autosexual, it means you feel a sense of sexual attraction toward yourself. While someone who is autosexual may feel aroused by looking at their own body or enjoy masturbating while thinking about themselves, they can also have meaningful sexual and romantic relationships with other people.

Kourtney Kardashian came out as autosexual on “Pooch” her lifestyle website in 2020 and believes that everyone exists somewhere on the autosexual spectrum, according to the blog she used to announce her autosexuality.

Asexual

Asexual flag

An asexual person is someone who does not feel sexual attraction to other people. For asexuals, there is no intentional decision to abstain from sex, but instead a complete absence of desire to engage in sex.

According to Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, asexuality exists on a spectrum and asexual people can experience varied levels of sexual attraction and romantic feelings.

In the coming of age Nextflix series Sex Education, there is a specifc scene in which asexuality is openly discussed, helping the characters to feel less “broken” in terms of their sexuality, having gauged an understanding of why they might not want to have sex.

Greysexuality

Also on the asexuality spectrum, is greysexuality; which refers to people who experience limited sexual attraction, very rarely or with a very low intensity. They may only feel sexual attraction in specific circumstances.

"Greysexuality stems from the idea that there is no black and white, but a grey area that a lot of people fall into"

“Greysexual” was coined in 2006 on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), the world's largest online asexual community and archive of resources on asexuality. Greysexuality stems from the idea that there is no black and white, but a grey area that a lot of people fall into.

Omnisexual

“Omnisexual”, which borrows its prefix from the latin omni, meaning “all”, is a term used to describe someone who can find themselves attracted to all people, regardless of their gender.

Often compared or mistaken for the more well-known pansexuality, omnisexual people can encounter misconceptions about their sexual identity. Lack of information is what may cause this confusion, which is a problem faced by all people who fall into the multisexual category.

The main difference is that for those who identify as pansexual, gender tends not to be a determining factor for romantic or sexual attraction. Pansexuals can however be attracted to people of any gender. That being said, even though omnisexual people recognise the gender of those to whom they feel a romantic attraction, it doesn’t play a huge factor in their choice of partner. These distinctions are fluid and not cut and dried.

Sapiosexual

Metal wires looking like a brain and kisses

“Sapiosexual” was coined in 1998 by LiveJournal writer Wolfieboy, to describe someone who was drawn to the specifics of a partner's mind rather than the specifics of a partner's body.

Certain dating apps like OKCupid and Tinder allow users to identify as sapiosexual. Sapiosexual has become such a popular mainstream term due to filling a gap between the language we have available and the language needed to find a connection in the online dating realm.

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