Affectional orientation (or romantic orientation) is used both alternatively and side-by-side with sexual orientation. It is based on the perspective that sexual attraction is but a single component of a larger dynamic. To holders of this view, one's orientation is defined by whom one is predisposed to fall in love with, whether or not one desires that person sexually. Lately, the predominant use of the term "sexual orientation" is considered to reduce a whole category of desires and emotions, as well as power and connection, to sex.
This is an important concept among the asexual community where it is often referred to as romantic orientation and the term affectional orientation is rarely used. It does however retain its separation from sexual attraction and as such is seen by many as an orientation within an orientation amongst the asexual community. Taking from the fact that among this community this is known as the romantic orientation, the prefixes of homo-, hetero-, bi-, pan-, and a- have been used to form terms such as heteroromantic, biromantic and so on. It is a common term and part of every day conversation on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) forums, and many members will refer to themselves as "[romantic orientation] asexuals."
However some asexuals who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bi before asexual, or simply prefer that terminology, will sometimes refer to themselves as "straight asexual" or "asexual lesbian."
- Wells, J. W. (1989). "Teaching about Gay and Lesbian Sexual and Affectional Orientation Using Explicit Films to Reduce Homophobia". Journal of Humanistic Education and Development 28 (1): 18–34.
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