Romantic orientation, also called affectional orientation, indicates the sex or gender with which a person is most likely to have a romantic relationship or fall in love. It is used both alternatively and side by side with the term sexual orientation, and is based on the perspective that sexual attraction is but a single component of a larger dynamic. For example, although a pansexual person may feel sexually attracted to people regardless of gender, the person may experience romantic attraction and intimacy with women only.
For asexual people, romantic orientation is often considered a more useful measure of attraction than sexual orientation.
The relationship between sexual attraction and romantic attraction is still under debate and is not fully understood.
People may or may not engage in purely emotional romantic relationships. The main identities relating to this are:
Aromantic: No romantic attraction towards anyone (aromanticism, see section below).
Heteroromantic (or heteromantic): Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the opposite gender (heteroromanticism).
Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender (homoromanticism).
Biromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of two or more genders (biromanticism). Sometimes used the same way as panromantic.
Panromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of any, every, and all genders (panromanticism).
Demiromantic: Romantic attraction towards any of the above but only after forming a deep emotional bond with the person(s) (demiromanticism).
Greyromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction rarely or only under certain circumstances (greyromanticism).
Relationship with sexual orientation and asexuality
The implications of the distinction between romantic and sexual orientations have not been fully recognized, nor have they been studied extensively. It is common for sources to describe sexual orientation as including components of both sexual and romantic (or romantic equivalent) attractions. Publications investigating the relationship between sexual orientation and romantic orientation are limited. Challenges in collecting information result from survey participants having difficulty identifying or distinguishing between sexual and romantic attractions. Asexual individuals experience little to no sexual attraction (see gray asexuality); however, they may still experience romantic attraction. Lisa M. Diamond states that a person’s romantic orientation can differ from whom the person is sexually attracted to. While there is limited research on the discordance between sexual attraction and romantic attraction in individuals, also known as cross orientation, the possibility of fluidity and diversity in attractions have been progressively recognized.