Models of sexuality have evolved substantially in the past several decades through the inclusion of new aspects which were previously overlooked. Components such as romantic attraction and behavior have also traditionally been included in models of sexuality. However, romantic and sexual orientations do not coincide for all individuals. A population for which this is true and one that has developed a robust language for discussing romantic orientation is the asexual community. The current study aimed to explore romantic and sexual orientation through patterns found within the factors of attraction, behavior, and identity in the asexual community. The current sample composed of individuals who identified as asexual (N = 306, Mage = 27.1) was 61% female, 13% non-binary, and 10% self-described or used multiple labels. Within this sample, aspects of sexual and romantic orientations and experiences were measured, including fluidity, the quantity and type of self-identified labels, desire for romance or sex, and the role of contextual influences on these experiences. These aspects were used as the primary characteristics to construct participant profiles, both complete profiles and factor specific (attraction, behavior, identity). t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (tSNE) was used to find patterns of similarity between individual participant profiles. Overall, it appeared that attraction was the factor most closely associated with overall experiences; however, substantial variability existed between participants. These findings provide a mechanism for better understanding of some nuances of romantic and sexual orientation and may be a useful first step toward future inquiry and hypothesis generation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- General Psychology