I would like to talk about sexual attraction and romantic attraction at the same time. For most of us who grew up going to church, especially evangelical church, where sex is to be saved for your marriage partner, it may be difficult to see these as two separate parts of ourselves. I think it is helpful for us to understand this, if for no other reason than to further understand the complexity of what it means to be human. Beyond the basic, though, understanding that they are separate is a big step in understanding the experiences of other people, being able to hear with insight, and being inclusive not only in your outward language, but your inner conception of others.
I believe that God is all about relationship. I believe that the absolute foundation of relationship is woven throughout creation (as science continues to discover!). I believe that God created human beings for relationship (with God and with each other). I believe it is hardwired into every human being to desire the intimacy of knowing and being known.
Romantic attraction and sexual attraction are both about relationship. Romantic attraction is a desire to be intimately connected with someone: to have a significant relationship of knowing and being known. It is a willingness to be vulnerable emotionally, to take the risk of rejection, to invest time and energy into growing a connection.
Sexual attraction is a physically-based attraction. It’s a desire to be physically, sexually involved with someone. It is also being vulnerable and risk-taking. It is a desire for sexual intimacy.
Both of these things meet innate human needs for connection. Some people feel a strong pull to romantic connection, some feel a strong pull to sexual connection. Some people feel both, some people feel little of one or the other or both. All are valid and wonderful ways of being human.
These two ideas, as separate things, may be new to many, so I encourage you to take some time to ponder how these have worked out in your life. For me, the two are very strongly tied together (there’s a term for that, which we’ll get to!). For many they are not. This is the splendour and marvel of God’s imagination! The myriad of ways humans relate to one another is a beautiful garden!