What is the Split attraction Model?

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This blog post will explore what the Split Attraction Model is and cover topics like what is the history and development of this model of sexual attraction. 

We will also explore what the Split attraction model is in the context of the LGBTQA+ community and the criticisms that arose against the Split attraction model. 

What is the Split attraction Model?

The split attraction model (also known as SAM) is a theoretical framework highlights the difference bwettn ones romantic and sexual orientation. 

It is a framework that has been developed with the intent to help people better understand attraction in terms of both romantic and sexual attractions.

This model proposes the understanding that many people of the LGBTQA+ community understand as the difference between romantic and sexual attraction as inherenetly two different things and that people can be attracted to different genders romantically as well as sexxually. 

According to the split attraction model, a person might experience attraction into two categories and the experience of both are completely different from each other. 

The split attraction model recognizes that sexual and romantic orientations are not the same for some people meaning that a perosn might be romantically attracted towards people who identify as male but be sexually attracted to both male aligned as well as female aligned individuals. 

The model was created and used by members of the asexual community as a way to help identify and define their romantic and sexual  orientation more clearly- for themsleves as well as to help other people understand their experiences. 

What is the history and development of the Split Attraction Model?

The split attraction model can be traced back to the work of German Gay actvtiest and author Karl Heinrich Ulrichs who had spent most of is life exploring and defending the concept and realities of LGBTQA+ identities such as bisexuality, trasgener, and asexual oreintations. 

Ulrichs had written 12 books by 1879 that focused on different kinds of attraction among non-heterosexuals and he even went on to break down emotions into categories such as “tender” and “”passionate” hghlghting that one person can have different feelings for different genders or sexes. 

His work also went on to expplore the notion and nature of love and deconstructed the notion of love in a systemic manner, seperating love asboth sentimental as well as sensual or passionate kind of love- which can be mirrored into romantic attrctio and sexual attraction today. 

Ulrich was ostracised for those views at the time, but today he is often cited by gay rights activists as one of the earliest pioneers of the modern LGBTQ+ movement. 

His notion of love and attraction has a wide implications of the asexual cmmunity within the LGBTQA+ communitiy today when asexuality as a concept and a reality has gone up into the public awareness of its existence. 

As asexuality as a part of human existance began to gain traction by the early 2000s, it became clear that further disntincitnn adn understanding was required to understand asexuality because individuals also have different ways of identifying as asexual.

Some individuals who identify as asexual have no interest in sexuality in any form and choose abstinence.

Others may engage in sex but do not form romantic attachments to their partners. There is another type of asesucal people who can develop strong romantic feelings of attachment to a person but do not experience much or any sexual desire.

These variatons of people’s experience of asexuality make it hard for them to be limped under one term of asexuality, thus drther distincitions were needed to help develop a feeling of  a greater sense of belonging and self.

A self help book written and published in 1979 by Psychologist Dorothy Tennov also describes a type of attraction that focuses more on emotional connection which further highlighted the work done by Ulrich.

It was then that the term affectional orientation-attraction was coined which denoted that attraction was not only about sex but there could be a form of attraction without it. 

The groundbreaking work of these two authors laid the foundation of this Split attraction model and by 2005- with growing discussions and conversations within the asexual community, it became part of mainstream knowledge and awareness.

What is the Split Attraction Model in the context of the LGBTQA+ community?

The split Attraction model in the face of sexual and gender identieis and orientiations within the LGBTQA+ community serves to validate and coretize the experiences of people who has sexual and identify experiineces that does not really fit the general mold. 

Because it is entirety possible for someone to feel sexual attraction for a certin froup of people irrespective of gender identity, and at the same time experience romantic attraction towards a completely separate group if people- the split attraction model becomes a tool to help understand this kind of experiences. 

The application and use of the Split Attraction model to help people develop a sense of understanding of one’s self and others can be seen in the labels and identities that has emerged as a result of the SAM distinction between romantic and sexual attraction.

Some of these identities and labels include:

  • Asexual homoromantic is a person who does not experience sexual attraction or seuxla desire but experiences romantic attraction or desire to people of the same gender.
  • Pansexual gray-romantic is a person who is sexually attracted to all genders however their sexual attraction is infrequent or limited or they do not regularly feel sexually attracted all the time. 
  • Heterosexual biromantic is a person who experiences sexual attraction only towards the opposite gender, but experiences romantic attraction to both men and women.
  • Graysexual heteroromantic is someone who experiences very little or infrequent sexual attraction towards people but is romantically attracted frequently to people of the opposite gender.

Specifying sexual and romantic orientations is sometimes thought of as a distinction that is only made by asexual-identifying people. 

Are labels important?

For an individual who has been struggling with their identity as an individual, labels become a powerful force of identity and self awareness. 

A person’s sexual, romantic and gender identity plays a vital role in the way they see themselves, how they present themselves to the world around them, how they would like to be acknowledged, and how they live their lives. 

This, to a person who has beens struggling without awareness of what they like and how they want their lives to be, can become a beacon of hope for their journey to understand themselves as people. 

People may feel that labelling their romantic orientation helps them deal with any oppression and help them find a community in which they experience a sense of belongingness and shared support. 

Thus labels can be regarded as giving ourselves permission to declare to the world what we are, who we choose to love and care for, and also helps us build communities. 

However, one must understand that People do not necessarily need to identify as one type of romantic orientation because romantic orientation like seuxal orientation stands on a spectrum and is often fluid. 

They also need not sit under just one label or just one term if they find that that is not what they want- regardless of what they choose to refer to themselves as, their existence and experiences as still valid. 

What are the criticisms of the Split Attraction Model? 

Many individuals within the LGBTQA+ community  have found the split attraction model to be helpful in helping them develop and identity, a community, and support related to their attraction, sexual and romantic, experiences.

The model porivides vocabulary for many who feel ike they do not fit the moulds of many sexual idenities and find that this model explains their experiences well and it is seen as a model that empowers withn the asexual acommunity.

However, many others find the model problematic.

Some believe that the split attraction model oversexualizes members of the LGBTQ+ community by limiiting the identity of the community to sexual desire or attraction over everything else.

They also puts forward the argument that the split attraction model reinforces stereotypes  of the LGBTQ+ community created by external forces as being overly focused on sexuality and attraction as opposed to individual identity and life experiences. 

There is also criticism that attraction can vary so widely for each individual that if we are to consider  all aspects of attraction and desire then the model and the terminology can become unnecessarily complex and redundant. 

Ironically people also believe that this model tends to have so may terms and labels that it could prove to be difficult and confusing for young people who are learning about and coming to terms with their sexuality. 

SOme people also believe that this model highlights and empahsises only the asesexual communty and sidelines the rest of the LGBTQA+ community.

Finally, people also argue that there is no one way to define attraction and that it can mean different things to different people and what this model does by labelling people is limit the idea and understanding of attraction. 


This blog post has explored what the Split Attraction Model is and cover topics like what is the history and development of this model of sexual attraction. 

We have also explored what the Split attraction model is in the context of the LGBTQA+ community and the criticisms that arose against the Split attraction model

FAQ related to Split Attraction Model

What is Greysexual?

Grasexual also referred to as gray-asexuality, gray-A, or gray-ace is a term that is used to refer to people who experience limited sexual attraction. In other words, they experience sexual attraction very rarely, or with very low intensity

They might be sex-repulsed or completely disinterested in sex or Sex-neutral who is not replused by sex but does not actively seek it out or Sex-positive who are asexual but still engage in sex. 

What is Lithromantic?

Lithromantic or akoiromantic people feel romantic attraction but don’t want to have it returned and often the attraction often goes away when someone does have feelings for them. 

What does Demi mean in Lgbtq?

Demi means half which refers to being half way between sexual and asexual within th context of the LGBTQA+ commuitiy. 

Demisexual people only feel sexually attracted to someone when they have a strong emotional bond with the person. They can be gay, straight, bisexual, or pansexual, and may have any gender identity. 

What is Queerplatonic?

Queerplatonic Relationships are relationships that include deeper, commitment than simple friendship but is neither romantic nor sexual in nature. It is between a romantic and sexual realtionship and a freindship. 


Loggins.B. What Is the Split Attraction Model? Verywellmind.  16th November, 2021. Retrieved on 12th Dec 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-split-attraction-model-5207380

What Is The Split Attraction Model? Betterhelp. Retrieved on 12 th Dec 2021. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/attraction/what-is-the-split-attraction-model/

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