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If you've ever felt like you were sexually attracted to a gender (or genders) but not romantically attracted to the same gender(s)—or vice versa—you're not alone. As it turns out, your sexual attraction isn't necessarily the same as your romantic attraction.
This is important to keep in mind when you think about what it means to be biromantic.
Because the term can often get confused with bisexuality, let me clarify that biromantic is used to describe someone's romantic attraction—meaning who they are interested in dating and/or falling in love with. Bisexuality is used to describe who someone is sexually attracted to.
And no, they're not the same. Let's break it down for you.
What does the term "biromantic" mean?
A biromantic person is capable of feeling a romantic connection with people of both similar and different genders from their own. It's a term that takes the sexuality out of bisexuality and, instead, places the focus on the emotional aspect.
“Most people believe bisexual already has that concept of sexual to it. ‘I can be sexual with two different genders,’ so to speak,” explains Courtney D’Allaird, assistant director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at State University of NY at Albany. “Biromanticism just takes out that sex aspect.”
The distinction is an important one in America where D’Allaird notes our legislation has historically “demonized” the LGBTQ+ for their sexual preferences. “Biromanticism is kind of taking out the sexual nature of that language,” they explain. “It’s saying, ‘Yeah, I can have feelings and be romantic with different kinds of genders. I’m not just romantic for men or just romantic for women.’”
However you identify, it's important to know there's a difference because representation matters. "The LGBTQ+ community is vast and there's [often] pressure just like in any group to conform a certain role," says Diamond Marie, a mental health counselor with Calmerry. "You might feel that you need to be sexually attracted to and engage in romantic relationships with other genders to be 'true' to the community. This is not necessary."
Be true to yourself and remember that sexuality, gender, sexual desire, and romantic preferences aren't cut-and-dry.
"Humans are multifaceted, complex, and nuanced individuals therefore, you will come across biromantic folks that still have sex," says certified sex educator Irma L. Garcia. "At the end of the day, a person’s identity [and orientation] is theirs to define how they wish."
The difference between being biromantic, bisexual, aromantic, demiromantic, and asexual.
While “biromantic” and “demiromantic” are both terms referring to people’s romantic preferences, they describe different things. A demiromantic person is someone who “only feels romantic feelings after they build a strong bond or connection with someone.” But sexuality is a spectrum, remember? So, in theory, a biromantic person could also be demiromantic.
As mentioned before, “bisexual” is a term that refers to a person’s sexuality, while “biromantic” is a term that refers to a person’s ability to have a romantic emotional connection. A person who’s sexually attracted to both genders and also is capable of feeling intense romantic connections with both genders would be both bisexual and biromantic.
If someone is only sexually attracted to the opposite gender but is capable of feeling romantic connections with both genders, they'd be heterosexual and biromantic. If they're attracted to the same gender but have romantic feelings for both genders, they'd be homosexual and biromantic. You get it.
As far as the difference between biromantic and asexual goes, it depends on the person. D’Allaird notes many biromantic people actually identify as “asexual,” meaning they have the capacity to form romantic emotional connections with any gender but don’t feel a sexual drive toward anyone.
In general, there’s a lot of overlap with biromanticism and other points on the spectrum. “Biromantic people are not a monolith, so their experiences are vast and vary,” says D’Allaird. That being said, a biromantic person is most likely not also going to be “aromantic,” considering aromantic people do not feel romantic attraction to people at all.
What identifying as biromantic looks like
A biromantic person is capable of feeling a romantic emotional connection with people of both genders. For example, you could go on a candlelit dinner date with a man and fall deeply in love. By that same token, you could also go on that same candlelit dinner date with a woman and fall deeply in love.
"If you feel like you have romantic feelings towards someone but not necessarily sexual, you might consider yourself biromantic," explains Jasmine Akins, a sexual health educator at CAN Community Health. One way to determine whether or not you're having romantic feelings is if you are excited about going on a date, if there's a connection, and if you think about a shared future, says Dr. Skyler. "Oftentimes, a biromantic person who is not also bisexual will only feel romantically engaged, but not sexually aroused."
The difference between being biromantic and panromantic.
Just because someone is biromantic, it doesn't mean they're panromantic (yes, there's a difference). Basically, people who identify as biromantic may feel romantically attracted to more than one gender group (usually two gender groups) whereas people who identify as being panromantic have the ability to have romantic feelings towards someone else regardless of their gender, says Akins. For panromantic people, gender isn't usually a factor when considering or having romantic feelings or relationships.
How to find community as a biromantic person
If you’re looking for a more affirming biromantic community or want additional resources, there's a wide variety of options—both virtually and in person. Polyamorous activist and co-founder of The Sex Work Survival Guide Tiana GlittersaurusRex advises speaking to a mental health professional—whether you're single or in a relationship.
Additionally, Chris Bright director of public training at The Trevor Project suggests local community resources like LGBTQ+ centers or even school resources like guidance counselors or a gender and sexuality alliance (GSA).
If you don't have the ability to find a community in person or you'd prefer to seek support virtually, there are plenty of online resources and groups to connect with. In addition to The Trevor Project and TrevorSpace, there are a number of Facebook groups that offer biromantic support such as Bisexuals & Biromantic Folks Support Group, Bisexual and Biromantic HQ, and Agender, Aromantic, and Asexual.
On Instagram, hashtags like #biromantic and #biromanticpride are popular, as are hashtags that combine romantic and sexual orientation like #biromanticasexual and #biromanticheterosexual. The biromantic flag is similar to the bisexual flag of blue, purple, and pink horizontal stripes, but it has a heart silhouette at the center.
How to be a better ally
First and foremost, listen to your friends and partners that identify as biromantic. “Believe people when they tell you who they are, when they tell you about their identity,” says D’Allaird. “Support them in understanding that more and check your own stuff at the door.”
Additionally, D’Allaird recommends taking the time to educate yourself on what it means to be biromantic, rather than forcing the role of educator upon your friend or partner. “My best allies always did their research on their own and then came to me and said, ‘Hey, I read this thing,’” says D’Allaird. “It allowed us to have a conversation together, instead of me as the educator.”
Not sure how to educate yourself? D’Allaird recommends subscribing to the newsletter Bi Women’s Quarterly and looking into different bi activists you can follow on social media. While some of the resources you look into may seem like they’re focused on bisexuality, D’Allaird notes they’ll still be helpful.
“Bisexuality isn’t outside of biromanticism,” they explain. “People can still access those same resources. And those resources that help you understand bisexuality can also help you understand parts of biromanticism.”
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