Romantic Attraction Vs. Sexual Attraction: What's The Difference?

You know that feeling when you lock eyes with someone, and there's that moment the world stops and you think ... Am I in love? Then once those four espresso martinis have worn off, you start to wonder if you were really in love, or just wanted to take them home and get a little freaky in the sheets. This is a perfect example of differentiating between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. When you're attracted to someone in any capacity, it's easy to confuse the two, since romantic feelings and being into someone sexually are not mutually exclusive.


This begs the question, how do you know when you want to actually date someone versus wanting to jump their bones right then and there? When it comes to romantic attraction versus sexual attraction, there are actually several differences between the two. So, the next time you're out and about and see someone who catches your eye, consider these before you go home and start journaling about what your kids will look like.

Romantic attraction is about building a bond

If you're unsure whether or not you're romantically attracted to someone, ask yourself this: Do you want to get to know them on a deeper level and form a real bond? Do you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see them — you know, those butterflies? You may even feel some sort of infatuation with that person. Even if you don't, it doesn't mean you aren't interested in that type of connection; you can actually be super into someone without that fluttery feeling. 


When you want to consistently spend time with that person and get to know their likes, dislikes, and who they are as a person, that's a clear sign your attraction is more than physical. Finding you both have a lot in common can also contribute to this romantic fondness too. The faster you recognize these signs, the faster you'll learn your true attraction to them.

Sexual attraction is surface level

Where romantic attraction is emotional and spiritual, sexual attraction is much more shallow. If you have no interest in really taking the time to get to know someone, chances are you're only into them for the hookup. Now, we aren't saying you don't want to learn anything about them — you're just more into their body than their soul. If you're feeling a certain type of way in your nether regions when you see or think about them, that's a huge sign of sexual attraction.


When you're really attracted to someone in this manner, people may tell you they can feel the sexual tension from a mile away — it's as if the chemistry is radiating throughout the room. Yes, this can happen with romantic attraction, but it's much more intense than that. If the sexual tension between the two of you is so high, other people can sense it, it's time to get a room and get to work. 

Your attraction may change down the line

Sexual attraction feels similar to having a crush — it's instantaneous. Romantic attraction, on the other hand, takes longer to develop, Healthline states. As you spend more time with a person, you learn you're attracted to them differently than you thought. Maybe your original feelings were purely physical, but down the line, you realized you have actual feelings for them (aka pretty much every rom-com ever made). On the opposite end of the spectrum, what you once thought were romantic feelings are now a burning desire to rip their clothes off.


If you change your mind about a person, that's okay! The important thing is that you communicate with them how you're feeling so there are no mixed signals or hurt feelings. Perhaps, you feel no sort of attraction to them whatsoever, but in the event the line between sex and romance starts to blur, you two should probably start dating ... like now.