Difference between romantic vs sexual attraction?


(Not sure if this is allowed or not but I wrote a fairly long post and went over the character limit so I’m splitting some of it up. I don’t want to lose context by eliminating things.”)

I was raised Catholic, I’ve struggled with Same Sex Attraction. I think sometimes I focus a bit too much thinking about it. I have a desire to understand it. These last few days have been very good to me, gone to daily mass the last 3 days, I’ve probably been more social than I ever been. Considering how long I’ve felt isolated, depressed and alone, and now I feel the opposite, it’s such blessing. I feel like SSA ties into things that happened in my past and I’ve been so socially awkward and now things are finally looking up.

Ok, to the main point of the post. I’m 21, a lot of guys my age are dating and that. I feel a bit left out. The way I would explain my attraction to men, well, it’s a bit difficult. Sometimes it’s purely physical, I see a guy and think “he’s attractive/cute”. I try to guard my thoughts though from going further. I’ve felt this strong emotional/romantic urge to a guy once which was a bit confusing. I think I just desire a strong friendship with another guy. I’ve told myself, “Well, if that’s what you really desire, that’s perfectly fine. We all need a good relationship like that, real true friends. Just don’t sexualize it”. Well, I’m trying to find a friend like that, I did open up to someone this week. Had a very good conversation. I really don’t feel romantic or sexual feelings, I feel a deep appreciation though.

Anyways he talked about women a lot, now my mind has kind of been on that the last couple days. The way I would describe my attraction to women is that’s its romantic. I don’t feel anything sexually. At least I think I don’t, I’ve never dated. I feel like a lot of people experienced a lot of this in their teens and “learned the ropes” so to speak and I didn’t get that. Guys will talk about a woman’s body, obsess over her breasts or other attributes. I never really felt that, isn’t that just lusting and objectifying someone anyways? I guess I tend to do that with men, I feel a lot of envy, mainly attracted to face and upper body. I think I desire to look like that myself, because in my mind I think I’ll finally be wanted if I look that way. Which is stupid when you think about it, how does doing something sexual with another guy help me with that?

I kind of wish I struggled with lusting after women, then I could relate to other guys more. Have more in common, and not feel like an outsider. But it’s not meant to be I guess. I have romantic desires, I’ve had romantic fantasies. I find women cute. I kind of feel childish, like I use terms like “cute, pretty, beautiful” some guys will be like “she’s hot”. Well I’ve never felt that before and I think that’s lusting after her. I need some clarification on lust. Can one not admire someone else’s appearance without lusting after them? I think nudity used to be a lot more common and not associated with sex as it is now.


Anyways, there’s some attraction going on here. Is there anything wrong with asking a girl out or trying to date? I have this fear, and maybe it’s stupid to worry about this right now when I don’t have a girlfriend and never dated. I fear that I won’t be attracted to her sexually, and if we ever get married and it comes that time to consummate the marriage, I won’t be able to. I could have all these feelings towards her and good intentions, yet not be able to do that. This just gets to me. I don’t know, a lot of people go into marriage and think it’s going to be all happiness and butterflies. Pretty sure that’s not reality, there’s good times and bad. I feel like being able to give myself to someone else like that and to each strive to help each other become the best we can be is a beautiful thing though.

Not all are called to marriage though, there’s people who go into religious life and become celibate. Others stay single and never find someone. I think there’s this fear of being alone, if you don’t find someone then your life won’t be fulfilled and you won’t be as happy as you could have been. I kind of fear that, I desire intimacy so much. To be able to know someone so well, share your deepest desires and struggles with them. To be able to help them on this journey, I really want that. This burning desire in me, maybe a craving. I crave connection, belonging, intimacy. Are those not good things? One could go at it the wrong way I presume.

Well this was a long post, I always end up rattling off my thoughts. Does anyone have feedback and maybe experienced something similar themselves? Clarity on lust and romantic vs sexual attraction would be nice.


Are you a Catholic?


Romantic attraction is a term usually used to describe a desire to have emotional intimacy with the someone (eg marriage, non sexual intimacy in general). Eg do you find it weird to cuddle, kiss or desire a life long partnership with this person?

Sexual attraction is self explanatory. You can find someone sexually appealing without being attracted though, as weird as it sounds. There are plenty of women who look ‘hot’ to me, but I have no desire to have sex with them.

Yes, talking about boobs and obsessing over bodies would be lust.

It’s interesting you said that you desire to look like that. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the case with me. Sometimes I feel an attraction to another woman but I don’t feel the romantic attraction at alllll.

I think you can ask her out, based on what you said. Don’t take it too seriously, date her without immediately thinking of marriage. Some people find that they develop a sexual connection with someone a while after they know them (some even label it as demisexual or something silly like that).

I don’t think there’s ‘something wrong’ if you’re not lusting though, unless you’re saying you have never experienced sexual attraction/thoughts etc about any woman in your life?


You’re brave to ask these questions instead of making assumptions about what behaviors you should engage in. I’d like to add my experience to your thoughts, if I may.

Growing up, my father was emotionally absent and neglectful. My mother was nuts and controlling and taught me to hate my father and all men. In fact, once she found out that my friends liked boys, she forbade me from having those friends. Eventually, I had no friends at all. So, I ended up with this equation: a) an unmet need for friendship, b) a normal libido, and c) an hatred for men. That was a potential recipe for SSA because I refused to consider relationships with men. Indeed, I found myself exploring the attraction to women as sexual or romantic instead of platonic, but only in my mind. Fortunately, I confided in a priest when I was seventeen, and was able to start working through these issues. I would go on to work for years with a therapist to resolve ALL of the childhood troubles I had experienced, because there were many! During that time, I decided NOT TO DATE because I knew I was too confused. Also, I met other women who thought about becoming lesbian, or who were lesbian, because of childhood troubles - and it thus became apparent to me that SSA is something that develops instead of being produced by genetics. I also came to learn that it can be healed with the right help. I’m an example of this because now, I’m happily married to my husband and have no SSA issues.

Now, having said this, I don’t pretend to know everything about SSA. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to work with a Catholic therapist and support group. And I will pray for you! God loves you dearly and wants you in Heaven with Him. He wants you to have peace in your life, and it’s totally possible to have it.


Yes, for me that was just going through the motions. Went to mass every Sunday, confession a few times a year. That was about it. Gotten a lot more involved recently.


I think there’s this fear of being alone, if you don’t find someone then your life won’t be fulfilled and you won’t be as happy as you could have been. I kind of fear that, I desire intimacy so much. To be able to know someone so well, share your deepest desires and struggles with them. To be able to help them on this journey, I really want that. This burning desire in me, maybe a craving. I crave connection, belonging, intimacy. Are those not good things? One could go at it the wrong way I presume.

Amen, brother. I’m around your age, also gay (“same-sex attracted”).

What you describe here has long been my fear/concern.

Feel free to private message me more about it.

All I can say is here is that humans are relational and sexual creatures. We were made that way. God wants us to be human. So don’t fret about sexual desires in themselves. Also, never fall into despair because you think your only two options are either celibate Catholic vs gay-married non-Catholic. That’s too black and white and has led me into horrible ways of thinking and living out a Christian faith.

There are multiple paths.


I have been seeing a Catholic counselor over this and other issues since the end of last year. It has been so helpful, actually just moved from meeting once a week to once every other week. I’ve been so social these last few days. I guess I do have anxiety still sometimes but it’s gotten so much less and I feel freedom to be able to share myself now.

For me, my father was a little distant when I was younger. I don’t think it was particularly his fault but I kind of blame him a bit. Always working. I basically was raised by my Aunt, Mom, and Grandma. Heavily female influenced, my grandpa on dad’s side was abusive towards grandma. I think I remember him hitting her once, I hated going there as a child. I thought “I don’t want anything to do with this.”. I wonder how much stemmed from that. Also had a speech impediment when I was younger. I was very isolated, had about no friends until the end of junior high. Even then I never hung out with anyone outside of school stuff. To this day, I would say I haven’t had a best friend. Though there’s this one guy I was close to in HS but haven’t kept in touch much and didn’t talk about anything troubling.

Only now am I trying to build relationships, I desire something deep and meaningful. 2-3 close friends would be enough for me. I feel so new to all of this since being isolated for so long. I don’t think I should tell someone I barely met my life story but I want to share something… There’s this guy I met on this river trip this summer. We started talking about this one topic and had a debate and I got his number. Well I met him this week and opened up to him about things, my anxiety, depression, SSA, etc. He told me he’s struggled with self esteem and body image as well. He seems very wise, conversation felt so natural. I think to myself that other people have it all figured out and I’m the only one struggling with things. That’s a lie though, I don’t know what others are going through. Things can appear good from outside but inside may be turmoil. Been keeping that in mind and I hope for good things to come. Thanks for sharing some of your story, there’s hope :slight_smile:


See, the thing is I don’t have one person in mind but that hasn’t stopped me from imagining kissing and cuddling with someone. Sometimes I wonder why I worry about it when I have these desires. Romance can lead to sexual. I just don’t know how wise it would be to try this if I started dating someone. It could go to far, part of me just wants to know but I need to wait until after marriage. Idk, is it sinful to cuddle up with someone you’re dating? I see how it could be a near occasion of sin. My mind sees it as a playful affectionate thing to do.

I feel like this may be the case for me. But you have to be vulnerable and put yourself out there in order to know someone! Years of isolation did me no good. Finally that’s changing.


Oh, peace to you brother. I feel like married life could be a path for me since I’m still attracted to women in some way. I don’t know how I would feel if I didn’t have any of that. I need to get out of some mindsets, I just feel like marriage is pushed a lot.

Yep, we are social beings. Not made to do everything alone, I hate the phrase “Every man for themselves”. Like I’m expected to do everything on my own? No one is truly independent. We depended upon our mother from conception until birth. And then for parents or others to raise us, feed, shelter, and protect us. I’m finally finding a community for support, I’ve gone at things alone for too long.


It’s harder today because:

(1) Sex is emphasized for everyone, in any way (but Church teaches no)

(2) Marriage is the chief way of relationship-making (fault of Church sometimes)




As compared to other modes, which were sometimes more prominent in the past. Especially before individualistic American/Western society:


I would recommend maintaining your faith, it will serve you well and you I’ve no doubt will serve it in return. When we’re young our hormones test us to the limits, and it may be a while before we find their strength wanes sufficiently enough to gain control over them. God will show you the paths to take for your benefit in many different ways, have no doubts and that faith will be your strength.

As others have said lust shows no empathy, charity or love. Romantic love is pleasant as we weave illusions around ourselves and *true love is caring to the point of self sacrifice without thought of reward, imo.

We might consider before acting, will this bring me closer to God or away. That may help you.
God bless. Remember God loves you like no other.

*For the description of what love is try reading 1 Corinthians 13, St Paul tells it immensely better than I and it’s very short.


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