What Does It Mean To Be A Biromantic Heterosexual?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated March 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Robin Brock
Education is one of the first steps toward understanding, healing, and acceptance. And, education regarding sexuality and the ways that it can be expressed is important for this reason. Although there is an ever-increasing understanding and acceptance of sexual expression and deviation from what was once the expectation or norm within romantic relationships, there is still a woefully low bar for educating people about their own sexuality and the sexuality of others, which includes the different ways that sexual desires and impulses manifest, as well as the distinct differences between sexual desire, romantic desire, and attraction.
Terms And Conditions: The Wide Array Of Sexual Identities
Although many people still believe that sexual identities are rooted in one of three things (homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual), the body of evidence suggesting otherwise continues to mount. Far from only containing these three expressions and identities of sexuality, the sexuality spectrum is large, diverse, and at times, seemingly contradictory, with countless combinations, shifts, and nuances present at any given time.
Because there is very little education widely available in schools and other public forums regarding sexuality and the spectrum it encompasses, many people are unaware of their own sexual identities and the complex ways that they can be expressed, and many adopt a single identity, without ever evaluating or working through the possibilities that exist.
Far from having only three separate and distinct forms of sexuality, human beings exhibit a vast array of sexual appetites, beliefs, and interests, and these can easily change, shift, and morph over time. Some of these interests and desires may lay dormant, out of fear, or uncertainty, and some of them may only be expressed within the confines of a strong romantic connection and relationship.
What Does "Biromantic" Mean?
The term "biromantic" describes someone who experiences romantic feelings for people of multiple genders. Romantic feelings are feelings rooted in romance and emotion rather than having another source or another means of expression. Romantic feelings are the feelings responsible for the impulse to brush a loved one's hair out of their eyes, or the desire to share your life with someone. Romantic attraction is also responsible for the desire to create a close, intimate relationship with someone, as well as the desire to turn to a specific person when in need of love, comfort, and acceptance.
For many, romantic attraction lies along the same line as their sexual attraction, but this is not always the case. Romantic attraction is a small and focused aspect of the attraction or sexuality spectrum as a whole and can be extremely nuanced in its expression over time. Because romantic attraction often focuses on traits of individual human beings, biromantic people are often mistaken or confused for people who identify as pansexual, but the two are different, as one is indicative of sexual desire, and the other is indicative of emotional interest.
Romantic Attraction Versus Sexual Attraction
Although romantic attraction and sexual attraction are usually considered the same, the two are different in the way they are expressed and the effect they have on a person. If you are sexually attracted to someone, you are interested in having sex with that person. This is usually an involuntary response to someone and frequently occurs quickly, without warning or a conscious effort. The sexual attraction is responsible for sexual impulses and is typically the primary requirement for engaging in a sexual relationship or encounter with someone.
Conversely, a romantic attraction is an attraction involving emotion. Romantic attraction is rooted in the desire to be emotionally close to someone and share a romantic bond. Usually, your romantic attraction yields feelings of love, devotion, or affection. These feelings can evolve into sexual attraction for some but might remain perpetually and firmly in the realm of romantic attraction.
For many people, romantic and sexual attraction are inextricably intertwined, but for many others, the two do not necessarily need to live in tandem, and the two are seemingly at odds with one another, or one form of interest is more wide-ranging than the other. For this reason, someone might identify as biromantic, while firmly maintaining that they are hetero-or-homosexual.
What Avenues Of Sexuality Does "Heterosexual" Cover?
Although heterosexual was once understood as a small and limited expression of sexuality, there are other aspects of the sexuality spectrum that can come into play here. Someone may be heterosexual, but biromantic, just as someone can be both heterosexual and aromantic, or uninterested in pursuing a romantic relationship. Heterosexuality can also be paired with heteroromantic, meaning that someone is only attracted to the opposite sex for romantic relationships. Someone who identifies as heterosexual, though, could potentially also identify as homoromantic, and experience romantic attraction to individuals of the same sex. This is known as a "cross-orientation," or "mixed-orientation," as it contains two opposing forms of attraction within the same body.
Understanding sexuality and attraction as living on a spectrum is important because it demonstrates the enormous diversity present in relationships. Understanding of diversity relieves much of the stigma surrounding sexual and attraction orientations, and how they are expressed, and allows people of all orientations and genders to come to their unique expressions of themselves without fear, limitation, or confusion.
Biromantic Heterosexual Versus Heteroromantic Bisexual
Although the two may initially be easy to confuse, they are quite different in the way they are felt and expressed. An individual who identifies as a biromantic heterosexual feels sexual attraction only to the opposite sex but might experience romantic attraction to two or more genders. This means that a sexual relationship will be limited to someone of the opposite sex, but a romantic relationship might be enjoyed with someone of any gender identity. This can be a difficult concept for some, as few people engage in romantic relationships without involving a sexual aspect, but not everyone requires a sexual component to be immediately present to engage in romance, and people whose romantic orientations either defy their sexual orientations or cast a wider scope than their sexual orientation are included in that group.
Conversely, someone who identifies as heteroromantic only experiences romantic attraction to individuals of the opposite sex. If a female is heteroromantic, for instance, she will only experience romantic attraction to males. If a male is heteroromantic, he will only experience attraction to females. A heteroromantic, bisexual female, however, may only experience romantic attraction to males but can experience sexual attraction to people of 2 or more genders.
Sexuality And Mental Health
Identifying as heterosexual or homosexual is associated with the fewest number of mental health concerns. This may be due, in part, to the likelihood of acceptance within both arenas; although people who identify as homosexual are not as well or widely accepted as people who identify as heterosexual. The mental health issues and sources of concern increase the more varied and complex your sexual orientation is, including bisexuality and other forms of sexual expression. Some psychologists have posited that this is due primarily to the lack of community for people who exist on a broader spectrum than the standard hetero/homosexual and romantic, while others have not identified an exact reason for the disparity.
No matter the precise reason, though, the effect remains the same: if you experience a romantic or sexual attraction that deviates from the norm, you may be at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Soliciting the help of a therapist, such as the therapists working through ReGain.us, can help mitigate the effects of these conditions, as well as helping you sort through your identity. Therapists may also be able to point you in the direction of help and support for your unique identity and experience, ranging from local support groups to forums and support groups online.
What Does It Mean? Sexuality's Wide Spectrum
Although sexuality used to be understood as an extremely limited series of interests, the understanding of sexuality's large, unique, and diverse spectrum has grown in recent years and continues to expand. While there is still very little education provided to young people, adults, and seniors regarding the many different ways that sexuality can be felt and expressed, increasing numbers of young people are coming into their own and carving out sources of information and education for themselves, much of it found in online communities.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and least understood expressions of sexuality is any form of sexuality that involves seemingly contradictory expressions of romantic and sexual interest. Whereas "biromantic" and "heterosexual" would once have seemed wholly opposed and nonsensical, an increased awareness of the sexuality spectrum has revealed that romantic and sexual attraction is not always working in tandem, and that people's attraction to romantic and sexual partners do not always follow a clear, straight, or well-defined line.
Although you do not have to perfectly understand your sexuality, or discover the exact label that describes what you feel romantically and sexually, it can be liberating to determine labels for what you feel and experience, particularly if you feel isolated or alone in your experiences. Cultivating a gender, romantic, and sexual identity is not a prerequisite for a happy or fulfilled life but can help you cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and community, and can help you navigate your dating and romantic life with greater confidence and comfort.