What Does It Mean to Be Biromantic?

It's an emerging term that describes a type of romantic attraction.

Sexual attraction can be experienced in many ways, and so can romantic attraction; the two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. One of the labels that someone might use to identify their romantic orientation is biromantic. Here's what biromantic means, what a relationship might look like for someone who is biromantic, and why recognizing biromanticism is important.

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What Does Biromantic Mean?

The term "biromantic" describes an individual's pattern of romantic attraction based on a person's gender(s) regardless of one's sexual orientation, according to the LGBT Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Someone who identifies as biromantic can have or does have romantic urges or attractions to people of multiple genders," April Callis, PhD, associate director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives at Miami University, told Health. "They might not be interested in having sex with those individuals, but they do get those crushes or that interest to be in that romantic relationship."

And it's not necessarily the romance associated with sexual seduction. Instead, the romantic part of biromantic could simply mean wanting to cuddle on the couch with someone while watching Netflix and eating pizza, said Dr. Callis.

Basically, the "bi" part of biromantic means you're open to doing things like that in a romantic capacity with more than one gender. Who you are attracted to sexually can be a totally separate thing.

A person who identifies as biromantic can be attracted to a variety of genders. "Biromanticism can encompass romantic attraction to people of any range of gender identities, and the specific combination of each of these identities can vary by person," Casey Xavier Hall, PhD, an assistant professor at Florida State University, told Health. Dr. Xavier Hall added that people who are non-binary, agender, or transgender can be biromantic.

Bottom line: Every biromantic person's feelings and relationships can look different. Dr. Xavier Hall said that there are as many ways of being bisexual as there are bisexual people—and the same goes for biromanticism.

How Are Biromantic and Bisexual Related?

First, a bit about the difference between romantic and sexual orientations. Both exist on a spectrum; sexual and romantic attraction isn't experienced in two boxes of straight or not straight.

Dr. Callis explained that sexual orientation is who you're interested in having a sexual relationship with, and romantic orientation is who you're interested in romantically. That romantic attraction could be influenced by factors like who you want to hold hands with, who you're interested in kissing, who you want to date, or who you might want to marry.

"While in our culture, we tend to smoosh those two [orientation spectrums] together and assume that somebody's sexual and romantic attraction always kind of track identically, the asexual community has been separating these types of attractions since the early aughts," said Dr. Callis.

Biromanticism is similar to bisexuality in that the "bi" part of both words refers to a person's ability to be attracted to more than just one gender. But again, they are two distinct forms of attraction.

And while they may be experienced in combination with each other—with someone identifying as both biromantic and bisexual—not all people who experience biromantic attraction experience bisexual attraction, and vice versa. "There's no correct combinations of identities," said Dr. Xavier Hall.

Why Did the Term Biromantic Emerge?

As Dr. Callis explained, the term got its start almost two decades ago within the asexual community. Between 2005 and 2010, "aromantic" became more commonly used. This identity refers to people who don't experience romantic attraction, according to the Cambridge Dictionary. Asexual and aromantic people make up about 1% of the total population but comprise as high as 4% of those ages 18-24, according to the University of California at Santa Barbara's Sexual & Gender Diversity Center.

From there, other romantic orientation terms formed, including biromantic. "I think it really did take the asexual community being, like, 'OK, just because I'm not interested in sex doesn't mean I'm not interested in a relationship. Like, it's really important for me to differentiate that,'" said Dr. Callis.

Once the asexual community started talking more about the difference between romantic and sexual attraction and developed the language for it, people outside the asexual community had labels that they could use to help identify themselves.

Why Is Recognizing Biromanticism Important?

First, it allows people to self-identify with more nuance—and it allows people to "start thinking about how different what you're looking for sexually or what you desire sexually might be with what you're looking for when it comes to that romantic partner or partners," explained Dr. Callis.

Recognizing and spreading awareness about biromanticism—or any other type of romantic orientation, for that matter—may also lead to more health-focused studies about romantic attraction. "You don't often see biromantic experience or biromantic attraction in health research, which is unfortunate and something that needs to be addressed," said Dr. Xavier Hall.

As Health previously reported, the bisexual community faces bisexual erasure. This denial of bisexuality can affect health outcomes for bisexual individuals. While biromantic people may experience some form of that erasure, there is just no research to help guide those discussions right now. Recognizing the validity of biromanticism can foster more scholarship and studies about it.

"There's not a lot of research to really validate the lived experiences of biromantic individuals—and not to say that they have to be validated through research, but in terms of creating interventions and improving health care for biromantic individuals, for example, or identifying maybe unique types of care that biromantic people need," said Dr. Xavier Hall.

What To Know if You Think You Might Be Biromantic

For those who think biromantic is an identity that fits them and want to get a deeper understanding about it, Dr. Xavier Hall suggested turning to online message boards and the conversations they host. "I think [romantic orientation] is something that individuals need to kind of explore and define for themselves, how it relates to their particular experience," added Dr. Xavier Hall.

What Can You Do To Be an Ally for Biromantic People?

First, believe that biromanticism exists. Help raise awareness about it and other romantic orientations. Listen to people when they talk about these identities. "When people say that they identify as biromantic, say, 'Thank you so much for telling me. Thank you so much for trusting me. Could you tell me a little bit more about what that means to you,' and allowing people to talk to you about it," said Dr. Callis.

Second, don't make assumptions. "I think that's a big part of the conversation around identity in general, is to kind of step away from making assumptions about individuals—when you meet somebody, not assuming that you know what their sexual or romantic spectrum identity is," said Dr. Xavier Hall.

"And even if they may have named a sexual identity, don't necessarily assume that you know what that sexual identity means in terms of their romantic attraction or their romantic spectrum identity," added Dr. Xavier Hall.

And, as always, educate yourself. Instead of depending on someone who is biromantic to be your informational source, seek out resources so you can learn more about the romantic spectrum and identities on your own.

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