Just as our identities change and evolve with time, our sexual identities can change as well. For a person who is abrosexual, this is especially true. But what exactly does it mean to be abrosexual, and how does it differ from other sexual orientations? We’re here to answer all your questions on abrosexuality.
Abrosexuality refers to someone whose sexuality is fluid and changing. They may experience same-sex attractions at one point in their lives, feel no sexual attractions to anyone at all at another point, later find that they’re attracted to all genders, etc. Someone who is abrosexual may only switch between two sexual identities — for example, bisexual and asexual — or they may switch between many more —such as pansexual, homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual.
While it is common for many people to experience shifts in their sexual identity over the course of their life, often as they learn more about themselves and come into who they are, abrosexuality differs in that a person who is abrosexual has a sexual identity that is constantly shifting; month to month, week to week, day to day, or possibly even hour to hour.
Sarah Sheehan, a writer and self-identified abrosexual, tells O.school that she defines abrosexuality as “a catch-all identity for those of us who, on an identity questionnaire, would probably check ‘All of the above’ and then write out to the side, ‘but also sometimes not.’”
The term abrosexuality is relatively new
Abrosexuality was first used in online forums around 2013, with more information on the topic becoming available starting around 2016. ‘Abro’ is a Greek root meaning graceful or delicate. It is believed that this term is used to indicate the delicately shifting nature of sexuality.
The abrosexual flag
The initial abrosexual flag was first seen online in 2015, with no identified creator. The flag has dark green, mint green, white, light pink, and dark pink stripes. The exact meaning of the colors of this flag are unknown. Since the original flag was created in 2015, there have been several alternate versions with different color combinations and symbols; however most people seem to still use the original flag.
More and more creators of LGBTQ+ pride items are starting to include abrosexual as one of the identities represented, and you can now find clothing, buttons, flags and more to display your abrosexual pride.
Abrosexuality vs pansexuality
Some may question what the difference is between abrosexuality and pansexuality. Both identities fall under the umbrella of multisexuality, meaning having a sexual attraction to multiple genders. A few other sexual identities that fall under this umbrella are bisexuality and omnisexuality.
While both pansexuality and abrosexuality are considered multisexual identities, there are distinct differences between the two. Pansexuals can be attracted to all genders, all the time. While this may be true at some points for abrosexuals, there may be other times where they are only attracted to one or two genders, or other times when they experience no sexual attraction at all. The sexual attraction of an abrosexual is constantly in flux.
Before she knew about abrosexuality, Sheehan identified as pansexual. However, it didn’t quite feel right for her. “Pansexuality felt like one of the broader identities, but it still didn't feel complete for me. It was a similar sensation with demisexuality and asexuality: these felt so incredibly right, but they weren't the full picture. After all, how could I pick just one when I was really moving back and forth between being 1) pan, 2) more into guys or 3) more into girls, 4) demi, 5) not-so-demi, and 6) ace?”
What it’s like being abrosexual
For those who are abrosexual, discovering their sexual identity can be a confusing process. Sheehan spoke of thinking she was a lesbian, but being confused as to why she sometimes was also attracted to men, sometimes was attracted to anyone regardless of gender, while other times she wasn’t attracted to anyone at all. “Somewhere around my final years in college, I had pretty much just decided I was a raging, wishy-washy hornball who was merely ‘going through a phase’ and ‘confused,’ ” she tells O.school. Eventually, Sheehan says she had internalized that she simply didn’t know who she was. When she discovered the label “abrosexuality,” she says she was more able to make sense of her experience and relate to others who were on a similar journey.
Because of the shifting nature of their sexual identity, some abrosexuals report that navigating dating and relationships can be difficult. When in a relationship, it is possible that an abrosexual’s sexual attraction may shift, causing them to no longer be sexually attracted to their partner. For example, if in a relationship with a man, an abrosexual attraction may shift to being attracted to women. In this instance, one Reddit user states that “[w]hen we don't feel the drive or sexual attraction we have plenty of other things that brings us together,” with another Redditor adding, “If you lose attraction, you hang out as best friends until it returns.”
Additionally, sometimes partners may struggle to understand your sexuality. Sheehan says it can be hard to have partners who don’t understand when you desperately want them to, or who somewhat understand but feel like they have a right to control your sexuality.
The label can be helpful to some
While not every person needs the label “abrosexual,” for others it can be helpful to put a name to their experiences. Identifying as an abrosexual and connecting with others who also use the label can be a connecting experience, and help some feel they aren’t alone in their journey as there are others out there who experience attraction similarly.
“Learning that I'm abrosexual gave me permission to stop denying who I am. Where so many identities fit but also somehow didn't, discovering abrosexuality was less a coming out and more a coming home,” Sheehan tells O.school.
The bottom line
As a sexual identity label less than a decade old, many people are still unaware of the term abrosexual or may have questions about it. However, just because someone doesn’t understand the way you experience sexual attraction or isn’t familiar with the identity you claim, doesn't make it any less valid. As such, Sheenan suggests the following: “I personally am not in the business of defending who I am to anyone, and my usual advice to people on similar paths is that they should never have to do so, either.”