Time and again when we are asked, “Who are you attracted to?”, we tend to just respond that we are “straight”, “bi”, “gay”, “not sure”, etc. More often than not, these terms only reflect one of the two common attraction spectrums: sexual or romantic, rarely ever including aesthetic or any other kind of attraction. However, many people do not know they are cross-oriented. They end up mislabeling and restricting themselves to fit the pre-established social constructs, often unknowingly. Though not explicitly crucial, this could lead to false impressions and expectations from others and yourself and cause unnecessary judgement. It does not need to be a perfect match. Even though labels have a bad reputation and many people do not agree with this practice of self-labelling, there are still people who find labels useful for self-empowerment, stability, comfort, self-exploration, understanding difficult terminology and facilitated location of your community. However, it is always important to remember that labels are descriptive, not prescriptive: they are for you to describe your feelings, not give others reasons to abuse them. Moreover, identifying your place on the sexual and romantic (as well as other) attraction spectrums may help you feel more certain about yourself, your queer identity, and what you actually want from the interaction with other people.
To put it simply, one can identify as bisexual, but not necessarily be bi-romantic. The sexual and romantic attraction tend to different personal needs and feelings, thus, resulting in cross-orientation or mixed orientation. Cross-orientation is closely connected to the asexual community who came up with the concept: you do not need sexual attraction to feel the corresponding romantic one and vice versa. For example, if a cis woman identifies as heterosexual but pan-romantic, she feels the sexual attraction only towards the opposite sex while would not mind being in a romantic relationship with any gender. On the other hand, a homosexual aromantic person would feel sexual attraction towards the same-sex but would feel little to no romantic feelings towards anyone. There are as many romantic varieties as there are sexual orientations and they can change every so often as well since our attraction is fluid.
Mixed orientation has a lot of stigma surrounding it, even within the LGBTQIA+ community, which can result in disrespect and erasure. Others may find cross-oriented people’s labels too complicated, picky, greedy, redundant, etc. The heteronormative world taught us that we should have romantic feelings towards the people we would sleep with and vice versa, but for many this is not the case. They would pryingly ask “When are you going to take them on a date?”, “Are you together?”, “Have you had sex yet?” within a short period of time and wait for a reason why not. People tend to just assume that the sexual-romantic relationship system is the same or is similar for all, but it is not. Furthermore, people tend to strive to simplify things as much as they can, often neglecting and erasing the important distinctions or blurring the description to the point of false information. “Homoromantic heterosexual is a paradox. Why can’t he just call himself a bisexual?” The person in question does not feel sexual attraction towards the same-sex, but he would desire a closer, not necessarily platonic relationship with the same-sex person. Calling them a bisexual, however, is not accurate and could cause a lot of misunderstanding, gaslighting or even bullying from themselves or other people. It is important to respect personal choices when it comes to labelling if they choose to use any. Confusion is natural and we are all always learning about ourselves, others and the world. At the end of the day, it is important to be true to yourself and feel whatever you want to feel. You are valid.