The split attraction model, or SAM, is a model which differentiates attraction into different forms of attraction, each of which may have it's own orientation. The SAM has historically been important to the ace-spec and aro-spec individuals, but also experiences use outside of the a-spec community.
The split attraction model is often used to describe how one's sexual orientation and romantic orientation interact and are distinct. For example an individual may be heteroromantic and bisexual. A-spec individuals may use the SAM to describe which forms of attraction they do experience. An asexual individual may experience romantic attraction and an aromantic individual may experience sexual attraction, and the SAM allows such individuals to describe their orientations separately. Some individuals may also include tertiary attraction orientations in their identities. An individual whose sexual orientation and romantic orientation don't match may identify as varioriented.
If an individual's sexual and romantic orientations are the same they may prefer to use a single word and may identify as perioriented. For example, one may prefer the term "pansexual" over "panromantic and pansexual." A common exception to this is the term aroace, which is often used to avoid confusing "asexual" with alloromantic asexual or "aromantic" with allosexual aromantic.
Not all a-spec individuals use the split attraction model, most notably are non-SAM aros. Some individuals prefer more precise terms for differentiating forms attraction, including "romantic orientation" or "romantic orientation labeling," "attraction types," "attraction subtyping," or "differentiating types of attraction." Not every individual who experiences different types of attraction necessarily has a distinct romantic orientation, and not every individual who has a romantic orientation necessarily experiences multiple types of attraction.
The first recorded instance of an orientation model describing split attraction was in 1879 by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German writer who published twelve books on non-heterosexual attraction. In those books, Ulrichs came up with various classifications of orientations which are fairly similar to modern LGBTA+ identities. Among his works he described individuals who are 'konjunktiver and disjunktiver' or 'conjunctive and disjunctive bisexuality'. The first is described as one who has both 'tender' and 'passionate' feelings for both men and women. The second is one who has 'tender' feelings for men, but 'passionate' feelings for women (if the individual was a man - the reverse if they were a woman). However, Ulrichs' model never caught on due to its complexity.
The next instance of separating sexual and romantic attraction was in 1979 by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov with the publication of her book 'Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love'. In the book, Tennov describes 'limerence' as a form of attraction which could be described as a crush or an infatuation with someone. Although Tennov viewed sex as being a part of limerence she acknowledged that it was not the main focus of the concept.
The first hints of what would become the modern split attraction model began with 'affectional attraction/orientation' which was coined at some point in the 1980's. It's unclear when the term was first used. Coining for the terms as often attributed to Curt Pavola, a gay rights activist from Washington, and to Lisa Diamond, a psychologist. However, there are instances of the phrase that predate both of these individuals.
Around 2001 there was a push for a way to classify asexual individuals. One of the earliest examples is the ABCD classification system on AVEN, which recognizes that some asexual individuals may feel romantic attraction. Around the same time there was a Yahoo e-mail group known as 'Haven For The Human Amoeba,' where in 2001 there was discussions of terms such as 'hetero-asexual' and "bi-asexual." It wasn't until 2005 that the modern form of the split attraction model was created on AVEN. By 2009 the concept was commonly used in a-spec circles.
Other asexual individuals also began using additional attraction terms, such as platonic attraction, sensual attraction, and aesthetic attraction starting in the early 2000s. These attraction types could also be paired with parallel orientation identity terms such as pansensual or panaesthetic, but that application was less common.
The specific term "split attraction model" in this context originated on Tumblr in 2015. The original use of the term was developed from aphobes and exclusionists accusing the asexual community of requiring that everyone (including non-asexual individuals) split their orientation into multiple parts. The term “Split Attraction Model” was adopted by a-spec communities in order to talk about the issue.
- Three Narratives of Non-Rosol Identity in the Aro Community
- A Mini History of Different Types of Attraction in the Ace Community
- A comic about different types of attraction