The spilt attraction model can be confusing. Here’s a trick to make it make sense so you can better understand others. Or maybe yourself!
Let’s start with the basics. SAM stands for the split attraction model. Fairly common in aro and ace communities, but by no means an a-spec exclusive term. Its a model that says sometimes sexual attraction and romantic attraction will be mismatched, or split.
The model makes no judgment of what those combinations are. Nor does it favor any combination. People with matching attractions often don’t feel the need to double up on labels. It’s a completely opt-in way to help explain feelings. Or personally ignored in any situation the label wearer decides.
Its historical precedence goes back to the Greeks. Believed to be first used towards sexuality discussions by a gay advocate in the 1800s, and then reused by asexuals in the last twenty years or so.
There is a long standing tug of where between groups over where aros fit, and has it’s own set of purity politics that follow. This article is not gossip explaining interpersonal community friction, at its core more queer theory specially on how a-spec communities organize.
I think all this tension, and often infighting, is the product of being upset with intersectionality. I personally find asexuality and aromantism’s twin like behavior and shared history a boon. It’s a ven diagram, that as far as I can tell, skews ace. And no other community probably overindexes aces as much as the aromantic one. Which creates a tension of ‘why can’t we have our own things’ as it does equally ‘why aren’t aro aces doing more for aros specifically.’ Mind you, I think the second is unfair. But the point I’m trying to make goes as follows.
I was listening to this philosopher and he said that humans often dissect to understand concepts. Spitting things apart, and apart, until you reach the atom. And then say aha an atom, the smallest thing, from the word which means cannot be spilit! And then, oh dear… we split the atom. Now there’s protons, neutrons, electrons, and then maybe there’s more things in there too, and hey what’s this quark I keep hearing about? And these dissections makes the world more complicated. You see this all the time as a complaint about the a-spec community. Why new words, why spilt attraction model, and so on.
Going back to our example, well maybe you were looking to heal what ails you and now people are talking about things on a cellular level. And don’t get me wrong, that sort of understanding is a net gain for doctors to help you. But the lgbtq communities whose sole goal is “people should be allowed to be who they are without limitation” makes such exact concepts on how to do that more complex. Now that’s as true for a-specs as anyone else.
But I feel like for a-spec people, some want to just pull an proton out without realizing the electromagnetic force that keeps the neutron nearby. And I find it deeply ironic that communities based on the acceptance over the lack of strong attraction, have trouble viewing two separate things, that often times share in lived history, share experiences, and by the changing of language which spilit a previous understanding of asexuality further to help make sure aromanticsm was not forgotten, do have an electromagnetic-like attraction to each other.
And honestly? That spilt and pull towards each other is not unique to asexuality. Maybe it’s telling that Karl Heinrich Ulrich invented the spilt attraction. This division to better see the communities parts, to further explain them in English this has been going on for a century now. While it is important to learn through the dissection of human sexuality, we mustn’t forget its complicated because humans make it so. This means it’s natural state isn’t complicated at all. It just is, like the grass just grows.
Learn more about asexual activism.