Alterous Attraction and Orientation


Suffix: -alterous
Main Umbrella: Emotional
Crush Term: Mesh

Alterous Attraction is a form of emotional attraction and desire for emotional closeness. It was originally defined as an attraction that is not wholly platonic, nor wholly romantic. Individuals experiencing alterous attraction may encounter experiences akin to platonic or romantic relations, without encompassing the full spectrum associated with either type of attraction.[1][2][3]

Due to the nature of its definition, it is often perceived as different and unique for every individual. Alternative definitions include:

  • a desire for emotional closeness that is neither romantic, platonic, nor in between;[4]
  • a desire for emotional closeness that is neither romantic nor platonic;[5][6]
  • a desire for emotional closeness that goes beyond platonic attraction, but not on the same level as romantic;[7][8]
  • a desire for emotional closeness that is between platonic and romantic;[7][9][5][6]
  • a desire for emotional closeness that appears like romantic attraction but is not.[10][9]

Tumblr user strange-nameless-creature described alterous attraction as the following:

I think of alterous attraction sort of a mix of platonic and romantic attraction that can’t really be classified as either. For an analogy take mixing colours, we’ll make romantic red, platonic blue, and alterous purple. Purple is a mix of red and blue, but it’s still distinctly its own colour. There are shades of purple closer to blue and others closer to red, but ultimately it’s still purple. Likewise, there are shades of red that are close to purple to red, and inversely, shades of blue that are close to purple but still blue. In a similar vein, alterous attraction is sort of a mix of romantic and platonic feelings, and there are degrees of alterous attraction that are more platonic and more romantic, but alterous attraction is still its own thing. Additionally, there are more “platonic” degrees of romantic attraction that don’t cross into alterous territory, and similarly, more “romantic” shades of platonic attraction which are still distinctly not alterous.

One's pattern of alterous attraction towards certain genders typically (but not always) forms that individual's alterous orientation. Alterous orientations are often identified by the usage of the '-alterous' suffix, such as heteroalterous, or bialterous.

An individual who regularly experiences alterous attraction would be alloalterous. Someone who does not regularly experience alterous attraction may be analterous, a-alterous, or nonalterous.

An alterous desire for another individual may be called a mesh.[6]


The term alterous was first introduced in the year 2015 or earlier.[1]


Some contend that alterous attraction undermines the significance of platonic love and relationships by suggesting that platonic connections are superficial or lacking in commitment.[11] In a post from the 22nd of Feburary, 2016, Vesper H. voiced their concerns about how alterous attraction could undermine the importance of strong platonic relationships and the concept of platonic love that various communities have struggled to validate. Vesper H. stated:

i feel like a notable chunk of aro awareness efforts have been about combating the “platonic” = “just friends” normative assumptions enforced by society, but now i see various posts aimed at alterous awareness pretty much supporting that very idea by positioning alterous attraction on a binary spectrum between platonic and romantic attraction, where alterous attraction is a step above platonic attraction, often with the consequences of equating platonic attraction with “just” friendship.[2]

One criticism challenges alterous attraction as an unnecessary and potentially confusing addition to queer vocabulary, proposing that the spectrum of attraction could adequately be described through varying degrees of platonic or romantic feelings instead. In a series of posts exploring alterous and platonic discussions, Tumblr user strange-nameless-creature detailed:

Conversely, there’s the interpretation that alterous attraction is a degree (or range of) between platonic and romantic attraction in the same way as naming a group of shades between blue and purple (with romantic attraction being purple instead of red). In this instance alterous attraction is more a subset of platonic attraction, I.e not separate from it. You’d have some degrees of platonic attraction that are friendships, others would be deemed quasiplatonic, and others alterous, just as an example. Given this premise I think the outcome could be similar to the first, where platonic is sufficient enough to not need alterous attraction to be added to our vocabulary (or it might just be replaced by something else, you never know). It’s more convenient to just broaden the definition of platonic attraction, so alterous might be abandoned...[12]

One additional critique addresses the perceived distinctions between alterous and queerplatonic attraction, as some argue that these terms are essentially synonymous. Though these arguments tend to be dependent on the individual's own personal definition of alterous and queerplatonic attraction.[12][13][14]

Flags and Symbols

The original alterous flag was made in 2016 by Tumblr user Alterous-Albatross. The blog writer defined its meaning as "The yellow stands for platonic. The gray stands for the gray area between romantic and platonic attraction. Pink represents affection. Red represents romantic."[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. "((Idk if you’re still interested in coined terms but I coined this one so))". Tumblr, Archived on 5 Nov, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 VESPER H.. "usage of “alterous” vs “platonic” in aro discourse". Queer As Cat, 22 Feb, 2016,
  3. Alterous Albatross. "Quick FAQ on Alterous Attraction and Orientation". Tumblr, 27 Jan, 2016, Archived on 29 Mar, 2022.
  4. high-femme-baphomet. "@ other people who feel alterous attraction". pillowfort, Archived on 24 Jan, 2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alterous Albatross. "Ok, so since I’ve never seen the term “alterous attraction” before yesterday...". Tumblr, 28 Jan, 2016, Archived on 29 Mar, 2022.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Page. "What Is Alterous Attraction? What Are Squishes and Meshes?"., 7 May, 2021,
  7. 7.0 7.1 alterousasteroid. "how do u know if ur ferling alterus or platonic attraction??". Tumblr, 28 Jan, 2016, Archived on 1 Mar, 2016.
  8. alterousasteroid. "Can you be alterous if you are alloplatonic?". Tumblr, 1 Aug, 2015, Archived on 1 Mar, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 alterousasteroid. "How would you go about explaining how romantic attraction is different from alterous attraction?". Tumblr, 7 Aug, 2015, Archived on 1 Mar, 2016.
  10. Coyote. "Bonus Round: Queerplatonic-Adjacent Concepts". Wordpress, 11 Mar, 2019,*may*%20seem%20like%20a%20romantic%20relationship. Archived on 29 Jan, 2023.
  11. Rising Sun. "alterous attraction vs queerplatonic". The AVEN, 11 Oct, 2016,
  12. 12.0 12.1 queerascat. "usage of “alterous” vs “platonic” in aro discourse". Tumblr, 2017,
  13. Anonymous. "Difference between queerplatonic and alterous attraction?". Reddit, 28 Sep, 2021,
  14. "336 - Queerplatonic and Alterous Relationships". Multiamory, 24 Aug, 2021,
  15. Alterous Albatross. "I noticed that there is so far not a flag for the alterous community". Tumblr, 27 Jan, 2016,