Writing From Factor X

July 3, 2011

Wherein I Babble About My Romantic Orientation

I’ve been thinking about my romantic orientation lately. I’ve mentioned it a lot in a bunch of different spaces, but I’ve never written a post specifically about what I actually am and why I identify the way I do, and I think now might be a good time to do that.

The trouble for me is that… well, as far as I can tell I just love people, full stop. The quantity might differ, but I don’t seem to experience qualitatively different forms of affection for people.

(I have considered this to be amazingly ironic in light of the stereotypes about aromantics being sociopathic. Actually, my problem is not that I love no one, but that I don’t distinguish between different types of love.)

So the main issue I have about my romantic orientation is that I can’t really tell what romantic attraction is supposed to feel like. If romantic orientation is an orientation like sexual orientation is, romantic attraction ought to be a thing, right? But it’s very difficult to define it in a way that makes sense, and saying “wants to be in a romantic relationship with this person” is also difficult for me, because I’m not quite sure what makes a relationship specifically romantic, except for the acknowledgement by both parties that the relationship is romantic.

(I’ve also seen romantic orientation defined as “I would at least theoretically like to be in a romantic relationship with people of $gender,” which strikes me as odd–shouldn’t orientations be defined as patterns of attraction to specific people? I tend to be highly critical of this type of definition of romantic orientation.)

The thing that really made me start thinking about all this was one relationship I had with a friend about three years ago, which made me endlessly question my romantic orientation because I wanted… lots of things that were not happening. I wanted to hang out with her on a regular basis–more than I already did–and I wanted to be acknowledged as important and secretly I really wanted to be roommates, although I knew that wasn’t ever going to happen.

I was very confused by this and for about two years spent a fairly large chunk of my free time trying to figure out if I had a crush on her. The thing was, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to date her, and every time I imagined actually dating her I felt vaguely weird and discomfited. And every time I envisioned moving in with her, it was as roommates–that’s it. When she got a boyfriend, I was initially pleased that she was happy. And yet I was still feeling generally needy and wanting to spend more time with her and dealing with the insecurities and… well, the focus on what my friend was doing. It didn’t feel like friendships were theoretically supposed to, either.

As I’ve had more discussions about romantic orientation and queerplatonic relationships and the rest of it, I’ve realized that this isn’t just something I’ve done towards only this one person. It wasn’t even the first time I had those feelings–I can identify at least two friendships going back to age eleven that had similar components. It’s just that this was the first time I was experiencing these feelings and felt like there was a massive imbalance in the friendship, and so I spent a lot more time thinking about it.

The thing is, I don’t think this… infatuation thing, where I’d like the other person to be close friends and see me on a daily basis and maybe eat meals together regularly and possibly be roommates–I don’t think this thing is romantic in nature? Because aside from the living together thing, which is hard to coordinate among too many people anyway, most of it is can just be boiled down to wanting to connect with someone. Maybe wanting family out of it, in the friends-becoming-family sort of way.

Besides, I tend to make only a few friends at a time, but I also tend to try to make very close friendships. And the thing is, I’ve felt this wanting-to-see-daily feeling and even the wanting-to-move-in feeling at some point over a lot of my close friendships, including almost all the ones with other women. Sometimes after a while it goes away and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s actually a pretty common feeling for me.

(There is a gender differential here–I tend to not move into the “want to live with you stage” in my friendships with men and I tend to relate to men in slightly different ways. The jury’s still out on how that applies to nonbinary people–both because I am still trying to root out internalized binarism and because my sample sizes are not big enough.)

It’s always possible that I am just intensely poly and romantic, of course, and I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop questioning that. For the moment, I’m satisfied with identifying alternately as aromantic (because I don’t think I’m experiencing romantic attraction) or wtfromantic (because I find the question intensely confusing).

28 Comments »

  1. Great post! I think I feel similarly about being aromantic: it’s not at all that I want to be distant from others but simply that I don’t understand the romantic paradigm in the first place and so it isn’t of much use to me in explaining my relationships.

    Comment by Avitus — July 3, 2011 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, really–the lack of understanding of romance is really the most important thing for me, I think. I am glad you liked the post!

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2011 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  2. And the thing is, I’ve felt this wanting-to-see-daily feeling and even the wanting-to-move-in feeling at some point over a lot of my close friendships, including almost all the ones with other women. Sometimes after a while it goes away and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s actually a pretty common feeling for me.

    Me too, although I think I get that feeling in regards to fewer people. I can relate very much to the feeling of “imbalance”. My problem with the concept of romantic orientation in regard to myself–and maybe this is somewhat true for you as well?–is that it seems to prioritize relationships that are not actually a priority for me. Like, I seem to be romantically attracted to men, albeit minimally. But what I’ve always wanted most is not romantic relationships with men, but close friendships with people of all genders. So if I call myself a “heteroromantic asexual” (which I don’t like in its binary-ness, either), I feel like I’m playing into societal standards of what is important, rather than conveying what’s actually important to me as an individual. Now, I’m not trying to diminish the importance that romantic orientations have for other people, and I may be interpreting the concept in an unusual way. So I’m not trying to convince anyone of my view…just trying to say how I see it personally.

    Comment by ily — July 3, 2011 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

    • Well, it might be true for me if I could actually tell what romantic attraction felt like? Heh. But yeah, definitely, I have similar problems with romantic orientation with respect to me being a primary question–because really, in a lot of ways “what is your romantic orientation” feels like very much the wrong question.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2011 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

      • in a lot of ways “what is your romantic orientation” feels like very much the wrong question.

        This, very much.

        Comment by ily — July 3, 2011 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  3. I hover between aromantic and panromantic myself. (The panromantic comes in because I am attracted to people of all types and I don’t really care what their gender is or what body that gender houses itself in) The way you defined your infatuation with your friend is the way I feel as well about people — I would want to be very emotionally close, live as roommates/best friends make decisions together, all that good stuff, but really no interest in anything beyond that. The hovering is because when I have tried to date I have liked holding hands and cuddling but I don’t miss them when not in a relationship.

    Comment by Shula Asher Silberstein — July 3, 2011 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

    • Yeaaah. I don’t particularly have much interest in holding hands but I do like cuddling, and have in fact cuddled with friends before. So. *grin* One group of friends I had would actually engage in huge cuddlepiles, which was pretty awesome.

      I’m going to admit, I haven’t actually tried to date anyone, mostly because I’m the wrong gender for most of the friends I have had and I can get the best friends without the rest of it for the (online) ace friends I have. So yeah, I am not actually sure how I would actually react to dating someone, except that the entire idea just feels weird to me.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  4. At several points while reading this post I found myself going “yeah, that’s me,” but you put it more articulately than I ever could, I think. With my friends, the people I care about deeply, I just want to matter to them and have them matter to me. I don’t want to date them (and I’m not sure how a date would differ from hanging out, anyway) or snog them or have sex with them.

    I’ve heard romantic attraction described as involving warm fuzzy feelings and a feeling of irrationality, but I’m skeptical, since the only time I’ve reliably felt that was in regard to… inanimate objects and abstract concepts.

    Comment by Aydan — July 3, 2011 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

    • I am glad you felt it resonated with you! I’m not quite sure how a date differs from hanging out, either, except for the levels of formality and the possibility that you and your date are total strangers. (Dating confuses me much more than romantic relationships themselves do. I can more or less see the point of a romantic relationship. I have a hard time seeing the point of dating.)

      Honestly, there was a degree of irrationality in the relationship that made me notice what I was doing. Is. :/ This is the relationship I mentioned a few weeks ago when I was ranting about my personal life not going well. I’ve since made the decision just to step away from it more or less entirely, because I keep getting hurt with it and that… is not fun. It was noticing just how attached I was despite getting hurt a fair amount that made me confused as to where my boundaries and emotions were going in the first place, actually. I think that if I was being totally rational I would have taken a huge emotional step back a long time ago.

      On the other hand, warm fuzzy feelings are common to more or less all of my relationships, and frankly a certain degree of irrational attachment is, too. So I dunno, unless that person meant a specific type of warm fuzzy feelings I’m not getting from that phrase, I’m skeptical too.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

      • I would just like to note that I completely don’t understand dating either. All of my romantic relationships save one have started from being friends with the person on the internet and it progressing. (The ‘save one’ was my one and only meatspace originated in middle school that… also started as friendship, so only a change of medium.) I am UTTERLY BAFFLED by how dating works. (And stuff people talk about on dating advice columns like “It’s been a year and my boyfriend won’t say I love you!” How is that even a relationship don’t you have to be in love to be in a relationship what I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I feel like I’m a completely different PLANET.)

        So uh that’s not just an aromantic thing. It may be an ace spectrum thing? I get the impression dating is based on sexual attraction and then people try and work out if they get along otherwise? I don’t even know. I’m getting most of this from advice columns, which I find entertaining to read even when they baffle me.

        Comment by Shiyiya — July 5, 2011 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  5. I’ve wanted friendships like that occsionally too, one especially is memorable. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be very good at relationships in general (any kind). So I guess it doesn’t have to be romantic. I mean, the level of attachment and need to be around someone itself doesn’t have to be an indication of romantic interest (though I’ve seen it put that way by many people, so probably it is for some). I’ve had less need to be around someone when I was romantically interested sometimes, than certain friends. This is also why my only definition of romantic interest has always been ‘it has some sort of romance thing attached and that only happens in meatspace for me’. Which is smashingly unhelpful. I just know it can stand on its own, loose from any other kind of relationship I have to a person.

    The funny thing is, the intense friendship feelings have only ever happened for me with women, and the romance with men :D. I can also fall in love at the drop of a hat (the amount of it differs each case, if that makes sense), but I’ve only felt friendship that intense on one or two occasions in my life. I also questioned whether I was actually not hetero-romantic on those occasions, because it was such a strong bond, but in the end I have to come to the conclusion that everything that has to do with the in-love-feeling for me was not present. I already knew the romance thing was not attached, but I was in doubt anyway.

    Here is where my current partner really confused me at the start: he is male, but I felt that kind of intense friendship for him. I thought “Oh, how interesting, I’ve actually made a male friend.” And then the romance qualifiers also came into play, but it actually took me longer to spot them through the rest of it than usual. I now have a theory that this is why my romantic relationship with him has worked out so well, so much better than previous romantic relationships AND previous friendships.

    I am always a bit uncomfortable around the sociopath stereotype, not because I have sociopathic tendencies, but anti-social tendencies, definitely. I don’t feel that strongly for many people, and I have a huge preference for being alone. I don’t often like the amount of effort involved in keeping up friendships, and definitely not for more than 5 or 6 people at a time. I prefer to have my friends online, too: upkeep is way easier. Almost all my friendships, no matter how strong they are, tend to just peter out, especially if those people don’t hang around the internet. I’m not quite sure what people want from me often, either.

    The whole dating thing is weird to me anyway, and I’m unsure of how it even has anything to do with romantic interest. I’ve never wanted to date anyone, it seems horrible.

    Comment by Norah — July 4, 2011 @ 3:11 am | Reply

    • “I am always a bit uncomfortable around the sociopath stereotype, not because I have sociopathic tendencies, but anti-social tendencies, definitely. I don’t feel that strongly for many people, and I have a huge preference for being alone. I don’t often like the amount of effort involved in keeping up friendships, and definitely not for more than 5 or 6 people at a time. I prefer to have my friends online, too: upkeep is way easier. Almost all my friendships, no matter how strong they are, tend to just peter out, especially if those people don’t hang around the internet. I’m not quite sure what people want from me often, either. ”

      This is why I have a hard time calling myself aromantic. I mean, I don’t think I experience romantic attraction–certainly I don’t desire romantic relationships–but I don’t really have a strong desire for friendship either. And I generally make little effort to maintain non-online friendships, because I’d usually rather be alone. I do like talking to other people, if I like them and we’re talking about something interesting, just not very often–a couple hours a week is fine. I’m not a psychopath–I love my family and my cats, and I *care* about people in general–I’m just not very social. And if I have to spend a lot of time with someone or lose that friendship, then most of the time I’d choose to lose the friendship. I could say it’s because I’m mentally ill, and being around people in meatspace is stressful–and that could certainly be part of it–but I think it’s mostly just my personality.

      So sometimes I wonder if I do experience romantic attraction, but it’s just too weak for me to notice.

      Comment by BattleHamster — July 4, 2011 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

    • It’s interesting that you only have the intense friendship feelings with women and the romance with men–hm, that might provide some evidence of a third type of orientation, to some extent? (Only I tend to get hesitant to label tendencies about friendships under the umbrella of “sexuality”–there is such a thing as taking things too far!) Hm.

      The sociopath stereotype is… problematic. Honestly, I don’t think there is or should be anything wrong with being anti-social. Also, I find dating ridiculously strange.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

      • Yeah, I definitely don’t think you need to shove every kind of attraction or love out there under orientation. But apparently it does happen that, when it comes to friendship, this can be gender-based as well (Coincidentally, when I tell people I just don’t really like men, for friends, they find that offensive sometimes as well O_o. I wonder if they would also be offended if I said I just don’t like women, in the friendship way. I found this odd because it also comes from people who think it’s the most basic thing in the world if a person has romantic and/or sexual preferences based on gender). I have one or two guys now that I also kind of like as friends, but I can also tell that I could probably fall in love with them; this is the way it usually goes: either I have that little stirring and I know I can let it develop or fade away, or I don’t like them much at all.

        Heh. I haven’t ever dated. Well, no, I went on one date once I suppose and it was all kinds of awkward. That was also in the era before I warned people of my problems speaking in advance. Also, sometimes when someone is just like you (as in, me) in that they don’t speak well and don’t do smalltalk and such, it’s nice and natural, but with other people it’s really uncomfortable.

        And I think any relationship where both (or more) people do already like eachother, but then one of them starts feeling something different for the other that isn’t reciprocated, or not closely enough, the whole situation can get really unpleasant and hurtful; you often see this type of situation talked about where one person falls in love with a friend who isn’t in love back, but obviously that’s not the only situation. I often wondered if my friend back then liked me as much or in the same way that I liked her. If she thought of me almost every day and cried at night for days afterwards after we’d spent a week together and then we had to leave again (didn’t live near each other). I often felt very embarrassed about that bit, too.

        Comment by Norah — July 6, 2011 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  6. This is a very interesting post. Thanks for writing it! I consider myself romantic, so it’s interesting to see how close relationships work from an aromantic point of view.

    (Also, strange timing but I have been working on a romantic attraction post that will go up shortly (hopefully). I address some common points from my own point of view, and I don’t want to sound like I think you are wrong about your own experience. It’s just coincidental…)

    Comment by childfreeace — July 4, 2011 @ 4:27 am | Reply

    • I am glad you found it interesting! And I’m excited to see your post. I always find posts on what romantic attraction interesting, especially by people who say they actually know what it feels like.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  7. Some of the things you pointed out are wonderfully similar to what I have been in with my best friend (?). I identify as aromantic but I would consider my relationship with her to be a romantic-friendship (or something like that). We are very close and I will cuddle, go out to eat, hold hands, and snuggle with her. But I’m not dating her. I have also developed this type of relationship with a male friend of mine (who may be an oblivious ace) but it isn’t quite as close. We have cuddle piles. =D Again, the most I would want in a relationship would be to live with them and be roommates/best friends/platonic life partners/something. As in, someone to come home to and be able to cuddle with while watching movies, but still be able to be independent and to do our own things. I think it is a contrast to the normal couple idea where once a person enters a romantic relationship, the relationship follows them around and they must spend all of their time together. You know the couples, always attached at the hip.

    The distinction I got into my head about it is that in a romantic relationship, you are in love with someone, as well as loving them. But I love my friend a lot but I’m not in love with her. There is a distinction there but I can’t put it into words.

    Not to mention that as a non-binary individual, I can’t really use words like homoromantic and heteroromantic because, ya know, I’m not male or female.

    /end rambling

    Comment by Duke — July 4, 2011 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

    • Cuddle piles are pretty awesome, I’ve got to say! And I am pretty sure there’s a distinction there (although I’m also pretty sure that I don’t have that particular invisible elephant), it’s just I’ve never experienced anything that I am sure is being “in love.” *flails*

      The fact that homoromantic and heteroromantic aren’t very useful for non-binary people is one of the things I don’t much like about them, I’ve got to be honest. Gynoromantic and androromantic make a bit more sense to me from that perspective, even if I’m not sure I like the way they look as much.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  8. I feel sad that our society tries ro put us all in boxes, paired-up, homo-,hetero-,bi-, etc.,etc.

    Keep up the fight to be yourself, Sciatrix!

    Comment by Sally — July 5, 2011 @ 7:08 am | Reply

  9. Romantic attraction is SO HARD to talk about! I am unambiguously a *romantic (…hey, maybe that’s what I should start calling my romantic orientation!) and…. nope, defining it is not happening. Standard waffle for several hundred words and then throw hands up in disgust problem. Which is ridiculous! It shouldn’t be so hard to define something that you know you feel! 😐 ENGLISH YOU ARE INADEQUATE.

    Comment by Shiyiya — July 5, 2011 @ 8:54 am | Reply

    • I have gotten this impression! (Seriously, when every person I know who identifies as romantic has this issue, including several people who are otherwise very eloquent and precise in their descriptions of things, I begin to suspect something’s up.)

      English is totally inadequate for discussions of this nature, I suppose because it assumes that everyone already knows what it’s discussing, so it doesn’t need words to describe terms properly?

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

      • Yeah, there’s a reason I called it the “standard” problem 😛 I might’ve thought it was just me if I hadn’t read so many other people having the same issue! What even is this.

        And my primary relationship involves fairly frequent discussion of bathroom furnishings, recipes, and socks, so who knows what the hell kind of data point I’d be even if I could articulate it.

        I think it might be that people tend not to analyze/academicize/articulate/whatever that sort of thing? Maybe? I mean, if nobody’s even really TALKING about it, of course there aren’t going to be words. And then there aren’t words so you can’t pin down the concepts so you can’t talk about it at all and agh, vicious cycle. Because there are definitely people who want to now…

        And maybe because it’s an abstract concept, which are hard. I mean, sexual attraction is easy to define, “wanting to shag people”. Desire for concrete thing. You can even do metaphors with hunger! But romantic there’s… nothing to anchor on, I guess? Just vague subjective hard to define things that are especially hard to qualify when you try and differentiate them from similar things. (I am happy when I am talking to my SOs! Except when we’re arguing, and I’m also happy when I talk to my friends, and WHY IS THIS SO HARD AJSFAKSFDAGLHADGFDLAH >_<)

        ….damnit, I hate this keyboard. I just missed the right paren key and switched the track in my media player because the stupid thing has the volume up down brightness adjust etc keys as what happens when you hit the key and the F1 F2 etc as what you have to hold down Fn to get. Grumble. (It really fucks with my head when my audio input isn't predictable/controlled. Have been known to start crying from overwhelm when my browser unexpectedly starts making noise because I forgot to mute it. 😐 ) [/tangent]

        Comment by Shiyiya — July 5, 2011 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

        • (You could join the ace eccentric and popularize that one? It’s a pretty interesting way to identify, I’ve always thought.)

          I think the other problem is that “romantic relationship” is a ridiculously poorly-defined concept, particularly when you’re trying to take into account more recent twists on the concept in your definitions. I mean, monogamy is one people reach for a lot–except then you invalidate polyamorous relationships. Or they go “it’s friends but with sex!” except that invalidates asexual romantic relationships just for starters, not to mention romantic relationships that are otherwise sexless at the moment.

          Sex, on the other hand? Sex is a much more concrete activity to define, and it’s an activity. So when we define sexual attraction more or less as “a desire to have sex with a person for no other reason but personal pleasure”, that’s a definition that makes sense because we can intuitively understand what sex is. It’s also a much more fleeting kind of emotion, not a word to describe the quality of a particular long-term relationship, so it gets used to describe a much more discrete, easily-isolated kind of feeling.

          Whereas if you try to use that kind of definition for romantic attraction, you immediately get bogged down by the nice people like me going “well, what is a romantic relationship, anyway? What makes this qualitatively different from other close relationships? Because I have this relationship here that does not fit into your neat lines!” And then the urge seems to be to retreat back into romantic attraction–“it’s a romantic relationship because I feel romantic about it!” (i.e., it’s romantic because I am experiencing romantic attraction). Which makes the entire thing very tautological, in my experience, and also very frustrating for people like me who are not sure what feeling romantic feels like.

          I agree–the words aren’t there yet because no one much has tried to talk about them before–or at least, no one has tried to have community discussions hinging on them before. (And then of course we’re dealing with a whole bunch of issues relating to the fact that we’re trying to make words up out of scratch at the moment and most of them don’t seem quite right because they’re so very new. I’m actually working on drafting a post about why words like “zucchini” are massively fucking important to me, even when I’m acknowledging the fact that they’re a bit silly, because I keep tripping across people going “that’s a stupid word” for various reasons and I keep feeling horribly defensive and hurt.)

          Also, I am really really sorry your keyboard and your audio input are messed up! D: I hope it starts being more easy to control and predict soon.

          Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

          • Oh hey and I just realized the other thing with having the language, relationships based on love were… a lot less so a thing in the past, I think? (What I am thinking of here is Fiddler On The Roof. “Do you loooove meeeee?” This is clearly not the most rigorous historical data point, but whatever, and now the song is in my head and I have to go watch it on youtube.) I am not a historian, clearly, but this could play a role in the missing language? (And the poor definitions!)

            Also, zucchini is awesome. Kaz coined that, right? And maybe it’s weird to use a vegetable for it, but I’m sure people would object just as much if a new word was made up, so lose/lose from that perspective.

            I feel like I should be referencing the xkcd strip about the tautology club here.

            I am so not doing this comment in order, am I? 😛

            Comment by Shiyiya — July 5, 2011 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

            • Oh, yeah, actually I think that’s another massive part of it, because up until the last couple of hundred years romantic relationships were just really not that important. Marriage was usually much more business-like than it is today, even if both partners entering into the marriage had a fair amount of control over who they were going to marry. Extended kin relationships and community relationships tended, if I remember correctly, to be much more important in most cultures.

              (Have you read any of Stephanie Coonts’ work on the history of marriage and the history of families? It’s very, very interesting from this standpoint.)

              S.E. Smith/meloukhia actually coined it! Admittedly, ou was on Kaz’ blog at the time. And yeaaaaaaah, I actually suspect there is no winning on that front, and at least zucchini is amusing. More thoughts on that later. (Someone should really write a basic history of that word… maybe I should do that. Hm.)

              ORDER IS BORING. CHAOS RULES.

              Comment by Sciatrix — July 5, 2011 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

              • Oh hey, I was close! I think I actually read the discussion where it was coined and my brain decided that ‘on kaz’s blog” could be safely condensed to “kaz” despite that not actually being true. Sigh, brain.

                I have not read, no! It sounds interesting, I will have to make a note to look it up. (DATA IS SO COOL.)

                CHAOS AGAINST PRODUCTIVITY

                (which is the sort of motto of my IRC channel. Which oh hey could totally use more people if you do IRC >_>)

                And now, I sleep. (Not even 8pm yet! Not like I care >_< I am the worrrrrst at sleep schedules.)

                Comment by Shiyiya — July 5, 2011 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

                • I feel a bit guilty because everyone assumes it was me and honestly I would LOVE to be able to say it was me because I heart that word lots! But it was s.e. smith, and ou also coined “queerplatonic” which I heart as a slightly less… injokey variant. *g* (Also, all those people going “but it’s a stupid word” – given that the context in which this happened was me going “WHY ARE THERE NO WORDS FOR THIS HONESTLY I WANT WORDS ENGLISH IS INSUFFICIENT CAN WE MAYBE STEAL SOME FROM SOMEWHERE” and ou going “okay, that’s *it*, from now on I’m calling these ‘zucchini’ JUST BECAUSE”… a moderate degree of silliness was sort of the point, you know?)

                  Also, on the romantic relationship side of things, I think I have some inklings of a way to define it that may not be *as* tautological but it’s incredibly hard to pin down/describe – all to do with how romantic relationships are a specific type of societal… structure, for lack of a better word, and whether a relationship is romantic or not depends on whether you can tolerate viewing it within that structure, and then stuff like deconstructing elements of it from within (as e.g. poly people do) as opposed to going “this whole concept does not work for me” (as us WTFromantic/divide-by-cucumber/I-want-a-zucchini-plz folk do). This might STILL be completely inaccurate, inaccurate for some people, or too theoretical and abstracted to be of any use whatsoever (this one is pretty probable) but any other definition I have seen either has obvious counterexamples in both directions or is pretty damn tautological.

                  It’s funny, since romantic relationships are Such A Big Thing, how completely and utterly *impossible* it is to get an even remotely workable definition.

                  Comment by Kaz — July 6, 2011 @ 7:02 am | Reply

                  • If that’s about the relationships themselves, it might work, because what one is supposed to look like is very much determined by society. I don’t think that can explain the feeling, though. And it might also mean that in some (maybe many?) ways, my relationship might just fall outside of the romantic structure, because it won’t follow certain structures. Deconstructing elements of it from within also sounds much like what I think… I also don’t think my parents’ relationship is much like what I see in other people’s parents, or my aunts and uncles. Actually, if you determined the structures, I wonder how many people’s relationship wouldn’t fit in them as much as it looks from the outside, because they change things so they work for them.

                    Romantic attraction is also probably not one thing, but many different things for different people, and their relationships or desired relationships would fall within that structure enough so they all know to call what they feel romantic. Or they would want to change or widen the structure so that what they want also falls under romantic relationships.

                    When I was younger, I already knew I could fall in love, but had no desire whatsoever for a relationship or living with someone else. (And I did want a child, of which I informed my grandmother, who asked me how I was going to pull that off without a husband, at which I looked at her like she was a giant purple mushroom with bells on and told her I’d find a guy I deemed acceptable, bring him home, have sex with him, and then shove him out the door. I then recognised a look of horror on her face, and misinterpreted it, reassuring her by saying that well ok, I would let him stay until morning and he could have a decent breakfast too. My mother never laughed so hard.)

                    Comment by Norah — July 6, 2011 @ 10:52 am | Reply


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