Romantic attraction?

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Placebo
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Romantic attraction?

Postby Placebo » Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:27 pm

This is sort of a random post, but I've been thinking a lot lately about the different "modes" of attraction. . . mostly sexual attraction, for obvious reasons, but also the others. I have a pretty high tactile/physical drive, like to touch and cuddle and all that, but I was reading a post on AVEN about romantic attraction and aromantics in relationships. I generally call myself aromantic because I have no idea what romantic means. But I was trying to think about it and got confused. So I'm getting closer, I think, to at least a conceptual understanding of sexual attraction. My question now is, anyone want to talk specifically about romantic attraction/romantic drive and what it means to them, either in sexual or non-sexual contexts?
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inanechild
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby inanechild » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:16 pm

Well, speaking as a sexual, to me romantic attraction is that very powerful and heady combination of emotional and physical attraction for a person. When I feel romantically attracted to a woman, I feel enamoured by her personality, her appearance, the way she carries herself, etc. I want to spend time with her and, of course, be physically intimate with her. It's very different from longing for a friend's company or "basic" lust. The best I can describe it is like that "butterflies in the stomach" feeling you get around people who truly move you. However, I must say that I find it difficult to put it into words; when I was in my preteen years, I felt nothing for the boys the other girls my age were going crazy over and made the assumption that they were faking it all to get attention. It wasn't until the full force of my first crush hit me that I realized what exactly it was all about. It's a difficult emotion to put into quantifiable terms.

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Emmarainbow
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Emmarainbow » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:51 pm

Hmmms, I've never actually felt that. I *have* felt the extreme desire to be in a relationship with someone, just that I have a shortlist of friends that I could take that step with. And I've worked out I can do that... :eh:

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Dargon » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:26 pm

I may be unqualified to speak on this issue, but I will try.

I have twice experienced what I believe to be romantic attraction. As inanechild said, it is different from longing for a friend's company or "basic" lust." Really, though, I cannot expand on that, it's different and unlike any other feeling I have experienced, and cliche as it sounds, it's one of those things that must be felt.

The reason I feel unqualified to speak of this, is despite having experience romantic attraction, I still have no desire to act upon it. Towards both people I have felt it for, I have had no desire to take our relationships beyond what it already is/was. From what Emmarainbow has said, I am the exact opposite of her. I have never felt an desire to be in a relationship with someone, but have felt the attraction.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Dame du Lac » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:48 pm

I should probably point out for those of you who no longer visit AVEN that I'm the person who started the threads on aromantics in relationships and what constitutes "romantic" that Placebo is referring to.

Like Dargon I have had crushes on people that were romantic in nature although I wanted to form relationships with them at the time. But my confusion comes from not generally feeling that I need to seek out relationships. Yet, because I want children I'd like to marry; I also occasionally think how nice it would be to have someone in my life. But I don't know that these desires are "romantic" as such. I don't envisage myself falling in love and partnering up on that basis, rather I think of meeting someone I like and who is suitable.

My experience of being in a relationship is similar to that of my experience of sex; I don't feel what I would have expected to feel, it all seems a bit emotionally alien and distant. It seems unusual to me that I have never been in love (I'm 35) and that I don't really seek it. I would hesitate to call myself aromantic though, like I'm hesistant to say outright that I'm asexual, because in both cases I'm not adverse to relationships or sex but I find it impossible to motivate myself to seek them out and they haven't made me feel connected. When opportunities for either come up I always seem to have a reason not to pursue them.

I seem to have low level desires all round. Although I find many people aesthetically pleasing I experience very low levels of sexual and romantic desire and low levels of desire for physical and emotional affection.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ghosts » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:59 am

eh... I never quite know how to respond to these kinds of threads.

This is sort of a random post, but I've been thinking a lot lately about the different "modes" of attraction. . . mostly sexual attraction, for obvious reasons, but also the others. I have a pretty high tactile/physical drive, like to touch and cuddle and all that, but I was reading a post on AVEN about romantic attraction and aromantics in relationships. I generally call myself aromantic because I have no idea what romantic means. But I was trying to think about it and got confused. So I'm getting closer, I think, to at least a conceptual understanding of sexual attraction. My question now is, anyone want to talk specifically about romantic attraction/romantic drive and what it means to them, either in sexual or non-sexual contexts?


Mayhaps everyone experiences "romantic attraction" differently. I feel like calling myself "aromantic" means I'd be denying my feelings, yet "romantic" doesn't quite seem to fit either. I mean... I don't know. I guess I feel like romantic vs. aromantic is another way of setting up a clear dividing line between 2 different types of relationships, which doesn't seem to work for me right now. Maybe romantic attraction is really a combination of different kinds of attractions and emotions and hormonal things going on in people.

There seems to be a lot of sentiments that "If you have to ask, you haven't felt it." & while that may be true in some cases, I have to imagine that people experience something like "romantic attraction" differently. I mean, romance is such a vague word, & it means so many different things for people, from chocolates & flowers & candlelit dinners, to butterflies in the stomach & sexual desire, to wanting to be in a monogamous relationship & getting married. But does it mean that for all of us? Is there really only one kind of attraction, with certain kinds of experiences & leading to certain kinds of desires, that can be categorized as "romantic attraction" in all people? I hope I'm explaining myself well enough here...

Maybe if you experience something that you think should be called "romantic attraction", this is one of those instances in which you should use that word to best fit your own experiences. In my own situation, I'm a little nervous of using it because I'm trying to think of my relationships in different ways so I don't want to use a sort of binary way of thinking about my feelings, even though I certainly get different feelings about different people. Maybe I'll end up finding that "romantic attraction" is a good word to use for how I feel at some point, but I don't know.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby spin » Thu May 01, 2008 10:04 pm

Honestly, and maybe this is just me getting cranky about all the word games folks play at the other place, but I don't find "romantic/aromantic" a useful distinction. I think of "romance," as a very peculiar and internal sort of social construction, and therefore interest in "romantic" relationships is a highly personal question and depends on a multitude of variables.

I spent some time last year on a polyamory forum, where I asked people describe for me their concept of a "romantic" relationship and whether they could have a romantic relationship with an asexual person. I got back a wide array of answers, from the view that romantic partners were necessarily sexual partners, to people who could see having an asexual romantic partner along with romantic+sexual partners, to those who saw all emotionally intimate relationships such as close friendships as romantic, others who considered their sexual partners' other sexual partners as romantic partners of theirs (eg, two heterosexual men in relationships with one woman), and someone who described her close relationship with her sister as romantic.

How would I define romantic love? Depends on which way the wind is blowing and who I have in mind. Mutual emotional interdependence? Thinking of another's wellbeing before one's own? Desiring continued emotional intimacy with someone else? Friendship + makeouts?

I fell in love. Sappy lovesong swoony distractedness and all. That's biochemical. I attach notions of romance to that because that's what I've been raised to associate with those real physiological feelings. As I see it, that kind of love is a sociobiological thing and how it is interpreted is an individual experience that depends on both the greater psychosocial context and the relationship in question.

When it comes down to it, I describe my relationship as a romantic one because in my view my partner and I fit the basic social model of a romantic relationship in our society, and because he describes it as such. Honestly, I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about terminology, and what exactly makes my love for him distinct for my love, or what relationships in my life I'd categorize as "romantic" or not, and I don't think about relationship desires as "romantic attraction" because that's semantic as well. I think it's a waste of energy, because naming it doesn't have any bearing on how I already perceive these relationships, and even if I work these things out for myself we don't have the shared vocabulary (in this community, in general) for me to express to others what this means.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Dargon » Fri May 02, 2008 3:01 pm

spin wrote:Honestly, and maybe this is just me getting cranky about all the word games folks play at the other place, but I don't find "romantic/aromantic" a useful distinction. I think of "romance," as a very peculiar and internal sort of social construction, and therefore interest in "romantic" relationships is a highly personal question and depends on a multitude of variables.


While this is true, there is still society's definition, which, while still up to interpretation, is much more set than individual definitions. While it doesn't explicitly state it, society heavily implies that a romantic relationship is one that is deep, more important than other relationships, usually monogamous, and usually sexual. As such, the term "aromantic" can still, at least in my opinion, safely apply with respect to that fairly steady definition.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Witch of Wapping » Sun May 04, 2008 8:22 am

Interesting - I think we're definitely talking about a range of different things, and that I agree with Spin, and disagree with Dargon, about the dizzying amount of subjectivity in the meanings anyone at all, "society" included, applies to the word "romantic". Anyway, society uses the phrases "romantic relationship", "intimate relationship", "sexual relationship" pretty much interchangeably, and we're not talking about society's use of language I think; this is very much ours.

A long time ago, in a place far away, indeed the early days of the other place but before my time, when people were trying to get their heads round our diversity by over-analysing and categorising us according to the "ABCD system", or the "Rabger system", or whatever else, the words "romantic" and "aromantic" (sometimes even "romantic or aromantic orientation") got latched onto as asexual-speak for "feeling like I am in some way, which is not precisely sexual, attracted to people or drawn to intimate relationships with them" or - well, not feeling any of that. I've never thought it was the right word. It might work for "aromantics" to help define what they're not, but it's clear as mud to me, and obviously others of us on the other side of the equation.

Personally, like most people who have kept a lesbian or gay self-definition alongside the word asexual, I want a way of saying that - that I am drawn to women, and that is an important part of who I am. (Some of the word games consist of making neat lists of parallel "orientations" - "heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, asexual" as a way of saying everyone is just one of those, and some of us are more than one.) I can't describe how I'm drawn to women - it includes having been in love, having been part of a community, having grown closer in a dizzying, crushed-out way, to a few women who started as friends - the way the wind is blowing, as Spin says. But mostly it isn't about "romance" really, it's about human beings being complicated.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby cyan » Wed May 07, 2008 12:03 am

I tend to classify myself as romantic because I am interested in forming (a) committed relationship(s) with people for whom I will have strong, deep feelings, complete trust, and (ideally) lots of cuddles, who will feel the same sorts of feelings and have the same sorts of intentions towards me. I'm thinking that that's what I would classify as my "romantic drive" -- something that is currently unattached to a specific person, but setting forth a goal I would like to blunder my way towards.

I have been romantically attracted to precisely one person so far. It's been over a year, so I can't quite recall anymore how I finally identified that was what was happening. He makes me smile by just being nearby; I miss him when he's not around (when I'm particularly sleep-deprived, this reaches the absurd heights of missing him when he's in another room). I'll happily spend all night talking with him. Most of the time, we don't lack for things to talk about, and the rest, the silences don't seem awkward. And I crave physical contact with him like no one's business. That's what I think of when I think of "romantic attraction".

In other words, it's probably mostly physiological ("oxytocin poisoning", as it was called in another thread) combined with social constructs. I've actually been considering recently whether it actually is anything more than strong friendship combined with strong physical attraction (-- for clarification, I'm defining this as "the desire to have physical contact with the other person"). I've felt strong friendship with others before, and I've felt physical attraction towards others before, but I believe this is the first time both have occurred simultaneously.

There has yet to be a meeting of the stars quite fortuitous enough that I have encountered someone who desires to be in a romantic relationship with me, when I also desire to be in a romantic relationship with them, though, and I feel that my definition will probably be lacking something until that occurs.

So I guess the most honest answer I can give is, "I'm making it up as I go along." :roll:

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Nathan » Wed May 07, 2008 10:51 am

I do actually think of “romantic relationship” and “intimate relationship” as meaning the same thing – the type of partnering sexual people would have with a “sexual relationship.” Candlelit dinners and other socially romantic things wouldn't be a big part of an intimate relationship for me, and I wouldn't describe a relationship of mine with the word “romantic,” but I don't think those things are the focus for others either. At least, they aren't a focus in a way that leads society to distinguish between “romantic” and “intimate” relationships, except maybe that “romantic” is a stepping stone to “romantic+intimate”. Anyway, both are getting at the same way of relating to people (and that way usually isn't separate from a “sexual relationship”). So I'm not sure it's too useful for us to separate “romantic” and “intimate,” unless we're talking about some sort of arrangement with candlelit dinners and poems apart from anything else, which I don't think we are.

As far as what romantic attraction (intimate attraction?) feels like, I think the “if you have to ask, you haven't felt it” thing is baloney. The feeling itself is hard to miss, but what it means is not obvious, when there's no sexual attraction to make someone say Ah, I want a sexual/intimate/romantic relationship here. I think the whole question comes down to the difference between a friendship and a relationship.* There are certain people, on occasion, who I think are really interesting people and want to get to know if I don't already, spend a lot of time with, talk for hours about all sorts of things, etc. I look forward to seeing them, in an “urgent” kind of way, not simply an “I'd like to see them” kind of way, sometimes counting the hours until I get to hang out with them, or even until I'll have a chance to see or interact with them at all. There's that “gasp! There they are! What are they thinking?! Will they sit next to me?!” fluttery feeling inside.

For the longest time I felt this was the feeling of wanting to become friends with someone, since there wasn't a sexual component to how I felt. I simply wanted to talk to them, spend time with them. But these friends, if I did get to know them, never seemed to like me enough or want to spend time with me very much. I was constantly disappointed, never feeling like I was very good friends with people. But I realized that, in fact, people did like me, and were fine friends with me – good friends, even. It was just that what I looked for in a fulfilling friendship is, in fact, not contained in the usual sense of being friends with someone (at least it seems that way, judging from how my friends are friends with people). My idea of what a friendship is, and what I'd want out of one, was really more along the lines of how most people think of a relationship; how I felt about friends was actually more the feeling of liking someone.

For me, romantic/intimate attraction has to do with what kind of relationship I would like to have with the person, how I would like to interact with them. For most people this kind of connection would probably be more along the lines of a dating relationship. While I believe an intimate relationship would enrich my life, and hope it will happen, I don't go around trying to seek that out – there's not a relationship drive, so to speak. But when I like/am intimately attracted to someone, I desire to interact with them in a way that I think would socially be other-than-friends, although I couldn't care less what it would be labeled. Some people would say it would be “just” a friendship, by their definition. But I know that it would be without a doubt far closer and, well, different than my understanding of conventional friendship – and probably far closer than many sexual relationships I've observed, too, since often sexuality, not emotional intimacy, is what sets those apart from friendship.

-----
*I'm not quite comfortable with the binary I've set up here, but most people do see a difference between friendships and relationships, for better for worse, and I think I need to talk about this within that structure. I enjoy blurring the lines, but that means there are lines to be blurred. Also, by using those two words I don't mean that friendships are not relationships – I think people use “relationship” in two ways, one encompassing any kind of interpersonal connection, and one meaning a particular sort of shared-life intimate connection. I use it in both ways, but I'm not at all saying it's ever somehow more important than “just” friendship.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Placebo » Sun May 11, 2008 1:55 pm

I have been sort of letting this thread play out, the answers that everyone has are so interesting and unique. It's interesting that, relative to the concept of sexual attraction--which does seem to be a pretty straight line, "if you feel it, you know" thing--romantic attraction is sort of squishy. Some of us obviously have felt it--fallen in love, the switch clicked, somehow they felt something that was undeniably a romantic attraction. Some of us haven't, but whether that is just because we develop such feelings much more slowly so that we don't notice it all at once seems to be open to interpretation.

A lot of it must be personal style. I saw my sister with her first crush/romantic relationship. She was twitterpated, no two ways about it. She couldn't stop talking about Him, thinking about Him, planning times to go and visit Him (or have him visit her). In comparison, in my first relationship, I really don't see that. It developed so seamlessly from friendship into intense friendship into intense friendship/with sexual expression that I never found (and still don't feel) any explicit romantic elements in it. Perhaps it's romantic and I never noticed. I have no idea. Perhaps it's really just impossible to define, but it's interesting that it really is so difficult to do so.

I find the various people that have defined romantic relationships largely as individual expressions of societal constructs interesting, but it still seems like there should be something a little more concrete or solid, unless romantic attraction is actually just some chimeric fusion of the various other types. I have a pretty solid conceptual understanding of sexual attraction. I don't seem to feel it, but I can follow what people say about it, what it is or isn't. Physical attraction is no problem whatsoever for me, same with emotional and aesthetic. Those are all pretty locked in, I can point (at least in a general way) to where physical separates from sexual and emotional separates from aesthetic. I can see how the physical/sexual elements can blend together for some people, too. But romantic? No so much. Maybe it really is just invented by Hallmark, but it seems to be something more, that at least some people do understand for themselves; the "butterflies in the stomach" feeling, maybe, or the "in love/twitterpated" feeling. Is it just a strong and heady blend of physical/emotional attraction, or a sexual/physical/emotional fusion of some sort, for sexual people? Is it really a fundamentally different form of attraction and I just didn't get a copy of that one, either? Or does it happen but in my case so slowly that I never even noticed? Or is it the opposite, and when I am meeting a new friend and feel temporarily "infatuated" or have some sort of mild friendship crush, is that as full-blown as my romantic feelings will ever get, and I just don't define it the same way because it IS friendship based and thus not societally appropriate?

Awesome discussion, guys.
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Dargon » Sun May 11, 2008 7:33 pm

Placebo, your mention of timeframe got me to thinking. As I stated earlier, I have experienced what I am quite sure is romantic attraction. I did not, however, mention timeframe.

The first time I felt it, I had known the girl for about a year. It took me awhile to identify the feeling, and it did build slowly.

The second time the onset was much faster, fast enough that it worried me. I had only known the girl for about two months before the feeling developed. Again, it was not instantaneous; it definitely started small and slowly grew.

Again, I am speaking entirely from my own experience and in no way speak for everyone, but for myself, and I know twice is not a large sample size, but it has always developed over time, and has always happened after friendship was well established.

I can't help but wonder if the relationship itself progressed like Placebo's, rather than stopping at a "good friends" level while the feeling grew, if I would had even noticed the feeling at all. It would make sense to me that if the relationship grows at the same speed as the feeling, the feeling is less noticeable. FOr instance, many of my close friendships, I never realized how close we had gotten until I moved.

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Olivier
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Olivier » Mon May 12, 2008 6:17 pm

Placebo wrote:Is it just a strong and heady blend of physical/emotional attraction, or a sexual/physical/emotional fusion of some sort, for sexual people?

For me, romance is more a drive that covers these three spheres of attraction, rather than a separate form of attraction in its own right. Romantic drive seems to have two components:

1) A drive to increase you own levels of attraction, or to maintain a high state of attraction, by actions to deliberately create conditions in which attraction may thrive and grow.

2) A drive to be a "giver" - to trigger or increase your partner's levels of attraction through emotionally/sexually/physically generous actions.

Most important for me is the drive to increase/maintain emotional attraction, but certainly the same things are going on for sexual and physical attraction, and even aesthetic attraction (the "dressing up" aspect of romance).

And I guess seeing romance as a drive to increase other forms of attraction in both you and your partner would explain the initial rush, and slow fade: it's a case of diminishing returns. In the beginning of relationship, it's easy to increase attraction levels, because you're coming off a low base. Later, it's not so much about creating the attraction from nothing, but giving it a bit of a nudge every now and then to make sure you don't slip backwards.

* is really pleased with that explanation, which turned out even better than the one I had when I started writing the post :) *

Thanks for starting the thread, Placebo, it's been great food for thought.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Nathan » Tue May 13, 2008 5:51 am

Placebo wrote:I find the various people that have defined romantic relationships largely as individual expressions of societal constructs interesting, but it still seems like there should be something a little more concrete or solid, unless romantic attraction is actually just some chimeric fusion of the various other types.
Hm, interesting. I said before I just think of "romance" for me as "creating an intimate relationship," but maybe it does mean something on its own. Since I'd probably want to have all the (emotional) goals of romance, and romantic things, I define how I feel as that since it's pretty close. But, you're right, those societal constructs of being romantic came from somewhere. Or maybe part of romance is just something of a script that developed to structure a dating relationship. Or maybe all the fundamental bits (closeness, joy, care, other wishy-washy things) of what romantic relationships bring to somebody's life are basic needs/desires, and today, we tend to meet many of those fundamental needs with romantic relationships. But the modern romantic relationship is relatively new -- there are other ways than that to meet those needs.

I'm pretty sure that was clearer in my brain.

For most people, maybe all of this romancy relationshipy stuff is more all linked together -- intimacy/sexuality are linked, and romance leads to that, so romance is pretty clearly a dating-track kind of thing. But since sexuality isn't a thread tieing all those fundamental things together for me, they don't have to come as part of a dating (sexual) relationship. I'd rather break apart all those bits, all those ways of being close to someone. As you say, my individual expression of an intimate relationship is close to the romance construct, but not? Constructing it out of parts, vs. taking it off the shelf? David Jay tangentially addressed that sort of thing in his recent podcast.
Interesting.

Placebo wrote:I have a pretty solid conceptual understanding of sexual attraction. I don't seem to feel it, but I can follow what people say about it, what it is or isn't.
Can you try to explain what it is?!

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ghosts
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ghosts » Wed May 21, 2008 8:07 am

I haven't commented in this thread in awhile, but I think where it went is really interesting.
spin wrote:I spent some time last year on a polyamory forum, where I asked people describe for me their concept of a "romantic" relationship and whether they could have a romantic relationship with an asexual person. I got back a wide array of answers, from the view that romantic partners were necessarily sexual partners, to people who could see having an asexual romantic partner along with romantic+sexual partners, to those who saw all emotionally intimate relationships such as close friendships as romantic, others who considered their sexual partners' other sexual partners as romantic partners of theirs (eg, two heterosexual men in relationships with one woman), and someone who described her close relationship with her sister as romantic.

This is pretty cool - I've thought about labeling all of my close relationships as romantic to see how that works.

spin wrote:When it comes down to it, I describe my relationship as a romantic one because in my view my partner and I fit the basic social model of a romantic relationship in our society, and because he describes it as such. Honestly, I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about terminology, and what exactly makes my love for him distinct for my love, or what relationships in my life I'd categorize as "romantic" or not, and I don't think about relationship desires as "romantic attraction" because that's semantic as well. I think it's a waste of energy, because naming it doesn't have any bearing on how I already perceive these relationships, and even if I work these things out for myself we don't have the shared vocabulary (in this community, in general) for me to express to others what this means.

I think that's a good attitude to have. I admittedly get really into these kinds of discussions, but at the end of the day, I don't let it bother me about whether or not one or more of my relationships are "technically" romantic or not, whether I experience romantic attraction, how I should label my relationships, etc. It's cool to think about, but I really just like fucking with peoples' concepts of these terms and relationships in general rather than going through some sort of personal identity crisis, if that makes any sense.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby positivegirl » Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:18 pm

O=
I think a romantic relationship is where you like the person more so for the feeling and emoitions that arroused between the two of you rather than the physical or just wanting to 'own' (be in a relationship with randomly) them. Which is heavily inspired by the media and I think that romantisicism is actually what keeps a lot of people from having decent and real relationships, at least the ones I know. I don't think the romantic feelings and displays of affections will be like what's constantly shown on tv where they would go to the end of the world but more like an honest friendship that's evolved into love where one doesn't have to go the end of the world and they don't have to choose that person over everyone else in their life. This in my opinion is a healthy romantic relationship that's also realistic. And it doesn't necessarily have to be sexual in any way at all.
:P
Bre

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ily
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ily » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:36 pm

I'll admit that I have a MUCH better idea of what sexual attraction is compared to romantic attraction. The latter might have happened to me before, but I definitely didn't know it when I saw it.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Placebo » Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:41 pm

ily wrote:I'll admit that I have a MUCH better idea of what sexual attraction is compared to romantic attraction. The latter might have happened to me before, but I definitely didn't know it when I saw it.


Yeah, I realized I never answered the question that Nathan asked above. In my head it makes sense from reading what some of the sexuals describe but I can't write it down well. In comparison, I don't quite get romantic attraction in my head OR on paper! :-( I suppose I'm not very much help!!

I still find it interesting that in my (continuing. . . .) sexual relationship, I don't feel like it's romantic. It's great, close, intimate, cuddly and fun. . . and we probably fit the definition of a "romantic" relationship to a T, to outsiders. I suppose if romantic attraction is actually a fusion of others, that would explain why--I miss out on adding in the sexual part. On the other hand, by the societal definition--it's absolutely a romantic relationship. Oh well!
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Lehcar » Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:02 pm

i think one of the greatest difficulties with talking about romantic attraction/drive is that everyone's definition is a little different. Sexual attraction is a little easier to pin down I think, if only because of the physiological component. But emotional and social connections of any kinda are always grey areas.

Personally, I usually identify as aromantic for a couple reasons; I'm not interested in the exclusive relationship that demands special time and attention that a 'romantic' relationship is often identified by, and I've never been tempted to enter such a relationship due to attraction to either gender. Now, if I wanted to get technical about it, I could probably call that first reason a lack of a 'romantic' drive.

Human relationships are very interesting things - thinking in an evolutionary way, we're influenced by several different parts and structures within the brain that determine our social needs/wants, and each structure has been developed in order to meet different need throughout our evolutionary history. There are as many different kinds of familial bond as there are families, as many different kinds of friendships as there are friends. Hell! There are even countless different kinds of dislike and enmity. Why on earth should it be different for romantic relationships?

One part of me scorns labels of any kind, and wonders why we even bother to have this conversation when we KNOW that it means something different to every participant. Another side of me recognizes that there is a traditional type of relationship among humans, most commonly referred to as 'romantic' - and I really, really can't understand it because I've never experienced anything that resembles it, so I almost wish sometimes that I could just 'try it out' in order to understand what the fuss is about. Yet another part insists that every relationship and behaviour should and CAN be compartmentalized in order for true understanding to occur. I have to navigate between these roads of thought, and hopefully find something that makes sense in the 'real' world.

I love hearing everyone's thoughts on this subject, because every new point of view is another piece of 'data' to use in order to explore the world around us. Keep the insight coming!

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Witch of Wapping » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:35 am

Ooh, great work in reviving discussions on apositive, Lehcar!

I've been concerned lately about vocabulary and definitions in AVEN, because new people seem to come along, study the Wiki, and decide we have a more and more detailed vocabulary, where someone knows exactly what we mean by more and more words, and they need to get up to speed. Then they start threads about the difference between a demi-asexual and a grey-aromantic; or what you get if you mix one word out of the ABCD system with one word out of Rabger's system and bake slowly at a low temperature for 50 minutes. I find this yet another unnerving trend on AVEN that I'm not sure how to challenge.

I can see it all seems much more exciting than just saying that asexuals are a self-defined community and everyone's experience of relationships, and use of language to describe them, is a bit different - and I know it's important to go on discussing our experiences, just also to remember that we can't come to a universal answer.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ily » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:38 pm

Witch of Wapping wrote:Ooh, great work in reviving discussions on apositive, Lehcar!
I've been concerned lately about vocabulary and definitions in AVEN, because new people seem to come along, study the Wiki, and decide we have a more and more detailed vocabulary, where someone knows exactly what we mean by more and more words, and they need to get up to speed. Then they start threads about the difference between a demi-asexual and a grey-aromantic; or what you get if you mix one word out of the ABCD system with one word out of Rabger's system and bake slowly at a low temperature for 50 minutes. I find this yet another unnerving trend on AVEN that I'm not sure how to challenge.


Word. I totally agree with that. I guess a theoretical discussion needs to take place somewhere, but it seems premature to be dissecting these identities to the nth degree when most people still think asexuals are folks who reproduce by themselves or whatnot. :deadpan:

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Placebo » Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:23 pm

Well, we don't necessarily need to make the sub-sub-sub types public, but I think it's helpful to talk about it. It's basically how each of us is working through our own identity in our respective heads, right? And lots of us are young-ish and still answering the question "Who am I?" If to answer that question, part of your answer is, "I'm a grey-asexual, aromantic, bi-aesthetic, hetero-tactile who's interested in a relationship with. . . someone, but maybe I'll just get a cat instead. . .. " then that's a good answer. Obviously it's not conducive to those bubble sheets you fill out on standardized tests, but as long as it's personally helpful I think it's good.

It also seems like the vocabulary goes in waves. . . it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then starts sort of collapsing and simplifying behind us as we keep moving forward. Or maybe that's just my imagination.
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby wintermute » Sun Nov 23, 2008 3:39 pm

Personally, I think it's counter-productive to start producing exacting lists of subtypes of attraction and desire and so on. It makes it seem that we're inventing labels for ourselves, and becomes easy to dismiss as a faddish thing. Also we can all get tied up arguing who is in and who is out based on each person's narrow interpretation of a series of words, which entirely misses the point of forming a community in the first place. I also think generating jargon is a bad idea - it's exclusive and it makes discussions using jargon terms dense and hard to penetrate by "outsiders" which isn't what we should be looking for - I for one am looking for ways to promote knowledge and acceptance of asexuality, and making it seem strange by dressing it in a cloud of pseudo-pop psychology doesn't really help.

Besides which, I think it would be easy to make the case that the notion of having a romantic interest (or not) in someone is separated from sexual attraction. People with average levels of sexual drive can be "aromantic" and simply look for meaningless sexual contact without wanting any kind of long term entanglement, similarly some people seem to fall head over heels in love at the first sight of someone.
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ily » Sun Nov 23, 2008 4:54 pm

wintermute wrote: I also think generating jargon is a bad idea - it's exclusive and it makes discussions using jargon terms dense and hard to penetrate by "outsiders" which isn't what we should be looking for...


I agree with this. There's no other orientation that separates sexual and romantic attraction. Maybe it would be useful if they did, but the fact is that they don't (yet?). I wouldn't want asexuality to seem more complicated or confusing than other orientations, because I don't think it has to be. If we have so much jargon so early in the movement, I won't even understand asexuality 10 years from now. :scratch:

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby ghosts » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:11 am

Witch of Wapping wrote:I've been concerned lately about vocabulary and definitions in AVEN, because new people seem to come along, study the Wiki, and decide we have a more and more detailed vocabulary, where someone knows exactly what we mean by more and more words, and they need to get up to speed. Then they start threads about the difference between a demi-asexual and a grey-aromantic; or what you get if you mix one word out of the ABCD system with one word out of Rabger's system and bake slowly at a low temperature for 50 minutes. I find this yet another unnerving trend on AVEN that I'm not sure how to challenge.

Absolutely... There's a lot of those discussions lately. I find it hard to get involved in them because I feel like I'm just saying the same thing over and over again... "Oh, I'm not romantic or aromantic, I'm just calling myself asexual right now, yadda yadda yadda." Or that the "difference" is whatever you want it to be. They can certainly be helpful for some people, but I'm not a fan of the idea that we need to pin down strict definitions and then try to find where we all fit in.

Placebo wrote:It also seems like the vocabulary goes in waves. . . it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then starts sort of collapsing and simplifying behind us as we keep moving forward. Or maybe that's just my imagination.

I'm kinda thinking that too... Once we find out that certain words don't work for certain people, more terms might be created. And then there'll be a whole bunch of words out there, & no one will be able to remember what they mean anymore. :P And then everyone will just say that they're queer, & elaborate when asked.

ily wrote:There's no other orientation that separates sexual and romantic attraction. Maybe it would be useful if they did, but the fact is that they don't (yet?).

Hm... Well, I'm sort of straying from what you were saying here, but even though I'm not crazy about using "romantic attraction" & all that, I can see where it is a helpful concept in discussing the idea that sexual attraction is inseparable from close relationships. I'm not sure if I have a very good alternative to talk about that idea... Bah.

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby wintermute » Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:15 am

AVEN started to irritate me on a number of levels and the amount of jargon was one of them. I think, especially at this stage in the development of the "asexual community", it doesn't matter what words people are using to describe themselves, especially when it's internally generated, self referencing stuff, essentially made up psychobabble. I don't really see any reason for it, at all. Trying to quantify something as broad and nebulous as human sexuality and romance is a task best left to the professionals, be they poets or psychoanalysts.
Cicero wrote:"Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language"

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby Placebo » Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:18 pm

I get that. . .and I like the idea of just saying "queer" and moving forward. On the other hand, although the jargon can get dense, it's nice to see that people can accept a broad spectrum of ways of being. And I would expect to see a little more in-depth discussion on a board like apositive than say, AVEN--since this was created to deal more with the nitty gritty of asexuality rather than the broad outline.
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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby wintermute » Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:38 am

I think you can discuss it without making up words. In fact I've often found a good measure for someone's level of professional competence and understanding of a subject is how well they can describe it in layman's terms without resorting to jargon
Cicero wrote:"Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language"

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Re: Romantic attraction?

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:38 am

In defense of jargon, I think that it can have it's place. I have, in fact, made up a few of my own and even written about the history of some of them. If I have a concept for something, it is useful to have a word to express it. I can express the concept without a word for it but that is generally going to require using several words rather than just one. If this is a concept that I want to express on a regular basis, it is a lot easier to use that single word rather than the lengthy phrase every time I want to express it.

Using a group's jargon also is a way to signify in-group identity, to create an image of yourself as someone knowledgeable on a subject. This is probably why outsiders can become hesitant towards too much jargon--especially if they understand to mean something that could be said just as easily--or more easily--without the fancy words.

Sometimes the words end up being fairly void of content, and they are used more for show than for substance. Using big words can make you sound more intelligent than you are--or it can make you look like someone trying to sound more intelligent than you are.

I guess that my position is that making up our own words is pretty much inevitable. However, it is important to have resources available for newcomers to be able to understand them. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to me that part of learning about asexuality is learning some of the vocab. This is true for just about anything else we learn about, so I don't see it as being a real problem if it is true for asexuality as well.