Relationships vs relationships.

General discussion about relationship issues.
Kez
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Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:38 pm

I was talking to Paul a few weeks ago, about the difference between a Relationship and a relationship. It's all very hard to put a finger on it, because it's more abstract thoughts and concepts...

I felt that a Relationship was one where both/multiple partners agreed that they _were_ in a Relationship more than just friends... but then when the agreement is unspoken, is it still a Relationship? Or is it a relationship, that has potential to become a Relationship?

Friendships (platonic), although relationships, I don't think can ever become a full Relationship, even though the parties involved may have spoken about their relationship out loud.

Words fail me! Can anyone else have a go at this for me?

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spin
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby spin » Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:28 pm

. . .I think it really depends on, um, everything. There are so many kinds of people, so many kinds of r/Relationships, and so many ways of communicating. . .

I am in a mutually acknowledged but an undefined Relationship. We have talked around our Relationship, we have talked about how we don't know what our r/Relationship is, but it's clear (if I suppose technically unspoken) that our relationship is a Relationship.

I do believe certain friendships can become Relationships. I've seen it happen.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:48 pm

Yes, but then the friendship has changed into a Relationship. It's more the fact that a platonic friendship cannot become a platonic Relationship.

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spin
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby spin » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:07 pm

Oh my, this is getting confusing.

How are you using "platonic" here? Do you mean a nonsexual friendship cannot become a romantic but still nonsexual Relationship? 'cause. . .well, I don't know. I think most relationships as categories are liable to shifting around, it just completely depends on the specific people and context.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:14 pm

I told you it was confusing!

Platonic as a non sexual affectionate relationship. I wouldn't call winter and Paul in a platonic relationship, because even though it fits, it's more, because they've made a commitment.

I mean, once a friendship becomes a Relationship, the whole dynamic of everything changes. They're still friends, but it's become something more ... tangible.

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spin
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby spin » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:21 pm

Sorry, hon. You've lost me.

This is why I like describing things more than trying to apply words to them. Takes more time, but comes out a bit clearer.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:25 pm

But ultimately, you agree that a Relationship is different to a relationship? How would you describe a Relationship, and how would you describe a relationship?

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spin
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby spin » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:31 pm

Not fair!

Ah, but see, I can't describe either. I can only basically understand them in relation to one another.

I suppose I would interpret the more "serious" Relationship to probably be:
mutual
central
uniquely bonded on some emotional/spiritual/intellectual/physical level(s)

I dunno beyond that, though.

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ghosts
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:04 am

Oh yeah, a confusing topic - I don't quite have the language for this all the time.

I'm not crazy about the big R little r thing to describe relationships, because it just tends to separate things into categories that I don't think need to be there (not a big fan of the "romantic" vs. "friendship" distinctions).

Sorry if I sound like a broken record...

For me, ultimately I have a relationship with everyone in my life. Each relationship is at least a little bit different - there are different attractions involved, different kinds of affection, different types of intimacy, activities that we do together, levels of commitment, feelings involved, and so on and so forth. I can understand the concept of Relationship vs. relationship, but to me it just mixes/confuses things for me, so I don't think I want to bother using them.

Let's just say that I can sort of picture all my relationships as a web. There are some central relationships in there, each of which might be different from each other but still are the most important relationships in my life. (perhaps these would be the big R's?) And then from there, the strands move outwards, along with the relationships. I don't know if this is a great way to imagine it though...

Kez wrote:I felt that a Relationship was one where both/multiple partners agreed that they _were_ in a Relationship more than just friends... but then when the agreement is unspoken, is it still a Relationship? Or is it a relationship, that has potential to become a Relationship?

The "just friends" part gets to me as always, because it minimizes the importance of a particular relationship.

But anyway - I'm in some undefined relationships. We know how we feel about each other and the role we play in each others' lives, but that doesn't mean we've had some sort of conversation/agreement that we were "in a Relationship".

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KAGU143
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby KAGU143 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:41 pm

I don't think there is a great deal of difference between the two as far as what is done or the depth of feeling which is shared.
To me, the main difference is probably one of mutually understood lifelong commitment. It doesn't have to be marriage and it doesn't have to be entirely exclusive, but if there is no mutually expressed commitment then I would call it the little r version of relationship.
It might be little r in a really huge font, but it would be a little r just the same.

Oxytocin poisoning wears off in about two years on average, and at that point the other person's faults suddenly become not only evident, but significant. Little things become big things, the rose colored glasses break, and all that is left is reality.
I am very skeptical of any relationship which hasn't at least endured past this point.

-GB
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Mr. Paradox
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Mr. Paradox » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:50 am

Hmm. Owl and squirrel wedding date: December 30 2007. Second anniversary of meeting: January 19 2008.

For what it's worth, I think I flushed out the last of the poison within the past 6-9 months. I don't feel as off my nut as I used to. I really like it much better this way.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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ghosts
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:48 am

Oxytocin poisoning... when exactly would that kick in during a relationship?

And also... I mean, if we went by the big R little r system, I'll let you know that some very non-cuddly and non-kissy relationships are up there in the top level. For example - my grandmother. I sort of doubt I experienced the oxytocin poisoning with her though. :P

Also again - I'm going to be odd and say that sometimes, a group or community might be there in the center ring/strand for me of my relationship web thing, if that makes sense. For example - this was especially relevant with my last band, but the group as a whole was one of my central relationships - I suppose I could have counted all of them separately as individual relationships (which of course they were), but I think it was as a group that the band took a spot in the center. And within that group of people, there was/is one person who also took an individual spot in the center apart from the band.

I suppose that's a really weird way of thinking about it, but I think it's sort of related to DJ's idea of community-based intimacy in a way. Alas, while the bands I'm in are generally big commitments, I think there's an understanding that it might not last forever because that's the way bands often operate, unfortunately.

Now, what would that mean with the big R little r system (or am I just hopelessly fucked up?)? Band = Relationship, individual bandmembers = relationships - or maybe Relationships, I'd have to think on that, grandmother = Relationship, that one individual bandmember = Relationship

Maybe I'm just a weird one. Hopefully I'm not invalidating my whole opinion and whatnot by posting the details here. But still, I think I'm staying away for the big R little r for now, unless it makes more sense to me in the future.

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KAGU143
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:29 am

Oi .... it's still dark and my coffee hasn't kicked in, but I want to try to clarify what I wrote. *crosses fingers* Wish me luck! I'm gonna need it ...

The effects of oxytocin would be one of those subjects that I would REALLY like to have listed in our collection of research. My memory isn't as reliable as I would like. (understatement)
As I recall, 2 years is about average, but that, of course, means that it can be either longer or shorter. Mainly, from the biological standpoint, it just needs to get that child conceived and weaned.

When does it kick in?
It can occur within minutes. (Think: "Love at first sight") One of the things that triggers it is simple physical contact. Orgasm or other sexual pleasure is another one, and I would suppose that massage or hair grooming might do the same thing. (Dang it -- I NEED those links!) I think that it needs SOME sort of physical presence at the very minimum, but I'm not 100% sure about that.
Personally, I have wondered if ordinary sexual arousal might sometimes be able to trigger it too? I don't have any research data to back this up, but I have heard that men are, statistically, much more likely than women to "fall in love" after merely seeing someone they consider attractive. If the sight of an attractive person causes sexual arousal, and if that arousal triggers the release of oxytocin, then that "love" would feel very real to them, at least for as long as the hormone lasted. Many women flatly discount this sort of "love" as nonexistent, and consider a man who professes it to be lying in order to get into her pants. While I also would tend to believe the "get into the pants" part, I think the man's feelings might be more real than he is being given credit for.

Incidentally, I also believe that the lack of oxytocin as a sort of biological "validation" is why is is so easy for some people to abandon online relationships. Again, I don't know of any research to back this up. It just seems logical to me, based on what I have observed.

I am very much a cynic when it comes to hormone-influenced feelings. (Does that surprise anybody?) This is why I call it oxytocin poisoning. The rest of the planet, strangely enough, calls it LOVE, or eros. By the way, it doesn't totally vanish at the two-year mark. It diminishes some, but it can come back for encore appearances. (Maybe this is why repeated sex is so important in holding some otherwise-shaky relationships together?)

The other kinds of love (philea and agape) don't have the built-in expiration date that eros does. In an ideal situation, those kinds of love will develop during the primary eros-influenced stage of a relationship and they will then take over, allowing that kind of lifelong commitment that so many of us want.
Philea is usually more of a group-based "I genuinely LIKE you" type of love which can include anything from parental or familial love to team spirit to patriotism. It also includes most kinds of friendship. It can be very conditional and it can occasionally seem to evaporate overnight if the other person does something totally "inexcusable." (Eros is much more tolerant in its early stages.) However, philea can and often DOES last a lifetime.
Agape love is the odd one out because it isn't an emotion at all. It's more like a conscious decision to remain affectionate, considerate and "loving" no matter what happens.

Have I totally wandered off topic and stopped making sense yet? I keep staring at the screen, wondering what I'm doing.
Anyway, all of the conclusions that I have drawn are only my own opinions. Since love and friendship overlap to such a huge extent, I don't know where to draw the line between r and R. That's why I consider the dividing factor to be commitment, because that is something that is separate from feelings of any sort.

*notices that it's light outside now*

-GB
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Karl
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Karl » Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:11 am

That is all fascinating, KAGU, and I'd love to see some articles about this sort of thing in our Knowledge Base. Please let me know if you find any.

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Mr. Paradox » Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:31 am

That all sounds about right. It should be noted, though, that oxytocin isn't especially a sexual hormone. From what I've read it's linked more to physical touch and even simple positive social interactions than arousal. This includes all sorts of cuddles and hugs, general friendliness, and, quite importantly, nursing. Oxytocin holds as central a role in parent-child bonding as in pair bonding, and actually plays a part in much of social cognition in general.

After a quick search, here's a site with a good set of references, though the original writings there are INSANE. The author proposes -- and I paraphrase only very slightly -- that in the future our brains can be genetically engineered to produce their own Ecstasy.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Karl » Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:17 pm

Cool. I may go ahead and post this article on the Knowledge Base. They do happen to mention that the human body releases oxytocin during orgasm.

Kez
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:31 pm

I think the best way to describe the difference between a relationship and a Relationship is to draw parallels to the difference between liking someone, and liking liking them.

It's very hard to put the difference into words, but people know (ooh, funky! You press the italic button and both tags come up, with the cursor in the middle) what the difference is, but find it hard to put into words.

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ghosts
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:56 am

Re: oxytocin - Thanks for the info, Kagu! I guess I'm just curious about when it kicks in because when thinking about one of my relationships, it's really been a slow evolution over the years. ::shrugs::

Commitment as a defining factor does make some sense to me, although I don't think it necessarily needs to be a lifelong commitment.

Kez wrote:I think the best way to describe the difference between a relationship and a Relationship is to draw parallels to the difference between liking someone, and liking liking them.

I suppose I like like my grandmother, then. :P

I know I'm being somewhat difficult here, sorry! But in all seriousness, what I'm trying to point out is how confusing and difficult it can be in different situations. Since my grandmother is one of my primary relationships, why not call it a "Relationship"? I know there's a difference between my relationship with her and my relationship with this guy I've mentioned before, but that doesn't mean one is a "relationship" and the other is a "Relationship." And now, those two r vs. R terms are confusing me again, so I'll leave it at that for now.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Gadfly-in-Chief » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:56 am

ghosts wrote:The "just friends" part gets to me as always, because it minimizes the importance of a particular relationship.


There are people who think I and the non-relative I am closest to are lovers/in a Relationship. But no. What's going on between us is no mere Relationship. We're friends.
Yes, the unexamined life is not worth living. But as a student of logic, you must realize that this does not imply that the examined life is.

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ghosts
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:24 am

You are basically awesome, that's what you are.

Kez
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Kez » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:02 pm

I'm still trying to figure it out in my brain, as well!

I'll think about it a bit more and try to write an essay type thing.

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spin
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby spin » Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:20 pm

Very well said, gadfly.

I dunno, I tend to feel that these descriptors are more external. Of course they can help to be on the same page as the other person(s) involved, but in the end they're more for other people. My r/Relationship (definitely friendship) has sort of been defined now, and as I suspected it wasn't because we felt the need to define it, it was because someone else asked.

A word--relationship, Relationship, friend, girlfriend, lover, cuddlebuddy, fuckbuddy, partner heterosexual life partner, neighbor, grandmother, brother, whatever--is never going to encompass what that relationship is. Kez, I know you were talking about the nature of relationships more than semantics, but I think the semantics here are just semantics. I think relationships in general have lots of capacity for growth and change, and that those changes can indeed go unspoken.

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Shockwave
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Shockwave » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:26 am

I think the difference for me is in how you interact with each other. I hug my family and friends when they want it, I'll even hold someone close for a while when they need it, but anything more affectionate than that and we're capitalizing that R.

I'm actually avoiding anything with a capital R right now, if you want to know why just follow the link to my blog in my profile.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Dargon » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:22 pm

First off, KAGU (it feels weird to call people by their not-AVEN name) has pretty much covered all the stuff on oxytocin, so there is no need for me to go over that, though I would be interested in finding out how much of it courses my own veins. I once read (don't remember the source) that being overexposed in the womb messes up the receptors, and considering my mother had labor incuced three times, I probably had a bit of an overload right there.

Anyhow, as evedenced by this very thread, people have their own definition of where that r gets capatalized. Many people will place the line at physical intimacy, but some, especially asexuals, tend to have different feelings about that. Some define it as this feeling, the one that you know it when you feel it. I fall into a bizare crowd that feels that the line between a relationship and a Relationship is largely a social construct.

I see no reason physical intimacy is the defining element between a relationship and a Relationship. It is true society places a lot of value on it, but if it did truely and universally carry the value society wants us to believe it does, then "fuckbuddies," and other no-strings-attached sex wouldn't exist. Additionally, most "fuckbuddies," while they do share the physical intimacy that apparently defines a Relationship, will insist they are "just friends."

I have friends who I would trust with my life, and who I would gladly give my own life for. People I genuinely love. Quite honestly, I have seen numerous "Relationships" where the trust and emotional closeness paled in comparison to what I share with my friends. If asked what I'd call it, I'd just say "a really, really close friendship." Perhaps this is because I do not understand where the line is, perhaps it is because I have stopped believing in the line's existance.


Lastly, one thing I completely and totally cannot understand at all is the idea that friends cannot form a Relationship. I know that may seem to contradict what I have said above abount not believiing in the line, but hear me out.

Relationships are generally placed as higher and more important than friendships, and those in Relationships are supposedly "closer" than those in friendships. I am sure every one of us knows from experience that you do not just meet someone and instantly become best friends. The closeness of a friendship grows with time. It is true some grow faster than others, but they all start from next to nothing. Point is, becoming close as friends is a process.

Now Relationships are supposed to be even closer than friendships, but we have already established that closeness takes time to establish, at least in the context of friendship. Here is where I have problems with Relationships not being able to come out of friendships. If a Relationship is supposed to be closer than a friendship, it would seem logical to me that some degree of closeness would have to exist already. When you meet someone, there is no real closeness, and it seems logical to me that the only place closeness would develop is in friendship (I am aware some people meet new people with the intention of forming a Relationship, I'll get to that). It seems logical to me that for a higher closeness to exist, it must come from a foundation of pre-existing closeness.

It's that lack of pre-existing closeness that boggles my mind when complete strangers meet with the intent of entering a "Relationship." The closeness doesn't exist with a complete stranger, nor does any real knowledge of anything about them. It just seems odd that people would try to enter something that is supposed to be greater than friendship without even knowing if they would so much as make decent friends.

Before my thoughts lead me to believe that the line is just a silly social construct, I believed that the best way for a relationship to work is to first be friends. The spoken agreement to enter a Relationship should not be a declaration of undying romantic love, but a mutual agreement to allow such a love to develop. The problem, I thought, with many relationships, is they when entering, people are both gettting to know each other like friends while trying to nurture a closer love at the same time, or even just dedicating feelings towards a love they declare with no closeness to place it upon. I'm not making sense, this is hard to put into words well. And I've tangeted off far enough. I'm shutting up now.

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Shockwave
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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Shockwave » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:46 pm

While there is a difference between a relationship and a Relationship in my brain that information is only relevant to my internal filing system (human beings have a deep-seated need to structure information), one is not necessarily more important than the other. There are people in my life that I love very much and my relationships with them will never be upstaged by a Relationship.

As far as friendships becoming Relationships is concerned, I will not get into a Relationship with someone that isn't already a friend. I have to know that person quite well before I will trust them with physical intimacy.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Olivier » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:12 pm

Dargon wrote:Lastly, one thing I completely and totally cannot understand at all is the idea that friends cannot form a Relationship.

It's hard to understand because it's bollocks. I've never had a Relationship with someone I wasn't friends with first. Not saying that it is like that for everyone, but it's just plain wrong to say it can't happen.

Dargon wrote:I know that may seem to contradict what I have said above abount not believiing in the line, but hear me out.

For what it's worth, from my own experience I'm a firm believer in the R/r line. But for me the line has everything to do with romantic attraction, and nothing to do with sex, even though I'm sexual. I've had Relationships with people I never slept with, and I've had sex with people who were more acquaintances than friends. The idea that sex drives a Relationship outcome, rather than the other way around just isn't something I can get my head around.

And as gadfly said, it's not as if Relationships and friendship are mutually exclusive. How in hell do you have a Relationship with someone who doesn't qualify as a friend (in spades!)?

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:09 pm

Dargon, I think I'm pretty much in agreement with you. I generally feel the line between "friendship" and "romantic relationship" - or relationship/Relationship (argh! this one's getting to me - I'd prefer to keep "relationship" as a general term rather than using capital letters to further differentiate between relationships) - is a social construct. Or really, I think when people ask that question, "What's the difference?" - the difference is what you want it to be. If you see or want a line, there will be some sort of line. I think the way I just worded that might get a few people annoyed, so I apologize! But I think a lot of people get confused about boundaries because there is no definite line - it differs from person to person, and it probably differs for various reasons, whether it's their culture or their own personal experiences or the way they grew up.

There is a difference to me between all my relationships, and some are more important and more close and more intimate and so on than others, but I guess one of my main gripes especially in this thread has just been about the language we use to differentiate between relationships.

::shrug:: Ok, I'll stop now. ;)

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Olivier » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:32 pm

ghosts wrote:I think when people ask that question, "What's the difference?" - the difference is what you want it to be. If you see or want a line, there will be some sort of line. I think the way I just worded that might get a few people annoyed, so I apologize! But I think a lot of people get confused about boundaries because there is no definite line - it differs from person to person, and it probably differs for various reasons, whether it's their culture or their own personal experiences or the way they grew up.

I agree, ghosts.

Even though I said I'm a believer in the line, I certainly don't think everyone sees it the same way, or even at all. And I also think that my view of the line would get a bit less definite if I had relationships that were closer to the line, and deciding which side they were on was tricky. But all my relationships are easy to label - my wife and kids are on the "R" side, everyone else isn't. I suspect that's pretty similar for many people, and why the line seems such an intuitive construct for those people, me included.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby ghosts » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:51 pm

Oh good! I'm glad you understand what I was trying to say. I think this line is rarely challenged or even thought about by a lot of people because it does seem so intuitive. I'm going to leave children out of it for the moment - but sex seems like an easy dividing line, as has been mentioned before. I think that's one reason why these "What's the difference?" conversations pop up in places like AVEN - because asexuals aren't all that interested in sex (generalization, I know!), and asexuals seem to generally place nonsexual relationships on equal footing with sexual relationships. It blurs the line a great deal, I think. I suppose at this point I'm repeating a lot of what has already been said before. :P

I find it interesting that you'd put your kids in the "Relationship" category, though. The impression that I've gotten from some other people in this thread and elsewhere is that they wouldn't quite fit in that category.

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Re: Relationships vs relationships.

Postby Shockwave » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:00 pm

Hmmm...now that I stop and think about it, my classification system doesn't really make a lot of sense.It's much too arbitrary.

I"ll have to re-examine it.