Oook. So, as a disclaimer, no offense meant to anyone. Anything said here is just a thought process and possible confusion and just philosophical musings. I’m not telling anyone how they feel or should feel and this is all coming out of my persona struggles with sexuality and identity and…stuff.
So I’ve been reading about Asexuality and Aromanticism. A lot. The asexuality part makes general sense – people don’t experience sexual desire, especially as associated with other people. Some want to be in a relationship, some don’t. The main deciding factor is “no sex”. Now, the whole romantic asexual took some time to grasp because well…how is this different from a friendship? I don’t mean your garden variety friendship of coffee twice a week and the occasional night out during the weekend. I’m talking about the sort of really close best-friendships where the two people are really very close and want to spend large amounts of time together and communicate in a superior fashion and have a strong emotional bond. These may be rare, but so are “romantic’ relationships that also last for long periods of time and aren’t primarily structured around physical attraction. But lets assume that this asexual romantic bond is to be defined by exclusivity. As in – “you can have two best friends” doesn’t apply here, there is a desire to have an exclusive bond with a specific person and a lack of desire to share that person (ie. Jealousy) which is a defining part of a “romantic” relationship in the mainstream understand. (This may vary for different people, I’m sure, but to kinda draw a connection I think that definition is reasonable.)
But then we have this whole Aromantic thing. I admit my first reaction was: “duh fuck?” Give me a break, it sounds bad! I mean, think about it. It sounds like “I like having sex, I want sex but I don’t fall in love.” Sounds like straight men to me: “I want to have sex with her and maybe even hang out but I don’t want to commit.” So, I’m sitting there thinking, this doesn’t sounds like an orientation, this just sounds like someone’s an asshole.
But I felt bad, because…well, I don’t like just discrediting people like that. So I started reading about ti. The important thing to keep in mind, of course, isn’t that these people don’t “love” but that they don’t experience “romantic love.” And this is where it gets confusing and I start to feel like we’re just splitting hairs with this whole aromantic thing. So, some aromantics do form and wish to form the sort of exclusive bonds/partnerships are the romantic asexuals. The only thing is, these don’t always mean that they want to have sex with these partners or that, if they do, that this strong emotional attachment is “romantic” love. But then, I can’t help bu think: what the hell are we defining as romantic love here? Is it Love plus sexual attraction? No, at least according to the romantic asexuals – sex doesn’t have anything to do with it. Is it a bond of exclusivity? But then, that’s what these people want to. Perhaps it’s a desire for physical contact? (aside: this is the closest I’ve gotten to an answer, because personally, when I “feelings” for a guy I suddenly have a hightened need to touch him but NOT sexually – it’s all very “let me hug you, let me hold your hand” no “let me take your clothes off” at least FAR from always.) But then…is desire for physical contact an inherently romantic emotion? It can’t possibly be, though, because I love cuddling with various family members for whom my feelings are, obviously, platonic. So, what’s the difference? The lack of “standard” romantic gestures and attributes is often sighted as a difference, but then not everyone likes the standard romantic stuff (straight men come to mind again…) and find it “sappy.” And, again, these are behaviors not feelings. One maybe cause/lead to the other but they’re not the same thing.
Then there are the aromantics who don’t want an exclusive bond/partnership and are happy with just a cluster of close friendships. (disclaimer: as long as they’re not leading anyone on by dating them or something I don’t think it’s anyone’s business but I do think that it’s important to draw that line and not lead people on). But then on the other hand, I know a woman who says she has “never been in love.” Maybe she’s aromantic but does the bad luck of not having met someone with whom there is a development of a strong emotional bond equate to the inability to do so? (And if there is…this is troubling, but then, again, these people do have strong emotional bonds with family members, for example. Or I’d presume they do…)
But again, romantic love seems to be this amorphous thing which I can’t really figure out what the difference is it between it and…well, a strong, exclusionist emotional bond between two people? Really, I guess, this issue I’m having isn’t against people identifying a certain way but this idea that there is this “romantic” love which is somehow rudimentary different from other love and that there are people who don’t feel this “romantic” love but I can’t for the life of me figure out what the difference is.