Awhile ago, Queenie wrote about different ways that people may prioritize their sexual and romantic orientations. In a comment on this post, I said that I consider my sexual orientation (i.e., asexuality) to be more important than my romantic orientation (i.e., aromanticism).
Part of this is because I feel that I share more experiences, and have more in common, with alloromantic asexuals than with aromantic allosexuals. (If there’s a group of allosexuals I feel I have more in common with, it’s sex-averse and celibate ones. And I currently feel that my sex aversion has affected my life more than my aromanticism has, if only because it gets triggered first.) Since my primary purpose in being on Tumblr is to seek community and support from those who have similar experiences, and since the aromantic community on Tumblr seeks to explore aromanticism as shared by both asexuals and allosexuals, I just haven’t gotten as much value out of it as I would like to (this is not a criticism of the community, just a statement that it hasn’t been a good fit for me).
Another major part of my prioritization is that I don’t understand romantic attraction. I’ve always found the category of wtfromantic to be appealing because I share their confusion. It’s just that no matter how many different definitions and descriptions of romantic attraction I’ve read, or even the experiences of gray-(a)romantic people, I never seem to have felt any of that. Since I first learned about romantic orientations, I’ve identified as aromantic (primarily because I’ve never had a crush on anyone). I keep reading about gray-aromanticism in case that might be me, but each time I eventually decide to kick doubt to the curb and reaffirm my identification as aromantic.
One of Queenie’s categories of prioritization is people who can’t classify their romantic orientation or don’t find the concept useful. I’ve gone through phases of wanting to de-emphasize romantic orientation because of my confusion, but then I realized that’s more like the “prioritizes sexual orientation over romantic orientation” category.
I recently saw the topic of “romance-repulsion” come up. In thinking about this and whether it might apply to me, I realized that my primary fear related to romantic relationships is that it might lead to sex. In other words, this is actually my sex aversion.
In order to determine if I’m also romance-repulsed (or, romance-averse), I would need to imagine a non-sexual but romantic relationship (perhaps with an alloromantic asexual). But what exactly is a romantic relationship? rotten-zucchinis argues that a romantic relationship is one that feels romantic. But since I have no idea what “feels romantic” means, I have no way to define a romantic relationship at all. It produces a divide-by-zero error.
rotten-zucchinis rejects a definition of a romantic relationship as one characterized by romantic attraction on the part of at least one of the parties. I think they make a lot of good points (in fact, I plan to re-read their post a few times to fully understand it) – but I don’t have anything else to go on!
And, more than that, the idea of someone experiencing romantic attraction to me triggers a kind of aversion. In this case, it’s because I feel it will lead to that person expecting something of me that I can’t give (this is a significant part of my sex-aversion as well). However, I don’t think this is romance-repulsion in itself. My sex aversion includes a feeling of repulsion about myself engaging in sexual activity (the core sex repulsion). But I don’t feel anything about myself engaging in “romantic activities” – whatever those might be! I’m not sure that I even find the idea of being “romance-repulsed” to be useful here.
This is an example of how aromantic discourse is not actually useful to me. Some of it (as in this example) seems to be based on asexual discourse, but replacing “sex” or “sexual” with “romance” or “romantic”. But that assumes that “romance” and “romantic” are terms that can be defined. That assumption fails in my case. I read aromantic discourse and even though I know I’m aromantic, I’m not able to determine if the discourse applies to me or exactly what it’s talking about.
Here’s what I do know. I don’t get crushes. I don’t get quasi-romantic feelings like some gray-aromantic people describe. I assume that I will not ever be able to love someone in that particular way. For this reason, if I do some day seek a primary relationship, it would need to be one where there is no expectation on me to have such feelings. Where my partner is happy with the kinds of love that I can give. If they themselves experience romantic attraction towards me, they don’t expect it to be reciprocated. I assume I would have the most luck with another aromantic person (and since I also want a non-sexual relationship, it would need to be an aromantic asexual by the same reasoning).
I call this non-romantic because I don’t know any other way to define it. I assume that I can never say that a relationship “feels romantic” (since I don’t know what that is), which by rotten-zucchinis’s definition would seem to mean that I make all relationships non-romantic by the fact of being aromantic. Or maybe if I had an alloromantic partner, the relationship would somehow be in a state of “quantum romanticness” – it’s romantic when my partner looks at it but not when I do. ??? Like I said, this definition produces divide-by-zero errors for me.
As a final note, this exercise illustrates to me how very differently I relate to people than alloromantic people do. How non-normative aromanticism is. To me, aromanticism is profoundly queer and that’s part of why I hate it when aromantic asexuals are excluded from queerness because we don’t experience same-sex attraction. That’s why I prefer a definition of queerness as non-normative experiences of sexuality, romance, and gender.