Until a few years ago, I might have told you that I’ve had one crush in my life. It didn’t last very long, nothing came of it, and the man I had the feelings for never knew about it. After reading a lot of asexual discourse, I came to realize that I had not actually experienced any kind of romantic or sexual attraction at all, it was just an intensity of feeling (which soon faded) that flustered me a bit. Having come across the concept of a “squish” (platonic crush), I decided that this had been a squish, which was better than thinking of it as a “failed crush”.
Using this as a model, I identified two other potential squishes I had had, both on men. One I later decided was actually an “aesthetic crush” (I don’t tend to experience general aesthetic attraction to people around me, but rather will have a specific focus on a single person, often a celebrity or someone I look at photos of, for awhile and I call this an “aesthetic crush”; the overall pattern is gray bi-aesthetic). The other was a fictional character and probably doesn’t really count.
However, I didn’t think too much more about squishes beyond that nor tried to understand it as a concept; it was just a label to give a few particular incidents that stood out in my memory and which I had miscategorized previously.
Meanwhile, I first wrote in my journal about what I called my “fascinations” in February 2013. In September 2013, I devoted a long journal entry to analyzing the “fascinations”. At that time, I noted that they were all women and that I didn’t seem to experience this type of attraction to men (I contrasted it with the above-mentioned squishes on men). However, I seem to have been more interested in categorizing certain personality types that my “fascinations” have tended to have and whether this said anything about my own personality.
I focused my analysis on the period since 2011, which is when I first began to read a lot of asexual discourse and started making a real effort to understand my attractions and orientations as more than a vague “not interested”. I also had a very sustained “fascination” in 2011 that I’ve used as a kind of prototype in my analysis. I’ve since compiled a list of 11 “fascinations” I’ve had since 2011, some of them fairly brief, a few sustained. 10 are women, 1 non-binary DFAB person. None are men or any other gender. This is a pretty persistent pattern.
In all that time, I had never been able to classify my “fascinations” as a particular type of attraction and it never seems to have occurred to me that they might be squishes. I apparently seem to have thought that since I didn’t know what they were, they didn’t really “count”.
I’m only now starting to untangle all of this and understand why I had this particular blind spot.
For one thing, it took me a long time to recognize that there was even a persistent pattern of something going on. The feelings that I experience in my “fascinations” tend not to be too intense, certainly not to the point of being intrusive. As well, similar to what queenieofaces described here, if the feeling is not reciprocated (and it usually isn’t), it tends to fade out before too long (also similar to Queenie, there seems to be an inverse relation between intensity and frequency of feeling, hence the large number of brief “fascinations”). Overall, it’s a pretty quiet feeling that usually doesn’t lead to anything else, and that was hard to discern.
But even once I had determined that these “fascinations” were an ongoing form of attraction, I still didn’t know how to classify it. I think a lot of this was due to amatonormativity, which tries to fit everything into the boxes of sexual and romantic attraction and therefore doesn’t provide models for other types of attraction.
My “fascinations” are not romantic, and may not even be accompanied by aesthetic attraction. I now consider it to be emotional attraction. While I haven’t seen a lot of discussions of emotional attraction in its own right, it is a recognized concept in asexual discourse and the description seems to be a fairly good match for what I feel (once again, asexual reductionism has given me the language and conceptual tools I needed to start understanding my experiences). Both the squishes I had identified previously and my “fascinations” are instances of emotional attraction and I could just use the term “squish” for both of them. I see “squish” and “emotional attraction” as referring to the same thing.
But even amatonormativity doesn’t fully explain my blind spot as to how strongly my emotional attraction is skewed towards women (I now think that the squish I had on a man stood out in my memory precisely because it’s so rare for it to go in that direction).
It’s internalized heteronormativity that I confused myself with for so long, and which I’m still working to unlearn. Internalized heteronormativity told me that one squish on a man 10 years ago was somehow more important or more “real” or more valid in determining an orientation than 11 same-sex squishes just in the last 3 years. Internalized heteronormativity led me to try to stitch that one squish on a man together with the aesthetic attraction I experience towards people with male secondary sex characteristics into a coherent hetero-something (except that it always fell back into “not interested”) while leaving the rest disconnected and floating in space.
I recognized about a year ago that I’m bi-aesthetic. I think it’s finally time to acknowledge that my emotional attractions are homo-oriented. And that this is very likely why a same-sex queerplatonic relationship computes for me in a way that a cross-sex one never has. It was there staring me in the face all along.
What should I call this? I’m considering stealing a term suggested awhile back by kaz and calling myself homoplatonic*.
*Despite using the word “platonic” in this, I think that “emotional attraction” better describes my squishes than “platonic attraction” does. I’m asexual and aromantic – all of my attractions are platonic! But there’s a huge difference between my aesthetic attraction and my emotional attraction. I also suspect that just as aesthetic attraction often seems to be a part of sexual attraction for allosexual people, emotional attraction may be a part of romantic attraction, or occur along with it, for alloromantic people. However, “homo-emotional” doesn’t really do it for me. So homoplatonic it is, and you’ll just have to live with my inconsistency!