Greyromanticism 301

When I was putting together my linkspam on greyness, I don’t think I managed to find a single piece on greyromanticism.  That was a little strange to me, ‘cause I know a fair number of greyromantic folks!  But if you look online, there are a couple of people writing about demiromanticism and a fair number writing about wtfromanticism, but for some reason, nobody’s really talking about greyromanticism.  When I tried to start talking about greyromanticism more on tumblr, I started getting a lot of questions along the lines of, “Hey, can you tell me more about this greyromanticism thing?”  So I figured that it was probably time to write a post about greyromanticism that I could link people to when they asked.  Plus, I think it’s time to have a larger public conversation about greyromanticism.  (To that end, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section!)

Thus this post was born!  It was pretty strongly influenced by epochryphal’s Greyness: 301–I’ve always thought the fragmented style of the piece was really good at capturing how weird and disjointed greyness can sometimes feel.  I’ve based this post on my personal experiences and talking to a ton of other greyromantic folks; it’s not meant to be a comprehensive statement on How to Be Greyromantic so much as a collection of feelings and experiences related to greyromanticism.

– Greyromanticism as an experience distinct from both aromanticism and alloromanticism.  Being able to identify with some aromantic experiences and some alloromantic experiences but always feeling slightly out of step.  Greyromanticism as an experience beyond “Alloromanticism Lite” or “Amatonormative Aromanticism.”  Greyromanticism as an experience beyond “experiences romantic attraction infrequently.”  Greyromanticism as difficult to delineate.

– Romantic attraction as a confusing or unhelpful concept.  Questioning whether you’re experiencing romantic attraction, whether you’ve ever experienced it.  Romantic attraction as fog, romantic attraction as an Invisible Elephant.

– Conversely, ???romantic??? attraction feeling different every time you experience it.  Okay, yeah, you have feelings for Kelly and had feelings for Dave, but your Kelly!feelings are different than your Dave!feelings.  Does that mean you’re romantically attracted to Kelly and platonically attracted to Dave?  Or is it the other way around?  Or are you not romantically attracted to either of them?

Or romantic attraction being such a different experience and so rare that when it occurs it’s bone-rattling and heart-stopping.  Romantic attraction as lighting strike–you can never quite tell when and where it will hit, but when it hits, dang, it really hits.

– Romantic attraction as indistinguishable from other types of attraction–platonic, aesthetic, sexual.  Knowing you’re feeling something but you can’t be more specific than that.  Only ever experiencing attraction in a solid block, so you can’t quite tease apart which is which.

– Romantic attraction as pointless.  Experiencing motivation to have romantic relationships independently of romantic attraction or not at all.  Being romantically attracted to people but not wanting to do anything with that feeling.  Romantic attraction having little to no bearing on the relationships you form.  Rather than saying, “I don’t know if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not,” asking, “Does it matter if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not?”

– This bit of Greyness: 301 is so spot-on that I’m just going to quote it:

Conceptualizing “who am I / would I be sexually [romantically, in this case] attracted to” based on a database of past experiences. Not abstract fantasy, not being able to fantasize about a generic or cobbled-together figure. Being able to deduce patterns from past experience on a cognitive, analytical level (eg “they’ve all been brunettes”), not a visceral one. “Type” as a statistical probability model.

Greyromanticism as a primary romantic orientation, independent of gender.  Alternatively, picking a gendered orientation label seemingly at random–“well, I’ve been attracted to one person in my entire life and they were the same gender as me, so I guess that makes me homoromantic?”

– Labeling your relationships using normative terminology (girlfriend, boyfriend, dating, partner) even though they’re not particularly normative.  Normative terminology as short-hand.  Normative terminology as smokescreen or defense mechanism.  Using normative terminology because you want people to perceive your relationship a certain way even if that isn’t quite the truth of it.

– Conversely, using intentionally vague relationship labels–“partner” with no qualifiers, “person,” “that guy,” “my Jay,” etc.  “That’s my, well,” vague hand gesture, “you know?”

– Having wibbly relationships.  Having really intense, unconventional friendships and looking back and wondering whether they were really queerplatonic, whether they were really romantic, whether you’re really just overthinking everything.

– Being happy in a normative romantic relationship and wondering if you still count.  Being happily single and wondering if you still count.  Greyromanticism as endless wondering and doubting and checking and re-checking.  (Am I experiencing romantic attraction yet?  Am I now?  Am I now?  Am I now am I now am I now am I

– Greyromanticism affected by trauma, disability, mental illness, neurodiversity, gender.  Wondering if what you’re experiencing is “really” greyromanticism or just some sort of filter being put on your experiences by an “outside force.”  (Realizing that it doesn’t really matter where it comes from, but staying quiet about it for fear of others questioning you.)

– Greyromanticism as an attempt to make sense of fragmented and non-cohesive experiences, delineating desires and necessary conditions before addressing attraction, separating all the bits and pieces of experience that others might simply label “romantic attraction.”  Greyromanticism as interrogation of the concept of romantic attraction.  Greyromanticism as attempt to ignore the concept of romantic attraction.

– Greyromantic as a vague and fuzzy umbrella term but also a specific term for vague and fuzzy experiences.

– Greyromanticism as fragmented sentence.  Romantic attraction without subject, object, predicate.  Romantic attraction in a different grammar or writing system than the textbooks teach.  Trying to decipher bits and pieces using four different guides, but never quite sure if you’re only getting fragmented sentences because the original was fragmented or because you’re translating wrong.

What other greyromantic experiences have you had?  Let us know in the comments!

About queenieofaces

QueenieOfAces is a graduate student in the U.S. studying Japanese religion. She is a queer asexual. She also blogs over at Concept Awesome and runs Resources for Ace Survivors. She is never quite sure what to write in these introduction things, but this one time she accidentally got a short story on asexuality published in an erotica magazine.
This entry was posted in Articles, greyromanticism, romantic orientation. Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Greyromanticism 301

  1. Coyote says:

    “Romantic attraction as a confusing or unhelpful concept.”


    “Rather than saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not,’ asking, ‘Does it matter if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not?'”


    (exclamation points translate to: thank you for these especially)

    Whenever you’ve mentioned the lack of greyro writing in the past, Queenie, I’ve always thought to myself, “hey, if that’s the case, I should write something about me and romantic attraction,” but since that’s a mess I still haven’t untangled yet, it’s so hard to know where to start. This post… this post helps me feel like I could get a handle on it, at least enough for a blog post someday.

    Thank you.

    • queenieofaces says:

      Romantic attraction IS really hard to write about! I think that’s why there’s more writing about demirom identities than greyro ones–demirom identities have clearly defined trajectories (you’re friends with someone and then the romantic attraction thing maybe happens eventually!), whereas greyro ones are like, “Hahaha I have no idea what’s going on everything is on fire what is happening.” Plus, in my case, I’ve gotten increasingly greyro and romantic attraction has gotten increasingly nebulous and weird over the years, which I’m pretty sure is at least somewhat related to trauma history. That’s a really hard thing to talk about, especially since I still feel like I’m in the middle of wherever it is that my romantic orientation is trying to wander off to, so I don’t entirely know where I’ll wind up.

      Also, I’m really excited for anything you decide to write on the topic!

      • Libris says:

        “Hahaha I have no idea what’s going on everything is on fire what is happening.”

        Pffft, that is the /best/ description, and definitely speaks to me. (Also ‘romantic attraction as really rare and really hard-hitting’, and a couple others.)

        (I keep looking at greyro identities like ‘you seem similar to my experiences, but maybe it’s just ’cause I’m young/queer/crazy’, but whether or not I ever actually adopt the label, it’s nice to hear narratives that are similar to mine in some way. Thank you.)

  2. Oh my goodness, Queenie. This post speaks to me on a spiritual level. The emotional landscape of my life is so hard to explain to people because I keep, as you say
    “Having really intense, unconventional friendships and looking back and wondering whether they were really queerplatonic, whether they were really romantic, whether you’re really just overthinking everything.”

    My history with romantic attraction has been one of trying to tease it out, pin it down, figure out what is this thing that seems so clear to everyone around me. Often it has involved others doing the second-guessing for me or asking me to define my feelings in terms that don’t make sense to me.

    Conversely, I have had the “bone-rattling and heart-stopping” kind of romantic attraction. The kind where in a matter of weeks things went from “we’re really good friends and I enjoy spending time with you” to “wow, I really miss you a lot when you’re not here, wonder what that’s about?” to “I am having serious thoughts about what it would be like to raise children with you.” Unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to see how a romantic relationship would develop from this, since it’s happened all of twice (1.5 times?), and neither situation was conducive to taking things in that direction. (The first time wasn’t quite as full-blown, but it was still very new and confusing.)

    Referring back to the wibbly-relationships deal, I seem to cycle through best-friendships roughly the way other people cycle through romantic relationships. They tend to be relationships that last from a few months to a few years, have a higher priority than other relationships in my life (except maybe with family), and end either through a slow fade or an official breakup. A lot of times this ending has been due in part to unequal levels of investment in the relationship, with me always being the more invested. I’m still in contact with some of those friends, but not particularly close to any of them.

    I guess I crave emotional intimacy and commitment, but I don’t see conventional dating as a viable way to get those. I often worry that I’ll never find someone who gets and wants to go along with my weird, could-turn-romantic-but-probably-not relationship trajectory.

    • queenieofaces says:

      (You should imagine me nodding along, ’cause that’s totally what I was doing.) Oh gosh, I feel you on the best friends thing. The hardest break-ups I’ve ever had have all been best friend break-ups. In general, I tend to give very high priority to my friendships, though–my roommates are currently some of the most important people in my life (but they’re also friends and surrogate family rolled into one).

      As someone who has a pretty weird could-turn-romantic-but-probably-not relationship trajectory, I’ve…somehow been pretty lucky? But I’ve also wound up in relationships with a disproportionate number of wtfromantic people. I guess I am proof that it is totally possible to have emotional intimacy and commitment outside of conventional dating–aside from my fantastic (but very wtfromantic) girlfriend, I have roommates who have pledged to stay together for the foreseeable future, and a really group rad of friends who all look out for each other and take care of each other. So, yeah, it’s possible, but I have no idea how to replicate it; I just sort of stumbled into it.

      • It’s good to hear that it’s worked out for you somehow! I’m hoping that I’ll have a shot at building more durable relationships once I’m settled in one place. Moving vast distances every year for the past four or five years has not helped with keeping things together! Fortunately I have plans to start a PhD program in the fall, so I think it’s safe to say I’ll be somewhat anchored for a while.

        And yeah, best friend breakups really are the worst, especially when you feel like you’re not supposed to be so sad.

  3. cinderace says:

    I feel like this overlaps a lot with wtfromanticism. Can anyone explain the difference to me, like is wtfro a sub-category under greyro, or are they actually two distinct things…? Just curious how connected they’re considered to be/what the relationship between them is.

    • queenieofaces says:

      Some people consider wtfromanticism a sub-category of greyromanticism, some consider it on the aromantic spectrum but separate from greyromanticism, and some consider it completely separate from any sort of romantic orientation categorization system. So, basically, it depends on who you ask.

      • Sciatrix says:

        FWIW, I have always considered it basically the same sort of thing as greyromanticism: basically, I have no idea what the fuck is going on with romance, so I have decided to throw up my hands and quit bloody worrying about it. But I do acknowledge that “irritation with the existing categories which don’t FIT” is not really a coherent identity. 🙂

        • cinderace says:

          Thanks to both of you for the answers. 🙂 I had settled pretty firmly on wtfromantic as a label for myself, but reading this I was like, “Wait, some of these really fit me!”, so then I started wondering what people saw the difference as, if any.

  4. elainexe says:

    I wrote about being grayromantic in relation to mental illness a while ago:
    Basically how my mental illness makes me feel my romantic orientation is indeterminable, and makes it difficult to analyze past experiences.

    • elainexe says:

      Now that I think of it, just posting a link probably doesn’t foster conversation quite the same, so I think I’ll write some new words about it:
      I identify as grayromantic because of mental illness. Among other things, my memory is really terrible. And when I can remember things, it’s often just what happened in a situation rather than how I felt about it. When I try to remember the time before I was mentally ill, I remember I considered myself as having crushes. But I also know many people look back at what they thought were crushes and later realized they were squishes or something. I don’t think I can remember enough to get a full picture of myself at that time.
      Another effect of mental illness on me is I’ve become less emotional and partially afraid connecting with people emotionally for various reasons. Under these conditions, I feel like romantic attraction doesn’t have a chance to come into play.
      I end up torn between which me to consider legitimate: the old, mentally well (?) me, which I can consider a blueprint until that magical day I am again well and can pick up from where I left off, or the current me, building the best life for myself that I can, for the way I am here and now, even if it’s not the way I want to be.
      With all this confusing mess, I just consider my romantic orientation indeterminable. So grayromantic works for me as a label.

      • Renayko says:

        I feel like mental illness is always going to be something that colors the way you think about yourself. I say this as a mentally ill person who has made a lot of progress… I feel like for us there’s never not going to be a time when our illness isn’t a part of who we are to some extent because there’s never not going to be a time where we don’t use it as a personal reference point. I too have a hard time remembering the way I felt in specific instances, if I can remember those instances at all.. So I can relate to having a sort of indeterminate identity, though it applies more so to my sexual orientation.

        Basically, I kinda feel like ace and aro identities can really be influenced by mental illness and I’m glad you’re brave enough to talk about it so openly. Thank you for bringing this to the discussion table.

      • queenieofaces says:

        I feel you on this, especially not being sure where you’re going to wind up. Like I said above, I’m pretty sure trauma has had an effect on the way I experience romantic attraction, which is hard to talk about, because I don’t know if this is permanent or if it’s just temporary until I get “well” again. (Plus, when it comes to trauma-recovery, often “well” isn’t an option, and even if you do get “well,” you might wind up in a completely different place than where you started.) I’ve decided that I was already some flavor of aromantic spectrum, so greyromantic is a nice, fuzzy umbrella term for me to use, and I can reevaluate if my feelings change in the future.

        Thank you for sharing!

        • epochryphal says:

          Very very well-said, Queenie.

          So many conflicted feelings about language of illness and recovery tbh. Mostly bundle everything into “neurodivergent as heck” and go from where I am now, which happens to also be “grey as heck.”

          Ofc trauma feels a little different in the recovery-goal aspect, for

  5. maralaurey says:

    I love ‘Trying to decipher bits and pieces using four different guides’ — that hits the nail on the head for me completely. I have a bit of a Schrodinger-esque relationship with romantic attraction in that I’m simultaneously certain that I’ve felt it and know what it feels like and certain that I don’t have a clue what it feels like or how it works. There are moments that I’m completely sure that I’ve translated the guides right, the translations are correct and I know what’s going on — and then, suddenly, the next word is ‘potato’ and I’m not quite sure how it got there or why it’s relevant. I also have moments where I know that ‘potato’ should definitely not be there, but surely, if I just keep reading until the context becomes clear…
    It never does.

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  7. luvtheheaven says:

    This whole post rings so true to me. I’ve been identifying as wtfromantic and considering it in the sense of being aro-ish or a subset of grayromanticsm, yes. Meaning I consider myself to count as both gray-romantic and wtfromantic. And so much of what you said here makes sense to me.

    Another experience of mine is currently, “Thinking I’d never want to use traditional romantic relationship labels for whatever significant, committed, emotionally intimate relationship(s) I might end up having in the future, thinking I’d prefer to call it/them queerplatonic, even if I go about finding the relationship on a dating site.”

    As Coyote quoted, “Rather than saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not,’ asking, ‘Does it matter if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not?’” – I mean yeah. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. It like… no longer matters to me. Because as Coyote also quoted, for me I’ve experienced “Romantic attraction as a confusing or unhelpful concept.”, and…

    I don’t want to say I’m aromantic. I am asexual. I know I’m lacking a type of feeling and attraction that allosexual people, and even maybe gray-aces, have. But when it comes to my romantic orientation, I think I might be planning to live the rest of my life as if I was aromantic, I may have a lot in common with aromantics, etc, but I don’t get that sure feeling (the way I do with my asexuality) that other people are experiencing things that I entirely *don’t* experience. The things alloromantic people seem to feel… don’t seem as foreign to me. And therefore I feel stuck not actually feeling romantic attraction or wanting romantic relationships in the conventional sense, possibly because I don’t experience most of the other types of attraction typically associated with romantic attraction (for aces we separate sexual attraction from it but many still tie in sensual attraction or aesthetic attraction, things I don’t think I really feel). Feeling somewhat closer to aros than alloromantics. Yet not feeling all the way lacking romantic attraction either.

  8. Arrela says:

    Ahhh this is a wonderful post I am going to hug it and then I am going to aggressively link it to people (especially one “um, my, you know, *wibbly hand gesture* well” and one friend who is being awfully certain he can tell me what I am feeling about said person. But probably, like, everyone.) Thank you, times a million!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    You already know this, but for the sake of being a bit more public about it, I relate to this post soooooo much. I often feel like I am the fakest “alloromantic” in the world. It’s been easiest for me to just call myself either bi- or panromantic (depending on the level of gender understanding the person I’m talking to has), because it seems like it kind of covers every situation I might find myself in… except for all those nuances that are too hard to talk about. Even with my partner, there have been times where she’s just sort of assumed I’m feeling a particular way, but really it’s been different. And how do you explain to someone you’re happily dating that you’re NOT “romantically attracted” to them? It sounds like an insult, so that conversation didn’t really happen until the other day. It went well, but only because she’s now questioning all these things herself!

    Interestingly, I showed this post to her and (after she was done complaining about the blog’s font being too hard for dyslexics to read, and asking about what alloromantic and amatonormative meant) she was like, “Huh, you’re certainly more romantic than me.” I sort of lucked into a (wibbly) relationship with an aromantic (-ish?) person, without either of us ever realizing it until recently. Our relationship is very, very non-normative even though to all outside appearances, we seem to be just That Lesbian Couple, stereotypes and all. I know it’s bound to annoy someone to say this, but we really do have a marrying-your-best-friend thing going—if only either of us could figure out how we really feel about the legal aspects of marriage.

    • queenieofaces says:

      Sort of tangential to your comment, but, dang, I know a whole lot of people on the aromantic spectrum/under the greyromantic umbrella who have wound up in relationships (romantic or otherwise) with other folks on the aromantic spectrum/under the greyromantic umbrella! It’s actually harder for me to think of alloromantic/greyromantic couples I know than greyro/greyro couples.

      • ettina says:

        I feel like when it comes to forming relationships, romantic compatibility is more essential than sexual compatibility. When I’ve heard gay guys married to women talk about why that relationship is hard or doesn’t work, a lot of what they’re talking about seems to be more linked to homoromanticism than homosexuality. An example here:
        And it seems like gay/straight marriages (usually incompatible on both sexual and romantic orientation) are a lot more likely to fail that ace/allo relationships with compatible romantic orientation.

    • Martha says:

      It’s really nice tho. I think I might be greyromantic, but in a different way. I have crushes sometimes but they’re not strong and when I ask the person out or they ask me out I loose interest/ feelings but still wanna date them. Sounds complicated, but it’s just like dating would be nice yk meeting and hanging out with the person but I don’t “love” them. Feels rude to say tbh but maybe you can relate a bit.

  10. rynwin says:

    “Having really intense, unconventional friendships and looking back and wondering whether they were really queerplatonic, whether they were really romantic, whether you’re really just overthinking everything.”

    So much yes. My friendship with my best friend since 8th grade was like this – until our early twenties it was hand-holding, cuddling up while watching a movie, etc. I was Diana Barry to her Anne Shirley. But I didn’t even start to think that my feelings were more than platonic until I started feeling jealous of her occasional boyfriends, and even then I mostly hand-waved it because I didn’t realize that I was asexual yet. When I moved out of state for college she came with me, but all the touchy aspects of our relationship had died down by then and were gone entirely by the end of the year. It was only a while after that that I realized I was asexual and thought that I probably had had romantic feelings for her.

    Seven years later, we still live together, but I’m basically counting down the months until her boyfriend moves back from where work took him, because I’m 90% sure she’ll be moving in with him within a couple months of that. Not looking forward to finding a new roommate who probably won’t be understanding of my autism (because being so high functioning socially that I easily pass as neurotypical makes people much less understanding of the fact I don’t function well on other levels and more likely to not believe me at all when I say I’m autistic).

    • That last part about being autistic. Just… oh my god. I have so few traits of autism that people don’t realise that I actually have a disability. I’m also quite high functioning in most areas so the only person who really gets me and the way I think is my mum.
      What’s also hard is being able to tell whether you’re confused about something because it doesn’t make sense in general, or whether there’s just this huge gaping mental gap.
      So yeah I feel ya, fellow high functioner.

  11. This is related to Cinderace’s comment above, but I’m curious about the details here. The way you define this here, WTFromantic or just generally “I don’t fit in our models of romantic attraction” would count as grey-romanticism. But this doesn’t seem to parallel terms for sexual orientation. For example, “I don’t fit in our models of sexual attraction” doesn’t necessarily mean grey-asexual (or even grey-sexual)?

    Basically, my understanding of grey- identities has always been “well, I sort of fit, but not precisely” (although the why/how can be vary wildly). Whereas something like “queer” or “WTFromantic” can be more “these boxes make no sense, it’s like asking what kind of vegetable a chicken is”?

    This is, of course, all just a matter of terminology or definitions, so I don’t mean to imply that I disagree- just that I think there may be alternate definitions. I feel like saying I’m grey-romantic is going to make people think I have some understanding of what romantic attraction is when I really don’t? But I can always use the other terms, like WTFromantic.

    • luvtheheaven says:

      That may be why I prefer wtfromantic to grey-romantic as the term I’d actually use to describe myself. At the same time, I think it’s okay if grey means something different for sexual orientation than it does for romantic orientation. I also think it might mean this amount of confusion and whatnot for sexual orientations too, and non-grey-identifying-folks just don’t realize that this is what gray-aces have been using the term to mean, oftentimes.

    • queenieofaces says:

      I definitely know people who identify as grey-A because they don’t feel that they fit into models of sexual attraction. I also think romantic attraction is modeled differently than sexual attraction–namely, we tend to separate sexual attraction from sexual desire, libido, arousal, etc., but romantic attraction tends to be understood as a more or less discrete block of stuff. So “I don’t experience romantic attraction in the way people describe it” tends to be a much broader statement than “I don’t experience sexual attraction in the way people describe it.” (For example, someone might self-identify as greyromantic if they experience romantic desire without romantic attraction, but someone who experiences sexual desire without sexual attraction would probably not self-identify as grey-A.)

      I’m not really that invested in arguing about whether wtfromanticism belongs under the greyromantic umbrella or not–I’ll leave that to the wtfromantics to decide. If it seems like there’s an overlap with wtfromanticism in what I’m describing, that’s ’cause a lot of the greyromantics I’ve talked to have seen an overlap in experiences, not because I’m trying to subsume wtfromanticism into the greyromantic umbrella.

    • Siggy says:

      I think of myself as gray-romantic but not WTFromantic for different reasons. WTFromantic tends to be used by people who have trouble with the distinction between romantic feelings and strong platonic feelings. Whereas for me, the distinction that gives me trouble is between romantic feelings, and no feelings whatsoever. It’s not so much that the boundaries make sense, but that I’m on the boundary between two normative categories. WTFromantics might be on the boundary of another category entirely.

    • elainexe says:

      I used to use wtfromantic as my label. But I’ve since realized I have a bunch of different things going on when it comes to romantic orientation, so I now use grayromantic. I consider wtfromanticism as one aspect of my grayromanticism.

  12. Tristifere says:

    yes to all of this – the posts, the comments! Also, in addition to all the wonderful points, I have fundamental misunderstanding of romantic relationships. Even *if* I’m feeling romantic attraction very clearly, and I have this vague desire to do something with it (but what?), I do not understand how you get from that point to a relationship. In this case, it’s not so much my wibblywobbly romantic attraction, but it’s that I seem to have a fundamental disconnect with how to build a relationship out of that attraction and desire to act and generally a fundamental misunderstanding of what romantic relationships are.

    It’s partly “Romantic attraction having little to no bearing on the relationships you form.” and partly “Having wibbly relationships.” and partly just being really confused how convential relationship-building even works (or whether I even want a romantic relationship once I figure out what they actually are… but that’s a different conversation). Things work organically for me with the intense friendship thing – and those are the most fullfilling relationships I have been in – but romantic relationships are a foreign language and everybody expects me to just get it.

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  14. Hollis says:

    This article and the comments are super validating to read because I know that I have been romantically attracted to people in a fairly normative fashion, if pretty infrequently and generally after getting to know them pretty well, but still not feeling like alloromantic narratives fit me. Because I just really Do Not Understand dating, as practiced by most people. Because I’ve tried (oh, how I’ve tried), and going on dates with people that I did not already experience quite a bit of romantic attraction was nothing short of a disaster that left me feeling horribly uncomfortable and wanting to yell at the other person “STOP HAVING THOSE FEELINGS AT ME”, which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite of how you’re supposed to react to a date, or at least a date that you think is a cool person and want to see again. I’ve also had friends offer to be my wingman because they know I’m lonely and feel a bit left out as everyone is partnering up, but I kind of just don’t get what they’re hoping to accomplish by this?

    And then there are the people that I have some sort of feelings for, that feels like it might be romantic attraction, except that the idea of actually being in a relationship (or doing any coupley things) is immensely unappealing to me, though in the past I’ve wrangled those confusing feelings into a Genuine Romantic Attraction through sheer force of will, which, yeah…

    And then there was that one relationship where it became extremely evident that I do not know How To Do romantic relationships, and maybe that could have been somewhat resolved by talking about our expectations, but then again, that would have meant that I had clear ideas about expectations, which nah, I just kind of had this fog of “okay relationship???? this is a thing? how do I do this????”.

    So thanks for this because I’ve been feeling that because I’ve been struggling with whether or not I can call myself a True Gray-Romantic and not just an alloromantic who is bad at relationships.

    • elainexe says:

      Greyromantic is one giant umbrella category. There’s not some kind of scientific measure for such diversity. I don’t think there can ever be such a thing as a true greyromantic. You don’t feel like you fit well with the alloromantic narratives….. I say go ahead with the label if you find it useful! c:

  15. The Thinking Asexual says:

    Reblogged this on The Thinking Asexual and commented:
    This is a really excellent post on grey-romanticism that I highly recommend everyone read. There’s so little writing out there about greyromanticism, despite the fact that plenty of people on the aro spectrum are grey! Greyromanticism covers such a wide variety of experiences, and this post lists a lot of those possibilities.

  16. Cianna says:

    Romantic attraction is hard to define, I’m still trying to define it. I say maybe an intense often blind feeling of awe, a sense of perfection (This person is Mr./Mrs right) and neediness in which one has a desire to form a strong emotional and physical bond based on
    a set of rules glued together by attachment that can occur immediately upon first sight or later on during a strong friendship: As distinguished from love, in which the illusion of perfection and neediness must be removed. Now How would you describe passionate friendship?

    • queenieofaces says:

      What you’re describing sounds a lot like limerence to me (c.f. I’ve written about what romantic attraction has felt like for me (, and it’s quite different than what you’re describing–namely, you seem to be describing romantic attraction as something vaguely superficial and distinguished from love, whereas when I’ve experienced it, it’s been very much intertwined with love and tends not to have many if any of the limerent bits (blind feeling of awe, sense of perfection, neediness, etc.). I also am not sure I would distinguish passionate friendship from romantic attraction, in my case!

      • Cianna says:

        I have experienced romance attraction before but no longer do, especially after a few break ups. I couldn’t have been in love though, just infatuated. Love to me is being able to see beyond a person’s flaws and even their pros, and just seeing them as a human being.
        From your post you affirmed a crush is more powerful than a squish, sometimes it is. I do desire passionate friendships, I have become interested in them ever since I have become aromantic.

  17. Misrael says:

    Please, PLEASE put this in layman’s terms. I am not well versed in this sort of terminology, so I didn’t understand most of this. I did identify with a few things on the list, though.

    • Siggy says:

      Hi Misrael,
      The Asexual Agenda is explicitly not geared towards 101, so we unapologetically encourage you to google terms you don’t know, or browse the 101 resources linked at the top. If a particular term is difficult to find, or appears to have multiple definitions, you may ask for a clarification.

  18. Pingback: Ambiguous and heading nowhere | The Asexual Agenda

  19. Pingback: Romantic Orientation: N/A | The Ace Theist

  20. faydescape says:

    Reblogged this on faydescape and commented:
    All of this! Wow! Yes!

  21. Pingback: Me and romantic attraction – cinderace blogs

  22. Pingback: Me and romantic orientation labels – cinderace blogs

  23. So I don’t check wordpress for a few days and suddenly there’s the conversation on greyromanticism that I originally created my blog for – to talk about my own experiences with romantic attraction in hopes to spark a conversation. Unfortunately it turned out this whole blogging thing isn’t really my thing and I didn’t end up writing much.

    But yes I can definitely relate to a lot of these things. Also experiencing romantic attraction not consistantly towards a specific person, but only occasionally and temporarily – it’s there and the next moment it’s gone. Recently I realized that maybe this is because it’s not so much romantic attraction but more a feeling of being “in love” (whatever that means), caused by the circumstances or a certain situation, which isn’t always directed at anyone but can be directed at a squish. Then again, I’m not even sure whether the consistant feelings I’ve had towards people are more like squishes or crushes, or something inbetween (can we just coin the word sqush or cruish?). Knowing what romantic attraction is in the first place is hard as I don’t really experience limerence, and sensual attraction also comes and goes, and many people define romantic attraction by at least one of those.

    So, yeah. It’s confusing and that’s why greyromanticism is such a great and useful concept to me.

  24. Androdea says:

    This post really speaks to me on an intense emotional level. I am finally able to breathe in relief because so many people understand. Thank you.

  25. I think the point that stands out to me the most is romantic attraction hitting you hard. I’ve only had 3 of those sorts of crushes (the rest of my crushes kind of being a weird blur of feelings) but oh my god I actually become fully blown obsessed with these guys. And remembering how I thought and felt is actually kinda scary.

  26. Nightsky says:

    I haven’t found much on grayromanticism either. Personally, the first time I ever saw the word was long after I discovered my asexuality. I was reading “Understanding Asexuality: The Invisible Orientation” by Swankivy. Just when I had finally resigned myself to being aromantic, I turned the page and everything clicked.
    I think it’s important that all sorts of romantic orientations are discussed both commonly and openly among asexuals. Before I read that book, I honestly thought that there were only two options: romantic or aromantic. No one really talks about the grey areas as much as they should. The thing is, if we never talk about them, many people will feel confined to identities that don’t fit them. Isn’t that the same thing we’re trying to correct by raising awareness about asexuality? So people know that “sexual” isn’t the only option?
    I’m hoping to do my share in raising awareness about asexuality on my new blog, which has unfortunately taken about a year for me to get around to finally setting up! I think that grayromanticism will be among one of the first things I write about. If you like, I’ll send you a link when I get it done. =) By the way, I noticed the recent post about contributors. If you ever want someone to write something specifically on grayromanticism to put on here, I’d be more than happy to oblige.

    P.S. One thing that may be limiting your search is that some people spell the term with an “a” (grayromanticism) rather than an “e” (greyromanticism). Personally, I spell it that way and so did Swankivy in her book. It’s a matter of personal preference. However, it does affect searches for any work on this particular topic. I hope that helps! =)

    • Siggy says:

      If you’re interested in applying as a contributor or submitting a guest post, we won’t contact you, you have to contact us by e-mail.

      We’re also happy to plug your blog, although we generally recommend that people write several posts before asking us, just because I think it makes the plug more effective. Let us know when you feel ready.

  27. Pingback: Updating the Map: Romantic Attraction and Friendship vs. Romance | Prismatic Entanglements

  28. Pingback: Updating the Map: Romantic Attraction and Friendship vs. Romance | The Asexual Agenda

  29. Ace Hart says:

    So. Yeah. I’ve now come to the conclusion I’m greyromantic… :3 Thanks for helping me figure myself out a bit more~ n__n I’ve read some really interesting/informative stuff today ❤

  30. Ace Hart says:

    I forgot to check the ‘notify me’ box so I’ll just add another comment to say that a whole bunch of these things are part of me :3

    And I guess the answer to my self-question, “o_0 Why the hell hasn’t this occurred to me yet!?” is your opener; There’s just not as many people talking about it!

  31. Pingback: Greyromanticism and understanding friendship | The Technicolor Ace

  32. YourSolipsist says:

    I’ve only recently identified as aromantic, and I do think that I fall somewhat on the scale of greyromantic. I think I’ve had one crush, way back in highschool (I’m in my late 30s). And I’ve played along with romantic relationships after trying to reject them, up to the point where I’ve said “Fine, I’ll be your girlfriend, but I still don’t ever want to get married.” Followed by “Get married? But why? Ugh, fine!”
    All of my failed relationships, friendships, and even my failed marriage make so much sense when viewed through the knowledge of aromanticism.
    But then, I have a friend. An alloromantic friend. The fact that I have deep feelings for him, but am not in love with him, tipped me off to my aromanticism. But then I still want to be around him all the time, and I want to do things that make him happy, and I even though we’ve removed sex from our relationship/friendship, I’d still be willing to put it back on the table. But I don’t want to be his girlfriend. I don’t want to build our future around each other. He is definitely “my guy,” “my, well…..y’know…..friend,” “my bro.”
    So the current turmoil is, can I handle it if he allows himself to have romantic feelings for me when I can’t return them? Can I accept the girlfriend/boyfriend titles because I need him in my life? Can I accept flowers and cheesy tokens of affection without rolling my eyes back in to my head just because it makes him happy and his happiness is top on my list of priorities?
    Or can I be satisfied watching him stumble through shitty relationship after shitty relationship and continue to be his bestfriend, his bro? Can he be satisfied with these garbage relationships with people who don’t match up to his bestfriend or who don’t understand his relationship with me?
    Where is the crossover? Where is the compromise?

  33. Robin says:

    I am so glad I found this post. I am definitely not romantic, but I don’t feel asexual either. Now that I look back, I’ve said, “I think I might like you” to three different guys, two of which became relationships entirely by accident because the other guys read that to mean, “I really, really like you.” But I only meant that I thought I might like them and that I needed help figuring what my feelings meant, so let’s hang out and see where this goes, not that I actually liked them, or maybe I was just attracted to them, which was really weird, because I thought you were supposed to just kind of know when it hit. Most of the times, I’ve just had loads of crushes, but I wasn’t ever really interested in pursuing a relationship – I’m pretty sure it frustrated one guy, outside of the three I’ve actually ‘confessed’ to, to no end and it was hard for me to tell him, “Well, I’m still interested! But I need you to tell me how this works!” Then I thought about it really hard and, when you have loads of crushes, you might as well not actually have a crush at all since it’s all the same, and then you mentioned how each crush is essentially like a snowflake. I also don’t feel the intrinsic motivation to make a relationship happen unless some outside force says we should go for it after my ‘confession.’

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m gray-romantic. I’m reading my own comment and the confusion over what counts as romantic definitely shows! haha

  34. Pingback: Acing wizard college | The Asexual Agenda

  35. Pingback: Aromanticism in Fiction pt 2 – Q&A | penny stirling's numbathyal zone

  36. Samma Kit says:

    The amount that I needed that was immense. My boyfriend of five years just asked me to define how “romance” felt to me and I made vague gestures and noises that did not make words. I have since decided that it’s “wanting to make this other person happy,” but that, well, defines my friendships as well. This gives me a little more grounding to think about because he was like, “Well, you’re asexual, but not aromantic, right?” and my response was somewhere in, “I don’t think I’m aromantic?”

    But all of this resonates and here’s hoping I can work out what my answer is for myself and, eventually, him.

  37. Hadassah says:

    I have only recently started identifying with grey-romantic and I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels confused, to say the least. I am really struggling with discerning romantic from platonic attractions and I never know if I should act on attraction (in the ways relationships go) or if I should let it remain platonic. I have never met anyone who considers themselves grey-romantic so I am really having a hard time. Especially since a guy has just admitted that he liked me, but I am so confused that I do not know whether to pursue the relationship or to continue as friends. I think I feel attraction to him, but I have never felt any attraction to anyone, so I wouldn’t know if it is romantic. I have asked my friends for advice, but they don’t seem to understand what I am going through or feeling (which is understandable considering neither do I). And I fear bringing it up with my very Christian parents. I would really appreciate any insight.

  38. ettina says:

    “Romantic attraction as pointless. Experiencing motivation to have romantic relationships independently of romantic attraction or not at all. Being romantically attracted to people but not wanting to do anything with that feeling. Romantic attraction having little to no bearing on the relationships you form. Rather than saying, “I don’t know if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not,” asking, “Does it matter if I’m experiencing romantic attraction or not?””

    I think this is culturally dependent. In a lot of cultures, especially with arranged marriages, they seem to see romantic attraction more as a bonus than as something essential to forming a romantic relationship. They also tend to expect that being married to someone is supposed to make you love them, eventually. Romantic partners are supposed to be chosen primarily on practical grounds, and although affection and romantic feelings are still taken into account, they’re given much less weight.

  39. Pingback: Aromanticism and My Identification Journey | Controlled Abandon

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  42. Pingback: Being Bi/Ace, Part One: Scrutiny About Attraction and the Kinsey Scale | The Asexual Agenda

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  44. Pingback: I love you! Here’s what that means… – Sasha's journey into ace space

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