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!