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DeMorgan

Romantic Attraction

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This may end up being bloody, but it has to be done at some point. We, as a forum dedicated to aromanticism, need to settle on a definition of romantic attraction. Soon we'll be designing pages for the main site; such a definition will undoubtedly be needed. The concept is intuitive enough, but defining it concisely in a way that the majority of the aromantic community can agree on has proven an unreasonably difficult task in the past, and has led to the existence of many similar but nonetheless contradictory definitions existing. I'd venture to speculate that this stems from the difference in perspective between asexual and allosexual aromantics, but I won't go any further without evidence.

 

We should avoid circular definitions such as those that define romanticism in terms of "love", "infatuation", or any other terms that are generally themselves defined in terms of romantic attraction. Now one can see why this description's formation is such a behemoth task.

 

The best definition I've seen so far comes from AVENwiki, which defines romantic attraction as "an emotional response that most people often feel that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with the person that the attraction is felt towards". I think that the use of "romantic relationship" is fully justified in its usage for the sake of brevity, but I would consider editing parts of the sentence so as to obtain the following:
 

  • Romantic attraction is an emotional response that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with others.

 

Given this, we can define aromantics similarly to the AVEN definition of asexuals:

 

  • An aromantic person is a person who does not experience romantic attraction.

 

This is wonderful and all, but it misses an important point: just what is a "romantic relationship" and how does it differ from a platonic one? I've never seen a satisfying definition, only people listing the traits that such a relationship has. Any ideas?

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The problem i have is that getting aromantics to define romantic attraction us like telling a person who was blind from birth to define what vision is. It just doesn't work.

 

It reminds me of those arguments on AVEN about the definition of asexual and sexual attraction. A lot of the time it's people trying to describe something they don't experience and it just doesn't work.

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1 minute ago, Zemaddog said:

It reminds me of those arguments on AVEN about the definition of asexual and sexual attraction. A lot of the time it's people trying to describe something they don't experience and it just doesn't work.

Pretty much this. AVEN definition arguments got ugly indeed, and I wasn't going to comment on them because I have no idea what sexual OR romantic attraction is xD

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26 minutes ago, Zemaddog said:

The problem i have is that getting aromantics to define romantic attraction us like telling a person who was blind from birth to define what vision is. It just doesn't work.

 

It reminds me of those arguments on AVEN about the definition of asexual and sexual attraction. A lot of the time it's people trying to describe something they don't experience and it just doesn't work.

 

So how do we get around this? We need some sort of explanation. Are we only identifying as people who don't understand the concept of romantic attraction? Surely we can't say we don't experience it if we can't even say for certain what it is.

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I'm going to defer to someone more knowledgeable here, but I think on some other post there was discussion of the definition of asexuality as lack of sexual attraction and lack of desire for partnered sex. So while romantic attraction is harder to define than sexual attraction, we might want to add in a part about lack of desire for a romantic relationship, though that does bring its own problems also. 

 

Aromanticism is inherently defined by the lack of something which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly, but hopefully we can come to some consensus. 

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This has always been confusing to me, and is part of the reason I'm not sure if I'm aromantic or gray-aromantic (but at this point, I'm leaning heavily towards aro). Nobody can seem to give a clear definition for romantic attraction!

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This is perfect:

8 hours ago, DeMorgan said:

Romantic attraction is an emotional response that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with others.

I think we just need another definition describing a romantic relationship. Something that draws the line between loving someone and being in love with someone. I've heard with romantic relationships, they want to be together all the time, can't stop thinking of each other and never want to be seperated whereas a strong platonic relationship needs space or you're fine with not seeing the person every day of your life. That being said I havent even been in a QPR so I'm going to let someone more experienced with any kind of relationship define that part.

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The problem is, 'romantic attraction' is the same as, for example, describing a colour: although it is a thing which can and does exist it can only be described through things other than itself. For colours you use things that are that colour or emotions a colour envokes. For romantic attraction, we end up using the emotions, desires and actions envoked by the attraction to describe it, but these things vary between people and there is no one generalisation that can be applied to every person of the many who experience romantic attraction.

 

And that was a short essay as to why romantic attration and other abstract concepts are a pain to define, but also that doesn't mean they don't exist. Also, despite saying that I think it's good to have a thread where we try and define/describe romantic attraction even if we don't succeed/can't be consistent/don't agree. I'll put my thinking hat on and see if I can come up with a definition.

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9 hours ago, DeMorgan said:

 

Given this, we can define aromantics similarly to the AVEN definition of asexuals:

 

  • An aromantic person is a person who does not experience romantic attraction.

 

 

Anything but this. I don't know why people think the AVEN definition of asexuality is so perfect. It's awkward. No one speaks like this. No one is going to tell another person, "I don't experience sexual attraction." You ever hear a gay man tell someone "I experience sexual attraction toward other men"?

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32 minutes ago, eddie said:

 

Anything but this. I don't know why people think the AVEN definition of asexuality is so perfect. It's awkward. No one speaks like this. No one is going to tell another person, "I don't experience sexual attraction." You ever hear a gay man tell someone "I experience sexual attraction toward other men"?

When I have to explain aromanticism to people this is what I say though, "I don't experience romantic attraction, I've never had a crush"

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It'd probably be better reaching out to places like AVEN with people who aren't aro and seeing how they define it. I don't think us coming up with a coherent, accurate definition is gonna happen.

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1 hour ago, 46odnetnin said:

I think we just need another definition describing a romantic relationship. Something that draws the line between loving someone and being in love with someone. I've heard with romantic relationships, they want to be together all the time, can't stop thinking of each other and never want to be seperated whereas a strong platonic relationship needs space or you're fine with not seeing the person every day of your life. That being said I havent even been in a QPR so I'm going to let someone more experienced with any kind of relationship define that part.

 

A romantic relationship is just as hard to define as romantic attraction, since the only difference it has with close friendships is the romantic relationship itself. Relationships are diverse; there is no one way to have romantic relationships.

 

4 minutes ago, Simowl said:

It'd probably be better reaching out to places like AVEN with people who aren't aro and seeing how they define it. I don't think us coming up with a coherent, accurate definition is gonna happen.

 

As a mostly romantic person, I will give the very dubious and unhelpful answer of "you kinda just know"

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I agree that getting aros to define romantic attraction is inherently problematic.  When I'm explaining my aromanticism to people, it's usually a bit of a long conversation, not a succinct definition.  I usually say something along the lines of, "I have never 'liked' someone in a romantic way (such as a crush), and I'm not even entirely sure what it means to 'like' someone.  I just don't experience feelings toward anyone that could in any way be classified as "romantic." I've never desired any sort of romantic relationship with anyone, because it's impossible for me to see someone as anything other than a friend."  I have no idea how to condense this into a definition that would make sense to everyone.

 

I feel like to get at a decent definition of aromantic, we need to have both aros and romantics involved.  Romantics often have a difficult time putting romantic attraction/feelings into words, but at least they know what it is.  We would just be guessing.

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I feel like the best people to put this into words would be grayromantic people.

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We could describe a romantic relationship as a committed relationship in which all parties agree their feelings are not strictly platonic. My thought process on this is I know what I do feel: platonic attraction, so I describe it using terms I can identify with myself. I recognize not all people feel platonic attraction, so this won't work for everyone, but it's what makes sense to me.

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4 minutes ago, hippiesthop said:

We could describe a romantic relationship as a committed relationship in which all parties agree their feelings are not strictly platonic.

 

Not applicable to committed friends with benefits. It's possible to be committed to each other and be sexually attracted to each other without having any romantic feelings. 

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16 minutes ago, hippiesthop said:

We could describe a romantic relationship as a committed relationship in which all parties agree their feelings are not strictly platonic. My thought process on this is I know what I do feel: platonic attraction, so I describe it using terms I can identify with myself. I recognize not all people feel platonic attraction, so this won't work for everyone, but it's what makes sense to me.

I get where you're coming from, but I would say this would be a description of some peoples romantic relationship rather than all of them. Particularly to the 'committed' bit: ideally you would wish for you partner(s) in a relationship to stay within the boundries that are agreed upon, but the reality is that some people cheat in their relationships. However, I wouldn't think that the relationship is not 'romantic' due to that, nor does it always indicate an  end to the feelings of romantic attraction, it is just no longer an 'ideal' romantic relationship.

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8 hours ago, 46odnetnin said:

I think we just need another definition describing a romantic relationship.

 

I would agree.

 

7 hours ago, eddie said:

Anything but this. I don't know why people think the AVEN definition of asexuality is so perfect. It's awkward. No one speaks like this. No one is going to tell another person, "I don't experience sexual attraction." You ever hear a gay man tell someone "I experience sexual attraction toward other men"?

 

No, because people tend to assume that. People would say "I'm [sexuality]" or "I want to have sex with [gender(s)]", but that doesn't help much as far as a definition goes. Consider a definition of "light": the natural agent that simulates sight and makes things visible. Does anyone talk like that?

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I really wonder if this can even be explained or if it need to be explained in order to be valued?

 

We had the same agument in the transgender comunities for a long time. People saying they feel as "the opposite gender" feeling as a boy or a girl, neither or both. But if you ask a person how it does feeling like being a boy or a girl, (or whatever gender) you really cant get any good explenation. somethimes people would use stereotypes like "I like make up" but that does only explain genderroles and not the gender identity since both men and women can use make up, in simular way that some explain romantic attraction by saying stereotypical stuff like "I dont like kissing" that fit into the normative view on how we see romantic relationships while others see kissing as a non-romantic act.

 

the most general describtion of gender identity is "I just feel more confortable that way, thats just who I am" and now on the trans movement it has actually became a pretty valied agument because it also proff that people feeling good about themself are much more healthy and usefull than people who feel like crap. (and yes I know there is also scan that claim to see gender identities who have been used to argue that transgenders are real. however the scans are not very usefull itself cause we still dont understand gender enough to be sure on the results, and whenever the result is due to the persons own identity or ex activities associated with a particular genderole. there are so many questions and so few answers)

-

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what im trying to say is I think we should try see romantic abit like how we see gender. 

Nobody really know what gender is but it still exist everywhere and that is why its so complicated to explain. 

later on people found out its more easy to explain it when we press it down in different boxes, like there is:

sex; and everything due to the body, then there is social gender like expectation, society and genderoles, and also there is gender identify.

 

I think aromantic work abit simular. we speak of there may be a "biological effect on what its like to be in love" (like lots of homones flowing around in the body and we feel all nervous and stuff. its really hard to prove or not prove a person is in love cause we dont messure these things everyday, but we just expect a person can feel it or dont. ( but there have been studied that showed that sexual attraction and romantic love happens in different parts of the brain.) 

(I wonder if this is simular or different to squish or not but thats up for another thread)

 

beside the scienece, there is a social expectation that depends from where you live. we often use amatonormativity to decribe this norm for romance, and its also what decribes what romantic relationsips its like which are different from person to person. ex in some countries marriage are way more common and typical seen as romantic than in other countries were marriage may be done for more well practical reasons or not at all. the word romance comes from "romanian" the language romans spoke many years ago. It decribes a women being adored by men but only from a distance leading men to start have those desires for seeing people they could never be close to. this pretty much inspired the romantic literature and the romantic culture and our whole idea of romance. before that romance may not have exited the same way homosexuality did not always exist. 

Sure people probably had those feeling but they did not have words for it and how we decribe it also changes. once homosexuality were described as an act where today we decribe it as an identities, homosexuality have also been described as a disorder and so have romantic attraction.

 

I think like we say transgender is people who did not fit into the gender they where asigned at birth/at what sociaty expected from them. Being aromantic spectrum mean not to identify within the amatonormative norm on how we are suposed to do romance.

 

I think the definitions change so much cause again it all depends from person to person what we feel is romantic or not. An example is I have read alot of aro people talk about marriage as in they would never want to be marriage. but for me a person who dont believe in marriage and have alot of friend who dont believe in marriage or is agenst marriage this is not helpfull to figure if im aro or not. However. I still fell I fall out of the expectation in the sociaty of what should be considered "romantic" that is different from the people I know who would never marriage.

I feel when I also see "when did you figure out you were aro" post. alot of it talk about getting to a point of just feeling different, or being expected something from that felt unpleasen/unatural/unessesarry for the person.

------------- 

I know all these would probably be WAY too long for a beginer. thats why I think the aven describtion is okay as a start, or the "if you fell you belong you belong"

I generally like to add "person who does not desire what is considered a romantic relationship" as an add to the decribtion of "an aromantic is a person who does no feel romantic attraction", cause for people like me that made alot more sense and was way more easy to understand than just "dont feel romantic attraction. 

 

 

 

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The problem with "you just know" is that it isn't true for a lot of people (including me). I am fairly sure that besides one person, I have never felt romantic attraction. I've only had VERY minor squishes (kind of like I wanted to talk to them for maybe a week or two, and then when I didn't have the chance, they faded). But for one person in particular, I am very uncertain if I had a crush or not because I have no other experiences to compare it to and I'm not sure if I would want to date her.

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24 minutes ago, Spud said:

The problem with "you just know" is that it isn't true for a lot of people (including me). I am fairly sure that besides one person, I have never felt romantic attraction. I've only had VERY minor squishes (kind of like I wanted to talk to them for maybe a week or two, and then when I didn't have the chance, they faded). But for one person in particular, I am very uncertain if I had a crush or not because I have no other experiences to compare it to and I'm not sure if I would want to date her.

^ Agree with this

 

I had what I thought to be crushes but afterwards I'd kinda got to the point I realised they weren't - I had no interest in dating them and really, I just wanted to talk to them and know them a bit better. But then I had a case where I had no idea if it was something else - it definitely felt more intense than the other ones and so I have no idea if it was a crush or not. I'm starting to think it wasn't but I certainly didn't "just know" if it was a crush or not.

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3 minutes ago, Simowl said:

^ Agree with this

 

I had what I thought to be crushes but afterwards I'd kinda got to the point I realised they weren't - I had no interest in dating them and really, I just wanted to talk to them and know them a bit better. But then I had a case where I had no idea if it was something else - it definitely felt more intense than the other ones and so I have no idea if it was a crush or not. I'm starting to think it wasn't but I certainly didn't "just know" if it was a crush or not.

This is exactly what I am currently feeling! My feelings definitely faded a lot, but I'm not sure if I had one or not, even when looking back on the past few months. It was way more intense than any of my squishes (probably like at least 10 times as intense), and she was already my friend, but it felt slightly different from what I felt for my friends. It was really hard to describe, but what I know is that it isn't a typical crush because I don't want to kiss her or anything, and I'm not sure if I would date her. It has made things extremely confusing for me lately.

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1 hour ago, Natkat said:

I really wonder if this can even be explained or if it need to be explained in order to be valued?

 

That's silly; what if science said the same thing about gravity? We'd never be able to have GPS satellites!

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1 hour ago, Spud said:

The problem with "you just know" is that it isn't true for a lot of people (including me). I am fairly sure that besides one person, I have never felt romantic attraction. I've only had VERY minor squishes (kind of like I wanted to talk to them for maybe a week or two, and then when I didn't have the chance, they faded). But for one person in particular, I am very uncertain if I had a crush or not because I have no other experiences to compare it to and I'm not sure if I would want to date her.

 

I also have this one person I cant figure out. and its why I find it hard to label myself. 

I think I have had a chrush on her, however I also feel that it may just be how the expectations was back then because I had a very different life at that time, where I had alot of expectations on how I should live my life and be "happy" that is not true for how I want to live my life today. Example I thought I wanted to get marriage and have kids, and today I have asked if I even care for that and the answer is "no unless for citizianship or stuff, and probably not either"

 

I still feel if you have this person you dont know whenever you had a chrush on or not you still fall into the gray-romantic spectrum.

1 minute ago, DeMorgan said:

 

That's silly; what if science said the same thing about gravity? We'd never be able to have GPS satellites!

 

 

Even sience cant explain everything but for those thing we cant explain we often still find it valied as long as we have language for it to express and its used in some form of context. like we may not know if we have a soul or whenever ghoast exist or not, but regardless of that still exist in the sense that we are able to comunicate about it, and when I say a word like ghost everyone know more or less what im talking about. 

 

also as mention before, science isnt the only way to look at this and personally I also think science is pretty crapy cause I believe aromantism are more relevant when we look into it culturally.

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