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Coyote

What -isn't- attraction?

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Recently, some folks have been talking about attraction, especially platonic attraction. Some people define platonic attraction to mean something like "wanting to be friends with a person," and I'm not the only person this raises questions for. Personally, when I want to start a friendship with someone, I don't think of that as attraction & I wouldn't want somebody telling me that that's attraction. That would be super uncomfortable. At the same time, the term itself has been circulated enough around the community that I'm sure people are getting something out of it, even if I'm not quite clear on what that something is, what they're using it to mean, or if we really do have the same experiences and they're just choosing to talk about them a different way. So I'm wondering if this is something that we can learn more about by swapping perspectives on the subject.

 

Questions:

  1. Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?
  2. What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?
  3. For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"? (or whatever other word you want to contrast it against)
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8 hours ago, Coyote said:

1. Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?

Overall, yes. I find it helpful to think about sexual and romantic attraction as being things I don't experience. When I want to hug or cuddle with someone, I find it helpful to think about that as sensual attraction. However, aesthetic "feelings" don't really seem like attraction (at least as I experience them). My attraction usually leads me to pursue or want to pursue a specific course of action, but that's not the case with aesthetic. I might admire someone's appearance, but I won't go out of my way to look at them (or keep looking at them if they move out of my line of sight), just like how I might enjoy looking at a pretty picture but not act on any impulses or anything. 

 

8 hours ago, Coyote said:

2. What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. When I'm friends with someone I have a squish on, there's definitely an attractive element, in that I'll consciously and unconsciously try to spend more time with them, text them more, etc. Sometimes this can coexist with sensual attraction but it doesn't have to, and when we're not interacting, I'll often times be wishing we were interacting more. When I have a squish on someone I'm not friends with, it's more of a feeling of wanting to be friends with them, but without any specific action. There's a sense of wanting to hang out, but it's different from a squish on a friend because, in this case, it's hanging out to have a friendship develop on its own, and if we don't end up hanging out by coincidence or if the friendship just doesn't develop, nothing really happens, I easily forget about the squish, and the feelings go away. 

 

8 hours ago, Coyote said:

3. For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"? (or whatever other word you want to contrast it against)

Maybe the guarantee or lack of guarantee of a positive outcome if I follow though with certain actions, and the specificity of the actions in question? For a "feeling"/unfriended squish, I don't know for certain that I'll actually enjoy hanging out with the person in question, it's just a guess my brain decided to make. The action I'm interested in pursuing is similarly vague, just a nebulous desire to hang out with them somehow. For an "attraction"/friended squish, I do know that I'll enjoy their company, and I have specific things I want to do with them. (Or rather, there are lots of specific things that I know would make me happy, but as long as they involve interaction, I don't really care that much)

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Answering my own questions:

 

1. Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?

 

Yeah, sort of. It doesn't actually matter much in my day to day life or actual relationships, but the terminology has been handy for my questioning process, and it's reassuring to have access to as a concept. For me it's most useful for those otherwise-inexplicable impulses toward another person. All of the attraction types that make sense to me, when I think about it, are all physical to some degree. Attraction can be shallow and irrational (which isn't to say "bad," just not always a good basis of decisions all on its own).

 

2. What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?

 

No, not at all. When I want to be friends with someone, that's very explicable. They're charming or smart or fun to be around or have a lot in common with me etc. etc., so what I feel is an admiration or just liking them as an actual person.

 

3. For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"?

 

Feeling is the broadest possible category. Feelings include your whole range of anger, sadness, happiness, road rage, etc. Feelings about another person can include a desire to spend more time with them or an interest in getting to know them better, but if so, those feelings are just that -- desire and interest, i.e. things you actually want to act on. Attraction, to me, isn't necessarily something you decide to act on -- it can precede that decision (or not be acted on at all). Feelings about another person can also include an emotional bond of closeness, or emotional investment in their wellbeing -- that's not attraction either. That's just caring about someone. To me, "attraction" is more like the "intrusive thoughts" of the feelings-about-people world, separable from intent to follow through, and not necessarily based on anything "real." For me, calling serious, invested, explicable feelings (themselves) "attraction" would seem to cheapen them or make them sound less... based in specific reasons I could point to for those feelings. Ex. I want to spend more time with C because they're cool and we have fun together (liking C as a person), but I have no explanation for why I want to touch R's arm hair (physical attraction).

 

9 hours ago, raavenb2619 said:

However, aesthetic "feelings" don't really seem like attraction (at least as I experience them). My attraction usually leads me to pursue or want to pursue a specific course of action, but that's not the case with aesthetic.

 

That's one that I do experience! ...Or at least, syntactically, I find it easier to say "This person is attractive (aesthetically)" than to say "This person is good-looking in a purely visual way but not attractive" (or rather, I don't want to have to remodel the whole way I talk to avoid calling pretty people attractive). This may be a different way than how you model it, but the "specific course of action" there, for me, is "keep looking." Which can be a problem if I'm trying not to stare!

 

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46 minutes ago, Coyote said:

Or at least, syntactically, I find it easier to say "This person is attractive (aesthetically)" than to say "This person is good-looking in a purely visual way but not attractive"

Yeah, I end up calling it aesthetic “attraction” because that’s generally how the community and the larger world talks about this stuff, but for me it’s kind of just “you’re pretty”. 

 

48 minutes ago, Coyote said:

the "specific course of action" there, for me, is "keep looking." Which can be a problem if I'm trying not to stare!

I’m curious, assuming that potential creepiness and awkwardness weren’t issues, would you go out of your way to look at someone? If you were sitting in a cafe and they moved behind a large object or behind you, would you adjust your chair to keep looking at them? Would you pull up pictures of them to look at? (I realize that these questions are sort of personal, so don’t feel like you have to answer if you don’t want to/aren’t comfortable)

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39 minutes ago, raavenb2619 said:

I’m curious, assuming that potential creepiness and awkwardness weren’t issues, would you go out of your way to look at someone?

 

That's a pretty big if! It's hard for me to actually imagine not being concerned with how my actions impact or are perceived by others. Staring is mostly understood as either hostile and/or expressing... desire for further interaction, of some kind, so I avoid it because that would be sending all the wrong signals and would just end up making for an awkward experience for the both of us. It's hard to realistically imagine a scenario without that concern. But, if I try, then, I guess, sure? I already stop and stare at pretty dogs, cats, and horses, so if people were as unselfconscious as dogs, then maybe. Depends on how pretty they are.

 

It's a different scenario, of course, when it's not in person, and just pulling up pictures of someone (like a celebrity) is more of an option. For example, every once in a while I remember that Riz Ahmed exists and go pull up pictures of him. He's got beautiful eyes, I don't know what else there is to say. Maybe other people find aesthetic attraction more or less motivating than that, I dunno. It sounds like what you experience may be different from me by slight degrees, and I've also heard of at least one person describing their own aesthetic attraction as a lot stronger than the "pretty painting" perspective.

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On 6/9/2019 at 5:22 PM, Coyote said:

1. Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?

Yes. To me it defines the difference between a passive thought and an active draw toward someone for any reason. For me personally, since I identify as greyaro, that distinction is very important in discerning whether I'm experiencing one of the rare times I'm romantically attracted to someone or just thinking hypothetically. 

On 6/9/2019 at 5:22 PM, Coyote said:

2. What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?

Kinda? Insofar as it applies directly to a squish, I guess. To me a squish is being drawn to someone because I admire them in some way or get excited about something we have in common to the point of going out of my way to interact with them, but not wanting it to go any "further" than friendship. I guess technically that's both platonic and a form of attraction so definitionally it's platonic attraction. But it's not a term I'd use much. I'm more likely to just say I have a squish on them.

On 6/9/2019 at 5:22 PM, Coyote said:

3. For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"? (or whatever other word you want to contrast it against)

A feeling is something experienced in the body, not to do with logic, but still mental in a way, mixed with a physical sensation. Attraction is a feeling combined with a desire to take some kind of action towards a person in order to become closer to them. Maybe in terms of "platonic attraction" I'd see this as the difference between a friend of convenience/a friend I'm not deeply emotionally bonded with, and a friend with whom I'm fostering a strong connection, someone I'd miss when they're not around.

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On 6/9/2019 at 10:22 PM, Coyote said:

Recently, some folks have been talking about attraction, especially platonic attraction. Some people define platonic attraction to mean something like "wanting to be friends with a person," and I'm not the only person this raises questions for. Personally, when I want to start a friendship with someone, I don't think of that as attraction & I wouldn't want somebody telling me that that's attraction.

I agree, the notion of platonic attraction makes little sense to me. Even though it seems to be used fairly often in aro spaces.

 

On 6/9/2019 at 10:22 PM, Coyote said:

At the same time, the term itself has been circulated enough around the community that I'm sure people are getting something out of it, even if I'm not quite clear on what that something is, what they're using it to mean, or if we really do have the same experiences and they're just choosing to talk about them a different way.

It also appears to be somewhat important to the squish and QPR concepts.
IIRC the term alterous can mean either "different from either 'romantic' and 'platonic'" or "between 'romantic' and 'platonic'". With the latter seeming like a variation on the argumentum ad temperantiam logical fallacy from my POV.

 

On 6/9/2019 at 10:22 PM, Coyote said:

Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?

I find romantic, sexual, sensual and aesthetic useful as concepts 'attraction'. Both individually and in combination. Even without experiencing the first.
 

On 6/9/2019 at 10:22 PM, Coyote said:

What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?

It makes so little sense to me that a coined the term "quoiplatonic".

 

On 6/9/2019 at 10:22 PM, Coyote said:

For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"? (or whatever other word you want to contrast it against)

The best i can come up with is that the former is conscious whereas the latter is unconscious.

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18 hours ago, treepod said:

A feeling is something experienced in the body, not to do with logic, but still mental in a way, mixed with a physical sensation. Attraction is a feeling combined with a desire to take some kind of action towards a person in order to become closer to them.

 

huh. Personally, I like to make a big distinction between attraction and desire. So much so that it's more than a little confusing when a definition of attraction has the word "desire" in it. But that could be because I reserve "desire" for things you have the actual will to act on, whereas it's possible to feel attraction without feeling like acting on it.

 

12 hours ago, Mark said:
On 6/9/2019 at 5:22 PM, Coyote said:

At the same time, the term itself has been circulated enough around the community that I'm sure people are getting something out of it, even if I'm not quite clear on what that something is, what they're using it to mean, or if we really do have the same experiences and they're just choosing to talk about them a different way.

It also appears to be somewhat important to the squish and QPR concepts.

 

Somewhat. Queerplatonic is also a relationship term, and I think of it primarily as referring to that, although it was also discussed as a parallel type of attraction by Meloukhia from the beginning. I think it's plenty common to discuss it mainly as a relationship descriptor though.

 

When I was looking up the origin of squish, on the other hand, I was surprised to find that it was... older? apparently? than anything I could find on "platonic attraction." Rasin's post doesn't even present it as a type of attraction -- just "a desire to talk to the person and be friends with them" (and which is, weirdly enough, explicitly defined as being less intense than a crush -- I wonder if the people who use "squish" these days still think of it that way).

 

12 hours ago, Mark said:

IIRC the term alterous can mean either "different from either 'romantic' and 'platonic'" or "between 'romantic' and 'platonic'". With the latter seeming like a variation on the argumentum ad temperantiam logical fallacy from my POV.

 

It's been defined a few different ways, yeah. Not always good ways. I know someone who's planning to write a more in-depth post about what it means to her, but for the time being that's still forthcoming.

 

12 hours ago, Mark said:

The best i can come up with is that the former is conscious whereas the latter is unconscious.

 

hmm. Are you using "unconscious" to mean "without being aware of it," or... something more like un-willed?

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1. i don't really know what to say to that; to me, attraction is just something which exists (whether or not i experience a certain type), whether i like it or not.  if you mean distinguishing types of attraction then yes, i define four types: romantic, which of course i don't experience, and sexual, platonic, and aesthetic, which i do.  i don't separate sensual, since for me, certain things which tend to fall under that are romantic and others are sexual (and hugging is platonic), so i just sort them into those categories.  

 

2. yeah, it makes sense to me.  i definitely like people in a platonic way and i do get squishes; it's not always clear where to draw the line between a squish and the less intense "they're fun, i wouldn't mind talking to them" that everyone (like, allos) gets, but i don't think it really matters.  i don't call it part of my orientation, though--like, if i gave it a prefix it would be pan, but i feel like that's the case for pretty much everyone.  it's just nice to be able to understand how i like a certain person, like before i knew about aromanticism, let alone squishes, when i'd get them on girls, i never thought the attraction was romantic or sexual, never doubted my heterosexuality, just thought "huh, she sure is cool.  crazy."  (same with aesthetic attraction towards girls: "she sure is pretty.  yup, that's that.")  i knew what i was feeling, i just didn't know what to call it.  of course i'd get squishes on guys, too, and if it was only platonic i'd think the same thing, but if it was also sexual (or whatever you'd call it when you're a kid, you know, thinking they're cute), i might mistakenly think it was a crush.  so yeah, my discovery of the world of aromanticism and relevant terms was useful in many ways.

 

3. well, i've explained what i consider attraction, so i guess anything besides those four are...not.  love, to me, is a feeling; i wouldn't say i love a squish, and sexual or aesthetic attraction certainly wouldn't lead to love.  rather, i love very close, longtime friends and family members.  so the only time attraction could lead to love is if it's platonic and we end up developing a special relationship of that nature.  (of course i might also find that person beautiful, for instance, but that's not a factor in why i love them.)  actually, there is an exception to that: longtime celebrity squishes who mean a lot to me for whatever reason, even if we've never met; i love a few of them.  well, what other feelings might be within this realm?  admiration...sure, i can admire someone's talent, intellect, character, etc. without being attracted to them, or it could be part of the reason for my attraction, probably platonic.  but i guess i consider attractions to be types of feelings, anyway, just a distinct class of them.

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17 hours ago, Coyote said:

When I was looking up the origin of squish, on the other hand, I was surprised to find that it was... older? apparently? than anything I could find on "platonic attraction." Rasin's post doesn't even present it as a type of attraction -- just "a desire to talk to the person and be friends with them" (and which is, weirdly enough, explicitly defined as being less intense than a crush -- I wonder if the people who use "squish" these days still think of it that way).

This is interesting especially how it contrasts with some later versions which do use the term 'platonic'.
It also touches on the situation of a word, in this case 'date', which have different meanings. In this context 'date' could mean either going on a date with someone or being in a (romantic) relationship with someone.

 

18 hours ago, Coyote said:

It's been defined a few different ways, yeah. Not always good ways. I know someone who's planning to write a more in-depth post about what it means to her, but for the time being that's still forthcoming.

This looks to be challenging the notion of relationship (type) hierarchy.
It's somewhat inconsistent in that the text on the left says "Like on a scale of platonic to romantic it would be somewhere in the middle". Whilst the description on the right says "neither romantic nor platonic attraction is accurate". 

 

18 hours ago, Coyote said:

hmm. Are you using "unconscious" to mean "without being aware of it," or... something more like un-willed?

More the latter.

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1. It seems that a lot of person experience it so yes

 

2. I experience a squish only once in my life, but I can say a big yes for that. Just because it distinguishes between attraction  and desire. My squish wasn't rational, it was just seing the person and immediately want to become friends for no reason. I never talk to her but think about it for days. I even thought it was a crush before I discover aromanticism and realize their were no romantic content. For me it was very different than wanting to become friends with someone vécue he/she is interesting, or Nice,  or whatever.  Something irrationnel were attracting me.

 

All this to say : though I don't use the term "platonic attraction" usually  (as I said I felt only a squish in my life), I think it is a concept we need.

 

3. I think I kinda explain it in my previous answer. For me, attraction is irrational and is pushing you to actin a way you wouldn't if you could think normally. It's not about conscious decisions. Whereas a feeling can be rationalize  (like : I llike this person because he is nice).

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What a great topic and interesting responses!
 

Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?
Since I'm gray ace, I use it for feelings of sexual attraction. It happens mostly with characters on tv and movies. Maybe because I can be more relaxed about it then, and not worry about having to interact with them.
 

What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?
I don't use it. But I might find it useful to understand another persons experience. I'm not against people using it
 

For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"?
Sometimes I'm a bit unsure if the feeling is sexual attraction or just some general mood of arousal that just happen to come across me at that time though. So it's a bit confusing. If someone was using attraction in a non romantic or sexual sense... I'm not sure how to explain what that would mean but I think I'd understand if someone was using it in a sentence :D

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Is the concept of "attraction" useful to you?

Yes, in both the sense of it's presence and it's absence. Most people have a basic vague understanding so it makes explaining aromanticism easier by just augmenting what they already think of attraction, so I find it useful descriptively too. 


What about the concept of "platonic attraction," in particular?

Personally I don't find it useful to my own experience, and I don't think I understand what people mean by it as there seems to be lots of different usage and generalisations. So when others mention their platonic attraction I fill like all the sentences in my inner monologue of understanding all suddenly end in question marks. 


For you, what is the dividing line between a "feeling" and an "attraction"? (or whatever other word you want to contrast it against)

So I am going to add in a third word because I think there are two ways of looking at this, but first:

Feeling vs Attraction. I think feelings are centred within myself. Sure, feelings can be influenced by outside forces and change how I act but ultimately they are mine to deal with. I read a romance novel once and it had a sentence along the lines of 'I love you but that has nothing to do with you'. 

Attraction can cause feelings but ultimately the attraction is an external point of focus, and there is a lot more of a sense of losing yourself. 

 

The other word I want to use here is 'appreciation'. For me attraction can be strong, so I felt uncomfortable using a word that I felt was strong and had sexual connotations as I felt it misrepresented what I was trying to say. Then I stumbled upon a post on AVEN where someone was complaining of the overuse of the word 'attraction' and proposed 'appreciation'. I find this a particularly good word for trying to explain my experiences with aesthetic. You could say appreciation is just weak attraction, but I think it is the difference between walking down a hallway and liking the wallpaper compared to being entranced by a painting at the art gallery and spending 10 minutes staring at it. 

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13 minutes ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

You could say appreciation is just weak attraction, but I think it is the difference between walking down a hallway and liking the wallpaper compared to being entranced by a painting at the art gallery and spending 10 minutes staring at it. 

Ooh, I like that. Yeah, now that I think about it, most of my aesthetic "attraction" is better described as feeling/"appreciation", and that could explain the two kinds of squishes that I talked about in my initial reply. Squishes on a stranger is just platonic appreciation, the abstract thought (with no backing evidence) that I would enjoy someone's friendship. Squishes on a friend is platonic attraction, a much stronger impulse to do specific activities with the person in question. 

 

I'm curious, do other people find the idea of appreciation useful at all? 

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On 6/13/2019 at 4:53 AM, raavenb2619 said:

 

I'm curious, do other people find the idea of appreciation useful at all? 

I haven't thought about it before but I think I find it useful. It seems appreciation is more cerebral than attraction? One is aware why one finds something pleasing.

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On 6/12/2019 at 10:53 PM, raavenb2619 said:

I'm curious, do other people find the idea of appreciation useful at all? 

 

I associate that word with art galleries and also, more generally, gratitude/thankfulness, which makes it kind of weird for me to swap out in some cases, but I also can see it working fine in others.

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Just popping in to say that "attraction" in general is useful for me;

the term platonic attraction isn't sth I apply to my experience, but I use the word "admiration" to describe similar things sometimes;

feeling is a much much more broad category than attraction and one where attraction fits too

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