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Mustard Pickles, or, Trying to explain to alloromantic friend why romantic behavior is confusing


Eklinaar
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My closest friend is very allo (and cis and mono, and I'm trans and poly), but she tries hard to understand my experiences.  Today I tried to come up with an analogy to explain to her why alloromantic behavior is so confusing.  So, this is what I came up with.  I'm curious if anyone thinks this makes sense or has a suggestion for a better analogy.  Note that this analogy is targeted at alloromantics, which is why it references dating and marriage and intimacy.

 

Imagine that everyone you've ever met is obsessed with mustard pickles (it doesn't have to be this, I just said the first mundane thing I could think of that was utterly repulsive to me).  I don't even mean mustard pickles made with quality ingredients, either, I mean cheap gas station pickles slathered in that iridescent yellow slimy "mustard" paste that's so common in Murica.  Everyone you know just can't get enough of them.  They're obsessed with them.  They want to eat them every day, they talk about them all the time.  Your daily life is inundated with mustard pickle-related media and social situations.  Here's a list of what you encounter on a daily basis.

 

  • People are always sharing mustard pickles with each other.  It's considered the greatest display of affection.  People go to restaurants and feed each other mustard pickles.  People think you're weird for not wanting to participate in this behavior and openly mock you about it.
  • Most of your friends are always telling you where you can get good mustard pickles, even though they know you don't like them.  They concoct circumstances that will put you in contact with people who will offer to share mustard pickles.
  • Your friends always want to tell you that mustard pickles are so great, and how the most important thing in their life is finding someone to share their favorite variety of mustard pickles with, and you don't know how to tell them that doesn't make any sense to you.
  • Some people think it's cute, or innocent, or shameful, or just weird that you have barely tried mustard pickles and don't want to eat them again.  People are convinced you're sad because you don't like mustard pickles.
  • Every TV show and movie features at least one scene of people gratuitously eating mustard pickles with each other and acting like it's the best thing that's ever happened to them.  People watching go "ooh" and "aah" over these scenes, and rant about how touching or exciting or sensual those scenes are, and reaffirm how much they love mustard pickles.
  • 90% of pop songs are about eating mustard pickles with people, or trying to get their favorite mustard pickles, or about how bad it feels when someone won't share their mustard pickles any more, or being mad at someone because they give their mustard pickles to someone else now.
  • Young people's Facebook pages and Instagram accounts are mostly pictures of them eating mustard pickles.
  • There are night clubs and websites devoted to hooking up with people to eat mustard pickles together.  People spend a lot of money on clothes and beauty products to wear to these clubs.
  • It's considered normal for people to plan their entire lives around a relationship with someone who likes the same kind of mustard pickles as them.
  • People have lavish, expensive, fancy mustard pickle-themed weddings, and you think it's gaudy and overdone.
  • There's an entire holiday devoted to mustard pickles where people give each other mustard pickle-themed gifts and greeting cards.  It's practically expected that you spend a lot of money getting an adequate gift for your partner on Saint Cucumber's Day.
  • When someone offers you mustard pickles, they are personally insulted when you say you don't like mustard pickles, even if you make it clear that you like them as a person.
  • Some people feel like their identity is threatened that anyone would dare say it's possible to not like mustard pickles.  These people tell you that you're just going through a phase, that you'll change your mind, or that if you'd like mustard pickles if you'd try harder to eat more of them.
  • Some people are convinced that your dislike of mustard pickles means you have a serious mental disorder.
  • There are psychologists who offer services to train you to like mustard pickles, claiming that you will better assimilate into society and be happier if you overcome your aversion.
  • Pop-psych websites have articles claiming that evolution (though they badly misunderstand what evolution actually means) causes all humans to have a strong drive to eat mustard pickles.
  • People tell elaborate stories about how the desire to share mustard pickles is the most powerful driving force in history, and is shared across all cultures.  If you point out to them that there are plenty of cultures in history that haven't had the singular obsession with mustard pickles that our society does, they go to great lengths to deny that claim.
  • People you've dated have broken up with you because you don't like mustard pickles.  A couple of them dramatically berated you over how your dislike of mustard pickles ruined your relationship, and how they can't really love someone who won't share mustard pickles.  Or even worse, they don't believe that you can really love them since you don't like mustard pickles.

 

None of this makes any sense to you.  You don't understand why mustard pickles are so critical to other things that don't seem relevant at all, like intimacy, health, and emotional satisfaction.  You're ostracized because you don't "get it".  You just want to have an intimate relationship that doesn't prominently feature talking about, eating, and pining over mustard pickles, but everyone you meet eventually hits an emotional wall and refuses to be any closer with you because you don't have a relationship that involves eating mustard pickles together.  A complex system of social rules governs these behaviors, and a lot of people think it's highly rude or offensive that you would even consider asking for certain kinds of intimacy if you aren't willing to eat mustard pickles with them.  People who used to hug you or hang out with you a lot suddenly do it a lot less once they find someone to hang out with who likes the same kind of mustard pickles that they do.  As you get older, all your friends pair off with their favorite mustard pickle buddies and stop spending time with you, and you become lonely.  People misinterpret your loneliness and frustration as jealousy over their mustard pickle buddy relationships, or attribute it to that fake pathology that supposedly causes a dislike of mustard pickles.

 

There's nothing wrong with mustard pickles.  You just think they taste really bad, but your whole society is obsessed with them, and that obsession is making life really hard for you.  If only society had room for people who don't like mustard pickles, life would be a lot less frustrating and more satisfying for you.

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First Impressions: MUSTARD PUCKLES :arolove:already intrigued and drooling

1 hour ago, Eklinaar said:

Young people's Facebook pages and Instagram accounts are mostly pictures of them eating mustard pickles.

also this statement is basically correct outside of your analogy. Though possibly 'smashed avocado' instead of mustard pickle

 

Thoughts beyond First Impressions: Very well written and encompassing of the aspects of mustard pickle culture we live in (:P)

1 hour ago, Eklinaar said:

It's considered normal for people to plan their entire lives around a relationship with someone who likes the same kind of mustard pickles as them.

There are several variations to this one that could be added

  • People show preferential treatment to their pickle sharer, even if they only just met and only offered each other pickles.
  • Couples also sometimes base their entire relationship on a mutual appreciation of the same sort of mustard pickle. 

I think this would be amazing as an information page for alloromantics trying to understand, especially if it was worked so that there was an automatic find and replace that could insert their most hated food item into the text........very helpful, as I actually had to go and get my actual jar of pickles so that my cravings would abate for my brain to work after reading 'mustard pickle' that many times. 

Showing this whole thing to someone trying to understand aromantic experiences would be extra informative by explaining romance repulsed aros as replacing the mustard pickle with a food-allergy food.

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The mental images I got while reading through this made me laugh a lot. I think it's really awesome, and I'd totally share this with people to help them understand. We don't have mustard pickles where I live though, so I'd replace that with something else unappealing. In my case it'd be something really spicy, like wasabi. Not only do I dislike that, it actually physically hurts me! I'd customize it for each person I send it to, after asking them for their most-hated food item first. Hey, I could make a 'web-app' kind of thing that auto-replaces it, like @Apathetic Echidna suggested. Should I? :P

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On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:
  • Most of your friends are always telling you where you can get good mustard pickles, even though they know you don't like them.  They concoct circumstances that will put you in contact with people who will offer to share mustard pickles.

If you ask for help with finding places you can get food you actually like they'll be of no help. More likely they just suggest mustard pickles.
 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:

 

  • Some people think it's cute, or innocent, or shameful, or just weird that you have barely tried mustard pickles and don't want to eat them again.  People are convinced you're sad because you don't like mustard pickles.

Often will insist that you "just havn't found' the right mustard pickle brand...
 

 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:
  • Pop-psych websites have articles claiming that evolution (though they badly misunderstand what evolution actually means) causes all humans to have a strong drive to eat mustard pickles.
  • People tell elaborate stories about how the desire to share mustard pickles is the most powerful driving force in history, and is shared across all cultures.  If you point out to them that there are plenty of cultures in history that haven't had the singular obsession with mustard pickles that our society does, they go to great lengths to deny that claim.

Including denying that mustard pickles are a new invention which originated in one part of the world. Even trying to pretend that it existed in societies which didn't have either pickles or mustard.

 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:

None of this makes any sense to you.  You don't understand why mustard pickles are so critical to other things that don't seem relevant at all, like intimacy, health, and emotional satisfaction.  You're ostracized because you don't "get it".  You just want to have an intimate relationship that doesn't prominently feature talking about, eating, and pining over mustard pickles, but everyone you meet eventually hits an emotional wall and refuses to be any closer with you because you don't have a relationship that involves eating mustard pickles together.

You might find yourself "automatically" excluded from being able to do things because you are not interested in mustard pickle eating. Whilst not understanding how it matters one way or the other.

 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:

A complex system of social rules governs these behaviors, and a lot of people think it's highly rude or offensive that you would even consider asking for certain kinds of intimacy if you aren't willing to eat mustard pickles with them.  People who used to hug you or hang out with you a lot suddenly do it a lot less once they find someone to hang out with who likes the same kind of mustard pickles that they do.

Whilst not understanding that this upsets you. Even blaming you for being "too negative" or that it's because you are "too immature" to be interested in mustard pickle eating.

 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:

As you get older, all your friends pair off with their favorite mustard pickle buddies and stop spending time with you, and you become lonely.  People misinterpret your loneliness and frustration as jealousy over their mustard pickle buddy relationships, or attribute it to that fake pathology that supposedly causes a dislike of mustard pickles.

Or will insist that you can't possibly be lonely because you are not into mustard pickle eating.

 

On 28/09/2017 at 6:03 AM, Eklinaar said:

There's nothing wrong with mustard pickles.  You just think they taste really bad, but your whole society is obsessed with them, and that obsession is making life really hard for you.  If only society had room for people who don't like mustard pickles, life would be a lot less frustrating and more satisfying for you.

In the same way that societies often do allow for people to have differing sporting, drama, music, etc. tastes.


 

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24 minutes ago, Holmbo said:

All that's missing is photoshopped pictures for each featuring the adored mustard pickles.

Also, after switching to a new preferred brand of mustard pickle, you would have to go back through all the old photos of you eating your previous favourite brand of mustard pickle and photoshop out the old mustard pickle from all those pictures ;) (in the case of a particularly harrowing mustard pickle 'breakup')

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2 minutes ago, NullVector said:

Also, after switching to a new preferred brand of mustard pickle, you would have to go back through all the old photos of you eating your previous favourite brand of mustard pickle and photoshop out the old mustard pickle from all those pictures ;) (in the case of a particularly harrowing mustard pickle 'breakup')

 

Perhaps it ended so badly one of them threw the jar on the floor. Glass shards and broken dreams everywhere. It's the saddest image. Or an empty jar. All out of pickles, what is even the point of life then.

Sorry I'm getting too into this. I'm not even really sure what mustard pickles are, so it's an even better analogy because of this. I tried to google images but it doesn't really help me understand. Just pickle in a jar of mustard?

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5 hours ago, Holmbo said:

Sorry I'm getting too into this

No, you can never get too into mustard pickles - as you said before, what is even the point of life without them?

 

5 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I'm not even really sure what mustard pickles are

It's better not to know the mustard pickle too well before eating it. Getting to know it well before comitting would ruin the charm and mystery of the whole endeavour.

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