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Is compulsory romanticism a thing?


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I don’t know if this is the right place to post/ask this and I don’t completely understand compulsory heterosexuality at the moment but I mostly understand it I think but maybe not Idk.

Anyway, I’m nearly 18 (F17 rn as I’m posting this) and I feel like my entire life I’ve been completely romance repulsed and apothiromantic long before I knew about any of these terms and I would never have questioned that I wasn’t apothiromantic if I had heard of these terms even just a year ago. Recently however, I’ve started questioning if I might be cupioromantic because I feel like I really want to be close with someone and be in a "romantic" relationship with them (put that in quotes because I still view romance as flowers, candle lit dinners, love stories, etc which I still cringe at and feel repulsed by which it seems a lot of cupioromantics aren’t and I feel like I never really relate to what they say they feel). I’m beginning to no longer feel completely repulsed by kissing and I enjoy cuddling and platonic affection a lot (I view platonic affection as for example being affectionate toward a pet like a dog like cuddling and hugging them and telling them you love them a million times a day doesn’t mean you’re romantically attracted to your dog it just means you care about them and love them). I feel like I’m rambling. I’m lesbian/grey asexual (thought I was bisexual for years now due to being aesthetically attracted to a lot of men even though I only felt sexual attraction towards women and realized to be bi I’d actually and genuinely need to be sexual attracted to men as well. Sorry off topic). Starting to finally get to my original question hopefully (edit: not really). I watch a lot of lesbian/gay (and just LGBTQ+ in general) YouTubers and go on reddit and other social media and just see so much of it and that includes romantic relationships people want or have with each other and being lesbian myself I start wishing I also had that with a girl despite never wanting it before with anybody and never understanding why anyone cared about romance or relationships for my whole life up until recently like maybe a few months ago or maybe a bit longer than that. I also don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around the concept of flirting, it seems to be the most foreign thing to me and I just can’t understand it or how people even know how to do it. I see a lot of comphet stuff seems to be people pretending they like someone to fit in with everyone around them having crushes and stuff so maybe what I’m feeling isn’t compulsory but I’m worried that I don’t actually want a romantic relationship and that I’ll want nothing to do with it and feel very uncomfortable if I ever did get one (almost like lithromantic but I don’t really feel I relate to that much when I research it since as long as it’s a mutual feeling I have no problem having someone reciprocate). I see everyone else in romantic relationships and now I’m wanting one. I’m just confused and I feel like if I actually got one that I’d go back to being apothiromantic and I don’t want to hurt someone by going into a romantic relationship with them only to actually still be very uncomfortable by romantic gestures and acts or whatever and then not be able to reciprocate it. Also I just really hate giving and/or receiving gifts like the whole concept just stresses me out completely and I want nothing to do with that. I broke up with my last gf in part due to a similar thing of not being able to reciprocate her feelings and I’m worried that’ll happen again but I feel like I’ve made myself believe I’m missing out on something and that I really want it when I feel like I actually probably don’t want anything to do with it. Of course I still feel like I crave platonic affection or at least giving it to others but I almost fear physical touch and get very uncomfortable with it with most people including family (I’ve always hated being "forced" to hug family members like when we visit relatives but even just hugging my mom feels weird despite having a good relationship with her).

So a deep/strong connection or bond with someone and being affectionate with them seems to be what my brain is counting as me desiring a romantic relationship which it seems more like I’d want a QPR. But I still have made myself believe I want more than that like I want an actually "normal" romantic relationship.

It’s like I want it but I don’t really want it, I’ve just made myself believe I want it due to constantly seeing everyone else with it and feeling I’m missing out.

As I said before I’m scared I’m gonna be in a relationship again and not be able to reciprocate their feelings and that the relationship will just crumble underneath us and I just don’t want to feel like I hurt another person. A QPR might work for me but it seems impossible to end up in one on purpose like most people don’t even seem to know what that is and everyone seems to value romantic relationships over friendships.

So after all that rambling and my inability to sum anything up, my main question is: is compulsory romanticism a thing and could this be what I’m feeling?

I’m assuming that with how normalized romance is and having romantic relationships are in our society that it’d be like the romantic equivalent of comphet although I’m not thinking of it as only heteroromantic but just any romance in general. I’m sure this has got to already be a thing but I haven’t seen anything about it yet so thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

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Posted (edited)

This is an interesting question. In your case, I think you can argue that compulsory romanticism, as you're calling it, would simply be an extension of compulsory heterosexuality, since you identify as female and are experiencing it. Adrienne Rich wrote about compulsory hetereosexuality with lesbians in mind but she did also state that it technically affected all women, since relationships under heteronormative patriarchy reduce women to the position of romantic and sexual object and ascribes their worth to them based off such.

However, this is still an interesting idea regardless of gender. I'm sure somebody has talked about this before (I'm kind of questioning if I'm cupio myself after previously identifying as aroace years ago, so I've only really seen aro/ace folks talking about stuff related to them in passing over the last 7-ish years) but I don't think you're wrong in your approach or anything. In a society that values romantically and sexually involved monogamous straight couples over everything else, that kind of dynamic frequently spills into how queer people view ourselves.

Edited by arotr
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I also find myself in this predicament. I see people close to me and friends in coupled groups and it's "Oh I want a relationship" or do i? I enjoy platonic affection. But imagining myself in a relationship with a person is like....eeeeh it depends cuz if it was a dear friend of mine I wouldn't'mind but the whole romance gestures and mouth kissing is a huge no. 

Basically I was fine with how I was vibing and living life as an ace aro until all my close peeps got into romantic relationships or married. Unsure if that means I'm not a hard aro. What I do know is the idea of having a committed companionship sounds lovely. I entered a whole internal crisis when everyone around me paired up leaving me alone. Comphet is a thing so yeah I imagine compulsory romanticism is what plenty of aros experience leading us to re-question things again and again and again. 

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