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Next-To-Normal

Differences between Platonic and Romantic Attraction

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Next-To-Normal

So my question is for anyone that may have an opinion on it regardless of oreintation: what is the difference between strong platonic and romantic attraction? I've always assumed that the main difference is that with romantc attraction you want to kiss the person in question but I know some people consider that to be a sensual thing rather than romantic so what are the ways that you guys tell the difference between platonic and romantic attraction? :)

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passionatefriend61

Somebody asks this question at least once a month, it seems like. Maybe more often.

The answer is: it is an individual, subjective thing. The only real difference is how you feel. Different people have different experiences of what romantic and nonromantic love are, so if you're looking for people to tell you what the difference is so that you can know for yourself, you're out of luck. They can only tell you what it is for them. One person's romantic relationship is someone else's friendship and vice versa. Both romantic love and nonromantic love are experienced in a variety of ways, with different degrees of emotional intensity, interest in physical intimacy and exclusivity, etc.

I can love very passionately and deeply, and I also love physical/sensual intimacy in my friendships. I'm aromantic-spectrum, a WTFromantic to be specific. I do want a couple partners and other emotionally significant friendships, but I don't want a romantic relationship, which basically means I don't want to be involved with someone who's got romantic feelings for me and sees me as their romantic partner. We could actually want all the same things from a partnership, but knowing they've got romantic feelings for me would be a big turn off. I think some of it has to do with monogamy/possessiveness, because I'm a poly/relationship anarchist, so the idea of a monogamous romantic relationship is the most suffocating thing ever in my mind. But even if I were approached by someone who's poly and romantic and wanted to be in an open nonsexual romantic relationship, I wouldn't be interested. I'm romance-repulsed, so even though I love physical intimacy and loving, caring interaction and domestic intimacy and all the other good stuff you can imagine in a close relationship, I'm really put off by the idea or presence of romantic attraction. I want to be loved as a friend, not as a romantic object.

I tend to take a lot of time to build a deep, close emotional bond with someone, which is the way of friendship usually. It can takes months, years, or I could know someone for a long time and like them fine but never develop love for them or strong emotions. When I do love someone, I love them intensely, but there's no telling how long that love will take to develop. So the standard approach to romantic relationship building is totally out of the question: nobody can expect me to go on 10 or 20 "dates" and then "fall in love" and see them as super significant. Not gonna happen. I don't even know who you are, at that point. I've had a few friendships where I felt powerful emotional attraction really fast, but that's happened only a few times in my life and is totally unpredictable.

So I would say, if pressed to come up with general differences, that friendship of any caliber allows for commitment and unity without possession, is built gradually and organically, is based on genuine love and not attraction--although emotional/intellectual/personality/sensual attraction can definitely exist in a friendship, can be deep and emotionally intense but isn't exaggerated or obsessive or over the top, and is naturally nonmonogamous in the sense that it never asks you to give up friendship with all other people, even if you're QP partners with someone in a "monogamous" way. Romance starts in attraction, can exist without love, can have attraction masquerade as love, often happens super fast, can die just as quickly, is very prone to fantasy/illusion/trumping up the other person unrealistically, is typically possessive and jealous and usually monogamous, and can be overwhelming/distracting.

That's just my two cents.

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Exanimis

Platonic seems to me as an idealisation of your crush.

You like someone, you fantasize about that someone, you imagine yourself someone, coming up with imaginary situations but with no romantic interaction whatsoever.

Romantic seems to be when the crush becomes something really actual, you interact with said someone in a more explicit way, towards this end.

That is, when platonic with a friend, per example; you act towards said friend with no romantic meanings, but harboring them inside your head.

And, when in a romantic attraction; you interact with said friend, making your feeling toward said friend clear (thing that does not seem to happen in a platonic relationship), by insinuations and such.

I guess that the difference lies on the degrees of interaction; I love you but I don't tell you : Platonic. I love you and I make it clear and I try to hit on you : Romantic.

Sensual seems to me that, when there is already a romantic relationship.

It should be made clear that romantic relationships are made by affective bonds, emotional exchange.

There are a lot of terminologies and I get confused with that myself, I hope I am not bullsh*ting and helped a bit.

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TheWheatOne

At this point I don't even care anymore. Some asexual definitions have actually ruled out romantic relations even within queerplatonic (queer means odd/weird/strange, platonic means non-sexual), despite romantic orientations/relationships being regarded as separate from sexual orientations/relationships.

Like many labels now (especially new ones), I just go by them for practical reasons, but once it gets into a lot of semantic battles, again, there is no winner, and both end up using it in their own relative preferences. In other words, its worthless, just call your relationship what you want or stop trying to label it. Besides, you get to know the other person more and stop making assumptions that would only harm the relationship later on. I'm sure a lot of asexuals wish they talked about their lack of drive for sex before they got married. I've seen so many bad cases of this that it is just sad.

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FiddleKid

For me personally, platonic would be "just friends" and sharing interests, romantic would be more physically intimate (kissing, hugging, touching, holding hands etc)

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Fire & Rain

It's subjective. I don't know anymore to be honest. I'm even thinking about labeling myself as WTFromantic. I'm doing all kinds of "romantic things" in a non-romantic relationship. I've decided that, at least for myself, sometimes I just feel an attraction towards someone and I will interact with the people I'm attracted to depending how intense I feel towards them. It doesn't matter whether it's platonic or romantic because I can't tell the difference. I've been trying to define it over a decade and failing.

Sorry if that didn't help at all.

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Arf

This is going to sound a little silly but for me, romantic attraction feels a lot like how they portray it in Disney movies. Platonic attraction feels less urgent and "fluffy."

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byanyotherusername

On AVEN, in the asexuality community in general, and often in the non-asexual world as well, "platonic" usually means BOTH nonsexual and nonromantic--the original definition of the word does refer to a nonsexual, nonromantic love, but it goes quite beyond that, describing Plato's philosophy of "perfect love," the kind of love you have for God.

You can ditch the word "platonic" if it is unhelpful, but if people are contrasting "romantic" and "platonic" what they usually mean is "romantic" and "nonromantic."

So, "platonic attraction" usually refers to squishes or other types of nonromantic attraction to a person that makes you want to be close to them in a nonromantic way, maybe you want to be "best friends" with the person or even QPPs.

"Romantic attraction" refers to being drawn to someone in a romantic way--wanting a romantic relationship with them.

Only you can distinguish what you are feeling, and what type of relationship you want.

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Hooded_Crow

I think the big problem with our definition of 'romantic attraction' is that it has the word 'romantic' in there twice without ever explaining what that is.

By saying: 'romantic attraction is being drawn towards someone in a romantic way / wanting a romantic relationship with them', we're only effectively defining attraction. The 'romantic' bit in there remains unexplained.

I'm personally still unclear what the difference between platonic feelings and romantic feelings is. It's a question of subtle nuance, to me. When I say I have romantic feelings towards someone - ie, the way I use 'romantic' - it effectively means I feel drawn to that person in a very strong sense. I don't usually feel drawn to my friends. I mean I love them to bits, but there's no 'pull'. It doesn't tug at my heart in quite the same way. When I'm feeling romantic love towards someone, I often wish to be alone with them, to spend some time just the two of us. I might start imagining growing together, planning our lives together. There's also a stronger desire for affectionate physical contact and a feeling of elation when thinking about them.

All those feelings are quite nice ^_^

Additionally, this is my hundredth post on Aven 8) May I just say: huzzah.

And also, completely off topic, I just realised that this: :vis: probably means visibility. I used to think it was a Shadok. Huh. I think I'll continue to see it as a Shadok regardless. :vis:

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wyrdwyrm

Additionally, this is my hundredth post on Aven 8) May I just say: huzzah.

And also, completely off topic, I just realised that this: :vis: probably means visibility. I used to think it was a Shadok. Huh. I think I'll continue to see it as a Shadok regardless. :vis:

Congratulations! And I've wondered what that one was, since I see it as a squishy-bird face and I'm uncertain what context I'd need it in. ;)

...To return to topic, Crow describes what the difference feels like to me pretty well, too.

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byanyotherusername

I think the big problem with our definition of 'romantic attraction' is that it has the word 'romantic' in there twice without ever explaining what that is.

By saying: 'romantic attraction is being drawn towards someone in a romantic way / wanting a romantic relationship with them', we're only effectively defining attraction. The 'romantic' bit in there remains unexplained.

I'm personally still unclear what the difference between platonic feelings and romantic feelings is. It's a question of subtle nuance, to me. When I say I have romantic feelings towards someone - ie, the way I use 'romantic' - it effectively means I feel drawn to that person in a very strong sense. I don't usually feel drawn to my friends. I mean I love them to bits, but there's no 'pull'. It doesn't tug at my heart in quite the same way. When I'm feeling romantic love towards someone, I often wish to be alone with them, to spend some time just the two of us. I might start imagining growing together, planning our lives together. There's also a stronger desire for affectionate physical contact and a feeling of elation when thinking about them.

All those feelings are quite nice ^_^

Additionally, this is my hundredth post on Aven 8) May I just say: huzzah.

And also, completely off topic, I just realised that this: :vis: probably means visibility. I used to think it was a Shadok. Huh. I think I'll continue to see it as a Shadok regardless. :vis:

No one can define "romantic" because it is different for different people. Feelings are always subjective. The problem you identify above could be said just as easily of aesthetic attraction, which is "being attracted to something in an aesthetic way" but most people, even though acknowledging that what they find aesthetically pleasing can vary wildly from what someone else does, still understand this definition. They know when they find something aesthetically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to look at it. The same is true of romantic feelings. People may experience it differently, but they know when they find someone romantically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to be romantic with them (and what exactly that means to you).

What you describe doesn't sound that different on the surface from how I feel about close friends, "a pull" to be around them, alone with them, affectionate with them, and sometimes feelings of elation when I think about them. It's also how I feel about some of my relatives, and for that matter about animals from time to time. It is how I have felt about people I love for as long as I can remember. I don't associate these feelings as "romantic" because there is no drive to make a "romantic" relationship out of it. Friendship is all I could ever need or want in these circumstances. Our feelings sound similar on the surface, but the desires that stem from them are different (well, so it seems--maybe your idea of a romantic relationship looks very similar to my idea of a friendship). We both use the language that we feel best fits our internal experience.

Congratulations on your 100th post. :)

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Rising Sun

"Platonic attraction" is very deep, "symbiotic" friendship. It's the true difference with romantic attraction : we can't say "platonic attraction" because it isn't really what could be called "attraction". It's love, but without attraction. Or at least that's the way I felt with a "squish". Even a "squish" is a word that comes from "crush". It implies a comparison with romance, as if the feeling were close to romantic attraction, while it isn't. Personally, I find that permanent comparison between romance and deep friendship really disturbing.

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Hooded_Crow

No one can define "romantic" because it is different for different people. Feelings are always subjective. The problem you identify above could be said just as easily of aesthetic attraction, which is "being attracted to something in an aesthetic way" but most people, even though acknowledging that what they find aesthetically pleasing can vary wildly from what someone else does, still understand this definition. They know when they find something aesthetically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to look at it. The same is true of romantic feelings. People may experience it differently, but they know when they find someone romantically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to be romantic with them (and what exactly that means to you).

What you describe doesn't sound that different on the surface from how I feel about close friends, "a pull" to be around them, alone with them, affectionate with them, and sometimes feelings of elation when I think about them. It's also how I feel about some of my relatives, and for that matter about animals from time to time. It is how I have felt about people I love for as long as I can remember. I don't associate these feelings as "romantic" because there is no drive to make a "romantic" relationship out of it. Friendship is all I could ever need or want in these circumstances. Our feelings sound similar on the surface, but the desires that stem from them are different (well, so it seems--maybe your idea of a romantic relationship looks very similar to my idea of a friendship). We both use the language that we feel best fits our internal experience.

Congratulations on your 100th post. :)

Now I'm even more confused XD

Seriously, though, I hear you. We probably are feeling the same kinds of things except you're happy to call that friendship and I'm happy to call that romance. ^^ I think you're right, the difference would be the fact that you won't feel a desire to form an exclusive partnership with the people you feel this towards. That's the best I've got to describe 'romantic relationship' so far: an exclusive partnership. But then again, that doesn't take into account open relationships XD Oh dear.

Yeah, I think what we're veering towards here is the classic 'everyone experiences love differently'. Which seems to work every time. Because it's true! :D

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morgaine has won

I do think that 'romantic attraction' is it's own distinct experience, that some people have, some don't, and others only under certain conditions. Why would there be a specific term for it, otherwise, that people who feel this kind of attraction intuitively understand?

In the same way though, there are people who don't particularly experience platonic attraction as the consuming and tender experience that it definitely can be for some people.

Then there are people who don't experience either, or simply don't prioritize them in their lives. That's cool as well. It's just bogus to try to shape someone else's life after a set of feelings or motivations that they don't have.

I mean, I'm a singer, but I'm not going to hold interventions for people who feel no pull whatsoever towards singing.

I think that the most useful description of romantic attraction may be that you know it if you feel it.

I mean, there are the rare cases of people who don't understand platonic love or attraction because they don't experience it. Explaining intense platonic attraction and squishes might be an exercise in futility with those people as well.

(Err, am I making sense here? I'm super tired ... I hope you get my point?)

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Float On

So, if I choose to change my definition of what romance is, I can turn aromanticism into romanticism or vice versa?

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Rising Sun

No one can define "romantic" because it is different for different people. Feelings are always subjective. The problem you identify above could be said just as easily of aesthetic attraction, which is "being attracted to something in an aesthetic way" but most people, even though acknowledging that what they find aesthetically pleasing can vary wildly from what someone else does, still understand this definition. They know when they find something aesthetically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to look at it. The same is true of romantic feelings. People may experience it differently, but they know when they find someone romantically attractive, when they feel a "pull" to be romantic with them (and what exactly that means to you).

What you describe doesn't sound that different on the surface from how I feel about close friends, "a pull" to be around them, alone with them, affectionate with them, and sometimes feelings of elation when I think about them. It's also how I feel about some of my relatives, and for that matter about animals from time to time. It is how I have felt about people I love for as long as I can remember. I don't associate these feelings as "romantic" because there is no drive to make a "romantic" relationship out of it. Friendship is all I could ever need or want in these circumstances. Our feelings sound similar on the surface, but the desires that stem from them are different (well, so it seems--maybe your idea of a romantic relationship looks very similar to my idea of a friendship). We both use the language that we feel best fits our internal experience.

Congratulations on your 100th post. :)

Now I'm even more confused XD

Seriously, though, I hear you. We probably are feeling the same kinds of things except you're happy to call that friendship and I'm happy to call that romance. ^^ I think you're right, the difference would be the fact that you won't feel a desire to form an exclusive partnership with the people you feel this towards. That's the best I've got to describe 'romantic relationship' so far: an exclusive partnership. But then again, that doesn't take into account open relationships XD Oh dear.

Yeah, I think what we're veering towards here is the classic 'everyone experiences love differently'. Which seems to work every time. Because it's true! :D

I'm a person who experiences squishes, and when I do, I want an "exclusive friendship" (meaning that my squish is the most important person in my life and I'm the most important person in his life too). But as I've become romantic, I still can see and confirm that there is a difference between a crush and a squish, but I's more a difference in terms of feelings and sensuality IMO.

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TheWheatOne

So, if I choose to change my definition of what romance is, I can turn aromanticism into romanticism or vice versa?

Technically you can make any word mean anything, but the concept of language usually means at least two people agree upon a word's meaning so it can be shared. In other words, it needs to be marginally plausible or accepted into a community, unless you are making your own fantasy languages like Tolkien did.

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WhenSummersGone

The difference for me is a feeling that's hard to explain. I think someone would know if they are feeling romantic attraction. I see my friends in one way and a crush in another way. A crush gives me butterflies and I have a hard time talking to them. I may blush as well. I don't do those things with a friend.

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SirenDragon

Platonic seems to me as an idealisation of your crush.

You like someone, you fantasize about that someone, you imagine yourself someone, coming up with imaginary situations but with no romantic interaction whatsoever.

Romantic seems to be when the crush becomes something really actual, you interact with said someone in a more explicit way, towards this end.

That is, when platonic with a friend, per example; you act towards said friend with no romantic meanings, but harboring them inside your head.

And, when in a romantic attraction; you interact with said friend, making your feeling toward said friend clear (thing that does not seem to happen in a platonic relationship), by insinuations and such.

I guess that the difference lies on the degrees of interaction; I love you but I don't tell you : Platonic. I love you and I make it clear and I try to hit on you : Romantic.

Sensual seems to me that, when there is already a romantic relationship.

It should be made clear that romantic relationships are made by affective bonds, emotional exchange.

There are a lot of terminologies and I get confused with that myself, I hope I am not bullsh*ting and helped a bit.

I strongly disagree with what you have said. From what I have heard, the difference between romantic and platonic has entirely to do with the emotions involved, not the behaviour or expression of those emotions. I guess that when someone feels romantic love they may be more inclined to show their love, but them showing their love is not what makes it romantic--their love being romantic is what makes them more likely to show it. I myself do tend to refrain from expressing platonic love, but that is from fear of being misunderstood--not from the feelings being impossible to express. Also, sensual just means to stimulate the senses and usually refers to non-sexual touch such as hugs and is not limited to romantic relationships.

... I'm sorry, I'm being hard on you. Your post rubbed me the wrong way, but I know that wasn't your intent. I'm going to stop typing now.

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Float On

So, if I choose to change my definition of what romance is, I can turn aromanticism into romanticism or vice versa?

Technically you can make any word mean anything, but the concept of language usually means at least two people agree upon a word's meaning so it can be shared. In other words, it needs to be marginally plausible or accepted into a community, unless you are making your own fantasy languages like Tolkien did.

In that case, neither romance nor aromance truly exist, since the definition of romance is so disagreed upon that they can only exist as someone's fantasy like tolkeins language.

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FurrMurriX

I might just Recommend you to read this: http://treesong.org/Beyond-Platonic-and-Romantic-Love

(P.S. Kinda long. At least the Definitions is at the top...)

But at the end we all have our own way of expressing love, and explaining it.

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ranting ferret

the following is perhaps way out there, perhaps completely unhelpful, perhaps babbling that only makes sense to me. but it's a thought. maybe someone's mind is odd enough to catch where i want to go with this.

i get stuck on finding definitions and cross-referencing things that i want to understand but and endlessly confused by. so i went to the side i can grasp for this: what romantic means within an artistic idea: romanticism. check out that basic definition and find out where it takes things. what i came up with (after a whole 10 minutes, so fresh/raw ideas rolling out):

romanticism (as showed up in the arts/literature) emphasized emotions and the imagination (expression of these things), sometimes followed the impractical, emphasized the "subjectivity and primacy of the individual". as an art movement, it had less to do a specific style (like classical or cubism) and more to do with the ideas behind what was expressed.

so i guess, as for whether or not the relationship is romantic is, indeed, up to you (and the other person). as to how deeply the emotions are felt and whether or not they are expressed. a romantic relationship may have less to do with looking a certain way (candle-light dinners) and more with how you both show your concern for each other (going for a hike because the other loves nature).

now i did check out a definition for platonic which took me to platonism, and that kinda got me confused. so, that's fallen out for now. non-physical bonds were stressed. or physical touch without extra anything attached (a simple hug to say hello, etc). i've alway remembered it as platonic=practical. there are other "love styles" out there as well. i can let you know if you're interested, but for now i think that's another post for another time.

apologies for confusion in my ramble. i got excited and this is what happens.

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Geo

So, if I choose to change my definition of what romance is, I can turn aromanticism into romanticism or vice versa?

Technically you can make any word mean anything, but the concept of language usually means at least two people agree upon a word's meaning so it can be shared. In other words, it needs to be marginally plausible or accepted into a community, unless you are making your own fantasy languages like Tolkien did.

In that case, neither romance nor aromance truly exist, since the definition of romance is so disagreed upon that they can only exist as someone's fantasy like tolkeins language.

Basically this. This is beyond whether romantic/platonic feelings are subjectively experienced or not; the argument is purely semantic at this point. For example Aceofhearts' description of platonic love in this thread are nearly identical to my experience of romantic feelings(minus the desire for sex which is to be expected since I'm sexual and she's ace). When people can't agree on common definitions the words themselves are pointless and discussions of which is which serve no purpose.

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Alanabeth

Romantic attraction is not something I have ever experienced. When I'm attracted to someone its litteral. I like their energy, their words and our connection. If I have that person in my life, I'm good to go. Since we don't say were dating its not romantic. We don't have dates, we don't think of marriage, no "our song" no rules that make no sense. We do what we want. To others it may look like we date, but we are just friends we are expressive to each other and care for each other and support each other. Our relationships have no label. all i know is that if my relationships were more like a romance novel or romantic comedy, Id be turned off. So i usually use media as a way of helping figure out what romance is.

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TheWheatOne

Romantic attraction is bot something i have evet been experienced with. When im attracted to someone its litteral. I like their energy, their words and our connection. If i have that person in my life, im good to go. Since we dont say were dating its not romantic. We dont have dates, we dont think of marriage, no "our song" no rules that make no sence. We do what we want. To others it may look like we date, but we are just friends whi are expressive to eaxh other caring for each other and support each other. I have no lable all i know is that if my relationships were more like a romance novel or romantic comedy, Id be turned off. So i usually use media as a way of helping figure out what romance is.

You destroyed the English language, but it was worth it.

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Cereal Tendencies

For me as an aromantic, romantic attraction would involve experiencing limerence to the other person whereas platonic would be liking the other person. Both would involve establishing that you like each other but in the case of romantic usually a relationship occurs and romantic expression ensues-kissing, hand holding, etc.

Platonic is less complicated and usually involves sharing common interests and doing lots of activities together. The attraction part in this usually appears as a form of appreciating the other person for being who they are in terms of personality traits and skills/talents etc

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Mundane Mesh

I'll just call myself quoiromantic for now, cause I really don't understand the difference. I can look at specific examples and clearly notice if they are romantic or not, but there is a huge gray area where I really have no idea.

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