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Kitty Spoon Train

Romance vs Affection

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Kitty Spoon Train

I know that the topic of "what's the difference between friendship and romance" has been done to death here. But this has been bugging me enough lately that I just have to try to let it out. Not sure if this will make much sense (might be more of a stream of consciousness muse than a meaningful post), but I want to see what you guys think...

Background: I'm essentially a hetero-demisexual, with a strong romantic asexual streak. I love women. I can see aesthetic attractiveness in women very easily, but am ultimately mostly drawn by intelligence and emotional compatibility. I tend to get friendzoned easily but don't generally mind it, because more often than not, good friendships with girls have meant more to me in the past than any potential for "more". And I basically have almost no concept of a depersonalised need for sex, and classic "sexual attraction" isn't even on the radar for me.

Here's the thing though: I'm an incredibly affectionate person and I do seem to experience something that would superficially qualify as a romantic drive, but it doesn't seem to fall into place quite right according to what seems to be the social norm. For example: When I get super close to a girl, I develop a strong cuddle urge and some sense of being a partner-type of sorts. I want to share a lot of time with her, cuddle, kiss, share a bed, go out for walks in the park, on something like "dates", travel together, weekends away together, etc - but it doesn't really gel for me why we'd have to become an exclusive "couple unit" as such. It's really more like an intense form of emotionally-charged friendship to me than something that feels like it naturally has to "progress". In the past this caused a lot of friction. Past girlfriends said I was a "bad boyfriend" because I don't do any of the romantic things like acknowledge anniversaries.

One ex told me that I'm a bad boyfriend but would make a good husband - because I don't do any of the "courtship" stuff, but that I'm very reliable in a kind of more stable and boring everyday domestic mode. This actually makes a lot of sense when I think about it now. I have a very mi casa es tu casa approach to relationships. I gave anything to these close women that I loved - in terms of sharing my everyday life and just "being there", but I was always totally blind to the usual stereotypical "romantic gestures" - basically contrived commercial stuff. Think Hallmark and DeBeers - they'd go broke if everyone was like me. It's not about being cheap though - but mostly about not being "explicitly romantic" - I'm more just very giving and sharing on a level that feels more like being super close "best friends with cuddle benefits" than like "partners". This is the only way I know how to be. The contrived romantic stuff feels like pointless fluff, and when I do try to play it out explicitly, it just comes off all awkward and weird.

So yes, I don't know where this fits in anymore. Clearly, wanting to be all close and cuddly, potentially eventually sexual, and a borderline partner-type with girls crosses all the usual "friendship" boundaries. But at the same time I seem to be missing some sense of why there has to be a "special bubble" around this kind of relationship. I don't understand why I can't just treat them as a very close friend, in terms of how the relationship is "administered" in everyday life. There seem to be all these unwritten rules about explicit gestures and boundaries which just don't make sense to me. That said, I think if you strip away all the contrived commercial fluff, my past relationships have been 99.99% identical to the usual definition of "romantic relationship". I have no problem basically playing by the rules, but it seems like I just can't truly accept why it's necessary.

What goes on in my head when it comes to these feelings seems to be just a stronger version of friendship, rather than something qualitatively different. But I'm just so totally open and honest that people who feel like things "should be different" are put off and hurt by this. Which is why I'm starting to think I must just have an aromantic streak, and that I really am "missing" some special indefinable "essense" of that it means to have truly romantic feelings.

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Kavilk

I can sort of relate, and I'm not really sure where the boundary is between affectionate and romantic behaviour (if one even exists).

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AnotherMember

I was somehow dealing with the same situation with a friend, I guess he was confused thinking I was wanting more than a friendship with him and sadly I wasn't really wanting anything else than just a very intimate friend.

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Notte stellata

I think there are two different things here: 1. Not seeing the need for a "special bubble"; 2. Not doing the contrived romantic/"courtship" stuff. Personally I don't think No.2 has anything to do with romanticism/aromanticism. It's more about how you express your love, and I believe there are many romantic people who don't care about those stuff at all.

I'm not very sure about No.1 though. The not wanting an exclusive "couple unit" thing is a bit like polyamorous people (who are probably romantic), but your underlying mechanism (seeing romantic relationships as an extension of close friendships) seems somehow different from the typical poly ideology (believing one can love multiple people at the same time), although I'm sure you believe in the latter as well. :)

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Kitty Spoon Train

Personally I don't think No.2 has anything to do with romanticism/aromanticism. It's more about how you express your love, and I believe there are many romantic people who don't care about those stuff at all.

Good point. When I think about it - yes, this can be more or less removed. :)

I'm not very sure about No.1 though. The not wanting an exclusive "couple unit" thing is a bit like polyamorous people (who are probably romantic), but your underlying mechanism (seeing romantic relationships as an extension of close friendships) seems somehow different from the typical poly ideology (believing one can love multiple people at the same time), although I'm sure you believe in the latter as well. :)

Yes, I definitely believe it's possible to love more than one person at the same time...

I suppose my main confusion comes from having that huge grey area between close friendship and romance. I'm not sure I can find any specific "essence" which makes the two truly different for me. Depending on how you look at it, it's like either all my close friendships with women are slightly romantic, or like all my relationships are really just very close friendships.

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Cazz333

Same here. Can't date in the Western sense maybe more like long term partner chosen marriage sense. Almost an arranged marriage except you arrange it together not the parents or match maker services.

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Notte stellata

I suppose my main confusion comes from having that huge grey area between close friendship and romance. I'm not sure I can find any specific "essence" which makes the two truly different for me. Depending on how you look at it, it's like either all my close friendships with women are slightly romantic, or like all my relationships are really just very close friendships.

I can relate to the "all close friendships are slightly romantic" part. When I get very close to a male friend, my feelings inevitably become at least a little romantic (this hasn't happened a lot in my life - maybe 3-4 times, because close friendships are not easy to develop in the first place). But for me, romantic attraction developed from friendship is still romantic attraction, although it may be hard to tell when it crossed the line of platonic friendship. At least, it's different from my close friendships with females. :)

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Kitty Spoon Train

Same here. Can't date in the Western sense maybe more like long term partner chosen marriage sense. Almost an arranged marriage except you arrange it together not the parents or match maker services.

Interestingly, this is pretty much how I missed I was demisexual until the age of 33...

I had a few long term relationships during my 20s. The longest was with a Vietnamese girl, and another was with a (Malaysian) Chinese girl. In both cases we first got to know each other as friends, and they had a bit of a traditional slow dynamic of getting to know each other in a slightly dry "arranged relationship" way, as you're saying. This fell in sync with my demisexuality and mimicked the "friendship first" approach to dating. There was never this sense of Western type "dating", or any pressure to have sex upfront quickly.

Trying to date typical modern Western girls is a bit of a disaster for me - mainly because they tend to expect sex too quickly for my demisexuality to handle, hehe. Other than this, it shouldn't be too bad though, so I'm keeping my mind open to those who would be patient with a friendship first approach and with my demisexuality.

I suppose my main confusion comes from having that huge grey area between close friendship and romance. I'm not sure I can find any specific "essence" which makes the two truly different for me. Depending on how you look at it, it's like either all my close friendships with women are slightly romantic, or like all my relationships are really just very close friendships.

I can relate to the "all close friendships are slightly romantic" part. When I get very close to a male friend, my feelings inevitably become at least a little romantic (this hasn't happened a lot in my life - maybe 3-4 times, because close friendships are not easy to develop in the first place). But for me, romantic attraction developed from friendship is still romantic attraction, although it may be hard to tell when it crossed the line of platonic friendship. At least, it's different from my close friendships with females. :)

I suppose in some ways I'm talking more about "potential" than anything. eg. Stuck on a desert island together with no hope of rescue, for life. In that sort of case, I'm pretty sure any of my female friendships would turn into "romantic relationships", lol. These days I suppose I look straight to the heart, and if I see this potential in someone at all, it's hard to think of it as simple friendship, and as something totally separate to some abstract eventual possibility of romance. And yes, with guys it's totally clear cut for me too.

I guess it just drives my analytical brain insane that I can't really nail down any very specific "essence", which makes it nice and clear. :)

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Azamiko

What's that saying? A difference that makes no difference isn't a difference at all. The dictionary definition of love (or any emotion) is fairly general, and, considering the lack of empathy in the sci-fi sense, we can't feel each other's emotions directly, the nuances MUST be relative. Therefore, if you can't tell whether a relationship is friendship or romantic, you and your partner get to pick. And honestly, since you can't tell the difference in MANY of your relationships with women, even with the lack of sex in most of the relationships, it sounds like you have commitment issues.

As for 'all friendships are slightly romantic.' No, not according to the various definitions and discussions about the layers and types of love which have been debated throughout history. If I recall correctly, there are very specific differences between friend-love, romantic-love, and family-love. (Which is not negating my previous paragraph, since I'm not saying there that the diffence doesn't exist, only that if YOU can't define your feelings more clearly, it doesn't actually MATTER in the practical aspects.)

Gosh, I miss philosophy classes...

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{deleted}

I know that the topic of "what's the difference between friendship and romance" has been done to death here. But this has been bugging me enough lately that I just have to try to let it out. Not sure if this will make much sense (might be more of a stream of consciousness muse than a meaningful post), but I want to see what you guys think...

Background: I'm essentially a hetero-demisexual, with a strong romantic asexual streak. I love women. I can see aesthetic attractiveness in women very easily, but am ultimately mostly drawn by intelligence and emotional compatibility. I tend to get friendzoned easily but don't generally mind it, because more often than not, good friendships with girls have meant more to me in the past than any potential for "more". And I basically have almost no concept of a depersonalised need for sex, and classic "sexual attraction" isn't even on the radar for me.

Here's the thing though: I'm an incredibly affectionate person and I do seem to experience something that would superficially qualify as a romantic drive, but it doesn't seem to fall into place quite right according to what seems to be the social norm. For example: When I get super close to a girl, I develop a strong cuddle urge and some sense of being a partner-type of sorts. I want to share a lot of time with her, cuddle, kiss, share a bed, go out for walks in the park, on something like "dates", travel together, weekends away together, etc - but it doesn't really gel for me why we'd have to become an exclusive "couple unit" as such. It's really more like an intense form of emotionally-charged friendship to me than something that feels like it naturally has to "progress". In the past this caused a lot of friction. Past girlfriends said I was a "bad boyfriend" because I don't do any of the romantic things like acknowledge anniversaries.

One ex told me that I'm a bad boyfriend but would make a good husband - because I don't do any of the "courtship" stuff, but that I'm very reliable in a kind of more stable and boring everyday domestic mode. This actually makes a lot of sense when I think about it now. I have a very mi casa es tu casa approach to relationships. I gave anything to these close women that I loved - in terms of sharing my everyday life and just "being there", but I was always totally blind to the usual stereotypical "romantic gestures" - basically contrived commercial stuff. Think Hallmark and DeBeers - they'd go broke if everyone was like me. It's not about being cheap though - but mostly about not being "explicitly romantic" - I'm more just very giving and sharing on a level that feels more like being super close "best friends with cuddle benefits" than like "partners". This is the only way I know how to be. The contrived romantic stuff feels like pointless fluff, and when I do try to play it out explicitly, it just comes off all awkward and weird.

So yes, I don't know where this fits in anymore. Clearly, wanting to be all close and cuddly, potentially eventually sexual, and a borderline partner-type with girls crosses all the usual "friendship" boundaries. But at the same time I seem to be missing some sense of why there has to be a "special bubble" around this kind of relationship. I don't understand why I can't just treat them as a very close friend, in terms of how the relationship is "administered" in everyday life. There seem to be all these unwritten rules about explicit gestures and boundaries which just don't make sense to me. That said, I think if you strip away all the contrived commercial fluff, my past relationships have been 99.99% identical to the usual definition of "romantic relationship". I have no problem basically playing by the rules, but it seems like I just can't truly accept why it's necessary.

What goes on in my head when it comes to these feelings seems to be just a stronger version of friendship, rather than something qualitatively different. But I'm just so totally open and honest that people who feel like things "should be different" are put off and hurt by this. Which is why I'm starting to think I must just have an aromantic streak, and that I really am "missing" some special indefinable "essense" of that it means to have truly romantic feelings.

Grey romantic? Or you like romantic friendships?

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ithaca

As for 'all friendships are slightly romantic.' No, not according to the various definitions and discussions about the layers and types of love which have been debated throughout history. If I recall correctly, there are very specific differences between friend-love, romantic-love, and family-love. (Which is not negating my previous paragraph, since I'm not saying there that the diffence doesn't exist, only that if YOU can't define your feelings more clearly, it doesn't actually MATTER in the practical aspects.)

Gosh, I miss philosophy classes...

I think the OP said (bolding is mine) "Depending on how you look at it, it's like either all my close friendships with women are slightly romantic, or like all my relationships are really just very close friendships", so they're talking of all their close friendships, not of ALL close friendships in general of other people as well.

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