Skullery Maid

Romance vs Romantic Identities

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5_♦♣

"hey, it'd be nice to avoid the cats eating me after I die, so maybe we should live together".

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Vampyremage

For me, my romantic identity is relatively separate from the traditional idea of romance. I don't especially like those stereotypical gestures that are so prevalent around me as the seem and feel rather pointless. In that context, I can't really say that I am an especially romantic person at all. A gesture made specifically to be a romantic gesture I just can't really understand and don't really appreciate. I do appreciate nice gestures that show an individual is thinking of me, but don't really make any real differentiation between romantically nice gestures and nice gestures of friendship.

I do, however, identify as romantic or at least grey romantic. For me, romantic orientation and romantic gestures are very much separate. I enjoy being in a relationship, complete with non-sexual physical touch (and for me, I prefer quite a lot of that) and feelings of long term commitment. I am not monogamous, but the flavour of polyamory that I most associate with is one in which a long term commitment is still preferred. By long term, I don't mean an expectation of forever, but certainly an expectation that a relationship is something serious and not to be entered into or left lightly or easily.

What differentiates a romantic relationship from a close friendship for me isn't the romantic gestures involved, but rather the idea of commitment combined with the idea of physical touch. While I've cuddled with close friends before, its never felt entirely comfortable unless I'm actually in a relationship with someone and then the physical act of touch becomes incredibly important to me.

I'm not sure how much that helped, if at all, but that's my perspective anyway.

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honor is all

Here on my thoughts in the subject. I'm sure some of you will disagree, so please, have at it! Let's see how we all differentiate these concepts.

Romance: Romance is cultural. Romance is a concept that varies from society to society and roughly implies some sort of courtship behavior. An act is considered romantic if it fits the culturally prescribed criteria for eliciting a feeling of romantic affection in another person. A person is considered romantic if they tend toward behavior that fits the culturally prescribed criteria for wooing. As an example, in heteronormative United States culture, it is considered romantic to surprise your partner with a candlelit dinner. Whether or not the recipient actually likes candlelit dinners is more or less beside the point, because romance is determined on a macro level. It is certainly possible, but unlikely, that a person would be held out as a "hopeless romantic" if they didn't subscribe to the cultural trappings of romance.

Romance can also occur on a micro level. Let's say Patty and John are anarchist punks who just started dating. Patty has been angry with Taco Bell for some time because they misrepresent where their produce comes from, and Patty prefers local food. So, in an effort to be romantic, John vandalizes Taco Bell in Patty's name. This makes Patty swoon. Now, in one sense we'd call John romantic because he did something specifically intended to elicit romantic feelings from Patty. In another sense, however, John is not romantic, because vandalizing a restaurant does not fit into our culturally identified concept of love and wooing. So while on a micro level, John may be romantic, on a macro level, John is not going to be held out to the public as a "hopeless romantic".

Romantic Identity: Romantic Identity refers to the emotional connection you forge with others. There are so many different ways to look at this, and I think there's a fairly wide divergence in people's definitions of what actually constitutes romantic identities. Some people say that if you fall "in love", you are romantic. I'd agree with that (with a caveat that I will explore more fully below). Some say it has to do with the type of relationship you want. I'd agree with that as well. If you want an emotionally monogamous partnership, you love them and feel they are a part of you, your family, or your identity, I'd say you're in a romantic relationship. Let's all keep in mind that physical affection is but one (very common) manifestation of romantic feelings, but it is not the same thing as romantic feelings. The mere fact that you don't want to cuddle or have sex with your partner doesn't tell me whether or not you are aromantic, but it does tell me something about your preferences in regard to physical touch.

So, if you fall in love, you are romantic. If you want a primary relationship with someone where extreme mutual affection is demonstrated (either verbally, physically, or thru other behaviors), then I'd say you are romantic. I know many people who have romantic friendships... the fact that they aren't in a romantic relationship doesn't mean that the people are aromantic, but rather that they'd prefer not to have a romantic relationship. If you are capable of romantic love but prefer not to participate in it, you are not aromantic. You just don't want a relationship, and that's totally fine.

As I said above, the "in love" definition of romantic identity is troublesome because it raises a whole other problem, which is... what the hell is "in love"?! I'm the wrong person to ask, because I don't think "in love" is a real thing. I do identify as romantic, but I do not identify with the concept of "in love". I'm honestly not even sure if I can say that I love my partner differently from the way I love my best friends. The major difference between the two is that I feel a desire to be near my partner, and I feel a desire to share my life with her.

There are many different ways to express a romantic identity. You can hate candy, flowers, candlelit dinners, greeting cards, rose petals, poetry, love notes, cuddling, hand holding, etc, and still be a romantic. Why? Because you have the ability to fall in love, or you have the ability to feel the desire to share your life with someone. Personally, I'm romantic. I think romance is stupid. I HATE when people cook for me because I find it intolerably awkward, I hate pithy gifts, I don't respond well to surprises, holding hands makes me feel like my hand is burning off... in other words, I loathe nearly every cultural signifier of romance. And yet I do love my partner, and I do want to share my life with her. Not in a "hey, it'd be cheaper if we split the bills" kinda way, or in a "hey, it'd be nice to avoid the cats eating me after I die, so maybe we should live together" kinda way, but in a "you are a very special person to me and I want to see you and be near you, and when I experience things in my life I want to share them with you, and I want you to share your experiences with me" kinda way. It is a genuine desire to merge and share our thoughts and experiences in a meaningful way. I want her to feel, think, and learn all the things I feel, think, and learn, and she wants the same. That is a romantic relationship. It doesn't matter if you have sex, or hold hands, or give each other flowers. It doesn't matter if you hate the word love or would rather burn down Hallmark than buy a card. Those are all cultural trappings and are not the same as the innate desire to partner up.

AND... that's my long-winded rant on the subject. How do ya'll separate the two concepts?

Skullery you are a G-E-N-I-O-U-S!!!!! (and also a bit a of psychic coz you nearly read my mind yet again) :lol: I think you pin points the ESSENCE of romantic. It's that innate, un embellished drive to pair up that people have that makes them romantic and which I conversely don't have which makes me aromantic. I mean the hating of hand holding, roses, surprise dinners is part of many aromantics including me. For example I like close physical touching (how close depends on the time of year, I'm very fluid ;) ) and some instances of emotional intimacy but have no desire to call anyone my partner and to have them constantly be part of my life. If I ever decide to "partner or group up" (am poly as well) it will be the "let's split the taxes for god's sake" or "I don't want the cats eating me" proposition. :D

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Kisa the Kit Kat

I do agree that romance itself is cultural. I've talked to a few people that are either in arranged marriages or will be in arranged marriages (due to religion/culture/etc) and they have a very different view of romance than many other people I know.

Traditionally in romance, there's an element of a chase. You chase what you want until you get it by wooing them with flowers or chocolates or love songs or whatever, then you live happily ever after in a castle made of bubblegum or something. You see this all the time in corny movies...the cliche "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to win girl back, boy and girl live happily ever after."

For people in arranged marriages, there isn't much to chase after because it's already there. It's more of "well we're together we might as well make the best of it." (that sounds worse than I intended it to be, but I can't figure out a better way to word it). These people tell me that instead of falling in love before getting married, they fall in love afterwards.

I don't think the second example is any less romantic than the first, and I would say it is something that occurs on a macro level. I would also call the second example romance, just not the type of romance that we are traditionally used to. It does raise a few interesting questions about how romantic identities are linked with other forms of romance though.

I don't really know where I'm going with this so I guess I'll stop :redface:

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Skullery Maid

You chase what you want until you get it by wooing them with flowers or chocolates or love songs or whatever, then you live happily ever after in a castle made of bubblegum or something.

That sounds awesome. If romance involved me getting a bubblegum castle, I'd be all over it!

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ithaca

Hey Skulls, thank you so much for this post :cake:

I largely agree with you. Though I'm curious, you talk of "monogamous partnership", so what do you think of polyamorous ones? :)

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Kitty Spoon Train

At first I was just going to "+1" Vampyremage's post above, because my thinking on romance is essentially identical. But just to add some of my own words...

I totally agree that there's a huge difference between Romance and Romantic Identity. I'm essentially borderline repulsed by virtually everything stereotypically "romantic" too, and in terms of long term bonding, the difference between very close friendship and romance can look very fuzzy with me.

For me, it comes down to two things: Desire for physical contact, and that sense of "life sharing".

1) Physical contact - There are certain people who are 100% Platonic friends for me. Somehow the chemistry for any kind of tender touching and affection just isn't there. Anything beyond a totally friendly quick hug goodbye would just feel creepy and out of place. But with girls with whom I identify a "romantic" interest, I can't get enough touching, cuddling, hair-stroking, sharing a bed when together, etc. It may or may not eventually evolve a sexual interest too (I'm demi/grey), but this isn't an integral part of it at any rate.

2) Life sharing - This is actually very tough to explain, considering I'm polyamorous. I'm actually a very independent person and prefer living alone, so this doesn't in any way mean the usual "moving in together and having a domestic partnership" deal, nor does it imply exclusivity. I don't measure commitment by exclusivity, but mostly by a very strong sense of friendly loyalty. Essentially, the way I feel about a girl when I develop romantic feelings is that I want to be some form of friends for life, but the exact details of how we'll connect can be left a bit open and fluid. It doesn't feel necessary to exclusively "own" that connection - the real test of the bond comes from having it develop as a genuine friendship, and then surviving the limerence ("falling in love") stage and remaining close friends afterwards.

So essentially, my idea of a romantic relationship is probably closer to what would normally be seen as a combination of being very Best Friends and Romantic Friendship, rather than what most people would consider a normal full package pair bond kind of thing.

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Skullery Maid

Hey Skulls, thank you so much for this post :cake:

I largely agree with you. Though I'm curious, you talk of "monogamous partnership", so what do you think of polyamorous ones? :)

I think that I'm not polyamorous, so any attempt I make at explaining it would probably get my ass kicked by someone. I leave it to the polyamorous folk to explain. I think Vamp did a good job of describing a polyamorous relationship that still includes a sense of commitment and a shared sense of togetherness.

EDIT: And Guzica :)

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snufflebottoms

I'm glad you made the distinction between Marco and Mirco levels of romance. I agree that every culture has its definitions of romance but that your romantic identity is tied in more with your ability to fall in love (where "in love" feels and is different than friendly love.) And I definitely think that the most successful relationships have a micro-definition that all partners can agree on. (It doesn't have to deviate much or at all from the cultural definition but members of relationship know and agree on what romance and love means *to them*)

People seem to just know or have an idea when they are experiencing sexual attraction, romance, friendship, two of the above, all of the above or none of the above with another person. And yes sometimes (often), we struggle, but even being able to know we are struggling shows that we acknowledge that there are these three separate ways to feel love and attraction. And it shows that the distinction matters. Even individuals who can only experience one or two seem to go through this.

As far as romantic (in-love) love goes, some people can clearly articulate why they define their love as romantic (the life sharing, physical touch, insert personal reasons, etc.) others cannot at all but intrinsically know and some (probably most) can explain to a certain extent why they define (or do not define) their feelings as romantic love.

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Philip027

I don't disagree with anything!

Except with getting food/gifts, that's always awesome.

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Bye Bye Birdy

Thanks for this! I completely agree with you, Skullery. It's a useful distinction to make.

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Kisa the Kit Kat

You chase what you want until you get it by wooing them with flowers or chocolates or love songs or whatever, then you live happily ever after in a castle made of bubblegum or something.

That sounds awesome. If romance involved me getting a bubblegum castle, I'd be all over it!

It sounds good until you realize you're stuck to the wall :lol:

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BaronTheCat

I associate candlelit dinners with food, not with romance. What's so romantic about eating?

But of course, I love food :lol:

(Interesting discussion btw)

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Naosuu

Yeesssss finally. FINALLY!

I have a growing collection of forehead-meets-desk moments when I read about some self-identified aromantics. Specifically the ones whom identify with that label on the basis of of disagreeing with/being disgusted by the cultural romantic norm or the ideas of a romantic relationship. It's tiring to read about people identifying with a label because of what they think about certain concepts, not necessarily because of their experience.

:cake: for you!

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Bye Bye Birdy

Yeesssss finally. FINALLY!

I have a growing collection of forehead-meets-desk moments when I read about some self-identified aromantics. Specifically the ones whom identify with that label on the basis of of disagreeing with/being disgusted by the cultural romantic norm or the ideas of a romantic relationship. It's tiring to read about people identifying with a label because of what they think about certain concepts, not necessarily because of their experience.

:cake: for you!

Ditto.

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Mezzo Forte

I really appreciate the distinction made in this thread, since I always would get confused when people exclusively defined aromanticism based off of disliking elements of romance rather than the absence of attraction. I actually don't mind romance to a certain extent, though I don't like most of intimate touch, but I'm just not attracted to anyone in a romantic way.

Thank you, Skullery for posting this, I think you did a great job of isolating romantic identity from the cultural assumptions of romance, and hopefully this thread will help inform those on AVEN who are questioning their romantic orientations. :)

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Quiverfree

That's a great analysis, Skullery Maid, and consistent with the shorter discussions on the wiki and so forth. The one question that's still partly open is how and why to distinguish between romantic and other close emotional relationships. Sometimes I wonder whether people from cultures with different pair-bonding styles (modern dating and arranged marriage, for example) actually end up with the same type of emotional relationship, or whether we're drawing a line around a type of emotional attachment that modern cultures associate with life partnering, but wouldn't have been important in the past.

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Skullery Maid

You chase what you want until you get it by wooing them with flowers or chocolates or love songs or whatever, then you live happily ever after in a castle made of bubblegum or something.

That sounds awesome. If romance involved me getting a bubblegum castle, I'd be all over it!

It sounds good until you realize you're stuck to the wall :lol:

Last night on the way home from work, my partner and I stopped at a place where our friend works. I waited in the car. When she came back she said "from now on when people miss you and ask where you are, I'm just going to tell them you've grown into the house."

So for me, being stuck to a bubblegum wall may actually work!

That's a great analysis, Skullery Maid, and consistent with the shorter discussions on the wiki and so forth. The one question that's still partly open is how and why to distinguish between romantic and other close emotional relationships. Sometimes I wonder whether people from cultures with different pair-bonding styles (modern dating and arranged marriage, for example) actually end up with the same type of emotional relationship, or whether we're drawing a line around a type of emotional attachment that modern cultures associate with life partnering, but wouldn't have been important in the past.

I'm inclined to agree that we may be drawing more lines is sensible compared the varieties of love that exist. Personally I think there are more romantic friendships out there than people like to admit, because the term "romantic" implies sexual to 99% of the population. I can think of a few friends of mine who have very romantic friendships with people... generally people of the gender that they are not attracted to. (like, two straight guys... aka bromance... or a lesbian and straight man, etc).

And, thank you to everyone!! I didn't expect such a positive response to this post. You guys are the best! :wub:

Edited by Tea Lady Thingy
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Lady Girl

I didn't know quite what to say here, but I knew I wanted to post something...so here goes nothing! I usually feel like I really want to be with a very romantic person and that Mr. LG just isn't overtly this way...and I don't necessarily mean I want flowers and chocolates all the time, just something (I'm not sure what). The thing is, he does stuff for me I don't think anyone else would do and that does seem really romantic. I almost think love and romance have gotten all mixed up in my head because sharing my life with him (the way Skulls describes doing) now seems really romantic to me, including the dorky goofy way he acts with me sometimes, putting up with me and my emotions, and just really being there for me. So yeah... wub.gif

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Skullery Maid

I almost think love and romance have gotten all mixed up in my head because sharing my life with him (the way Skulls describes doing) now seems really romantic to me, including the dorky goofy way he acts with me sometimes, putting up with me and my emotions, and just really being there for me. So yeah... :wub:

I can definitely relate to this!

Last night (as you know, Lady), my partner and I had another sex talk, and during the talk we discussed my abundance of emotions. She said it's weird that I'm full of feelings and she's pretty low on feelings, but we still work together. I said, that's why we work, she gets to serve as my abundant feelings landfill of sorts... she's good at taking them, neutralizing them, and disposing of them (in a good way!) :P

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Song Lily

This is amazing!!! Seriously, every person in the world who knows me can say that I am definitely romantic, but I hate the same things Skullery said. Like hand holding, I want to chop my hand off. (And my therapist said that that's because I'm scared of what other people might think if they see me holding hands with someone. Right. Except it's wrong.)

I've been so confused thinking that maybe I love romcoms and lots of drama etc, but only in fiction. And I thought that maybe I was aromantic then? But I'm... not! It's just that I hate being wooed and doing couple-y things, but I really want to have someone, someday.

Well, thanks Skullery for explaining things in a way that is clear for me, at last. :lol:

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Calligraphette_Coe

AND... that's my long-winded rant on the subject. How do ya'll separate the two concepts?

First, it's good to see you back.

Second, nifty essay! And one I'd print out and hang on the wall if I felt I was able to 'flip' and get any part of 'romantic' working for me. But, I suppose in my case, it's like being flower in the desert-- I draw what I need from a very different source and I need very little of it. That too probably comes from culture, albeit a quite different one.

Having never been anything but nearly mortally wounded by Cupid's darts _every_ single_ time_, I finally decided it wasn't in my stars. To borrow one of your thoughts that you've sometimes expressed here, just because I can pass as female doesn't make me a lesbian.

On the other hand, my being aromantic and asexual doesn't make me anti-social or any of a number of negative things. It just means my bread is buttered a bit differently. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you STILL don't succeed, it's no use being a damn fool about it."

It also doesn't mean it makes me unhappy to see people who identify as Romantics being happy with what works for them. I see that through the lens of one of the tenets of Buddhism, of feeling joy in the attainments of others. Also, to have what one wants and to want what one has.

To be sure, being alone so much is sometimes a bitter cup from which to drink. But then, there's plenty of that in Romantic relationships, too.

At least I'll never be like Socrates: "I drank WHAT?" :)

As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

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Skullery Maid

On the other hand, my being aromantic and asexual doesn't make me anti-social or any of a number of negative things. It just means my bread is buttered a bit differently. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you STILL don't succeed, it's no use being a damn fool about it."

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm gonna steal that line.

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ithaca

Pinning this thread because of awesomeness.

ithaca and Tea Lady Thingy

A/Romantic Identities Moderators

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Calligraphette_Coe

On the other hand, my being aromantic and asexual doesn't make me anti-social or any of a number of negative things. It just means my bread is buttered a bit differently. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you STILL don't succeed, it's no use being a damn fool about it."

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm gonna steal that line.

Oh! That 'lil 'ole thing? From moi? :::fingertips to bodice::: But I lifted it myself from W.C. Fields. Mebbe when he was doing 'My Little Chickadee" with Mae West?

And speaking of Mae West, I've always *loved* imitating her: "I've been things and seen places." :)

(Just a piece of trivia, it's been said that she borrowed her trademark walk from a female impersonator back in the '30s.)

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Skullery Maid

I heard that too, about her walk. I love Mae, Greta, Betty Davis... (ok, this is starting to sound like Vogue)

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samepage1

This is amazing! Why didn't I come across this thread when I really needed it, which was right after it was originally posted?! Your description brought me close to tears because it was so beautifully and meaningfully written.

I just started a new relationship and had a difficult time processing what I felt for her. I had been identifying as aromantic, but now I consider myself romantic because I feel like she's a part of me in a sense that I don't feel about friends.

If you want an emotionally monogamous partnership, you love them and feel they are a part of you, your family, or your identity, I'd say you're in a romantic relationship.

Nonetheless, I'm a bit iffy on this one part of your description. I think friends feel like part of my family and identity, too. Before calling my feelings romantic, I thought of my girlfriend like a car. I feel that a car is an extension of myself. It's part of my identity. I couldn't be a motorist without one. I operate it to extend what I'd otherwise be unable to do on my own.

Friends are more like faucets. Faucets, like cars, are important to my life and part of my identity--I'm a faucet-user--but they're not an extension of me. Although I similarly operate a faucet to do something for me that I cannot do myself, it's to do something for me, not to help me do something myself--not to extend what I am able to do.

Incidentally, I suppose this explains romance with cars and tools.

...I don't think "in love" is a real thing. I do identify as romantic, but I do not identify with the concept of "in love". I'm honestly not even sure if I can say that I love my partner differently from the way I love my best friends. The major difference between the two is that I feel a desire to be near my partner, and I feel a desire to share my life with her.

I definitely agree here. I think the difference between romantic love and platonic love is entirely tautological: Romantic love is the same thing as platonic love, except that it's accompanied by romance. Or perhaps more specifically for both you and me, the desire to live my life with her.

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ArtieBun

Oh...really glad to see this here. I've always been confused on where I fit on the whole romantic vs aromantic bit, mostly because my definition of romance didn't fit in with everyone else's. For me I think romance is more about emotional intimacy with another person, rather than physical. I say this despite the fact that I am pretty touch-positive and physically-affectionate.

When people would list criteria for what constitutes 'romance' I would think; "But I feel that way about all my friends. It would be awesome to share my life experiences with them and get free cuddles...wait, does that make me poly? But I might be aromatic because I don't 'get' romance?" Very confusing.

My current understanding is that romance isn't as rigid as we are commonly led to believe. People have different needs and expectations and dynamics with different people throughout life. Romance/Love to me is about wanting to get to know someone and share things with them, it's also about deciding you want to keep on sharing yourself with them after seeing their flaws or being hurt by a mistake they've made. It's about placing great importance on someone and wanting them to place great importance on you as well.

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Kitty Spoon Train

When people would list criteria for what constitutes 'romance' I would think; "But I feel that way about all my friends. It would be awesome to share my life experiences with them and get free cuddles...wait, does that make me poly? But I might be aromatic because I don't 'get' romance?" Very confusing.

This reads very true to me...

It's basically like my default "romantic" desire is for something like simply being close and cuddly friends with girls I get to like. If it does progress to sex eventually (and this can take AGES - I'm demisexual) - then great. If not, that's no big deal too - we can still remain close and cuddly friends. So it's all very fluid, fuzzy, and hopelessly breaks all the rules and boundaries of what people normally consider to be friendship vs romance, in the mainstream. And in fact - it downright irritates me how most other people seem to play some kind of internal script to rules and boundaries of different relationship types, which I've completely lost all grasp of now (not sure I ever truly had it - it always felt a bit forced and conditioned to me really).

You could say that I want to have polyamorous romantic friendships. Or you could say that I just want to make close female friends to cuddle with. Or you could say that I'm more or less "normal", but just very slow and disjointed on the sexual and exclusivity aspects of mainstream "romance".

But the most honest way to put it (and this is what my OkCupid profile now says) is that I essentially have no predetermined definition of what relationships should be to me. Boundaries feel like too much stress. Not having to care about them feels liberating. :lol:

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