I’ve had a lot of confusion over the years about romance. Growing up, so much propaganda gets bombarded at us. Be good, be dutiful, follow the norms of your parents and grand-parents and you, too, will live the Stepford dream of romance and the perfect partner.
There was something incredibly wrong with this that I couldn’t understand, even as I saw my peers increasingly drawn into the maw of romantic and relationship conformity. My only conclusion had to be that what was wrong, was me.
And that’s where I left it for a very long time, keeping it hidden behind a hardened facade until I began to understand and explore asexuality, finding answers that finally made sense.
There are a lot of terms in the asexual lexicon. The two I most identify with are:
- asexual – A person who does not experience sexual attraction
- aromantic – A person who does not experience romantic attraction.
These are not the same thing though it’s easy to think they are, especially by someone looking in from the outside. The most common reaction from such people is skepticism, embodied with the response “You just haven’t met the right person.”
Provided you accept the premise that asexual is an actual thing, then it’s fairly easy to get your head around, whether that is you as the asexual person or some other trying to puzzle out what you mean. Aromantic is harder to nail down. It does not mean an inability to exhibit or understand romance, it only means that you’re unlikely to have romantic feelings about another person. A phrase that seems to have gone out of fashion and may help to provide some sort of context is platonic relationship. A platonic relationship can be very deep without any romantic or sexual component.
Of the two terms I think that I am predominantly asexual and I see now that this has driven so much when it comes to personal relationships. The societal norm tells us that romance is synonymous with seduction and that this is an inevitable path to sex. That Mills and Boon fallacy was sunk deep in societal consciousness and I’m sure it’s still quite a predominant expectation.
When everyone else is ‘normal’ and seems to buy into the fallacy the only way forward is to avoid the romance because you don’t want the inevitable meltdown when either you reluctantly engage in sex or reject the advances of the other person and destroy an otherwise good friendship.
The question I’ve been asking myself is “did the strong asexuality create an aromantic mindset as a protective shield ?”
I’ve always appreciated romance in art, the themes are timeless and often have me reaching for the tissues. Why could I appreciate and immerse myself in the abstract yet avoid it in the personal experience ?
What does seem to be happening is that with people who are aware of and respecting my asexuality there is no expectation that sex is ever on the agenda. The need to be reticent or protective when it comes to romantic or flirtatious interactions is no longer a consideration with them – a flirtatious double entendre can be enjoyed for what it is without either looking for or fearing hidden calls for sex.
I’m still trying to work out whether I actually have romantic attraction to others and that it’s been rigidly suppressed, or if I only experience romance and romantic concepts in a more abstract manner.
Why the confusion ?
I wrote in December of a lovely evening and meal with my former mistress. Candlelit tables in a restaurant providing an atmosphere for a very intimate evening. As intimate as it was, was it romantic ? I don’t think romance was a part of the evening. It might depend on whether you consider intimate and romantic to be the same thing. As someone slightly pedantic regarding the meanings of words, I don’t consider them to be the same things.
Would I consider the same situation to be romantic if the person across the table was my domme ? No, despite the highly intimate nature of our relationship both physically and mentally, I wouldn’t.
To answer my question, I’m inclined to accept that being aromantic is innate rather than protective behaviour though wistfully I’m open to being proved wrong.
Written for #TellMeAbout. Click on the image to read informative posts from across the D/s spectrum.