Linkspam: Couplehood vs. Community, Solo Poly, Singlehood after 40

I’ve found some good stuff worth your time.

First up is a podcast episode: Against the Grain, “Intimacy Against Alienation.”

The description reads:

“Is a romantic partner a replacement for the community that people used to rely on to meet their material and emotional needs? Mitch Monsour thinks so; he points to the competitive and individualistic nature of our society, the way economic rationality gets enacted in the romantic arena, and the structural obstacles to real intimacy.”

It runs about an hour, and toward the end, the discussion veers off into romantic relationship workings and porn and leaves community behind, but there’s plenty of important points made in the first half of the episode. I particularly appreciate Monsour’s insight into how our capitalistic economy directly influences and interacts with the aggressive pursuit of romance and abandonment of community. While community and friendship are two different things, the effect of romance supremacy and romantic people’s obsession with romantic relationships is the same: both community and friendship are abandoned, rendering couples and singles-in-pursuit-of-romance isolated.

Next, a really wonderful essay in NY Mag titled “The Unexpected, Exhilarating Freedom of Being Single at 41,” written by Glynnis MacNicol. Encouraging and uplifting for those of us who are permanently single and under 40, as we look ahead into the future. Especially important for women who are perma-single, as the author herself points out there are no positive role models or any affirmation in our culture for women who never marry and never have children. It really is nice to see that life can be worthwhile well into middle-age as a single person!

Finally, an excellent article by another woman who is over 30, on her experience becoming a solo poly practitioner: “Why Being Solo and Poly Has Made Me a Happiness Evangelist.” For those of you who don’t know poly lingo, someone who’s solo poly is basically a person who is polyamorous (engages in more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship at a time, with the consent of all involved) but who isn’t looking for a primary or “anchor” partner and who generally doesn’t put their relationships on the Relationship Escalator. What I like most about Katie Klabusich’s essay is her realization that she doesn’t have to follow the Life Script that everybody gets handed, that part of her journey to becoming polyamorous were distinct moments where she consciously acknowledged she had no real desire to get married or have kids. Even though she still obviously engages with people romantically and sexually, being solo poly is definitely a way to buck amatonormativity, and I applaud it and Katie.


Queerplatonic Friendships That Aren’t Partnerships

There has been some good, important writing done on the subject of misconstruing queerplatonic relationships as “romance lite” and how amatonormativity can attempt to hijack queerplatonic relationships, which are fundamentally nonromantic and predominantly for aro people, in a way that seeks to box them into the same framework as romantic relationships. One of the critiques made in this discourse is that it’s now common for people to characterize queerplatonic relationships as “more than friendship” and identical to romantic relationships without the romantic attraction, and they’re consequently used as a tool to normalize aromantics within the system of amatonormativity. I’ve already stated that queerplatonic relationships are NOT “more than friendship,” even when they operate as primary partnerships. Now I want to write about qp friendships that aren’t partnerships because acknowledging their existence is important to stopping the romanticization of the queerplatonic concept.

I talk a lot about queerplatonic friendship and usually when I do, I’m thinking of the kind that function as partnerships, whether they work exactly the same way as standard romantic partnerships or not. Part of this is because a lot of aros do want QP partnerships, myself included. Part of it is because the idea of nonromantic partnership is so invisible, so unconventional in our society that it’s imperative aros talk about it as much as possible because if we don’t, no one will. But my focus on queerplatonic partnerships is also about the fact that it’s easier to talk about queerplatonic friendship that functions as partnership than it is to talk about queerplatonic friendship that doesn’t. Queerplatonic friendships that aren’t partnerships are what they are primarily because of the feelings involved, and nobody can really talk about feelings well.

Being a relationship anarchist, I not only want more than one passionate friendship/domestic partnership but also as many intimate friendships with people who are not my partners as possible. These friendships could certainly be called queerplatonic, but it isn’t necessary. For the record, in my own head, I tend to think of the partners I want as passionate friends, not queerplatonic partners/friends. There’s not a huge difference, but I mention it because I want to communicate that for all my talk of queerplatonic relationships, I am personally less attached to the term than you probably assume. I’ve wanted and believed in and known about alternative friendship years before “queerplatonic” became a word, so I certainly don’t need that term to validate or give shape to the kind of friendship I prefer, idealize, and create.

A while back, I wrote a post about rejecting the word “partner” in reference to the committed, passionate friends I want, and I still struggle with those words: partner and partnership. There is nothing wrong with naming a friend “partner” when that person fills a space in your life that is equivalent to romantic people’s partners. My personal objections to framing my passionate friends as “partners” are rooted in my broader social philosophy, which partially concerns the anti-romanticization of queerplatonic friendship.

1. Being a relationship anarchist AND a perma-single aro, I have no wish to even imply that the passionate friends who I would probably eventually live with are monumentally more important to me or closer to me than all the other people in my life—because that’s not what I’m looking for at all. There is an implication built into the word “partner” of superiority and of centrality, which comes directly from romance and romantic culture. I don’t think that nonromantic partnerships have to or should work the same way as romantic partnerships, simply because both types of relationship fulfill similar functions.

2. Friendship should not need to be relabeled and repackaged as partnership (or as queerplatonic) in order to be taken seriously. This is a catch-22, because of course perma-single aros don’t live in a vacuum, we live in romantic society, and we can’t avoid the fact that romantic people don’t take friendship seriously and never will. We can’t make other people rethink language, regardless of how we use it. So if we call someone our “friend,” the world won’t take that person or that relationship seriously, but if we call our closest friend “partner,” the world will erroneously assume that the relationship is romantic, unless we take the time to explain exactly what’s going on between ourselves and our friends.

I refer to the passionate friends I want as “partners” and use the word “queerplatonic” in my writing so frequently because I want to be clear about what I mean. I do it in the context of this amatonormative world where friendship, in the romantic majority’s eyes, is neither important nor intimate nor the stuff of primary partnerships. But nobody needs to use the label “queerplatonic” in order to have a friendship that matches the qp definition, and you don’t need any particular label in order to have a friend who is your partner. I’ve also never believed that a friendship must be a partnership in order to be significant or to deserve the world’s respect as something important. I’m not seeking to perpetuate amatonormativity or romantic thinking in friendship, even alternative friendship.

So can you have a queerplatonic friendship with someone who is NOT your partner?

Yes. This may happen for aros who do want more out of friendship than normally occurs but who doesn’t actually want any kind of primary partner. It could happen to someone who already has a partner but who also feels a powerful connection with a friend that they want to express, without making the friendship a full-blown match to their existing partnership. It can simply be something that occurs between two friends who, for any number of reasons, can’t or don’t want to be partners (whatever that means to them). It can be a stage in a friendship that hasn’t yet become a partnership.

The thing about queerplatonic friendship is that it frequently unfolds without warning, intention, or planning. You don’t know right off the bat, when you become friends with someone, that you’re going to end up with this queerplatonic bond—friendship is not dating—so when you do, it’s not a given that you’ll want or be able to make that friendship into a partnership. Maybe you’re not even looking for a partner, when you meet the person you develop a queerplatonic bond with. Maybe you do really well as queerplatonic friends but you’re not compatible enough to be partners.

For aros especially, the very concept of “partnership” can mean a wide variety of things. Yes, there are aros who want a primary partnership that looks identical to romantic partnerships, but there are other aros who want a “partnership” that doesn’t really work the same way as romantic partnerships. Being “partners” with an aro doesn’t have to be and sometimes isn’t the same thing as being romantic partners with someone. Nonromantic partnerships don’t have a pre-existing narrative or mold to fit into, so they can look like just about anything. An aro can have a partner they don’t live with. An aro can have a partner they’re fucking or not fucking. An aro can have multiple partners without ever setting foot into polyamory land because friendship is not de facto monogamous, and even queerplatonic friendships can never really adhere to monogamy the way romance does. An aro can have a long-distance partner. They can have a partner they do live with, but who they are far less inter-dependent with than the standard romantic couple. Their partner can have that status because of the emotion involved in the friendship, not because of any behavioral markers.

What’s the difference between a qp partner and a qp friend who isn’t a partner? That depends on the individual. Maybe an aro lives with their qp partner and not with their friend. Maybe they have a sexual relationship with their partner and not with their friend or vice versa. Maybe they spend more time with their partner than they do with their friend. Maybe their partner’s needs and desires technically come first, before their friend’s, on a priority list. Maybe they raise children with a partner and not with their friend. Maybe the difference is simply that they feel an even greater, deeper emotional bond with their partner than they do with their friend, even if there’s little behavioral difference. Maybe they make more life decisions with their partner than they do with their friend or their partner is integrated into their birth family, while their friend isn’t. The possibilities are endless.

Now, for the big question:

What Distinguishes Non-Partner QP Friendships from Normative Friendship?

1. Commitment

When a relationship is important to you, you’re committed to its survival and well-being. Sometimes, this can manifest as a formalized commitment, an explicit agreement between the two friends. Sometimes, it doesn’t come up until some life event tests their commitment to each other. In any case, commitment in a qp friendship can mean that you deliberately choose to maintain physical proximity to your friend or move to be close to them if you don’t already live in the same place. It can mean you spend a specific amount of time with each other, regardless of anything or anyone else in your lives. It can mean you are physically present for each other in certain contexts: medical emergencies, doctor appointments, family gatherings, vacations, professional events, social gatherings (bringing your friend instead of a partner), etc. What commitment in friendship ultimately comes down to is that you don’t leave the course of your friendship undetermined and unstructured, subject to the whims of life. You’re conscientious about keeping time and space for the friendship and doing what’s best for the friendship.

In normative friendship, particularly between adults, there is no commitment. People never take their normative friends into consideration when making life decisions. They’ll leave friends behind for job relocation or a romantic partner. They’ll let communication and interaction with friends drop off into nothing for weeks or months on end. They don’t care or put any thought into the survival or the maintenance of these normative friendships because they’re just not a priority.

2. Quality Time

A qp friendship is most likely going to involve spending time together more often than standard friends do and/or with more attention to nurturing an emotional bond and sense of connection. It isn’t just hanging out to avoid boredom or loneliness. It isn’t just about having fun with someone. With a qp friend, some of the time you spend together, if not all of it, is going to be quality time: where you’re alone together, focused on each other, experiencing emotional intimacy, being fully present with each other. In adulthood, free time is usually limited, and therefore it becomes a precious resource. Spending time with someone is a demonstration of how important they are to you, and a qp friend is likely going to come first, before other more casual friends, when you decide how to spend your time.

I’ve seen other people use the term “friend date,” and it’s always puzzled me because in my own life, I’ve only ever spent time with friends one-on-one, doing shit like going out to dinner, drinking and talking somewhere private, watching a favorite TV show or movie, running errands, talking about personal issues and feelings, etc. I honestly can’t imagine how else friendship is done—but the fact that it is done differently, superficially, often with a casual tone of recreation instead of emotion, is one reason why the term and concept “queerplatonic” exists.

3. Touch

Just because you aren’t partners, doesn’t mean you can’t have physical intimacy in a qp friendship. In non-partner qp friendships, the level of touch can still easily exceed what goes on in normative friendships and can match the amount and the kind of touch that happens in other people’s romantic relationships. For an aro who has both a qp partner and qp friends, the amount of physical intimacy in a non-partner friendship can match what happens in their partnership, and that’s neither rare nor difficult, considering friendship is not naturally monogamous and exclusivity in a queerplatonic partnership can be created differently than it is in romantic-sexual relationships.

Every kind of touch possible in a qp partnership is possible in a non-partner friendship: hugging, cuddling, holding hands, massages, caressing, co-sleeping, kissing the mouth, kissing the body or face, and even sex.

4. Emotion

A queerplatonic friend is not just someone you like and hang out with. A queerplatonic friend is someone you have feelings for, a real emotional attachment. These feelings can be strong, deep, passionate, tender, and warm. You can love your queerplatonic friend in a serious, substantial, and tangible way—and considering how many romantic people don’t love their friends at all or who use the word “love” in reference to friends frivolously, with no real feeling behind it, this love for a qp friend is enough to set the friendship apart from non-emotional, recreational friendships. The tone of the qp friendship itself can be more emotional than normative friendships are, the way you interact with each other tinted with the underlying emotional current.

5. Freedom

Whether or not an aro has a partner, there is most likely a degree of freedom in their non-partner qp friendships that simply doesn’t exist in normative friendships: freedom to be emotional, physical, involved, committed, and together and a simultaneous freedom to be independent from each other. In a queerplatonic friendship, you don’t have to be partners any more than you have to be romantically involved, to be as emotional or physical or committed as you want to be. There’s almost nothing that would be intuitively off-limits in a qp friendship just because it’s not a partnership. The point of a queerplatonic friendship is that it exceeds normative friendship in some way; it crosses the standard boundaries of friendship and takes whatever it wants from the “romance” category, without redefining the friendship as romance OR as partnership. That a queerplatonic friendship CAN be a partnership and in many cases is, doesn’t mean that it has to be in order to have any particular level of emotion, intimacy, touch, commitment, time, etc.

The normative friendships of romantic people are restricted, in part because of coexisting romantic relationships that are usually monogamous. You can’t be emotional or physical in normative friendship past a certain point, and the ceiling is low. Romantic people are usually not capable of being emotional and/or physical in friendship beyond what they consider “normal”—they don’t have the desire or the emotional capacity—and even if they were, they’re not allowed to be if they’re romantically involved in a monogamous relationship because monogamy not only prohibits sex and romantic attachment with others but physical affection, emotional intimacy, and strong emotions period.


In conclusion, queerplatonic friendships do not have to be partnerships, and friendship doesn’t need to be called “queerplatonic” or function as a primary partnership to involve a high level of commitment, emotion, love, touch, time, and intimacy. QP friendships that are not partnerships are every bit as important and serious as the ones that are.  It’s totally cool if you’re an aro who wants or has qp friendships but who doesn’t want a partner.

Recommended Related Reading:

QP Relationships are not ‘Romance Lite’ and that discourse deradicalises them” by Rotten Zucchinis

“How Do You Define a Partner? Polyamory and the Blurred Lines Between Partners and Non-Partners” by Sophia Grubb

Monogamy Ruined the Friend-Zone” by David Chastity

The Asexual and Aromantic Identity Spectrums Don’t Make Sense

Within the last couple years, people wise to asexuality and aromanticism started using the terms “ace” and “aro” as shorthand umbrella labels for any and all identities that exist on the “asexual spectrum” and “aromantic spectrum.” You can be demisexual or gray-asexual, demiromantic or grayromantic, and yet call yourself ace or aro whenever you feel like it. You can talk about “aces” and “aros” when you really mean everybody and anybody on the spectrum, as if being asexual is the same thing as being demisexual or gray-asexual or being aromantic is the same thing as being demiromantic or gray-romantic.

I hate it. I think it must be a Tumblr thing, and it must’ve started with younger people who showed up on the ace and aro scene after I left a lot of those spaces. I know not everyone does it—I don’t think I’ve noticed it as a consistent practice amongst my contemporaries who have been blogging and participating in the online communities as long as I have—but it seems to be popular enough now that I may be out of step with conversations about “aces” and “aros” more often than not.

It’s got me thinking about the idea of these spectrums, though, because as far as I’m concerned, you are not ace or aro if you’re demisexual, grayasexual, demiromantic, or grayromantic. If you’re demi, you’re demi, and if you’re gray, you’re gray. These different identity terms exist for a reason: they describe different experiences. If we’re going to define asexuality and aromanticism as “not experiencing sexual/romantic attraction,” does it make any fucking sense to go around talking as if demis and grays, who do experience attraction, are the same as aces and aros? No. It doesn’t.

This language problem is really just a reflection of what was already a problematic organization of non-allo identities into these asexual and aromantic “spectrums.” Demisexuality and gray-asexuality have been around for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been active in online asexual communities for going on 10 years. But we didn’t always frame asexuality, demisexuality, and gray-asexuality as a “spectrum.” Demiromanticism and grayromanticism are, if I’m not mistaken, younger concepts than demisexuality and gray-asexuality, but again—originally, there was no “aromantic spectrum,” only an acknowledgment that demi- and gray-romanticism were experiences that had much in common with aromanticism. Somewhere along the line, when I wasn’t looking, people started thinking of asexuality and aromanticism as “spectrums,” on which demi- and gray- identities fall, and without any real critical thinking that I can find, that view gained popularity and is pretty much just accepted now without question.

I don’t agree with the spectrum model, any more than I agree with using “ace” and “aro” as umbrella terms for every non-allo identity there is. Let me explain why.

Whether we’re talking about sexual orientation or romantic orientation, hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, and a- describe WHO a person is attracted to.

But demi- and gray- identities (which can include lith-, fray-, quoi-, etc) describe HOW a person experiences attraction. A demi- or a gray- is also straight or gay or bi or pan. They have two identities, technically, although they can choose to publicly identify as only one.

How much sense does it make to create these spectrums of asexuality and aromanticism, when the identities grouped in the spectrums are actually based on two totally different aspects of attraction? If you’re going to create any kind of “spectrum” to describe HOW people experience the attraction that they experience, doesn’t it make a whole lot more sense to group all the people who DO experience a specific type of attraction together?

I’m sure that defenders of the asexual and aromantic spectrums as they’re currently conceptualized could make the argument that asexuality and aromanticism are also about the HOW of attraction, as much as they are about the WHO, but I can’t imagine an argument for that idea that holds water. It’s redundant to say that asexuality and aromanticism are about both WHO and HOW one experiences sexual or romantic attraction. Arguing that they’re based on both looks like this:

Who are asexuals and aromantics attracted to?

No one.

How are they attracted to “no one”?

They’re not.

It’s pointless. On a basic logic level, it doesn’t make any sense to follow the first question and answer with the second. All you need to know is that asexuals and aromantics aren’t attracted to anyone (sexually or romantically). There is no “HOW” because there is no WHO. HOW a person experiences attraction is only relevant if they actually experience attraction.

Thus far, demisexuality, gray-asexuality, demiromanticism, and gray-romanticism have been attached to asexuality and aromanticism on these spectrum models for two reasons that I can see:

1. It’s easier and, for many people, intuitive to group together all the different experiences of sexual and romantic attraction that don’t fit into the dominant categories of allosexuality and alloromanticism, so that you have only two groups of people to think about: who’s allo- and who’s not. In other words, the idea of an asexual spectrum or an aromantic spectrum is based on a negative: on what people are NOT. If you’re not allo-, then you’re on this asexual or aromantic spectrum.

This is like categorizing colors by saying that there is “blue” and there’s every color that is not blue. “Not blue” includes red and green, but the only thing they have in common is that neither one of them is blue. Red and green are not shades of each other. They are not the same color. They each have their own shades, their own sub-colors. It doesn’t make any sense to say that red and green are the same or even closely related, unless you only care that neither one is blue.

2. People make the mistake of thinking that because demisexuality and gray-asexuality are both experiences of attraction and desire that often include a lack or absence of said attraction and desire, that they are logical and natural extensions of asexuality. (The same goes for demi-, gray-, and aromanticism.) But this can only be true if we think of asexuality and aromanticism as “not experiencing sexual/romantic attraction,” without accounting for the objects of that missing attraction. Making asexuality and aromanticism purely about HOW attraction is experienced. Which again, doesn’t make any sense whatsoever because attraction can’t exist without an object in the first place. Asexuality and aromanticism are not about HOW one experiences attraction but about WHO asexuals and aromantics are attracted to: nobody. That demis and grays do experience attraction to other people, sometimes with enough regularity to warrant a specific sexual or romantic orientation, should make it clear that demi- and gray- orientations are not variations of asexuality and aromanticism.

If demi- and gray- orientations are going to be attached to one of the poles of attraction (a- vs. allo-), it would actually make a lot more sense to say that they are extensions of allosexuality and alloromanticism, not asexuality and aromanticism. Why?

1. As I already said, demi’s and gray’s have other identities that describe WHO they are attracted to, when they’re attracted. They, like allos, are straight or gay or bi or pan or queer. They share with allos something that asexuals and aromantics never experience: sexual or romantic attraction. That they experience it differently, often quite differently, doesn’t negate the fact that they DO experience it. Asexuals and aromantics don’t, at all. If you ask me, there’s a big difference between “rarely” or “sometimes” and “never.”

When a demi- or gray- person DOES experience sexual or romantic attraction, there may be no difference whatsoever between their experience and that of an allo- who is also experiencing attraction to a particular person. The difference between a demi- or a gray- who wants to have sex with somebody or who’s in love with someone and an allo- person who wants to have sex with somebody or who’s in love with someone is HOW they arrived at that point or HOW often they have the experience, not what they’re actually feeling.

2. There is enough variation in how allos experience sexual and romantic attraction that if we were to examine the full range of their attraction and desire patterns, especially throughout adulthood instead of during just one phase of it, we would see that there’s enough similarity between how some allos experience their attractions and how demis and grays experience it, that the demis and grays actually have much more in common with those allos than they do with asexuals and aromantics. One could make the argument that a lot of demis and grays go through periods where they don’t experience attraction at all, to anyone, in which case they are identical to asexuals and aromantics at that time. But there are also allos who, if they’re in between romantic/sexual partners and don’t have anyone around that they’re interested in, don’t feel sexual or romantic attraction either. This doesn’t make them less allo-. This just means that they are not, at the moment, attracted to anybody. Being allo- doesn’t mean that you’re in a constant state of sexual or romantic attraction, any more than it means you’re in a constant state of sexual activity or romantic relationship.

That being said, I don’t think it’s necessary for demi- and gray- identities to be part of a spectrum of allosexuality and alloromanticism, any more than it’s necessary to attach them to asexuality and aromanticism. I think that demi- and gray- and their related expressions can stand on their own, as a third category. That would probably make the most sense, considering that these experiences of attraction are literally a kind of middle-ground between a- and allo-, a kind of blending of the two poles. (Thus, the “gray.”) Personally, I think of demi- and gray- folks as being in their own, third category. But if, for some reason, the masses are hot to make demi- and gray- identities a part of either the a- or allo- category, I say that it makes more sense to go with the allo-.

Please understand that I am NOT denying the legitimacy or the necessity of demi- and gray- identities here. They are real, and they are valid. The labels themselves are necessary. Demis and grays are NOT allos. I’m just pointing out that grouping the demi- and gray- identities with asexuality and aromanticism, to create these ace and aro spectrums, is a flawed and problematic practice. I understand that demi- and gray- experiences were originally given voice and recognition through the asexual and aromantic communities, through dialogues had in those communities, and I understand also that some demis and grays feel far more kinship with aces and aros than they do with allos. I know that some demis and grays lean closer to the allo- pole of attraction, while others lean closer to the a- pole. That’s why I personally tend to think of demis and grays as neither part of an asexual spectrum categorically nor part of the allo- population categorically. There is enough variation within demi- and gray- experiences that grouping all of them with aces and aros or all of them with allos- doesn’t work well.

Eliminating the “asexual spectrum” and “aromantic spectrum” model doesn’t mean that we dismiss the legitimacy of demi- and gray- identities or that we cut off demis and grays from the asexual and aromantic communities. It pretty much means we go back to the way things were originally, where demis and grays could be a part of ace and aro spaces and conversations as much or as little as they chose but where there is enough acknowledgment of the differences between demis, grays, and aces/aros that nobody lumps them all together into a singular group.

Water is Wet, Everybody Dies, and Romantic People Suck at Friendship

I want to engage with an article recently published in The Atlantic, titled “How Friendships Change in Adulthood.” I think that this piece of writing is important, in that those of us who are perma-single aromantics can learn something about allo* people and how they approach friendship with us. And I want to use this essay as a perfect and thorough example of why I choose not to build real, emotionally significant friendships with alloromantic people in my adult life.

My favorite part of the entire essay is the opening line:

“In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are at the bottom. Romantic partners, parents, children—all these come first.”

I love it when people speak the cold, hard truth. Don’t you?

I’ve spent the entirety of my time writing this blog, talking about and concerned with the fact that there is this Romantic-Sexual Relationship Hierarchy, which is intertwined with amatonormativity and compulsory sexuality, romance supremacy and sex supremacy, and that friendship is consistently devalued in allo* society because of it. Now, here we have an allo* adult coming right out and admitting that this is the truth, not just for her but all allos*.

The thing is, Julie Beck, the author, assumes that all human beings are allo*, that we are all romantic and that we all can relate to this hierarchy of relationships and friendship’s rank within it. Later on in the essay, she acknowledges that not everybody marries or has kids, but the underlying assumption of universal romantic-sexual relationships is still there.

I want to approach this text as an outsider to the culture Beck is talking about, because I am. I am an outsider because of my aromanticism and my social values, and I know that a lot of aromantic people, whether asexual or allosexual, can say the same thing in this context.

Beck writes:

“Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, like marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking to or seeing your significant other (hopefully), but you might go that long without contacting a friend.”

What we should immediately acknowledge here is that the common overuse of the word “friend” in allo* society can denote pretty much any kind of associate that a person knows and likes. The words “friend” and “friendship” mean very little because they’re used so liberally. What most allo* people consider “friendship,” I would not consider friendship. This is precisely the reason why aros need the word “queerplatonic” or the term “passionate friendship” or even “romantic friendship.” Romantics call people “friends” when the sum of those “friendships” are occasional activity sharing or talking about their romantic relationships at Starbucks for a couple hours. There is no love, no intimacy, no commitment, no interdependence, no emotional depth whatsoever involved. And as Beck writes, sometimes there’s not even any communication.

Now, notice the continuing acknowledgment of friendship as the one relationship where people feel entitled to be negligent, because it’s understood that friendship is not important, the way romantic relationships and biological family relationships are supposed to be. Beck implies that months of no contact or face-to-face interaction with a romantic partner is unacceptable, that it’s bad form, but it’s both okay and common for people to not interact with their so-called “friends.”

“The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way more formal relationships aren’t. In adulthood, as people grow up and go away, friendships are the relationships most likely to take a hit. You’re stuck with your family, and you’ll prioritize your spouse.”

Understand that none of this is new information to me. It shouldn’t be to you either, unless you’re an underage kid who hasn’t bothered to observe the social patterns of your elders. It hit me in high school, before anyone I was close to even started to seriously date, what was going to happen to my friendships. I knew then that those bonds were doomed by my friends’ romantic nature, their inevitable romantic relationships, and it’s obvious, moving through the world as an adult, that Beck’s description is true. Notice the assumption, the rule, universal to romantic people: you will prioritize your spouse, your romantic partner. You will not prioritize your friends.

Let me mention another recent article about friendship that actually cited Beck’s, which focuses specifically on the way housing directly affects our social lives. David Roberts writes for Vox, in “How Our Housing Choices Make Adult Friendships More Difficult,” that both urban and suburban structures of living create and reinforce social isolation, making repeated spontaneous contact with others almost impossible. That repeated, spontaneous contact is precisely the thing most necessary to friendship formation, according to more than one study. Furthermore, when all interaction with another person relies on pre-planning, on scheduling, on following through with plans made, there’s plenty of opportunity to either never make plans or to make them but fail to keep them. Especially when you’re a busy adult with a full-time job, a marriage, and underage children, who honestly doesn’t give a shit about friendship in the big picture.

The very housing and community structures that uphold the isolated nuclear family, headed by a romantic-sexual couple, also serve to prevent friendship from happening. It is imperative you understand that because it’s an example of how this amatonormative society reinforces romance supremacy and the devaluation of friendship in concrete ways. This shit is not theoretical. It’s not just intellectual or philosophical or even emotional. It is physically, legally, religiously manifested.

Roberts presents the following important information, to counter the false belief that the way we live now is somehow natural and therefore unavoidable:

“For the vast majority of Homo sapiens’ history, we lived in small, nomadic bands. The tribe, not the nuclear family, was the primary unit. We lived among others of various ages, to which we were tied by generations of kinship and alliance, throughout our lives. Those are the circumstances in which our biological and neural equipment evolved.

It’s only been comparatively recently (about 10,000 years ago) that we developed agriculture and started living in semi-permanent communities, more recently still that were thrown into cities, crammed up against people we barely know, and more recently still that we bounced out of cities and into suburbs…..

Point being, each of us living in our own separate nuclear-family castles, with our own little faux-estate lawns, getting in a car to go anywhere, never seeing friends unless we make an effort to schedule it — there’s nothing fated or inevitable about it.”

Not only do people choose to move away to another city, state, or country without caring about the effects it will have on the friendships they leave behind, but once they get to their new location, their housing situation prevents friendships from forming and unfolding in a way conducive to closeness.

In the Atlantic article, Andrew Ledbetter, who conducted a study on best friendships, is quoted as saying, “’I think that’s just kind of a part of life in the very mobile and high-level transportation- and communication-technology society that we have….. We don’t think about how that’s damaging the social fabric of our lives.’”

Except some of us do think about it. Some of us make conscious and deliberate decisions to stay in a particular location for the sake of a friend or a family member we want to be close to or to follow them when they make a move. This commitment to maintaining physical proximity is one potential aspect that sets queerplatonic partnerships apart from the common friendships of allo* people. It can also be a commitment that aros make to a friend or family member or group of friends that are not partnered with them but who are equally as important as a queerplatonic partner would be.

Understand what Julie Beck doesn’t: aromantic people are frequently willing to do things for the sake of friendship that no alloromantic person does. The way a lot of aros feel about friendship, romantic people are only capable of feeling about romantic relationships. Understand the implications of caring more about your romantic friends than they will ever care about you. They’re ready to drop you for just about anything that they want, that calls them elsewhere. Meanwhile, you might be making decisions in your life partially influenced by your desire to maintain these friendships. It’s the most one-sided bullshit imaginable. The most important person or people in your life see you as a distraction, as an extra toy they can play with every once in a while when they get bored with their favorites. They don’t feel guilty about ignoring you. They don’t feel like you deserve more from them. They don’t take responsibility for friendship falling by the wayside; they shrug and agree, “That’s just life.”

Beck comments:

“We aren’t obligated to our friends the way we are to our romantic partners, our jobs, and our families. We’ll be sad to go, but go we will. This is one of the inherent tensions of friendships, which Rawlins calls ‘the freedom to be independent and the freedom to be dependent.’”

In other words, for the average romantic person, friendships are dispensable. Not only are they less important than romance and biological family, they’re also less important than job offers and the desire for a change of scenery. Romantic people are willing to stay or go for romance, in part because they know that romantic relationships usually end when faced with prolonged physical separation or when kicked off the top of the priority pyramid, but they’ll effectively destroy friendships by moving to a different location without pause. And this is supposed to be accepted and understood by a person’s friends. We’re all supposed to be mutually willing to not consider each other when making decisions that impact our friendship. Why? Because friendship just doesn’t matter.

I want to drive home this point that Beck speaks for romantic people who enter into conventional romantic relationships and adhere to the Romantic-Sex Based Relationship Hierarchy, but she does not speak for aromantics, certainly not permanently single aromantics or aromantics who center friendship in whatever way they choose. Sure, there are plenty of single aromantic people who are ready and willing to pack their bags and go someplace new for a job, for education, or for fun, but there are also plenty of single aros who value a friend or friendship or a queerplatonic partner so much, that they’re not going to jeopardize that relationship or relationships by physically removing themselves from it. There are a whole lot of aromantic people who are as committed to friendship as romantic people are to romance.

This is a fundamental difference between the two groups. Moreover, it’s a fundamental incompatibility. Any aromantic person who takes friendship seriously throughout adulthood is automatically on the losing end of lop-sided friendships with alloromantics. And sadly, for a lot of aros, their only friendships are ones had with alloromantic people. It’s no wonder that so many single aro adults have at least one sob story about a friendship that disappointed or hurt them, or that they live in a state of consistent social and emotional frustration.

Beck’s article says of romantic adults:

“[Their] time is poured, largely, into jobs and families. Not everyone gets married or has kids, of course, but even those who stay single are likely to see their friendships affected by others’ couplings. “The largest drop-off in friends in the life course occurs when people get married,” Rawlins [professor of interpersonal communication] says. “And that’s kind of ironic, because at the [wedding], people invite both of their sets of friends, so it’s kind of this last wonderful and dramatic gathering of both people’s friends, but then it drops off.””

You should not be surprised to hear that marriage is what effectively kills friendships in adulthood. Marriage, the ultimate form of romantic relationship. Marriage, the biggest time suck after parenting. Marriage, the Ultimate Goal of young romantic people everywhere.

I appreciate that Rawlins acknowledges that even for those of us who DON’T get married or have kids, our friendships are negatively affected by our coupled (romantic) friends making those choices. We can do everything in our power to be good, attentive friends, but we can’t compensate for a friend fucking off. Nor should we get into the habit of pulling all the weight in one-sided friendships. This is a lesson that every friendship-focused, perma-single aro person needs to learn in adulthood: you can’t be the only person to work for a friendship, and at some point, you need to recognize that it’s time to let go of romantic, coupled friends who consider you unimportant.

Emily Langan, an associate professor of communication, says in Beck’s piece: “We don’t feel like, in adulthood, we can demand very much of our friends. It’s unfair, they’ve got other stuff going on. So we stop expecting as much, which to me is kind of a sad thing, that we walk away from that.”

Beck follows the quote with, “For the sake of being polite.”

This goes back to romance supremacy and the hierarchy of relationships that romantic people construct. It is a default assumption, a rule, that romantic relationships are the priority and that friendship will always be subordinated to them, no matter what. Wanting or expecting a friend, who is coupled, to make time for you or to pay attention to you more often—when they have a limited amount of free time and a romantic partner who expects to hog it—is “impolite.” We’re supposed to let negligence slide indefinitely when it comes from a friend, neither feeling offended by it nor demanding better from them.

All I have to say about that, I’ve already said in my post “You Are Not Entitled to Friendship.”


What all of this information compels me to ask my fellow aros, particularly my fellow perma-single aros who consider friendship to be profoundly important in their lives, is: why would you choose to invest your time, energy, and emotion into these romantic people who are never going to value your friendship, never going to take you as seriously as you take them, never going to prioritize you, and never going to consider your needs and desires in friendship anywhere near equal to their romantic partner’s? If your deepest social desire is an intimate friendship or queerplatonic partnership that feeds you emotionally and meets your needs for companionship, commitment, affection, and love, why are you fucking around with these coupled romantics?

Is it just because they’re the only game in town?

Is it just because you figure you can’t do better?

That your only two options are romantic people or social isolation?

I understand a lot of folks have a low tolerance for physical solitude, that a lot of people have powerful desire for physical and emotional affection, that positive companionship can actually have a significant impact on mental and physical health, and that loneliness can be painful. I know I’m the exception, in my ability to withstand a high degree of physical solitude and get by on few emotional ties.

But I think you need to take a serious look at what you’re dealing with, when it comes to romantic people. Let Julie Beck’s article teach you something. You can’t spend the rest of your life settling for bullshit. Not when there’s a chance that you could have what you really want in friendship. Not when you could love someone nonromantically who feels the way you do, who treats you the way you want to be treated, who values your friendship as one of the most important things in their life.

You deserve the friendship you want. It doesn’t matter what romantic people think. It doesn’t matter what their norms are. If you’re not one of them, you don’t have to give a shit about their ways.

And the less time you waste on them, the more time you have to go out there and find other perma-single aros like you, other single aros who want what you want in friendship and who take it as seriously or feel as passionately about it as you do.

Kissing Friends as an Aromantic Asexual

I want to provide an aromantic perspective on kissing. Keep in mind that different aros feel different ways about kissing, just as different asexuals feels differently about it. My position on the subject is just one possibility. But I think it may interest people who are not asexual or not aromantic to hear this from me, so here goes.

I have limited experience with mouth-to-mouth kissing. That’s basically due to a combination of not dating, not fucking, being largely grossed out by the idea in the past, and the various (pseudo?) opportunities for romantic encounters in my youth blessedly never working out. (If they had worked out at the time, I’m pretty sure it would’ve been bad news.)

The only folks I’ve kissed on the mouth were very close friends who weren’t sexually or romantically attracted to me whatsoever–either because they were not oriented to my gender at all or because they themselves were also aromantic asexuals. When we kissed, it went on for a few minutes, and there were several individual kisses we shared. The kissing was close-mouthed–we did not make out, use tongue, etc–which is the only way I like it. Kissing was something that we verbally agreed to do: one of us asked permission and the other consented prior to the act.

After experiencing these kissing encounters, I can say that I do like and appreciate doing it with a friend I’m emotional about, although on the list of physical intimacy acts, kissing on the mouth isn’t my favorite thing and isn’t something I consider necessary in an intimate friendship. I find cuddling and really good hugs to be far more pleasurable, emotionally and physically. When I really love someone, I could cuddle and hug them every day–but thus far, I feel like kissing is something I can take or leave. Kissing certainly doesn’t have to be a frequent activity in any close friendship of mine.

My personal conditions for kissing are:

1. I will only kiss a friend who I know is not romantically attracted to me and who preferably is not sexually attracted to me either. Other aromantics, particularly aromantic asexuals, are ideal for friendly kissing.

2. There needs to be a sufficient emotional closeness and trust between my friend and I. It’s best if I love the person and if they love me, but I imagine that I could be comfortable with kissing a friend I don’t love yet if I still felt emotionally connected and attached to them.

3. Close-mouthed only. No making out.

How Kissing A Friend Feels:

Actually, it doesn’t feel like much. And I’m thankful because it’s an excellent example and confirmation of aromanticism. Despite the fact that there was mutual love and emotion between each of my kissing friends and I, when we actually did it, there was no spectacular effect on my end, and I’m pretty sure they would say the same. There were no fireworks or butterflies or swooning or heart palpitations or any of that shit that romantic people often describe when they kiss someone they’re in love with. There was also no sexual desire sparked: the kissing didn’t escalate into more heavily erotic physical intimacy; we didn’t grope each other or have sex in any way, shape or form, nor did we want to. When we were done, we were done, and we moved on with other activities.

Kissing is nice, certainly. It was a sweet gesture of closeness, intimacy, trust, friendship, and even love. But it didn’t make me feel more emotional about my friends, didn’t make me love them more, sure as hell didn’t make me want to date them. And I felt a deeper gratification when I cuddled with these same friends than when we kissed, hands down.

So you might be wondering, if you’re alloromantic and/or allosexual: why would an aromantic asexual want to kiss anybody? Why would any two people who aren’t sexually OR romantically attracted to each other want to kiss? I’m sure most romantics, especially the allosexuals, can’t compute the concept of friendship kissing. (And no, I don’t mean the kind where you’re drunk off your ass or on drugs and make out with a friend at a party or to sexually titillate someone else.)

All I can say is that like every other act of physical affection and intimacy that I enjoy, kissing is simply a way to feel close to a friend that I have feelings for, a way to express love and to feel loved. Touch is actually my love language, so I get a lot of emotional gratification from sharing physical affection with someone I love or have feelings for. Not to mention that physical affection also gives me a greater sense of security in a friendship and the sense that my friend loves me and feels attached to me in equal measure.

Because nothing is inherently romantic and nothing is inherently sexual except actual sex, these physical acts–when performed between myself and a friend who isn’t attracted to me sexually or romantically–can be comfortable and satisfying as gestures of friendship. There obviously needs to be a mutual emotional attachment and sense of closeness and physical comfort between a friend and I for both of us to want to kiss, so kissing is a sign of how close we are and how much our friendship means to both of us. Gender and physical appearance don’t matter, in terms of who I’m willing to kiss or who I can enjoy kissing. The only determining factor is an emotional bond in friendship.

As I said in my list of conditions, I would never fucking kiss someone who I knew to be alloromantic and attracted to my gender or attracted to me specifically, and I would never kiss someone who I knew to be allosexual and attracted to me specifically, unless they were also aromantic and completely, totally respectful and cool with sex being off limits.  I’m super repulsed by the idea of kissing somebody who’s romantically attracted to me or in love with me. I think I could handle kissing a friend who is NOT romantically interested in me but who is sexually attracted to me, although it might make me feel a little bit uneasy or just very aware of their sexual attraction. A great level of trust would be required, I think; I’d have to feel completely safe with that person and sure that they respect my disinterest in sexual activity.

In other words, kissing is an exclusively friendly activity to me, and friendship is the only acceptable context for it. I am well-aware that this is a complete subversion of the act as it’s usually performed by romantic people, whether they’re asexual or allosexual. I’m also aware that some allo* people are cool with kissing their friends on the mouth, not because of romantic attraction but because of friendly attachment and/or sexual attraction. Just like sexual friendship can be a thing–a thing truly devoid of romantic feelings–nonromantic kissing in friendship can be a thing, even for people who experience romantic and/or sexual attraction, although it seems like it’s pretty rare in the allo* population. To my knowledge, friendly kissing happens mostly in queer circles, polyamorous circles, and among young people who are unmarried (and/or uncoupled).

So how is mouth-to-mouth kissing different for me, an aromantic, than it is for alloromantics?

1. Kissing is for friendship, not romance. I won’t kiss a friend who has romantic interest in me.

2. Kissing requires no physical or sexual attraction whatsoever, to be comfortable and pleasurable.

3. The gender of the friend I kiss makes no difference.

4. Kissing is never an exclusive activity; like every other act of physical intimacy I enjoy, I don’t limit kissing to one friend at a time. I can include kissing in as many friendships as I want, simultaneously.

5. Kissing is not at the top of the physical intimacy/physical pleasure scale for me. It actually falls below cuddling and hugs.

6. Kissing is nice but it’s not required in any relationship. I can happily do without it.

So there you have it. Nonromantic kissing can be a thing in friendship, even for an aromantic asexual.

Alternative Relationship Watch: Ace/Allo Marriage Turns to Friendship

Over at Psychology Today, Anna Thomas writes about “divorcing differently.” She and her ex-husband got divorced and ended their romantic relationship–but they continue to be best friends who live together, raise their kids together, and hang out together. In this situation, the man is asexual, and the woman is not. While this made them incompatible romantically, they’ve transitioned their relationship into what can be called a platonic partnership or maybe even a queerplatonic partnership. Pretty cool.

Divorcing Differently: Ending the Marriage, Saving the Relationship

We Need Mental Healthcare That’s Aro-Positive

This post was inspired by a recent article published on Everyday Feminism, entitled “Why We Need Mental Healthcare Without Asexual Erasure—And How to Get There.”


Way back when, I wrote about how important it is that asexuality be recognized and respected as a sexual orientation in the field of psychology. That was before the DSM-V came out, which does list asexuality as a legitimate orientation. In the first four versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, lack of interest in sex or lack of desire for sex was listed as a symptom or sign of different illnesses, in addition to being its own kind of disorder (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), and there was no acknowledgment of sex-repulsion or sexual disinterest as healthy states of being. This contributed to and supported the mistreatment of asexuals who would come out in therapy as being disinterested in having sex or uncomfortable when having it, allowing their therapists to approach their asexuality and/or sex-repulsion as a symptom of a bigger mental problem or a dysfunction itself. The DSM-V still lists the sexual disorders that appeared in the first four versions, but it clearly states that “lack of sexual desire” must be something that actually causes a person distress for it to count as a symptom and does specifically list asexuality as an identity that cancels out a diagnosis of female or male sexual desire disorder

The acknowledgement, acceptance, and support of aromanticism in psychotherapy are inevitably harder to secure because singlism is already deeply embedded in our culture at every level. Singlism—a word coined by Dr. Bella DePaulo, a social scientist who has spent decades writing about singles—is defined as “the stigmatizing of adults who are single. It includes negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles.” Long before “aromantic” became an identity, singlism was alive and dominant in our amatonormative culture, and while singlehood is dramatically more common in adults now than it was in the early and mid-20th century, singlism hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years. Singlism—which is the flipside of amatonormativity—is present in our legal system, the workforce, mainstream media, religion, the gay rights movement, the medical establishment, and just about everywhere that counts. Singlism poses social, legal, medical, and economic ramifications for anyone who is single-unmarried or single-uncoupled.

Amatonormativity can operate with or without sexuality in the picture, because it is primarily concerned with romantic relationships, not sexual activity alone. Notice that accepting asexuality does absolutely no damage to amatonormativity. Our society is no less amatonormative now than it was 15 years ago, before asexuality had some degree of visibility and acceptance, and in fact, amatonormativity has been used—both by romantic asexuals and allo* people—to make asexuality more palatable.

“Asexuals may not like sex, but they can still fall in love! They can still have healthy, normal romantic relationships! You can still date an asexual, even if they’re not attracted to you sexually!”

This is the reason why aromantic asexuals have barely gotten any air time in asexual visibility/education efforts, why romantic relationships are often a major feature of media pieces about asexuals, and why navigating romantic relationships is a more popular topic in conversations about asexuality than topics such as “empowered celibacy” or “dismantling compulsory sexuality in our media” or “creating feminist images of asexual celibates.” Romantic relationships are the primary tool used to normalize asexuality. Romantic love becomes the thing that makes asexuality (and the sex-repulsion and celibacy that often accompany it) acceptable as a human condition instead of a dysfunction, disorder, or pathology that needs to be cured.

If you do romance but not sex or sex but not romance, you’re never quite “right” in society’s eyes, but if you don’t want or perform either, you’re a freak that nobody knows what to do with. Usually, they just pretend you don’t exist: they mislabel you “straight,” they decide you haven’t met the “right person” yet who’s going to awaken your romantic feelings and sexual desire, they believe you’re gay and in the closet or in denial. Being an aromantic asexual comes with its own unique discrimination that gets loaded onto the already persistent singlism and compulsory sexuality that plagues anyone who isn’t coupled up or sexually active. If you’re ace but you still date and fall in love, you can live in the closet more easily. No one needs to know you’re asexual, except the people you actually date, and if you’re romantically involved, the world will assume you’re sexually active and attracted to your partner. But when you’re not interested in sex or romance and you remain single, without any interest in dating or finding a romantic partner, that immediately calls into question both your sex life (and lack thereof) and your attitude about romance.

The flip side is that if you want and have sex, but you’re not interested in romantic relationships, you’re demonized, criticized, and shamed with accusations of commitment phobia, immaturity, promiscuity, using people for sex without caring about or respecting them, acting out sexually because of emotional or psychological distress, “emotional terrorism,” abuse, etc. There’s a sexist element to this too: women are criticized and condemned far more harshly and more frequently than men for having sex outside of romantic relationships and with multiple partners. While having casual sex is acceptable in American culture to a degree, it’s generally expected to be limited to youth and a temporary situation prior to falling in love and marrying. Beyond a certain age, pursuing sex without any interest in romance is frowned upon regardless of a person’s gender, and one way that society shames and bullies people out of it is putting a pseudo-psychological spin on their criticism, to make the sexual activity look like a symptom of developmental, emotional, or mental abnormality.

The difference between the single aromantic’s experience and the single alloromantic’s experience is that being aromantic often means that singlehood is a permanent, voluntary lifestyle that is truly independent of who you meet in life. When you’re aro, not only are you disinterested in falling in love—you’re incapable of it. And no person in the world can change that, no matter how much you like them or even love them (nonromantically). An aro person is far more likely to be romance-repulsed, not just happily single, and to express that repulsion when asked about romantic relationships. If we’re being honest as aromantic people, our singlehood is not just an involuntary, default state that we happen to be in because we haven’t met anybody who attracts us; our singlehood is voluntary, intentional, desired. And for many of us, it is permanent.

So what does all this have to do with psychotherapy? There are several different aspects of aromanticism that can come up in therapy and that could be horrifically mishandled:

  1. Wanting to stay single long-term
  2. Having sex while deliberately maintaining single status
  3. Not wanting sex in combination with not wanting to be romantically involved
  4. Wanting queerplatonic partnership or friendship
  5. Emotional distress about friendships with romantic people breaking down or not matching the aro person’s desire
  6. Negative responses from sexual partners (or dating partners) because of the aro’s choice to stay single or their lack of romantic behavior in “dating” relationships
  7. Harassment from family, friends, co-workers, employers, etc about one’s single status and when that status will change to “coupled”

Any and all of these issues provoke negative responses in daily life from pretty much all romantic people and romantic culture at large, which is why an aro person might bring them up in therapy in the first place. If the therapist responds to these issues with amatonormative thinking, with singlism, with romance supremacy, with a fundamental misunderstanding of or disagreement with alternative friendship or nonromantic partnership, it will exacerbate the aro’s sense of isolation from the rest of the world, encourage internalized amatonormativity and singlism, and potentially lead to behaving contrary to the aro person’s actual desires, feelings, and personal comfort.

Furthermore, if an aro does have mental illness, viewing their aromanticism or their desire to stay single as a symptom of that illness—a symptom that can and should be cured—can be very hurtful and damaging, especially if the aro walks into the therapist’s office without actually feeling distressed by their aromanticism or their singlehood.

In other words, if an aromantic person goes to their psychotherapist and says,

“Help me figure out how to have a happy life as a single person who doesn’t fall in love. How can I create the kind of nonromantic relationships I desire? How can I make peace with being aromantic and single? Show me how to negotiate with the world in order to be treated with respect and care, as a single person. Help me sort out my feelings about sex and my own sexuality, in the context of being aromantic and comfortably single. Help me create a queerplatonic partnership and make it work. Help me with my feelings of hurt, rejection, abandonment, and/or betrayal on the subject of my friends devaluing my friendship and leaving me behind for romance.”

And the therapist says:

“We need to figure out why you don’t want to be romantically involved with anyone. We have to get you on a path to a healthy, normal romantic relationship. We have to get you to understand that friendship is only supposed to look this particular way, and anything else is unhealthy and abnormal. We have to figure out why you’re not willing to be truly “intimate” with sexual partners. We have to treat your sexual promiscuity as a symptom of psychological problems. You’re not being a good friend or sexual partner to anyone by having the expectations and desires and feelings you’ve got.”

That is a hugely negative experience for the aromantic, and if they actually sit there and listen to that bullshit or continue seeing that therapist, all that’s going to happen is a denial of self and a deepening of internalized arophobia.

Psychotherapists need to leave their singlism and amatonormativity at the door of their office. The literature of psychology should not consider romantic relationships a staple of a sane, stable, healthy, happy person’s life or a way to measure someone’s progress in healing or living with a mental illness.

We can’t have mental health professionals diagnosing patients with disorders and conditions because said patients have a sex life totally divorced from romance or telling their patients that fusing sex with romance is a sign of progress and better health. That’s not any better than telling a patient their lack of desire for sex is a symptom of illness or something be cured and overcome.

And just as importantly, psychotherapists needs to be aware of alternative relationships that don’t fit into the popular, common, mainstream model of human social life and actually come to accept and respect those relationships as valid, healthy, and positive in their own right. We can’t have mental health professionals thinking that nonromantic relationships can only work the way alloromantic people believe they should. We can’t have them trying to twist nonromantic relationships into romance or steering aro patients away from friendships and family relationships that are different than the norm or attempting to redirect an aro person’s feelings and relationship goals for a friend to a romance with someone else.

In other words, we can’t allow the psychological establishment to pathologize and destroy friendship and family relationships that contradict amatonormativity, nor can we allow them to use their positions of power to reinforce amatonormativity in the lives of aro patients. There’s already a lot of narrow-minded, blindly conformist attitude out there, amongst common allo* people, concerning what friendship can and should look like, what family can and should look like, what behaviors and experiences are inherently “romantic,” how people should be sexually active, and what “healthy,” “normal” human relationships look like in general. The last thing we need is the mental health field confirming that ignorant bullshit, only to have the general public point at their confirmation and go, “See? This is how relationships are supposed to work! This is what you’re supposed to want and do and feel! The professionals say so!” We’ve already seen the nasty effects of that sort of thing, in the history of homosexuality being medically pathologized–which goes to show that mental health professionals are absolutely capable of and vulnerable to allowing cultural and personal ideology infect their work, to the detriment of their patients.

A good therapist will listen with an open-mind to what their patient actually thinks and feels regarding relationships and their own sexuality, and that’s certainly a great place to start. But beyond that open-minded acceptance and cooperation in treatment, aromantic people need mental health literature to acknowledge them, their feelings, and their nonromantic relationships in a positive way. That step will go a long way in destroying amatonormativity and singlism and creating an aro-friendly society and culture instead.

To All the Romantics Who Ridicule “Queerplatonic”: A Rant

I’m about 2000% done with the bullshit I’m about to go in on, so strap in for the ride or find the nearest exit.

Ever since aromantic asexuals started using the term “queerplatonic” in public spaces, allos* have pushed against it, criticizing the term as both offensive and unnecessary. Usually, it’s LGBTQ allos* (the * denotes people who are both alloromantic and allosexual) who are bitching and moaning about how no one on the planet can use the word “queer” in any way, shape, or form unless they experience same-sex attraction or they’re trans, but sometimes, it’s allos* ridiculing the idea of queerplatonic relationships as something that people use to make friendship sound unique, different, or special.

Someone mentions queerplatonic relationships and the haters go,

“You mean FRIENDSHIP?!!!11!!? I ThInK yoU meAN FrieDNshiP!!!”

And I’m fucking done watching them pull that smug shit.

1. Queerplatonic relationships are friendships, but we still need the word “queerplatonic.”

First of all, fuck all that noise about queerplatonic relationships being “more than friendship” and “in between friendship and romance” and all the motherfucking implications that queerplatonic relationships are actually some kind of romance lite, diet romance, etc. You know where that thinking comes from? It comes from the fucking amatonormativity that forces aromantic people to come up with a word like “queerplatonic” in the first place. It comes from the insidious amatonormative philosophy that friendship has a ceiling on it that separates it from romance, and only romance can have certain features of social and emotional significance.

Queerplatonic relationships are friendships. Queerplatonic partnerships are friendships.

But guess what? We still need the word “queerplatonic” because there is a huge fucking chasm of difference between the queerplatonic friendships that a lot of aros want and have and the “friendships” that alloromantic people form.

We wouldn’t need a word like “queerplatonic” if you romo assholes were capable of acknowledging that an aro person’s friendships can be on par with romantic relationships, that friendship can be a primary partnership, that friendship can include emotions and affection and commitment identical to the kind you routinely and exclusively practice in romance. We wouldn’t need a word like “queerplatonic” to set our alternative friendships and nonromantic partnerships apart if you narrow-minded fucks didn’t insist that any human relationship of a certain intimacy, involvement, and physicality is romantic whether the people in them actually see it that way or not. YOU and your fucked up social norms are the reason we needed the God damn word in the first place, because what we meant when we talked about friendship was NOTHING like your conceptualization of “friendship.”

2. Our queerplatonic relationships are often nothing like your “friendships” and you damn well know it.

I think what pisses me off the most about all the sarcastic derision that allos* use when they act like “queerplatonic” is a totally unnecessary word for friendship is the fact that unless they’ve never seen or heard an actual aro person talk about their desires for and feelings in queerplatonic relationships, they fucking know that more often than not, what an aro person means by “queerplatonic” is NOTHING like ordinary friendship between romantic people.

“Why don’t you stop trying to be a special snowflake and just call it a friendship like everybody else?????”

Fuck you.

You want to know why we can’t just go around saying we want a “best friend”?

Because you fucking allo* people treat your best friends like backup singers who stay in the dark behind you and your fucking romantic partner as you stare into each other’s eyes in the spotlight and sing every fucking shitty ass love song in the history of the music industry.

OR WORSE, your “best friend” is your FUCKING ROMANTIC PARTNER.

Who the fuck are the ones going around saying “I married my best friend! I fell in love with my best friend!”?

That would be YOU, asshats. Jesus Christ, you don’t even HAVE real nonromantic best friends.

Your “friendships” are a fucking pathetic joke. Half of you don’t even have friends in adulthood. You just have people you know and superficially like who you use to avoid boredom and solitude whenever you’re single or your lover can’t pay attention to you. Outside of fucking and falling in love, you are the emotionally stunted equivalent of a fucking rock.

You want to talk about who the real heartless robots are? Let’s fucking talk. Let’s talk about how you treat your so-called “friends” when you’re dating someone new, when you’re falling in love, when you’re fucking married and shacked up with your spouse. Let’s talk about all the fucking romantic people who can’t even have a God damn social life apart from their romantic partner; they’re not even a fucking person anymore, they’re just fifty percent of a couple that can’t function unless the other fifty is within three feet of them at all times. Let’s talk about how many of you are the reason that I can go swimming in a fucking sea of aromantic sob stories about how you fucked off into another galaxy as soon as you “met someone” and didn’t think twice about treating a so-called friend, even a “best friend,” like last year’s news. Let’s talk about how many “friendships” have died on the road to your One True Love because of your fucking negligence. Let’s talk about how you can’t even sit down with your alleged fucking “friend” for a two hour lunch without texting your new lover every 5 fucking seconds. Let’s talk about how you don’t even fucking ask your “friends” first, before bringing your romantic partner to a social gathering with said friends, because you just assume that they don’t care if your fucking boo gets in the way of you spending quality time with them.

Queerplatonic relationships are just like your “best friendships,” huh?

Tell me how many of you douche bags want to make a nonromantic best friend your primary partner. Tell me how many of you would choose to live with a nonromantic best friend intentionally and permanently, regardless of your romantic relationships, because you want to build and share a home with that best friend. Tell me how many of your “friendships” include cuddling, holding hands, sharing a bed, kissing, massages, frequent hugging, and other kinds of physical intimacy. Tell me how many of you love your “friends” at all, how many of you love a best friend more than any other person, including a romantic partner. Tell me how many of you would raise a child with a friend, move to another state for a friend, turn down a job offer for a friend, become financially supportive of a friend, become a friend’s full-time physical caretaker, even fucking get legally married to a friend. Tell me how many of you would tell a romantic partner to fuck off in order to maintain all of that intimacy and involvement and commitment with a friend.

And don’t you even fucking begin to suggest that any relationship that includes all of those things is definitively romantic, because I will tear down a wall with a baseball bat if I have to hear that one more time.

24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you do nothing but talk and act in ways that express your belief, your TRUTH, that romantic relationships are superior to friendship. That romantic love is better than friendship. Hell, that romantic love is the ONLY love worthy of the fucking word. Your entire culture is a testament to your romance supremacy. Every facet of your media plays nonstop messages about romantic relationships being the point of life itself, and fucking NOWHERE does it ever say that a friendship can be what queerplatonic partnerships are to aromantic people. You can’t even fucking let canonical friendships in TV shows and movies stay friendships; you have to fucking turn EVERYTHING into a romantic relationship, sex or no sex. That’s how obsessed you are with romance. That’s how little you value friendship.

And you want to fucking come up in here and tell aromantic people that we don’t need our own language to describe the nonromantic partnerships we desire because they’re already described by the word “friendship”?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Go to hell.

And if you’re a fucking allo* teenager or college kid on Tumblr, I don’t want to hear a God damn thing out of your mouth about friendship or queerplatonic partnerships or aro people. Every single one of you is going down the same fucking path as your generational predecessors: chasing your fantasy romantic relationship, getting married after a string of temporary romantic relationships and dating, and spending your entire adult life being a shitty friend in your mediocre background friendships while sex and romance stay front and center in your mind and practice. Even those of you who end up getting divorced at least once will never get off the romantic merry-go-round. You’re going to die pursuing romance if you’re not already settled into it, and at no fucking point is friendship ever going to remotely approach romance in your personal life. You are completely and utterly predictable, and you are a complete and utter disappointment to every single aro person who wants and values high-quality friendship, including queerplatonic friendship and partnerships.

The least you can do is shut the fuck up and stay out of aro conversations and aro spaces. You don’t get a fucking say in what language aros use. Your opinion doesn’t fucking matter, on aro issues and aro feelings and aro relationships. You don’t even deserve friendship from us, and God bless and protect the aros who choose to invest themselves emotionally in you at all, because odds you are going to fuck them over and not even feel sorry about it.

Take your bullshit “friendship” and your snide remarks about the queerplatonic idea and shove them up your ass until you choke.

A Response to the Criticism of Split-Orientation Romantic Sexuality

So it’s come to my attention that varioriented romantic-sexual people and the split orientation model in general are currently on Tumblr’s shit list.

Reminder: varioriented romantic-sexual people are individuals whose romantic and sexual orientations don’t match: hetero-romantic homosexuals, homoromantic heterosexuals, biromantic hetero- and homosexuals, etc. Technically, both aromantic sexual people and romantic asexuals are varioriented too, but it appears that critics of split orientation identity are only attacking the idea of people who experience both romantic and sexual attraction using this model, not asexuals and aromantics.

Some of these haters are yelling about the split orientation model being “forced” upon them, despite their romantic-sexual identity being totally congruent, and claiming that this is a kind of “violence” or something, especially because they’re LGBTQ. Except, I have yet to see a single instance of anybody—asexual, aromantic, or otherwise—telling romantic-sexual people that they MUST use the split attraction model and terminology to describe themselves. So I’m thinking this is a strawman fallacy that the haters are using to reinforce their accusation of homophobia on the part of people who support the split attraction/split identity model. Nice try but until you can produce receipts, I’m not buying that anybody is demanding all people specify both romantic and sexual orientations. Being alloromantic and allosexual with identical patterns of romantic and sexual attraction is the default, the most common type of human sexuality, and everybody knows that.

Moving on to the central criticism of varioriented romantic-sexual people: from what I gather, based on skimming some of these posts or posts responding to the criticism, the primary objection that the critics have is that the split identity/split attraction model is really just a tool of internalized homophobia. I’ve also seen mention of certain expressions of varioriented sexuality being a denial of full-on bisexuality or an unnecessary re-labeling of bisexuality. Basically, people are saying that it’s not possible to be sexually attracted only to one gender and romantically attracted only to the other, and anyone who identifies this way is actually just in denial about the fact that they’re gay, meaning they want both sex and romance with the same gender. Others who are more willing to allow for homoromantic heterosexuality and hetero-romantic homosexuality are saying that both experiences are already covered under the bisexual identity, and insisting on IDing as homoromantic heterosexual or hetero-romantic homosexual is biphobic or a denial of one’s own bisexuality.

First of all, I just want to point out that the concept of split attractions in romantic-sexual people is not new. This idea has been around since 2010-2011, at least. And that’s just on Tumblr. I know, because I wrote a couple posts about these varioriented people way back when. Nobody had a problem with this model, these identities, or these people at that time. I think maybe there was casual, superficial dismissal and ridicule of the idea from the general corner of the anti-asexual/anti-aromantic bigots, but nobody was attacking split orientation romantic-sexual people on the same grounds that are now in vogue. That immediately makes me think that the sudden criticism being lobbed at the model is simply just romantic-sexual people (whose orientations match) moving on from whatever they were last hating on, in the asexual/aromantic universe, and coming to this particular subject in the rotation. Maybe they temporarily got sick of throwing tantrums about aces and aros identifying as queer.

Second of all, even if they’re not just trolling and creating drama for its own sake, they couldn’t be more wrong about the split orientation model and people who identify with it.

Why would a bunch of LGBTQ romo-sexual people want to deny the reality and the validity of cross-orientation individuals? Our two favorite cultural paradigms, everybody: compulsory sexuality and amatonormativity. This kind of bullshit always goes back to that, doesn’t it?

So according to the haters, if you claim to only or inclusively have romantic feelings for the same gender but no sexual attraction, you’ve internalized homophobia because you think that gay sex is gross and wrong. But if you claim to only or inclusively have sexual attraction to the same gender without any romantic feelings, you’ve also internalized homophobia because you don’t want to deal with the baggage that comes with being involved in a full-blown, publicly recognized romantic relationship with someone of the same gender that would cause the world to read you as gay or queer (even if you don’t identify as either).

The obvious message is that the only proper way to be an LGBQ individual (and a romantic-sexual person period) is to prescribe to conventional romantic-sexual relationships. You’re supposed to fuck the people you date, and you’re supposed to date the people you fuck, don’t be a slutty bastard who denies sexual partners romance, don’t be a shitty romantic partner who fails to fulfill the other person’s sexual needs, blah blah blah, we’ve all heard this shit before, aren’t you bored with it? Because I’m getting kind of bored myself.

The thing is that even if these haters claim that it’s okay for asexuals and aromantics to use the split attraction model in order to express their corresponding romantic or sexual feelings, attacking split attractions in romantic-sexual people is still fundamentally anti-asexual and anti-aromantic because it’s an attack that seeks to preserve compulsory sexuality and compulsory romance. Concern trolling romantic-sexual people with split attractions, using a diagnosis of internalized homophobia, is still coming from a place of rejecting nonromantic sex and nonsexual romance. And in fact, the very same criticism HAS been used against asexuals and aromantics by romantic-sexual people and will surely continue to be used. Asexuals have been accused of being closeted gay people, and aromantic sexual people are routinely dismissed as being romantics who are just anti-commitment or promiscuous—because aromanticism doesn’t exist.

Mixed orientation allo* people can find themselves in the exact same problematic relationships as asexuals and aromantics because they’re basically the equivalent of alloromantic asexual or aromantic allosexual to whatever gender they only experience one type of attraction to. Trying to make a romantic relationship work with someone you don’t have any desire to fuck is the same damn struggle whether you’re asexual or cross-oriented romo-sexual. Trying to have a satisfying sex life with minimal drama and the respect and acceptance of your sexual partners and society at large, while not entering romantic relationships, is the same damn struggle whether you’re aromantic or cross-oriented romo-sexual. And you can’t fucking say that not wanting sex is okay for asexuals but not okay for anyone else, you can’t say that not wanting romantic relationships is okay for aromantics but not for anyone else, and still be in support of asexuals and aromantics. It doesn’t work that way. Either it’s okay not to want sex or it isn’t. Either it’s okay to stay out of romantic relationships and have sex anyway, or it’s not. You can’t keep the social system the way it is, and free asexuals and aromantics at the same time.

Attempting to coerce someone into sex or into romantic relationships that they don’t want, to prove that they haven’t internalized homophobia is disgusting, abusive, and unethical. It makes you an asshole. A five star asshole. And it doesn’t matter if the person in question is asexual, aromantic, or neither. Nobody has to prove anything to you.

“But we’re not trying to force people to have sex or date people they don’t want to date.”

Oh, yeah? Then shut the fuck up about how wanting romantic relationships with the same gender but not sex is homophobic or how wanting sex with the same gender but not romantic relationships is homophobic. Because that’s exactly what you’re saying when you make those accusations: that the only way for these cross-orientation allo* people to prove they haven’t internalized homophobia is to do shit they don’t want to do.

And where have I heard that before?

Sexual people telling asexuals to have sex. Romantic people telling aromantics to date. This isn’t even a thing of the past, this is going on RIGHT NOW! Do you think you’re helping aces and aros with this shit? If romantic-sexual people aren’t allowed to have nonsexual romances and nonromantic sex, whatever their reasons are, how the fuck are asexuals and aromantics allowed at all?

I don’t care if you repeatedly insist that you accept asexuality and aromanticism as identities or that you accept an asexual’s right to be celibate and an aromantic’s right to be permanently single or never in love. If you don’t accept split-orientation allo-* people, you are not supportive of asexuality and aromanticism, you are not supportive of celibacy and singlehood as lifestyles, and you are not about freedom and empowerment for all people. You’re just a fucking LGBQ version of a heterosexual that goes around spewing the rhetoric of compulsory heterosexuality and heteronormativity, only in your case, you’re pushing compulsory homosexuality and homoromanticism for people who aren’t straight.

To the haters who urge cross-oriented allos* with: “Just identify as bisexual because that’s what you are.”

What does the “bisexual” identity actually imply about a person? In every day conversation? It implies they experience romantic and sexual attraction to two genders, but it ALSO implies that like straight people and gay people, they experience BOTH romantic and sexual attraction to all the genders they’re attracted to. You fucking know it does. You know ain’t nobody out there responding to people coming out as bisexual by wondering if the bi person feels both romantic and sexual attraction to every gender they’re attracted to or not. You know everyone assumes that romantic and sexual attraction are inseparable for everyone on the damn planet, except asexuals and aromantics, and some ignorant romo-sexual people reject asexuality and aromanticism because of that assumption too.

And you KNOW that all of you allos* with a singular orientation expect your romantic relationships to be sexual and want your sexual relationships to be romantic at least some of the time. You know that if someone fell in love with you but didn’t want to fuck you, you’d consider that a problem, whether they’re asexual or split-orientation. You know that if you started fucking someone who refused to date you and refused to date anyone else too, you would eventually freak out about it and decide they’re a bad person because nonromantic sex is acceptable only as a temporary or transitional situation. You damn well know you expect bisexuals to be capable of romantic and sexual feelings for all people they’re attracted to, and if you met one who only wanted to fuck one gender or only date another, you would still hate on them even if they did ID as “bisexual” and not as a split-orientation person.

So I don’t want to hear this bullshit about “bisexuality” covering homoromantic heterosexuals and hetero-romantic homosexuals or even biromantic monosexuals and monoromantic bisexuals. If someone with one of those experiences WANTS to identify as bisexual without further specification, that’s their choice and one that is likely anyway, but you don’t get to force all of those groups of people to ID as bisexual just because YOU think it’s more convenient. A homoromantic heterosexual is NOT the same as a biromantic bisexual. A hetero-romantic homosexual is NOT the same as a biromantic bisexual. And even biromantic monosexuals and monoromantic bisexuals are not the same as biromantic bisexuals, not when they’re in love with someone they feel no sexual desire for or when they feel sexual desire for various people of a particular gender without ever developing romantic feelings for any of them.


If you’re hating on mixed orientation allos* because you don’t want to end up getting rejected by one romantically or sexually, you need to get the fuck over it because nobody owes you sex or romance. If you’re hating because you want to make as many people as possible exclusively gay, that is some fucked up motive you have for bullying other people about their sexuality. If you’re concerned about anyone who’s got a hetero- aspect of their sexuality coming into your “queer only” spaces, you need to a) get the fuck over your problematic exclusionary attitudes that are already anti-bisexual and b) accept the fact that getting into the fucking LGBTQ clubhouse is not at the top of the mixed orientation allo* priority list, just like it’s not at the top of every asexual and aromantic person’s priority list. You overestimate your own importance, LGBTQ allos*.

Nobody needs your stamp of approval to identify as a mixed orientation allo* person or asexual or aromantic. If you’re an allo* with a single romantic-sexual identity, congratulations and of course you don’t have to go around fucking telling everyone that you’re a homoromantic homosexual or a biromantic bisexual; you don’t have to do that because everyone assumes that’s what you are anyway, as soon as you use the word “gay” or “queer” or “bi.” If it were a common human experience to have romantic feelings without sexual attraction or sexual attraction without romantic feelings, there wouldn’t be a fucking need for anyone to distinguish themselves as mixed orientation or asexual or aromantic. That’s the point. You, alloromantic allosexual with one identity, are the default.

Other people’s identities are NOT ABOUT YOU. The earth does not fucking revolve around you and your feelings and your needs and your desires and your fucking ignorant-ass opinions. Nobody was thinking about you when they decided to name their own experiences with romantic and sexual attraction. If you’re so “concerned” about fellow LGBQ individuals being in a healthy head space regarding their own romantic and sexual feelings, why don’t you spend your time looking out for people who actually do identify as LGBQ allo* with one identity and consider the possibility that anyone who even has access to the concept of split-identities is a person who’s fucking done their research and put more than just a passing thought into what they are? Nobody’s teaching this shit in schools or talking about it in mainstream forums of human sexuality. You have to go looking for the information and know enough to make the right search in the first place. The odds of someone like that having internalized homophobia enough to deny their sexual feelings for the same gender but not their romantic ones or vice versa are low, even negligible.

In conclusion, fuck you and your advocacy of compulsory sex and amatonormativity.

Signs of my Aromanticism

Nonromantic Love and Affection are Great; Romantic Love and Affection Are Not

Here’s probably the most telling indication of my personal aromanticism and also an example of the fact that it’s only romantic attraction that separates romantic behavior from nonromantic behavior.

In the abstract and in emotionally significant friendships, I desire and enjoy a lot of physical affection, emotional intimacy, general closeness and some interdependence, quality time spent one-on-one with each other, etc.

But take any of those same experiences and turn them into something romantic, by way of someone else’s romantic feelings for me, and I am immediately turned off.

A friend or queerplatonic partner telling me they love me is sweet and appreciated.

Somebody telling me they are romantically in love with me makes me want to go to another planet. There’s no better way to get rid of me. If you’re my friend and you have romantic feelings for me, do us both a favor and keep that information to yourself.

A friend wanting to cuddle with me because we love each other is really wonderful. It has the potential of making me feel deeply loved, secured, and happy.

A person who’s got romantic feelings for me proposing that we cuddle makes my skin crawl a little bit. I don’t want to be touched by anyone who’s got romantic designs on me, despite the fact that in the abstract I do want and like to be touched.

The behaviors can be exactly the same. The activities shared can be the same. The banter, the affection, the other person’s desire for closeness with me can be the same. Hell, there can be love in both scenarios, real love. But how I feel about it changes dramatically based on the presence or absence of romantic attraction.

I guess you could say that in friendship, I defy the negative aromantic stereotypes, but dropped into someone else’s romantic gaze, I personify that stereotype to a T—not just because I am aromantic but because I am also romance-repulsed. Nothing makes me cold the way romance does.

Furthermore, this extends to other people, not just myself. Other people’s romantic relationships annoy the shit out of me. Other people’s close friendships please me. I love seeing friends being physically affectionate, but romantic couples sucking face in public and acting all ooey-gooey is a turn off. I love hearing about other people’s significant friendships, especially if they’re queerplatonic or passionate, but I don’t want to listen to anyone go on and on about how in love they are with their romantic partner. I really don’t give a shit about your romo story.


The Time It Takes Me to Feel Emotional Attachment

Romantic people can go from strangers to serious romantic couple in a matter of weeks. It happens all the time. They go out on dates with total strangers or they have sex with someone they just met and a few months later, they’re a couple with an exclusive commitment who are obsessed with each other and can’t seem to be apart in their free time.

Apparently, you’re supposed to decide within 5 or 10 dates whether or not you want to be an official, exclusive couple with someone you’ve only known that long. And if you don’t, then you quit dating and/or fucking altogether and move on to the next candidate.

Maybe this is because I’m aro, maybe it’s just a feature of my personality, or maybe it’s both—but there is no way in hell I can decide in a collective 10-20 hours whether I want to be the most intimate I can possibly be with another human being. I’m certainly not going to love anyone I know that little.

That “spark” or whatever that romantic people talk about, that lets them know their date is someone they want to see again for the purpose of pursuing a romantic relationship in the near future, is not something I experience. I’ve experienced very strong chemistry with a few people, not to mention strong love and attachment, but a) it’s rare for me, in comparison to how often romance happens to romantic people and b) it takes me a hell of a lot longer to feel anything at all for a friend.

I imagine that if I tried dating—if I decided to go on a bunch of dates with someone from OkCupid or Tinder, for example—we’d be several dates in, they would try to have The Talk about becoming an official couple, and I would be at a loss because I wouldn’t feel anything whatsoever, beyond “Sure, you’re all right, we’ve had some decent conversations.”

I don’t understand how anyone can believe they “love” someone who they’ve known for less than a year. Or how you can become completely consumed by that other person within that same short amount of time. If someone I went on 10 dates or less with suddenly proclaimed that they were in love with me, my honest reaction would be along the lines of, “You don’t even fucking know me. You don’t love me, you’re just infatuated and in love with the idea of me and the romance you’ve created in your mind.”

With few exceptions, the people I’ve loved in my life were people I knew for years, and it took years for that love to develop on my part. Likewise, in no universe could that love evaporate or die in a matter of weeks or months, the way some romantic relationships do.

The bottom line is, loving friendship is slow to build, starts out light and superficial, deepens and intensifies over time; romance starts out intense, flares up fast, and burns out—either to nothing or to a much calmer kind of loving bond with substance instead of intensity. The way I naturally bond with people and develop emotional attachment to them is in line with friendship, not romantic relationships.


What I Want vs. What I Don’t Want in Intimate Friendships

I’ll keep this simple.

Stuff I Want in Intimate Friendship: genuine love, respect, quality time spent one-on-one, physical affection (which can include hugging, cuddling, kissing, co-sleeping, holding hands, leaning against each other, back rubs, etc), emotional vulnerability and sharing, intimacy, trust, fun, saying “I love you” when we mean it, loyalty, protecting the time and space of our friendship, humor, communication, being able to do some things together and other things apart, freedom, flexibility, taking the friendship into consideration when making life decisions individually that could impact the friendship, deep connection,

Stuff I Won’t Tolerate: possessiveness, neediness, obsession, loss of independence, loss of individuality, the expectation that you come first and before everyone else I know by default, the expectation that we have to spend all of our free time together and can’t socialize separately, invasion of privacy, blending our social lives completely so that we no longer have separate friendships, the expectation or demand that I damage or destroy my other friendships for the sake of pleasing you and/or indulging your insecurities, constant sentimentalism, restricting what I can and can’t do in other friendships, framing the importance of our friendship in terms of how it is superior to all of other relationships, a sense of entitlement to knowing where I am/who I’m with/what I’m doing at all times,

In other words, I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the average romantic relationship.


I Want the Same Things from All People I Love

This was definitely something that should’ve tipped me off to my aromanticism when I was a kid, because it was consistently my experience back then, pretty much like it is now.

So the average romantic person has a long list of stuff they specifically want in romantic relationships, and for the most part, they ONLY want those things from romantic relationships. I am convinced that to a degree, this is caused by powerful social conditioning that teaches us you’re only allowed to access certain experiences through romance or that certain behaviors/feelings/experiences are innately romantic, but whatever the reason for romantic people limiting themselves to satisfaction through romantic relationships is beside the point. The point is, they want XYZ in their lives, to feel happy and loved and whatever, and they don’t want or need or look for XYZ in friendship or family relationships, even when they’re single. They associate XYZ with romance, period.

In contrast, there has never been anything—even when I thought I was romantic as a teen—that I exclusively wanted from romantic partners and not friends, except for maybe the partner label. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I had intense feelings for a variety of people, male and female, who I either wasn’t close to and wanted to be intimate friends with or was already friends with but not the way I wanted to be. I wanted emotional intimacy with all of them, I wanted to be loved by all of them, I wanted physical affection from all of them, I wanted to be important to all of them, and I felt devastated by the idea of being inferior to their romantic partners fairly equally across the board.

Looking back, even though at the time there were particular individuals who I wanted to “date,” nobody really stood out emotionally or in terms of the kind of interaction I wanted. There wasn’t a glaring difference between the people I wanted to be intimate friends with and the people I thought I wanted to date. If I had gotten all the relationships I wanted at the time, exactly the way I wanted them, outsiders wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the friendships and the “romantic” relationships, except for who I would’ve called my boyfriend/girlfriend.

And now, knowing that I am aro and knowing that I have no interest in romantic relationships, it’s clear that there’s not really a significant difference in desire and emotion when it comes to the domestic partners I want and all the other intimate friends I want or have or could have. Living together as committed, intentional partners is pretty much the only thing that I want to separate those domestic friends from everyone else I love. The actual depth or intensity of emotion, the love I want to feel, the physical affection and intimacy I would like or be comfortable with, the quality time spent one-on-one, the trust and the openness and the sharing—all of that can and ideally will be the same amongst all of my friendships.

There is no Super Special Person that I fantasize about fulfilling all of my most important desires and needs for love, connection, emotional intimacy, affection, etc—while the rest of my friends and family are relatively cool and distant with me by comparison. Because nothing is inherently romantic, there’s nothing that I see as off-limits (physically or emotionally) in my friendships simply because they are friendships.



Jealousy is something I rarely experience as an adult, but I did experience it intensely as a kid, including through college.

I almost never feel any kind of jealousy or even envy when it comes to a close friend having other close friends. Or if someone I want to be close friends with has a close friendship with someone else. Regarding other people’s close friendships, I feel either neutral or happy on their behalf. I think it’s really cool when someone has the kind of friendship I favor myself, even if that person is someone I’m friends with or becoming friends with. There is typically no reason for me to feel threatened by a friend’s friendship with someone else, even if they’re technically closer to that other friend than they are to me.

But what can make me extremely jealous and/or envious is a friend’s romantic relationship with someone else. That was always the thing that hurt most when I was growing up and when I was in college, the idea of the friends and family members I deeply loved getting romantically involved with other people and leaving me in the dust.

Now I know what you’re reflexive reaction is to this: if I only get jealous or envious of a friend’s romantic partner, not their other friends, then I must have romantic feelings for them.

But you’re wrong.

My jealousy and envy of people’s romantic partners have always been rooted in the fact that romantic people are notoriously romance supremacist. If my friendship is automatically inferior to a friend’s romantic relationship, whether that RR has been going on for 3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years, why shouldn’t I be jealous? If my feelings, desires, and needs as a friend are subjugated or ignored entirely because of my friend being in love with someone else, why wouldn’t I be upset? If I can’t have the time or the affection or the intimacy I want with my friend, because all of it goes to their romantic partner or because what I want is perceived as “romantic” by nature and therefore off-limits when my friend is in a monogamous romance with someone else, isn’t it totally rational that I would be pissed off, sad, hurt, and offended?

I guess romantic people would say no because they’re so trained to believe that this state of affairs, this approach to relationship organization and conduct, IS “normal” and “natural” and friends have no choice but to get over it, when they’re shafted for romance.

But that’s why I don’t make friends with romantic people anymore.

So my jealousy was never about wanting to be my friend’s romantic partner; it was only about wanting to be equally or more important than their romantic partner of the moment, while remaining their friend. It was about wanting the time, touch, and value that I liked in my friendships and perceiving that it was the fault of my friends’ romantic partners that I wasn’t getting it.

It’s not that I want you to date me; I just want you to stop being such a God damn shitty friend.