Ok, at some point this is going to intersect with autism. You’ll just have to trust me (I’m still pretending that I can keep this blog exclusively about autism, but more and more I’m wanting to write about broader topics. They would be autistic only in that I am autistic and therefore everything I do is autistic. Anyway, I digress).
First of all, let’s get a few things about sexuality and relationships out of the way. It’s always bothered me that sexual preference and romantic preference are frequently treated as one in the same, and I am very happy to see the idea that they are, in fact, separate getting more traction. This is delightful!
Up until just a few days ago, I never thought of myself as aromantic – that being, a person who does not feel romantic attachment. I’ve been in relationships in the past that were, presumably, romantic, so of course I’m not aromantic, right? Then I was pointed to this blog post (a good post in general if you are interested in sex-positivity, written by an asexual), which contained this brief section.
Some aromantic sexual people love the idea of having a best friend who they can also fuck, and they may even strongly prefer that the relationship be sexually monogamous. Are they in love with their friend? No. Do they want to do all the standard romantic crap with their friend? No. Does Celine Dion speak to their feelings about their sexual friendship? No. But they sure as hell can still feel attachment, closeness, caring, even (nonromantic) love in a friendship with someone they’ve known for months or years and who they’re having sex with on a regular basis.
I noticed that the way the author was describing aromantic individuals fit me very well; one might say extremely well, or even “Get me wondering if I should consider finding new words to express my identity” well.
So I did some looking. I found all sorts of new words, which is always fun. There are two in particular that really stood out at me that I want to get into a little bit.
Queerplatonic: A queerplatonic relationship is a relationship that is not romantic but involves a close emotional connection (platonic) beyond what most people consider friendship. The commitment level in a queerplatonic relationship is often considered to be similar to that of a romantic relationship. People in a queerplatonic relationship may be of any romantic or sexual orientation. A partner in a queer platonic relationship is called a zucchini.
WTFromantic: WTFromantic is a term to describe a person on the aromantic spectrum who does not see the lines between romance and friendship. Other definitions include: cannot define romantic attraction and therefore do not know whether they experience it, have emotions between platonic and romantic attraction, or want to be in a queerplatonic relationship.
Once again, I found myself looking at those words and the definitions and thinking about how very, very well they fit me (also, I think we could come up with something better than “wtfromantic” but that is neither here nor there). I mean, I really don’t know the difference between a romantic relationship and a very close friendship. It’s always been very easy for me to slide between friendship and relationship with people, because I see no dividing line. Nor has anyone ever been able to explain one to me. I do not see how a “queerplatonic” relationship is any different from a romantic relationship, though I trust that they are different simply because other people seem very insistent that they are. I just… don’t really see it. That’s the way my relationships tend to look. That’s the way I like them. Also, apparently I’m not alone. Enough other people want relationships like that so have made a word for it.
Does that mean I might be aromantic?
Thing is, I’ve generally figured that my confusion is simply related to my autism. I have trouble with social things in general, so maybe that is why I have so much trouble understanding romance and what a “romantic” relationship really is. I have no idea how to disentangle the idea that I might be aromantic from the idea that it might just be autism. They seem intertwined. And who knows, maybe for me they are intertwined. Maybe one of the ways my autism manifests is in aromanticism (or wtfromanticism. whatever). While obviously not everyone who is aromantic is autistic, and not all autistic people are aromantic, maybe for me they go hand-in-hand and trying to separate the two would be fruitless.
I think about these things because I find identity to be important to me. I find labels helpful and useful in giving me broad descriptors and contexts in which to describe and understand myself. It helps me to find words to describe to other people who I am and what I need. So this is a new way of looking at myself that I am exploring. It might give me an additional context in which to put my particular confusion and difficulty regarding “romantic” relationships. That might be useful.
I guess I’ll have to think about it.