Questioning, Part 2

An earlier post of mine mentioned that I was in that questioning phase again. I’m still there, and it hasn’t been very fun.

What I’m questioning in my identity is something that would affect my relationships with everyone. Not just my intimate partnership right now, but also my friendships. It would also change the way I see relationships in cultural norms and current society.

The gist of it? I literally don’t know what romantic love feels like. All of the examples of romantic love that I see have definitions that hinge on monogamy.

Soul mate. Partner. Life partner. Who you want to spend your life with. The one. Other half.

This type of love is seen as different to other types of love. It’s been very hard for me to find resources to help me question this part of my sexuality, because romance is always, always presented hand-in-hand with either sexual relationships or asexuality—and I’m not asexual.

I’ve felt incredibly outcast, because I don’t fit in with society’s expectations of relationships; and I don’t fit into the asexual community.

In seeing my friends grow up, go through relationships, get married, discuss their future hopes and dreams… I feel like an outlier. Marriage? A spouse? A family? I frown at the idea of having them for myself. I don’t want those things in any large capacity. Maybe one day, but right now—and how it’s predominantly been since I hit puberty over a decade ago—I don’t want a spouse and a child, a shared master bedroom and ensuite, a joint bank account, half a mattress.

That’s the social norms that I don’t feel connected to. This nuclear family ideal that starts with a locked pair of molecules. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I don’t know why.

There’s also this thing called the split attraction model that separates attraction into “romantic” and “sexual”—that’s why you can have labels like “homoromantic demisexual”—and I really struggle with it. I feel like I don’t fit into it, because who I have sexual attraction to isn’t dependent on their gender (hence the “pansexual” label I use and am very comfortable with!) and my romantic attraction isn’t based on gender at all.

My romantic attraction is just… I guess it’s all platonic? But it isn’t all platonic, because my love for some people is shown in different actions that aren’t strictly platonic. My love for my boyfriend, for instance, gets sexual. But I haven’t reserved sexual love for certain relationships (this is me trying to say that I’m fine with casual sex, ok, let’s just put that out there). Hand holding, hugging, kisses, mouth kisses—the more I question myself, the more I question the split attraction model.

Just, what is romance? What is it?

I don’t know. It’s confusing. Hence the “questioning” thing.

I feel like an outcast because I don’t relate to so many people when it comes to intimate relationships. We can all agree on what “intimate” is—it’s varying degrees of close interactions with people. Handshaking, high fiving, hugging, hand holding, kissing (which also has more variations based on where on the body those kisses go), cuddling, fondling, caressing, making out—getting more intensely sexual.

And all of that is stuff that I don’t feel the need to reserve for one person or one type of relationship. Those interactions depend on the person I’d theoretically be doing it with. I’d kiss a pal without wanting to date them. Heck, I’ve had sex with people I had no intention of getting any emotional connection with, and that was fine by me (that casual sex thing, okay? chill). The limitations of what intimate interactions I do with people are set by the relationships I have—both with the person, and with other people. My current relationship requires boundaries in my behaviour, as well as exclusivity.

But I have friends I won’t hug, because I know they don’t like it. I have friends I only hug. I have friends who hug me and pick me up when they do it (and vice versa). I have friends I’d kiss on the cheek or the top of the head or the forehead. I have friends who will put their head on my shoulder. I have friends who would put their head in my lap so I can play with their hair. I have friends I’ve done sexual things with, and we’re only friends. They’re all my friends. They’re all platonic, in that sense. But we’ve done romantic, intimate, and/or sexual things.

Where does “platonic” come up? I don’t understand how it fits into “attraction” when it’s really just… the nature of a relationship.

I don’t know. I’m confused. I’m questioning still. And my worldviews are shattering because of it, and I’m fucking terrified of the implications of this. I want to cry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if people will get hurt. I don’t know if I’ll come out of this unscathed or without guilt.


  1. I feel like you have a number of different things on your mind at the moment and they can all be treated differently. And they all vary differently for different people – I spot romantic love, platonic relationships, and more physical casual relationships as being the topic of this post. I feel them differently from you. But to refer to your final point, I always thought “platonic” was the way a relationship ran its course, naturally, too.

    That is, until one day I started to feel a strange and different attraction to one of my friends. He wasn’t close to me. But I just really, really, really wanted to be his friend. I was attracted to him so much, but in a completely non-romantic way. I didn’t want to kiss him or hug him or have sex with him; the thought of any of those felt pretty odd. I thought we would be a great couple together because we had so much in common but I just didn’t feel we would ever be in love or anything. And I just wanted to get to know him more, because he was into poetry, and science, I wanted so much to know how his brain worked. At the same time, I cared so much about his happiness and him being alive (in a non-creepy way). I could only really find one way to describe my feelings – it was like he was my platonic crush. He recently got engaged and I was so, so happy for him. I have never once felt a pang of jealousy or desire for him. It’s an interesting feeling.

    Also, to side with you on casual sex – yeah, people need to chill about it. From a personal point of view, I was abstinent and vowed to “save myself” and never have a casual relationship. Curiosity, as well as depression, sent me off the rails, and I found myself on a path that I didn’t ever think I would be on. But I experienced that, and I now realise how people feel and what that feels like. I don’t judge. There is nothing wrong with casual relationships if that’s what people want.

    1. There’s definitely been a lot on my mind, to the point where I’m now just shoving them all out of the way, haha.

      What you described actually has a word! They call it a “squish” and it’s something a lot of aromantic and asexual people experience. I’ve had that, too! I only found out that I had that, though, and not a crush after I told the subject of my feelings that I had a crush on him. We agreed a relationship wouldn’t be a good idea, and he’s now, like, my best friend. 😛

  2. Hi Coryl,

    I think the best piece of advice I could maybe offer is to not put too much emphasis on the importance of labeling relationships or how they should evolve. I did this myself and I missed out on a lot of potentially interesting experiences. Your relationship between you and another should happen symbiotically and as long as you are honest and comfortable with each other, I don’t think labels make one damn bit of difference.

    I have friends who have a number of alternate lifestyles (gay, trans, poly, two-spirits, asex) and all of them are fabulous human beings. I wish more people in this world were as gracious and amazing as these people are.

    Personally, I’ve always tried to live by the Wiccan Rede: ‘An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt!”

    There’s plenty of stuff to worry about in this world. How people choose to love each other shouldn’t be one of them.

    Maybe I’m oversimplifying it but I hope this might give you a new perspective.

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