Well, it’s more that I got terribly focused on trying to make definitions of romantic orientation and romantic attraction to align with the standardized definition of asexual. I have a tendency to take a train of thought and follow it to its logical conclusion. Sometimes that works out really well for me, but in this case I ran out of track and kept trying to make the train go forward anyway. That was hard and difficult and not really useful, so I got bored and threw up my hands and gave up on the whole thing.
Possibly I should have backed up and gone back to the last place there were other tracks to follow and seen where those led. Because you’re right—if a definition isn’t fulfilling the usefulness criterion, what good is it?
For me, it really is all about attachment: either I like people and care about them a lot, or I don’t. As long as the people involved in the relationship are relatively balanced in how much energy they’re investing in it, I have found I don’t really care so much about what it’s called—although I do tend to be happier over on the “friends” side of things because then sex isn’t generally an issue. I actually am not sure the “attraction” model of things works at all for romantic orientation because I can’t find a coherent definition of difference in attachment feelings (either in myself or in other’s described experiences). Rather, I think that romantic “attraction” has to do with whether or not you feel comfortable placing that close relationship you have/want to have in the cultural context of a romantic relationship.
I suspect this is not a common view within the ace community at the moment? I know Kaz said some similar things to me in Skype conversation before ze burned out on ace blogging, and I think there were glimmerings of it a while back, but I haven’t seen much discussion on that idea. The glimmerings I saw happened riiiight around the time I burned out and the ace blogosphere started to collapse, so that might be why discussion of that didn’t really happen much.
apologies if random people’s opinions aren’t really wanted in this discussion… the notion of attraction, especially romantic attraction, has been floating around in my brain for a while as an aro/demiromantic person and I’ve been wanting to articulate some ideas or bounce them off people…
because if emotions and their causes are interpreted differently in different contexts (personal history, culturally, otherwise), and thus it can be said that the experiences of having those emotions differ, then does it also make sense to say that one’s emotions are shaped by and inseparable from the society (which I think I’m using here to mean anything from the usual definition to a family dynamic to a relationship between two individuals) they arose in?
and so this concept of romantic attraction wouldn’t refer to a basic emotion or even something as multifaceted as sexual attraction (which itself is of course subject to cultural influences), but something that is created to a further extent by the fact that we as a society distinguish between romance and friendship and assign certain feelings to the notion of romance, having a crush, etc.
and in some people (a lot of people?) those feelings do more or less occur in a package, are distinct enough from the feelings that occur with respect to those they consider “friends”, in specific enough situations that the idea of romantic attraction is a meaningful one
but that type of attraction as a specific thing can only exist because as a culture we’ve separated out a subset of the spectrum of emotional attachments/attractions we can have to others and labeled it; it exists insofar as one internalises that distinction and finds desire for “romantic” relationships, having crushes, etc. to be accurate descriptions of their experiences
does that make any sense?
No, seriously, interject away!
I think that idea does make a lot of sense. Even if the emotions are basically the same, the way we perceive those emotions and interpret them are going to be different depending on the cultural context we exist in. I don’t really have much to meaningfully add here at the moment, but if I come up with more later I’ll say so. I do think it’s a very good point to make with respect to considering the cultural context in which we evaluate emotions.