Featured in this post: the coinage and meaning of wtfromantic, the subsequent coinage and meaning of quoiromantic, some discussion over competing definitions, and a sampling of personal reflection posts on the topic demonstrating its continued relevance over the past eight years. Formatted by year, with select text excerpts in blockquotes.
[Note: this post has been crossposted to Pillowfort. Updated 8/13/22. Preview image by Darkday, CC BY 2.0.]
- In this dreamwidth post, Kaz wrote about questioning eir romantic orientation, including the following reflection:
[M]ore and more I feel like the whole concept of a romantic orientation is asking me to define myself in terms of boxes that just don’t apply – hence my constant back-and-forth not feeling comfortable with any of the options ending with me making my very own – that asking me “so what’s your romantic orientation?” is simply the wrong question.
- On the Transyada forums, SlightlyMetaphysical started a thread called “Divide by cucumber club,” where “divide by cucumber” here describes a relationship to romantic orientation:
Here’s a club for people who, when asked for their romantic orientation, think +++???ERROR:DIVIDE_BY_CUCUMBER???+++ […] EDIT: The term was made up by Kaz, btw.
- Despite SlightlyMetaphysical crediting the term to Kaz, Kaz in turn credits Jingo for using the phrase in reference to gender.
- Sometime during 2011 or before, Sciatrix of Writing from Factor X coined wtfromantic, which appears in Writhing in the Throes of Unrequited Like:
I’ve been thinking a lot in terms of my romantic orientation lately. I keep seeing things that invite me to discuss them based on whether I identify as romantic or aromantic, for one thing.
The trouble is, I’m not always entirely sure what my romantic orientation is, or even how to define romantic attraction to begin with. I have asked a lot of people to explain how the difference in feeling is so I can tell, and I haven’t really gotten anywhere. I don’t actually expect to any more at this point, to be honest. […] So okay, I tend to identify as aromantic when I’m feeling easily categorizable and wtfromantic when I’m feeling frustrated and cranky.
- Kaz objected to “dividing us up according to our romantic orientations”
- Toward the end of the year, Sci wrote A Set of Affections Difficult to Characterize:
I’ve written a lot before about how frustrating I find the concept of romantic attraction. It seems to me to be poorly defined, a lot of the time, and people have a hard time articulating the difference to me, and I’ve largely given up attempting to understand it. I’ve also largely given up trying to shoehorn myself into traditional categories of romantic orientation and have begun identifying as “wtfromantic.”
- Adding onto a post by Ace Admiral, Sciatrix elaborated on the concept of wtfromantic:
I have a romantic orientation, I think, there’s something going on there, but it’s so confusing to actually define that I end up sitting back and going “oh god this is way too complicated to fit into an actual label” and end up staring into the whole system like a deer in headlights. Hence making up “wtfromantic,” because I have a tendency to make up words when the current ones don’t fit.
- The same year, Sciatrix responded to a deactivated tumblr user’s question about the term:
I should mention, I made that term up in the first place largely because I was frustrated with my attempts to understand what exactly constitutes romantic attraction (or specifically romantic relationships, even), especially given that every single person who was clear on the difference that I asked reacted to the question of clarification with confusion and incoherence.
So I got a bit aggravated with the whole question, threw my hands up in the air, and said I was going to identify as WTFromantic henceforth.
- This is also the year that Cor/epochryphal coined quoiromantic, here, for spoken pronunciation reasons (quoi is pronounced like kwa, which is quicker to say that wtf). You can find some further conversation on that idea here.
- Effi shared some words for those who struggle with the concept of romantic attraction and objected to the claim that “Everyone has a romantic orientation.”
- Two years after coining quoiromantic, Cor noted that people were finding the term useful and so put together a consolidation post, explaining the origins, meaning, and purpose.
- However, not everyone got the memo, and you can see here with Cor trying to correct some misdefinition.
- That same misdefinition is also what led to an anonymous messenger trying to coin a new word for the original concept directly in response, which I find bitterly hilarious.
- Because of incidents like this, Cor responded here on “cannot tell the difference” and later put together this post, A Note On Quoi, to address the issue.
- This same year, Trudy at Gradient Lair also wrote Rethinking Romantic Orientation and Attraction Types as “Required” Identifiers:
I totally accept that romantic orientation and attraction type delineation are very helpful for many asexual people. I simply don’t find them as helpful anymore.
- Wtfromantic was also referenced in a post by Ace Admiral, entitled Ultraviolet, in which they wrote:
I’m pretty up-front about my lack of romantic orientation affiliation, and about the reasoning behind it. I have given up because it’s a lot of work for no gain, and I’m not sure if having a word to apply to myself would make my life any better or easier anyway. But, if you press me, the word I feel not-comfortable-but-most-comfortable with is “wtfromantic”
since mehmantic never caught on. Seeing it included in the aro spectrum really took me aback because even though I’ve never thought of it as romantic, I haven’t thought of it as aromantic either. I thought it was more a conceit that some people just need to take themselves off the board.
- In an addition onto that post by Ace Admiral, Sciatrix wrote:
Are people thinking of “wtfromantic” as a distinct identity? I’d always thought of it as more of a catchall, like “I’m sick of trying to distinguish between these things, and I’m somewhere where it doesn’t make sense to set a strict distinction between romantic and nonromantic relationships based on attraction, so I’m categorizing my relationships based on something different.”
- Sennkestra, working on the AVENwiki, asked Sciatrix for more info on wtfromantic, and this is part of what she had to say:
So I threw my hands up, said, “fuck it, I’m not aromantic, I’m not homoromantic, I’m WTFromantic” more or less as a combination joke and snide remark. And to my surprise people seemed to like the word and people started using it. I can’t speak to where it’s gone from there, but when I came up with it I intended to imply a frustration and a confusion with the essential concept of romantic orientation. I’m very loose about the way I talk about my own romantic orientation—it’s not the right dimension for me to categorize myself with respect to other people, I think. So when I use that word it’s usually when I’m in a cantankerous, irritated, your-categories-don’t-work-for-me mood.
- Meanwhile, Cor’s still issuing clarifications posts about quoiromantic, saying Quoi- is Not “can’t tell,” and elaborated on that here.
- People are still misdefining it though.
- Cor wrote another post — nd, grey, and coiner of quoi — which includes this note:
i sympathize a lot with sciatrix, coiner of “wtf” as an identity; both of us are nd and specifically autistic, and we both coined wtf/quoi to mean “this supposedly clear orientation/attraction makes no sense, wtf. quoi, what even.”
- That same month, luvtheheaven also wrote a post entitled My “wtfromantic” identity label has become very significant to me, which includes this paragraph:
I have been strongly identifying as wtfromantic over gray-romantic because I think the “wtf” accurately expresses so much that the gray doesn’t. Gray implies some middle ground, halfway points, etc… it implies a lot of things to me that I don’t think I am. Maybe I have been wrong to assume that gray means any of those things. But “WTF” expresses more of where I’m at – confusion, frustration, etc.
- Cor got an anonymous message about the term quoiromantic, allowing co to address the breadth of meaning, and the anon later returned with a followup message.
- Vesper lamented the persistence of the romantic vs. platonic dichotomy, in a post that starts off like this:
that feel when you finally have a use for relationship terminology, but none of it makes sense to you because all of it is predicated on the assumption that you subscribe to the dichotomy of “romantic” vs “[queer]platonic”– not to even mention the equally taxing concept that is “alterous”.
- A few months later, they also posted a video that includes this announcement:
i’ve said this before on Tumblr, but it’s time to make it “official” on YouTube: i don’t identify as biromantic or panromantic anymore.
in fact, i don’t identify as “-romantic” anything anymore.
Sci started using the term wtfromantic roughly sometime in 2011, not even intending for it to catch on, but it the concept struck a chord with people. Cor coined quoiromantic in 2012 as a more pronounceable alternative. Since then, the term has been defined and redefined in many ways, but the fact remains: romantic orientation is not a universally useful concept, even for aces, and the continued expectation for aces to identify with one (and the resulting frustration of those for whom that doesn’t work) has maintained the issue’s relevance over the years.
January 6th, 2019 at 4:54 pm
Thanks for this summary. I was there for most of those discussions, and though I’m more in the aro area, I find this wtf/quoi thing a wonderful concept.
January 15th, 2019 at 5:20 pm
Thanks for reading. :)
January 6th, 2019 at 4:55 pm
Reblogged this on Der Torheit Herberge and commented:
Schöne Zusammenfassung. Nein, niemand braucht ein “-romantisch”-Label, wenn’s nicht nützlich ist.
January 11th, 2019 at 2:01 pm
[…] Coyote made a timeline of Quoiro/WTFromanticism. […]
January 12th, 2019 at 3:24 am
Great post!! Thanks for collecting all these together.
January 15th, 2019 at 5:21 pm
Thanks! I figured it might come in handy in the future.
February 11th, 2019 at 12:26 pm
Thanks for putting this all together. I’ve been reading about quoi stuff a lot recently, looking for words to describe my own feelings on the subject and now considering myself quoisexual, so it’s good to see this.
February 22nd, 2019 at 10:34 am
[…] the subject, but figured aromantic was probably a useful word to describe my confusion (of course, wtfromantic is probably the best fit, but sometimes it’s useful to have a word that’s a little more […]
March 1st, 2019 at 2:39 am
[…] When faced with the question “what is your romantic orientation”, some of these people have coined the wonderful but not-completely-work-safe term “WTFromantic” – because what […]
March 9th, 2019 at 9:32 pm
[…] year, Sciatrix, the original wtfromantic ace, used the term briefly in discussing what she’d like to see in fictional representations of […]
March 20th, 2019 at 6:51 pm
[…] when every ace started getting presumed to have a romantic orientation, leading to the creation of the wtfromantic umbrella in […]
March 31st, 2019 at 11:21 am
[…] the quoiromantic umbrella, it’s nearly the same story as the gray labels. Cor has talked about seeing people keep […]
April 13th, 2019 at 5:25 am
[…] Coyote’s timeline of “quoiromantic”, there’s a certain conflict that persisted for many years. Cor, who coined […]
May 25th, 2019 at 12:44 pm
[…] period of questioning before that. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you can read up on the origins of “quoiromantic,” what people use it to mean, and why it’s relevant. For myself, I use it to mean not having a romantic orientation. The term can be considered a surly […]
September 30th, 2020 at 10:01 am
[…] alienated us, we must also be careful not to universalize the result, even as those models (like romantic orientation) become highly popular in the […]
October 27th, 2020 at 10:54 am
[…] post about my decision to deprioritize the romantic orientation model, and it’s a post about quoiromantic aces like me being deprioritized by a community that likes to claim us, and it’s a post about […]
November 7th, 2020 at 5:06 am
[…] including people who would later come to identify using terms like “wtfromantic,” “quoiromantic,” and […]
December 23rd, 2020 at 3:05 pm
[…] this expectation in the ace community is why we’ve had to come up with ways of talking about not finding that model personally useful. For example, this is why terms like “quoiromantic” exist. Just because many aces […]
April 15th, 2021 at 6:11 pm
[…] — but the problem comes in when everyone is expected to have one. This post spells out my (quoiromantic) perspective on compulsory romantic orientation by sketching out a few different ways this […]
September 29th, 2021 at 6:01 pm
I loved reading through this! I’m struck by the quotes from Sciatrix which convey much of my own confusion regarding the poorly defined concept of romantic attraction. I’ve also seen others write about how the concept of romantic attraction as a separate construct from sexual attraction seemed to make intuitive sense at first (e.g. when first learning about asexuality), but over time, the concept breaks down for many upon a little bit of scrutiny and that can potentially cause much confusion. I wish I had found this compilation earlier while I was working through those confusions. But I’m really glad this exists, because I imagine a lot of people going through similar confusions will find this really helpful!
October 31st, 2021 at 12:04 pm
[…] and “romantic” have gone “uninterrogated” on page 4, but then reference WTFromantic—the existence of which on its face refutes the claim—on page 7. There is acknowledgment that […]
January 14th, 2022 at 10:32 am
[…] both does and does not apply to me, as an ace without a romantic orientation who does differentiate between types of attraction. What I left out of that post, for […]
February 23rd, 2022 at 10:05 am
[…] that the ace community has neglected to interrogate the concept of romance, despite mentioning wtfromantic aces within the same paper. Elgie’s claim is contradicted by the presence of at least two articles […]
March 6th, 2022 at 10:51 am
[…] quoisexual, or quoigender umbrellas. Quoiromanticism is a concept that originated from a disidentification with romantic orientation, due to the specific intracommunity norms of the asexual community. The same principle has since […]
May 20th, 2022 at 9:53 pm
[…] They’re admitting there that if someone didn’t indicate a romantic orientation, they just threw that data out. This approach to research participates in and contributes to an impression of compulsory romantic orientation, which is a problem for those of us who don’t identify with that concept. […]
June 22nd, 2022 at 4:35 pm
[…] that said, the article is also drastically failing to account for divergent aces without romantic orientations. Throughout the article’s discussion of “unstated” romantic orientations, nowhere […]
June 25th, 2022 at 9:59 pm
[…] Most of these articles are from the 2011 Carnival of Aces (“Relationships”) and the rest are from Coyote’s “Quoiro / WTFromantic: a brief timeline of disidentification with & personal rejection of romanti…“. […]
August 4th, 2022 at 4:59 pm
[…] I have reluctantly described my relationship to “romance” and “gender” as quoi, which is one of those labels that gets definitively branded as a hokey “microlabel,” […]
September 6th, 2022 at 6:20 pm
[…] and “romantic” have gone “uninterrogated” on page 4, but then reference WTFromantic—the existence of which on its face refutes the claim—on page […]
January 18th, 2023 at 11:53 am
[…] a part of their own lives. People who find the romantic/nonromantic distinction to be personally opaque, irrelevant, or inapplicable, like Sci and Kaz, have always been a part of this conversation. They helped bring this concept […]
April 2nd, 2023 at 10:59 am
[…] “ace” means identification as “a-spec” (no), and that my identification as quoiromantic means identification with the aromantic umbrella (once again, no). I share this frustration with […]