Relationship =/= Partnership

This is a post about two things: relationships, and a relationship.

It’s also a post I’ve been ambivalent about making — or rather, ambivalent about intending as a submission to the August Carnival of Aros. In my last post about the aro community, I discussed my relationship to the aro umbrella as a quoiromantic and came to no conclusions. Just three months ago, I hesitated about even commenting on Carnival of Aros submissions after the fact, worried about to what extent I might be considered an unwelcome intruder. In response to a private post about that concern, Sennkestra, one of the aros who helped launch the Carnival, not only reassured me about that, but also created the present FAQ Page for anyone else wondering the same thing. Under the heading “Who can participate,” that FAQ now extends an extensive invitation to not just confident aros, but also anyone who is questioning an aro identity, anyone who finds some aro narratives useful, anyone who identifies with something considered “adjacent” to aromanticism, and “anyone with any other type of relationship to aromanticism that I haven’t thought to list yet.” To some, maybe that’s overkill. To me, it’s just-enough-kill — just enough to confirm that I’m on the guest list.

With that said, this is a post that I might have written regardless: a reminder about the meaning of the term “relationships” itself & how I use it, plus some reflection on how my outlook on my own relationships has (and hasn’t) changed.


A “relationship” just means a relationship. It is an extremely nondescript and generic kind of a word. It can refer to any kind of connection or sustained link of interaction between people. All relationships are relationships. Which means:

Relationship =/= romantic relationship. I see this use of the term “relationship” all the time, even in aromantic spaces, and I know many of us are used to hearing “relationship advice” used to mean “romantic relationship advice,” but romance does not make a relationship “a relationship-relationship.” It is not the nature of the concept’s truest form. It should not be treated as implicit and inherent in the term “relationship” itself. All relationships are relationships.

And when I say “all relationships,” I mean all relationships, not just romantic & other kinds of partnerships. Which brings me to my next point.

Relationship =/= partnership. The term “relationship” is not just the romance-neutral, more-generic term for personal partnership. “Relationships” is a broader category than partnerships. “Relationships” does not mean “romantic relationships plus QPRs.” Even if a relationship is not a partnership, it is still a relationship. Yet I guarantee you, when the final roundup of Carnival of Aros entries is posted, there will be people using it in this extremely limited way, which is why this needs to be said. All relationships are relationships. And for that matter—

Relationship =/= chosen relationship. The term “relationship” is not restricted to peer-to-peer non-family personal relationships. We also have relationships in life that we did not choose, or that we chose for constrained, impersonal, logistical reasons. Terms like “boss,” “coworker,” “sister,” and “parent” all describe kinds of relationships. All relationships are relationships.

You may be with me so far, but to take this a step even further:

Relationship =/= individual relationship. The term “relationship” is not constrained to relationships in the form of pairs. When I came across this forum thread questioning as “queerplatonic” as potentially amatonormative, I was initially confused. It’s not amatonormative simply to have a name for such things. In queerplatonic’s case, the whole point of the name is to contradict amatonormativity. However, at this point, I would argue that a disproportionate focus on queerplatonic relationships can be considered just one of the consequences of a highly-individualistic outlook. That is, there is an issue when “relationships” are still being considered solely on the scale of person-to-person pairs. Having recognized that, what I’d like to point out is that our personal relationships don’t all always operate on the scale of the individual. The term “relationships” also includes group relationships.

Image Credit: Network by Rflor from the Noun Project

Group relationships seem like they’re hardly discussed in the aro or ace communities as much as individual relationships. A lot of the posts and threads presented on the topic of “relationships”? …are about individual relationships, and usually just partnerships. Groups did earn a mention a post by Siggy back in in May, though, where he wrote “The more common pattern for me is to hang out with large friend circles. Within these circles, I’m a friend to all, but I’m not close to anyone in particular.” These kinds of connections among groups of people are something I could stand to see more people talk about.

And to be honest, that’s actually kind of a recent outlook of mine. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have told you that such arrangements (or anything of the sort) sound… for lack of a better term, unfulfilling. For me, certainly, the hope of building a close connection with a kindred spirit holds a lot of narcissistic appeal—and as someone who’s used to being easily shut out and talked over, I used to think that groups and big multi-person conversations were basically… inaccessible to me. I thought I had to have conversations one-on-one in order to be heard or feel like I wasn’t getting ignored, because otherwise, the more assertive personalities in the room take over and I become an awkward wallflower. Over the years, though, I’ve ended up learning that I have a greater capacity for joining and valuing group relationships than I’d previously thought, as long as it’s the right kind of group. This realization didn’t hit me all at once, but rather crept on me with successive examples: my group relationship to a local ace meetup group, my group relationship to the beleaguered coworkers at my office job, and, most recently, my group relationship to my grad school cohort.

During my time in that grad program, it was actually bizarre to me how (relatively) well we got along, as a cohort. We were regularly having friendly conversations with each other and looking after each other and everything. I don’t want to talk it up too much or put it on a pedestal or anything — it wasn’t that close — but it was… nice. For someone like me, whose relationship to blood relatives was one best characterized by passive-aggression and screaming, my group relationship to my cohort actually felt the closest to a mutually-supportive family that I’ve ever experienced, even accounting for the fact that not all of us were particularly friends as individuals. There was just this very passive, very quiet sense that we all supported each other. And even that example, granted, is still talking about groups on a relatively small scale. You could also take this idea further.

You could also talk about relationships to community.

This is where I talk about another example, going back to that subject I’ve explored before: my relationship to the aro community.

In some respects, I’m still ambivalent. On the one hand, an aro recently responded to another round of compulsory-romantic-orientation suit of aces talk, which is reassuring. As I’ve explained before, exposure to other people’s willingness to stick up for me is something that helps me find confidence in claiming a connection to a community. On the other hand… there are some things going on with aros that are still getting to me, and I’m not just talking about my growing sense of frustration with flag culture.

For instance, despite taking pains to explain in excruciating detail why it it’s ideologically suspect and just plain a kick in the teeth, I’m still seeing the nonsense term “split attraction model” being conflated with romantic orientation & sexual orientation labeling. I’m talking about choices up to and including reblogging that Historicallyace post that I devoted a whole post to disputing back in March — and this is happening with not just anyone, mind you, but also with people I’ve already had direct conversations with about this. This isn’t just a case of people missing the memo; those are people I’ve explained this to, personally. They know I’ve written about it; they’re aware; they’ve seen it. Did they have unanswered questions? I don’t know; they haven’t asked. So when I don’t have any other clear sense on why people would not take my thoughts & wounds seriously, what am I supposed to take from that? What am I supposed to take from people continuing to naturalize any of this?

Or, hey, set that aside entirely. Why did I feel like the only one in Neir’s thread who was alarmed by the prescriptivism being expressed there? With the assertions like “Just because you have the right to call yourself something doesn’t mean that it’s true”?

Or, no, let’s go bigger. What about the aro heterosexual I witnessed tell a fellow aro that their asexual identity “didn’t make sense,” where I just happened to get a few words in before the thread was deleted? What about all the posts I see pitting aros and aces against each other as if “aces” isn’t a group that also includes some aros? Why do we have allosexual aros talking as if asexuality is a detriment to credibility? Why do I see a post from an aro ace saying things like “aces shouldn’t be giving aro education,” immediately followed by contradicting themselves in the next sentence, as if “aces” doesn’t include aro aces? Why do I feel like I’m one of maybe only one or two people who’ve noticed how often aros discussing aromanticism are using the term “aces” to mean “alloromantic aces? Let alone how frequently the impact of sexnormativity is downplayed in order to play up the salience of amatonormativity? Why do I have to see allosexuals acting like their aro identity means they feel no responsibility not to come off as anti-ace?

In the prompt list for the Carnival of Aros, Oliver asked, “How has your orientation impacted your relationships to the communities you belong to?” And I’d say my orientation as a gray-ace has impacted my relationship to the communities I apparently don’t belong to, in that I find myself at a loss for what to make of all this.

What I wanted to write here was just a post about all the different things that “relationships” can mean. With the Carnival’s theme of “relationships” this month, it seemed like a fitting entry. What I really want to hammer home, though, isn’t just that “relationships does not equal partnership,” as much as people clearly need the reminder sometimes. That also goes for the aro community, too, and I think it would be easier to shed the habit if we stopped thinking of relationships in such exclusively individualistic terms. Relationships to community seem like a prime example here. I could have just ended the post on that thought, I know. Thing is, if I’m writing this an entry for the Carnival of Aros, then I want to state in no uncertain terms: this doesn’t mean my ambivalence about the aro community has been resolved. Far from it. On the one hand, I could take every callous or eyebrow-raising comment as just an instance of individual choices — but at what what point do we draw the line between an assortment of individual choices and a pattern in the community? As someone adjacent to aromanticism, looking back on everything I mentioned above, what exactly am I supposed to conclude here?


33 responses to “Relationship =/= Partnership

  • assignedgothatbirth

    “Group relationships seem like they’re hardly discussed in the aro or ace communities as much as individual relationships”
    Irifluo actually made a thread about this on Arocalypse this morning, if you haven’t seen it already! It’s just one post but the fact that both of you wrote about this at the same time might be able to generate more discussion around this topic. (link: http://www.arocalypse.com/forums/topic/2387-the-multivariate-relationship-diversity-is-essential-to-happiness/?tab=comments#comment-42144).
    I do wonder if a lot of the alienation that I’ve seen from aros in regard to QPRs is more of an alienation from talking about individual relationships. Maybe people wouldn’t feel so left out if we discussed these other kinds of relationships.

    • Coyote

      Wow. Serendipitous. I’ll have to check that out.

    • Sennkestra

      Interestingly, when I first got involved in ace community stuff c. 2011, David Jay was actually really into talking about “community based intimacy” – you can see a similar thread here and he also included it in a lot of his ace 101 presentations, including the first one I ever went to.

      It wasn’t quite the same as what you talk about here (there was a lot more focus on emotional intimacy as opposed to other aspects of relationships, which made it harder for me to relate to, and it was more about “community” as a sum of individual relationships rather than a single relationship with a community as a whole”) but I think it does represent a related line of thought that just makes for some neat historical comparisons.

      And I think he’s still into it – one of his current projects is a mathematical relationship mapping thing: https://relationality.xyz/

  • raavenb2619

    [Romance] should not be treated as implicit and inherent in the term “relationship” itself.

    I wholeheartedly agree, but if I want to quickly and easily make it clear that I’m talking about a relationship in a non-romantic fashion I’ll use the phrase “interpersonal relationship”. Hopefully one day I’ll just be able to say “relationship”.

    On the one hand, an aro recently responded to another round of compulsory-romantic-orientation suit of aces talk, which is reassuring.

    :)

    I’m still seeing the nonsense term “split attraction model” being conflated with romantic orientation & sexual orientation labeling.

    I just remembered, I never followed up with you, here’s the meme I made that paraphrases something you wrote about attraction, orientation, and the SAM (maybe your “attraction isn’t everything” post?) https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/186840065129/id-a-galaxy-brain-meme-the-first-panel-says. Do you have any criticism/critiques of it/the message? I’m realizing that I probably should have asked you before I published it. Sorry about that.

    What about all the posts I see pitting aros and aces against each other as if “aces” isn’t a group that also includes some aros?

    I think you’ve misinterpreted this post. My understanding was that it was aros (perhaps particularly alloaros) being frustrated by the misconception that aromanticism is a subset of asexuality, a misconception that aces can unintentionally spread if they’re not careful about how they talk about aromanticism (ie only talking about it in the context of asexuality, not mentioning the diversity of sexual orientations and experiences in the aro community, etc). That misconception can be spread by all aces, including aroaces (see aroace vs alloaro tension), which is why the second panel is simply labelled “aces”.

    Why do we have allosexual aros talking as if asexuality is a detriment to credibility ?

    I think that you’ve again misinterpreted what’s going on. In the past couple of months, there’s been tension between alloaros and aroaces due in part to aroaces speaking over alloaros. With that in mind, it makes sense to me that a lot of people would want to see alloaros have greater influence in the community and would want to lift alloaro voices. I don’t think it’s a case of some people having their chair be taken away from the metaphorical table because they’re ace, but instead an effort to add chairs to the table for people that aren’t ace. Another analogy (that admittedly doesn’t line up as neatly as I’d like) would be leadership for a trans group. If binary trans people had recently been talking over nonbinary people a lot, I’d definitely want to see a lot of nonbinary leadership, not because I think that binary trans people are less credible or worse leaders, but because nonbinary leaders would probably need to work less hard to understand my needs and interests and suitably address them than binary trans leaders would. Sometimes some people won’t be able to put in the work to understand each other’s interests, and that’s fine; that’s why diversity of experience matters, so that we can help each other even without completely understanding each other. That’s what I interpreted the desire for an initial majority of alloaro leadership of AUREA to be, a desire for greater diversity of experience.

    Why do I see a post from an aro ace saying things like “aces shouldn’t be giving aro education,” immediately followed by contradicting themselves in the next sentence, as if “aces” doesn’t include aro aces?

    I think this is an unfortunate case of a) a tendency for aros to use “ace” as a shorthand for “alloromantic ace” or “non-aroace” in certain contexts, and b) an intentionally inflammatory/provocative/clickbaity first line, appearing in the same place. I think that

    I’m aroace and obviously I’m not saying that aroaces can’t give aro education. What I AM saying is that the ace community should not be responsible for aro education.

    is a much better summary of what the post is about.

    Why do I feel like I’m one of maybe only one or two people who’ve noticed how often aros discussing aromanticism are using the term “aces” to mean “alloromantic aces“?

    I…hm. There definitely is a pattern of this happening, and I think the pattern is evidence of something – maybe a desire for aromanticism to be seen as an equally complete and distinct identity to asexuality and not as an always-implicit subcategory? (A separation/distinction that not everyone is comfortable with) So I think there’s some value in that this is the way people are expressing themselves. But also, yeah, if my analysis is correct, this isn’t a good way to express what’s going on right now.

    On the one hand, I could take every callous or eyebrow-raising comment as just an instance of individual choices — but at what what point do we draw the line between an assortment of individual choices and a pattern in the community?

    I don’t think a lot of what you’ve linked to is directed at you (and I could definitely be wrong about that), but…yeah. I see what you mean. I don’t personally feel like I’ve encountered much anti-ace sentiment, so on some level I’m a bit skeptical of it existing as a widespread-ish phenomenon. However, that could easily be because I have a less ambivalent connection to the aro community, or I’m simply not noticing it, or luck, or something else, so I can definitely see how, sitting in your place, it could feel like there is anti-ace sentiment. (And again, maybe it’s real, I’m not sure). But at the end of the day, whether or not there’s anti-ace sentiment or you’ve just misinterpreted a lot of things isn’t super important; when well-intentioned actions cause a negative impact, that’s bad.

    I’d like to make you feel more comfortable in the aro community (assuming that in a utopian ideal, you’d have some sort of comfortable connection), because I think everyone who wants to feel comfortable in the aro community deserves to feel comfortable, regardless of what their connection is, but I’m not sure how to achieve that. Some of the things you linked to I don’t think were directed at you and I wouldn’t have initially thought they would make you uncomfortable, so I’m not sure I can suitably evaluate something for potential anti-ace sentiment. I’m also not a confrontational person by nature, which means I wouldn’t really be comfortable being the first person to call something out on (for example) Arocalypse (although I’d be more comfortable if I wasn’t the only one). Do you have any ideas/suggestions on how I could better help you?

    If you eventually decide to drift away/sever ties with the aro community (either partially or completely), I’d encourage you to keep writing on aro topics and amatonormativity. Your insights are always valuable and accurate (“Yet I guarantee you, when the final roundup of Carnival of Aros entries is posted, there will be people using it in this extremely limited way, which is why this needs to be said.”), and I think there’s a place for people who aren’t connected to the aro community to still write about amatonormativity. In the last day or two, there’s been a post floating around Tumblr about aros working with the polyamorous community to combat amatonormativity, and it’s helped me to remember again why solidarity between different groups with a shared enemy is important.

    • Coyote

      Re: the galaxy brain meme
      *clicks link* …Oh, this was… intended as a paraphrasing of one of my posts? …I wouldn’t have recognized it as such. I don’t refer to “the split attraction model” as a “tool,” personally, because I don’t think it’s a personal-identity tool, any more than, I dunno, “SJWism” or “the bihet model” or “Feminazism” is a personal-identity tool. The whole origin of the phrase is wrapped up in a bad-faith attempt to describe a facet of ace community language as part of a nasty attack on it, while conflating a bunch of things in the process. It is not the thing itself. I want the phrase to die. If I mentioned something about experiencing sensual attraction and somebody referred to that as “using the split attraction model,” I would be tempted to slap them.

      I think you’ve misinterpreted this post. […] That misconception can be spread by all aces, including aroaces (see aroace vs alloaro tension)

      Are we supposed to take the “aros” side of the meme as strictly referring to aro allos, or… like, what? Is it that they’re both potentially aro aces, but the good one is labeled aros and the bad one is labeled aces?

      I think that you’ve again misinterpreted what’s going on. In the past couple of months, there’s been tension between alloaros and aroaces due in part to aroaces speaking over alloaros.

      In the past couple of years there’s also been problems of asexuals misrepresenting and even acting hostile toward gray-asexuals, and yet I would never suggest that asexuals shouldn’t be trusted with running an ace group or that asexual leadership isn’t enough.

      I’m aware of the tension, yes. I just don’t think that as a response to it is fair or makes sense. This isn’t a situation where someone merely suggested that the groups in question “add a chair.” This is someone saying “I don’t think an ace spec majority group is the best course of action” and “An alternative would be to start up a specifically aro group. Ideally with someone who wasn’t asexual as an organiser.” In the first one, it’s implied that having aro allos on the team isn’t enough — just having a “majority” of aro aces is treated as suspect, despite the fact that “aro allosexuals interested in running a project on this scale” is already a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people; it’s not like any aro allos requested to join the team and were told off, as far as I know. In the second one, the “ideal” being presented isn’t that an aro allo organizer be added — it’s that aro asexuals not be organizers at all. In that case, I do think that’s something okay to compare with, as in your metaphor, someone being told their chair should be taken away from the table. I don’t know why people are talking like allosexuals can’t propagate misconceptions about ace people, too.

      I think this is an unfortunate case of a) a tendency for aros to use “ace” as a shorthand for “alloromantic ace” or “non-aroace” in certain contexts,

      That is itself unfortunate and deserves to be recognized as a problem. “Alloromantic ace” and “non-aro ace” aren’t even synonymous categories. And even besides that fact, this kind of talk is how you make members of your own community feel unwanted.

      I think that– “[…]What I AM saying is that the ace community should not be responsible for aro education.”–is a much better summary of what the post is about.

      In that case: I’m not entirely sure what that line is saying, because it’s far more abstract and I don’t know what the implications of that are, in practice. “The ace community” is sometimes used to refer to “people who are ace” or “people who deliberately come together, organize, and discuss ace topics on the basis of being ace.” What does it mean to say that aro aces can… “be responsible for aro education,” but not as a part of “the ace community”?

      Wait– wait, hold on a second– Earlier you mentioned “a misconception that aces can unintentionally spread if they’re not careful about how they talk about aromanticism (ie only talking about it in the context of asexuality, not mentioning the diversity of sexual orientations and experiences in the aro community, etc).” ….So are aces responsible for clearing up misconceptions about aros or not? …Or does talking about aromanticism outside the context of asexuality not itself count as “aro education”?

      Do you have any ideas/suggestions on how I could better help you?

      Let’s just work through the points of disagreement above, first. (Also, apologies in case of any weird tone. What is tone, we just don’t know.)

      I’d encourage you to keep writing on aro topics and amatonormativity. Your insights are always valuable

      <3

      • raavenb2619

        Oh, this was… intended as a paraphrasing of one of my posts? …I wouldn’t have recognized it as such.

        paraphrase isn’t really the right word. I had been chatting with arofrantics on Tumblr some about their experiences regarding them not using the SAM, so it is mostly based on that. But I’d also recently run into your “Reminders on Attraction”, which is the main difference between the fourth and fifth panels (“while simultaneously remembering that your orientation labels don’t need to be solely based on attraction”)

        It is not the thing itself. I want the phrase to die. If I mentioned something about experiencing sensual attraction and somebody referred to that as “using the split attraction model,” I would be tempted to slap them.

        Yeah, I get that, but considering how your previous writings about this have been received, I don’t think trying to get rid of it all at once is necessarily the right approach. That’s why I made this post, to point out various flaws in how people talk about the SAM (the SAM is mandatory, the SAM’s rigidity works well with the complicated and messy phenomenon of attraction, orientation labels are solely based on attraction because of the SAM), in the hopes that people would be willing to recognize these smaller flaws first, before moving on to more fundamental flaws.

        Are we supposed to take the “aros” side of the meme as strictly referring to aro allos, or… like, what? Is it that they’re both potentially aro aces, but the good one is labeled aros and the bad one is labeled aces?

        I think it’s about the larger communities, not a specific identity/flavor of aros or aces, speaking to the aro community’s desire not to be seen/treated/talked about like a subset of the ace community. I think that if aromanticism was more widely known, (that is people other than aces and aros were talking about it), but aromanticism was still treated as a subset of asexuality, the second panel would be captioned much more broadly; unfortunately, since it’s mostly just the ace and aro communities talking about aromanticism, it ends up being the ace community that spreads the misconception more than anyone else, not because of anything to do with asexuality, but just because the ace community is the only group other than the aro community that’s talking about aros.

        In that case, I do think that’s something okay to compare with, as in your metaphor, someone being told their chair should be taken away from the table. I don’t know why people are talking like allosexuals can’t propagate misconceptions about ace people, too.

        I…this is actually rather compelling. I’m starting to come around to your way of thinking.

        And even besides that fact, this kind of talk is how you make members of your own community feel unwanted.

        reading through your link from top to bottom, a couple things. First, re: loveless aro, do you know if there’s a better term that more people are comfortable with? I haven’t seen anything on Tumblr besides “loveless aro” or “aros that don’t love”, although I haven’t seen that much altogether. “maybe just more see-sawing for all I know, but it seems like I’ve read more stuff lately on aro aces feeling alienated from the ace community as aros than feeling alienated from the aro community as aces. But that doesn’t mean the latter doesn’t happen.” I think looking at this as a seesaw and as a backwards version of aces-alienating-aroaces is accurate. I know you’ve written about this particular type of seesaw before, did you come to a solution other than “wait and hope it balances”?

        What does it mean to say that aro aces can… “be responsible for aro education,” but not as a part of “the ace community”?

        I don’t think this is meant to make aroaces choose to prioritize being either aro or ace or anything like that, just that “they [the ace community] shouldn’t be the no. 1 pit stop for aro education. Aro education given by the ace community will always be inadequate compared to aro education given by the aro community.” To me, this is a lot like why we’re creating AUREA, so that we have a dedicated source of information about aromanticism and don’t have lots of people looking at AVEN for aro resources. The OP feyrself is aroace, so I don’t think fey believes asexuality is inherently suspect or anything like that, just that the aces as a whole should work to boost aro voices (including aroace voices) about aromanticism and treat aros (including aroaces) as the primary source of knowledge on aromanticism.

        ….So are aces responsible for clearing up misconceptions about aros or not?

        I’d say that aces should work to not further spread misconceptions when they talk about aromanticism, but shouldn’t try to clear up misconceptions about aros by providing information that isn’t made by aros for other aros, especially when coming across misconceptions in the wild. …that’s a bad sentence, hopefully this will make more sense:
        – Can aces mention aromanticism? Yes, since some aces are also aro. Aroaces might come up in the context of romantic attraction or the diversity of romantic orientations among aces.
        – Should aces avoid implying that all aros are ace, and maybe touch on the diversity of aro experiences? Briefly, but yes. If the conversation later moved to trans aces, I wouldn’t want listeners to come away from it thinking that all trans people are ace, but that isn’t really a misconception. Similarly, I wouldn’t want listeners to think that all aros are ace, which is a misconception, so aces should take care to avoid spreading this misconception when they talk about aromanticism.
        – When talking about aromanticism, should aces make sure to consult aros, boost their voices, and use their resources? For example, if I was giving a 101 on asexuality, I’d feel comfortable using my own knowledge about aromanticism if the 101 briefly touched on aromanticism, but I’d rather that an alloromantic ace consult an aro.
        – Should aces provide links to resources made by aros for aros if people want to know more? Yes
        – Can aces reblog/boost aro voices outside of a dedicated context? Yes, just like how aces can boost trans voices even when they’re not talking about the intersection of being ace and trans
        – Should aces suggest that a dedicated space for talking about asexuality will provide better information about aromanticism than a dedicated space for talking about aromanticism? No

        Let’s just work through the points of disagreement above, first. (Also, apologies in case of any weird tone. What is tone, we just don’t know.)

        Alright.



        Re: acephobia in the aro community, I just thought of something. I’ve been a bit hesitant to participate in either Carnival because of a difficulty in separating being ace from being aro? That’s not a good way to phrase it, I see my asexuality and my aromanticism as distinct and I have feelings about which parts of my life are affected by which identity. What I mean is, often times a prompt will be about something that feels to me, personally, partly an ace issue and partly an aro issue in my life? And I know that people are tired of reading about asexuality in spaces for aromanticism, so I don’t know that I can balance properly explaining myself and …censoring myself?

        • Coyote

          I had been chatting with arofrantics on Tumblr some about their experiences regarding them not using the SAM, so it is mostly based on that.

          Ohhhh. That makes more sense. It does sound closer to the kinds of things that Ib would say.

          That’s why I made this post, to point out various flaws in how people talk about the SAM (the SAM is mandatory, the SAM’s rigidity works well with the complicated and messy phenomenon of attraction, orientation labels are solely based on attraction because of the SAM

          …the assumption that the romantic/sexual distinction is the main “split” that matters, the unspoken idea that experiencing a type of attraction necessarily means an attendant orientation label, the implication that not using a type of orientation label means not distinguishing that type of attraction as distinct from other types… the idea that an aromantic who experiences distinct physical, emotional, and aesthetic attraction & who doesn’t care about labeling their sexuality is “not using the split attraction model” because other kinds of attraction don’t really count…. the idea that an aromantic who *does* use a sexual orientation label is “using the split attraction model” even if they don’t personally distinguish between types of attraction at all… the fact that you’ve got people even identifying as “semi-SAM” because of this ridiculous binary set up by the concept of “non-SAM”… the fact that whenever people try to talk about it, they’re constantly talking past each other and using it to mean all kinds of completely different things… the fact that we’ve now got people so committed to defending the repurposing of the term that they’ll interpret words like “affectionate” as meaning “romantic” just so they can anachronistically project concepts backwards in time

          in the hopes that people would be willing to recognize these smaller flaws first, before moving on to more fundamental flaws.

          Let me know if that’s what you end up seeing.

          I…this is actually rather compelling. I’m starting to come around to your way of thinking.

          Thank you.

          First, re: loveless aro, do you know if there’s a better term that more people are comfortable with? I haven’t seen anything on Tumblr besides “loveless aro” or “aros that don’t love”, although I haven’t seen that much altogether.

          No, I was just using that as an example of how labeling-people-in-a-way-they-don’t-want can be inconsiderate. I’m only somewhat familiar with aros talking about the word “love” — some saying they don’t want to use it/don’t want to say it, etc. I haven’t encountered anyone specifically referring to themselves as “loveless”… I don’t think.

          I know you’ve written about this particular type of seesaw before, did you come to a solution other than “wait and hope it balances”?

          I’m borrowing that term from Siggy’s post, actually. And…. well, yes and no. This relates back to something I’ve been trying to emphasize in various Arocalypse threads, as well — I think it needs to be easier for people to find a mix of fullblown personal narratives (example), not just word lists, and I think it needs to be easier for people to throw out a “Hey, is anyone else aro and ____?” and find those people. Simply acknowledging “different aros are different” at the 101 level doesn’t always cut it.

          In Siggy’s post, one of the examples that got the most heavily discussed was sex repulsion, with Sciatrix suggesting there needs to be some kind of detox space for baby aces just getting into the community with a lot of heavy anti-sex feelings to unload. That’s something I’ve still been thinking about how to facilitate if PF ever adds some extra privacy/vetting options to the community tools.

          But back on the topic of aros — I think any kind of efforts toward blanket statements and homogeneity, ex. “aro culture is ____” or “the aro experience is ____,” isn’t helping. Not that that’s evil or the main cause here, just, you know, watch out for generalizations. And I also think trying to build community on Tumblr isn’t helping either but I’ve got like a 4k-word argument about that saved up to post in the coming months. Hopefully PF will roll out user-generated keys soon. I’m trying to time it close to that.

          “they [the ace community] shouldn’t be the no. 1 pit stop for aro education. Aro education given by the ace community will always be inadequate compared to aro education given by the aro community.” To me, this is a lot like why we’re creating AUREA,

          What does “the ace community shouldn’t be the pit stop for aro education” mean, though? I mean — “the ace community” isn’t a specific Place. Not anymore. It’s one thing to say “AVEN shouldn’t be the main pit stop for aro stuff,” but AVEN isn’t top dog anymore. A lot of “the ace community” is just individual people running individual blogs or subspaces and such. So talking about the ace community as a Place to Stop At instead of just a loosely-defined assortment of people… I still don’t get it. I’m also really confused on what this person’s sense of the timeline is for where “the aro community” even came from. From where I’m standing, the idea of a separate “aro community” still seems like a really recent work-in-progress, but I dunno what I might be missing here.

          The clarification about AUREA helps some but also raises more questions — ’cause, like, yes, it’s good for aros to create aro-specific materials….. and this is “the ace community” ‘s problem… how? ….I mean, what this reminds me of is a past Carnival of Aros submission where the author wrote “The only question I have about the Carnival of Aros is: why did it take so long? The ace carnival has been going for years and years, and it’s only in 2019 that someone in the aro community finally decided that we’re different enough, that our experience is worth having its own space and being talked about in a separate forum and we’re not just a tiny sub-set of the already tiny asexual population.” This makes it sound like the reason the Carnival of Aros started this year and not sooner is because “somebody decided” aromanticism was legitimate. This is ridiculous. If you really want to know why the Carnival of Aros started when it did, you can just directly ask Sennkestra. She’d been trying for a good while, actually, but there were issues with getting together enough time and energy and likeminded interested people. Things don’t just spring into existence because “somebody decided” it made sense for it to. Things like this come into existence because the stars align for enough motivated people to have the time & inclination to do the work. Until this point, the “aro community”-as-such simply hadn’t done that work. Not because of anything wrong with aros, but because sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles. If you want your community to make more stuff, that has to come from the community itself! Not somebody else “deciding” you’re worthy.

          So unless another community is directly holding aros back… I mean, I don’t see why this is being framed as “the ace community” having been inappropriately involved (in a concept that it itself developed, lol). ….Granted, it would probably be at lot easier to follow the argument here if the OP actually had direct links to what they were criticizing.

          Should aces suggest that a dedicated space for talking about asexuality will provide better information about aromanticism than a dedicated space for talking about aromanticism? No

          …huh? Is that a thing that’s happening?

          I’ve been a bit hesitant to participate in either Carnival because of […] often times a prompt will be about something that feels to me, personally, partly an ace issue and partly an aro issue in my life? And I know that people are tired of reading about asexuality in spaces for aromanticism, so I don’t know that I can balance properly explaining myself and …censoring myself?

          !!

          If the way that allosexual people talk about aces is making you feel like your asexuality is something to hide… that’s not fair. That’s really not fair to you at all. Similar to how some people being sex repulsed doesn’t mean everyone in the world needs to stop talking about sex, some aros looking for experiences more similar to theirs doesn’t mean you asexuality is something to hide or be afraid to talk about. If it’s easier, I’d say you’re always welcome to participate in the Carnival of Aces and talk about aromanticism there. Sometimes aromanticism itself has even been the theme before. I’d even say that feeling that hesitance could make a really good topic to explore in a post, but… I also understand that the atmosphere right now might feel too volatile for that.

        • raavenb2619

          Let me know if that’s what you end up seeing.

          it’s been about 5 days and has only 24 reblogs so far, so…hard to say.

          I haven’t encountered anyone specifically referring to themselves as “loveless”… I don’t think.

          https://aroworlds.tumblr.com/post/186948930568/loveless-aro-friendly-poetry-a-collection

          aro culture is ____” or “the aro experience is ____,” isn’t helping

          I would categorize these as two different things, because I interpret the former as a “here’s a thing that I experienced that is common (but not necessarily universal) to aros” when it’s not just a funny joke. But maybe not everyone sees it the same way. (I agree that the latter isn’t great)

          I mean — “the ace community” isn’t a specific Place. Not anymore. It’s one thing to say “AVEN shouldn’t be the main pit stop for aro stuff,” but AVEN isn’t top dog anymore. A lot of “the ace community” is just individual people running individual blogs or subspaces and such. So talking about the ace community as a Place to Stop At instead of just a loosely-defined assortment of people… I still don’t get it.

          But if those individual blogs are specifically for asexuality, then it would be weird if people look to them as the first source for information about aromanticism or any other identity. I think there’s a difference between an aroace saying “I’m running an ace blog, but I’m also going to supply a bunch of aro info on the same blog” and an aroace saying “I’m running an aspec blog and I’m going to supply a bunch of aro info on the same blog”. The only criticism of the former that I might have is that it could lead to other people assuming/looking to ace blogs for aro info. The obvious way to combat this is for people to signal boost aro blogs enough so that it’s clear that aro blogs are the best source for aro info, but that doesn’t always happen. I’m guessing there’s also some instances of alloroaces creating their own aro info instead of signal boosting, but I’m not sure how prevalent/relevant that is to the current topic.

          From where I’m standing, the idea of a separate “aro community” still seems like a really recent work-in-progress, but I dunno what I might be missing here.

          I agree that it’s a fairly recent idea, compared to stuff like AVEN, but certainly there have been attempts to create aro-specific spaces for, what, at least a couple years? And if in that time, while the aro community is growing up and apart from the ace community, aces keep creating their own info instead of signal boosting the aro community, I can see why the OP would be annoyed about being talked over.

          So unless another community is directly holding aros back… I mean, I don’t see why this is being framed as “the ace community” having been inappropriately involved

          I would guess that the grievance that would fit here would be aces creating aro info where they shouldn’t be and talking over aros, since that’s what the OP seems to be complaining about.

          …huh? Is that a thing that’s happening?

          No, it’s an extreme example of what shouldn’t happen. (I figured it would be good to have at least one example of what bad behavior would look like, since all my other examples were of positive behavior. There’s some scientific/philosophical something about wanting positive and negative evidence but I’m too lazy to find it right now.)

          If it’s easier, I’d say you’re always welcome to participate in the Carnival of Aces and talk about aromanticism there. Sometimes aromanticism itself has even been the theme before. I’d even say that feeling that hesitance could make a really good topic to explore in a post, but… I also understand that the atmosphere right now might feel too volatile for that.

          thanks. The other issue is that, for whatever reason, it seems like I have difficulty writing to prompts about queerness? Gender stuff is a bit easier sometimes, but not always. It’s not that I have difficulty talking about any of this, I think it’s just that I can’t find the words to articulate the ideas in my head in the right way. If there’s a meme that whose metaphor fits with my message, I’ll often just make that instead.

          Off topic, did you hear about WordPress’s parent company buying Tumblr? I have no idea what’s going to happen.
          Also off topic, and a bit of a weird question so feel free to just completely ignore it, but is this you? https://queercoyote.tumblr.com/

        • Coyote

          I think there’s a difference between an aroace saying “I’m running an ace blog, but I’m also going to supply a bunch of aro info on the same blog”

          In my experience, personal blogs dubbed as “ace blogs” tend to end up wandering towards a much broader range of sometimes-tangentially-connected topics. It’s one thing if it’s, like, an AVEN twitter account or the TAAAP blog, for an entire organization and such, but that’s not how most ace blogs are. Take Next Step: Cake, for example. It’s “a companion blog to my original asexuality-focused tumblr” — an ace blog. The blogger, Sennkestra, is an aro ace who has written some just-about-aromanticism posts there. That seems to fit your description of “supplying aro info” on an “ace blog.” But if somebody’s saying there’s something inherently inappropriate about aros talking about aromanticism if they do it in the wrong place, or on their own personal blogs without doing a total theme overhaul… I’d say they might have some misplaced priorities. Though, again, this might be something I could understand their perspective on better if I had a link to a clear example of how this could be bad.

          The obvious way to combat this is for people to signal boost aro blogs enough so that it’s clear that aro blogs are the best source for aro info, but that doesn’t always happen.

          Since there’s been a couple mentions of reblogging & “signal boosting” by now… is this a Tumblr-specific request, or…. how does this solution apply on other platforms?

          I agree that it’s a fairly recent idea, compared to stuff like AVEN, but certainly there have been attempts to create aro-specific spaces for, what, at least a couple years?

          I get the sense there might have been a turning point around 2016, but I’m not entirely sure in saying that. As I mentioned to someone the other day — Sennkestra tried asking about aro history timelines a few months back, but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s done one yet.

          while the aro community is growing up and apart from the ace community, aces keep creating their own info instead of signal boosting the aro community,

          Do you mean non-aro aces?

          Off topic, did you hear about WordPress’s parent company buying Tumblr? I have no idea what’s going to happen.

          I did, but only because three different PF mutuals of mine posted about it today. Not sure what to expect from that.

          Also off topic, and a bit of a weird question so feel free to just completely ignore it, but is this you? https://queercoyote.tumblr.com/

          Nope. I don’t even call myself queer.

        • raavenb2619

          Apologies for the very late reply, I suddenly became very, very busy.

          Since there’s been a couple mentions of reblogging & “signal boosting” by now… is this a Tumblr-specific request, or…. how does this solution apply on other platforms?

          I think the most idealized version of this would apply to other platforms where sharing/reblogging/some similar action happens a lot. Wrt Tumblr, my (very subjective) perception is that there are a bunch of active aro bloggers that have conversations that we’d love for other people to know about, stuff like amatonormativity, why soulmates and soulmate AUs are harmful, etc. Conversations like these don’t really get signal boosted, and in particular (again, a subjective perception), alloro aces don’t really interact with them, so if you add in the issue of alloro aces tagging alloro ace content (or non-aro content) as aro, you can run into a lot of frustration on Tumblr.

          Some (admittedly very limited) data that I have on this is the note counts on these two, very similar memes. https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/185735589025/id-at-the-top-text-says-middle-schoolers (850 notes as of 2019-08-26), https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/185688930184/id-at-the-top-text-says-finding-out-youre-ace (8027 notes as of 2019-08-26)

          Another example from a few weeks ago, when http://zemathememequeen.tumblr.com, http://aro-soulmate-project.tumblr.com, and I started complaining about soulmates again. I got a bunch of people saying “what about platonic soulmates?” in my notes, but not many people reblogging my venting compared to posts on ace issues, and I suspect that few people reblogged posts explaining why soulmates are harmful. (Tumblr on my computer doesn’t show me all the comments, so I recommend looking at this on a mobile device). https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/186362488296/id-at-the-top-text-reads-you-lets-talk-about, https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/186563080408/id-at-the-top-text-reads-you-the-concept-of, https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/186654431392/id-the-me-explaining-to-my-mom-meme-the-first, https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/186754408304/id-the-marie-kondo-meme-the-first-panel-shows, https://raavenb2619.tumblr.com/post/187105743678/id-the-patrick-star-wallet-meme-the-first-panel

          Do you mean non-aro aces?

          yes, sorry, I should have been more specific.

        • Coyote

          Wrt Tumblr, my (very subjective) perception is that there are a bunch of active aro bloggers that have conversations that we’d love for other people to know about, stuff like amatonormativity, why soulmates and soulmate AUs are harmful, etc. Conversations like these don’t really get signal boosted

          Have you seen Siggy’s offer?

        • raavenb2619

          I came across that awhile ago, and it’s nice to know it exists. I’ll consider it.

        • aceadmiral

          This is completely derailing, but thank you for the entire section on people deciding to do the work oh wow was that cathartic

        • Coyote

          Seriously, there should be more gratitude for the people who show up and do the work.

        • aceadmiral

          Yes, there definitely should! Not only because they deserve it but also because I cannot *stand* this artificial distance people have created like there’s something quantitatively different about the people who do the work. It’s like: We don’t have Community-Building Licenses! We’re not invested with some sort of political Will of the People or Divine Mandate! If you wanted…. you could…. show up and do the work too… you know….. AUGH it’s too early to be working myself up like this but GOSH

        • aceadmiral

          And like most professional certification boards, I am 100% competent and off to a great start orz

        • Coyote

          Fixed that for you. ^^

    • Coyote

      Hey Raven (re: upthread comment) — after this conversation, I did end up finding what seemed like a likely example… in the form of the aro subreddit linking to AVEN in their sidebar, which is probably just something put there a long time ago and that I imagine they wouldn’t have anything against updating. I have no idea if the original Tumblr poster had that in mind as an example, but hey. If anybody reading this has a reddit account, might consider going in and talking to those folks.

    • Coyote

      Well, just in case you hop on WordPress any time soon and get to see this — linking my QPR post on Arocalypse has gone about as well as expected. See the thread for details.

      • raavenb2619

        Thanks for sending me this, I’ve sort of dropped off of Arocalypse due to time constraints. Hopefully I’ll return some day.

        As I’m rereading the Arocalypse thread, a lot of my thinking keeps going back to your posts on Tumblr being bad for small communities. It feels like there’s a disconnect between people on Tumblr, who’ve actually seen this interactions directly, and those who are only hearing about it second or third hand. That’s less about QPR revisionism and more about aro politics in general, and I don’t know what exactly to make of it, only that this feels like another demographic feature that hasn’t received that much attention.

        Actually, now that I think about it more, I think that’s what’s going on here. It’s less of a discussion about any specific thing, and more an Arocalpyse forum conversation about a WordPress essay about Tumblr behavior, with a number of layers of abstraction. I’m not sure if there’s a better solution, since the nature of your essay makes it unlikely to spread on Tumblr, and WordPress doesn’t have much social connectivity (AFAICT), but it’s still something to be aware of, since it explains a lot about how people are reacting to your essay and each other.

        • Coyote

          huh. I guess I didn’t think about it that way because I know Tost, Laura, and Alex are tumblr users.

          And, yeah… I get that links to outside essays are a bad fit for the Tumblr economy. At the same time… I also can’t imagine this issue getting settled in the more typical, favored format, i.e. a short and aggressive sweeping statement with no links and no context. :/ Trying to address over six years of misinformation on that site is like… not even like whack-a-mole. Worse than that. It feels more like trying to chase down a car on foot.

          Anyway, one of the things that I’m at odds with in the overall response there is that it seems like people are trying to nitpick at me rather than engaging with the actual main idea. I’m still contemplating how on earth to respond at this point.

          (You saw how Arokaladin responds to being presented with the counterargument, and if I went and dropped the exact same link you already sent in her submit box, I can’t imagine things going much better, so I’m struggling to envision whatever Crou is asking of me, besides “shut up and go away.”)

        • raavenb2619

          Yeah, I definitely think that trying to address this on Tumblr wouldn’t go over well. Some people might take well to it, but most would likely ignore/not read it or react negatively. I wonder, would a hybrid style post work? That is, a quick Tumblr style tldr with the actual essay hidden under a Read More?

          Anyway, one of the things that I’m at odds with in the overall response there is that it seems like people are trying to nitpick at me rather than engaging with the actual main idea.

          Yeah. If there’s a specific idea/answer you have in mind, you could try asking something like “What are ways the aro community could get reparations without revising history?” or “How do we politely let people know that their potentially unintentional revisionism isn’t helpful at all (without ending up in an argument)?” or something like that?

        • Coyote

          Someone else might have to be the one to ask, at this point. People there don’t trust me with their business.

          A hybrid version with a summary sounds good. Since you and a couple of others have already linked the post, I imagine reblog-adding on a summary to one of those existing posts could accomplish the same. Wish I was better at writing summaries… Alternatively, could also quote an excerpt (“By practicing QPR revisionism…”). And/or @ some people who made the original posts. …Dunno if that last part is considered too confrontational though. Tumblr seems very… guess culture, sometimes. And I’m bad at guessing.

        • raavenb2619

          @ing people might be too confrontational, I think. And given the amount of time since you wrote the original essay, it might be too little, too late? But a hybrid version is a good idea to keep in mind for the future.

          Re: guess culture, I hadn’t heard about that before, but I’m definitely an asker. I think that given the choice between extreme ask culture and extreme guess culture, ask culture would be better, but since we don’t live in either extreme, the next best thing to do is to be aware of the difference. (And slowly nudge people towards ask culture)

          This is a recent continuation of that conversation you mentioned in the Arocalypse post. Thoughts?

        • Coyote

          Sennkestra is a blessing.

        • Coyote

          Oh, and I should add, since I realized I hadn’t said this to you directly yet: You are too. You are a blessing and I appreciate you.

        • raavenb2619

          You too ❤️

  • Blue Ice-Tea

    This really feels like two separate posts combined into one, so I’ll respond to them as two separate things.

    Re: The use of the term “relationship”:

    I considered writing something similar for my CoAros post this month, but instead decided that writing about platonic dating was a higher priority. So I’m really glad that a) I didn’t write about this topic, since your post would have made my post redundant, and b) that you did, so the things I wanted to say still got said. :)

    Re: Your relationship to the aromantic community:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I haven’t noticed anti-ace hostility in the aro community as much as you have, but that’s probably because I don’t frequent Tumblr or spend much time in aro-only spaces. Certainly, I felt very put off by the hostility I saw in the February Carnival.

    I can relate to your ambivalence about writing for the Carnival of Aros, but I feel it’s important that people like us participate in it. Like you, I’m not sure I belong in the aro community, but I don’t think the way to find out is to stay in our corner with our mouths shut. Better to make our presence known and see whether the response is, “Yes, you belong here! Welcome!”, or “No, you’re not real aros! Go back to your AVEN!”

    I also wanted to say (if I haven’t already) that I really appreciate the way you’ve given voice to quoiromantic concerns, especially about our relationship with the aromantic community. Thanks.

  • The Glossary & the Gristmill | The Ace Theist

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    […] was talking recently with a friend about the distinction I make between relationships and partnerships to explain why I don’t want a queerplatonic relationship, and one of the differences we […]

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