Tag Archives: romantic relationships

A Case of Romantic Binarism in Scholarship

This month, the Ace Journal Club read an article in Archives of Sexual Behavior called “Sexuality, Sexual Behavior, and Relationships of Asexual Individuals: Differences Between Aromantic and Romantic Orientation” (2022). There are a lot of things to take issue with about this piece, and you can read the AJC summary for an overview, but in this post, I’m just going to focus on the binary treatment of romance.

[Crossposted to Pillowfort. Preview image created in Inkscape.]

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a Christmas runaway bride story

For those of you surrounded by people celebrating Christmas this winter, who have estranged relationships to family, and who can relate to feeling trapped in an unhappy romantic relationship… I recommend the short story Bride by Christina Deka.

I judge a lot of things by their first sentence, and the first sentence of this thing is “I am not a bad person,” so, you know, there’s a first sentence for you.

In conclusion, here’s an excerpt to show what made me think of sharing this story with y’all:

I wanted to say, “I do not love you,” but I couldn’t. Gary was a good man, and good men were hard to come by. I knew this. I had been with all the bad ones. So I just smiled and said I was okay.


AA: Desire, Dating, and Size

[cw: sex talk, sex as a site of conflict, insecurity over weight]

Breanne wrote in:

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AA: 25 Years

[cw: sex as a site of conflict in a relationship, antigay/homophobic analogy, atrocious rape analogy]

This one isn’t very long, but I’m going to address this one piece by piece instead of in block form.

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AA: Questioning a Change

[cw: relationship conflict, explicit sex talk]

Mary wrote in:

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Living Situations & Relationship Expectations

I feel lied to.

I had heard, from sources I don’t remember, never to move in with people you consider friends.  I don’t know how widespread this advice is, but it’s definitely a thing that I’d heard and was on my mind, right at the time that a friend asked to become my roommate, several years ago.  And so it became the cause for hesitation and ambivalence.

Because what I’d heard was: don’t move in with your friends.  You don’t want your friends as roommates.  Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean you’ll live well together.  You’ll end up annoying each other in petty roommate ways and it will destroy your friendship.

I didn’t want to destroy my friendship.

I was terrified of that happening.

So I dragged my feet and thought about declining what ended up being a really, really, really good deal.

Here’s my experience: moving in with my friend didn’t destroy my friendship.  It made every night feel like a sleepover party.

As of the end of last month, I’ve done it again — moved in with another friend.  I was worried about it this time, too.

I guess that advice has really stuck in my mind.

I even saw someone giving the same advice this week.

You know what I realized, though?  Not once, ever, have I ever seen someone say, “Don’t move in with your romantic partner.  It will destroy your relationship.”

What I see, sometimes, instead, is talk of “when” is the “right time,” the right stage, the right passage of time before it makes sense for two romantic partners to move in together.  When.  Not if.  And certainly not “never.”

I’ve seen talk of moving in before getting married being potentially detrimental, but blanket generalizations of “never”?  Never seen it.

It’s accepted to warn people of the dangers of moving in with friends — yet also believe those dangers dissipate in the case of romance.

I feel lied to.

 


AA: Ace/Non-Ace Relationship Ambiguity

[cw: sex, in specifics]

BD wrote in:

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AA: Desire and Spontaneity

CN: talk of sex within marriage & sexual desire

Anonymous wrote in:

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Partnership, Desire, Desirability, and the Sex-as-Worth Principle

CN: relationship problems, body-image issues, social pressure, sex as a site of conflict, and related issues (ex. sexual abuse comes up for about a paragraph).  All the sex talk here will be non-graphic, but this post is about interpersonal conflict between partners where one doesn’t want a sexual relationship and the other one does, so brace yourselves for that if you keep reading.  Whenever I see this discussion happen, people seem very eager to consider that the partner who wants a sexual relationship might be well-meaning and non-abusive and genuinely hurt by their partner’s disinterest, so for sake of argument, that’s the narrow hypothetical I’m going to be focusing on for now…

…because even if we want to focus on their side of the story, the reassurance I see always seems to fall short of what I suspect is at the heart of the issue.

If you agree that sex is not a vitamin but also want to acknowledge potential-or-actual damage to self-esteem as a “result” of someone not being sexually desired, this post is for you.

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x

Even if we didn’t already have a long list of reasons why “you can’t write an interesting story about an asexual character” is a ridiculous thought, I’ve found another in the variety of comments I’ve gotten on my “What To Do If You Think Your Partner Might Be Asexual” post, and considering that ace/non-ace relationships are a standard topic on ace ask blogs… it’s so clear to me how much we need stories to guide us, because people are floundering without any reference points, without an familiar framework — because the narratives that people in my culture are provided with situate sex & sexual attraction as such a foundational component of romance and this isn’t just some mix-‘n-match cut-‘n-paste; you can’t just take the sex out and leave the original narrative structure intact.

From an abstract vantage point, it’s so easy to say, “Well, just blaze your own trail,” but on the ground it’s so much harder to do that without stories to map the way for you.  And I just don’t understand people who sincerely think that media and stories aren’t some of the most important influences in how we relate to other people.

Anyway, this is nothing new, but it was crossing my mind again.