some notes on romance

As lately I’ve been unable to write on weekdays, this will be brief.

With the qualification that “every issue is a women’s issue” I’m sure this relates to feminism in some way, though I’m uncertain exactly where to fasten the connection or articulate the interaction: I have a difficult time distinguishing romance within sexual relationships from friendship. Apart from the sexual element, why is one called romance and the other friendship? I have never experienced sexual desire for a man whom I hadn’t already considered a friend. And since so many attempt to establish a hierarchy (a sentiment I don’t share) I’d personally consider friendship a “higher” status of relationship than one that involves sexual activity, because for me friendship would be instilled in both as the foundation.

Observing the behaviors of best friends in my life, both others’ and mine, the differentiation only becomes more vague. I’ve both brought for and received from the best of my female friends, for whom I don’t have and never could have any sexual feelings, bouquets of roses on occasions like graduations and birthdays and sometimes just for visits. I’ve greeted them at airport gates, smothering them in hugs and presents and crying with happiness. I’ve written them poetry and short stories as gifts. I don’t contend that sexual relationships are somehow differently profound, only that on terms of “romance” I don’t see the distinction, except that in “romance” the presence of a sexual nature in the relationship is assumed. Possibly there’s an entire sphere of depth, complexity, and intensity that is encompassed in knowing someone sexually, but is that a dimension any more intimate than others?

Romance in traditional usage and practice is also gendered, and while I’ve engaged in exchanging gifts and roses and hugs with immense affection, I’ve always found the more structured gendered aspects of romance, like a man proposing to a woman on one knee or serenading her from beneath a window, absurd and apocryphal.

Conceptualizing how I exist in the realm of friendship / romance is difficult; it is something that simply is without explanation… passionate friendships imbued with depth, profundity, sincerity, and loyalty—even the stormiest of disagreements harbored genuine compassion. What about when romance is separated from sexuality? Is it a separate entity, or is sexual desire what qualifies this as “romance”?

In fact understanding another person on that level of depth supersedes (at least as far as I’m concerned) knowing their routines. I’m never too impressed with the conversations people have when they date, as they appear to rely on contrived questions concerned with superficial trivia (“What’s your favorite music genre? Have you been to Italy?”) that reflect nothing meaningful about the other person. The conversers may potentially springboard into an intriguing discussion but tend to occupy the territory of tedious hollowness with neither party making an effort. It’s usually after we’ve established a deep connection that I’m suddenly interested in the smaller things, which somehow have become meaningful and endearing.

11 thoughts on “some notes on romance

  1. Carrie

    On a behavioral standpoint, I would argue that (straight) women are more “romantic” toward each other than they are with men. The result of being expected to simply be the object of admiration, no doubt.


  2. almostclever

    I certainly do this also. I woo and romance my girlfriends. I call it love. And I also call it charm. Really excellent speakers and those gifted at socializing are actually found to flirt with those of the same and opposite sex, which is one reason why we all find them so charming – regardless of sexual orientation. Most charming people are considered so because they are so damn good at flirting with all of us.


  3. woman

    //I’m never too impressed with the conversations people have when they date, as they appear to rely on contrived questions concerned with superficial trivia

    I have this problem of never knowing what to talk about. If you date via Internet dating site f.e. , what *can* you talk about with the person you don’t know at all? (I am not religious, so that’s out). What can one talk of on 1st phone conversation / meeting? May be you could help a bit since you seem to be a very communicative person.


  4. I usually distinguish intellectual, emotional, sexual, and romantic attraction.

    To me, emotional attraction is wanting to take care of someone and be friends with them and listen to their problems. Intellectual attraction is “ohmigod your brain is so shiny TELL ME ALL YOUR THOUGHTS.” Sexual attraction is wanting to bang someone like a screen door in a hurricane. And romantic attraction is the sort of stomach-flipping, your-smile-makes-my-day, thinking-about-you-all-the-time bit. For me, to be romantically attracted to someone I have to have emotional, intellectual, and sexual attraction, in addition to the knowledge that they value me as a person (even if they don’t want to date me– I’ve had romantic feelings for people who don’t requite them, and it has caused me no problems) and no obvious impediments (like being roommates or the person being in a monogamous relationship).

    …I think about this too much. Side effects of being poly. :)


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