Whenever you see that special person - whenever you hear their voice or see them smile – your heart skips a beat, you get butterflies in your stomach, and people next to you notice your cheeks grow red. You can’t seem to spend enough time near them, and you find them attractive and reasonable despite what anybody may say otherwise. What is happening to you?
If you ask, the typical response would be “well obviously, you are in love.” And maybe that is true for you, as what was described are the most stereotypical symptoms of romantic love. What comes next? Well, if that person is in such “love” with you as well, you may grow closer. You hold hands, you hug, you kiss, you desire physical attention from each other, heck, the common conclusion made from looking at you interact with each other is that you sleep with each other too (and you probably do).
Judging from this sequence of events, the most logical thing to assume when you see two people physically affectionate with each other is that they’re romantically in love with each other and have sex with each other, right?
First off, it’s probably not your place to assume they have sex with each other when you know nothing about their identities. They may be both asexual and have no interest in having sex with each other ever. Or, one of them may be sexual and the other asexual, but they respect each other and make compromises to each other that may or may not involve any sexual activity at all. Or you know, they might be both sexual but just have their own reasons not to have sex with each other. And all of this is just in light of sexual and asexual identities! What if they’re demi? Gray-A? Some other sexual identity in between or completely different? Just because people are in a relationship doesn’t mean they have sex with each other!
Now, if you’ve really been paying attention, there’s a big problem with the assumption I made to establish that previous paragraph. How did I know these two people are in a romantic relationship? Well. I didn’t. I just assumed.
They may be two people who just really like each other! They might both have pretty touchy-feely body language! You really never know.
But, you say, I saw them kiss!
Surely that must be the defining characteristic of a romantic relationship?
Welp, after a whole page of babbling introduction, here’s what I’m out to say: Guys, there are all different types of loves and relationships out there, and they might not fit into anything you’ve ever experienced before, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just because certain body languages coincide with ones produced by a certain relationship within your own experience, doesn’t mean that the relationship you’re looking at is the same as your own.
Now what do I mean by that? Well, the main thing I’m trying to point out here is that, even though two people may seem to love each other very much and have a lot of physical affection in their relationship, that doesn’t automatically mean they’re romantically in love with each other. Yeah, even if they kiss.
That might sound a bit scandalous at first, but let’s sort of examine why we might think that way. Why is it that kissing and certain forms of physical contact in addition to an enjoyment of each other’s company automatically constitute romantic attraction between two people? What is romantic attraction?
Well, if you go by the symptoms at the beginning of this article, then romantic attraction is entirely a personal and internal thing, which means – guess what?! You, as a non-participant of the relationship in question, have no place at all to judge whether or not a relationship is romantic or not.
Which means that when people in a relationship say that their relationship is aromantic, then no, nobody outside that relationship really has the right to label that relationship as “secretly romantic” or the like.
(I apologize for being a bit defensive here, I’m a little tired with people beating me and my aromantic partner over the head with how we’re really “just gay” for each other)
But what really is the difference between romantic and aromantic attraction? Alright, everything from now on is my personal interpretation of romance and aromance, with some references I pulled here or there, but really, this is just from my personal experiences, and may or may not apply to any other aromance out there.
In my interpretations, romantic attraction seems closely related to the evolutionary mate-seeking behavior. When people talk about romantic attraction, there’s a lot of physical responses such as your “heart skipping a beat” or psychological fixations such as “I just know that she/he’s the one.” Also, a lot of the time, romantic attraction can very well occur between two people who know each other less well, as well as friends of many years.
From a scientific point of view, romantic attraction can be seen as the result of a neurological response involving norepinephrine and dopamine in mate-seeking behavior, and according to a quick search of this book, “When we fall in love, our brains create dramatic surges of energy that fuel such feelings as passion, obsessiveness, joy and jealousy.”
Now when I say mate-seeking behavior, I don’t mean sexual attraction, which is very different from romantic attraction. In fact, according to this study of romantic attraction,
These and other results suggest that dopaminergic reward pathways contribute to the “general arousal” component of romantic love; romantic love is primarily a motivation system, rather than an emotion; this drive is distinct from the sex drive; romantic love changes across time; and romantic love shares biobehavioral similarities with mammalian attraction
From what I’ve read, romantic attraction between two people seems to start off with a “spark” - characterized by general arousal (feeling of excitement/quickening heartrate/butterflies in stomach) likely caused by the stimulation of neurological pathways by the sight/smell/touch of a particular partner. From then on, after sufficient and gratifying bonding, this sort of “spark” might weaken a little, and lend way to a different kind of evolutionary bonding (which, in my argument, is the characterizing basis of aromantic relationships), but for the purposes of distinguishing romance and aromance, we can characterize romantic attraction as mainly having this sort of “spark” nature.
Aromantic relationships, on the other hand, can be seen as more of an evolutionary bonding mechanism. In my experience at least, these relationships tend to start slow as the partners grow on each other - quite a different experience from a fiery and passionate romance. Though, it is possible for the partners to progress to a physical level comparable to that reached by romantic relationships.
The main physiological chemistry responsible for aromantic relationships, I hypothesize, is brought on by the hormone oxytocin. Although it’s mostly well known for being the hormone responsible for smooth muscle contractions during childbirth, oxytocin has also gained reputation as the “cuddle hormone” in recent years.
In both humans and dogs, those chemicals of pleasure rose after five to twenty-four minutes of petting. The human subjects’ oxytocin increased more when they interacted with their own dogs that with strange dogs. This result falls in line with the theory that interactin with intimates is one of the best oxytocin-boosters. In addition, the people’s cortisol levels fell as they enjoyed their pets.
Using this as a basis for explaining aromantic relationships, it can be proposed that, since two people find comfort in each other’s company (oxytocin increase and cortisol decrease), they are biochemically encouraged to be more physical with each other in order to promote further trust and bonding (more oxytocin release).
Furthermore, since cervical and uterine stimulation also promotes oxytocin production, it can even be argued that aromantic relationships can progress to the point of sexual activity without ever having to have an ounce of romantic feeling between the two partners.
Of course, as previously stated, when the dopaminergic reward pathways start losing strength in the initial romantic “spark,” oxytocin begins to also play a role in the bonding of romantic partners. Therefore, these chemical processes are not completely unique to each type of attraction, but, as a general division, romantic attraction seems to be more fast-paced and passionate, while aromance tends to move at a slower pace of increasing intimacy. And trust me, it’s pretty obvious when you feel like you’re in an aromantic relationship. It’s pretty hard to stuff it in with a typical romance.
A secret facility that was built underneath Midgar… Even in Shinra, there was only a few who know of its existence.
That place… it ignores and defies all morals, asking the question, “To what extent will humans go to become stronger?” The experiments and research has been undergoing for a long time……
Those who are being abducted and brought to this place…… Those who are injured and being transported to this place…… Those who were here as far back as one can remember…… Those who appeared in this place on a certain day all of a sudden…… Those who knew what that place is…… Those who didn’t know anything……
I, the Penis, hereby request a raise in salary for the following reasons: I do physical labor. I work at great depths. I plunge headfirst into everything I do. I do not get weekends or public holidays off. I work in a damp environment. I work in a dark workplace that has poor ventilation. I work in high temperatures. My work exposes me to contagious diseases. Sincerely, P. Niss
The Response Dear Penis: After assessing your request, and considering the arguments you have raised, the administration rejects your request for the following reasons: You do not work 8 hours straight. You fall asleep after brief work periods. You do not always follow the orders of the management team. You do not stay in your designated area and are often seen visiting other locations. You do not take initiative - you need to be pressured and stimulated in order to start working. You leave the workplace rather messy at the end of your shift. You don’t always observe necessary safety regulations, such as wearing the correct protective clothing. You will retire well before you are 65. You are unable to work double shifts. You sometimes leave your designated work area before you have completed the assigned task. And if that were not all, you have been seen constantly entering and exiting the workplace carrying two suspicious-looking bags. Sincerely, V. Gina
The whole part in Wall Market…the whole time I was playing, and Cloud was trying to win a pair of undies as part of the infiltration-into-Corneo’s-mansion plan (and that makes me wonder too - uh, if the UNDERWEAR was so vital to the mission’s success, apparently Cloud was willing to go pretty damned far as a decoy female….ecccch). Anyway, he gets one of two types of undies from the Honeybee Inn. THE HONEYBEE INN. Which is basically…a brothel, even though it’s never stated, of course. Yeah, that’s where *I* would go to get a pair of undies….a frigging whorehouse. The lingerie is won from one of the Honeybee girls, and the bikini briefs are won from a Honeybee patron. I keep wondering….they must have been, um…used? And Cloud just voluntarily puts them on without washing them? Yes, yes, they were pressed for time, I get that….but ewwwwwwww. Not to mention - if Cloud messes up on the squats at the gym, he gets a wig that Big Bro has allegedly stashed in his crotch. WHY, CLOUD, WHY?
THIS IS PERFECT! <3
BECAUSE I’D DO ANYTHING TO SAVE TIFA, OKAY?! I mean, by Shiva, I even flirted with the guy. D: (He smelled really really bad….)
Alfred Kinsey believed that human sexuality could be charted on a scale of 0 to 6, with 0 being “Exclusively heterosexual” and 6 being “Exclusively homosexual.” Owing to changing cultural boundaries and advanced research, Kinsey’s scale has recently been expanded:
0. So heterosexual that you think all other heterosexuals should be shot, because they seem a little gay.
1. So heterosexual that when a tax return or a loan application asks your gender you reply, “Straight.”
2. So heterosexual that the thought of two people of the same sex having intercourse doesn’t disgust you; it confuses you—“Wait a minute, if they’re both girls, which one falls asleep immediately afterward while the other one keeps babbling about her day?”
3. So heterosexual that when you go to see “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway” you can’t understand why he doesn’t just use his steel Wolverine claws to kill his backup dancers.
4. Heterosexual, yet still able to read the Times’ Arts & Leisure section without asking, “Who are Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin? School-board members from Staten Island?”
5. Heterosexual, but still willing to understand, at least theoretically, why two women having sex aren’t just practicing until their husbands get back from their golf date.
6. Heterosexual, yet still able to wear colors other than brown, olive green, and navy blue (but never pink or yellow, because you’re not some goddam circus clown).
7. Heterosexual, but sometimes fantasizes about bathing.
8. Heterosexual, but once, at college, glimpsed a roommate naked and thought, If everyone else in the world were dead, I would have sex with that person, as long as we both kept saying, “But everyone else is still dead, right?”
9. Heterosexual, but once, while serving in the military, made love with a same-sex partner, and afterward said either “I was so drunk,” “Wait—does that count as sex?,” or “Whoa. At least now I can check that off my bucket list, along with hot-air ballooning.”
10. Heterosexual, but during sex with one’s spouse often pictures the spouse with different genitalia sprouting from his or her forehead. This is not to be confused with imagining your spouse’s forehead as a place to hold keys, or to hang up your windbreaker.
11. Heterosexual, but while on business trips will frequently have intercourse with same-sex partners, primarily because they know the best local restaurants.
12. You identify as bisexual because you think it will double your chances of getting a date for Saturday night.
13. You identify as bisexual because you think it sounds French.
14. So bisexual that you fantasize not only about both Brad and Angelina but also about Regis and Kelly.
15. So bisexual that you get Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin confused.
16. Almost too bisexual, because you keep approaching straight married couples on the subway and murmuring, “The answer is yes.”
17. Homosexual, but occasionally attracted to the opposite gender, just to get your mom’s hopes up.
18. Homosexual, but willing to look at a member of the opposite sex without howling, “Dear God in Heaven, what is that?”
19. Homosexual, but sometimes still fantasizes about kissing someone of the opposite sex, as an item on a scavenger hunt.
20. Homosexual, but willing to speak to heterosexuals without muttering, under your breath, “Have you ever even been to a museum?”
21. So homosexual that both partners can achieve orgasm just by debating dream casting for the next revival of “Follies.”
22. So homosexual that you refer to you and your partner’s genitalia as “matchy-matchy.”
23. So exclusively homosexual that you made an “It Gets Better” video aimed at kids who were raised in homes without stacks of coffee-table books.
24. So overwhelmingly homosexual that you dream that Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin are your birth parents.