What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Questions and discussions about relationships: girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, partners, friends, family or other intimate relationships in your lives.
AliahMaharaj
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What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Unread post by AliahMaharaj »

The representations of relationships in media may lead us to think that platonic friendships and romantic partnerships are the only types of relationships we can have (and that those two types should be completely different). In reality, though, relationships can be much more wonderfully complex than that, and not nearly as easy to define sometimes.

What does the term “romantic relationship” mean to you personally, and what feelings, mindsets and/or actions would lead to you thinking of a relationship you’re in as a romantic relationship?
aarija
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Re: What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Unread post by aarija »

this is something I have been struggling with for a while, especially as I find myself in more queer friendships where the lines between platonic, sexual and romantic tend to shift and blur. Relationships are so fluid, even under these umbrella terms and I find myself feeling much stronger feelings for the friends in my life than for anyone I've pursued a romantic relationship with. Romance sometimes feels like added weight or responsibility to a relationship in a way that is hard to describe - but that is also coming from someone slowly discovering their aromantic side LOL.

I've heard romance being defined by the presence of passion, but I have never really found that relatable either. Honestly... I have no idea! I think my dating right now is defined a lot more by sexual attraction and allure because I have found platonic relationships that provide the safety, trust and support a lot of people look for in romantic partners.

so TBD on the romance aspect of it all
Ro S
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Re: What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Unread post by Ro S »

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately so thank you for getting me to think more on it! I've especially been doing a lot of the work of thinking about what "love" means in my life, especially in friendships.

Often we'll hear that "love" should be reserved for the "one" or close family members. But in my personal practice, I've been trying to show love to all my friends. For me, this means showing care through gift giving (not just bdays), and being very verbal about all the ways I appreciate the people in my life. Yes, I am indeed that friend who will send the "i love you so much" text after we hangout lol.

In some ways, there is an aspect of romance to my acts of care and showing appreciation to my friends. I personally think that romance does not equate sexual so in my mind, I think of it as my friends and I are in romantic relationships (aka friendships).
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Re: What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Unread post by KierC »

I really appreciate this question and all the thoughts it’s evoked! I agree too with the idea that a romantic relationship can also exist in friendships. I started thinking about romanticism when I discovered that I identify as queer — I realized that, outside of my dating life, a lot of my queer friendships are more intimate than my friendships with straight people. I think heightened intimacy is a big part of a romantic relationship, whether that be emotional intimacy or physical intimacy. Particularly with lesbian friendships (Drawing from Adrienne Rich’s definition of a lesbian existence and community) I’ve found a heightened excitement and closeness as well, which takes on an almost magical quality that transcends an “earthly” realm of emotions, if that makes sense. That quality of magic that stems from excitement and a desire for closeness, in addition to the actual experience of intimacy with another person or people, is what has made relationships with one or more people romantic for me!
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Re: What’s your personal definition of a romantic relationship?

Unread post by HannahP »

I've been thinking about this question ever since I saw it! For a long time, I considered romantic feelings to be only something I develop for men, meaning that the close intimate friendships I had/have with women were by default platonic. And then I unexpectedly found myself in a romantic relationship with a woman. That really threw a wrench into all my previous ideas about romantic relationships! It really made me move away from a model I often see of romantic vs. platonic relationships, which is the idea that the difference mainly has to do with what activities/behaviors you do with each (i.e. do you see each other naked, ask for emotional support, share a bed, talk about intimate sexual details, etc.) I'm not sure I can think of any specific action that I would only do with a platonic friend or only do with a romantic partner. For some reason, that was more obvious when comparing my female partner to a female friend than it ever had been before comparing a male partner with a platonic friend.

For me, platonic relationships are characterized by ease, comfort, steadiness, and familiarity. One of my favorite hallmarks of my best platonic relationships is the feeling that even if we go several months without seeing each other or even talking, we'll be able to pick up our relationship exactly where we left off. I feel an intense sense of peace in my longterm platonic relationships, a real sort of security. I rarely have much conflict with my platonic friends.

My romantic relationships are characterized by (like Kier says!) a magical sort of desire that pulls me towards more interaction and more closeness. One early hallmark of a romantic relationship for me is that my typically introverted self who's often lost in my own world suddenly wants to spend ALL my free time with the person I have romantic feelings for. This "pull" means that the relationship is inherently less steady than a platonic one and there is more potential for conflict. However, the pull helps facilitate a deeper intimacy than I usually reach in platonic relationship — though I'm making a big effort lately to purposefully seek out vulnerability in my platonic relationships, too.
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