Binaries? Yeah, I'm generally not a fan. That's one thing I've come to learn since identifying as asexual. For a while now, I've been wondering if I really had an "affectional orientation" that I would be able to coax out with enough thought. A lot of other asexuals seem to know so easily whether they're romantic or aromantic (and beyond that, which gender(s) they are attracted to if they are romantic). But I recently realized that the reason I couldn't figure it out was because the romantic/aromantic thing is a binary I don't fit into. I'm neither, both, or somewhere in the middle. I am, for lack of a better word, grayromantic. No, it's not a term I'm looking to popularize, but I think it's one that will make sense for those who are familiar with asexuality.
Like the gender binary in mainstream society, the romantic/aromantic binary seems to be intuitive for most people in the asexual community. That it informs so much of our internal dialogue on asexuality can make people who don't fit into it feel like their experiences are even further outside of the ordinary. Just like there is no clear demarcation at the end of "asexual" and the beginning of "sexual", there is no such clear line for affectional orientation, either.
It's a uniquely asexual issue, I know, and maybe not a very important one. But it gets me thinking about our labels-- do we define ourselves by a dictionary definition, how we feel about ourselves, or what most affects our lives? I think that is an important question, for any orientation (or other label), although it might only be able to be answered by the individual. If you went by what asexuals would call a "dictionary definition", I guess I would be hetero-romantic, since I experience romantic attraction towards men (I also like long walks on the beach, candlelight, etc). However, I don't feel hetero-romantic, probably because my romantic attraction towards men has not influenced my life very much. I'd like to be in a romantic relationship, but not just for the sake of being in one. If I ever had a hetero-romantic card, then it has truly expired due to lack of use.
So since I don't try to date men and never really have, what real difference do my fleeting attractions make? Putting a romantic orientation in front of "asexual" would also just sound strange to me, when the "asexual" part is so much more important to my life. The most accurate term for me, I think, would be something describing my confusion with the whole concept of "romance". Now, what was I again?
This post has a second and perhaps even third part, so stay tuned.
(Also, one week until the Pride Parade! Eeee!)