What is romance-repulsion?

Little has been written about romance-repulsion. I’m in the process of writing something about what romance is, but want to include a section on romance-repulsion. I know it exists, I relate to the concept personally, and I’ve seen some discussions about it. Sometimes I still can’t tell if it’s a repulsion towards romance itself, or repulsion towards conventional ideas of romance and the expectations surrounding it. Or could it really be either one?

Personally, I’m repulsed by the conventional ideas of romance and its expectations, and I also oppose them on an ideological level. I still might without romance-repulsion, because of how unhealthy conventional ideas of romance glamorized by society are, encouraging possessiveness and codependency, and treating friendships as disposable. As someone who’s suffered through codependency, and am still trying to recover from it, it’s not love, it’s hell.

It disgusts me that codependent relationships are seen as “true love”, and glamorized by the media. I also value my friendships too much to want to toss them aside.

I’m still uneasy about the thought of entering a romantic relationship in general, and I can’t tell if it must be because of those expectations looming over me, and that I’ve been dragged into relationships I didn’t agree to before.

Anyone else identify with the concept of romance-repulsion, and how does it manifest for you? Is your repulsion influenced by the conventional ideas of romance, how they’re portrayed in the media, or is it a repulsion towards the concept of romance itself? I’d also like to know if it manifests differently between aromantic and non-aromantic people.

To you, is romance inherently possessive? I’ve seen some romance-repulsed people say that it is, or isn’t.

Because “romance” is more difficult to define, and more subjective than sexuality is, where is the line between repulsion to romance, and ideological opposition? I’ve seen some romance-repulsed people define their repulsion in a way that to them, romance is inherently possessive. I feel like this line is a lot less clear, because I understand that someone can have ideological reasons for not having sex (but not see it as a sacrifice akin to how religious celibates see it), without being repulsed.

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11 thoughts on “What is romance-repulsion?

  1. cinderace

    I don’t know if I’d use the word repulsed, but I’m definitely averse to the gendered and sexist aspects of conventional heterosexual romance—the man paying for dinner, buying the woman expensive jewelry, proposing to her. It sets up the man as the active and strong one, guiding the relationship and taking care of the weak, passive woman. So that’s my initial reaction when I think about romance, and it’s definitely more of an ideological opposition than a repulsion to romance itself; I guess I have a harder time defining what romance is outside of heterosexual relationships, so it’s harder to say how I feel about it. I don’t think it has to be an inherently problematic thing—I think you can have that commitment to another person without it becoming possessive and while still maintaining your other friendships, but it definitely is easy for it to turn unhealthy.

    Can you explain a little more about the relationship between romance and co-dependency? When I think about codependent relationships it’s usually not romantic ones that come to mind, so I’d just like to know a little more about the link between the two things.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      Codependency in romantic relationships is glamorized by the media a lot, and examples of this are the idea that a couple is supposed to be with each other all the time, the other person will “save” them and solve their emotional problems, “true love” will change a person, and that a person’s self-worth comes from the relationship. Clinginess and neediness are seen as signs of love.

      I wrote about those expectations in the media, and how they affected me in a recent Carnival of Aces submission: https://cakeatthefortress.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/i-fought-the-monsters-but-became-one-myself-a-musing-about-relationship-expectations/

      Those gendered expectations associated with conventional heterosexual romance repulse me too. I thought it was inevitable that I’d succumb to those expectations because I couldn’t escape the relationship I was in. I felt passive and helpless, and while I opposed the idea of my self-worth coming from the relationship, and don’t want to enter one to solve my problems, codependency manifested differently for me: As miserable as I got, I still felt compelled to please him at all costs, and be his care giver, convincing myself that martyrdom is the greatest expression of love.

      I agree that commitment can exist without it being possessive, but some argue that romantic relationships themselves are codependent. I suspect it has to do with the idea of many romantic people not wanting to go their lives without romance, and how that can be read as “not wanting to live without another person completing them”. Another idea associated with codependent relationships is not feeling “complete” or like a whole person without the other person.

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      1. cinderace

        Thanks for enlightening me. I was thinking of codependency in more of an enabling way, but now I see what you mean. I guess for me, I don’t see those things—the idea of one person completing another or love saving/changing you—as inherent to romance but more of a flawed portrayal of it by the media/society. Not that those things aren’t present in a lot of romantic relationships, but I think a romantic relationship can exist without them, and I’m not repulsed or opposed to relationships that aren’t characterized by those things.

        The idea of sacrificial romantic love is one I’ve seen espoused in some Christian circles. There can be pressure to forgive your spouse if they abuse you, and to put up with continued abuse, and the idea that you should be sexually available to your spouse at all times. It’s like you have to always put the other person’s needs above your own, which becomes letting them do whatever they want to you, all in the name of love. Most Christians don’t believe this of course, but some of the more extreme fundamentalist ones do… and it’s pretty sickening.

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        1. cinderace

          Also wanted to add, after thinking about this more, that it’s hard for me to define exactly what romance is—so it’s thus hard for me to know whether or not I’m repulsed by it. Maybe romance does require codependency, meaning if a relationship isn’t characterized by that, it’s not romance. So I can say, “I’m fine with romantic relationships that don’t have X, Y, or Z”, but that begs the question, what are those relationships characterized by then? What’s making them romantic if they lack so many of the typical characteristics of romance as portrayed by our society? Anyway, because of all that I look forward to reading your post on what romance is!

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  2. snowflake0w0

    I think …you know what you want ,but you know the thing you want not exist in this world ,
    at least you never see it before.Therefore ,say it directly is no meaning /would piss off people /can’t get benefit from it.

    But if you don’t say what you want ,the communication would be no constructive/very hard to communication.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      Mainly if I were to be in a relationship, I want one where everyone’s boundaries are respected, and that’s an equal relationship, whether romantic or platonic. In an equal relationship, in terms of social status and economic status, someone who stays, and does things to make their partner happy, is doing so because they love their partner. There isn’t any element of social or economic coercion to it.

      I’d also want for there to not be any elements of emotional neediness, because a relationship can be unequal if one person gets their emotional fulfillment from the other, regardless of social and economic equality.

      Someone could still love their partner in an unequal relationship, but that love is complicated by the unequal power dynamics. Someone who is financially dependent on their partner, and can’t afford to leave, could very well do things with their partner out of love for them, but that pressure to please their partner, at the looming threat of unemployment, homelessness or poverty, can’t be ignored.

      Personally, I’d like a relationship that’s largely hands-off. A couple doesn’t have to do everything together to prove to themselves and others that they’re a couple, and it’s important to maintain some degree of separate social lives from each other.

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      1. snowflake0w0

        >and does things to make their partner happy, is doing so because they love their partner. There isn’t any element of social or economic coercion to it.

        How could you proof “isn’t any element of social or economic coercion to it”?Except in a utopian socialism society with very equal distribution of resources.

        (You still talking the thing you don’t want)

        >I’d also want for there to not be any elements of emotional neediness, because a relationship can be unequal if one person gets their emotional fulfillment from the other, regardless of social and economic equality.

        (You still talking the thing you don’t want)

        I don’t really care this one though…don’t you think cared too much “equality”=forget love?
        I don’t know you understand my fictoromantic is what kind of situation or not,but I think what I want is more important than what I don’t want.You can notice those people often and keeping to buy clothes,and they often feel they got something they don’t want after bought it,this kind of people almost MUST dealing with their relationship horribly.

        >Someone could still love their partner in an unequal relationship, but that love is complicated by the unequal power dynamics.
        Equal or unequal ,is the reflection of your heart.I am not really idealism ,but you are.Why you are so nervous about the equality?Even if you live in a utopian socialism society with entirely fair distribution of resources($$),then you would said the physical strength is born unequal.

        >Someone who is financially dependent on their partner, and can’t afford to leave, could very well do things with their partner out of love for them, but that pressure to please their partner, at the looming threat of unemployment, homelessness or poverty, can’t be ignored.

        I don’t trust you here by my understanding of USA social welfare for most case.

        >Personally, I’d like a relationship that’s largely hands-off. A couple doesn’t have to do everything together to prove to themselves and others that they’re a couple, and it’s important to maintain some degree of separate social lives from each other.

        Oh ,I see a part of what you want.That’s quite normal for me .Isn’t most of couples like that?In my fictoromantic case ,seem most of people (whatever they are real or not)can understand why that’s my inevitable true love~

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        1. Aqua Post author

          >(You still talking the thing you don’t want)

          So it is difficult for me to talk about what I want without ending up talking about what I don’t want?

          >Equal or unequal ,is the reflection of your heart.I am not really idealism ,but you are.Why you are so nervous about the equality?Even if you live in a utopian socialism society with entirely fair distribution of resources($$),then you would said the physical strength is born unequal.

          In a society without any economic or social inequality, sure, some people will still be physically stronger or smarter than others. In that case, an unequal relationship would be the smarter and/or stronger person using their higher strength and/or intelligence to exploit their partner, and others.

          Or more generally, a sign of an unequal relationship is if there is an element of fear of one’s partner, and fear of consequences in it. Fear of loss of financial support, fear of abandonment, fear of violence against them by their partner.

          >I don’t trust you here by my understanding of USA social welfare for most case.

          Most of the social welfare in the US is at the state level, and the states each have different eligibility requirements and budgets. In some states, it’s extremely difficult to access those services. Knowing how difficult accessing those services can be (or knowing that they can’t qualify, despite their low income), can be a motivating factor for someone to stay in a relationship they don’t want. There are a lot of Americans who are poor, but not poor enough to qualify for the social services in their state. In some states, and for some services in them, not having children can disqualify a poor person, regardless of how low their income is.

          >Oh ,I see a part of what you want.That’s quite normal for me .Isn’t most of couples like that?In my fictoromantic case ,seem most of people (whatever they are real or not)can understand why that’s my inevitable true love~

          There are a lot of couples who don’t have separate social lives, or they only have each other. I can’t say for sure how common this is, but I find it depressing. It’s not healthy for someone to try get all of their fulfillment from their partner, and I’d find living like that very stifling.

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  3. ettinacat

    I don’t consider myself romance repulsed (in fact the opposite), mainly because when I see a really good romance that is really fitting and good for the people involved, I like it. I especially like old married couples, who are super close in that comfortable familiar sort of way.
    But I do get repulsed by romances with unhealthy features, such as Twilight, or my brother’s friend’s girlfriend asking me to report to her if I know where her boyfriend is. I basically have much less tolerance for unhealthy ‘romantic’ behavior than most people, probably because I’m an abuse survivor.
    As for me personally being in a romance, I don’t know. The only people who’ve shown interest have been probably allosexual (I’m sex-repulsed) and usually not good at listening to no, so I ran the other way. But I think if a romantic ace fell in love with me, and was respectful of my boundaries and generally a good fit, I’d probably enjoy it even though I’m aro.

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