mod fitz here. I have noticed that we have been getting a lot of asks that basically all go “I am (or my [potential] partner is) greyro, and I am maybe interested in being in a relationship, but how would that even work?” So I decided I would create a masterpost on defining the relationship in non-amatonormative relationships.
So let’s start with types of relationships. A typical romantic relationship is just that–a typical romantic relationship. It is what you see in the movies, what society pushes in your face constantly as something you need to have to be “complete.” The most common type of non-romantic significant relationship is a QPR, or queerplatonic relationship (quasiplatonic for those who do not wish to use the word queer).
The basic idea of a QPR is that it is something that goes beyond what you consider normal friendship, but it is not romantic in nature. What exactly a QPR is can be tricky at first, especially if you don’t have any real examples to base your understanding on (thank you amatonormativity). Really the idea behind QPRs is that they deviate from typical narratives of both friendship and romance, or in other words, they are “queering” what we think a significant relationship entails.
Another type of relationship is a soft-romo relationship, which is somewhere in-between a QPR and a romantic relationship. These often occur when one partner is romantically attracted to the other and the other is not, or when one or both partners have fluctuating levels of attraction or tolerance for romantic activities, or boundaries that make a typical romantic relationship not realistic.
While communication is important in any relationship, amatonormative relationships have a script to follow, which helps greatly. (A DTR talk may be as simple as, “so are we doing this?” or “would it be okay if I called you my boyfriend?”) Those who desire QPRs or soft-romo relationships do not have this tool, and often at least one of the people involved do not have the language to even begin defining what it is their relationship is, which can make defining the relationship a daunting task.
So here I am to give you some tools to use to help you define the relationship you want or the relationship you are currently in!
One of the simplest is a Want Will Won’t list (adapted from this video from sexplanations on Youtube). Basically what you do is create three columns on a piece of paper. One column is “Want,” or what you want from the relationship (ex: I want cuddling, hand holding, kissing (not mouth-to-mouth), commitment, emotional intimacy, understanding and patience with my mental illness). The next column is “Will,” or what you would be willing to do if your partner wanted, but aren’t necessarily driven to it yourself, or it isn’t important to you (ex: I would go on dates, closed-mouth kiss on the mouth [maybe some tongue, ask first], call you my boyfriend/girlfriend/datemate, sex [maybe, definitely ask first]). The last column is “Won’t” or what you do not want from the relationship (ex: no tongue kissing, daily texts, sleeping together, nudity). As you can see from my responses, the Want and Won’t parts are relatively cut and dry, but some items in the Will column may need some explanation. Once you make your list, compare it with your partner’s. You can make this in post-it notes if you think your feelings may change over time (which may be especially helpful for aroflux people).
Another post that may be helpful is this post
which lists many activities a significant relationship may entail,
which may be helpful if you are having trouble thinking about what you
can put on your Want Will Won’t list, or you can just use the post by
Another option, especially if when I described QPRs and soft-romo relationships your reaction was, “What?!” is queenieofaces‘s Five Factor model of relationships
The Five Factor Model relies on five factors (thus the name) to
categorize relationships: commitment, intimacy, time, exclusivity, and
Go check out Queenie’s original post if it looks like this may be the model for you. Queenie linked to a few more similar models, and I am going to link them below with the different factors they explain:
- The Anatomy of Relationships: Sexuality, Touch, Limerance, Emotional vulnerability, Thought-sharing, Resource sharing, Commitment, Prioritization, Time, Common interests, Group membership, Exclusivity, Negotiation.
- David Jay (part 1, part 2): Time, Feelings, and Promises [this one is really simple and quick and geared towards how to make the relationship progress, especially in part 2]
- Minerva: Love, Intimacy, and Commitment
EDIT: I just found this post which discusses the Sternberg theory in relation to aromanticism. Check it out!
I hope one of the resources provided on this post helps you figure out your current relationship or what you desire from a future relationship.
Full disclaimer: I do not have any personal experience with actually defining the relationship with another person (hence why I am only quoting others), these are simply tools I wish I had in the past and tools I currently use to help think about what types of relationships I may potentially want to be in.