[A]sexuality,  [Random] Thoughts

usage of “alterous” vs “platonic” in aro discourse

i hesitate to post this at all*, but i’ve been casually mulling it over for a little while now and am getting no where in keeping this to myself, so here goes nothing…

there’s a relatively new word going around on Tumblr: alterous.

from this post by @alterous-albatross

What is Alterous Attraction?
Alterous attraction is a type of attraction which cannot be described as entirely romantic or platonic. It is described as a desire for emotional closeness.

What is Alterous Orientation?
Much like sexual and romantic orientation, alterous orientation is defined by whom you have the attraction towards. This being the case, the same prefixes apply.

i have mixed feelings about how this term is being used/described at present… it seems to have been coined to fill a void or disconnect that some people feel exists when using the word “platonic” to describe attraction in a way that is “more than just friends” but still not “romantic”.

i feel like this is a wonderful thing as such a word has long been needed, but at the same time i have reservations?

up until this point, i feel like many people within the aro community have been talking about & working towards awareness of the exact type of attraction that is being described now as alterous, however people have already been using “platonic (or emotional) attraction” to mean what alterous means for years. i feel like a notable chunk of aro awareness efforts have been about combating the “platonic” = “just friends” normative assumptions enforced by society, but now i see various posts aimed at alterous awareness pretty much supporting that very idea by positioning alterous attraction on a binary spectrum between platonic and romantic attraction, where alterous attraction is a step above platonic attraction, often with the consequences of equating platonic attraction with “just” friendship.

Gaby of @alterous-albatross attempted to address this problem, but i’m still rather miffed by it… not just because of how it positions platonic attraction, but also because of how it positions romantic attraction. it feels like a disservice to the years of effort that have been made to combat society’s assumption that platonic relationships aren’t necessarily the same as friendships nor are they a step below romantic relationships.

and don’t get me wrong, it is undeniable that how the word “platonic” is sometimes used within aro (and ace) spaces doesn’t always line up with what society at large understands and uses the word to mean, and that that is a large part of the problem. a problem that obviously alterous is trying to help with by distinguishing what some aros (among others) are referring to from what society refers to as “platonic”, but…

…at present raising awareness of alterous attraction seems to be at the costs of raising awareness about platonic attraction, even though that obviously is no one’s intention.

going forward, will “alterous” gain favor within the aro (and other) community(/ies)? will usage of the word “platonic” to describe the same thing fall by the way side? or perhaps it will be “platonic” that stands the test of time?

only time can tell, but in the meantime i’ll just throw up my hands in exasperation and refer to myself as bi and pan without the -romantic, -alterous, -platonic, or anything else because ugh. apathetic exasperation.


*disclaimer: i really am hesitant to post this at all since i don’t actively identify as aro spec (see: apathetic exasperation), but still… i feel enough of a tie to the aro community to really want to voice my feelings about this at least. ;(

YouTuber and Blogger, Vesper is an American expat currently living in Japan.

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