Saturday, 3 October 2009

Attraction, attatchment and asexuality (and alliteration)

This post (shows you how long it takes me to write posts) on appositive reminded me of some musings I had on the very same subject, although they were pretty unrefined, because all I knew of it was a friend (who studies psychology) referring to the model in a discussion about sexuality (she was using it because she thought it’d prove to me that most people need to feel lust to be in a close relationship, a slight misunderstanding of the model, and an argument I’ll discuss later).
There are some very interesting ties with various asexual theories, which I shall now discuss in a haphazard manner.

Here, by the way, is the full report. For this relatively surface analysis of the themes, I’m going to be drawing from this shorter and more layman-friendly article, which focuses more on the human applications of the model. The model basically breaks attraction down into three parts- lust, attraction and affection. I’ll try to explain what I think these parts are, but if you want a clearer view, it’s best to go to the article.

The first part of changing this model to fit asexuality is simple- as with the Kinsey Scale, we must add the y axis. The y axis here stands for either the amount you are capable of feeling this type of attraction, or how important you judge this type of attraction in your relationship. It adds possibilities from “Very interested” to “Not interested at all”. Where are asexuals and asexual aromantics on these scales?

In terms of lust, the answer is very obvious. Lust translates into asexual terminology as ‘sexual attraction’, the lack of which unites asexuals. So asexuals would have little or no lust.

Attraction is a little harder to line up exactly with asexual terminology. Fisher does describe this as ‘romantic attraction’ at one point in the article. I’ve never been entirely certain on what romantic attraction is, but it seems to be what Fisher describes- the desire to spend your time with someone in a romantic bond. This scale would be the one defining whether you’re romantic or aromantic.

Fisher describes attraction as the ephemeral process at the start of a relationship, which doesn’t fit easily with the asexual version of ‘romantic attraction’.
Some of the quotes; “attraction is also associated with feelings of exhilaration, intrusive thinking about the beloved, and the craving for emotional union”, lead me to wonder exactly where crushes fit in with this model.
Enough asexuals report crushes to make it seem that they don’t need a sexual basis. Are they a form of lust which just doesn’t need to be driven by sexual motives? Or are they a form of attraction which doesn’t need to have a whole relationship built up around them?
This model is designed to talk about relationships, so the crush, generally a precursor to relationships, isn’t mentioned. To make it properly asexy-friendly, though, I’d like to know where the crush lies in this model.

The third and final stage of the fictitious typical relationship, and the last division of attraction, is attachment, the simple desire to stick to someone, even if the initial sources of other attractions are lost. This might also fit well with ‘romantic attraction’ in the asexual terminology, the desire to pair up. However, the good thing about this model is that the labels don’t quite fit with the asexual labels, so it’s another new angle to view things at.

For the sake of convenience though, I’d say that I’d interpret the three elements of a relationship as sexual attraction, crushes/squishes(/aesthetic attraction?) and romantic attraction. There’s a question about whether ‘relationship elements’ (which is how a lot of romantic sexuals tend to think) can really be changed into forms of attraction, which is how asexuals tend to think, but if I get into that, I just know I’ll never finish writing this.

The importance of this theory is a way in which sexual and romantic attractions can be featured in every type of relationship. For different people, their level of interest in the three aspects will be very different. So we can talk about people in relationships who have differing levels of these three attractions, and asexuals don’t seem quite so remote any more. There might be people who don’t have the attachment or crushes or any other combination, and there are a lot of asexuals who have at least one of the other two.

I’d intended to talk about the relationship between the Fisher Model and the big tripartite asexuality model, the Three T’s, in this post, but it’s been languishing in draft form for ages, so I’ll just release this bit and I promise there’ll be a part two. At some point. Promise.

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