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Aromantic couple give an eye-opening explanation of what intimacy and romance means to them

Josh Milton February 15, 2020
Lisa Burscheidt (L) and Samantha Marcus (R) aromatic folk in an 'opt-in, opt-out relationship'. (PinkNews)

Lisa Burscheidt (L) and Samantha Marcus (R) aromatic folk in an 'opt-in, opt-out relationship'. (PinkNews)

In a society clogged with televised dating shows and celebrity weddings, it can be difficult for some to imagine a purely platonic existence.

But for those who are aromantic, an individual who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others, this is a daily reality.

When people are pelted with Instagram-worthy wedding proposals and anything written by Nora Ephron on the daily, the pressure to express romance in a certain way can be exhausting.

Romantic love is just one flavour of love, and aromantic folk experience bonds of one and respect with whomever they choose.

Lisa and Samantha spoke to PinkNews about their “opt-out relationship” they have fostered together, what intimacy means to them and what identifying as aromantic means.

Lisa: Hi, my name is Lisa, I am from Germany.

I am a librarian, and I am an aromantic, asexual genderqueer person.

Samatha: Hello, I’m Samantha. I’m Lisa’s partner, my pronouns that she had her and I aromantic and something-sexually.

I have no idea what in general… queer! There! I’m queer.

We’ve been friends for six, seven years and together for two years. It’s it’s an odd boundary.

Lisa: Really odd because there wasn’t this moment of or this phase even of, ‘I’m falling in love with this person’.

But all that happened was they became like, the friendship became more intense. That’s how I would describe it.

Samantha: The intensifying of a friendship, plus me determinedly lying next to them in bed hoping that at some point cuddles would happen.

And both of us separately decided that would be quite nice to have someone to at least have affectionate physical contact with.

We didn’t like that in order to be able to have like the necessary human affection that we all like having, we had to be partnered with this person who was supposed to be above all others.

So we agreed that we would absolutely cuddle each other to death and it will be great.

And queue a few months of sleeping next to each other in a bed and engaging and some lovely cuddles. And me sort of determinedly wriggling my way closer, having decided to seduce Lisa, it was a seduction.

Lisa: We also did like a whole checklist of these things I’m comfortable with and these are things that I am not comfortable with sort of obviously, including various, you know, sexual activities, but also things like holding hands kissing in public.

You know, if you say romantic relationship, it’s kind of like this package deal. Like it comes with all these different things that people expect from a romantic partner.

Samantha: We have an opt-in relationship, rather than an opt-out relationship.

My previous relationships, and there’s only been a few of them, I was still presuming that I was a romantic person. And that, at some point, romantic feelings would happen to me.

They kept on never happening and I kept thinking about the concept, or this society’s current concept of romance, and kept going: ‘This is so not me.’

Lisa: But yeah, so I don’t know if if you met us in the street, you would probably know that we’re a couple.

Samantha: Yeah, you would probably assume that we were romantic because we act in ways that romantic couples are assumed to act.

But that doesn’t mean that the feelings behind it are the same. They’re not lesser. They are different.

And I think that’s the most crucial thing ever to get across is that aromantic people in relationships, they are not lesser feelings.

There is no hierarchy of acquainted people you get along with acquaintances, friends, romantic relationship.

The top line is friends, and that feeling is as expansive and as powerful as you wish as well for your friends as you would for a romantic partner and you want that happiness as much as you would for a romantic partner and you get joy from their joys, and you suffer from their suffers as much as you would with romantic partners.

It’s just that there’s no need to separate romantic partner from friend. We don’t live together even though we have been together for two years.

And it’s not because we don’t want to not live together. We get along quite nicely when living together.

We’ve had like short bits of time, but it’s, as you put it.

Lisa: Yes, dark external forces is the only way that I can describe it.

Samantha: Yeah, dark external forces have kept us apart.

Lisa: Yes. Mostly, mostly Brexit and the fact that I am from Germany and I have family there.

So that’s actually something that links quite nicely. Yeah, the aromantic nature of the relationship because no matter where we are, geographically, I feel, and I’m sure you feel this too, like we feel we’re going to be deep friends.

Samantha: Location doesn’t change the feeling involved.

Lisa: But also, say I decided to go back home because of Brexit. If it was a romantic relationship, maybe you would then say to partner well come with me and in a romantic relationship and mainly that would be the expected thing probably for someone to do.

But I would find that really hard from my perspective, because then it means I’m living someone where I’m happy and I have a job and I have partner, who doesn’t speak the language and who doesn’t have a job and lots of other things that you can talk about.

Samantha: And then all my social self-worth would be ferried onto Lisa. And that’s too big a burden for one person; one person should not be responsible for your entire life happiness about where you live.

I would have no job I would have no social circle around me that I knew.

I’d have to make friends again if I need to talk to my sister at 3am in the morning it would the harder if I need this talk to my other sister about banking stuff that she needed advice that will be harder.

If my brother ever decided to get in contact with me that would be harder, like, all these things would be, I’d be removed from it all and everything about my life would become surrounding Lisa’s.

And that’s tough on anyone and it makes me really panicky about the idea that one person should have to bear all that. It is too much.

Choosing to not follow people across countries can be better than taking the expected romantic, like, it’s portrayed as this ultimate romantic moment and action.

You stop them from leaving, you go to the airport, there’s a kiss and Heathrow departure, whatever.

But what happens afterwards is really a balancing of that. And choosing not to do that, to me seems more loving than pushing everything onto one person.

And no one can ever hold that or sustain that and nor should they ever have to.

More: aromantic, identity, relationships, romance

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