Dangerous Compassions

what romantic means

asian in purple tie dye stands before a colorful bush with a smile and wave

Hello, reader.  How are you?  Do you know what romantic means?  I used to think it meant going to a fancy restaurant for dinner with candlelight, red roses, and getting married in a big puffy white dress.  It involved money, See’s Candy, and a tone related to New Relationship Energy.  None of that is for me.

Then I thought what romantic means is trying to help someone feel special.  Yes, I like that!

All different things might help someone feel special, so try to find the correct way.  Would giving them a ring signify a deep connection that will last, a beautiful cherishing?  Or would a ring creep this person out, implying some forever they don’t believe in?  Or maybe it’s too soon for that kind of symbol, and it would make them feel rushed and overwhelmed.

If you want to be romantic with someone, you can find their love language, and their romantic love language specifically, then try to meet the need.  Ideally you would ask what feels romantic to them, and if they want that romance with you.  But some people might not know or enjoy that type of conversation.  Some people want you to figure it out from hints, or just magically know.

That lack of clarity can bother me.  I prefer directness–might be an autism thing.  I’m strong enough in myself to hear a yes and hear a no.

what romantic means

But wait.  Kids like to feel special too.  It’s not romantic, to try to make a kid feel special.  That’s just a regular human thing.  And friends could like to feel special.  Relatives too.  So then I was like–maybe I don’t know what romantic means at all.

Concerning chocolate, expensive gifts, wedding bs–I thought romantic was a cliche, stylized, unrealistic style of love.  Not my favorite.  But I craved romance with Ming.  He helps me logistically, like washing dishes, taking me to appointments, and packing the car when we go on a trip.

I want more emotional care from him, which seems romantic.  I want him to be there for me, say very kind things when I’m hurting, draw me a picture or make me a card, track my feelings-needs more, help me hold my moods.  I love it when Ming gets me water, washes our laundry, and makes sure the owie on my toe is healing ok.  But I want more heart.

It’s good we can have all different kinds of relationships, and not single source.  Glad I don’t need to get all my needs met by one person.  My mom helped carry my feelings and had sympathy for me when I suffered.  Losing that support when my mom died left a huge vacancy.

story time

Let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time I had a friend, and the hugs were special.  After the first hug, I was like, “That was wild.  I’ve never been hugged quite like that.”

After the second hug: “I think I like that.”

After the third hug: “Wow.  That’s some world-class hugging.  I want more.”

I began to long for those hugs.  They became one of the best things about my life.  They kindled bonding hormones, I’m sure.  Oxytocin is a chemical I have a big response to–maybe an outlier response.  Touch is wonderful but can be dangerous.

I started to ask my friend for more.  Touch became a big part of how I valued this person and wanted to be near them.


I’d already liked them a lot.  But now I was getting emotionally invested in a significant way.  They were meeting some of my favorite needs, so I wanted to be closer intentionally.

I told my friend how I felt and asked for more, and their answer was a kind no.  The friend explained that they are demi-romantic and demi-sexual.  I was familiar with demi-sexual, as I’m that too: I’m only sexually attracted to people who I know really well and deeply love.  But what does demi-romantic mean?

Hmm, a search shows demi-romantic is like demi-sexual, only the romantic feelings are reserved for someone the person knows well and has a tight friendship bond with.  Yeah, makes sense.  But I still don’t know what romantic means.

Googling what romantic means is not fulfilling.  I read for maybe an hour, trying to figure out a standard definition.  I could find a list of examples, and I could find a “it’s beyond friendship love.”  But really the info I found was very poor.


I looked for a definition made for and by someone autistic, hoping that could help me.  By chance I found a term nebularomantic, which is when someone has autism and can’t tell the difference between platonic and romantic attraction.

Yeah, I would like to buy a vowel.  A for autism.  I love someone, care deeply about their well-being, and crave intimacy, to know and be known.  I say I love you, and I want to form a life together and journey through the world together.

That could be how I feel toward anyone, right?  A friend, a relative, a kid, a partner.  Am I really supposed to have that sorted out, only for Ming and my girlfriend?  Oops, because I don’t.  Ideally I would like to love everyone like that.  Aren’t we on earth to care for one another and share our hearts and lives?

Maybe I’m an emotion-slut, pan-romantic, hyper-romantic, or easily attached.  I thought caring about everyone is how the world should be.  Really I don’t find that romantic–it’s not like I want to give red roses to everyone, a ring, or a commitment ceremony.

Love is all jumbled up in my mind.  Maybe I can blame autism, that I love recklessly, quickly, and with much devotion.

I’m asking

Do you know what romantic means, reader?  Please let me know, in a comment here or privately if we are friends.

I’m trying to help form a culture where we care about each other as default, and showing up for love is the norm.  I think that is a really good idea.

Never did I believe care is what romantic means.  Never did I suspect that I was trying to force my autistic love agenda on anyone.  Wow, trip out.  I love just about everyone, to the point that it’s hard to turn it off.  I notice, evaluate, remember, wonder, ask, offer, feel compassion, feel affection, and often surprise people with how I feel.

If giving a care about other people is what romantic means, no wonder I’ve been so confused for so long.  Thank you to everyone who tells the truth to me and helps me figure out how to be a person among people.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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