this answers some questions, most importantly why I fall in love on a geological timescale, and raises a whole lot more, mostly around the definition of "romance"and "romantic attraction".
here are some things I feel sure of:
- sex-repulsed is basically my default setting. if someone, of any gender, tries to get sexual with me, my instinct is to run away. it doesn't matter who it is, and the urge to escape is just as strong for a pretty acquaintance as it is for my baby brother.
- my sex-repulsion only applies to actual sexual contact involving me. there is nothing repulsive about other people's sex lives, or porn, or kink, or....(as long as it exclusively involves consenting adults, with or without inanimate objects) (actually, certain aspects of other people's sex lives are fascinating)
- occasionally, someone will get past my sexual repulsion. once I achieve a high enough emotional connection, some sort of attraction develops and sex is an option. just an option. if the relationship goes that way, great. if not, I'm still happy.
- I am not romance-repulsed in the cultural sense. I'm not in any way squicked out by love songs, rom coms or valentines day tat. I am frustrated that our culture is quite so saturated with this stuff, and that the romance shown is so narrow (heteronormative, sexual, monogamous, only showing young, conventionally attractive women (even if older men are fine), etc.), but it's not a visceral reaction in the same way.
- in the rare case that someone gets past my sex repulsion, I see "pretty" differently. and not just for them. there's a youtuber called Tom Scott who is suddenly very pretty in an abstract sense. he looks nothing like the person I'm actually attracted to, and irl sex with him is definitely not an option, but from the distance of the screen he's definitely pretty in a way he wouldn't be otherwise.wtf, brain?
- I really want kissing & snuggle time. non-euphemism bed sharing is kinda the point. these are the things I actively fantasise about, and can't imagine living without. I am currently living without them, but I can't imagine agreeing to be kiss-&-snuggle celibate for the rest of my life.
- there are a lot of words for various bits of the aromantic spectrum. I have tried to make sense of this. I suspect there isn't a bijective function between the identity words and the subjective experience of the people who use them, because there never is. there might be a difference between demi- and greyromantic, but it won't be universal. most likely all the 15 or so words for people-who-maybe-sometimes-feel-romantic-attraction-but-mostly-don't could refer to any of these people and their experiences, and which one you use is more a matter of which one you emotionally bonded to first. this isn't worth trying to figure out.
...and the things that I'm still trying to answer:
- what is romantic attraction? so, now there are 2 things other people feel that make them want to partner up that seem to be outside my experience, so I want to know how they differ. this is made harder by our mainstream culture conflating love, sex & romance as if they are exactly the same thing, and presenting that package deal as a universal human experience.
- what is the attraction that gets past my sex-repulsion? it's great fun, and I want more of it, so figuring this out might help me find it in the future.
- is there a line between good friends and queer platonic partners? where is it? can I have snuggle-time and eventual lizards? or is that called something else? this wouldn't matter, except for asking people out.
- erm, how's the cat?