Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al


So the Captain Awkward community like to make up terms for stuff, which serves multiple purposes, one of which is of course helping the in-group to bond. Anyway, recently I came across a term that might fill a lexical gap in my life: The Awe Ritual says:
The Cap is my “mermaid.” On a face level, we’re ferociously compatible and mates for life and frequently go off to make brainbabies, but below the waist, we’re just different species and not equipped to handle each others’ affections
I think I need a term like that; I'm more inclined to make it gender neutral by saying merfriend, but yes, there are people that I not only love very much, but am committed to and prioritize in way people expect for partners while we are not even slightly romantically involved.

It feels that this isn't a concept that is completely lacking, just one that's not culturally favoured. Like, some internet subcultures say BFF when they're talking about friends who are really important to them, but I'm not sure of all the connotations and I am a bit nervous of the superlative. Or in historical contexts you read about intense romantic friendships, often between members of the same gender. And I'm sure some of them were in fact Queer in some sense but not accepted as such, but I reckon at least some of the friendships we read about were in fact just that, strong, loving, lifelong friendships between straight people. Now we seem to have replaced the heterosexist idea that men and women can't be friends with the idea that, well, no friends of any gender combination can ever be emotionally close and affectionate because if they are, they're not "just" friends, they must be lovers. Or conversely, if they're not romantically and presumably sexually involved, their relationship can't really be serious or important in their life.

I do have a bit of an issue with the phrasing that below the waist is where sex happens; I am sure I could fall in love with and be attracted to an actual mermaid or other gendered merperson and we could find ways to have sex even if they didn't have human genitals. Indeed, plenty of non-mythical humans have excellent sex where most or all of the touching happens above the waist, and defining that as not sex is unhelpful. But I think that's being a bit over-literal; the general image of a strong, loving emotional connection with the aspect of a person that loves and being totally incompatible in terms of the aspect that involves sexuality in its broadest sense is I think well conveyed by the metaphor of a mermaid.

I mean, I have friends I love and with whom there is the potential of a sexual-romantic connection, but that is never going to be more than just a potential. People I could hypothetically be attracted to in the right circumstances, but choose not to nurture those feelings if they would be unwelcome. And people with whom there is acknowledged mutual attraction but we're not going to act on it because for whatever reason we don't want that kind of interaction. (Honestly, as of two years ago I feel absolutely full up; not only do I not have any time or energy for any more romantic connections or sex with friends, but I have absolutely no inclination for any, all my valences are filled in the poly chemistry metaphor. So even if the hottest person I know were to proposition me right now I would almost certainly say no.) But merfriends are different, there are people I'm as incompatible with on those levels as if we were actually different species.

Some of these merfriend relationships are older than my oldest romantic relationship (nearly 9 years with [personal profile] jack) and at some stages have overlapped with periods when I was definitely monogamous. I was fortunate that my partners took me seriously when I told them abuot my merfriends and accepted them as an important part of my life and didn't think I was cheating sexually or emotionally. But as The Awe Ritual continues in their comment (is it possible to link to individual comments on Wordpress blogs like Captain Awkward? ETA: Yes, yes it is, thanks [personal profile] simont

So, yes. Merfriend is my new favourite made-up word, so I thought I'd tell you about it.

Wednesday current reading: The sisterhood by Penelope Friday. We found the lesbians, and I wasn't expecting realism, this is a fairly frothy romance with period trappings, but within the context of the book, where everybody is obsessed with tiny gradations of social status and whether people are trade or gentry and the Ton, it seems completely off the wall to have a society of women who love women being prepared to drop all class distinctions and be completely loyal to every other woman they meet with lesbian tendencies. But in spite of that I'm enjoying the book and I like the actual relationships in it, the way that feelings of atttraction are portrayed and the way that the characters mostly talk to eachother and clear up misunderstandings.

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Tags: relationships

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