It’s More Like Calculus

Key terms:
  • Sexual Orientation: a person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted.
    -(Definition courtesy of
  • Romantic Orientation: “…an individual’s pattern of romantic attraction based on a person’s gender. This is considered distinct from sexual orientation ”
    -(Definition courtesy of Asexual Visibility and Education Network)
  • Gender Identity: “Gender identity is defined as a personal conception of oneself as male or female (or rarely, both or neither). This concept is intimately related to the concept of gender role, which is defined as the outward manifestations of personality that reflect the gender identity. Gender identity, in nearly all instances, is self-identified…”
    -(Definition courtesy of Medscape; Ghosh, Shuvo, MD. “Gender Identity.” Medscape. WebMD LLC, Web. 17 Dec. 2015.)*

*(it has been brought to my attention that the gender identity definition I use is too binary. If anyone can find a better one please let me know)

The above are three major components of what is relationship calculus. There are a few more, but we’ll get to those later. The heteronormative (adj. “denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation“) opinion is that relationships are one boy meets one girl and they live happily ever after. 1 + 1 = 2. That explanation works really well when you’re like six years old and don’t have the capacity to understand quadratic equations, parabolas, logarithms, trigonometry. But people are more complicated than that, so logically relationships will be exponentially so.

Asexual: does not experience sexual attraction.
Aromantic: does not experience romantic attraction.
Agender: does not identify as a binary gender or identifies as a neutral gender.

Attraction is the major factor in determining where a person falls in the ranges of sexual/romantic orientation. The problem with attraction is that it’s really, really hard to describe to people who are not familiar with it or have not experienced it. Attraction also comes in multiple layers.

In REALLY simple terms:
Sexual attraction: “I want to tap that.”
Romantic attraction: “I want to date that”
But there’s also-
Aesthetic  attraction, which to me feels like “oooh, shiny!!!” It feels like my eyes are drawn like magnets to some people.
Sensual attraction which is related to touch and the senses. For me it feels like I really REALLY want to give some people a hug.
And Platonic Attraction, which feels like I want some people to be my new best friend not just casual acquaintances.

Under “normal” circumstances the forms of attractions should (“in theory”) line up so if you’re heterosexual, you’ll also be heteroromantic, etc… Or if you’re Asexual you’re also aromantic, etc… Which, screw normal, because that is just not how attraction works. People don’t fit in one nice neat little box. We’re not just pink or blue.  It’s more like redish or blueish, but then you have purplish, greenish, orangeish and so on. You could be “straight” sexually and at the same time be romantically queer. Or like me and experience bursts of aesthetic and sensual attraction outside my “normal” lineup.

Heterosexual/romantic, Homosexual/romantic, and Bisexual/romantic are terms that are based off the normal gender binary. Gender is not the same thing as biological sex. We’re assigned a gender based on our sex at birth. Then you have intersexed individuals, transgendered individuals, and people like me who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. I’m agender, what’s my opposite? Everybody who identifies as having gender?

So, for me it’s not 1 + 1 = 2 it’s more like “…floating in an endless, frictionless void traveling at x miles per hour at a descension rate of one half the speed of gravity. Solve for x.” So, yeah, it’s like calculus.

(-quote about calculus from Andrew Sturm, The Kirkwood Project (via GoodReads))