Since there was a bit of a tangent in the Thoughts section of the last post, it might be a good idea to expand on at least one of the subjects and include some links for reference. I have some familiarity with the aplatonic-spectrum (apl-spec) community from reading around, but I can't expand much on lacking empathy as a part of identity since I haven't seen many conversations where it's more than something mentioned to talk about neurodivergency. I don't have any specific point to make about the subject, so this will primarily consist of expanding on previous thoughts.

Edit: It would be more useful to include definitions here than in the sources after. As specific identities: asexuality is experiencing no sexual attraction, aromanticism is experiencing no romantic attraction (crushes or urge to be in a romantic relationship), and aplatonicism is experiencing no platonic attraction (an urge to befriend someone). These terms are also used as umbrella terms for people who feel the relevant attraction rarely or conditionally. This is often used to refer to the communities. The word "spectrum" can be added to a term to specify that it's being used as an umbrella when talking about the identities under the umbrellas. The shortened versions are ace(-spec), aro(-spec), and apl(-spec). A-spec refers to people who fall anywhere under those three umbrellas.

The thought process started by mentioning a need for words that refer more to a person's experiences than the experiences of other people interacting with them because of how common it is for people to react negatively when someone is uninterested in friendships or socializing. Giving people the words to explain generally not wanting certain kinds of interactions makes it easier for people to not feel like they have no choice but to be in relationships that make them uncomfortable. It makes it clearer to other people that someone not wanting to be in a relationship with them isn't the fault of either person. It also allows people to feel more free in the choices they have with what people are included in their personal life. Conversations about social expectations and how they affect people can be important to anyone, a-spec or not.

Conversations about being aplatonic haven't spread nearly as much as conversations about asexuality or aromanticism have, which aren't widely known in many circles either. Aplatonicism is possibly the smallest umbrella of overall a-spec identities. It is often considered a subset of aromanticism (which is isn't necessarily) and aromanticism is often considered a subset of asexuality (which it isn't necessarily, and many aros have been fighting against this). The apl-spec community is newer, smaller, and the words haven't had as much use outside of a-spec specific spaces. I don't know if there really is any way to know how many people would possibly resonate with the terms because of how few people know about them. Regardless, there is some amount of people who find the terms useful and the terms are additionally useful in a more abstract sense for discussions of societal expectations. This can be compared to the ace and aro communities when they were just starting out.

Unlike the ace and aro communities, however, being rooted in the current models for understanding orientation may be an issue for the community's development. Orientation prefixes are harder to translate to platonic attraction labels than they are to romantic attraction labels. People are more likely to create new word roots than they are to apply or create new prefixes. Prefixes used in a-spec terms such as a-, apothi-, allo-, demi- and fray- (as well as suffixes like -flux and -spike) can be applied to the root "platonic" without much issue. However, this approach is lacking in the range needed. Many people use "aplatonic" as a set word without any changes because those prefixes don't describe them, but "aplatonic" doesn't fully describe them either. There are more experiences that need to be covered.

The apl-spec community has created or used different word roots to talk about forms of attraction that society in general doesn't focus on, just like in other a-spec communities, but these words can be difficult to use or talk about. To be clear: there is nothing wrong with the words themselves or the creation of them (besides specific issues like associations with Plato, which may deserve their own discussion). The issue comes down to the fact that the focus of each a-spec community that's considered a "subset" of another seems to be more and more abstract, and the apl-spec community has reached a point where new ideas are very difficult to introduce to people outside of the community when using this model. Ideas around differentiating connection in different kinds of relationships are bound to require fluidity and can be explained more as the community expands, of course, but in my opinion a different approach may be needed to open up the discussions about these experiences. My reason for this comes down to four factors that led me to the idea: the descriptions that are often used to introduce people to aplatonic-related discussions, general community demographics, a term that's already in use, and my personal experiences navigating these terms.

When trying to put my experiences around aplatonicism into words, I first "hit the wall" when it comes to an apparent disconnect between what people describe aplatonicism as and what words people actually use around it. "Aplatonic" is often used to explain a sense of alienation from wider society and communities that one is a part of, and the difference between what society expects and how aplatonic people feel is often broken down in parts. These parts make it easier to define the subject and understand different aplatonic experiences. However, not all of these parts are equally discussed in the community (from what I've seen, of course).

To finally stop being so vague, the "parts of aplatonicism (and related experiences)" that I see mentioned often are the ones brought up in the push-back against the phrase, "love is what makes us human," and other phrases like it. People who don't understand or accept loveless peoples' experiences tend to insist that everyone can love friends, pets, family and hobbies. With the identity and term "loveless", loveless people assert that they do not and will interact with those four things on their own terms. Aplatonic people assert that they do not feel drawn to friendships and will interact with them on their own terms. Prefixes and suffixes for "aplatonic" as well as related words like asocial and anamical fill in the gaps for experiences around the word "aplatonic" that aren't fully covered by it, so people with those experiences can assert themselves as well. But... what happened to the other three things?

The aplatonic community in general is a branch off of the aromantic community, although the identity itself isn't exclusive to aro people. As previously mentioned, a-spec models for term creation are what many of the words aplatonic people depend on. These models describe experiences relating to other people, and it makes sense in this context. The word aplatonic was created on AVEN and is primarily used by aromantic people who are alienated by a large part of the aromantic community. However, that doesn't fully cover the demographic for the word. When looking at different aplatonic experiences and the variety in them, it can be found time and time again that aplatonic is an important word for many neurodivergent people. The creator themself is an alloromantic person who made the word specifically to describe an experience possibly caused by trauma. While many discussions about aplatonicism bring up not being heavily affected or having a preference for being alone, experiences with neurodivergency tend to go much further.

A disconnect from family isn't too uncommon of a feeling among many traumatized people. I wouldn't say that it has social acceptance, but it is something that some people have put into words. There is some discussion of it in aplatonic-related posts, too. When it comes to the pets/hobbies pair, though, it may seem odd to claim that words based on neurodivergent experiences not related to other people should be coined in a community defined by how people relate to other people. Besides the fact that these experiences may not actually be exclusive to neurodivergent people (and the fact that neurodivergent people should have the space to describe their experiences even if no neurotypicals relate), I think these kinds of expansions are possible in discussions around aplatonicism because of a term that the aplatonic community already has.

"Impersonal attraction" is a term that doesn't use the orientation model the same way many other words do. It's still a form of attraction, and one could still make an orientation word out of it, but something about this term felt different to me the first time I saw it. Coming back to it later while looking for links on the topic of apl-spec terms, I think I realized why that is. Unlike many other words for attraction, I feel like "impersonal attraction" describes a situation more than it describes a relationship. By its own nature, an experience with impersonal attraction doesn't require specific people in its description. There is no requirement for certain traits in common to get along, there is no need for getting to know someone, because those things go against what the word describes. The coiner of this word describes it as Without personality but not necessarily without personhood. However, I think this is an excellent starting point for imagining what it would be like to be able to put into words experiences about how people relate to things that never have personhood (and things that occasionally do).

The main reason that I wish there were certain experiences added into what's considered in community discussions is, of course, because those experiences are ones I think about. In a small community where there aren't many discussions (yet), it may be obvious that the reason I think of those experiences is because they're... ours. Despite being "the resident aro" of the system, being apl-spec seems to apply to everyone here. It's an experience we attribute to neurodivergency, not my being aromantic. While a-spec word usages aren't new to me at all, and I'm more likely to be drawn to to a community that is connected to both being aro and neurodivergent, many of the words in the apl-spec community don't actually feel right for me. I tried on aplatonispike but it didn't quite describe what I needed it for. After finding the term "impersonal attraction," I realized that my experiences were based on situations, not relationships. I experience momentary feelings of (what I call or assume to be) love only during certain kinds of interactions with people and pets. It's not tied to a specific person or the kind of relationship I have with someone. Apl-spec describes me, but the words emphasized something other than what I considered the most important part of how I felt.

I don't think I need a specific word for what I experience. "Situation-specific love" suits me well enough, since I'd probably have to explain it either way. It wouldn't bother me if someone else did relate to that and wanted a word for it, though. That would mean there's more people who know about it and can talk about it. That's really what I want most of all: to spark a discussion. With how many words I just wrote while half-asleep, maybe I should try to do that myself sometime. If I can bring myself around to taking a peek out of my "preference for solitude" cloak, that is.

Parting words for this "main topic" section: This got much longer than I expected. In case you still want to read more, here's some links I found on the subject. The other links are below Thoughts, as usual.



(Other) Things

Getting a little better at providing commentary on the things we read. Currently undecided on whether or not linking to an alternate YouTube front-end is worth it.