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Romantic Love - Its Queer Futures and Alternatives

Notes from the session

*Chatham House rule: you’re free to use any information but do not identify speakers.


What's the workshop about?


What’s romantic love and how do we relate to it as queer people? How can we affirm diff forms of queer life and love? 


All of us know about romantic relationships. Culture and media tells us it’s important to our lives. Is it that essential, inborn, and static as we think it is? 


Activity: how do you see romantic love? — 3 words to describe 


Questions about Romantic Love: 


  1. Must Romantic love be heterosexual?

  2. Must RL be monogamous?

  3. Must RL be sexual? 


It’s not exclusively heterosexual, obviously. Something more widely-held is that it must be monogamous. But is that necessarily the case? Can there be different configurations? What about non-sexual love, or rather what about non-romantic sex? How do we know we are in love?


Love is not a fiction; it has real emotional effects on us. 


If we feel like we can’t feel romantic love, does it mean 

  1. We haven’t found the right one? 

  2. We are born this way?

  3. We just haven’t experienced things associated w the norm of RL?



  • Dyadicity = it “involves exactly two parties”

  • Exclusivity *what the idea of cheating relies on 


What’s the alternative?

  • Open relationships, polyamory, swinging, casual sex, commercial sex



  • Does sex have romantic significance? / Does romance have sexual significance?


In Singapore, ideas of romantic love default to/result in the idea of the nuclear family, which we mean one man marrying one woman. LHL himself reiterated what the family should look like acc to what the state and majority of people define it. Marriage is seen as a natural step and rite of passage in life; it is prestigious, so many social and legal rights depends on it! 


This mould of romantic love is not actually natural, it has to be enforced: through material incentives & punishments (access to public housing, welfare, healthcare), and social consequences (stigma, discrimination, compulsory het, monogamy) 


—> To what extent are these constraints circumvented by wealth?

Why is it important that we re-think romantic love? To negotiate genres of intimacy and our identities


Friendship/ Romantic Love/ Sex partners/ Gender/ Sexuality… 


Big Picture Qs:

  • What does romantic love mean to us

  • How is romantic love diff from other types of intimacy

  • How do social institutions shape our idea of romance 




  • What does romantic love mean to us


A mixture of close friendship and partnership, constantly shifting combo of all forms of intimacy — the intersection.


Is there a difference then?


Friends and partner intimacy can be quite similar. Each person has a diff definition to the point that the boundary is blurry. It’s just love full stop. 


So do you make distinctions between someone you’re romantically attracted to vs a friend?


Not really. 


The complexity maybe? Of romantic love vs other love.


Is it different flavours or simply different intensity??? The latter. 


Burning passion evolves into a level of comfort and understanding. It’s not a bad thing. 


A lot of people define romantic love by the presence of physical intimacy. Romantic love can exist in rs without physical, but most people define it as friendship. For most people, they define romantic rs as a deep complex friendship with sex in it.


Yes, a relationship occurred where sex wasn’t meant to be a part of the rs. 


What were the unique points of a non-monogamous rs?


Don’t lie and don’t lie by omission. Communicate, find time. You don’t have to be burdened by the idea that you’re the only person who can help your partner. 

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