This is my first legitimately romantic relationship. I get out of romantic relationships a lot of things that I also get from friendships, but also some things that are exclusive to romantic relationships, and some things that are exclusive to a certain kind of romantic relationship. I’ve told JJ in the past that I think of my romantic relationships as friendship+. By that I mean that in my close friendships I get emotional support, people to do activities with, feelings of acceptance and support, people to help me with problems or issues, people to celebrate and have fun with, and a feeling of love and like my presence and who I am as a person is appreciated or cherished by this person. Many of my closest friendships also involve a degree of easy physical (but non-sensual/sexual) touch, both currently and historically. I am a very touchy-feely person and I crave physical touch — in my previous lives on campus or in high school, my days were full of small touches in the middle of conversation, resting my head on other people’s shoulders, massages, people playing with my hair, etc. So, all of those things exist both within the realm of friendship and the realm of romantic relationship.
Romantic relationships have elements all their own as well. In a romantic relationship, touch becomes the norm, and sensual/sexual touch is on the table at pretty much any moment. Romantic relationships have a level of entwinement that doesn’t exist in close friendships — I structure my life around them on a daily basis. I have romantic relationships when my feeling of wanting to be around someone goes beyond the way I feel about friends and into a space that wants to be sensual/sexual and life-entwined, when the pleasure I feel from spending time with someone feels like a thing I want to have as much of in my life as possible, a thing to be prioritized over others. Romance goes beyond friendship to say that I want to exist with this person as some sort of a unit, a we. It adds dimensions to the love I experience in close friendships, growing past a love for me as a person and my presence to include a love for my body and a love for the life we are building together. Entwinement brings love and touch and appreciation and companionship and the pleasure of experiencing life with this person into my everyday life, especially when the relationship progresses to cohabitation, which feels like the natural direction a healthy relationship flows towards to me.