In this episode of hammock chats, Matt and Archie define romantic relationships and discuss how both ours and society’s perceptions of romantic relationships have evolved over time.


  1. Weekly Check-In
  2. How Do You Define A Romantic Relationship (1:53)
  3. How Do You Differentiate Between Romantic and Platonic Relationships (4:54)
  4. Why Do We Seek Out Romantic Relationships (8:26)
  5. Does True Altruism Exist (14:00)
  6. What’s Fundamentally Right and Wrong is Constantly Evolving (17:35)
  7. Compulsory Heteronormativity and How Do You Define A Crush (20:40)
  8. What Do We Want Out of Relationships (27:40)

    Weekly Check-In

Archie: I’m doing better than usual! This quarter has been very stressful, but this week’s been better than usual.

Matt: Unfortunately, this week was also a pain train.

The past two weekends have been grinding, and this long weekend is finally the chance to relax.

How Do You Define A Romantic Relationship?

Archie: That’s a stupid question, romantic relationships are defined by: “hey, do you want to be in a romantic relationship with me.”

Matt: In your eyes, is the only thing that makes a relationship romantic the act of defining it as a romantic relationship?

Archie: Do you mean to ask, what is romance? That’s more of a difficult question. I feel like romance and love are not the same thing.

Romance is like... the possibility of love. If flirting is to sex, then romance is to love.

Matt: We actually had this topic of flirting come up when I was talking about relationships with Helena! We talked about the concept of how flirting is, at its core, about deniable plausibility where there’s possibility of something happening between two people, but you’re never really upfront about it.

Archie: Well, it CAN be more intentional. You can go on a date, get flowers, chocolates, and that’s not deniable plausibility.

Matt: That leads to another question: around this time of year, a lot of people, they know that they like people, but it’s hard to make things official. In other words, they find it hard to define the relationship.

You’ve also had your fair share of trying to figure out how to define your relationship, so what differentiates between romantic and close platonic friendships.

How Do You Differentiate Between Romantic and Platonic Relationships


I mean... you wouldn't want to have sex with them?

Well, for starters, you’re one of my close platonic friends, but I don’t have romantic feelings for you.

Matt: What makes a significant other someone who you would WANT to go on romantic dates with.

Archie: It’s just vibes. When our friend tried setting me up, there was no “click.”

Matt: Do you approach romantic relationships from friends first, and believe that romantic attraction can only happen afterwards?

Archie: You can get to know someone first, but you don’t necessarily have to be close friends with them before experiencing romantic attraction.

Matt: For people who are alloromantic (!aromantic), they approach people with romantic intentions already. In that way, why do we seek out romantic relationships?

Why Do We Seek Out Romantic Relationships?

Archie: It’s nice to have a “person” who is “your person.” You’re not doing it all alone.

Matt: What I would like in a romantic relationship, is the safety of knowing that I’m someone’s first choice, or that someone is thinking of me.

One of my biggest insecurities has been about always being people's second choices, or not people's first choices.

When you hang out with people, there’s a priority queue of who you would want to hang out with. Significant others are slightly ahead of friends in the priority queue of who to hang out with.

Archie: I feel like that’s an added benefit of a relationship, but that’s not the primary reason of seeking out a relationship.

It’s not a very good reason to always have someone as a fallback.

Matt: I had this conversaition earlier, and my friend says that he feels like he spends all of his free time with his girlfriend.

Archie: I’ve been there, and you need friends, even when you’re in a relationship to stay grounded, the concept of codependence. If you can’t exist as an individual without that other person, that’s the sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Matt: Struggling with codependence seems at odds with people’s fundamental concepts of relationships. From the religious perspective, the whole concept of wanting a relationship is to have offspring, keep your lineage going. When you look at penguins for instance, they always have lifelong partners.


If the whole reason of wanting relationships is to have offspring, why would you be in a monogamous relationship, why not just fuck as many bitches as you can, just to please God?

Matt: The thing is, that you build deep bonds with people when you have relationships with them. The whole concept of a significant other is that they’re “significant.” Polygamous relationships go against the whole concept of having a “significant other.”

We might not consciously want offspring, but we might want a relationship for protection or preservation of ourselves.

Is there ever a truly selfless relationship? Is there such thing as true altruism?

Does True Altruism Exist?

Archie: I don’t really believe in the concept of altruism as a whole, whether through the lens of romantic relationships or not. I feel like whatever you do is inherently selfish. For example, if I’m doing something nice for my current partner, I’m doing that because it makes ME feel good to do nice things for someone else.

You never do something unless it makes YOU happy.

Matt: Is deriving happiness from seeing other people inherently selfish?

Archie:Everything is inherently selfish, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

Matt: As someone who’s optimistic, I still believe that our very core, we are inherently selfish with self preservation in mind. HOWEVER, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I feel like having a sense of morals or idealistic beliefs and the ability to see what’s “right” and “wrong” can do things for our benefit that are still morally just.

Right now, I’m at this crossroads in my life trying to determine what are beliefs that I’d like to have vs the beliefs that my parents put onto me. I believe this concept is called political socialization, do you want to talk about it a bit, Archie?

Archie: Part of it is how you were raised with your parents’ political beliefs, and how you’re likely to have those beliefs of your family and your community.

Matt: A big driving force for our ideals come from the fact that we were raised with the ideals of our parents. A big part of maturity and adulthood is seeing: what are things that you believe in vs what are things that you grew up with.

The ability to instill a sense of what's right, and what's wrong, on a foundational level, is what I'm grateful for from my parents.

What’s Fundamentally Right and Wrong is Constantly Evolving

Archie: I think that this is just the concept of a social contract. You have to give up a certain amount of freedom to live in a society where you get protection.

The fundamental “rights and wrongs” come from that social contract. However, they’re not really fundamental because they change all the time.

Matt: I agree that the fundamentals of what’s right and wrong is always evolving, do you have a specific example in mind?

Archie: Human sacrifice is now seen as something barbaric and horrible. In the days where human sacrifice is performed, if you think about it from the past, people believed that they were doing something for the gods, for their own good. If you believed there was this all powerful god, you would give them what they cared about most. Obviously I don’t agree with the concept of human sacrifice. I don’t think you can say that our parents have instilled that in us when there isn’t really a “set” thing.

Compulsory Heteronormativity and How Do You Define A Crush?

Matt: People didn’t really agree with it in the past, but it’s more acceptable nowadays. The ideal of how you define relationship was between a man and a woman is different now, and even two women or two men is socially acceptable now.

Archie: Before I realized I was only into women, it was quite a confusing time, because I didn’t have that many male friends until college. I didn’t really understand the difference between platonic and romantic attraction. That was not very fun for me, thinking I had a “crush” on every man I’ve talked to because I liked talking to them.

Matt: That goes onto another topic, which is, what defines a crush? For one of our friends, it’s something that comes really easily.

Archie: That’s a difficult question for me to answer, as I only count myself as a human being in the romantic sense since I’ve realized that I was gay. Since then, I haven’t really had a “proper crush” on anyone.

Matt: The way that he defines it is: do you see yourself wanting to kiss them. For me, it’s something similar. Is it someone that I’m nervous around since I would see myself in a romantic context person with them.

The reason why this can be confusing, is "what defines this romantic context"?

Archie: The way that I knew I had a crush on someone was from knowing that I wanted to kiss her. The thing that’s confusing is that I’d totally kiss a man just for the vibes. However, it would feel more like a performance and not because I’m into it in a romantic or sexual context.

What Do We Want Out of Relationships

Archie: Mine and my current partner’s love languages are quite different outside of touch. As a math major, words of affirmation or signs of love are things that don’t come naturally for me. I can’t do it spontaneously, but the way that I do like to show love is by doing things. As for my love languages, she gets me gifts that have sentimental value that remind me of her.

Matt: At the end of the day, everyone has different love lanuages. There is no “formula of love” or right/wrong way to do love. It’s always a game of adaptation: no matter what, there is no fundamental right and wrong that’s always going to be constant. The same can be said about relationships. At the end of the day, you just go off off vibes for relationships.