Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Life as an aromantic asexual

(Or; My life, so far)

(WARNINGS: Not exactly all sunshine and rainbows here guys, I was a bit messed up for a few years. Also potentially triggering about mild suicidal thoughts, and general self hate. If you're not in a good place, please don't read this.)
(Obviously, I can only speak for myself here, but this is basically a second person narrative form of my experiences re; love and sex)

You're born, and nothing marks you out from all the other babies (in terms of romantic and sexual orientation, at least). You become a child, and during your childhood you're told and shown that 'everyone falls in love' that there are certain actions (which you're not quite sure of yet) that you do with your husband (and only him, because that's what good women do. Why this makes a woman 'good' is never discussed). You might play "mummies and daddies", or "house", or whatever you call it, with other young girls. Whatever you call it, you will spend hours being forced to sham a family, to make believe that you are the wife, cooking and cleaning for her husband, or the husband, working to get food and clothing for his wife, when really all you want is to go and dig in the sandpit or climb a tree or read a book. Sometimes it will become quite an elaborate game, where there are multiple families "living" on a street. You will never quite understand why there needs to be a "mummy" and "daddy" for each family, why you can't just 'live' alone (or with a cat!) without being the evil old witch who tries to cast mean spells on the good "normal" mummies and daddies. You will decide that, for now at least, being alone is worse than anything, and you will discover that while you can't be alone, you can pretend to be a pet. Pets don't get married, after all, nor do they become "mummies" or "daddies" (you know they have kids, but this, you will know, is not what makes someone a mummy or daddy.)

Eventually, you will get better at avoiding being forced into playing mummies and daddies, and you will learn to like sitting alone and reading. You will not understand the romantic implications of a book - you will see them as close friends, nothing more.

You will get older, and you will go to school. Here, you will be taught about the concept of "love", which is somewhat ill defined. You can love your family, but you don't love them, and loving them is wrong. The only person you will love is you future husband. You will get roped into sham "marriages", where your classmates will pair off and pretend to get married. You will quickly decide that you will be the priest, because the priest can't get married (pretending to be a boy is far better than pretending to get married). You get quite good at marrying people, good enough that people stop asking to marry you and instead ask you to marry them.

You will still not understand what the big deal is about getting married, nor about being in love. An adult will tell you that they "married their best friend", and you will misinterpret that to be that they married their best friend because they were their best friend. Using this misinterpretation, you will suddenly understand why people get married - to stay with their best friend forever. You're not sure why two people of the same gender can't get married though - surely not everyone has a opposite gendered best friend!

You will get older, and suddenly truth or dare becomes truth, dare or kiss. You will still pick dare or truth, and never tell people to kiss anyone - what's the point? it's just pressing your lips to someone else's (lips/cheek/hand/skin, depending). Your friends will see it as a big deal, and you won't, but you'll assume this is just like how some of them see fashion as a big deal and you don't.

At some point, you will start becoming more selective with your reading, avoiding romance novels altogether. You won't understand the driving plot, nor the feeling expressed, and they'll bore you. You'll get equally bored of most chick flicks and rom-coms, instead preferring sci-fi and fantasy (where, if there's no where near as many girls represented, at least there's little romance).

You will also pick up on the fact that, within a few years, you will begin puberty, and start wanting to date and chase after boys. You won't be particularly bothered by the concept, but it will seem foreign and odd to you. 

Some of your class mates may even have crushes on celebrities  - they will say how "hot" they are, or how "cute" they look. You, having associated cute with small kittens and other animals, will be totally confused. Your games of truth or dare or kiss will start having truths about if you've kissed anyone yet, about who you have a crush on or who you like. You will not be believed when you answer in the negative.

You will finish primary school, and get to high school. By this point, you've had the bare basics of sex education, but nothing detailed. You know tab A is inserted to slot B, but not why. You think that it'll be explained to you at some point - there's gotta be a reason people do that, after all! 

You make friends, and some of them are male. People will start rumours about you dating some of them, and when confronted with the rumours you can only express bafflement. You will go to parties, and there will still be discussions about who you "like", and you will still answer in the negative. You will still not be believed, and you will gain a reputation as being secretive about who you like.

You will go through the mandatory sex ed classes, and you will wonder if this is the year that you discover why people have sex. The reasons given are to express love (you're still not sure what love actually is, let alone feels like, let alone why you'd want to bother to have sex), or because the people in question are horny (you have no idea what that feels like - the concept is alien to you).

You will watch your friends start dating, and you will still not have had a crush on anyone. You will question your orientation - surely you've got to be attracted to someone, anyone. You will read many romantic books, as many as you can get your hands on, trying to find some sort of connection between you and the main characters. You will find none, and you will give up on the entire romantic genre - you prefer to think that the whole genre is totally unrealistic than to think that you're not normal. The thought that you're broken will creep up on you, and stay rooted in the back of your brain.

Eventually, you will still not have had a crush on anyone, but will have learned to lie when asked. You will learn to sham being 'normal' - putting up posters of actors in your room, agreeing when friends say an actor is hot, giving made up names when asked about your first kiss/crush.

You will still not see the point of dating, or what's so special about kisses. You will be already fed up of the response "you just know" when you ask questions about romance or love.

At some point, you will be asked out by a friend, and you will agree because you can't see any reasons why you shouldn't. (you will not count a reason as "I don't feel like dating anyone" as a reason - you are a teenager, you should feel like dating someone.) You will "date" him for a month, before he calls it off and tells you he just doesn't think your heart's in it. You will feel terrible, not because you loved him, but because you didn't. You two will never speak again, and none of your other friends will know you were even dating someone.

You will agree to several stupid things, to being kissed by others and skinny dipping and midnight bike rides across the country side because you don't have that desire for them, and maybe love (sexual desire and romance) are something you need to practice at before you want them. (you will ignore the part of you telling you that doesn't make any sense.) You kiss girls and guys and everyone in between, trying to find if you're attracted to any of them. You don't feel that spark, and you stop, because kissing is really just the pressing of lips and not all that special. You in school friends will still know nothing about this, and you will keep it that way until you find out who you are (at this point you despair of ever actually belonging anywhere -you're pretty much resigned to being a freak)

You'll get asked out again by a different friend, and you'll agree. You'll care for him, and you'll just want to hold him and hug him. You'll put up with his requests for kissing, for making out, because you get to cuddle with someone. You'll be heartbroken when he breaks up with you because you won't sleep with him - you can't see the point, and don't want to until you can- and he tells you that that was the reason he started dating you. You'll still not have told your school friends about this, and some of them will call you repressed because of your perceived lack of relationships.

You'll go back to reading romantic novels, because surely now you've been in two romantic relationships they'll make sense to you (you'll ignore the fact that, while you have dated you still don't think you've felt love (surely you'd know if you had, everyone says you would), and you still don't know why people kiss). Each one is like running sandpaper over your soul - each mention of how  everyone fall in love makes you feel that little bit more alone, the little bit more freakish.  You start to wonder exactly how broken you are - you started reality checking years ago, and you wonder if that's related to your lack of romantic drive. You start having mildly suicidal thoughts, and the fact that you are now coving love in health doesn't help this. Each 45 minute lesson is an exercise in torture and futility - the questions about what you look for in a partner are baffling and alienating. The watching of Love Actually will nearly drive you to tears - on bad days you still can't watch the movie without feeling like you did all those years ago. On good days you only have to skip some parts.

You will decide, eventually, that you will be happy being alone. You will decide you never want to get married, that you're never going to date again, and that you're going to not feel freakish for not knowing why people kiss or what love feels like. You will ignore the fact that this (as far as you know) means you will end up alone (while you don't want that, trying to fake feelings you don't understand is too hard, and you can't spare the energy pretending anymore).

You will be questioned by your friends, your family and strangers about if you're dating, if you have a boyfriend, if you want one, when you want one etc. Each time you're asked, it will feel like they're driving needles under your nails and then hammering them in. You will learn to dodge the questions, and eventually most people stop asking.

You will learn to ignore your mother telling you that dating makes you a less selfish person, that everyone dates, that you'll fall in love. You'll learn to awkwardly deflect the praise for "concentrating on your studies" that not dating gets you.

Then, eventually, you'll come across the words for what you are. You'll find something that fits, that sits right, and you'll let that tiny little voice telling you you're broken go. (It'll return sometimes, when life gets bad or you fail reality checks. You can't get rid of 16+ years of being told you're wrong, that you're broken, that easily. But for the most part, it's gone).

You'll slowly adopt the label that fits you, and eventually you'll tell a couple of your friends. You'll tell them because school is ending, and you know if it goes badly you can always make new friends. They'll be accepting, although one will try to play devil's advocate and inadvertently become offensive. You'll forgive him, and never mention it.

You'll slowly come out to more people, some of whom will accept you. You'll not know how to feel when you realise that the people you came out to whom you haven't spent the last five years attending school with are more accepting than the people who attended high school with are. Some of the people you come out to will believe you. None of them will know what you're talking about at first. Some people will assume you're being ironic, or lying or mistaken. You will never tell them how much it hurts you (being told that you should go back to how you were, that how you were was right, that loathing yourself and wanting to not exist was how you should always feel and that you're deluding yourself to think otherwise).

You'll get to a point that you can't remember whom you're out to and whom you're not - except for your parents. You'll feel guilty for not being honest with them, but you'll be too afraid of their reaction and too inept at talking about this sort of thing with them to change it.

You'll come out to your high school deputy principal, and be immensely surprised when he knows what you mean. You'll learn to come out on the defensive, to expect people to scoff and not understand. You'll spend a night convincing someone that just because you don't see the big deal, doesn't mean that you want to date or make out or shag someone ("I don't care" does not mean "So it doesn't matter to me if I do"). You'll stop talking to them because they can't understand that being told "you're the only person I want to cheat on (current partner) with" is not a compliment.

You'll re-meet someone you connected with, and you'll wonder to yourself if maybe you identified wrong, because maybe this is love. You'll read about zucchini, and squishes, and realise this is a squish. You'll become close friends, and you'll watch as he starts dating a friend of yours. You'll become closer, and you'll start worrying that you're going to break his relationships. You'll contemplate trying to distance yourself, to pull back a bit, and then not be able to deal with the very idea of doing so. Throughout all this, you'll deal with the fact your parents think you're pining for him (you are, just not how they think you are), with people assuming you're dating, with friends thinking you're cheating. 

You'll slowly start hoping that that future you planned on, the one where you were alone and lonely but not lying to yourself isn't going to happen, that you'll be able to have a partner that knows how you feel and doesn't hate you for it. You start daring to plan your future for two, not one and a cat.

You'll become zucchini to him, and you'll feel so, so  lucky. You'll find you need to make up convoluted metaphors, and run into issues you didn't see coming because it never occurred to you that it could be an issue. You'll learn why people like kissing, and you'll have someone to turn to when you get skin hungry. You'll love someone, and even if it's not love you'll be happy because you don't need love, just his company. You'll realise you're actually a really weird combination of cheesy romantic behaviours and aromantic asexual feelings, and you'll be ok with that.

But you'll never, ever really be "normal", and you'll still get those moments when your experiences aren't counted, aren't real for the rest of the world. You'll still be highly surprised when people use the term asexual, when people know what you're talking about, when people believe you. Statements like "Everyone is attracted to...", "All people are sexual" and "everyone falls in love" will still be like fine sandpaper across your soul. 


  1. This is really, really good. Thanks for sharing this.

    Especially this:
    "An adult will tell you that they "married their best friend", and you will misinterpret that to be that they married their best friend because they were their best friend. Using this misinterpretation, you will suddenly understand why people get married - to stay with their best friend forever."

    Insofar as I want to marry, this is why.

  2. i still dont get what an aromantic asexual is...

    1. It is someone who is not sexually attracted to anyone (asexual), and nor are they romantically attracted to anyone either (aromantic) -- meaniong they would never want to have sex with someone else, nor date them/have a romantic relationship with them.

      So basically, the only relationships they want are friendships (unless the person in question is also Schizoid, in which case they wouldn't want to have any friends either).

  3. This is so beautiful. I identify with this EXACTLY.

  4. Hello. I'm just a random stranger, courtesy of Google. I just wanted to thank you. I could never concisely convey what my point of view on the subject is, and what my life experience is like. You conveyed this anecdote beautifully, in a fashion which is, I believe, easy to empathize with.... understandable, and human. It restraints itself well, doesn't become overly emotional.

    And, it's useful. To help me explain. Not just to others, but to myself.

    Anyway, enough awkward shit. Thanks. That's the point. Thank you.

  5. Yes! This makes sense to me. This is what I am too! Thank you so much for writing this.

    "You can't get rid of 16+ years of being told you're wrong, that you're broken, that easily." <-- That's where I am now. I'm beginning that mental reorganization of trying to figure out what the future looks like now that I know I'm not going to fall in love and marry my best friend and all that...

  6. Thank you. This is really important to me and this was nice and well written and beautiful and it made me happy because I'm only just figuring some things out and everything is really confusing right now and I think reading this blog post helped me be a little more okay. I'm glad you found your person.

  7. this really great. thank you.