Isn’t It Aromantic?
How I realized I was asexual and aromantic, not cynical and frozen
It’s one of the strangest things about being human—people assure you from a very young age that “one day” you will fall in love with another person. Like it’s guaranteed, the same way you’ll lose your baby teeth or learn to drive a car. It’s just a given. Someday your prince (or princess) will come.
I bought it. I had crushes on boys in grade and high school, all completely unrequited. I had the occasional fantasy about having a boyfriend, although I did nothing to make it happen. It never occurred to me that I could ask someone out, and I didn’t have to wait to be asked out.
There was one boy in high school that I actually did fall in love with…at, rather. He didn’t even care that I was alive. It didn’t matter. I swooned over him all fall, sighed over him all winter, and it wasn’t until spring (appropriately) that I realized my infatuation had matured into Actual Feelings of Lurve. That was both exhiliarating and scary. Still, I preferred to feel like all my dreams were coming true without ever letting him know. I liked the feelings of being in love more than the idea of them being reciprocated. They never were. He found out I liked him and avoided me. I found out he had a girlfriend (who did not go to our school) and I was devastated. It took me all of a month to get over him, and after that, I never felt the same way about anyone ever again.
This was where I first noticed a difference between myself and other people. It’s standard for many to look back on their First Loves with nostalgia, wry humor, and worldly wisdom. Oh how young we were, we thought we would be together forever, wouldn’t change a thing, etc. I didn’t look back on my one-sided high school crush that way at all. All I felt was disgust, revulsion even, that I had allowed myself to fall for someone. I was horrified at myself and had no desire, absolutely none, to fall in love again. I vowed to avoid it like a contagious disease.
College came around, and I had chosen a women’s college, so the dating angle was non-existent. I didn’t mind in the least, having had it drilled into my head from four years of Catholic school that Good Girls Didn’t Have Premarital Sex and all the virgin/whore dichotomy behind that belief system. I wasn’t really eager to date or lose my virginity to anyone anyway. I did meet a couple of guys who were friends-of-friends, and they were decent people, but I never felt any “spark” with them.
I know what you’re thinking—Okay, then didn’t that mean that maybe my interests lay elsewhere? Say, with girls? Nope. I won’t lie, I did have a few crushes on girls throughout my life, but I can’t say that I would classify myself as gay or even bisexual. I don’t know exactly where I’d fall on the Kinsey scale, but that is currently irrelevant. Moving on.
A few years after I graduated college, my parents separated after twenty-seven years in a truly shocking turn of events. That took quite an emotional toll, as you can imagine. It was easy for me to believe all the most cynical points of view after that: Love was a lie, love never lasted, love flat-out stunk. Who was I to argue?
Once the initial pain wore off, I wondered where this left me vis-a-vis my own romantic future. I still had no interest in dating. I had no prospects and had briefly dabbled in Internet dating sites, only to find that I didn’t care to so much as message back any of my potential “matches.” I thought all this meant that I was broken from seeing my parents’ marriage end. I thought I was doomed to be one of those women who “can’t open their heart” to anyone, even if the Perfect Guy came along. It really got me down.
Up until this point, I’d never been taught a damn thing about asexuality. I’d looked it up once after seeing footage of an Asexuals’ Pride Parade online, but at the time, nothing rang a bell with me. I just thought it was kind of weird that some people had no sex drives whatsoever. Years later, due to my addiction to Tumblr and YouTube, I gradually discovered more about asexuality until I looked it up on Wikipedia once more, and realized that the common characteristics sounded a lot like me! I have very little sex drive (though I do have a healthy love of reading homoerotic fanfiction, not gonna lie!) I don’t wish to have sex with anyone, in any way, and could happily spend the rest of my life that way.
However, it was not a blissful “Oh, THAT’s why!” revelation for me. It was good to know the truth about myself for roughly an hour…and then I began agonizing over how to tell people. I couldn’t believe that I, who had always considered herself heterosexual, would actually have to come out to people! I’d never thought I’d have to do that! But after spending a day in turmoil, I realized that most of the people I told would still love and accept me. So I told my mother, sister, and a few close friends. They were all totally cool with it.
As for the aromantic part, that came later. I figured that it was as good a descriptive as any for my utter lack of interest in real-life romance or romantic gestures. I adore sweet, tender, heartfelt stuff on TV shows and in some movies that don’t rely too heavily on cliches, but if some guy were to actually send me a dozen red roses, I’d probably snort and roll my eyes at his lack of imagination. (I don’t think we’d last long.) I don’t enjoy holding hands or being “cuddled,” and when people put their arms around me, I can tolerate it for about five seconds before I shrug their arms off. I’m just not into that.
I know that I don’t owe anyone any further explanation about why I am this way. I didn’t “choose” it. I am not “confused.” And I definitely don’t care whether or not I ever meet “the right person.” As far as I’m concerned, there is no “right” person. What does “right” even imply—that they’ll fix me? Because there’s nothing here I want to fix.