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Random Thoughts About Relationships

As many of my regular readers know, I am asexual and aromantic. In my case, this means I’ve never been in a romantic relationship and don’t intend to start one in the near future. To tell you the truth, the very thought of being involved in one grosses me out. I don’t get lonely, and I prefer to be alone.


I was not interested in relationships but was told it was inevitable.
Holding Hands

It seems weird, then, that I am often described as writing good romantic relationships in my stories. I’ve been told that I must have a healthy one to be able to write them so well. Those readers would be surprised to know that I have absolutely no experience in this area. All my romantic relationships are based strictly on observations of other relationships, including what works, what doesn’t work, and what that calculator inside my brain says would be the most likely outcome of each derivation. It’s kind of like using an AI to come up with the story, only it’s inside my head.

 

This causes some awkward moments in conversation with regular people. They will often begin a sentence with, “You know how when you’re in a relationship and…” And, of course, I am blunt and tell them no. They get kind of itchy and either walk away or quickly change the subject rather than asking me how that’s even possible.

 

I get a lot of accusations. Some people tell me that I should get my hormone levels checked. Others ask if I’ve had some sort of trauma. One even compared me to a serial killer. But there are few who actually accept the fact that it happens sometimes.

 

I can remember the time I realized that I was aromantic, even before I knew there was such a term. My ninth grade health class curriculum was written by some Judeo-Christian heteronormative asshat, and it became very clear during the marriage and family unit. All the relationship discussion concerned heterosexual coupling, gay relationships were never mentioned, and those of us who didn’t want a relationship at all were called “wrong” or “in denial.”

 

The more I learned of this curriculum, the worse I felt. It went into highly inappropriate territory, where we were all told what things we were supposed to look for in a “life partner,” as they put it. These were all highly subjective things that would depend on the person, but they had been standardized by the curriculum and labeled “right” or “wrong” by the writers.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly okay to discuss unhealthy and toxic relationships. You don’t want to end up with a narcissist, for example. You don’t want to be with someone who beats or belittles you. However, this was not what the curriculum was talking about. Dangerous relationships were never brought up in the lesson. It was all, what makes a good man and what makes a good woman.

 

It got worse than that. I remember the day they went over the psychology of relationships, where they said that women often went with someone who was like their father. Instantly I felt sick. I mean, actually, physically ill. I had to leave the room before I threw up. This was a Clockwork Orange type reaction. There was no way in Hell I was going to marry someone like… Like that thing!

 

I felt hopeless after that. It was the mid-nineties and everywhere I went it was pounded into my head that relationships are an unavoidable requirement of adulthood. It didn’t matter that I didn’t want one, it was going to happen to me whether I liked it or not. I found myself trying to prepare myself for all the things about a relationship I didn’t want to deal with, like sex, children, and fights.

 

The health unit went over the line when the unit test was passed out. One of the questions… one of the graded questions… was what I looked for in a life partner. I knew I was supposed to spout back all that bullshit they described that I hated.

 

Anger welled up inside me when I realized this was none of this teacher’s business. I almost wrote, “kiss my ass!” Instead, I wrote that it was none of his business and I didn’t need him trying to grade my personal choices, and furthermore, if I saw it marked wrong I was going to speak to my parents. I don’t remember what grade I got on that test, but I do know that my answer to that question was not marked wrong.

 

I was really glad that unit ended when it did, because I was three steps away from punching that sappy teacher right in his sentimental nose. Kids loved him, but I hated him. As I described in a previous post, he used to cry at those Judeo-Christian guilt pieces. I actually avoided my graduation ceremony at that school because I didn’t want him handing me a gardenia and crying. I’m serious, this was the primary reason I didn’t attend. That microscopic amount of respect I had for the guy disappeared when he taught this disgusting unit.

 

It's not like I had good examples of relationships in my home life. My parents certainly weren’t the model example of a great love affair. They divorced when I was four after Mom found out that Dad cheated on her with a young college student. From the stories he told, it was clear that this was not the first time he had cheated, it was just the first time she caught him.

 

They got back together “for the kids” and proceeded to make my life a living hell. Their fighting was constant, and they would fight about anything. One time my sister started laughing bitterly because they had an argument about a chicken dinner. Another time I asked what kind of car they drove when I was born, and this led to a fight so severe that they wouldn’t speak to each other for the rest of the night.

 

I remember the one piece of advice Dad had on relationships. One day we were sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Carson City and he’d just had one of his million or so fights with Mom. She had gone into the store to get something and Dad was pouting in the car. He informed me that the only reason I was alive is that Mom mixed up her spermicide with A&D ointment. She discovered it after the fact and didn’t tell Dad until she found out she was pregnant. He sourly continued the story by saying that she said she didn’t tell him because she was afraid he’d be mad at her.

 

“Don’t do that,” he said, with a sigh of irritation. “Don’t keep things from your husband because you’re afraid he’ll get mad at you.”

 

Because of course it was a husband. My agender status didn’t matter to the man who was constantly trying to force me to live the role that my genitals indicated in his twisted mind. But that’s not the really disturbing thing about this discussion. There is so much more to talk about.

 

First of all, Mom had a good reason to be worried about Dad being mad at her. When he got mad, he exploded and was verbally abusive. He would tell her horrible things, constantly insulting her and calling her stupid. The yelling sessions would last for hours. This didn’t even cover the days and days of passive-aggressive behavior, gas-lighting, and mind games.

 

Secondly, who the hell tells this story to their kid with such a bitter tone?! That they were only alive because of a mix-up in the bathroom! It was clear to me that he was still angry that I even existed in the first place. Because this really makes me want to marry someone just like him, don’t you think?

 

Well, no matter now. He’s dead. The only thing I regret about his death is that it was quick and painless. No lingering for weeks in a hospital bed, where I could tell him how I really felt. He just dropped dead.

 

Anyway, I don’t grieve the passing of a man who openly wished that I never existed. He’s had a major impact on my aromanticism and may be the primary cause of it. There was no way I was ending up in a relationship like the one he had with Mom! If I had to marry someone like my father, then I wasn’t going to do it at all.

 

Dad never understood my asexuality or aromanticism. He didn’t believe it was true. Some days he would hear me talk about it and act like he accepted it. The very next day, he’d tell me that he hoped I found someone to “share my life with.” Well, I wasn’t going to share my life with anyone, and twenty years later, I haven’t changed my mind. It’s my damn life and no one else can have it!

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t look down my nose at people who enter into romantic relationships. If this is what you want to do in your life, more power to you. The point is that you should do what is comfortable for you. Just don’t stand there and give me that knowing look and say, “You’ll find someone someday.”

 

The worst thing you can say to someone is the thing that was said to me for years, that there’s someone out there for everyone. Stop saying this to people! It’s not true, anymore than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are true. It’s a fantasy concocted by heteronormative parents with the twisted desire to continue their bloodlines at the expense of their children’s lives.

 

I used to think there was something wrong with me because “that someone” never appeared. As I said earlier, I was trying to prepare myself for all those horrid things I wanted nothing to do with, all because I thought it was unavoidable. When you really think about it, that saying is really destructive, and this is one of the examples of why.

 

One day, when I was in my late twenties, it occurred to me that it was bullshit. I wasn’t required to get involved in a relationship, nor did I want it. So why was I sitting around worrying about it all the time? Why was I constantly swallowing my vomit at the thought of sex, pregnancy, and romance? I decided quite clearly that I was done with these feelings and I was going to be honest with myself. I did not learn the term “aromantic” until I was in my forties, but that’s what I’d determined about myself in my twenties.

 

That’s all I ask of my readers. Please be honest with yourself when it comes to relationships. Are you in one and struggling? Are you forcing yourself to do something because you think it’s required? Don’t do that! Please! It’s not required, and you don’t have to put yourself through it to be happy.

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