What’s it Like Running an Aphobe Hot-takes account?

Greetings! My internet is absolutely crap right now so I just wanted to do a quick post and the easiest topic I can throw together is about running @Aphobehottakes on Twitter. It’s actually not very exciting.

TW// aphobia because I will be showing some screenshots. yay. Fingers crossed that all of my screenshots still load after I hit “Publish”
(TW is short hand for trigger warning)

Continue reading “What’s it Like Running an Aphobe Hot-takes account?”

The Split Attraction Model has a PR Problem

[UPDATE: 5/19/20: Coyote was kind enough to make a brief history summary of the term “split attraction model” and I highly recommend taking a look at the post series specifically this post and this post. My post will remain in its original form (with the exception of grammar corrections and update notes) but my opinions will likely change as I encounter new and updated information.]
See: Apology Statement

Something I didn’t know until recently is the split attraction model (or SAM) has a bit of a PR problem. If you type “split attraction model” into the search bar on Twitter, here’s what comes up. Yikes.

Continue reading “The Split Attraction Model has a PR Problem”

Aromantic Awareness Week: The “You’ll Be Alone Forever” Myth

SInce I’ve turned 30 years old I’ve started to out right chuckle at the “you’ll be alone forever” myth (and yes it is a myth) directed at asexuals and aromantics. I know aces can kind of brush it off because sex and romance are two very different relationship sauces, but aros have to put more effort into pointing out some of the fallacies behind the “alone forever” mentality.

First of all, half of all marriages end in divorce. That number is a little skewed because that includes all marriages, meaning repeat offenders who get married and then divorced and then get married again. The statistics for first time marriages are a little better and those who wait and get married later in life report being happier in their marriages than folks for got married in their late teens and early 20s. You can look up the most studies on your own time, but when I looked all this up back before realizing it didn’t matter because I’m aromantic, that’s the gist I got out of the available articles at the time.

The thing most people don’t like to think about is “forever” is a long ass time. I’ve noticed most young people don’t realize that there’s life after 30, so the fact that there’s life after 65 must blow their feaking minds. If you think about it, if you retire at 65 but live to be 85+, that’s 20 freaking years of living without income. I hope you nabbed a good retirement package because that’s 20+ years of additional medical expenses that you have to account for also because you won’t be a spring chicken. Then at the very end, there’s Assisted Living you need to account for because you and your hypothetical spouse won’t be able to take care of eachother anymore. Then at the very, very end there’s hospice care because nobody actually lives forever. So the whole “alone forever” thing is heteronormative BS at its finest.

There is never going to be one single relationship that’s going to carry you every step of the way through life. Sure, we love it when lovely dovey couples are like, “oh, my wife/husband is my rock. I couldn’t do it without them.” But we live in reality and reality is messy and doesn’t like to be tied up in a pretty bow. That’s like the winner of American Idol saying “See? Dreams really do come true if you believe in yourself!” like you didn’t watch the first five episodes where millions of people got turned down. All those people did follow their dreams and they did believe in themselves and it still didn’t work out because of luck, fate, or whatever. The same thing happens with romance. We are so focused on the “success” stories that we overlook that for most people, even straight people, it doesn’t work out and it’s really mean spirited to everyone to keep pushing the myth that you’ll be forever alone and that is a bad thing.

So, for everyone else who’s realized they aren’t the star of their own romantic comedy here’s what you do:

1) Start saving up for retirement. I’m not kidding. You do not want to be homeless or cleaning toilets in your 70s. Throw some spare change in a pickle jar, stuff some dollar bills under your mattress, do whatever you need to do to put some money aside and then start looking at retirement savings plans because inflation is a thing and you want your savings to keep up. That way you can save up for a nice retirement home with cute nurses, good food, and lots of new friends with cool life stories. Don’t rush to old age, but don’t dred it either.

2) Get a new hobby. Pick something you like that takes YEARS to master and then find some local clubs or meetups based on that hobby. Rinse, lather repeat. You can have multiple hobbies and that gives you more opportunity to make tons of new friends who share a common interest with you.

3) Realize that who you are now is not who you’ll be forever. If you’re the kind of person who is constantly trying to improve as a person and stiving to be a decent human being you’ll continue to grow and change for the better. I don’t even like who I was ten years ago, I am not the same person I was ten years ago. I want my circle of friends to reflect who I am now, not the person I was 10 years ago. Because of that I’m actually super grateful that I’m aromantic because I don’t have to worry about a significant being resentful that I’ve changed or that my priorities have changed nor do I have to worry about maintaining a relationship with someone who more than likely has also changed as a person. It honestly gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Those are the kinds of things people don’t like to think about when they say, “You’ll be alone forever”. They’re not actually thinking about what “forever” really means. So what if you don’t have somebody to buy you flowers, give you a massage, forget your anniversary, and all that long term relationship crap.

Instead of investing in a relationship, I’ve invested in making myself the kind of person I’m happy to live with long term. I’m not lonely. I have my job that is both really challenging and rewardingin its own way. I have my hobbies. I have my cat. I’m happy and I don’t need another person coming in and messing that up for me just so I’m not “alone”.

Why I’m an “Inclusionist” Part 1

Greetings everyone, I have finally returned to WP after a long break. I’m rested up. I’m done with school. All my bills are paid and I have a little money left over to go into savings. That last bit feels like a huge weight has been lifted and I now have energy to write blog posts! I’m just going to bask in that feeling for a moment before I move on to the topic I want to ramble about (in multiple parts because I didn’t realize how long this topic was going to be).

While I haven’t been keeping up on WP, I have been my snarky self on Twitter. I’m a nobody on Twitter and it’s great. I love being a nobody. I just get to like and retweet other people’s clever things and maybe one or two people like my ramblings about my cat. Basically, I just get to sit and relax and watch the trash fires burn.

My little Twitter sphere goes through different “discourse” cycles. I’ve expressed my displeasure before people using the word “discourse” to describe what amounts to social media mudslinging, but it’s definitely a thing so I have to just accept it. Each cycle I find myself siding firmly in the “inclusionists” camp in contrast to the “exclusionists” camp. The reason is pretty obvious, “exclusionists” get their name because they want to exclude heteromantic asexuals and heterosexual aromantics from the LGBT+ and since I happen to be both asexual and aromantic that kind of talk makes me nervous. The main arguments exclusionists use are 1) aces and aros are “not oppressed” and 2) aces and aros are secret cishets who want to “invade” LGBT spaces.

Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack there, but hoo boy where have I heard that rhetoric before? I’m automatically suspicious of anyone who uses the term “invade” because that’s definitely recycled terf/red hat-conservative/fundamentalist garbage. Most excursionists I’ve encountered are in their teens and early twenties and obviously fresh off of Tumblr. When they say “LGBT” they mean themselves and their two-three other friends. When I say “LGBT+” or “LGBTQIA+” I mean the an ongoing world wide civil rights moment with a long and rich and complicated history because I’m 30 and didn’t realize I was ace/aro/agender until my late 20s. My introduction into the ace community was through the WP community. I can’t even imagine being 13 and having my introduction into the LGBT+ be through the dumpster fire that is Tumblr. So, that’s where a lot of these younger folks are at. There’s a bunch of dedicated people working to try to reeducate them, but I don’t have the time or energy so I use the block function a lot.

If only it were that easy though. Way back during Ace Week and then again during Thanksgiving and yet again during Christmas a few acephobic shitheads specifically targeted ace people and added them to group chats specifically to harass them. The first group back in October was called “genocide time”. Subsequent groups had less obvious titles, but the intent was the same. It was a coordinated effort to terrorize and harass asexuals. Many of the targeted individuals were upset with Twitter’s lack of response because the offenders were suspended for a week, but they just made “sockpuppet” accounts to continue the harassment campaign. I was never specifically targeted because I’m a literal nobody on Twitter and thanks to screenshots posted by the targeted aces I was able to block the offenders. I know at least one person is taking legal action because death threats over social media are a federal crime and I know in the state of Texas any illicit social media activity is grounds for expulsion from school. State laws have been getting tighter in response to the numerous school shootings and they’re paying more attention to social media activity.

Not all exclusionists are that extreme, but their argument doesn’t really have much of a leg to stand on. The LGBTQIA is a civil rights movement. Oppression matters because that’s what we’re fighting against, but it’s not the Oppression Olympics. I, as a white person nonbinary person, will never be as oppressed as a black trans woman. That doesn’t mean that my rights don’t matter; it just means that since black trans women are the more vulnerable target I need to do my part to support them. This isn’t some macho military campaign where you can leave your most vulnerable troops exposed and expect victory and there are no acceptable casualties.

As for “cishets” invading LGBT spaces, a lot of SGA clubs and LGBT orgs welcome straight allies and volunteers. It’s not okay if a straight person talks over LGBT+ folks or makes assumptions about the needs of LGBT+ folks, but the more bodies we have in our fight for civil rights the better. We need more people spreading positivity, handing out informational flyers, writing letters to politicians, and VOTING. How we look to potential allies kinda matters if we want them to think about our needs while they’re in the voting booths or running for local office or organizing community events.

From the WorldCon Dublin Code of Conduct:

Dublin 2019 is dedicated to providing a harassment-free convention experience for all Attendees, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual identity or sexual orientation, neurodiversity, disability, physical ability or appearance, race, age, religion, or fiction/fandom preferences (this list is not exhaustive).

The WorldCon Dublin Code of Conduct was primarily based on Irish equality legislation:

The Equal Status Act 2000 provides protection against direct and indirect discrimination outside of employment on the same 9 grounds: age, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, marital status, family status and membership to the Traveller community

http://www.culturewise.ie/equal-check/equality_lagislation_in_ie.php

So, it really feels like a step backwards with the current US political climate and then to have a bunch young people on Twitter mirroring that red-hat rhetoric by trying to police what is or isn’t considered LGBT.

I consider myself an “inclusionist” because I believe aces and aros regardless of their romantic or sexual orientation belong in the LGBTQIA. Also it would be logistically impossible to exclude them. The question I have for exclusionists who don’t think heterosexual aromantics and heteromantic asexuals belong in the LGBT+ is “how are you going to spot check?” ID cards? Secret handshakes? The most resent ace polls say nearly half of asexuals reported being trans. Most aces have are queer romantic attracted. It is logistically impossible (and very reminiscent of state “Bathroom Bills”) to only exclude heteromantic aces and hetersexual aros. How do you know they’re not trans, not a bi or pan, or in the closet? How are you going to stop and check every. single. time. you see the word “ace” to make sure they’re not “cishet”? It’s logistically impossible.

That’s usually the point when I get blocked, which good riddance because in their quest to chase out “cishets” all aces get caught up in the crossfire and only get a “oops, my bad, I thought you were het” half-assed apology.

Well, that’s about as clear and concise as I can be on the issue. I’ve pretty much placed myself firmly in the inclusionist camp because of survival reasons (aro, ace, and agender) and ideological reasons (the logistics alone, ugh!) Some side effects have included agreeing with intersectional feminism views and getting dragged into other discourses. Remember how I mentioned that there were “discourse cycles”? Well every few weeks it’s rinse lather repeat and this week happens to be “bi-lesbian discourse” week. Yikes. And that just happens to be my next rambling topic.

Bisensuality (or That Little Nuance I like to Ignore)

I’m very, aromantic. Out of all of my identities that one is the loudest. My asexuality and agenderness are barely more than a whisper most days while my aroness is constantly shouting into a megaphone. In between those two extremes is my sensual attraction. It’s there, but I ignore it because without romantic or sexual attraction to give it some oomph I can usually tune it out. It’s just this weirdness that pops up and makes things awkward because I can’t act on it and still exist within the bounds of social niceties. I’m aromantic, asexual, agender, and bisensual and it’s just there to be weird. For me sensual attraction makes me want to get all up in your business, proximity is important, as more than platonic touching, but not quite sexual and definitely not romantic. It’s weird, it’s nuanced, and not something I generally trust people to understand. It just gives me a tiny view into the world of attraction.

I think I’ve mentioned it before when I was thinking back to puberty and I was getting flashes of sensual attraction towards my classmates, but without the romantic or sexual attraction to give it context it would just freak me out because I sort of knew it wasn’t “normal”. Learning about sensual attraction as an adult finally gave me the context and was a sigh of relief because it meant there wasn’t anything wrong with me, it just meant that my identity had a nuance to it. It’s weird, it’s there, and honestly I’m not sure what to do about it so I just accept it and ignore it. I do wish more people would talk about these little nuances, though.

Carnival of Aros: Religion? What Religion?

Phew~ I feel like I’m barely squeaking by with this post just before the deadline. Hi again everyone, this is my submission for the Carnival of Aros for May 2019 hosted this month by aroacepagans on the topic of “The Intersection of Religion and Aromanticism”. Unfortunately this is a rather complicated topic for me so I’m first going to have to dump a bunch of backstory exposition on you followed by a long historical tangent. History isn’t pretty folks.

Religion is complicated in my family as we don’t really put labels to what we are exactly or even agree on what we believe. My parents tried to do the Christian thing when I was younger, but it didn’t work out because the greatest sin in my family is ignorance. Both of my parents are the first in their families to go to college and especially in the age of internet with most “common” knowledge just a Google search away, they don’t tolerate ignorance nor denial of facts. The example my dad gives between “facts” and “truths” is it’s true that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It probably did so this morning even if most of us (myself included) didn’t witness it. The fact, however, is that the sun doesn’t “rise” or “set” at all, it’s the Earth rotating on its axis. So, long story short, my parents stopped going to church because the pastors kept getting the facts wrong. There was one particular pastor who was “talking” about Islam (yup, they were Muslim bashing back in the early 90s too) and he said that Muslims believed that the “Earth rode on the backs of four elephants”. I can just picture a double face palm from my parents at that slip up of common sense. After that incident my parents were like “Screw this. We’re not exposing our children to this bullshit.” and we never went to Church as a family again. Several years later when me and my siblings were old enough to understand the basics my parents spent the entire summer break teaching us about all the religions from Amish to Zoroastrianism and basically said, “There, pick one.”

To make things even more complicated my dad is ethnically Jewish and his younger brother is a gun-toting Republican Jew from Iowa, but my dad was raised Lutheran because half of the family converted to Lutheranism after WWII (and that is a looooong story that I’m not going to get into here). My dad is constantly arguing with his brother and his cousin, a Lutheran minister, on Facebook about climate change. My dad’s cousin made the mistake of saying, “There are hundreds of scientists who say climate change is a hoax!” to which my dad replied, “Oh, yeah? Name ten.” and that’s why they haven’t been on speaking terms since last Christmas. My mom was raised Irish Catholic, went to a Catholic high school and that’s why she’s definitely not a Catholic. No one in my immediate family belongs to an organized religion so the short answer would be that we’re “non-religious”…

…depending on your definition of “religion”.

The word “religion” is a very western and a relatively new idea. The word religion comes from the Latin religio meaning “reverence to the gods” (compared to superstition which comes from the Latin superstitio, meaning “soothsaying, prophecy, or fear of the supernatural”). Citizens of ancient Greece and Rome were required by law to have reverence for the local patron gods or goddesses and blasphemy was a serious crime punishable by death (yikes!). Modern scholars have a difficult time trying to pin down a definition for religion that isn’t too constraining nor too loose.

Obviously you have the big three western religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (and, yes, a lot scholars to consider Islam a western religion because of the HUGE impact it has had on western history and culture), but is Hinduism one religion or several different religions arbitrarily grouped together by western scholars? What about Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism; are they religions or philosophies? Where do you draw the line between philosophy and religion? How does it affect a person’s socio-political standing if they’re philosophical and/or spiritual but not religious in a very religion biased society? Are New Age religions legitimate practitioners or is it cultural appropriation? Mom and dad said, “pick one”, but holy jeepers it’s much more complicated than that.  This is not an easy topic for me to tackle and that’s even BEFORE I throw in the aromantic aspect.

It’s a sad fact of life that a lot of major religions are not LGBTQIA+ friendly and those that are might not take converts and even then converting to a religion is a major decision that you cannot take lightly. Okay, then instead of converting to an existing religion how about just creating your own? It’s a nice idea, but then you have to consider how it’s going to be organized, how you’re going to deal with the legal matters, how you’re going to handle internal disputes, and how you’re going to get the general public to take you seriously. Politics and religion have been bed fellows for a long, long time. It’s only thanks to a quirk of fate and a Roman emperor that there’s a bunch of Christians even running around quoting the Bible right now because all y’all were like two inches from being Manichaens.

Cue long historical context tangent: Manichaenism is a weird blend of Eastern and Western religions; It’s something like a lot of Zoroastrianism with a little bit Buddhism and Taoism sprinkled in. At its peak Manichaenism was the most wide spread religion of its day with churches spreading as far East as China and as far West as Britain. I was learning about Manichaenism for a class and how it heavily influenced some later Christian big names like Augustine of Hippo and it’s where we get the idea that Good and Evil are locked in this eternal struggle and you don’t even think about it because that’s such an established literary trope you still see it today in pretty much every single epic movie pushed out of Hollywood. Can you even imagine being there back in the day when that idea was something new? Some dude was like, “Yo, bro, what if, like, there’s this great power that’s just, like, all Good with a capital G, ya know? But, like, the reason people do bad shit is because on the flip side there’s this Evil force that is the reason for hate and ignorance and people are made of the bad stuff, but everybody has a spark of good in them, you know? And the way to live right is you gotta feed that spark of good inside until it becomes a flame, a flame of knowledge, and you gotta keep feeding the flame so it never goes out because if you let the flame inside of you go out then the darkness wins. You feel me?” Yup, I’m definitely sure that’s exactly how that conversation went down. 

Anywho, as I was learning about Manichaeism for class I kept thinking, “This sounds really cool. Why have I never heard about this before? Where do I sign up?” Well, turns out you can’t sign up because the entire religion is extinct, as in gone the way of the dodo, it is a looong time gone. A long time ago there was a Roman emperor named Theodosius I who was apparently kind of a big deal and he issued a decree of death for all Manichaen monks (hooo boy, that definitely escalated quickly) and declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire. Waaaaay to be a buzz kill, Theodosius. All the Manichaen texts were destroyed, all of its religious leaders were killed in the name of Rome and Rome’s Christianity, and everything we know about it today comes from teeny tiny surviving fragments that just barely manged to survive in extremely isolated regions in China. That’s why nobody’s ever heard of Mani and his kickass religion even though it pretty much popularized everybody’s favorite epic fantasy trope.

So, now I have a  philosophical dilemma. History paints a dark and gritty story about how, like the empires that honored and celebrated them, great religions rise and fall and change with the politics that can both lionize them or vilify them. Theodosius didn’t put Manichaens to death because God said so, he did it for his own political gain. The US founding fathers didn’t say separate Church and State to protect the people, it was to protect the Church from political corruption. (Yeah, I know, joke’s on us.) So, just like my parents, I’ve got a problem. I have all these religious types telling me that they know this “great truth” and that they’re my “only shot at getting in to heaven” and “fuck those other guys because they don’t tell it like we tell it” and all I hear is these folks basically telling me over and over that tomorrow the sun is going to rise in the East and set in the West like it’s some great cosmic mystery…

But, like, dude, that’s just how the world turns. I don’t know how to reconcile being religious if it means ignoring the facts. I have tried for a loooong time, but I just can’t find a religion that calls to me, that that lets me believe in a higher power, be part of a bigger community, find a higher purpose, and be my aromantic, gender-queer, wisdom-loving self. Maybe, there was a religion like that once a long, long time ago, but then it got wiped out by political pressures bigger and meaner than it was. *shugs* History says it’s possible.

And I’m going to end the post there because that last bit is an existential crisis that can wait for another day. Hopefully this didn’t come off too much like religious-bashing because that was definitely not my intention and I just wanted to throw out some burning questions that I’ve run into trying to figure out what place religion has in my life and a lot of these are questions that I still don’t have answers for: Is it okay for me to believe and pray to a random deity that isn’t part of my culture and upbringing or is doing that disrespectful to the people who codified the deity and made it a pillar of their religious identity? Is it okay to mix and match religions like cocktails or is that just my white privilege/colonialism talking? How much of religion belongs to the private individual and how much belongs to the cultural group? Why is all this so complicated?!!! 

aaaaaand on top of all that I’m still 100% aromantic and I need to reconcile how that’s going to fit into a religious identity because right now there’s like zero intersection because I haven’t exactly “picked one” yet.

Thanks mom and dad. -__-

Carnival of Aros March 2019: It’s Great to be Aro!

This is my submission for the Carnival of Aros for March 2019 hosted this month by Aromanticism on the topic of “It’s Great to be Aro!” For more information about the Carnival of Aros or to volunteer to become a future host please check out https://carnivalofaros.wordpress.com/

I probably can’t stress this enough, but I actually love, love being aromantic. The first time I took myself to a movie was after my dad and brother went seen The Martian (2015) without me even after I had told them repeatedly that I wanted to see it too. I decided to go by myself to the movie theater two blocks down from where I worked. I was still in my work uniform and it felt awkward saying “one ticket” at the counter, but I got through it and had the brilliant insight to buy a cup of coffee instead of popcorn and soda. With a warm cup of coffee in my hand and an entire row to myself I had the best movie experience of my life. Now if I want to see a movie I’ll pick a day in the middle of the week when it’s not busy and buy a cup of coffee instead of movie snacks.

I won’t deny that humans are social creatures by nature, but some of my best moments when I feel the most like myself are when I’m alone doing my own thing. When I’m hanging out with other people the need to fit-in and avoid social faux-pas kind of sucks the fun out of it. It’s much easier to dance like no one is watching when you know for a fact that nobody is actually watching. I feel like I’m constantly flirting the line between being my best self and a crazy loner and some days are easier keep that healthy balance than others. I definitely felt some minor angst when I first realized I was aromantic years ago and realized that wouldn’t get that classic Hollywood ending promised in almost every movie ever, but I did eventually learn to accepted it as my normal and I’ve been focusing on celebrating my singularity rather than worrying about my nonexistent relationships.

It’s kind of like…well, for example, a lot, and I mean a LOT, of folks at my work play Magic the Gathering. One of my coworkers even offered to give me $50 to build a starter deck, but Magic is seriously not my thing. Sure, I feel left out when they talk about planning game days and I see a bunch of them leave together with chips and soda under each arm. It’s frustrating to hear all the talk about trading cards or meeting up to open new packs and I can’t join in, but Magic just isn’t my thing. It’s an expensive hobby that I have zero interest in. You can pitch it to me anyway you like, but I don’t do trading card games. I will play Liverpool rummy any day of the week. Hearts? I’m down. Spades? Sure thing. BS, Slap Jack, Black Jack? You bet ‘cha. Hell, I’ll even play Crazy 8’s in a pinch, but Magic the gathering is just. not. my. thing. and I’m not going to force myself to play a game that I know I don’t like just so I can fit in. My view on romance is like that almost verbatim. Most folks love to gush about mushy stuff and I’m like, “….uhhhh what about all these other awesome stuff that isn’t, ya know, romantic?”

I don’t get crushes on people. I get “let’s-quit-this-dead-end-job-and-run-away-to-become-space-pirates”es on people which is sooo much cooler in my opinion. I haven’t quite figured out how to explain to people that I don’t want to “date” them so much as just slay a few dragons at the ol’ 9-5 together before they go home to the wife and I go home to my cat. I want to belong to something magical, epic, heroic, that doesn’t have the executive meddlers saying “Hmmm, this needs an unnecessary love triangle and more romantic tension to boost ratings.” As an aromantic I have all these wonderful, unique and different feelings that nobody talks about that I think are worth exploring and celebrating in media and in everyday conversations.

Aromanticism is the most dominant of my identity labels. Most of the time I don’t even think about being asexual or agender, but hoo boy, my aromanticism is cranked up to 100 all day everyday. That might have something to do with how pervasive romance is in western culture, but that doesn’t change that my aromanticness has the most impact on my way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. I’ve literally never dated. I’ve never pursued any possible romantic ties and I’m uncomfortable when people try to ask me out. I’m also get very defensive when people even joke about me dating. One of my coworkers was poking fun at me because someone had asked me out and they were like, “I’m going tell him you changed your mind. You would look so cute together.” and I got super defensive and reminded him that it takes something like six weeks for knee caps to heal. The reason I was so defensive is because I felt like my identity was being targeted. It’s like telling a gay guy, “Oh, you should totally go out with this girl, you’d make a cute couple.” and that’s super not okay and very hurtful, but for some inexplicable reason it’s soooo hard for people to understand that.

Jerk-ass coworkers aside, I really do love being aro because I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t. I’ve worked really hard to become comfortable with who I am and what it means to be “me”. I think Liverpool rummy is more fun than Magic the Gathering. My ideal “date” is when I take myself to coffee and a movie. I think there are other feelings and relationships besides romantic relationships that are worth celebrating and talking about. I treasure the journey of growth and self discovery it took to get me to this point in my life where I can appreciate and celebrate being a single person. So, I didn’t get to slay any dragons with anybody today and people still don’t understand that a life without romance is just as fulfilling and rewarding, if not even more so, as one where romance is the central focus, but that’s not going to stop me from celebrating being aro.

Thinking About Being Aro and Ace while being “older”

This was actually supposed to be my CoA post for last month, but I didn’t manage to finish it on time or do any additional writing because I sorta went into a funk and haven’t done anything productive since Valentine’s Day. Coincidence? probably not. And I missed out on Aro Awarenes week too. Anywho, I’m still going to post what I wrote since it’s still very relevant to my blog.

Because of where I live my participation in the Aro and Ace communities is primarily online and the majority of my participation is now dedicated to the WordPress blogs. Previously I did participate in chat groups for both aros and aces, but I ran into a slight problem; my age. The majority of the chat groups I could find were dominated by younger folks who were still in the “I’m still figuring out what I am”, “My parents don’t understand”, “My friends don’t understand” phase of settling into their orientation and that’s not what I needed emotionally from my “community”. There also wasn’t much I could contribute to a younger audience either because the truth is…age matters.

Being an adult doesn’t solve all your problems, but it certainly gives you more options on how you deal with problems and there’s a sense of liberation that comes with that. If I’m having a bad day I can be like “Screw it, I’m treating myself and going to Panera!” or use up my emergency giftcard stash and treat myself. I spent two hours browsing in a used bookstore yesterday just because I could. As long as the rent’s on time, I show up to work on time, and text my mom back- I can pretty much do what I want without worrying about being judged for it. How am I supposed to explain to a teenager, who actually does need to worry about what their friends and family think about them for survival reasons, that it really does get better, but it takes a little while to get there?

My parents still don’t understand that I’m aro-ace, but I’m 30 years old so I care far, far less about my parents’ approval and I’m much more concerned about making the rent each month. It’s tax-return season baby! I need to pay off some bills! Instead of the chocolate milk and cookies I ate as a kid, today I ate coffee-milk and cookies on my break like the functioning adult that I am and I had zero regrets, so I would say mastering adulthood is mostly about figuring out priorities.

Speaking of the priorities, I’ve lost touch with literally all of my high school friends because my core values are different now compared to what they were when I was 18, 21, heck even 25. I feel like I’ve gone through more transformations in the last five years than I did all through high school. When I was 25 I literally thought, “Oh, great. This is it. This is who I am.” and I was wrong. I still had room to learn and grow. Figuring out I was asexual and aromantic was just a step in that process, not the process itself. I struggled with connecting with folks in the chat groups because I needed insight into that next step after accepting that being aromantic and asexual was my normal. I feel like following the WordPress community gave me the “support” I needed because the bloggers here were like me, a little older, a little more settled and figuring out the next steps in growing up that nobody wants to talk about because there’s the misconception that there’s no life after 30.

The feeling of isolation I felt in the chats unfortunate does carry over into the real world because for some reason being single is considered weird. When meeting somebody new at work or in a social setting one of the very first questions I get asked is about my “other half”, am I seeing anyone, talking to anyone, crushing one anyone, and so on because apparently being single is like being “between jobs at the moment”. One time my supervisor said in frustration that you can’t get anywhere in life unless you’re married. If that’s true, it definitely shouldn’t be and that’s something worth advocating because that type social standard is preventing me from being able to just “hang out” with people without being weird about it because apparently “hang out” has romantic connotations now, ugh.

Would coming out as aromantic-asexual help? The short answer is “no” because people still ask me out despite knowing I’m asexual because they either don’t know what that entails exactly or they have this other asexual friend who “uses dating apps all the time”. I dread giving asexuality 101 with every fiber of my being, but I absolutely will not give aromanticism 101 because for some inexplicable reason, ain’t nobody can wrap their head around the fact that I. don’t. date. Romance is not my thing.

Another thing that was very isolating in the ace and aro group chats was all the talk about relationships and dating. This happened in both the ace and aro chats. One particularly memorable example was a lithromantic was talking about their girlfriend and I remember thinking, “I’m in an aro chat. Why are we talking about girlfriends and wanting relationships?” One of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome emotionally is facing the reality that there isn’t “someone” and there very likely will never be “someone out there for me”. It doesn’t matter how many cutesy QPP stories I read, the truth is that I struggle with forming and maintaining relationships. All the optimism in the world isn’t going to fix that, but cracking down and dealing with that reality has been hugely beneficial.

So, what would it actually mean for me to be a life-long single person? Actually, once I put it into words it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. It’s not a case that I’ll be “forever alone” or “unloved”. It’s a case of what does it mean to be single? Well, for starters, I’m not the only one. There’s actually a lot of people in the world who are single. Are they happy? Well, that depends.

I watched a video presentation by a researcher who was looking at levels of happiness at the different stages of relationships. Long story short, there definitely was a “honeymoon period” where happiness levels spiked in a relationship, but then the reported happiness leveled out to what they were while the individuals were single. The only major change was for people who later broke up; their happiness levels dropped after the honeymoon period to below their reported levels from when the persons were single. Once the honeymoon period wore off they were actually worse off than when they were single, yikes! So, being in a relationship doesn’t actually make you any happier on average than being single does and there are obvious pros and cons to both, but most of it’s worth remembering that a relationship is not a magic fix-it-all.

Knowing that being in a relationship wouldn’t actually make me happier helps, because in all honesty if being in a relationship was important to me I would have found a way by now. I’ve literally never dated so it obviously was never a priority or I would have found some way, any way to make dates happen. If I can justify dunking cookies in coffee-milk in public and still loudly claim to be an adult to my supervisor’s face during such activity, I’m fully capable asking somebody out to an awkward party of two in public, but that second one isn’t going to happen. I’m pretty convinced that attempting any sort of non-platonic relationship would just be a miserable experience for me and be disappointing to my potential partner.

That last bit only sounds depressing because relationships are considered the gold standard of normal. Dunking sugar cookies in coffee-flavored milk might not be “normal”, but it’s seriously the best thing to ever happen to me. So, if both the aro and ace communities could not only celebrate relationships in all their many forms, but shine a little light on how great and normal it is to not be in a relationship too, that would be pretty awesome too. There’s a long healthy single life for this aro-ace after 30 and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Soooo, can we make Single’s Awareness Day an actual thing where we celebrate how healthy and normal it is to be single instead of just a thing people say on Valentine’s day when they don’t have a date? Please? Pretty please? It could be on Feb 15th that way we can chow down on all the left over chocolates.

“Emotional Cheating” aka WTF is this Heteronormative Bullshit?

Hi folks! It’s been a while (because I’ve been busy failing derivative calculus, again! and continuing my personal study of philosophy which is going much better than the calculus), but today I’m having a pity party and y’all are invited.

Alrighty, let’s begin with the context. I first heard about “emotional cheating” when it showed up in the last season of BBC’s Sherlock; John Watson is married to Mary, but he meets this pretty chick on the train, they swap numbers and it’s hinted that he shares a budding quasi-romantic relationship with pretty chick through texting. From what I understood the “cheating” part was that he was actively keeping the texting relationship a secret from his wife and that there were hints of romantic overtones to the texts. I was like “okay, cool. Emotional cheating is bad. I got-cha.”

But, no, oh no-no no. That apparently is not what emotional cheating is in RL. According to my coworkers it’s “if you are married and you go to someone other than your spouse for ANY emotional needs [not just romantic ones] first- that is emotional cheating”.

Like, Whut. The. Literal. Fuck. Is. This. CisHeteroNorm. Bull. Shit.

Like, are y’all okay? Every fiber of my being is screaming the Mental Health First Aid steps and I feel like I should be asking all my cis-hetero coworkers if they are having suicidal thoughts BECAUSE:

  1. That’s a LOT pressure to put on one person
  2. What the fuck do y’all think friends are for? Emotional needs/support are IN the friend job description, and-
  3. This is totally ace and aro erasure and I will not stand for it.

So, this very rigid definition of emotion cheating is a modern thing that has no historical precedent (that I could find in a quick Google Scholar with a paywall) before social media was a thing. It also pisses me off because how the hell am I supposed to make friends now??? I thought that my lack of friends was something I did or was some weird aro-quirk thing, but oh, ho, no-no no. Turns out there’s so much wtf.ness going on at my work (and probably other places) that I had no idea was even a thing.

A number of my coworkers are Hispanic (I live in San Antonio, so go figure right?) and very Catholic and one of my coworkers said that’s where the strict rules on marrage comes from but….I don’t think so? I need more data, but I don’t think the Church is completely to blame because my Irish Catholic relatives are crazy for different reasons. I was always super confused because these specific coworkers liked to take a personal interest in my relationship status and I was trying to figure out what the big deal was. Apparently they ascribe to several well-known relationship tenets such as 1) guys and gals can’t be “just friends” and 2) once you’re married you’re spouse is everything and all else are just polite acquaintances.

So, I literally can’t be friends with anybody. I can’t be friends with single people because we’ll all somehow magically start dating (or fucking) because we’re all actually living in a 90s sitcom or something(???) and I can’t be friends with my married coworkers outside of work because their wives will find out and divorce them for “emotionally cheating” on them with an aromantic-asexual. I totally [do not] see the logic. Basically dreams of forming and epic Bromance with my fellow philosophy nerd coworker have crumbled into dust because he literally can’t come to me for anything resembling an emotional connection without checking with the wife first.

I see now why my coworkers put so much emphasis on romantic relationships because at the end of the day, apparently that’s all they’re allowed to have, but the problem with that system is it’s taken away the possible, healthy and fulfilling platonic-relationships I could have had if it wasn’t for this ridiculous societal norm.

So, in light of that I’m going to do what any well-adjusted adult would do in this situation-
I’m going to cuddle my cat and cry about it. *tears*

Rats (Yet Again)

For anyone who’s been keeping track there’s this dude at work who keeps. asking. me out. And it’s getting a little ridiculous. Actually, no, it’s been ridiculous.

Quick recap:

  • Dude at my work (same store different department) kept asking me if I wanted to “hang out” which seemed to imply alone time with food and movies which was too date-ish for me so after one time I kept saying no.
  • Finally dude asks me out via text on the LITERAL day from hell and since my emotional state was not the best to deal with romo-shit I basically said I would get back to him.
  • He sees me at work and I tell him the answer is “no” so I thought the matter was closed. It was not.
  • Dude sees my ace ring at a game night with other people and freaks out thinking it’s a wedding ring. WTF.
  • Two weeks later he texts me again asking to hang out/hash out our whatever saying he wanted to make sure that if I had any feelings for him he didn’t want it to ruin our friendship. Which to this day triggers my gag reflex because my aromantic ass never gave off anything other than “this is awkward, please go away” vibes after I realized he was making gooey eyes at me.

After shutting him down very aggressively we hadn’t talked for a while more than the mandatory “Howdy partner” that work etiquette requires. Oh, and all of my coworkers started being dicks to him after I told them I aggressively turned him down. Coincidence? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anywho, at the start of the new semester he started asking me to “hang out” again and my dumb-ass thought he meant “as a friend”, but I explained I was busy with school stuff (because I am). Last week (or the week before I don’t remember when exactly) he mentioned that my supervisor said I was asexual.

So, yeah, I’ve been coming out to different people in my department including one of my supervisors who likely told the other supervisors because gossip is the only thing holding up the walls in that store because everything else breaks down every other week. This week is the soda fountain machine. Anywho, so he was obviously talking to my supervisor and the topic came up and he asked me about it.

Like I’ve said before, my asexuality is not a secret per se, I just don’t like doing asexuality 101 all the time. Anywho, I was really happy to say “Yes, I’m asexual” because yay! normalization. I thought that would finally, finally be the end of it because he said, “Oh, okay. I’m sorry?” after I explained my take on asexuality and I replied, “That’s like saying ‘sorry, you’re gay’, dude.” I thought that was it.

YESTERDAY he asks me:
Dude: So, ‘no’ to hanging out ever?
[And I have to run “hanging out” though my dude-translator (finally updated the software) before I reply]
Me: You mean like a ‘date’? No.
Dude: Because of the asexual thing?
Me: (still can’t believe this conversation is happening) ffs. That’s like asking a lesbian out on a date. Would you do that?
Dude: (After a Long uncomfortable pause)…a little?
Me: AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ANSWER WOULD BE?!

I am just so done with this dude. I gave it a shot at being friends because I thought he might genuinely be a nice person. Which, clearly, he’s not. My sister said I was too harsh, but obviously I didn’t my point across that I’m not interested. Definitely not interested in being even friends any more.

The whole “not dating” thing is not about asexuality, it’s about being aromantic, but I’m not going to give an aromantic 101 lecture to my coworkers much less this dude who can’t take a hint that’s I’m just not interested.

And all my coworkers are still assholes to him. Seriously, take a hint dude.