AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 7 – Reflection

Saturday, February 25: Reflect on your week, your experience as identifying as aromantic or arospec. What would you like for next year’s week? What are some final things you want to express about being a part of the aromantic/aromantic spectrum community or other things you’d like people to know?

I can’t believe this week is already over. I feel like even with this week I’ve learned to love my aromanticism more than I did before. I was able to share things that played at the back of my mind and it became freeing.

I wouldn’t change being aromantic for the world, it is who I am and everything I’ve talked about during this week through here or on twitter has made me who I am today. I am stronger because of it. Of course there are stages of my life that I would probably change but if I didn’t experience them the way I did, if I didn’t find out about aromanticism until later in life I probably wouldn’t be so motivated to educate people and share my story on it.

I feel like the last thing I should do for this week is destroy some aromantic myths because I know there’s probably a lot out there. So here’s a few:

  • Not all aromantic people are also asexual. There are allosexual aromantics.
  • Aromantic people can date, if they want to.
  • Not all aromantic people are romance repulsed
  • Not everyone’s aromantic discovery is the same.
  • Aromantic people aren’t straight, unless that’s how they’d like to identify
  • “Cishet” aros are not your enemy. They are people who are also trying to accept who they are too.

Honestly becoming more active in the aromantic community has allowed me to talk to some of the nicest people I’ve probably ever spoken to, they’ve made me feel so accepted within the community and it’s just a wonderful thing knowing that there are people out there who are exactly like you, who have experienced similar things to you, and who are also fighting for this world to change.

I also want to bring up the topic that I’ve noticed a lot of people in fandoms who would rather accept a character as asexual than aromantic. And that’s a very harmful way to think if I’m going to be honest. The aromantic community has little to no representation so when we do have it (Jughead Jones for example) we cling to it. And by denying our aromantic headcanons and/or our canon aromantic characters and shipping them with someone you are telling the aromantic community that they need love to fix them. That romantic love is the endgame for every person. The sad thing is that all of the aromantic headcanons that I see nowadays are either characters who are “too smart” for romance (Sherlock for example) or not human (Castiel for example). And the sad and annoying thing is all of the characters I’ve seen as aro coded have been forced into relationships and suddenly the characters are seen as “fixed”. And it’s so harmful. Let characters be aromantic because spoiler alert people are aromantic.

What would I like to see for next years week? Honestly I have no idea. I would like to talk about in more depth canon aromantic characters, and/or aro coded characters, and how finding a canon aromantic character made me/the community feel as we finally got representation. Maybe we could even reflect on arospecawarenessweek this year to next year when it comes around, to see how much things have changed for ourselves and for the way the world views aromanticism, and relationships, as well as if there’s any aromantic characters on-screen yet.

I do hope in a years time there’s at least one canonically on-screen aromantic character who has used the word aromantic to describe themselves. One can dream.

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 6 – Amanormativity

Friday, February 24: Write about your experience with the amanormativity we’re all subjected to. Amanormativity, for those who don’t know, is a societal expectation that forming an exclusive, central, amorous relationship is a universal goal. Did it affect you a lot growing up, is it something you’ve just begun to experience or notice a lot, or does it affect your life in any way at all? What are some of the things that really bother you about this? How does this manifest in the expectations the people in your life have on you? Feel free to use this prompt as a means of venting.

Did amanormativity affect me a lot growing up? Yes, of course it did. I talked a bit about this on Twitter yesterday, but I’m going to repeat myself and go into more detail as I don’t have a character limit here. I think amanormativity affected me in a way it probably would affect anyone aromantic or not. I honestly wish I knew what aromanticism was when I was probably at the youngest of 11, or the first year of secondary school. The reason for this is because it’s very common for people in secondary school to start getting into relationships, at lot of my friends started getting ones in year 7 (11/12 depending on where your birthday fell) and in my friend group I was the only person who hadn’t had a relationship all the way up to the age of 15. And because of this, and the way the world viewed relationships I thought that I wasn’t worthy of love, that I was unlovable, that I was “too ugly” for a boyfriend. And I hated myself because of it. I used to write diaries when I was younger and most of them where about this topic. About how ugly and unlovable I was because I hadn’t had a boyfriend at the age of 13-15. When I was still a child.

In addition to this I honestly thought I was broken, because I had always question what romantic love (or rather attraction I just called it love) was. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t question what it was. I feel as if I was educated on aromanticism a lot of how I felt about myself in the past wouldn’t have happened. I probably wouldn’t have hated myself as much. And through learning about aromanticism I would’ve learned about aro terminology like squishes, I think I mentioned this before, but what I thought was a crush I now know was a squish. And I even remember I faked crushes at one point because you had to have a crush because if you didn’t you weren’t “normal”. Because of the amanormativity of this world I broke a lot of boundaries that I set for myself because I thought that I had to, I did things that I regret to this day and even don’t want to speak about because it was what the world viewed as “right” or “important”.

The longer I’ve realised I am aromantic the more I notice the amanormative comments that media, and my family make. It’s always the same thing that romantic love is “the most important thing in the world” and that you’ll “find the one”. And I hate it so much, like I’m not out to my family but to my mum I’ve pretty much come out without saying the words “I am aromantic”. We could be watching something that has nothing to do with romantic relationships and my mum will bring up boyfriends (she thinks I’m straight when I’m in fact not cis, heteroromantic, or heterosexual), and marriage. And even when I say that I don’t want one, she’ll reply with pretty much what I said above, that it’s a “phase”,  that I’ll “find someone” and even when I deny all that she acts like it’s the worst thing to live alone, and not have this “epic romantic love story”. I think at first she thought it was because I had a bad break up, but that was now nearly over 2 years ago. And because of this amanormative world she thinks if I’m not straight (into guys because I’m afab, assigned female at birth) that I must be gay. God forbid if I was bisexual. For her it’s one or the other, she probably doesn’t even realise or know that 1) her “daughter” isn’t female and 2) that there’s more genders and sexualities than just the ones on “LGBT”. Anyway back to the point even if it’s not directed at me and it’s directed at my brother I’ve began to notice when relationships come up in conversation. And I’ve gotten to the point where I just eye roll really obviously. But they don’t seem to notice.

It really bothers me that the world, and even I at first, thought that you “have to be attracted to someone” because “everyone’s” endgame in life is marriage, and kids. I don’t want this, I used to but I think that’s because you’re brainwashed into thinking that way so when you start growing up and figuring out who you are, you begin to realise that maybe I don’t want this? Maybe I want something else. And that’s okay. But this world doesn’t see it that way. I’ve noticed this with celebrities, the magazines and the press are always asking who is this person dating, if they’re pregnant, and when they’re getting married. And not everyone, even celebrities, might not want this, even if they aren’t aromantic.

My mum’s expectations of me, because I’m afab, is that I “should” get married and have kids. She’s even said that she wants me to get married and have kids so she can have grandchildren. She doesn’t care about my feelings on this, she just cares that I have a vagina. I’ve even full out told her that I wasn’t born to give her children, but she shrugged it off, and she’s brought it up so many times.

I definitely think amanormativity has affected the way I view shows/movies as well, because for someone who is aromantic I ship a lot of characters. Like I love when characters don’t have relationships, sometimes just kissing makes me uncomfortable but I probably do ship that character with someone because that’s what you’re “supposed to do”, if they have chemistry you’re “supposed” to ship them. I definitely have a lot more OTPs (One True Pairings) and people I just ship but aren’t at OTP level than I do BrOTP (Platonic OTPs) and I feel like amanormativity is at fault because I see 2 characters (or sometimes three or four) who have really good chemistry and I automatically ship them romantically, I’ve noticed this with a lot of other people too.

I feel like I can’t finish an amanormativity post without bringing up Riverdale and their aromantic erasure with their character of Jughead Jones. I feel like amanormativity has a lot of part in the reason why Jughead isn’t and most likely won’t ever be aromantic on the show. Because people find characters who don’t have a relationship “boring” or “hard to write”. I feel like Riverdale is trying to “fix” Jughead, a character who is touch adverse, romance repulsed, aromantic and asexual because it’s not the “normal” thing to be. No one is romance repulsed, touch adverse, aromantic, and asexual right? No of course not. It’s not as if I’m not all of these things. It’s not as if I was finally getting my aromantic representation on-screen (I’m not going to talk about asexuality because that’s not what this week is about). No. Everyone is so into romance and sex. God forbid if they show a romance repulsed, touch adverse, aromantic character on screen. God forbid.

This is the thing right, non aromantic people see aromantic people (or characters) and think “I’m so sorry that you are this way, it must be so tough on you” or they try to “fix” us or tell us that “it’s a phase” or we “haven’t found the right person yet”. No! I don’t need your apologise, if I had known about aromanticism I probably would’ve identified as it at the youngest of 13. I’m now 19. And I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.

I really hope that in my life time being aromantic is more “normal” and that people accept that not everyone views romance and sex the same way. But to be honest I don’t see it happening, the more my life goes on the more the world becomes dependant on romance. And I truly hate it.

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 5 – Relationships (After)

Thursday, February 23: Write about the relationships in your life after you learned about the aromantic spectrum and began identifying on the spectrum. What kinds of relationships do you appreciate more now, if any? What’s different for you identifying as aromantic? What’s different in viewing the people around you?

I can really see a clear difference now to how I value my friendships compared to what I used to. I really value my platonic relationships, and they honestly mean the world to me because I don’t know where I’d be without them. Without finding about the aro spectrum and how I identify with it I honestly believe I wouldn’t have been able to notice this divide that I had between my romantic and platonic relationships. And with the help of discovering who I am I was able to understand that no relationship (platonic, familial, platonic etc) is more important than the other.

My values on my two friendships that I do have, are so different to how I used to be. Even though neither of them live in my country I feel like if they needed me I would drop everything for them because I love them so much (#no romo). And I just really love that I’ve come so far in understanding the value of these friendships and I 100% believe it’s because of my aromanticism. Friendships are so important, and I live for them. Without these two important platonic relationships in my life I feel like my life wouldn’t have been the same because I trust these two people with everything. They helped me through things that they may not even know about, and to be honest they helped me discover things about myself and my interests that I’d never thought I’d get into.

In my previous post I said something about the voice in my head that kept telling me that I was annoying people whenever I talked to them. I’ve noticed with the acceptance of my aromanticism and these two friendships, whom I’ve been speaking to for nearly two years, that this voice has slowly started to die down, because I no longer have the fear that they won’t accept me because I’ve opened up to them so much. With these two lovely human beings I feel like I could talk to them about anything, no matter what time of day it is and I honestly don’t think they hate me or that they find me annoying (of course there’s probably topics that one or the other would rather me not speak about and vice versa but that’s what friendship is isn’t it?).

Platonic internet friendships to me now are what I strive for, they mean the world to me. Some people might not understand this, my mum for example is one, because of the fact that we’ve never seen each other, and before you ask if I know the people I’m talking to are 100% legit I can vouch for them, one of them I’ve Skyped with, so I know that they’re real.

The last thing I want to touch up on is the fact with finding out about the aromantic spectrum I’ve come to understand the difference between romantic crushes and friendship squishes (or friendship crushes). I’ve realised that what I thought was a romantic crush was really a squish, and that’s 100% valid and okay. I just wish that I knew the term when I was younger because it would’ve made my life 100% easier.

Overall I can say that I truly love my friends, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I love them with all my heart (platonically of course).

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 4 – Relationships (Before)

Wednesday, February 22: Write about the relationships in your life before you learned about the aromantic spectrum or before you began identifying on the spectrum. Have you noticed a big change in how you view the people you care about? About how you used to interact with people? Write about your experiences before you discovered the aromantic spectrum.

I touched upon this topic in one of my previous blog posts but before I realised I was aromantic, I guess you could call my only romantic relationship as amanormative. The reason I think this way is because now I look back on it I feel like the world’s view on romantic relationships made me put romance over friendship, as if it’s more important. Because you never really see the importance of friendships until you lose them.

I’ve always been a shy and awkward person when it comes to talking to people with spoken word, I find it easier to express myself through written words (I think that’s why my internet friendships have always succeeded more than my “real” friendships) and even if we had been friends for years there’s still something at the back of my mind that tells me “you’re annoying them” or “they secretly hate you”. This might be common for a lot of people but no matter who I talked to, if we’d been friends since birth, I always had this at the back of my mind. And because of it I probably lost friends. I know a lot of my friendships died out because I gave up on being the first person to inituate the conversation, but I do think it originated from my view on romantic relationships (even if it was pretty common in my friend group to prioritise romance over friends).

I really regret how I handled friendships in the past, even though we were school friends and even if I knew that we wouldn’t be talk after we graduated I still wish I handled them differently. It’s not 100% my fault, because I felt the divide between myself and my group of friends since before I got a boyfriend but I feel like I was definitely the one who made it worse.

I want to focus more on friendships in this post, mainly because I’ve only had one romantic experience and I spoke a lot about it in the last post. Over my school years I had a few different groups of friends, but there was at least one or two people who I had been friends with since Primary School (I’m not sure what the American equivalent is), and some of them I was still friends with until the end of Sixth Form because we went through Primary School, Secondary School, and Sixth Form together. But none of them I talk to now. Some of us, or rather myself and the person I used to call my best friend, fell out on really bad terms (I’m petty and still hold a grudge like 5 years on), but the rest just died out because without school we just didn’t have anything I common, and I realised that I wasn’t really as close to anyone as they were too each other.

I do think back to my friendships and think if this amanormative world didn’t force me into thinking you should value romantic relationships over platonic relationships how different would they have been. I think about each individual with in my different friend groups from different stages in my life and think if I, or they, valued each other more would we still be friends right now. In some cases I think yes, but then I also don’t think we would, because we were all so different. Especially now, the things some of us had in common we now don’t. I had always been the youngest in the friend group (July baby) and all the rest of them had early birthdays so I was always left out in that sense because when everyone was 18 I was still 17 and I couldn’t join them. Plus I was never a drinker and I hate, and still hate going out. So I probably lost them in that way too.

Obviously there are times where I miss being able to talk to some of these friends, especially those who I once talked to online, because I feel like we got really close. But once our interests changed we no longer had things to talk about and I think that’s really sad.

I have noticed a massive change in how I view friendships, all will be explained in tomorrow’s post.

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 3 – Appreciation

Tuesday, February 21: Write about the things you love about your identity. If you’re struggling to love your identity, what are the things about the aromantic spectrum that resonate with you? How has finding the community helped figure out who you are? Feel free to post as many positive aromantic self-love posts as you see fit.

I can honestly say that I 100% love my identity as a whole, I may not know exactly where I fall on the aromantic spectrum but honestly it really doesn’t bother me because I just resonate with the term aromantic so much.

What I love most about my aro identity is how as I’ve become to accept myself and my boundaries I’ve become stronger and I’ve learned to value my platonic relationships so much more. I’ve learned to trust my friends and love them and show them that they are important to me, as someone would if they were in a romantic relationship. I’ve been able to understand that platonic relationships aren’t any less than romantic relationships like I’d been previously told.

Finding the aromantic community has been one of the highlights in my life because, as I’ve said previously, I’d always questioned romantic attraction even before I knew that sexual and romantic attraction can be and are two different things. And discovering the aro community has helped a lot in me accepting who I am. Because I’m not alone, that there’s other people like me and that it’s okay to be this way. The people I’ve talked to within the aro community are so loving and accepting and they’ve shown me that no matter what happens they’ll always be there.

I know non aromantic people won’t understand where I’m coming from, but that’s why I’m here to understand. I love being aromantic. Being aromantic was one of the first things I discovered about myself and truly begun to love about myself. It helped me learn to love myself and appreciate who I am as a person. Discovering my aro identity has helped me discover what my boundaries are in both platonic and romantic relationships. Where as before I knew I was aromantic I never really had any boundaries, I didn’t put myself first, and I just thought that I would learn to accept and be comfortable with things that I know now that I won’t ever be,

Being aro has allowed me to look at the world in a better way for myself, and I truly love the person I am today because of it. Of course there are times when I don’t feel this way (like when I found out Riverdale was erasing Jughead’s aromanticism) but most of the time I’m truly content with my aromanticism, and if you can’t understand that I have no time for you.

 

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 2 – Complications/Issues

Monday, February 20, 2017: Write about some of the complications you’ve come across as identifying or existing on the aromantic spectrum. You can include ways you’ve worked out problems that occur, or things you might still be struggling- it’s all up to you.

Figuring out I was aromantic was a process mainly, like I stated in yesterday’s blog post, I hadn’t heard of the term “aromantic” until I got more involved on Tumblr. At the time I was discovering my aromanticism I was in my first, and only, relationship with cisgendered allosexual male.

Growing up I had always questions what was romantic attraction/love because around me I was one of the few people who hadn’t experienced it at the age of 15/16. At that age, where I was slowly getting more into Tumblr, I had only known of three sexualities: Gay, Straight, and Bisexual. And because I hadn’t had a relationship, and I hadn’t questioned my gender or sexuality I identified as straight. And because of this amanormative world I was, I guess, brainwashed into thinking even at a young age because I was 15/16 and hadn’t had a relationship I either didn’t deserve one or that it was abnormal to not have one yet.

And because of this self hatred that developed because of my lack of romantic experience, and lack of knowledge on aromanticisim and aromantic terms I did something that I would probably do differently today. Today I realised I experienced what is called a squish, if you don’t know what a squish is it’s when an aromantic person has a desire to have a platonic relationship with someone. I had a guy friend that asked me out and I said no to and our friendship got awkward and we kind of fell out of sync, and because of this I developed what I’d now know to be a squish. But because I didn’t know what it was I thought this was a crush (I now realise all my “crushes” were actually squishes). So when he later asked me out for the second time, I said we should give it go (I actually never gave a direct “yes” answer I said something like “let’s give it a go”). And because of this amanormative world I did something I kind of regret now, it was push my “friends” away and focus more on my relationship. I used quotation marks around friends because even then, because we’re at school and we spent nearly every day together, we were more friendly than friends you’d keep for life because we had to spend every day but weekends together. And I felt like they were more closer to each other than they were to me, even before I had a boyfriend.

I started questioning my (what would be aromantic) identity around the two year nearly three year mark of our relationship (we never made it to three btw). I know for definite that my asexuality played apart in our break up, because of the fact that he and I were both uneducated on it, and I still didn’t know what I was and wasn’t comfortable with. There were a lot of problems at this stage in our relationship but I personally feel that discovering my aromanticism played a part in understanding what I personally wanted in this relationship and that was I didn’t want it to be romantic. And because of this our relationship ended badly, I am probably mostly at fault. We didn’t communicate well and we haven’t spoken since. I hold a grudge to be honest, and things that he said or did could be seen as aphobic.

I should probably mention that the only person in real life that I came out (as asexual and aromantic, at the time I hadn’t questioned my gender yet), to was him  not willingly though (long story short because he didn’t have a phone I lent him my Ipod, which was connected to my iMessage and I told one of my internet friends and he saw it). And because of this, and the lack of knowledge on aromanticism in my family I’ve experienced indirect aphobic comments, or forcing me to conform with the amanormative world. What I mean by this is that at family dinners, or even just watching a TV programme the idea of my having a boyfriend, or getting married, or having kids will come up. My mum in particular speaks about queer people as if her children couldn’t be queer, which I am. I feel like my mum only knows about “LGBT” people she doesn’t know that there’s more more identities that have been added and realised over the coming years. And because of that it’s lead to confusion, and/or indirect coming out from my side. For example my mum will bring up the idea of me getting a boyfriend/husband (sometimes she says or girlfriend/wife but she has this tone her voice that makes it kind of disapproving) and I’ll full out say no, and that’d lead her into asking if I’ll be alone for the rest of my life and I answer with yes. And because of that, my indirect coming out as aromantic several times during the year, she thinks that I’ll be sad and lonely, when in fact it’s the exact opposite.

I know I probably should just come out but it would be so hard to explain to her all of my identities and for her to understand it. I know for one that she thinks that my firmness on not having a relationship is because of a bad break up and that it’ll be just a “phase” (she’s directly told me that my opinion on not having kids will change in the future, and it won’t). My mum is also biphobic, and as someone who slightly identifies with panromantic as well as aromantic it indirectly makes her panphobic too. And I just know that she probably won’t even try to understand aromanticism because to her that’s “not normal”. And I don’t feel like I have to, I love where I’m at with my aromantic identity I shouldn’t have to explain it to anyone. But I will eyeroll at anyone who brings amanormativity or heteronormativity into the conversation.

I feel like the dependence the world has on romance and sex has brainwashed people into questioning aromantic (and asexual) people because we don’t fit this “new normal” and that makes it harder for us to live as we want to live, without questions on our relationships and because of this world it’s made it harder for people to appreciate platonic relationships at the same level as romantic relationships. Because as the world has got dependent on romantic love, it’s put it above platonic relationships when they should be equal. Friendships are so important. Not just romantic love. And some people don’t need or want romantic love, but some people can’t understand it because they’re so dependant on finding their “true love”, their “soulmate”. But maybe someone’s soulmate or “true love” is platonic love, or familial love.

I love being aromantic, and no arophobic people, nor this amanormative will change that. 

AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 1 – Identity

Sunday, February 19: Write about what your aromantic / aro spec identity means to you. This can include your experience finding the identity that feels the most right to you, and can absolutely involve disclosing what your identity is (though, of course, that is not required).

The first thing I really should say is that I don’t know for sure where exactly I fall on the aromantic spectrum, and so because of this I just solely identify as aromantic.

It took me a whilst to figure out I was aromantic mainly because I didn’t know that it existed. Growing up I always questioned what romantic love was, because everyone around me had experienced it except for me. And because I didn’t know aromanticism existed I just thought my time would come, or that I was broken to be honest.

I don’t remember the first time I stumbled on the word “aromantic” not as clearly as I do when I discovered “asexual” mainly because when I was figuring out my identity I was in a relationship at the time. And I thought that because I was I had to be “heteroromantic” even though I’d later find out I was also not cisgendered, but I hadn’t yet questioned myself on that either.

When I first found out about the aro spectrum I didn’t immediately go and identify with aromantic, as I questioned myself and my relationship I found the definition of “quoiromantic” or otherwise known as “wtfromantic”. I think the definition of quoiromantic has changed since I discovered it a couple of years ago but when I did the definition was something along the lines of “cannot differentiate the difference between romantic and platonic attraction”. But then as time went on and I realised that this identity didn’t really suit me either, so I just went and identified as aromantic, even though it probably isn’t 100% me.

Now my identity means a lot to me because it took me so long to get to where I am. I figured out I was aromantic/arospec when I was 17 nearly 18 years old. The term “aromantic” gives me a place to belong, it tells me that it’s okay that I’m different to this amatonormative world. I fully accept myself as aromantic because deep down, if I had known that such a term existed, I would’ve known that I was aromantic. Because I questioned it (romantic attraction/love) every day of my life. And if I had known about aromanticism earlier I think I would have gone through life a bit differently and it would’ve been a lot easier, I will go into more detail about that in tomorrow’s blog post because that’s about the complications.

It doesn’t bother me that I’m not 100% sure where I fall on the aromantic spectrum I’m fine with identifying just as aromantic, mainly because I’m content with where my life is at with my aro identity. I know I probably won’t want to have a romantic relationship, I’ve been in a romantic relationship, I’ve had the experience, and I know that it’s probably not for me. I know a lot of people won’t understand where I’m coming from because the world is so dependant on romance and sex, but I love who I am as an aromantic person. I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world.