This post is for the Carnival of Aces, this month hosted by a glittering gold maybe on the topic of ‘over emphasis placed on romantic/sexual relationships’
Given I worked a wedding last night and have another one to work tonight (it’s a public holiday too) and can’t think of an event that puts more emphasis on romantic/sexual relationships than a wedding, it’s pretty much an event that turns signing a piece of paper into putting the relationship on a pedestal. Honestly I’ve reached the point where I’m retreating out the back during speeches in the hope of finding something to do due to the romantic clinches in pretty much every one. But enough ranting and onto the actual post.
The emphasis that is put on romantic/sexual relationships is every where and often extremely subtle, to the extent that in many cases it amazes people when something doesn’t take a romantic twist. There is also a lot of pressure for people to get into these relationships and a common trend is that people not in these relationships are unhappy. One article I saw around the start of the year described singles as the unhappiest people during the recent holiday season, I’d try to find a link to this article but Valentines Day is only a few weeks away and the articles for that are already starting so you should be able to find more of these types of articles very soon.
The problem with how pervasive this message is, is how easy it is to internalise this message. I’ve always found that when I’m at my most depressed it is often when I’m in need of companionship (usually hugs/cuddles) but I can start pondering whether I should be getting into a romantic style relationship or finding my thoughts drifting there, despite a lack of interest. Before I discovered asexuality I was very much feeling that common broken feeling, not for the lack of sexual attraction, but for the belief that I should be in a romantic/sexual relationship (I didn’t really distinguish between which one, but put more emphasis on the sexual part). This feeling is shrinking now but it has taken alot of effort to overcome this mindset, and doubt still creeps in every so often. There are times where I could be considered romantically (and sometimes sex) negative as I can come across a bit hostile, but this is more an extreme response to the subtle unquestioning presentation of these relationships.
Setting up people into these types of relationships can considered be considered a favour and something that can be boasted about. It is also an area people love to pry into or speculate about. I had a smirk on my face when I was texting at a friend’s the other day, she asked me if I was texting a girl, technically she was correct; it was my mum asking about dinner and going nowhere and getting silly. It’s been a long time that I’ve ever shown any sort of interest in anyone with these friends but they still pry. I could probably mention many more things just within this group that show just how subtle the emphasis on these romantic/sexual relationships is, often you may not even notice people are looking at things from that perspective.
I show very little interest in these things and deliberately don’t talk about things or leave them vague to stop friends from making, implying or trying to find a romantic/sexual element to whatever has happened. It also can make it hard for me to meet new people as the way I behave can make it seem like I may have that sort of interest so I tend to back off to avoid giving that impression which probably means I miss opportunities for friendships.
Over coming these thins is possible though, I have a couple of friends that I spend time with in what could be considered romantic, one of which if you looked from outside it would usually be considered romantic (in fact one friend thought that may have caused friction with another friend) however with this friend I have a strong platonic friendship where it isn’t an issue to share a bowl of pasta with only a single fork between us.
The emphasis put onto romantic/sexual relationships is very difficult to ignore due to its subtle unquestioned nature and the expectation that you should want a relationship. Internalising these messages made me feel broken and whilst I’m slowly getting over this internalisation the periods I feel broken are getting less and the close friendships I’m forming are becoming far more valuable and closer to a form I would like. I’m still cautious though as I have to make assumptions about what the other people are thinking and often this is going to assume they place an emphasis on the romantic/sexual relationships, whether correct or not.