Category: aromanticsm

Carnival of Aros – November 2020 Round Up of Submissions: “Commitment”

Hi everyone. I am so sorry for my extreme delay in posting this round up post! It’s December 10th/December 11th already (depending on your time zone) but at least it’s finally here. The Call for Submissions for December 2020 has been up for a bit now, and the theme is “Happily Ever After” and is being hosted by Aspec of Stardust. The deadline is the end of December, goal to post the round up of submissions on January 1st. (At least one of the participants below has already written a December submission as well!)

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the November 2020 Carnival of Aros. The call for submissions was here. I’m fairly sure it was only six of us total who participated. (Edited to add: a 7th submission was found late, and added to this post early on January 5, 2021.) This is quite out of order of when they were submitted but bear with me, and please make sure to read the full posts if you can! 🙂

  1. I myself submitted a very late post on Being Commitment Driven. In it, I discussed a variety of types of commitments in my life including within interpersonal relationships, and my desire to become a parent and find a committed co-parenting partner.

2. Cinnamon (cinnamon_possum) wrote Commitment to Self. Here are a couple quotes to capture a lot of what the post was about:

It took even longer for me to understand that I could engage in relationships on my own terms, and that I’m more than capable of preventing marriage from happening to me.

and

My mind and heart do best when alone, and living in a society that often pathologizes and vilifies this way of being takes its toll.

3. arias_hollow also participated, with an untitled post, and here are a couple quotes:

I would say I do look for some level of commitment in my friendships, even if that’s only ‘commitment to behaving in a friendly manner around each other and offering assistance when necessary’.

and

When it comes to the idea of ‘partnerships’, that level of commitment has always seemed like A Bit Much to me. Romantic relationships seem rather unappealing and stifling, and I can’t relate at all to how people talk about queerplatonic relationships now a days either. That said, the way the concept of a qpr was originally introduced to me – an entirely malleable platonic partnership – did sound quite appealing at the time.

4. CharCharChar wrote Defining a Relationship for Fun, and explained the experience of “the DTR” (a slang term used to mean the Defining The Relationship conversation) within one relationship in their life.

I read a few articles on defining relationships in preparation and made a list of topics to consider:

-how we contact each other
-boundaries, anything that makes us uncomfortable to avoid
-what types of interactions we want to have and how frequently
-what we hope to get out of the relationship / where we see the relationship going

And be sure to check out the post for what happened!

5. graces-of-luck wrote a post on tumblr! Here’s a section from it:

So what truly distinguishes a close friend from a casual friend is the degree of commitment, in which a close friendship is characterized by being deeply committed to the ongoing continuation of the relationship and to each other. Commitment to a person certainly evokes a sense of security and comfort for me. The way I do commitment, though, does require that I maintain some freedom and lets the other person also maintain some freedom. The quote by Thich Nhat Hanh embodies this: “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

6. aro-and-ace-memes-thoughts wrote Committed relationships don’t work for everyone. Here’s a section from this one:

So, seeing the person I liked the most calling another one their “best friend” was crushing to me, despite my friends liking me and me liking them. I had, and still have, a friendship version of amatonormative goals. Like best friends are a platonic version of soulmates, which isn’t always true.

It took me a lot to realize it’s quite unrealistic for me to have that kind of relationship with someone.

7. aro-neir-o wrote a post on tumblr that I’m adding to the round-up very late. It starts off with these sentiments:

I’m not in relationships for the convenient companionship. I’m in there for depth of connection. Everyone I meet I consider to be an integral part of my life, whether they make the decision to stay or are simply fleeting passersby. 


All of these posts were great submissions and I really appreciate everyone participating! If I missed a post that should have been included in this roundup please let me know.

Being Commitment Driven

I started the draft of this blog post in June 2018, continued to work on it a bit in August 2018 after the month happened where the topic for the Carnival of Aces was “Nuance & Complexity”, and then… well… I just never finished it.

When the Carnival of Aros was launched in February 2019, I told myself I would host a Carnival of Aros one day on the topic of “commitment” and motivate myself to finish writing about this stuff when that time came.

In November 2020, I hosted the Carnival of Aros on the theme of “Commitment” and the call for submissions was here. I am also quite late into December finishing my own post, and posting the round up of all submissions. I sincerely apologize for the delay. Enjoy my finally finished post below. I tried to edit the draft from years ago to better reflect my views today, without scrapping all of it. I had to delete a lot of it though. I hope I didn’t miss anything I should have updated.


I have really jumbled thoughts and feelings when it comes to commitment, such as what commitment in the context of interpersonal relationships even is, or why I desire it, but I do think that deep down I am very “commitment driven”. Both inside and outside of interpersonal relationships.

My original draft mentioned how for many years now separated the concepts of sexual attraction and sexual desire in the asexual community. Sometimes we all struggle to agree on what it is we’re really separating, like in this post and its comments.

Now that this a Carnival of Aros post, I’m cognizant that in both ace and aro communities, “behavior” is often importantly differentiated from “attraction”, and people can have a “drive” or “desire” to pursue a certain behavior all while lacking a common type of “attraction” that goes with it. Some may not find people hot/sexy but still want sex, others don’t really get crushes but still could happily receive/give a bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, some people have friends without feeling “platonic attraction”, etc. Hopefully you get the gist of what I mean. We sometimes call aro people “romance-favorable” and less often talk about romantic “drive” or “desire”, but I think the concepts of drive and desire both can apply.

Continue reading “Being Commitment Driven”

Carnival of Aros – November 2020 Call for Submissions: “Commitment”

The Carnival of Aros is a month-long recurring blogging festival where bloggers on different platforms all write (or vlog, or create content) on a specific theme. Submissions are typically posted on everyone’s own blog (or whatever platform they use, such as YouTube). If you need me to host your post on my blog (as either a “guest post” submission crediting you or as an anonymous submission) please let me know. Different bloggers typically host the carnival each month. For more information about the Carnival of Aros, please look here! And don’t be afraid to host the carnival yourself sometime soon. The only rules are that a) submissions are tied back to aromanticism in some way, and b) the theme inspires your submission in some way.

Feel free to ask me below, or at my email address luvtheheaven5@gmail.com if you have any questions! Also feel free to reblog the post I just made, cross-posting this call for submissions to tumblr.


For November 2020, the theme I chose is “Commitment”. The prompts below are meant to help give you ideas of various directions you could take your submissions, but the topic is meant to be broad so anything that the word inspires, even if it has nothing to do with any of the prompts below, is welcome!

The dictionary of “commitment” that I was imagining would be most likely to be focused on:

n. The state of being emotionally or intellectually devoted, as to a belief,
a course of action, or another person.

There are also other common definitions, such as:

n. A pledge or obligation, as to follow a certain course of action.

There are other definitions of the word, especially if you expand to the verb “commit”, such as “committing a crime”, which you are welcome to explore if you’re interested. However, the prompts I have below are mostly based on the first two definitions I just listed up above.

Prompts:

Continue reading “Carnival of Aros – November 2020 Call for Submissions: “Commitment””

Some Bullet Points – luvtheheaven’s Aro Thoughts On Music

This is my (late) submission for the Carnival of Aros in July 2020 hosted by Zazz. The Call for Submissions was here, and the theme was “Music”.

I forgot to write a coherent post on this theme while there was still time in the month, and now it’s 3 AM in my time zone on August 1st and I’m just now starting the post. But here is something because I did really want to participate.

My bullet points idea was short one sentence things and then I wrote this mess below. Lol oh well.

  • Music is something that often conveys emotions, and connecting strongly to certain emotions expressed in swelling instrumentals or passionately sung lines is a way that some aromantic people can prove to both themselves and to others just how emotional they are as human beings.
    • Conversely, not relating or caring about extremely emotional music is stigmatized and people are even dehumanized sometimes for not appreciating certain musical things, whether the person is aro or not. Music is not as universal as many would like to believe.
    • Not relating to romantic songs, not feeling those feelings, could be a good sign you’re aro
  • Amatonormativity is perhaps more strongly evident in the songs on a typical radio station or playing in the shopping mall than almost anywhere else in life, although fictional stories in movies, television, entire libraries and bookstores do compete. But musical lyrics are often harder to curate your life around avoiding the specifics of when they are played in public even, and reminders of specific amatonormative ideas are not just prevalent but truly pervasive.
    • Taylor Swift just came out with a new album, and the first song on it is “The 1”, which by using the numeral digit instead of the word “One” is differentiating it in part from SO MANY other songs you could find on iTunes called “The One”. Although at least one other artist already has one using the numeral and calling it “The 1” as well. There is a monogamous romantic ideal of “The One” you’ll get a happily ever after with that people keep writing songs about – I wish these artists would name the songs over a more unique phrase or couple of words in their songs lol.
      • I feel like an imposter/fraud at being an aro when I relate to songs like this. The lyrics are about “And if my wishes came true / It would’ve been you” kind of stuff, about someone you wanted to be “The one”, and I’ve had that twice now in my life. First with my former queerplatonic partner I call Robert on this blog, then with my more recent alterous partner who I use the pseudonym Asher for. I wished each of them could have been the person I built a life with as a co-parenting partner, and it’s… not romantic to me but it’s still clearly a romantic-adjacent idea.
    • I’m frustrated by how often kissing comes up in the lyrics to songs, because for me it’s the one main “romantic” actions that people engage in, in a way that fills them with positive emotions, that I just cannot relate to because of my orientation(s) and aversions. I can twist a lot of lyrics into a platonic or alterous kind of love that works for what I can experience. But when I’ve tried kissing, it’s been upsetting and extremely uncomfortable and lessens the intimacy I feel between me and the person who was interested in kissing, and I never miss with longing what it was like to kiss someone, etc. It reminds me how different I am from the rest of the allo world more than most things do when I hear lyrics about kissing, which I do hear more often than lyrics about explicitly sexual things, because of my taste in musical artists and what they tend to focus on.
    • There often feels like a frustratingly low percentage of songs on certain topics. For instance: why do people sing about the deaths of loved ones so infrequently that many grievers find themselves re-interpreting some breakup songs as about bereavement? Yes, there are quite a lot of songs about grief, but percentage-wise it feels like so little.
      • There are not enough songs about cutting abusive parents out of your life, so for the past 12+ years I’ve tended to relate to breakup songs in the not-intended way of many lyrics applying to cutting my mom out of my life, or relating to the anger I would feel towards her as someone who treated me poorly and I’m glad it’s my past now.
      • Relatedly, most of the songs about abusive relationships I would come across, such as “No Love” by Simple Plan, “99 Biker Friends” by Bowling For Soup, and “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were all very heteronormative stories of romantic partner-abuse, even “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri mentions the abusive/hurtful person being someone she once “kissed” on a regular basis, but where are the songs about abuse occurring in other types of relationship dynamics?
        • I can think of about two songs that are pretty clearly about abusive parents in my mind, although the implication is not actually all that explicit – “Numb” by Linkin Park and “Just Like You” by Three Days Grace. I also love how non-specific Taylor Swift’s “Tell Me Why” song is on who the abuser is, so it could easily fit a non-romantic dynamic too.
    • It’s not just each individual song that contributes to amatonormativity. It’s them all together to form a societal “norm” of what the vast majority feels and wants and experiences. The stories told in these songs collectively explain what common threads are, and cause young aros who don’t yet know they’re aro to assume this will be their future, because they aren’t hearing songs on the radio about the experience of being aro.
    • There are also countless songs that incorporate amatonormative generalizations into the lyrics.
      • “Everybody” by Ingrid Michaelson claims: “Everybody, everybody wants to love / Everybody, everybody wants to be loved”, continuing into the bridge:
        Oh, everybody knows the love
        Everybody holds the love
        Everybody folds for love
        Everybody feels the love
        Everybody steals the love
        Everybody heals with love

        And I, before I knew I was aro (over a decade ago actually), vidded this song for Valentine’s Day because it felt super romantic to me. I still don’t feel like this is really the kind of song where you could re-interpret love intended to be non-romantic, although maybe that’s just my bias of what my video was:

        Regardless, I think even re-interpreting generously the love described as possibly as platonic, claiming that “everybody” knows this love excludes people who don’t feel things they describe as “love” for their friends or family, some aplatonic people, etc.

      • I love the song “Moonlight” by Thriving Ivory, as another example. I feel like I still relate in my way I experience longing for partnership etc when they include the lyrics:
        See we’re all looking
        For something, for someone
        For anything. For anyone
        But I’m, I’m still looking for you

        And yet they do strike me as amatonormative nonetheless, like everyone is seeking a partner when that’s not true.

      • “Gotta Be Somebody” by Nickelback starts off right away with the opening lyrics:

        This time I wonder what it feels like
        To find the one in this life
        The one we all dream of

        As if “we all” dream of “the one”, and the song continues to discuss “the one that I’ll spend forever with”, making the bold claims that:

        “nobody wants to go it on their own” throughout the choruses.

      • Obviously there are countless songs like these. These songs convinced me I would relate one day because they so confidently discuss “everybody”. I really wasn’t prepared for the fact that some people might be exceptions to these rules and not want the same things or feel the same attractions etc.
  • Being both aro and ace opens my eyes to the amatonormativity in music even if I’m possibly aegoromantic (often feeling excited by romantic narratives even if I don’t feel romantic myself, enjoying “shipping” in fandoms, etc), even if I do date and partner with people, even if I relate more to romantic songs than many aros do – I’m still more aware of the amatonormativity than I probably would be if this wasn’t my identity. It affects how I listen to music so much so that I was considering years ago starting a series of blog posts on discussing the lyrics to songs from a gray-aro ace perspective, because I think about it with such a high percentage of songs I listen to.
  • I think there are more songs that aren’t about romance than people realize, because even songs meant to be about friendship, or a Christian love for God, or familial, etc our amatonormative culture tends to hear as romantic, but part of that is intentionally vague lyrics about “love” in many cases because of marketability. Like it’s a self-fulfilling cycle of too many songs about romance and people being afraid non-romance songs won’t do well.

I probably have a lot of other thoughts and feelings on music but… This is what I’ve got for you at now 4 AM on a Friday night/Saturday morning lol.

Sometimes I wish I never had stopped practicing playing a musical instrument. I’ve played guitar, and piano. I also sung in school choruses 6 separate years of my life plus an all-county middle school chorus, and sung in a couple middle school musicals. Most of this has nothing to do with my aromanticism or my asexuality, as far as I’m aware.

I edit fanvideos and have for about 14 years now. I have written already on ways it might intersect with my asexuality, but the two part post also applies to my aromanticism.

Please let me know if you have thoughts, comments, curiosities, etc after reading this post today. Thanks!

 

Crying Over A Fictional Kiss

This is my submission for the September 2019 Carnival of Aros, hosted by aceofarrows, on the theme of “Aromanticism and Fiction”. The Call for Submissions was here. I’ve also cross-posted this to my tumblr if you want to reblog it or anything.

Content Note: discussion of varied kissing experiences, including my kissing-aversion. Let me know if I should’ve warned for something else.

Also… I’m not sure how much of what I am focusing on is about my (gray-)aromanticism and how much is my asexuality… it’s hard to really categorize some of this into one or the other category. But I know this is meant to be aro-centric and if you stick with this post I’ll make sure it ties back to aromanticism.


Last month, I listened to the audiobook version of Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink.

Potential spoilers are in this blog post below by the way, so you have been forewarned. I’ll try to minimize the spoilers (and I’m not spoiling the ending or anything). I’ll also mention, later in the post, details from over halfway through the book All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher, and a few details from The Flash (2014 TV series) season 2 and the Veronica Mars 2014 film and 2019 revival for a season 4.

I loved the audiobook of Alice Isn’t Dead. I found it really compelling. I have heard the podcast was probably a better way to first be introduced to the story, but I instead only consumed this fictional tale in its book form, because my asexual meetup group had decided to read it for its book club. It’s a story with a lesbian married couple at its heart—a romance.

Keisha is the main character. Her wife, Alice, went missing and was presumed dead before the start of the story. When Keisha first sees Alice in this story, Keisha is so angry about the depth of grief she’s been in, grief which is all Alice’s fault due to the circumstance of Alice faking her own death and then… they passionately kiss. And I kinda felt like I was triggered by the way the kiss was used in this work of fiction. I don’t know how else to describe it. I had a visceral negative reaction to it.

This is the paragraph:

Keisha could have hit her. Could have killed her, honestly. Let Alice finally actually be dead if she wanted to be dead that badly. But what she did instead was pull her toward her, and their lips met, and it could have been the day they met, could have been the day they got married, could have been any weekday evening before she disappeared. Keisha felt love, right where she had left it, and kissed Alice so hard that it hurt both of them, because what she really wanted to do was to find her way into Alice’s chest and live there among the bones and blood. She wanted them to be one person, but also to be two people; she wanted so many things, most of them contradictory. She pushed Alice away.

I just said I loved this book. I swear, I really truly did. There was so much I loved about this book, the #ownvoices portrayal of anxiety with a ton of depth (and kinda turning it into a superpower without minimizing how hard it is to live that way), the way the horror played out, the characters, and even the way the romance was written. (I’m usually a pretty big fan of romance in fiction even though I’m not alloromantic. I enjoy romantic arcs, and I even feel shipper type feelings a fair amount of the time.)

But also, listening to this audiobook in my car on a drive home late on a Sunday night, hearing about kissing, and how through kissing a character (whom I could otherwise actually emotionally- and personality-wise relate to quite a bit) was feeling a strong positive sensation of love coming rushing into her… it made me cry. I shed real, actual tears. I got distracted by my own thoughts and angst and had to pause the book and switch to playing music on the radio for a little while. I had to rewind it later because I’d missed parts of what came next. I was just. Not in the right headspace for this romantic kissing situation. Not at all.

The timing was partially to blame. I heard this moment in the book while I was driving home from a day spent with the person I’m dating, Asher. (Asher is the pseudonym I use on this blog for my alterous partner.) We had, just that evening, explored if maybe my kissing-averse self might be able to handle closed-mouth chaste kissing on the mouth, but first I had gotten confused and thought I was agreeing to trying open-mouthed kissing for the first time in nearly 6 years. I had indeed agreed on a previous night that I’d try that too, but when we’d get to trying a number of things had still been unclear. But I knew making out would be a thing we tried at least once… eventually.

Continue reading “Crying Over A Fictional Kiss”

A Journey Toward Two Happy Homes

This is my submission for the July 2019 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme of “Home”. The Call for Submissions was here.


I have been living in the same town with my dad and brother since before I graduated high school, barring the times I was 450 miles away at college, or the times my brother was 20 miles away at his college, and also taking into account that my senior year of high school I lived with my grandmother 70 miles away during the weekdays. But I kept returning “home” to my dad’s. To this town. To this place, where my brother and I were both finally safe and free from my abusive mother starting when I was 17-years old, and he was 15.

It didn’t feel natural to call it my “home” instantaneously the moment I moved all my stuff in and slept there every night of the week for a summer. I had been visiting my dad on weekends since I was 10 years old, sleeping one night a week in his apartment building, but my “home” was still my house with my abusive mother. Even when I lived for months in a row with my dad after I stopped living with my mom, it was hard to break the habit of calling this space “my dad’s house” instead of just… “my house”. It was just… a new house that the three of us moved to almost at the same time, and where we happened to live.

For a lot of people, the term “home” is associated with a feeling of comfort, safety, or even “sanctuary”. And “home” also is associated with memories, usually pleasant ones, or of history and the story of your life. This is the place where significant moments in your life happened. In that way, it makes sense that a new house I just had moved into in 2007 was not a “home” for me yet. I had loving family, sure, in my dad and my brother, but the place was not exactly home. It was too new, if nothing else.

The song “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own” by U2 reflects on Bono’s tense relationship he had with his father most of his life, and the line:

A house doesn’t make a home

definitely evokes something powerful. Less intense but still thought provoking is this silly Yahoo Answer:

A house is just a house whether made from wood, metal or stone. A home is a state of the house which required sentient creatures living and interacting.

Ever heard of a haunted home? ^_^

I went off to college and at some point did start occasionally, without thinking, calling my dorm room “home” in the sense of “I’m going home” from class/the dining hall, which when I realized I’d done it felt weird. However, doing that was somehow easier than calling other people’s homes “mine”, like my grandmother’s or my dad’s. There was a sense I had on some level that no my dorm room wasn’t home, and my dad’s I visited for winter and summer holidays was, but I had to break a particular habit that was more ingrained about the language of “my dad’s house”.

I think emotionally when I said “my dad’s house” it felt like “home” in many ways though.

Continue reading “A Journey Toward Two Happy Homes”

Personal Life Reflections Part 2, and Musings On Compatibility, Attraction, and Love Languages

Hi everybody! I hosted the Carnival of Aces in April 2019. This is part 3 of 3 of my submission.


So after I posted the Call for Submissions for this carnival theme on The Five Love Languages, I ended up reading 3 of the books and having so many thoughts that I’m writing 3 blog posts on the subject. This is part 3 of 3. I know it says part 2 in the title but it’s actually part 3 total, just part 2 of the personal life reflections… Sorry if that’s too confusing!

Part 1 was here. Part 2 was here.

This post below has more to do with asexuality and aromanticism than the previous two parts did.
For all the original Love Languages books’ faults, and there are a lot (see my previous post), one thing that I think most aces would actually really appreciate is how sex is very clearly not tied to love in the books, even in the marriage-specific book. Author Gary Chapman says problematic stuff about sex, for sure, but he also says if the only Physical Touch you go out of your way to give or receive is sexual, then Physical Touch is clearly not your primary love language. Other touch is kind of given priority in terms of what “counts” as Gary Chapman actually separates out sex and other touch, much like the ace community separated out Sexual Desire/Behavior from Sensual Desire/Behavior, defining “Sensual” as non-sexual touch.  It’s an interesting way to look at a lot of this.
Also, from the aromanticism side of things, Gary Chapman doesn’t actually say or imply anything is “only true for romance” that isn’t also true for non-romantic dynamics, other than when he tries to explain about the “in love experience” and “infatuation period” based on what the audiobooks only cite as “research” [so I have no clue how sources are cited in the actual book]… But when it came to love, the theorizing was impressively inclusive of the forms of love aromantic people also usually experience and even of the spectrum of human experience from co-workers and college roommates to siblings to adult’s dynamics with parents, love as on a spectrum where even if love stops being a good word for it and maybe “appreciation” is better, it flows seamlessly from love to appreciation in these books and all of it is still important.
There is something oddly validating about the marriage counselor who “invented” the love languages terminology and system having so much to potentially offer in his system even to nonamorous aromantic people?
And the idea of the love languages and these books around them also have so much to offer to sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent asexuals as well! His advice would work well for aces and aros, in spite of his bigotry and what I believe might be a partnership with hate groups like Focus on the Family (or at least I know FotF endorses him based on this image exising). (I know that groups like these have brought about deaths of gay and trans people, I do not say they are a hate group lightly.)
Even if it was unintentional, sometimes I want to take inclusion wherever I can see it. Wherever I can squint and find it!
But enough about that…
Let’s bring this post to the things I said I’d talk about in my title for this post – Compatibility and Attraction.

Continue reading “Personal Life Reflections Part 2, and Musings On Compatibility, Attraction, and Love Languages”

Things That Frustrated Me While Reading Some Of The Love Languages Books

Hi everybody! I hosted the Carnival of Aces in April 2019. This is part 2 of 3 of my submission.


So after I posted the Call for Submissions for this carnival theme on The Five Love Languages, I ended up reading 3 of the books and having so many thoughts that I’m writing 3 blog posts on the subject. This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 was here.

This post is about the reasons to be critical of the books, and the author, and the way the love languages are presented. I think there is a lot of wisdom actually to be found in the pages of those books, and the books promote plenty of things I think are generally positive.

The book also tiptoes around a few other topics and implies things by omission that make me wildly uncomfortable, and a few times even actively state certain things that I flat-out disagree with.

I wish I’d been taking notes while listening to those 3 audiobooks but instead I’m just gonna go from memory and outline some of the major things I remember not liking.

As one reviewer said in 2012,

This book is about 25% heavy-handed religious rhetoric, 25% folksy nonsense, and 25% outright B.S. But the remaining 25% is genuinely insightful, interesting, and helpful. If you’re willing to dig through the muddy presentation, there are some wonderful nuggets of wisdom.

and I’d mainly agree that that.

The religious rhetoric is the easiest to get out of the way first. Throughout the books he uses examples of people who have used his love languages to great success, over and over, and maybe 50%, maybe 25% of the time in the examples he mentions that these are very religious Christian people whose spirituality is important to them, and loving Jesus inspires them to want their marriage to work. Or something really close to that. I don’t know, that’s how it sounded to my atheist ears. There was no diversity or specificity of even different Christian sects, just this “yay don’t you think Christians are the best and relate more to these people the more I tell you I hosted Church Singles events at my home and this guy came to that,” or whatever. As an author he will bring it up too much, to make it clear he only really values Christians as people whose relationships deserve improving by having better love communication. And he’ll start quoting the bible to justify certain advice of his at a few random times throughout the books. As someone who does not believe the bible is true, it’s just a part of the book I’m waiting to be over when I was listening to these audiobooks.

He says at some point in the books when it comes to dating and marriage that people need to be churchgoers to the same degree and equally spiritual to be compatible. He says, if I recall correctly, that beyond the love languages you also need to have core features of compatibility and this is an example. He emphasizes the very religious and what they need, but subtly reinforced the thought that atheists would get along with each other, that other religions should stick together. He seemed to have no concept or thought for interfaith marriages or the thought of different levels of spirituality sometimes working okay.

I clearly don’t agree at all with any of the Christianity he tries to infuse throughout this.

And in less explicit and overt ways, his Christianity clearly influences the rest of what I disagree with so strongly. So let’s move on to all that.

He is extremely amatonormative, heteronormative, and “old fashioned” in ways that make me uncomfortable. He posits Divorce as Always Bad and anything you can do to avoid it as good, including subtly endorsing withstanding abuse and trying to victim-blame and insisting someone act more loving toward someone who is not loving at all to try to “test” his theory. He cites some supposed research that having sex before or outside of marriage is horrible, cites research that cohabitation before or instead of marriage leads to more abuse or other unhappiness, and implies men and women are made to be happy together in a marriage. He even implies arranged marriages and avoiding dating altogether would be better, but settles for the reality of American and Western society where dating is a common thing. It’s jarring to read books where the author feels so confident in these types of conclusions.

He never once acknowledges that anyone might be queer or LGBTQ+ in any way. He talks about men and women dating over and over. I did try again to take the love languages test as a female person who was married and older than I am, just as an experiement, and the language did not assume husband but did say “partner” over and over which was impressively inclusive, but even so. The books over and over show straight couples or straight couples raising kids. It did address that sometimes parents are single parents and tried to help single parents be the best loving parent they can be most of the time, didn’t get too harsh on attitudes towards single parents as far as I can recall. It did say divorced parents often make this, this, or this mistake and fail to communicate love effectively. But it didn’t go as horribly far as it might’ve.

He discusses the “in love experience” in a way I think to some degree even aromantic people would appreciate as an analysis of how those people who experience it end up feeling and behaving for an average of 2 years before those feelings fade and “companionate love” takes over. But he does not acknowledge the thought of an ace or aro spectrum of course, and implies all people are alloromantic allosexual and not just that, but heteromantic heterosexual.

He also explicitly says open marriages are horrible and doesn’t really address polyamory in any other way, but is extremely pro-monogamy to the point of saying research backs up the harm of open marriages, if I recall correctly. He also discusses affairs a little, and the excitement of the “in love experience” and infatuation period but I believe is trying to help save marriages at all costs including in these situations, which I wished would’ve approached it from more angles. It’s okay that marriage is still on the table, but not the “at all costs” approach.

The biggest thing that frustrated me was when he did bring up abuse briefly and then forgot he mentioned it, I think it was in the Singles book as the only place he mentioned parents can be abusive, and one moment in the Children book he mentioned sexual abuse from strangers including pastors etc, but he claimed it was outside the scope of that Children book and wouldn’t be addressed there. In the Singles book he was explaining that children who had been abused by parents might grow into adults… but then proceeded to imply that no matter how bad your relationship as an adult with your parents, you should try to speak more love languages and repair your relationship. As a person who’s gone No Contact with an abusive mother, it was really frustrating to listen to those parts of the audiobooks. I know that what he was suggesting would not always just work. This counselor has SUCH confirmation bias toward his pet theory. It’s ridiculous.

There was also one part of the marriage book that was horrible with the compulsory sexuality/sex-normativity… I believe it stated that people are almost NEVER sexually incompatible, and everyone loves sex in the same way, they just need to feel loved first, with the love languages used effectively, and otherwise all men are compatible with all women and everything is easy and happy. He implied that sex is obviously important to everyone. And to the woman in what seemed to clearly be an abusive marriage to me, he insisted she initiate sex even when she didn’t want to, with no concept of consent brought up. Just. Make the other person feel loved as much as possible, in as many ways as possible, until it works and they start loving you back. It was… creepy and wrong.

Not sure what else I should be criticizing in these books, but this is all I remember at the moment. Sorry if I forgot something big.

 

 

Yearning For “Queerplatonic” To Be Recognized As Not Romantic (and other scattered thoughts)

This is my entry for the April 2019 Carnival of Aros, which is on the theme of “Coming Out and/ or Being Out as Aromantic Spectrum”. The Call for Submissions is here. It’s crossposted to Tumblr here. For more info on what the Carnival of Aros is or how to volunteer to choose the theme for a future month, check out this link: https://carnivalofaros.wordpress.com/


There is a separate post I could be writing on the origins of the coming out phrase not having to do with closets but rather debutante ball language (and drag balls), and how complex it is to discuss aromanticism in the context of this phrase. I am not writing that post today.

Allow me to clarify really quickly that in my own life, how “out as aro” I am or am not is very complicated and I’m not particularly in any closet, but. I’m also not sure where I am in regards to outness.

Since I haven’t really blogged directly about my place on the aromantic-spectrum in years, I feel the need to establish context before really diving too much into the theme for the Carnival this month, so please be patient as I ramble and try to explain where I come from in this conversation. Also some of these context-establishing sections will likely be sprinkled throughout the post.

In February, during Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, I wrote a draft that got past 1,000 words on “Why the Gray-Aro label?” but I never finished it, never published it, and didn’t really like how I had written so many words of context and not yet even answered that question. I felt like I needed to try again. (Maybe skip dwelling on backstory. Jump into the present.)

As an extremely “out” asexual person who isn’t gray at all in my aceness, yet who is hovering somewhere in the gray areas of the aro spectrum, I feel like I’m constantly being asked to place myself (my ace self) into one of only two ill-fitting boxes. #1 Being Alloromantic aka a “Romantic” Asexual, or #2 being Aromantic alongside my asexuality. Most people see things as black or white; one or the other. And maybe I still do too. Even internally, to myself, I jump back and forth—and back again—trying to settle on what I am. Am I fully aro? Can I fit in that box? I often feel like maybe it’d be easier for me.

I never really think I’m fully alloromantic anymore. It’s been 5 years since I’ve wondered if I’m “panromantic”, full stop, no extra modifiers. I feel comfortable saying I’m definitely not. I’m not an alloromantic panromantic.

But I can’t decide if I’m a plain-and-simple aromantic with absolutely no romantic attraction, or if I’m in some other part of the aro spectrum. My identity is blurry rather than solid and easy to categorize. (Thanks! I hate it. 😂)

Continue reading “Yearning For “Queerplatonic” To Be Recognized As Not Romantic (and other scattered thoughts)”

Trying To Be Less Invisible (a “Symbols of Identity” Carnival of Aces submission)

This is a late submission for the March 2019 Carinval of Aces on the theme “Symbols of Identity”. The call for submissions was here.


This past June 2018, less than a year ago, I bought off of Zazzle a medium sized silver-plated square ace flag necklace with this artistic “paint splatter” stylization of the ace flag. (Click the link to go to the page white you can buy it.) It looks like this (photo I took of it on my thigh):

And I wear it fairly often. I referenced it in my poem published in The Asexual last fall. I am wearing it in my bio photo too, from my family vacation to Maine last June, only a few weeks after buying it.

I had purchased it just barely in time to wear it for Pride. I took a few selfies and made these selfies with a visible Ace Flag necklace my Facebook profile pictures for many months on end. I love this necklace so much more than I expected to love it. It helps that I get a lot of compliments on it. I’m reassured that I’m not misguided or confused to feel good wearing it, to feel pretty and feminine and adult (not too juvenile) etc in the ways that I wish to. I can’t remember exactly how often I wear it but when I’m going to ace meetups and I remember that I should wear it, then I do. And I go to like 2 to 4 ace meetups every month lately. Half of which I’m hosting myselfl!

I like to wear it generally. When I’m going to queer conferences it feels vital (I went to the Centering the Margins nontheist event this past Saturday and made sure to leave the house wearing it). I wear it when I’m dressed up and feel like jewelry would enhance how dressed up I feel. If it even just kinda sorta possibly matches even a little I want to wear it. If it really clashes though I won’t. I’ve worn it to atheist meetups and to work and to visit my grandma. I’ve worn it plenty of places.

I like it so much more than the thought of wearing an ace ring. I can’t imagine starting to wear a ring regularly. But necklaces are natural for me.

In fact I’ve grown so accustomed to my ace necklace that it’s crazy to think how many years i went about my life without really explicitly ace (it’s an actual ace flag) jewelry.

Sure I’ve worn like silver colored & purple jewelry, like the bracelet in the following photo, since high school and much more often since figuring out I was ace:

(I couldn’t decide which of those two photos of my purse showed my bracelet better. The first it is on my wrist.)

Or a few other earrings/a bracelet etc that happen to be the ace colors five per take. Sometimes I even kinda do the aro greens purposefully with my jewelry.

I love symbols of identity these days. Like I said, that’s my purse! I have bought approximately a million buttons off Zazzle that reflect my gray-aromantic, gray-panromantic, asexual identity as well as a much smaller handful that reflect my identity as an atheist or as a person who cares about suicide prevention and gun violence prevention. I also got from redbeardace of Asexuality Archive two buttons from his donation to the Creating Change conference, so I didn’t spend money on those.

That just happens to be my purse at that one moment after I was getting ready this past weekend for the Centering the Margins summit. I also have the other side of my purse:

And my decked out backpack at the moment:

At any given moment in time my backpack and purse look very different. I carry my backpack to a lot of meetups and to and from my workplace every day. I get my buttons rusty in the rain, snagged on things and broken or lost on the street/in the grocery store/on the metro etc… I have to swap out what’s where pretty frequently. Replace buttons with others I purchased. Etc.

One time I even bought some stickers off Zazzle even though I wasn’t sure what i was going to do with them. Decided to put them on my portable phone battery which was just a solid black, blank surface and a really good spot for some stickers. Sadly the “asexual and proud” one has really seen better days but the “wear and tear” shows character, perhaps?:

I don’t know. It is what it is.

I actually own two ace flags, one six inches long and one a whole foot. I bring them occasionally to help people find me at ace meetups that I host. I bought them at the end of September 2018 at the 5th Annual Northern Virginia Pride Festival. I live in Maryland but drove there and wished there was aro (or pan? Did I look for that?) Flags for sale but was happy to see demisexual and asexual ones at multiple people’s stands, as well as pins and other ace pride items. So happy. It’s really nice to be represented. It’s nice people are aware we exist and choosing happily to include us. I gave out business cards for my at-the-time-still-ace organization (we changed a couple months later to be jointly ace and aro) and kept looking for ace symbols everywhere among this pride festival. Later, in January 2019 I went to an ace meetup where I painted a turtle with the ace, aro, and pan pride flag colors:

Which turned out after the kiln looking like:

All of the colors are there – pink, yellow, light/bright blue for being pan; purple, white, gray, and black for being ace; the latter 3 of those also applying to being aro but also both shades of green. It’s not exactly a work of art but I’m clearly somewhat obsessed with ace/aro/pan symbolism lately.

I have a zip up sweatshirt that has a small, maybe 2 or 3 inches of a striped rainbow on one side of the front. The rainbow is in the 4 colors of the ace flag with the small message under it that says “These are my colors”. I really like it a lot. I even wear it at work sometimes. (My workplace prefers business casual dress but doesn’t complain much about us leaning very casual and stretching those rules, sneakers with dress pants, sweatshirts, etc.)

I have a handful of ill-fitting ace t-shirts and a few that fit fine. I bought some from red bubble, I painted my own designs on other shirts, and for one I got it for free from any ace meetup attendee who didn’t want his shirt once he tried it on and realized how huge it was.

I like the playing card symbolism. I like seeing my ace friends wearing black rings even if I don’t wear one myself. I have mixed feelings about the cake symbolism for a variety of reasons, but that symbol and joke often makes me smile. I can’t help but love lemon cake and chocolate cake and carrot cake (as some examples) – and various types of icing can be delicious. It’s fun and silly and simple enough of the time.

I’m not a tattoo person and didn’t grow up in a family that understands them but more and more I see and understand wanting to make things visible directly on your skin, such as your love or your grief or your survival over really hard stuff when it feels so much a part of you. And yet it’s frustratingly invisible from a mere glance at you. People aren’t seeing all of the “you” that you wish they would see. I am surrounding myself with and carrying a lot of these symbols so much now and it feels like maybe it’s a bit much but it also feels good when a trans guy walking down the street shows me the trans flag on his tablet case he’s carrying in a show of solidarity or a gay guy at a general community building meetup I go to sometimes notices my flags and decides to ask me if I know of any local LGBT scene. It feels good to have something concrete to gesture toward with my hand when I’m causally coming out as ace again and again in my life, to all the new people I meet, when someone asks me my plans for the weekend, etc! It feels exciting when strangers on the sidewalk find the “I’m not straight” pin I used to have so amusing or a fellow passenger on the metro asks for asexuality 101 because of my pins. I love this part of my life.

I think it started with when I went to ClexaCon 3 years ago (wow time flies! That feels like yesterday). That is a fandom convention for LGBTQ women and I wanted people to maybe, possibly be able to see in that crowd of queer women a flag they might recognize. So I painted my nails with ace flags before going and even brought the nail polish with me and reapplied in my hotel room to keep my nails looking good all 3 days of the convention. You can see those photos in this old post of mine, just scroll down:

https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/asexuality-shame-and-the-importance-of-ace-pride/

And while there in March 2016 I saw an ace button aka pin for the first time and bought it and put it on my purse. I… Was starting slowly to see the appeal of all this symbolism being a tool I could use to help me feel as open and out as possible which for some reason is what I wanted, a reminder to myself that I’m proud to be who I am. (Which is super ace. An ace activist. An ace podcaster. An ace meetup organizer and frequent attendee. A person who is reminded of how ace I am constantly by the media. By being surrounded by adults married with children in a life i can’t just have that easily.) And a way to try to fight how frustrating it is to be so invisible, literally using prides flags and pins with words about asexuality and aromanticism and “I’m not straight” etc to make the invisible able to be seen if anyone is bothering to really look.

It feels pretty great. 🖤💜💚🖤