Just Because I’m Asexual, It Doesn’t Mean My Life Is Less Important

Allow me to paint a picture for you. I am sitting at a café with a friend, over an hour into our catch up. Within this hour, they haven't once asked me a single question about myself. Not even a perfunctory "how are you?". The topic that we've been discussing for the past hour — and I use the word "discussing" lightly, as it was more of a monologue — was their dating life.

At the end of the hour, I knew every sordid detail about their romantic escapades: the different people they were seeing, their thoughts and anxieties about each of these dates, and so on. Now don't get me wrong — I love hearing about my friends' romantic lives, and to be regaled with tales for my asexual alloromantic self to live vicariously through. But just because someone has a romantic life, I don't think that they should automatically get top billing in every conversation. Why are my life and my experiences somehow sidelined because I'm asexual?

Somehow, when I say "I'm asexual," people hear, "Perfect! I can monopolise this conversation".

Now this isn't solely an issue isolated to one friend; it feels like a widespread phenomenon among many of the people I know. If I'm at a party and meet a new person, one of the first questions I get is if anyone is "on the scene". When I reply saying I am asexual, they seem to take this as an invitation to talk my ear off about the shit guy they're currently slumming it with. Somehow, when I say "I'm asexual," people hear, "Perfect! I can monopolise this conversation".
There are so many issues with this behaviour. One of my main gripes is how romantic relationships are prized above all else. As women, we've long been conditioned to believe that our worth is defined solely by our romantic relationships. It's disheartening to see that in 2024, some are still clinging to this outdated notion, despite the strides we've made in creating a more inclusive post-Bechdel test society. But alas, so many people are still failing Feminism 101 in their conversations with their friends.
And this is not something that only asexual people face. Some of my friends in long-term relationships who are "done dating around" have shared similar stories, where they are used as a sounding board for all of their friends' dating escapades. I truly think that these people think that their friends want to hear every single detail about their dates. I hate to break it to them, but I don't care what was in the pasta that your date cooked for you.

It makes me so angry that it feels like a privilege to get some airtime in a conversation.

What bothers me is how my life is devalued because I'm asexual. I'm very happy with how I identify, and I truly love the life I have built for myself. But that doesn't mean that my life is perfect, or empty. I — like everyone else — have positive and negative thoughts, feelings and emotions (sometimes arguably too many) and I deserve to be able to share these with my friends.
If something major happens in my life, whether related to family, friends or work, I often feel lucky when I'm able to discuss it with my friends. It makes me so angry that it feels like a privilege to get some airtime in a conversation.
I know that some of you might be wondering whether I've brought this up with my friends — and the answer to that is, no. There doesn't seem to be an easy way for me to tell my friends that they monopolise every interaction with their relationship talk. I tend to be a very conflict-averse person, despite being honest and opinionated, and it seems harsh to bring this issue up with a friend. From their perspective, they are just discussing something major in their life — just without any regard for how one-sided our interactions have become.
But after these interactions, I feel like an empty shell of a person. The best reference that perfectly encapsulates how I feel is that after walking home from my last such interaction, I had the piano intro to Taylor Swift's Tolerate It from The Eras Tour come into my head. Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean that our conversations should be a soliloquy. Asexual people like me have lives that are rich and full and of value, and we deserve better.
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