I went to confession at an art gallery recently (and no, there was no hot priest involved, à la Fleabag). Visitors to the gallery were asked to share their confessions with the artist, who painted some of them to feature in the exhibit. When it was my turn to confess, a truth came flowing out of me that I had never vocalised before.
“I worry because I’m asexual, I will never fall in love. And I will never live a full life," I wrote.
That is such a layered statement.
For context, despite being asexual, I'm an absolute slut for a good romance novel. The good, the bad, the sappy, the smutty. I don’t really discriminate (except Colleen Hoover — I will never stoop that low). I mean, how else would I average 100 hours a month on Audible?
People are often confused by my love of romance. When I fangirl over my favorite author Emily Henry, people are aghast. I don’t think that it has ever crossed their minds that a person can identify as asexual, but not hate romance.
But for me, romance is almost as unfathomable as fantasy. I would sooner expect to see werewolves roaming the earth than see myself falling in love. And I hate to admit it, but this makes me sad.
As an asexual alloromantic person, I feel like a wild oxymoron.
Now off the bat, I want to make something abundantly clear — I love being asexual. It is one of the parts about myself that I like the most. I have such a wonderful life filled with joy, wonder and (platonic) love. But with that being said, sometimes I worry that if I never fall in love, I will never fully experience life.
I have been a lover of love since day dot. I vividly remember squealing over Gabriella and Troy kissing in High School Musical, and had a fan account dedicated to Kurt and Blaine (Klaine) from Glee when I was 11. I devoured Jess and Nick in New Girl’s slow-burn friends-to-lovers arc.
For some important background about my ace identity. I consider myself to be on the asexual spectrum. I do not know exactly where I land and I feel like choosing an exact term is limiting, as life is long and identity is ever-changing.
As far as romantic attraction goes, I have felt that once in my life, many moons ago. Due to my love of love, it never crossed my mind that I could be asexual. I never really understood that romantic and sexual attraction are two separate entities. But alas, despite having a romantic attraction for this person (and how our whole situation was very enemies-to-lovers coded), the physical attraction was just missing for me.
Now, many years on and having come to the realisation that I am asexual, I find myself worrying that due to my being ace, I will never fall in love. As an asexual alloromantic person, I feel like a wild oxymoron. I'm someone who yearns for a love story worthy of Nancy Meyers (or more like Amy Sherman-Palladino, given my propensity for pop culture references) but all the while, I have a biological aversion to sex.
I sometimes find myself worrying that by never being in love, somehow my life is of less value or significance.
I also wonder if this desire for love is something I truly feel, or if it's just social conditioning. The idea that “love is the meaning of life” is so deeply entrenched in our world. Before I came out as asexual, I would be bombarded with questions about my love life whenever I talked to someone. My theoretical love life seemingly took priority over school, work, friends, and hobbies. Even now, I notice that my friends' love lives get top billing in conversations.
I'm aware that the importance we place on romantic love and relationships is often rooted in misogyny. Jo March in Little Women said it best: “I'm so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I'm so sick of it.” I sometimes find myself worrying that by never being in love, somehow my life is of less value or significance. That somehow my experiences and opinions are not as formed or valid because a part of my development is missing. I'm aware that this line of thinking is silly, but tell that to my anxiety.
At the end of the day, I think I want to experience love (despite the fact that people being physically attracted to me makes me want to vomit). I don't have much of a model for what a relationship without sex being a large focus looks like. Despite there being some amazing new media that touches on the intricacies of being in a relationship while being on the asexual spectrum like Alison Cochran’s The Charm Offensive and Netflix’s Heartbreak High, I want more. I want to learn about the intersection of love and attraction and I yearn for more media representation that speaks to that.
Now, I don't know if this will ever happen. I may be many things, but I'm certainly not psychic. If I do fall in love, then that's wonderful, and I hope that I make Nora Ephron proud. If not, I will be very content rereading Better Than The Movies for the one-millionth time. Love has never been and will never be the focus of my life, but just for this piece, I get to ponder what it would be like.