Listen, Donald Glover and others of the internet:
I think I was seven when I had this sort of realization that I would be single probably forever. This wasn’t even something I felt bad about, or sad about — it was a fact. I knew this at seven. When I was 13 I lamented the fact that I couldn’t join a nunnery without converting to Catholicism, like that would give me a place in the world that was legitimized singledom. I was 13. I look back on these things now and I think my life makes a lot of sense.
While the first 21 years of my life were constituted by a number of periods where I tried very hard to battle with that fact, to change my emotional constitution, it wasn’t going to happen. The hard part of being aromantic, for me anyway, is not being aromantic. It’s that you know that you will be sixty and single and people will give you those looks that even I give to older, single women. It’s that I look at the imaginings of my future (a future that will undoubtedly be awesome) and I know that no matter what I accomplish, I will still get that look of pity at office birthday parties. “Such a shame,” people will say. “Such a lovely girl.”
However, what I came to realize just before age 22 was that there was nothing wrong with me. That I never had crushes that lasted longer than three weeks (which, I don’t know, perhaps that makes me grey-aromantic, these delineations can be head-spinning), that I looked back on previous boyfriends with a feeling of quasi-confusion and a bit of disdain, these things weren’t bad. They were just me. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had realized that earlier. The problem is, of course, that there is a lot of super gross rhetoric surrounding single women, especially the older we get. The assumption is that something must be wrong with us if no man (and it is always a man) wants us. The story that goes forgotten — and I imagine this goes for aromantic ladies and romantic ladies — is that sometimes there’s just no one for us. And sometimes (though not all the time) that’s the way we like it.
What I wish people would keep in mind is that when we speak of the archetypes of The Single Woman™ or The Unmarried Woman™, we are reinforcing a historical pattern that associates women’s worth with their marital status. I don’t think people should feel pressured into these things, and the current social system we have has always felt full of these pressures. Or maybe it just feels like pressure to me because I don’t want those things. Dating makes me uncomfortable. I obviously don’t want the whole world to stop dating; there is no aromantic agenda. When I started dating my second boyfriend, a number of my friends commented about how proud they were of me for it. I, at times, felt like I was dating him because it was expected of me, not because I wanted to. This is because I’m aromantic and no one had told me what that was. I just thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I was broken. I’m not. Don’t act like I am. I could do without the pity parties that I’ve never held for myself. I bet the women who are not aromantic but simply haven’t found the person they’ve wanted would appreciate it too.
I want us to look at the rhetoric we have about cat ladies and old maids and their historical context and challenge them. For the romantics and the aromantics. I want us to live a life where we don’t feel pressured by everyone on the planet to be with someone or there must be something wrong with us. I want us to have the space to make our own choices. I guess I’m just trying to say — don’t police another person’s life. You haven’t lived it.