By Twoey Gray
According to the myth of Eros, I am extra cursed. I am supposedly doomed to live out my days in search of a partner, but I’m not looking for one. And like any backfired wish, Zeus would probably be pissed.
Being an aromantic asexual, or “aroace” for short, is one of my favourite things about myself. I’ve identified this way since I was around 16, when I realized the other girls playing truth or dare actually did have crushes on people and weren’t just regurgitating some Olsen twins movie. The asexual part indicates that I don’t experience sexual attraction; there is no person or gender I look at and think, “Hell yeah, I’d hit that.” The aromantic part indicates that I don’t experience romantic attraction, meaning there is no person I meet who makes me think, “Hell yeah, I’d date that.” And to me, this is the furthest thing from “loveless.”
My intimacy with my friends is passionate and layered and magical in a way that is evident as soon as you experience it.
We buy each other surprise flowers, come to each other’s family functions, throw each other the best birthdays and write each other poetry. We value each other outside of our narrower criteria for “partner material,” and allow our capacity to indulge in different interests and beliefs to grow. We grind on the dance floor, freak out in each other’s Instagram comments, and text each other to say good morning. We regularly exchange the words “I love you,” and regard our friendships not as disposable hangouts, but as real relationships—ones that require tenderness and work.
For all of the life-changing friendships I have had, I’ve never once felt the need to formally date.
And why should I?
The asexual and aromantic community coined the term “amatonormativity.” This refers to the assumption, even within the queer community, that everyone is destined for monogamous partnership, and that this romantic/sexual partnership should be the primary relationship in a person’s life.
The expectation that everyone has a singular celestial match is not only dangerous for people who don’t want monogamous partnership, but also for people who do.
We treat friends—at best—as bonus relationships, subordinate to our romantic partnerships; at worst, as wingmen to augment our shitty love lives as we seek out our “actual” other halves. We deprioritize relationships with our family, friends, children, mentors, mentees and community in favour of an idealized, sole deliverer of comfort and care. We position intimacy as a gift that can only be achieved through exclusion, and singleness as a state of loneliness and incompletion. The high pedestal constructed for romantic relationships can easily destroy them, while limiting the potential for multi-dimensional definitions of intimacy.
Amatonormativity operates on an economy of scarcity, where romantic relationships are only valuable because of their perceived rarity. Love is constructed as something highly limited in a person’s life, when defining love outside of romance makes space for intimacy to enter all parts of our lives.
I am deeply intimate with my spoken word community when I spill my emotions onstage. I am intimate with my siblings; they are the first people I call when I really need help. I am intimate with the students I mentor so I can help them through difficult situations. And I am so deeply intimate with my friends because I let them carry such an enormous part of my spirit.
The Greek myth of Eros tells me I am incomplete if I am no one’s second half.
But what I know about love is this:
Love is not only for lovers. Love is not divisible by two. Love is not finite. Instead, love is community. Love is chosen family. Love is the people I send my selfies to before I post them. Love is the friends who take my frantic midnight phone calls. Love is the people who come to my sleepovers. Love is the ones who check in on me. Love is the friends who teach me new things about myself every day.
And love is mine, mine, mine.