Jump to content
Saber_Wing

Too focused on the label?

Recommended Posts

I've been tossing this around in my mind for a few days. I wanted to understand why it upsets me every time I try to explain my orientation to someone who doesn't know me, and then something occured to me.

 

It's important that we raise awareness for aromanticism, and asexuality for that matter, but I can't help but wonder if I'm placing a little bit too much stress upon myself with the tireless labels. Not that I would want to pretend to be anything else, or hide who I am. I just don't think I should feel the need to explain the inner workings to every single person who asks why I don't have a significant other, only to get the same blank, confused stares. Maybe I should be content to say, "I'm not interested in relationships of those sorts," and leave it at that. People who want my friendship must earn it, and in turn, they must get to know me gradually themselves. Why deem complete strangers with no respect for me worthy of that knowledge? Besides, those who consider themselves 'straight' don't have to walk around explaining why they're straight, so why should I feel compelled to do anything of the sort? I realize awareness won't go up if we don't talk about it, but give me a break. I am who I am, who cares, can we all please just accept it and nevermind all of the discrimination, hate, and increasingly complicated labels? Don't get me wrong, it's important to have those labels so that we know we're not alone, and so we have a way to define ourselves, but sometimes I feel we spend too much time working out precisely what bracket we fit into. Time we could be spending simply being who we are, rather than deriving new ways to explain who we are to other people. Am I making sense?

 

I'm rambling, actually. Frustrated, I suppose. Just some thoughts I've been having that I wanted to share with you all. I just want to live my life, and be who I am. What do I care what anyone else thinks of it?

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about this recently too. It's important to have those labels to bring us together as a community, but I find them (especially aromantic) pretty impractical in my everyday life. You get people who don't understand and you end up explaining really personal stuff to people you hardly know. This makes me feel super uncomfortable and exposed, so that was when I decided I'd start giving vaguer answers unless someone asks specifically.

 

So far I've used this method once, when a friend asked me whether I was interested in guys or girls I said neither. I also said that I was asexual but kept it at that which was helpful since there were a bunch of people I didn't know in the conversation. They seemed to get it pretty quickly and didn't ask too much more, but I was happy to explain. It was probably the smoothest coming out I've had so far (and I've had a lot, practice makes perfect I guess) :arocapapo:

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get it can be really hard to come out everytime. I am in multiply minorities so I often feel like I must come out as "something" almost all the time.

I decided that I wont come out unless I see a point in it. with aromantism I usunally dont feel like mentioned It just say "im single" or something if we get into the topic, but I do think spreading the word is very important. that was how I found the term (not thought the internet) and during my last meet up I found out one of my friend who also found the term usefull but had never head it mentioned before.

 

I also realised when it comes to aromanticsism that I rather use my energy on educating people and spreading the word thought more global level instead of 1-1 interraction unless I think its pretty relevant that the other person know.  

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's really little point in me explaining my label to anyone outside of selectively online. If anything I just say I have less interest in relationships than most people.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't really say that I've had many problems with comming out and explaining what the label means yet. That's probably cause I've onlc come out a few times outside of the internet; once two classmates, one of them a loose friend, once to a close friend and once briefly in class. Every time I just gave to basic information and then answered questions, if asked.

I only came out because I was asked, why I never showed that kind of interesst for anyone or similar, and kept the explanation short, simply bacause I did not know what they would want to know and am generally not very talkaktive~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've not really come out, since I'm still kind of questioning/doubtful and angsty, but yeah, wish it could just be ok to be as I am.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found it useful to be out with my labels. It makes it clear to people not only that I'm not interested in relationships now, but that I probably never will be, and I've accepted that. Using something more general sometimes makes people think I'm just not ready yet or haven't found the right person yet. Several people have realized they were ace spectrum because I came out as asexual and explained what that meant to them and others. And for those who aren't, maybe they won't be as surprised when the next person they know comes out as asexual to them. That said, I don't come out to everyone, or even everyone who asks about my relationships. It is completely your decision whether or not to come out, and how many people to come out to if you decide to come out. 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find the opposite to be true. I find it easier to say things like "I'm not attracted to anyone" or "I don't want to date anyone." No one has a clue what you're talking about with a label. 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it goes both ways, depending on your own personal situation.

 

Labels can be really helpful. They help us to feel less alone and find people who are like us. Personally, coming across the label of aro/ace allowed me to assure myself that it's valid and normal to not feel attraction. I like letting people know this about me because that way I don't have to pretend I'm just an uninterested straight person, because that has always felt like I'm lying to myself. But there are some situations where it's not practical to explain the label to an individual person, so I might say something along the lines of "I'm not interested in relationships" or "I really don't get crushes." Regardless, either way it's important to raise awareness, but I think that works best on a large scale unless there's somebody you specifically want to talk about it to. I've had a few of those.

 

(Putting the rest under a spoiler, because I kind of started rambling about labels and I'm not sure how relevant it is? But I still wanted to share it.)

Spoiler

 

But that's just me, and for other people labels can feel restrictive because they are too cut-and-dry. If you feel like you constantly have to give a long-winded explanation to people about your orientation, that can be frustrating, because chances are they really don't deserve to know your personal story.

 

I think the important thing, and something that really helps me if I ever feel frustrated by labels, is to remember that they're a guideline, not a box. There are not enough words out there in the world to accurately and completely account for every single person's nuanced feelings; there would have to be an infinite amount of labels specific to every individual, because everyone's feelings are different in some way even if we use a common label. For some people, coining new words and finding a label that fits them as accurately as possible is life-changing and makes them feel so much better, in which case more power to them. For other people, it feels better to reject labels entirely. But I like to see it as this: the world can't be seen in black-and-white. There are no clearly defined lines between anything. Very few people identify perfectly with a label; but no one ever said there had to be clearly defined lines between everything. Sometimes we feel things. Sometimes we don't feel things. Sometimes we feel some things but not other things. Sometimes we can't put a finger on what it is we feel or don't feel or why we feel or don't feel a certain way. Sometimes life is just a big load of ????? and the important thing is that labels are here to help us explain our experiences and find people like us. So as long as we don't give labels too much power over us and don't focus too intently on them, then they can do a lot of good for us. Life is complex, and labels can't really reflect that complexity without being overbearing and frustrating, but they can help us feel less alone and less broken and help us spread awareness that people like us exist, and that's important too.

 

 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the feedback, guys. It's definitely nice to know I'm not the only one thinking about this. Initially, I found the labels to be comforting. They made me feel less alone and still do to a certain degree, but the more I come out to people, the more frustrated I get. I think what some of you have said makes a lot of sense in that some people simply don't deserve to know me like that. Maybe I should stop trying to give away pieces of myself for no reason. I've always had problems with that. It's as if I feel selfish for not giving my all to everyone I meet. Man, that makes even less sense when I type it out xD This is why I have a therapist.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/08/2016 at 1:09 PM, Just like Jughead said:

I find it easier to say things like "I'm not attracted to anyone" or "I don't want to date anyone." No one has a clue what you're talking about with a label. 

Neither of these would be much use to me since I am attracted to people in all sorts of ways (none of them romantic).

With quite a few "dating type" activities sounding worthwhile things to do. Preferably without the romantic junk, but potentially worth putting up with if the rest of the experience is good enough.

I also enjoy lots of sensual things which tend to be romantic coded.

What's a better way to say "Aro, NOT ace, NOT haphephobic"?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

10 minutes ago, Mark said:

Neither of these would be much use to me since I am attracted to people in all sorts of ways (none of them romantic).

With quite a few "dating type" activities sounding worthwhile things to do. Preferably without the romantic junk, but potentially worth putting up with if the rest of the experience is good enough.

I also enjoy lots of sensual things which tend to be romantic coded.

What's a better way to say "Aro, NOT ace, NOT haphephobic"?

These are my problems as well. Being interested in sex and physical affection, but not the romantic trappings. 

And being a woman in the Bible Belt USA, guess what that makes me? Yep, bet you can guess. )x 

So I have no idea how to come out, express my needs, and stay safe, right now. It's all very frustrating, and I have no real metric for this, besides being non-Christian. Other than being aro, I'm basically "straight." 

*rolls around in angst*

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, LunarSeas said:

These are my problems as well. Being interested in sex and physical affection, but not the romantic trappings.

Ditto.
With it being the situation that I am typically seen as being "a man". Thus expected to take an active role in seeking romance.

 

12 hours ago, LunarSeas said:

So I have no idea how to come out, express my needs, and stay safe, right now. It's all very frustrating, and I have no real metric for this, besides being non-Christian.
 

Trying to "come out" is difficult. With the typically unhelpful response of "someone for everyone", "you'll meet the one", etc. Entirely missing that I don't want that kind of thing in the first place.

Safety is also a concern to me. Since asking the "wrong way" can result in abuse or (even) assault.
I'm unconvinced that Christianity should be that much of an issue here. The Bible, especially the New Testament, dosn't have that much to say on the subject on sexual relationships. It cannot possibly say anything about romance and romantic relationships, since the concept did not exist in the Roman Empire. (It's difficult to connect Roman concepts of "sexual orientation", let alone those from the Bronze Age, to modern ones too.)

 

12 hours ago, LunarSeas said:

Other than being aro, I'm basically "straight." 

I would be very reluctant to call a heterosexual aro (or a heteroromantic ace) "straight". Since they are going to find it hard to fit into a culture of heteroromantic heterosexuals.
Especially since romantic orientation often has a a big effect on how people are "in public". Including how someone might interact with co-workers, at social events and other things which have little obvious connection to romantic relationships. (e.g. I was recently at a "games night" where several other were discussing their marriages, divorces, etc. Beyond "That sounds like a traumatic experience. But I can't help much, since I'd never go there to start with.", there's nothing much I'd be able to say.)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only mentioned being non-Christian in the sense of having something about me that I hesitate to share widely with the local community. I live in a VERY southern Baptist area, and southern U.S. Christians can get pretty aggressive. In college, I decided to be open about being pagan. I had garbage thrown at me and death threats emailed. 

So trying to explain being aromantic to them isn't something I'm jumping on doing. xP

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Mark said:

I would be very reluctant to call a heterosexual aro (or a heteroromantic ace) "straight". Since they are going to find it hard to fit into a culture of heteroromantic heterosexuals.

Yeah... I've always just kind of thought of myself as straight by default (before finding out about ace/aro stuff). But every time I say "I'm straight", it feels like I'm lying. I get that same gut feeling when I know I'm saying something that isn't true. I definitely never did fit in with straight people... but at the same time, I also don't really feel like I can claim to be part of the LGBTQ+ community either. I feel basically "too weird" to fit in anywhere.

 

It's definitely useful to have labels for these things. I'm not sure it'd be my first choice if I had to explain this to someone though. With my one friend, I just sent him a link to the Wikipedia article on asexuality, for that. I haven't discussed aromanticism with anyone yet, except you guys. It seems a bit difficult to explain seperate from asexuality. I think I'd find it easier to say something like "I don't understand romantic relationships at all, and I'm not interested in having one". Saying "I'm aromantic" out loud almost sounds like saying "I'm a romantic"... which is not at all what I want it to sound like. xD

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/29/2016 at 1:24 PM, Saber_Wing said:

Besides, those who consider themselves 'straight' don't have to walk around explaining why they're straight, so why should I feel compelled to do anything of the sort?

 

Agree. It's not that I have hate towards straight people, but the fact that having a significant other is supposed to be more "default" compared to being single feels weird. Being in a relationship would pose some level of stress and some kind of limitation (it might be harder to go out with your other guy friends casually etc.) to you, which is less likely to happen when you just remain single. When I think about it this way, being aro seems more ....just natural. I don't want to devalue other orientations or make fun of other people's lives or anything, but if there's a default, it should be rather "doing nothing" instead of "doing something (that requires some level of commitment)"...I think most babies are aro...

 

It's not like any orientation is wrong, but it just feels weird to have to explain motives for.... doing nothing when people doing something don't have to. It's like being asked "Why is that you don't spend your money when you don't have to?"

 

I feel that labels are only for finding similar people and start discussion, too.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Elise said:

It's not like any orientation is wrong, but it just feels weird to have to explain motives for.... doing nothing when people doing something don't have to. It's like being asked "Why is that you don't spend your money when you don't have to?"

You bring up a good point. It's weird having to explain why you don't... want... something... optional.

But to them, maybe it doesn't seem so optional because you're so expected to have a significant other?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, techno-trashcan said:

You bring up a good point. It's weird having to explain why you don't... want... something... optional.

But to them, maybe it doesn't seem so optional because you're so expected to have a significant other?

Or be totally obsessed with getting one :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah. I've never understood the whole "be partnered or be looking for one" idea. Sometimes people need space, surely? Also, my family has decided that my friendship with @Bipolar Bear is romantic almost (or seem to). "Oh they're single now - make them not single now?" Just no! 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

22 hours ago, Elise said:

It's not like any orientation is wrong, but it just feels weird to have to explain motives for.... doing nothing when people doing something don't have to. It's like being asked "Why is that you don't spend your money when you don't have to?"

 

I feel that labels are only for finding similar people and start discussion, too.

 

I guess that's the main difference between aros and amorous people. For us, it's optional. Even unthinkable, but for them...I guess they feel like they instinctually need it? I don't know, that's always been a very strange thought to me, I can't quite wrap my mind around it to be honest. People think it's odd that I don't have this drive to be with someone, but what they don't realize is that it's just as odd for me to witness them jumping from one relationship to another within a couple of weeks of each other like it's perfectly natural. It just doesn't make sense to me. Not that I'm trying to say it's wrong to do so by any means, it's just that the concept is completely foreign to me. When I see people happy in their marriages and relationships I am genuinely happy for them, but part of me will always be cringing on the inside, saying: "Yeah, but why?"

 

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Pufflehugs04 said:

Yeah. I've never understood the whole "be partnered or be looking for one" idea. Sometimes people need space, surely? Also, my family has decided that my friendship with @Bipolar Bear is romantic almost (or seem to). "Oh they're single now - make them not single now?" Just no! 

Why must it always be "one"? This along with the idea of this singular person being the ideal for every kind of human interaction you could possibly want is something I've never been able to get my head around.
The possibilities of larger groups than two are ignored as much as "space".

 

11 hours ago, Pufflehugs04 said:

Also, my family has decided that my friendship with @Bipolar Bear is romantic almost (or seem to). "Oh they're single now - make them not single now?" Just no! 

For the sake of third parties, rather than mutual benefit. Which is utterly daft.
At least alloromantics get something out of being coupled, even if they are socially pressured into doing it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For aromanticism, it's not really the underlying lack of romantic attraction that is problematic. It's the completely altered lifestyle that comes with it. What is so much more important here is having people accept that being single is a valid choice. Single people:

  • Get pressured into relationships. 
  • See messages about romantic coupling just about everywhere.
  • Get told that there is the right person out there, as though it is their destiny to couple up.
  • Get discriminated against in written laws (at least in the US).
  • Become the targets of pity.

This all adds up to single people thinking that they should either be chasing after a romantic partner or something is wrong with them. Both of these are extremely harmful, I'm not sure which is worse.

 

Back to the OP's original post, I think that spending your energy explaining that you are happy being single is more important than explaining the aromantic label. People who understand you "don't feel romantic attraction" will still discriminate against you and pity you. But, those who know that you are happy as a single person might begin to see things a different way.

 

That being said, if there's somebody you know that you suspect is aromantic, then you might want to bring the topic up around them. Something just might click in their brains and lead to a greater understanding.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/09/2016 at 0:08 AM, Blue Phoenix Ace said:

Back to the OP's original post, I think that spending your energy explaining that you are happy being single is more important than explaining the aromantic label. People who understand you "don't feel romantic attraction" will still discriminate against you and pity you. But, those who know that you are happy as a single person might begin to see things a different way.

Not all aromantic people are "happy being single" (not even all aro aces). Cupioromantics specifically desire romantic relationships. Some types of Queer Platonic Relationships can look very similar to amantonormative relationships. e.g. Platonic marriage.


The idea of single or coupled is a false dichotomy.
There are a whole spectrum of non-normative relationships, including Fuck Buddies, Queer Platonic Relationships, Friends With Benefits, intimate friendships, which aromantic people can be interested it. Which can also be socially unacceptable thus resulting in abuse and discrimination. The flip side of amantonormativity is nobody could want "something else instead". In actual fact there are lots of possible alternatives.
 

It's also fairly common for aromantic people to enjoy romantic coded activities. Whilst encountering difficulty and prejudice in terms of finding anyone to actually do them with. Especially if they desire partners (rather than a singular partner). e.g. a candle lit dinner for three, or more, people.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used the labels to come out to some people. I didn't really explain, I just threw the label out there. These people are close long-time friends so basically the only meaning the label has is 'I'm not going to change', they know me well enough to understand most everything else. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 03/09/2016 at 5:51 AM, Saber_Wing said:

People think it's odd that I don't have this drive to be with someone, but what they don't realize is that it's just as odd for me to witness them jumping from one relationship to another within a couple of weeks of each other like it's perfectly natural. It just doesn't make sense to me.

 

Yes, this. It never made any sense to me either O.o I guess I always thought of being in a romantic relationship as happening due to some very exceptional set of circumstances. Such as finding a person you have enough time and respect for to go through all the hassle and emotional trauma of getting into the romantic relationship in the first place xD So, the fact that so many people seemed to regard being coupled as the default setting, and being single as some sort of short-term interruption to this natural state, was more than a little baffling to me! How did these people get into romantic relationships so effortlessly? (and perhaps recklessly?) Why did being single seem so comparatively unbearable to them, when to me it was perfecly fine? Etc.  (this line of thinking long predates terms like 'aromantic' and 'romance repulsed' having entered my vocabulary - I now think I'm probably both of these!)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...