It’s Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week!1 Penny Stirling has a list of free-to-read aro & ace fiction up; if you know of any work that’s not on the list, ou’s taking suggestions.

I want to take a moment to talk about my own experience with being on the aromantic spectrum. It took me a while to realize that I’m aromantic, and I haven’t always been; part of my difficulty in identifying as aromantic was that I couldn’t find clear-cut definitions of the term or criteria for identifying as aromantic.2 I realized that that’s probably because people have so many different experiences with aromanticism and that each experience is individual. So I can’t really talk about What It Means To Be Aromantic. All I can talk about are my own experiences.

I deliberately titled this post “All Is Full of Love” because I’ve found that I’ve become more loving after realizing that I’m aromantic.3 It only sounds like a contradiction because the culture I’m part of equates “love” with romantic love, when in fact “love” encompasses a set of emotions.

Perhaps the most well-known delineation of love are the Greek words for love: agápe, éros, philia, and storge. This division acknowledges love beyond the romantic; in particular, I’d like to focus on philia and platonic love.

But first, a brief aside back to romantic love. I can remember starting from maybe the fourth grade that at any moment, I had a crush on a boy, if not multiple boys. Then, in middle school, I realized that I could have crushes on girls too. All through high school, I found myself liking people in romantic ways, but never having that romantic interest reciprocated—until I met A. A. and I dated long-distance for four years through my senior year of high school and into college.4

College was tumultuous. I have some great memories of my time out East, but also some truly terrible memories. At some point, I started associating my self-worth with romance and sexuality.5 I kept pursuing new relationships and got into a number that I didn’t quite enjoy, but at least there was someone out there who gave a shit about me in that way, right?

The thing is, I was miserable. My mental health had taken a dive through all these years for a number of reasons, and I wasn’t happy in these relationships. Trying to find The One was exhausting. My depression got so bad that I withdrew from everyone—dating, friends, family.

It’s only been in the past year that I’ve finally begun to dig myself out of that pit. And in that time, I realized that I’d lost interest in romantic relationships.6 At first, I thought it was because of my depression and my terrible relationships, and that may well have contributed to it. But then, I found that I didn’t care why I wasn’t interested. I just wasn’t.

And I was happy.

I am happy.

I’ve gone back to writing and drawing and all the creative things that I love. I’ve found an amazing community of speculative fiction writers, artists, and editors who have welcomed me at every step of the way. I’ve made friends with new people. I’ve renewed friendships with people I already knew.

Through it all, my heart swells with platonic love. I care so damn much about my friends. Creative fields are often rife with competition and jealousy, but I chose to supplant mine with love instead. I’m happy when my friends are happy. I adore them so, and I want to do everything I can to help them out. I want my friends to grow and to be the best that they can be, and I do it all through love.

Without all the bullshit pressure to go on dates with people I’m not interested in to find The One that will presumably make me happy and ~whole~ (when I already am happy and whole!), I have so much more time to write, to go out with people I actually enjoy, to live my life in a way that’s meaningful to me.

So that’s my experience, and that’s where I’m at now.

I’m aromantic.

And I’m probably one of the most loving people you’ll ever meet.

  1. It’s actually next week, starting on the 15th. GOOD JOB, SELF.
  2. At the time, that is. It seems a lot more resources have started to pop up, especially on Tumblr, but I haven’t been on Tumblr recently and am not sure what’s out there now.
  3. And also because I like the song by Björk. Shh.
  4. He’s my ex now, and we’re still good friends. In fact, I think I like being friends with him more than I liked dating him.
  5. As I look back, I’m not surprised that that happened—there’s so much pressure to be romantically and sexually active in U.S. culture, and the fact that I was read as an Asian woman meant that I was no stranger to people fetishizing me.
  6. And also sex, but this isn’t Asexual Spectrum Awareness Week, so I’ll leave that for another time.