These Labels Describe a Relationship with People

The May 2015 Carnival of Aces is about labels.

Which prompted me to ask the question … what is the point of labelling myself aromantic and asexual?

After all, I don’t label myself based on every feature which distinguishes me from others. For example, I have an appendix, but I don’t recall ever saying ‘I am [word describing those who have an appendix]’.

I think my use of the labels ‘asexual’ and ‘aromantic’ come from my relationships with people in general.

If I lived in a society where most people experienced weak, infrequent, and/or no sexual attraction, and where not having sex as an adult was considered to be about as interesting as not playing tennis, and where romantic relationships (and expression of romantic feelings) was a bit uncommon, I don’t think I’d bother with labels like ‘asexual’ and ‘aromantic’ (at least, not unless a minority of people who experienced intense sexual attraction/desire/feelings and/or intense romantic feelings brought attention to the matter).

There are some labels which I sometimes use, but don’t mean much to me. For example, I have hazel eyes, a fact which is noted on my California driver’s license, and occasionally is noted in other documents, so ‘hazel-eyes’ is a label I sometimes use for myself. But it has very little impact on me.

However, the fact that I am someone who isn’t into sex (on multiple levels … lack of sexual attraction, lack of sexual desire, lack of sexual activity) AND who isn’t into romance in a society where healthy, abled adults are assumed to totally be into sex, and where young, abled women like myself are expected to be totally into romance creates a certain … dissonance.

Some asexuals/aromantics interpret the dissonance as meaning that they themselves are flawed. Some people interpret the dissonance as other people being weird (for example, the common assumption among some asexuals that people only talk about / pursue sex because of ‘peer pressure’). Some asexuals/aromantics blend perceiving themselves as flawed AND perceiving other people as being weird. I was in the ‘perceiving other people as being weird’ category, but I could feel that it didn’t really explain why my peers were way more into sex and romance than I was. I also thought I was a late bloomer, until I was about 20 years old, when the ‘late bloomer’ hypothesis no longer seemed to be a good explanation.

Discovering about asexuality and humans, and later aromanticism? That resolved the dissonance between the way I am and the way most people are way better than anything else.

These labels help me find other people like myself in these specific regards, which has been helpful, and I expect will be even more helpful in the future. However, the main reason I use these labels is that they are a way to tell other people and remind myself ‘Allosexuals and romantics are like that. I am like this, and asexuals and aromantics are like this too.’ It makes sense. The dissonance is dissipated.


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7 thoughts on “These Labels Describe a Relationship with People

  1. Yes. Next time someone starts with the “why do you need to label yourself” bingo square, I will probably quote you.

  2. Pingback: Humanizing/Dehumanizing is Respectability Politics, and That’s a Problem | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  3. Well said! Especially the discovery of the labels resolving a sense of ‘is it just me?’ was true for me as well.

    And so totally does a lack of teenage and adolescent relationships, one-night-stands and preoccupation with all that make you sort of a social outcast… Which matters less if it’s one of several reasons you’re not part of the in-group, but I can only imagine the conflict if it makes you feel very different from the friends you hang out with when you’re younger.

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