About a week ago, I thought about how I would feel about my life if I never left my apartment again. I am so privileged to get to work from home while Rona rears its ugly global pandemic head. Yet, how would I feel if my life somehow came to a screeching Coronavirus-induced halt, forever, right now? For the most part I have accomplished all I ever wanted, like escaping my abusive childhood, providing direct mental health services, and listening to the most iconic pop music. Yet, I realized one thing I may want yet have never experienced: I have never been kissed by a guy I care about.
The moment I realized this unfulfilled desire, I judged myself hardcore. Like, I’m freaking Thomas from the quiet voice, the gay red-haired icon who could not care less what any man thinks of me. I’m Thomas, the Viet guy who’s succeeded in dismantling internalized patriarchy and heteronormativity to the point where I care more about the well-being of the bunny-shaped, citrus-flavored fruit snacks I eat most mornings than if I will ever have a long-term relationship with a man or get married. I would rather be forced to jump rope over hot coals while reading the phone book backwards for the rest of eternity than settle for a mediocre, or even decent man.
I still feel a slight yearning to be kissed by a guy I care about, though. This yearning reminded me of times when I sat in my first long-term therapist’s office in undergrad. In those sessions with my therapist L, I talked on and on about how men are emotionally immature, how I get all my needs for emotional intimacy met by my close friends anyway, how it’s a shame that Ariana Grande’s music videos didn’t turn me straight or bisexual so I could be attracted to women instead, and so forth. He always offered a bemused smile in response. He praised my independence. He said something at one point that still resonates with me, though, in the middle of one of my rants about monogamy and its heteronormative messiness.
“I hear you about monogamy,” he said. “But I do think there’s something different about having a relationship with someone who you’re both physically and emotionally connected to.”
At the time, I acknowledged his statement and moved past it without much thought. But what he said came back to me the other day when I Skyped with one of my best friends Natasha. Natasha, similar to my other best friend, has pretty much everything I would want in a guy: she’s caring and loyal, she’s into social justice, she’s an excellent communicator, and on top of all of that, she’s creative, super smart, witty as heck, and also gorgeous. Our conversation the other day felt so emotionally intimate and supportive, thoughtful, and filled with laughter. I thought to myself at one point, what would it feel like to have this with a man who I also want to make out with?
Now, I have learned to sit with and accept this desire without fighting it. I often worry that this desire for a romantic connection with a man will derail my life, that I will end up like a lot of the people I know who really do rely on their male romantic partners for their happiness and would not know what to do without them. Then I remind myself that I have lived for almost 25 years loving myself and those I am close to, providing compassionate care to others, and growing as a person and as an advocate without any man by my side. I’m confident that because I’ve made it this far, no man could derail the life I want for myself.
To be clear, I have kissed a ton of guys. Yet, I’ve never kissed, or even really met a man who would meet my standards, someone who both impresses me and has the emotional maturity to sustain a meaningful connection. This lack of a man does not bother me much though, because I already create everything I could want from a man through other facets of my life: emotional intimacy with close friends, intellectual rigor from research, compassion for others through therapy and teaching, physical pleasure from myself, and bursts of unbridled energy from pop music. I wouldn’t trade any of it, neither for a man nor his lips.
I intended to wait until next week to publish this post but on this blog I make the rules, hehe. What are your reactions to this post? How do you feel reflecting on the trajectory of your life, especially with Rona around? Any goals you still want to accomplish, or nah? This week is my first week back to my full schedule of teaching, research, and therapy so posts may come a little less consistently from this point forward – we’ll see. Sending everyone warmth and strength during this trying time!
16 responses to “Never Been Kissed”
I love that you mention never settling even for a decent man. You’re right and you should say it! Even decent is not good enough. You deserve to be loved fully and actively by someone committed to doing so in a way that is more than decent and more than simply satisfactory.
I have missed your updates Thomas and I must stop myself from getting lost in all your posts that I’ve missed!
Awwww thanks for validating my desire to not settle even for a decent man Jas! I’ve missed your comments and I’m gonna go check out your blog now. Please feel free to get lost in my blog posts whenever you want to, I’d be blessed. (:
Just like what Charlie’s English professor has to say, “we accept the love we think we deserve.”
I relate to your post — the fact that I’ve never get into any romantic relationship since birth yet makes me question myself why! I mean there were a few guys who plays around but I just don’t think its worth it. Well, how can we say it’s the right person if we don’t even open our doors, right? I don’t know. I still don’t know. Hahaha anyway, I hope you’re treating yourself well because you deserve it more than ever. Stay safe!
Awwww thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post! Yes it’s complicated, the extent to which we should open ourselves to love and connection that is healthy while also closing our hearts and protecting ourselves from relationships that may be toxic or unfulfilling. Hope you are treating yourself well as well and staying as safe as possible during these uncertain times.
You buried the most important sentence “I have kissed a ton of guys.” deep in your entry and did not elaborate on this at all. That’s what I came to read.
Ok, the best line really is living 25 years and loving yourself. This can sometimes be a life long journey for some.
I’m curious if you kept notes after your sessions with L or do you just have an amazing memory. I like what he said about relationships and I also like that he created an environment of trust and openness.
Now I know how you got your red hair. It’s those red, bunny shaped, fruity snacks!
Have a great week!
Hahahaha your comment about me kissing guys made me laugh, thanks for that Matt! Yes, I hear you about loving yourself being a life long journey – it is something I am continually practicing and working on even though I’m pretty secure with myself. I did take notes after every session I had with L, or at least almost every session. Yep you figured out the secret of how I got my hair haha. (: Hope your week went well too and that your weekend is currently going as best it can!
Ah those bunny snacks look amazing! :)))
To be honest I actually contemplate the similar questions lately. When the whole town was locked down, I felt everything was unreal and I realized that if this is how our lives end, I would have many regrets. There are so many places I want to go and see, but also I wouldn’t be able to know what it feels like to have the partnership i want (and damn it took me long enough to know what i want) I won’t be able to know what it feels like have all the ups and downs in the relationship. Even though I always know that even if there is no pandemic, there is still chances of never having that person in my life. Never met “the great love”, or never like anyone like that.
This month, when things are getting much better and normal, I start to feel more peace and calm, and I find myself barely think about that question anymore. Maybe I start to have hopes again about life in general?? 😛
Also, I use to judge myself deeply about wanting a romantic relationship, as if I am anti-feminism or needy. Even though I know I am just like everyone else. It took me a long time to accept that I can desire men, or want any man, whatever. There is no shame in desire of love. It’s so interesting to see you talk about not kissing someone you care truely. I have something to share as well. Even though I feel like each man was very special when I was dating, but after it ends and think back, I never really kissed a guy who was the good kisser as I expected. Not to shame those guys and be a narcissistic here,but I guess that’s a good sign of “not the love of my life” if you don’t feel like he is that great of a kisser. Ugh dating is hard! But anyway, I am now just grateful I am safe, and my internet works well so I can ramble on your blog :))
Hahahaha omg Xin thanks for sharing your perspective about the guys you’ve kissed! Honestly ain’t nothing wrong about saying it as it is in terms of the lack of high quality with the guys you’ve kissed, I hope you honor how you feel about that and at the same time can use that as a metric for future guys. In terms of the whole lockdown situation, it makes sense that when things were more dire your fears/concerns/reflections about life were more intense. I’m glad to hear that you’re in a place where things are more calm and returning back to normal, so you have hopes again.
Yes, the whole both desiring men and not being an anti-feminist thing is tricky, at least for me. So many shades of grey in my experience – how much of our desire is innate or dictated by media and societal pressures? How can we cultivate a life where we are fulfilled without men, even if we may want one? I appreciate you sharing your perspective on these issues as I’ve written about them on this blog and I’m grateful that you take the time to ramble on this blog.
Hm, the trajectory of my life has gone a bit wrong and I realised that with the lockdown. I would be fine on my own but I’m struggling to deal with having someone else here all the time. Can’t help feeling I should never have got married / moved in with someone. I did live on my own quite happily for a long time before this. Not sure if I will ever settle into this. I feel watched and I have had to make so many adjustments. Also not having a family is thrown into sharp relief, as my only role in this crisis seems to be to stay in and not spread it, to do shopping and prescription fetching for friends, to be no drag at all on my friends or Matthew so they can get on with concentrating on their families (e.g. not asking for video calls with friends etc as I don’t want to take their energy), to try to agitate the powers that be to help the nurses and the people who are poor and/or homeless, and to be part of our road’s WhatsApp so I can help if necessary. But I’m essentially a lone atom whose job is to not poke up into other people’s lives too much but just to smooth things over for people and that seems a shame, really, in a way. Oh well.
Have realised I don’t seem well in this post. Don’t worry. I’m just bumping along, keeping to my quiet path.
Thank you for sharing so vulnerably and openly Liz! It’s tough, I can hear the regret in the post and some dissatisfaction, and I hope you make space to honor those feelings, given that we literally are in the middle of a global pandemic. I hear that it can be tough to adjust to being with someone all the time and also feeling a bit isolated and not wanting to be perceived as a burden to others. At the same time, I think you’re a caring and thoughtful person, and I hope you are able to carve out some boundaries within your home space for yourself, as well as find ways to connect with others where you feel that yours and the other’s emotional needs/wants are met and respected. I’m cheering for you during this and sending a lot of warmth and strength.
Thank you. I had a video chat with my cousin, his husband and his mum (they thankfully just moved in together in a house with two sections) on Monday which lifted me a lot. And my friend Caroline said that everyone (EVERYONE) who lives on their own is lonely and everyone who lives with others is crowded and stressed, so that helped.
Thomas, many of these thoughts are so similar to thoughts that I’ve had. There’s this sort of expectation that when you’ve made tremendous progress in minimizing the internalized patriarchal worldview (that you didn’t know existed in your subconscious until later on in life) in your mind that you have then reached a point in which you no longer desire romance in the same way anymore. Now while a lot HAS changed about the type of life you want for yourself and what you want from a partner, there’s still going to be desires deep down for some of the heteronormative (or even just cliché/cheesy) aspects of romance. This is where I sometimes find that I begin “shaming” myself. However, at the end of the day I can be an emotionally secure, independent, feminist woman who still experiences the longing for romance. Those two things, being a feminist and longing for romance, are not mutually exclusive. I know this is just my experience and may differ greatly from others experiences, but this post really struck a nerve with me in a good way. I really appreciate how candid you are in your posts, and hope that you are well!
Hi Thomas, I saw some wonderful quotes online and then found this article. I think the author’s perspective on love and longing is just beautiful. Hope you find it interesting:)
I admire your honesty and vulnerability and bravery in your blog! And your wisdom and compassion and sense of humor — now it’s starting to sound like flattery, lol, but I mean it. I’m still working on sorting those things out and all the internalized values and priorities, trying to be rid of those that are harmful is like trying to keep a garden free of weeds, and sometimes the roots go very deep indeed.
Aw this comment made my week, thank you Erin for dropping by and taking the time to post it! I hope that working these things out goes as well as possible for you, it can definitely be an onerous process though I think it’s one well-worth embarking on for the self-awareness and growth that comes with it. I hope that this blog can occasionally serve as a resource for you in that journey, and I’m sending a lot of strength and warmth your way. (: