For the past week and a half, I have not held a crush on any man, which has felt both liberating and odd. Though I enjoy the extra man-less brain space and feel so happy and content without a man in general, a part of me still craves to have a crush on some man. In rare moments I find myself fantasizing about an unnamed, unfaced man of color who cares about others, has his life together, and reads books. Though I can very well imagine a life in which I remain “single” forever and thrive like the radiant gay redhead Vietnamese icon I am, my occasional fantasizing and the many posts about men on this blog force me to confront that I on some level still desire romance.
Most of the time I feel frustrated that I want a man at all because wanting a man feels pointless. The other day though, while reflecting on this desire, I felt such gratitude toward my two closest friends because they fulfill for me what any man could and would. I talk with my closest friends multiple times a week, we all read books, roast men, process our relationships and emotions, and more. I’m not saying every friendship should operate with this level of intensity; I definitely have more casual friends who I talk with once every few weeks or every month or so. But these close friendships mean so much to me because they feel like chosen family.
Even beyond the notion of chosen family comes the healthiness of these close friendships, which I love so much. With my closest friends, I practice checking in about the relationship and how we feel about it, devoting time and emotional labor into the relationship, and many other aspects of healthy relationships people often preserve for romantic relationships. Quite a few queer men I’ve met talk about a fear of being “alone” without a romantic partner, and I’ve literally never felt that fear in my life, because I’ve always maintained close friendships that fulfill my desire for emotional intimacy. Sometimes I wonder about if I should feel embarrassed that I’ve never dated a man in my 25 years of life, but then I remember I’ve created and cultivated these deep, beautiful friendships with a Black woman and a woman of color who share similar values related to kindness, effective communication, and social justice, friendships with roots that run deeper than any man I’ve crushed on could imagine.
What I love most about my close friendships at this point in my life is that we all love ourselves. My closest friends and I all hold at least two marginalized social identities and we still manage to love ourselves and love our lives without men or awards to complete us. I talk about this with my closest friends all the time, about how much we respect one another for the self-love we radiate and role model. Even though patriarchy and heteronormativity teach us that we need a man, a romantic partner, or a nuclear family to feel happy, we managed to make our happiness on our own and with one another, societal pressures be damned.
Sometimes I listen to “As If It’s Your Last,” my favorite BlackPink song, and think, hm, I wonder if an actual man will ever make me feel the romantic euphoria exuded by this excellent work of art. But then I reflect on my closest friends and I wonder: maybe this is the romance of my life, these close friends who I love and who love me. Yes, I know I am complete on my own and that these friends do not complete me, and at the same time I feel at my most connected, at my most *insert whatever word captures the glorious emotion in the chorus of “As If It’s Your Last”* when I spend time with them. All my past crushes could not hold a candle to my closest friends. Any future crush would have to work magic to get even close.
How do you feel about friendship? What do you think and feel help create and maintain friendships, either of the chosen family variety or more casual friendships? General reactions to this post? Also BlackPink comes out with their new single “How You Like That” this Friday at 6pm KST so if you hear a distant shriek during that time that shriek belongs to me. Until next post!
9 responses to “We Love Ourselves”
Thank you for your post, Thomas. It is very sweet reading about your appreciation for your close friendships and indeed relatable with having my share of occasional fantasising in the past. I’m grateful for you brightening my mood as I was just feeling stressed unable to sleep at the dead of night scrolling my FB wondering about my friendships.
I live a bit far from my close friends (1 hour by car or 2 hours by public transport) and I am beginning to only get anything out of them when I initiate, only for our conversation to mostly be about how they are too busy to chat until a vague time period later. A month or two go by when their time should be freed up and they are unresponsive to my messages or specify an updated busy time period where I can’t reach out. Then the cycle repeats itself again. We used to be the type to share about our day or understand what’s going on in each other’s lives on a weekly basis at the very least.
I feel silly because this year is tough on everyone but I couldn’t shake the loneliness and feeling sillier that it pains me seeing my partner consistently stay in touch with his friends. I do not believe moving far away last year is the issue as I am updated on my family and casual friends’ lives even though they are just as far from me too. I drive out to see people or drive them back to my place once plans are confirmed.
Lasting relationships require both sides to put in the time and effort to maintain. Communication is major. It is wonderful to have that support system and bonding time with those who get you. I guess you ease my worries a bit and give me hope that I can one day feel that emotional intimacy from close friendships again.
Hope you don’t mind this lengthy response to your post. With all this off my chest, I feel sleep will come easier for me.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful and vulnerable comment Mel. It sounds painful and potentially sad (or maybe even frustrating?) that you’re trying to put in efforts into certain friendships only for those relationships to feel distant. Even though I wrote about the strong friendships I have in this post, I definitely have felt a similar sense of growing distant from friendships I’ve had in the past. I so agree with you in terms of lasting relationships requiring communication, time and effort – these things are key to meaningful friendships too even if in society we don’t talk about friendship as much. I’m glad my writing could help provide some hope and I hope to hear from you again at some point!
“My closest friends and I all hold at least two marginalized social identities and we still manage to love ourselves and love our lives without men or awards to complete us.” That right there, in my opinion, is a huge part of a life well lived! To be able to reach a point in your journey, where you can value yourself as a unique being in all your complexity in spite of the constructed society you live in creating the messaging and systems that make it hard to so is an accomplishment. Those friendships you talk about are also so refreshing to read about bc they remind me this song by one of my fav artists named Ego Ella May called “Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys” and it’s so true! Friendships, when given the level of importance many people place on romantic relationships can be really fulfilling. Appreciate this share.
Wow Ketsia thank you so much for this splendid kind comment, I love the way you write about valuing ourselves as unique beings in a constructed society! That song sounds iconic I may check it out, and I appreciate your affirmation about the value of friendship if we do give it the importance we often ascribe to romantic relationships. Grateful you took the time to read and provide this compassionate perspective.
I love (and envy) the level, quality and intensity of friendship you have with your closest friends. They are your family. I think if a man would come into your life, he would need to be able to complement your closest friends.
If friendships like this can be packaged and sold, I’m sure people would pay good money for it. I would.
p.s. I did hear a shriek but it was likely a drunk on the sidewalk.
Awww Matt thank you so much for recognizing the importance of my friendships – whenever I read your comments I feel so understood, like you really get me. Thank you for being an integral part of my online community. Also hahaha omg maybe the drunk on the sidewalk and I shrieked in unison, who knows. Also, I saw on your blog in the byline of your post that you self-identify as a gay Asian; I’m unsure if that byline was their on your posts before but I do appreciate having a gay Asian e-friend! Hope your day is going as well as possible.
I haven’t touched my byline for some time now. It’s hard to find gay Asian bloggers. Every so often, I do a search on WP. I’m glad I found your blog. Today was a good day. I got a ton of sleep, walked around a fair bit to take some pics. I got to tidy up my condo though. It’s getting too messy.
I love your chosen family! I have worked out why I find Zoom meetings so difficult – it’s when I see people I would normally be seeing face to face on the screen. The worst one is my best friend, as we’re just too far away to see each other safely. Why did Past Me not bloody learn to drive??? We are dong video calls and the best one was when we sat and read the same book with Messenger open for text chat. I have been able to see my dear friend Linda this week, which was amazing. We check in with each other a lot, but seeing her physically was amazing (and I thanked my friend Jenny very heartily for giving me a lift over there). So my friends are so important to me and I miss them so much; and I’m lucky I have my local running lady family around me here as well and we can all drop by to each other’s doorsteps.
in the more distant variety of friendship I was SO HAPPY this afternoon when I went to our local small-chain coffee shop, which opened yesterday for takeaway – one of my favourite members of staff was there, he recognised me even in my mask with new glasses and longer hair, and was genuinely thrilled to see me, and that was just lovely. We rely on these contacts close and more distant more than some of us realised, I think.
Awwww yes I love this variety and quality of friendship Liz! Glad you’ve been able to utilize video calls even though they aren’t the same and can get exhausting after awhile, while slowly reorienting to seeing people in person at least in a running capacity. That’s cool you were recognized at your local coffee shop too, it sounds like you’re well-integrated into your community. (: