Several hours ago, I went on a date with this guy who works in geographic information science. What we talked about felt fine – him considering getting a PhD and my feelings about almost having one, him resisting stereotypical images of Black men growing up and me loving myself as a gay Asian man in my mid-twenties, him wanting a spontaneous romantic partner and me wanting a social justice-oriented one. Toward the end of the date though, I recognized that I felt bored. This guy came across as kind, self-aware, and communicative, yet I noticed I had not laughed once. So, on my way back home I texted him and said that I would enjoy a casual friendship or friends with benefits situation, given that I did not feel any romantic chemistry.
I love how this played out because I felt no sense of defeat. I read tweets and Facebook posts by other queer men of color who feel so sad or anguished after a first or second or fifth date do not work out. They often post about wondering if they will be alone forever, about feeling so tired and disappointed in the dating process. I, on the other hand, felt only one thought emerge over and over again as I drove home while listening to BlackPink’s “How You Like That” on repeat: thank goodness I have close friends who make me laugh.
I did not feel angst because I already have all my social needs met by myself and my closest friends. My close friends care about social justice, practice compassion and active listening, and they make me laugh. We joke about stepping on white supremacy’s face and all the men we transcend with our greatness. I say weird shit, they say weird shit, and we riff on each other’s weird shit like the queens of color we are. With them, I never feel bored.
Over the past few crush-less months, I have wished many times that I had been born aromantic. In my life, I have so many unappealing models of romantic people: people who are codependent on their male partners, people who consider their romantic partners their “other half,” people who prioritize marriage and children over their personal empowerment and fighting oppressive systems that disempower others. When I read my first intensive feminist book, Appetites by Caroline Knapp, I felt so impressed by how she learned to love herself based on internal measures of self-worth. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and reject the notion that a romantic partner completes me.
I’m learning, though, that I can both be romantic and love myself without a man, similar to Caroline Knapp herself. When I say I identify as romantic, I mean that I would be open to
being dominated by developing a romantic relationship with a man who can make me laugh, buys me Jeni’s ice cream, and supports me as I scream BlackPink lyrics into the void as I do my best to fight white supremacy. At the same time, I love myself and my close friends so if that man never shows up – I’m still doing superb.
What are your reactions or feelings to this post? What resonates and what does not resonate? How have you coped with disappointing things in your life, or what have you thought might feel sad or disappointing and then actually turned out okay? Thank you for those who left such kind and thoughtful comments on my most recent post “Queer Asian Confidence” – I like to respond to comments right after I publish a new post but because work is a bit busy I’ll respond in a day or two. Also BlackPink’s new album comes out on Friday and the instrumental of their title track sounds like a sad bop so if you hear a fanboy scream in the distance it’s me! Until next post.