Over the past week or so I have felt sad about my attraction to men. While I love my life without a male romantic partner, I still feel some angst about feeling attracted to men at all. When I let myself luxuriate in my emotions, I recognize that a lot of my pain comes from my lack of control surrounding men, dating, and desire.
As a former anorexic, I tend to prefer situations where I can exert a lot of control. When I look back on the past several years of my life, so many of the men I have encountered have either brought me pain or mediocrity. This lack of fulfilling men instills within me a sense of hopelessness. I then think about how while none of my closest friends are romantically dating right now, my more casual friends’ boyfriends either refuse to go to therapy or kinda bore me
bless the boring yet wholesome ones or both. When I reflect a lot on this topic, I feel overwhelmed by how I cannot control men’s socioemotional development, their willingness to go to therapy and commit to it, and any overall lack of compatibility or intriguingness.
I will admit that I myself contribute to this angst. I do not mean my standards – my closest friends are all communicative, compassionate, willing to go to therapy or are in therapy, funny, social justice-oriented, etc. So, I feel I can expect the same from any potential male romantic partner. However, I think my own orientation towards control exacerbates the general angst that accompanies my attraction to men. One of my best friends and I have talked about how I have met some cute Asian guys who checked off some of my boxes yet not all of them, like the really fiery social justice organizer who didn’t have his emotional life together, or the really artsy and wholesome half-Filipino guy who was cute yet not that interesting to me. If I’ve met men who’ve met most of my standards, maybe one will manifest who meets all of them. Another one of my best friends commiserated with me about being attracted to men over text, and she then said that who knows, we don’t know who we’ll meet in our lives who will love us or not. This friend seems way more comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity of maybe or maybe not dating a man in the future.
Maybe it’ll just happen. I exert a lot of control in most areas of my life: I work hard in my research and teaching and clinical work, I invest a lot of energy and effort into my friendships, and I commit lots of time to my hobbies like reading and writing. I feel that control does help in these areas of my life because I target what I want to accomplish (e.g., helping others and promoting social justice) and then I take action to make it happen. However, with men, maybe I can let go some of this desire for control. While I can practice some agency surrounding my slight desire to date a man, like going on dates with guys who have some potential, continuing to live a values-based and emotionally healthy life, and being hot
not my fault I’m attractive, you can blame BlackPink for their cover of “So Hot” and Audre Lorde for role-modeling self-possession, I also recognize that the man will show up if he shows up. Maybe it can feel pleasant in some way, this notion that I can take a step back and let life run its course.
I will let myself feel sad about being attracted to men and my slight desire to date a man while still enacting empowerment and resistance against amatonormativity. I feel super happy about my life without a man: my research, teaching, and clinical work are thriving, my friendships are powerful and restorative, and I feel grounded in the present moment on the day to day. And even if I cannot control whether I will meet a man who meets my standards in my own life, I can continue to take action to fight toxic masculinity and racism so that for the next generation
of gay pink-haired Vietnamese folx, maybe finding a worthwhile man to date will feel a little easier.
How do you balance both exerting agency in your life as well as letting things happen? General reactions to this post? My 2021 is extremely busy so far with various work obligations however I refuse to be defined by my work so on top of maintaining my iconic close friendships, reading, and working out I am going to try to keep posting weekly or at least biweekly. Until next post!