Tag Archives: relationships

Life Partners

Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.

This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

In It To Win It

Several months ago I sat in a virtual meeting with several other researchers of color. We talked about our different potential career paths and where we envisioned ourselves in the future. At one point, a woman mentioned that she wanted a faculty position because she enjoys research. She paused for a moment, and then she said “… and because I like to win.”

I admit I first felt a bit judgmental when she said that. That’s so competitive and capitalist, I thought to myself at the time. If I had been in a Natalie Tran YouTube video, I might have asked, “so do you like to stomp on your enemies and laugh with glee as you out-publish and out-grant them, catapulting them into a doom spiral surrounded by their own incompetence?” (Obviously I’m joking because this person is generally really nice.)

Though the comment took me aback when she said it, upon reflection, I actually find it kind of refreshing. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Personal

The Revolution Out There

I remember sitting at the kitchen table of my childhood home, sometime in middle school or high school, listening to my mom talk about two college-aged Vietnamese kids she knew through her friend circle. They had been dating – a young woman who went to Virginia Tech and a young man who turned down Cornell to follow her. They had broken up, and my mom shared the news in an excited yet hushed tone, even though only she and I occupied the kitchen. I wonder if he regrets turning down the Ivy League, I recall my mom saying. What a waste, she said, to follow someone to a school like Virginia Tech and for it not to even work out.

Whenever my mom praised prestigious colleges and the people who attended them, I always rolled my eyes on the inside. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Personal

You and Your Pale East Asian Ex-Boyfriends

The femmephobic guy I mentioned in my most recent post also told me that he found me unattractive because of internalized colorism. “all my past relationships were with pale skinned east Asian guys rip” he texted me. He shared that he did not have a specific plan to work through his internalized colorist sexual preferences.

I first felt a surge of anger. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

Peeta and Katniss

The other day I spoke with an older Gaysian guy I respect. He first gave me some advice about my Psychology residency application process, and our conversation later turned to topics such as the political roots of queer Asian men’s romantic desires. He expressed some ideas about white supremacy and transracial adoption I hadn’t yet put into words, which I appreciated.

At one point, though, as we talked about how internalized racism may motivate fellow Gaysian men to date white men, he said something along the lines of: “well, if gay Asian men don’t have any other options around them, is it their fault to be with a white man even if he’s basic or a fetishizer? It’s like Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, it’s not like they had a choice to kill other people. I’m not saying it’s the ideal scenario, but if gay Asian men don’t have other options, I’m not sure I blame them.”

I want to make it clear that I do not think this older Gaysian himself endorsed the idea of Gaysian men settling for white men (just in case this Gaysian somehow happens to stumble upon this blog post, I think you’re rad and cool and otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to you!) However, I felt struck by the logic underlying this analogy, that not having any romantic prospects removes you of your agency to the same extent as being forced to kill other people against your will by a totalitarian police state. And yet, I have heard the same sentiment uttered by a less rad older queer Asian man who is now engaged to a white man who couldn’t hold a conversation on his own when I met him, uh yikes, that it’s not about if you’ll settle, it’s about who you’ll eventually settle for.

What strikes me as most bizarre about this idea that you have to settle for the romantic prospects in your geographic area, is the implicit notion that you have to settle for a romantic prospect at all. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

Emotions and Beats

Growing up, I always felt scared of what my mother. One moment I would walk by her as she leaned against the kitchen counter, eating tiramisu with a smile on her face, and the next I would hear her screaming my name in anger because she didn’t like the way I set my shoulders. Throughout my childhood I prepared myself all the time for her to berate or yell at me for hours.

“Your accomplishments are pretty amazing,” my former therapist L told me, a few years after I had left my childhood home for my undergraduate studies. “It’s kind of like pillars. For a lot of people, when one pillar gets knocked down, a lot of their other pillars fall too. But not for you.”

L said this to me when I told him I maintained a 4.0 GPA, at the end of the semester that my PTSD obliterated my mental health. I think he wanted me to take some pride in my academic performance even though a bunch of my friendships had fallen apart a few months ago and I had just finally managed to get ahold of my panic attacks. I probably shrugged, saying something like yeah, well, school’s kinda always been whatever for me, so.

My most recent year or two of therapy has helped me see this past conversation from a different, or at least deeper perspective. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Personal

Just People

“Sometimes you see the world in black and white,” my former therapist L said to me, in our last session together way back in May of 2017. We had already reviewed the ways I had grown in our two years of seeing each other, and he stated this black and white comment as an area for me to maybe explore further after our final session. At the time, I thought something like hm, that’s interesting. It’s not that I disregarded L’s feedback – in fact, I valued it quite highly – it’s just that this one comment didn’t resonate much with me in that final session four years ago.

Looking back now, I can see how my black and white thinking manifested when I entered my doctorate program at the age of 22. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Personal

You Wouldn’t Be You

I have seen my current therapist, a white lesbian woman, since June of 2018. When we met on Wednesday a week ago, I brought up an exchange we had during a pre-COVID session. Back then, I had told her once about how when one of the straight guys I played tennis with drove me home, I felt a strong physical attraction to him to the point where I would have wanted to make out with him if he had identified as queer and provided consent.

“I’m so jealous of you because when I told you about that, you literally said that you would have wanted to vomit if you had been sitting next to him,” I said, smiling. “I don’t know if there’s anything I wouldn’t give to be physically repulsed by men, honestly.”

“I get your frustration,” she said, laughing. The session contained a lot of positive energy. “But if you weren’t attracted to men, you wouldn’t be you.”

I have felt annoyed when my therapist has made similar comments in the past. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Personal

Dynamic

I love my closest friends just as much, if not more than I love Jeni’s ice cream, “Lovesick Girls” by Blackpink, sashaying away from mediocre white men, “Feel Special” by Twice, and celebrating the joy and empowerment of femme people of color combined. Thus, I feel annoyed when I see social media posts like this one:

On one hand, I get it. I do have friends, who I care about and respect and appreciate, who I see or talk with on an infrequent basis, maybe once a month, every few months, or a year. These friends share similar values to me in relation to social justice and compassion for other people. I like the flexibility of checking in with them on a nonrigid timeline, and I recognize the benefits of having casual, yet still meaningful social support in addition to my relationship with myself and my relationships with my two best friends.

At the same time, I feel angry and sad about the notion that we should never have expectations of our friends, especially our closer friends. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

Safety

Several years ago, I judged one of my two best friends because she worked in marketing. She and I met through a part-time job we shared in undergrad, and we bonded over our enjoyment of writing and our shared Vietnamese ethnicity. During undergrad, we did not talk much outside of work, and we did not grow into best friends until a few years after we both graduated. We had different social circles back then, with hers including a boyfriend of several years. I also used to evaluate people more based on their jobs, and I thought more highly of people whose professions directly involved helping others or promoting social justice.

Our friendship intensified beginning in late 2018 to early 2019. This best friend and I love ourselves no matter what any man thinks of us, which introduces an element of irony because men helped bring us closer together. At that time, I found myself in a situationship with an academically successful, artistic, emotionally unavailable Asian man. She was in the midst of navigating a situationship with an exciting, chaotic, and uncommunicative man who shared her sense of humor. We texted each other support about these men; even now, we laugh about how she texted me while holding her phone underneath a boardroom table during an important meeting to roast the guy I found myself attracted to back then.

In May 2019, I took a risk with our friendship. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Personal