Tag Archives: romance

I Love Myself, I Love My Friends, I Love My Life Without Romance: Thank You to “Against the Couple Form”

Last weekend, I sat in the Chicago O’Hare airport sipping a Caribbean Passion smoothie from Jamba Juice when a friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form.” I opened it, expecting an okay analysis of living life without a romantic partner, but instead, I found one of the most radical, validating pieces of writing in my entire life.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I care a lot about finding, cultivating, and maintaining love and connection outside of romance, in particular outside of romantic relationships with men. But fighting the patriarchal, heteronormative narrative that I need a man to complete me – the story sold to us by Disney movies, dating apps, and the wedding industrial complex – can feel lonely. It feels lonely when the majority of students in my graduate program and one of my feminist book clubs heavily prioritize romance and/or their romantic partners. It feels lonely when people post about their weddings and engagements and no one comments or adds a disclaimer about the problematic origins and implications of marriage. It feels lonely when people view my anger about the over prioritization of romance as a symptom of some unresolved internal pathology, as opposed to a justified emotion that acts as a reaction against the oppression of femmes, women, and all those who want to thrive outside of an antiquated social more.

But when my friend sent me the essay “Against the Couple Form,” I felt so validated and happy. Continue reading

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I Will Never Ever Date a Man and Lose Myself: A Manifesto

The other day I had a conversation with a close friend that freaked me out. Whereas in the past this friend and I used to bond over our shared feminist singleness in the patriarchy, this conversation felt more like a defense of settling for mediocre men. While I love this friend, parts of this conversation stressed me out so much I literally opened a Word doc to draft a blog post titled “What If I Date a Man and Sacrifice All My Values and Become a Husk of My Former Self.”

Imagine this: I, a queer red-haired Vietnamese man, recline in an office chair in the guest bedroom of a generous friend. A near-empty glass of orange juice sits on the turquoise desk where I stare at an open Word document, journaling about my anxieties surrounding men and patriarchy. Continue reading

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Thirsty, Angry, Grateful Gay Asian Pride

June marks Pride Month, and as a super emotional human I have a lot of feelings about it! Instead of putting in the effort to create a post with smooth transitions, a strong narrative flow, and a clear central idea, I will sip my Minute Maid Orange Juice, sit on my couch, and split this update into three emotions related to my gayness and Pride as a whole: thirst, anger, and gratitude. Continue reading

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Stop Chasing Emotionally Unavailable Men and Create Rules for Healthy Relationships Instead

As a gay man, I learned a lot about unhealthy relationships through consuming queer media. I loved Justin and Brian’s relationship when I watched Queer as Folk in high school, though now I see how Brian’s character acted in abusive ways both toward Justin and his own friends. When I read and watched Call Me by Your Name as an early grad student, I felt repulsed by the relationship dynamics promoted by the narrative, the glorification of a relationship that entailed little to no healthy communication, boundary setting or conflict resolution, or clarity and mutual respect. I suspect that queer narratives may adopt these unhealthy relationship norms from toxic heterosexual/heteronormative relationships. So much media perpetuates the trope that we should chase a romantic flame – especially a man – even if they are emotionally unavailable, do not treat us well, or are outright manipulative or abusive.

I do not spend much time on romance and dating and men. That said, I have found myself within unhealthy relationships and relationship dynamics, ranging from my abusive mother and neglectful father, to the emotionally neglectful male friend I wrote about in an earlier post, to a few crushes I harbored on guys, to even a few former friendships with women. I feel so sad and angry that our society teaches us about valuing our work and careers and pursuing the heteronormative path of marriage and having children, yet it does not teach us much about what an actually healthy relationship looks like, between parent and child, friend and friend, or partner and partner. Since the fall out of my most recent crush, I have thought a lot about what my expectations for myself and others in healthy relationships. They look kinda like this list my therapist gave me several months ago: Continue reading

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Forgiving the Most Foolish Person on the Planet, Myself

I developed a crush on a guy who messaged me through this blog last year. Our connection felt intense from the start; our emails back and forth often included several paragraphs each. Over the course of several months, a decent amount happened: we both admitted to feeling some romantic desire, he wanted space to heal from a recent breakup before we talked further, and most recently, he shared he only wanted me as a friend. Cue, an image of me crying to “in my head” by Ariana Grande while driving on the highway from Virginia to Maryland at 1am. Continue reading

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To All the Harvard Boys I Crushed on Before

I have a thing for guys who went to Harvard. Not just Harvard, but other elite institutions of education too. I do not go on dates often, but I find myself sometimes more willing to give a guy a chance if he went to a prestigious school, like an Oberlin or Yale or William & Mary. I know this taste stems from my internalized classism and the faulty association between educational pedigree and traits like intelligence and work ethic. Yet, I still find myself in the process of unlearning and deconstructing my questionable taste in men.

The three men from Harvard I crushed on, in chronological order: the first, a hotline counselor at a rape crisis center who touted phrases like “restorative social justice” on his online profiles; the second, a med student whose research focused on therapies for postpartum depression; the third, a labor organizer who cares a lot about his mom. Continue reading

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no nice guys, or any guys, necessary

One of my worst fears came true: most of my closest friends have started dating men. When I pictured this point in my life, I imagined an utter dystopia. I would try to talk to my close friends and our conversations would always devolve into them describing a nice yet somewhat unremarkable deed their boyfriend did, like cooking lasagna for dinner. Or I would try to make a more radical point about men being trash and my friends, who would once side with me without blinking an eye, would look at me, gesture to their patriarchal monogamy devices wedding rings, and say “not all men are trash.” Or, I would feel so alone in my singleness that I would settle for Joe Smith from Tinder, a guy whose hobbies include Netflix, going on hikes with his dog, and practicing active listening once out of every two or three conversations.

“Do you think I’m too picky?” I asked my most recent therapist. “Like, there are a couple of super nice guys who’ve expressed interest but I’m just not into them. A couple of them are therapists who are into social justice but to be honest they bore me. Not to be all Freudian because Freud is trash, but like, do I have some weird attachment issue going on?”

“Thomas, you’re a gifted person.” She looked at me with caring and patience. “You want someone who’s on your level, someone who can challenge you. It makes sense that you wouldn’t be into some boring psychotherapist.”

In a society that encourages us to settle as soon as possible with whomever for the sake of fulfilling the heteronormative patriarchal romantic narrative, I felt so validated by her then. Continue reading

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