COLUMN: Be more understanding of those who are aromantic

COLUMN%3A+Be+more+understanding+of+those+who+are+aromantic

Ian Stobaugh, Columnist

In my room, I have a pride flag. It’s a flag that has five stripes: dark green, light green, white, grey and black. When most people see it hanging on my wall, they ignore it or don’t notice it at all. Even my parents didn’t question it, which was new since my dad questions almost everything. However, I do have a few people ask with pure curiosity, “What’s that flag for?”

I always freeze up at that question. Not necessarily for any one specific reason, but it’s hard to explain to someone that you don’t feel romantic attraction like they do. No, I can still have a relationship if I choose to. No, I’m not asexual. Yes, I still have feelings and care for others. It’s exhausting, repetitive and makes me feel horrible at times. I never know if someone will respond with, “Thank you for explaining it to me,” or, “You’re not human if you don’t fall in love.”

I didn’t choose to be aromantic. I didn’t know for 17 years that what I thought was love wasn’t like everyone else’s experiences with love. When I was younger, the girls in my class would hound me over who my “crush” was. I always just chose some random boy in class who I never really wanted to date but who I wanted to be friends with. I only realized that I was different when I was helping a friend through a breakup, and realizing I had never felt the way she had felt.

The most common hurtful response I get seems rather innocent: “Don’t worry, you’ll fall in love one day!” or, “You’ll find someone and you fortunately won’t be aromantic anymore!” The thing that no one understands is that when I experience attraction, it doesn’t automatically make me all romantic (aka not aromantic). If I told you that I have only fallen in love once in my entire life so far, would you find that slightly unusual, or would you think that it was a common experience? My years of being treated as a “heartbreaker” because I wasn’t interested in a relationship are not erased when I finally feel attracted to someone. Getting married to the only person I have ever loved does not get rid of the years I lived before where I felt alienated from everyone else as they talked about their dates at lunch. I have still lived those and loving someone or a few people does not take away those experiences.

Thankfully, I have so many supportive people in my life who have helped me know that I’m accepted for who I am and that I should never apologize for being myself. I think everyone should have people who are like that; ones who remind you that you should never apologize to anybody for your identity. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to be such an active member of the aromantic community, and I’m glad I get to educate people on it.

Ian Stobaugh can be contacted at 581-1812 or [email protected]