Baby We Had a Good Thing Going

There are some days in which standing up for yourself is almost entirely impossible, in which being who you are outwardly is unacceptable in your most basic moral code, in which you find yourself in the presence of people who can strip you of every powerful wall you’ve built between yourself and reality.

I went to visit an old woman who I love just as I love my own grandmother. She is among the kindest and most well-intentioned people in my life, and for this reason, I held my tongue and let her say whatever she wanted to say, even though I was having a nervous breakdown inside.

I recently broke up with a guy who is a close family friend to both hers and my own family. I finally ended the relationship, as I should have a very long time ago, but it hasn’t sat well with anyone around me. According to them, I was throwing away a blessing. How could I just let someone who was so in love with me go?

And I watched her as she went on and on about how I might not get another shot at someone like this, and how I could have control over him and what he does if I just take him back. She told me that I might not find anyone, and then eventually end up with someone abusive. She noted that I was not perfect, and should never expect to find someone who is.

Now, how do you tell someone who has no concept of asexuality that you are ar-ace? You can’t. Instead, you listen to her tell you all the different reasons you screwed up. Instead, you let everyone in the room tell you that you’re throwing your life away. Instead, you sit down, shut up, and wish you had an explanation anyone would accept.

Instead, you wait until you go home to think about how goddamn selfish you were to date him to begin with.

Cracking Open the Closet Door: Being Aro-Ace and Muslim

I am not entirely sure how to start this. Introductions are high on my list of horrors, finding themselves ranked above my pesky pigeon plight and just under the frankly fearsome fate of failing if I try to publish, again.

Forgive me. I resort to humor when I am uncomfortable. Allow me to turn off my taciturnity toward this tediously troublesome topic and return readily to my rattling rhetoric.

Okay. That was my last one. Promise. I’ll just get right to it.

This is my personal tell-all on how I pretended not to be aromantic and gray-asexual for the entirety of my life, displayed on the internet for all who do not know me to see.

Because no one I know goes on my website. Ever. This is our little secret, internet.

Just a little background on what aromantic and gray-asexual mean–at least in my case. As an aromantic, I have no desire to be in a romantic relationship. As a gray-asexual, I have no sexual attraction to people, regardless of gender. I can be sexually aroused, but not by someone else. People who are gray-asexual are considered to be on the asexuality spectrum.

I was raised by Muslim, Middle Eastern parents. My entire life, I was told that my future consisted primarily of three things: going to school, making something of myself, and starting a family of my own–kids, husband, the works. That last one was not an afterthought. It was important both culturally and religiously, and I never doubted that.

I still do not.

On a trip down memory lane, one could see little me growing up completely different than literally everyone else. I was weird. People commented on it openly. They said it to me; They said it to my parents; They said it to almost everyone who knew me. It was never a positive thing.

My parents were very loving and supportive. I was their daughter and that was me, and they loved me. I have always been absolutely terrified of disappointing them, because everything I have, they gave me without a second thought.

Growing up, I had a ton of friends, but I felt extremely isolated. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t get the things other girls liked and they didn’t get the things that I liked. I was weird, and everyone knew it. I couldn’t control that, and it was hard. You try being one of those kids who know that they are complete deviations from the norm, all by their lonesome, not really sure what to do about it. So, I clung to at least one thing that would make me the same as everyone else: crushes.

I had crushes on the most random boys; I had nothing in common with them at all, but all I needed was to fit in, so anyone fit the bill. I had to start faking it since elementary school, and I got very, very good at it as I grew older. I even had myself convinced:

“This is normal. This is what I am supposed to want, so this is what I want.”

It became a sort of mantra. I stopped wanting to fit in very early on, but I now understood that it was extremely important in my most basic belief system. I had to get over it. I had to get over not wanting to be with someone at all, because I had to do it eventually.

Then, I hit college, and I “fell for” my best friend at school. We hung out all the time, and I thought, “Okay. This is good. This is okay. I can deal with this.” I completely convinced myself that I had fallen for him, but the second it was about to get real, I couldn’t take it. I ran. I screwed up and did some idiotic things. I remained attached to him because I was still obsessing about my screw ups. In my head, I figured, “This is obviously love, right? It has to be.”

It wasn’t. It was me, once again trying to convince myself that I was just like everyone else. I wanted this. I wanted him, so clearly I did not have an aversion to having a relationship. I even had my friends convinced that I was truly into him, and the lie got so out of control that I had to tell even more lies to cover up that lie. I couldn’t admit it, but I was too terrified to even contemplate the possibility of the truth, let alone tell someone else.

After that, I went through guy after guy. It became a cycle. I’ll give him the time of day, I’ll have “won” him, and then I’ll come up with any reason to high-tail it out of the relationship as if my feet were on fire.

I had–and still have–everyone completely convinced that it isn’t that I don’t want a romantic relationship of some kind, but rather, I have too tangled a mess of commitment issues to stick to one guy. I welcomed that label. It was served to me on a silver platter. I was not aromantic or gray-asexual. I was afraid of commitment. It was perfect.

I have lied so many times to so many people, because I couldn’t let one soul know that I was this much of an anomaly. I have always known that stepping out from under my fairly comfortable invisibility cloak would go one of three ways: people would think I’m either lying, completely screwed up beyond human comprehension or that I still haven’t met “the right person.”

Not one of those possibilities was appealing in any way.

And I was right. I told someone very close to me, and I regret it whole-heartedly. I am positive that she thinks I am confused or lying.

It might not seem like a big deal, but I struggled with this for the vast majority of my life.Being aromantic and Muslim is several degrees of hard, because even though there is nothing that mandates that I must get married or “I’m going to get it,” marriage is too fundamental to just ignore.

I am a girl who will get married because she has to get married, not because she wants to.

I will stay in my tiny little closet, making no noise and pretending I don’t exist.

That is my burden to bear.

Immediately regret telling her. I think she thinks I’m lying or that it isn’t a big deal.
It is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. I’m Arab and Muslim. The concept of marriage–regardless of who the person is–is a HUGE deal. You have to get married. That’s it. Being aromantic is horrible when you haven’t got a choice.
What the hell was I thinking, telling someone? Never again.

I opened the closet door just a crack and told my friend that I’m aromantic, today. Sure, I bitched out and just threw it in the middle of conversation and moved on to the subject of pizza to avoid talking about it, but I did it, didn’t I?

Don’t you judge my pansiness.
Don’t take away my victory.
At least I said it.

Aromantic Non-Asexual

How do you tell someone you’re dating that you’re aromantic?
“I like you…as long as we each stay in our own respective corners.”
“Let’s try not telling each other how we feel.”
“Let’s not hug.”
“Let’s not hold hands.”
“Let’s just refrain from all nonsexual physical contact.”
“It’s not you. It’s me.”
“No, seriously. It’s me.”
“Wait, I’m not breaking up with you. I just don’t desire you romantically.”
“I don’t actually feel anything.”
“I’ve been lying this whole time.”
“I’m doing what they tell me I should be doing.”
“The normal thing.”
“That doesn’t mean I like it.”
“Oh god.”
“I am a bitch.”

How do you tell your friends you’re aromantic?
“We have always chalked my aversion for monogamy up to commitment issues.”
“I pretend to care more than I do so no one thinks I’m crazy or lying.”
“The thrill of chase is all I care about.”
“I don’t like him.”
“I don’t truly like any of them.”
“I am just not supposed to be alone.”
“That’s what everyone says, anyway.”
“That doesn’t make me fucked up or weird.”
“But you would think I am.”
“So I am trying to be normal.”
“Everyone wants to be with someone.”
“But I would rather be alone.”
“It’s not that I’m a crazy masochist who wants no people in her life.”
“I do want other people around.”
“I want friends and family.”
“But romance is foreign to me.”
“I don’t understand it.”
“So I pretend to.”
“Quite well, I might add.”

No Romo

A Man’s Guide to Understanding Women

A good friend of mine came to talk to me about problems he was having with his girlfriend. He asked me a bunch of questions about women, and I tried to answer. I really tried.

Q: She texted me asking how many girls I’ve been with. When I gave her my answer, she ignored me. Why?
A: I don’t know.

Q: Why does she always bring up things from the past that we’re supposed to be over that she forgave me for?
A: I guess she didn’t forgive you?

Q: Why is it that when I’m out with my friends and don’t call her at all, she gets upset?
A: I don’t know.

Q: She accused me of always just wanting sex, and I said no. Now she’s acting weird. I thought “no” was the right answer?
A: Women want sex just as much as men do, so I don’t know.

Q: She wants me to always pick up the check and do all this stuff for her without expecting a thank you, but gets really bitchy if I ask her for things and don’t give her a poem about how thankful I am. Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean she has to do things for me, she says.
A: That’s true, but just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean you have to do things for her, either.

Q: She told me she wants this new blender that’s kind of expensive. I got it for her for Christmas. She got mad. Why?
A: I guess you shouldn’t give a girl a household item as a holiday gift?

Q: But why did she say she wanted it if she didn’t want it?
A: I don’t know.

Q: She talks to her ex from time to time, but flipped out when she saw a “Merry Xmas” text from my ex on my phone. She says it’s different. How?
A: I don’t know.

Q: I hung out with my sister and her friend without telling her. Now she won’t talk to me because I was around another girl and she had to find out from someone else.
A: Time for a new girlfriend, Adam.

I’m not sure anything I said was helpful at all. I obviously don’t understand women very well.

I think I might be a gay guy in a straight woman’s body.