Happy Singles’ Awareness Day (…not)!

“Everyone is in love.”

I kinda feel like I was being denied with this statement.

Meta context: I started writing this post in mid-February 2020 (as indicated by the reference to Chibi Tamago, which I have since left behind) and laid my confusion about myself – “romantic and sexual dysphoria”, if you will – to rest in early January 2022. That means this post was a good 2 years in the making.

The quote about the cut is from I’ve Always Liked You (Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita), which I was watching for Chibi Tamago’s Valentine’s Day event. Thing is, having been a loner on Valentine’s Day for far too many times to count (aside from one time, where I received a romantic gift – more on that story later), I felt like the statement was denying my reality.

It’s not a problem to be asexual or aromantic (or even just introverted) enough to not have a partner for Valentine’s Day, but I guess…Valentine’s Day and the entire commodification of romance in general to generate money has always been an endeavour that’s never been 100% conducive for me. In fact, I’ve been wrestling with that very part of myself in recent years and only just came to grips with it last month, as some kind of sidenote while reading about feminist translation (see link in meta context above).

So, back to that story (I don’t remember if I’ve told it here before, so here it is again) and I can tell it shamelessly because this was around when Boueibu was still a simulcast: Around about Valentine’s Day one year, I received a big ol’ box of chocolates – maybe about 30 in total – from a guy in the at-the-time fledgling high school anime club I was a part of with some acquaintances. Quickly after I accepted it, I realised I couldn’t finish it myself and so enlisted the help of my family to do so, never once considering the romantic connotations behind it.

Some months before, the same guy asked me to go to the local con. To the me at the time, going to cons was out of the question – I had to save for university! So I turned him down and I distinctly recall saying something to the effect of, “Oh, my dad said I can’t date until I go to uni. Can you wait for me until then?” (I also distinctly recall the ticket was $30 in regional currency at the time. Considering my book from the Coldplay concert the year after cost about that much, IIRC, that’s…completely feasible now, plus no one saw COVID coming back then.)

…yeah, younger me was dumb romance-wise, so it’s no wonder the guy couldn’t wait for me and went to pursue his own dreams instead *sweatdrops*.

In retrospect, I’ve tried to rationalise why I turned the guy down, aside from money matters and my dad, traditional old fogey he may be. The two reasons I came up with were:

  1. The guy didn’t fall in love with me, but rather an illusion of me. Around this time, I was prone to get so excited I’d reach a…well, I called it a “frenzied state”, but it’s that sort of feeling you get when you feel like you’re going to bounce off the walls because you’re allowed to talk about what you like with people who Get what you’re talking about – a more low-key version of the “translator’s high” I would discover the year afterwards and pursue via my current avenue of post-graduate study (it’s safer than drugs, kids! <- /jk). TL;DR: He essentially fell in love with Manic Pixie Dream Girl me and not…y’know, normal me.
  2. I was the one afraid of commitment. (Note I came up with this reason as I recalled this on the 3rd of January 2022, so it reflects a rather current understanding of myself.) With a relationship comes baggage, y’know? PDAs, having to admit you’re a couple to people and all that jazz. I distinctly recall having a concept of myself as being a princess in a gilded cage (probably aided by mental images of Sti from Kirikagohime to Mahoutsukai). In short, if he wanted me, he would have to fight for me – pay for the con ticket out of his own pocket and/or steal me away without my dad knowing, like in Taylor Swift’s Love Story. That was, in retrospect, 1) a very romanticised idea of everything and 2) probably asking too much of a high school student who was an introvert like me, haha.

Huge personal derail aside, what reflecting on this experience has taught me, now I’ve put my amatonormative demons to rest, is allosexual people probably mean well when they allocated Valentine’s Day for celebrating love in all forms – except maybe platonic relationships, which never get the love they deserve, especially in media and many, many fandoms obsessed with reading into subtext and subsequent shipping (that’s a bugbear I’ll have to return to another time, especially because such culture is the one I grew up with on Fanfiction.net and Tumblr…) – but it’s alienating to those who identify as not feeling that, whether “that” is romantic and/or sexual.

Romance anime and manga, like any other form of romantic media, can sometimes make it seem like certain people – all the Single Pringles, plus the aspec and arospec people – are missing out. I’ve chronicled a very tumultous relationship with the romance genre in general (see Makoto Shinkai works and Horimiya as examples) anyway – you could call it my “periodic punching bag”, even (haha!) – so now you have a valid reason to see why I am what I am *sweatdrops with a sheepish smile* and I admit that makes me somewhat biased when I argue about the commodification of romance, too…

(…but hey, as much as I argue, more chocolate doesn’t hurt most people…right? *shrugs*)

Don’t even get me started on things like “dating your hologram waifu”, “dating apps” or “otaku dating services” – my brain, as it stands in January 2022, never got around to wrapping my head around that stuff with my new understanding of myself, so…all I can say about that is: you do you, folks, whether that be same-sex, straight or whatever else floats your boat. Just be sure to value – and not unintentionally alienate – your friends on the asexuality and aromanticism spectrum too.

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