Last week it was Valentine’s Day, and I spent most of the day feeling very grumpy about it. This is a departure from tradition for me. In the past, I’ve either felt very indifferent to the day, or bought chocolates to share with friends/dorm-mates/house-mates. This year was different. “Ugh, romance,” I thought. “I don’t want anything to do with it.” And that just confirmed my feelings of aromanticism. I felt repulsed by the very thought of having a romantic relationship. Except then I looked at the Valentines linked to in this post, and one of the wtf-romantic ones (now I’m not even sure which one) made me think “Oh yeah, I do identify with that. So now I’m confused.”
I used to think, “Okay, I’m not sure I understand what romantic attraction is. I mean, when I’m attracted to someone I usually can’t even figure out if I want to act on that attraction (or how to), much less whether or not it’s romantic. But if I was in a relationship and my person wanted to call it romantic, sure, I’d be okay with that.” I think part of what made me so grumpy about Valentine’s Day was realizing I felt so repulsed by something that used to make me just roll my eyes and say “Whatever.”
Now that we’re back to normal levels of amatonormativity in my life rather than Valentine’s Day levels of shoving it down my throat, while I feel a lot less repulsed by romance, I’m still not sure I’d be willing to call a (hypothetical) relationship romantic.
All of these things, though, I’m pretty sure are not mutually exclusive. I can be an aromantic who isn’t quite sure what romantic attraction really is, but is sure she doesn’t experience it, and is sometimes repulsed by the very idea of romance, but sometimes not. Just as being open to having sex does not make an asexual any less asexual, being open to calling a relationship romantic doesn’t make an aromantic any less aromantic.
Then, on that very grumpy Valentine’s Day, I avoided social media all day, my ace friend messaged me a picture of the really lovely ace necklace she’d just bought herself, one of the girls in my 4-6 year old Scottish dance class gave me a hand-made Valentine, and I found this perfect bumble bee button. By the end of the day I didn’t feel so grumpy any more. I’ll just try to remember for next year: don’t go on social media on Valentine’s Day!