I spend a lot of time on the internet. More than I’d like to admit, but still not as much as I could be spending. It’s such a vast and deep space that getting lost on the interwebs is an easy thing to do. Getting addicted to it is easy as well. Over the course of the last year, I’ve watched as people become addicted to going viral on Twitter. It’s gotten to the point where people will say anything, no matter how nasty or mean or unnecessary it is, just in hopes of getting a few thousand likes and retweets. They don’t care if their words hurt somebody, they don’t care if they’re giving out incorrect information. All that matters is those couple of hours of rapid activity on their page. Over 95% don’t even get paid for going viral. It’s weird.
What’s even weirder is when people use romantic situations to try and gain clout on apps. The internet has created so many rules around romantic relationships that more often than not people find themselves in situations they never wanted to be a part of in the first place. The list of what you must do when you like someone stretches for miles and is only getting longer. It has no details, no scenarios, and no real explanations. You either follow the rules of relationships or you’re a bad partner. Or at least that’s what the internet says. But while these rules can supposedly craft a perfect relationship, they’re extremely noninclusive of any relationship outside of heteronormativity.
No two relationships are the same. Different sex, same-sex, no sex, they’re all different. But are all expected to be guided by the same rules. As an Asexual, many of those rules can be downright terrifying. The idea that you absolutely have to post pictures of your relationship. Or the concept of detailing every little thing that you and your partner do, sharing it on whichever app. I watch my friends struggle to keep their relationships afloat because of weird situations like they didn’t text who like they back but are on Twitter and now the person they like is mad. That’s insane to me. And a waste of time.
When I tell people that I have no interest in dating, it’s not particularly true. It’s just the easiest way to not have to explain my personal view to someone who I have an interest in being personal with. It’s something I should probably stop doing but too often I’ve been told that the kind of person and relationship I want doesn’t exist. The concept of dating, the idea of it, is really rather comforting. The fairy tale version of it, I suppose, where you might not be perfect for each but you fit. You might argue but you never scream at each other in anger. You love each other as friends, the sex is just a bonus. At least that’s how I’d want my romantic relationship to go. On the flip side though, I’ve also got things that I’m not willing to budge on. I will not be texting you every day, I won’t be telling you every move I make, we won’t live together ever and I will always crave solitude. I also do not belong to anybody, I know couples think it’s cute to say they belong to their partner but no, those words won’t ever even come into my thoughts let alone leave my mouth. I won’t ever allow my happiness to rely on another person. And while there are things I’m willing to compromise on, the way people take any kind of compromise as a go-ahead to try and change everything leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. So it’s just easier to say I’m not interested in dating.
But that’s just me. There are plenty of Asexuals who want to date and are actively looking for partners. However, it’s hard when people enter, even just a conversation, with already preconceived ideas about how the relationship should be. The idea that all romantic relationships must include sex is a social construct, the over-sexualization of everything is weighing down on everyone. It hinders the growth of so many people and is vastly ignored when brought up. I talk about being a Black Woman who is constantly hyper-sexualized a lot, I’m very loud about not wanting to be viewed in a sexual way. I talk about wanting my skin to be seen as just that, skin. And yet anytime I show barely the slightest interest in someone, the only thing that matters to people is when I’m going to have sex with that person. I’ve talked to many asexuals who are close to giving up on dating even though they want that relationship connection badly, and it’s because any time you don’t fall inside the rules of dating no one wants to take the time to create new rules with you. These days no one has time to really get to know someone, they just want to know one quirky thing about you that will get them likes on an app. They don’t want to build a bond with you, they just want to go half on a house that they can post pictures of on the internet. It’s draining and ever so slightly intriguing.
It’s like everyone in a relationship is participating in a race. The prize if you win is still unclear but everyone is racing toward that finish line that can only be found on the internet. If you don’t want to participate in the race then you aren’t important at all. If you want to change the rules of the race you’re sensitive. Never mind the fact that no one can tell you what you win for crossing that viral finish line. There’s no money for having “the best relationship”, you can argue that YouTube couples get paid to be together but the way they all seem to break up lets me know that money is not the prize. And yet people are still racing. The addiction to the internet is a problem but the way the internet is shaping people is an even bigger one.
When I ask, no one can tell me why they want their romantic relationships to hinge so desperately on outside validation. If you like someone and they like you that should be the end of it, no post on Twitter or meme on Instagram should be a guideline for how you conduct your relationship. Honestly, even your parents’ relationship shouldn’t be the poster child for your own. Because it’s your relationship, the only people who get to decide how it should be is you and the other person you get into bed with at night. People will nod with my words and agree, and then go right back to molding their romantic relations to fit the rules of normalcy. Which is more than fine, cause it’s not my relationship to stress over. I do hope though that one day soon we can start to deconstruct the idea of a perfect relationship and just let people create the connections and bonds that they want and deserve.