Discussion | Romance in Media, Aphobia & Happy Endings

I wanted to talk a little about something that’s personal to me: I’m aromantic and asexual. In case you don’t know what that means, it means I do not experience romantic or sexual attraction. If you want more info, I wrote a post about aromanticism here, I hope that answers most of your questions. What I want to talk about is how romance is portrayed in media and how harmful it can be for aspec people, and share some thoughts on how we can change things.

Some definitions:
Aphobia = harmful behavior against aros and aces
Aro = aromantic = not experiencing romantic attraction towards any gender
Ace = asexual = not experiencing sexual attraction towards any gender
Aro-ace = a combination of aromantic and asexual
Aspec = aromantic spectrum + asexual spectrum

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The problem

Aphobia is everywhere, but barely anyone notices because romance and sex are so intrinsicly woven through most people’s lives and through society. The thing about aphobia is that it’s always the little things, things you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t paying attention to it, and therefore mostly it only affects aspec people. More often than not books/movies/series have aphobic comments, some more subtle than others, but there are almost always little comments suggesting e.g. that sex/romantic love is what makes us human or that not experiencing feelings is inhuman or that happy endings need romance. This is so incredibly tiring to me as an aromantic asexual, because it invalidates me and my orientation, and if I had to call out every aphobic thing I read, see or hear, I’d need more hours in my day.

Mostly I brush off these comments, because there are too many to get upset over every single one of them, but sometimes they really get to me. For example, when I read A Torch Against The Night, there was a very aphobic line that basically suggested that there was no point in living if you didn’t “let yourself feel attraction” and I just couldn’t deal with that. I experience already a lot of aphobia from the world and internalized aphobia and being faced with sentences like that, that just hurts.

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How to fix it

There’s not really something we can constructively do about this, unless we change the entirety of society and the way people think about romance, love and sex. A thing we can do, mostly for authors and creators, is to be aware of the language that we use. It’s about the tiny things. Get an aro and/or ace person to beta-read your work, because they are probably way more aware of it than an allosexual/alloromantic person. Also, realize that love and romance and sex are not a vital part of everyone’s lives, it’s not “what makes us human” (seriously, I’m pretty sure most animals experience those things too, it’s not just humans). People can be happy and single, people can not crave sex, people can not want love or not spend a lot of their time wanting it.

The thing is, that changing these things not only make life for aspec people better, it also has really positive effects for others. Not everyone is in a relationship or wants to be in a relationship (a fact that can or can not be related to aromanticism and is a thing on it’s own), and seeing positive representation of single people, for example, is so validating. There also people out there that don’t want romance or sex because of negative experiences in the past, for example, they have been in an abusive relationship. It’s important that everyone can have a good life regardless of whether you want/experience/have romance/sex.

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Happy Endings

One thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about is happy endings. We all know the Disney happily ever afters in which the princess marries the prince and lives happily ever after. But though that is really cute, it’s not the reality for the large majority of people. A lot of stories end with “and they lived happily ever after”. Maybe not in those words, but in a way it does. Love doesn’t fix things, maybe it makes it easier in a way, but it doesn’t ensure life will be perfect.

I was watching the Sense8 finale (no spoilers, I promise), but I was really really hoping for a specific character to end up alone. Not because I didn’t want them to be happy, no, I wanted the opposite: I wanted to be happy and single and proud of it. I didn’t want their problems to be “fixed” by a romance plot line. Do you realize how many characters are “fixed” by giving them romantic story lines? No, probably not.

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Let’s take one of the most well-known examples: Sherlock Holmes. In every single iteration of the character, Sherlock is not interested in romance at all. He’s antisocial and rude and has sociopathic tendencies and a complex human being, but he’s also single and happy. Sherlock is morally ambiguous in a lot of ways and probably not the most perfect example of a good person, but I relate to him in a way. But also, in every single iteration, they try to “fix” him by giving him Irene Adler. Don’t get me wrong, I love Irene Adler, but the romance story is only there to make him seem “more human”. This is the most hurtful thing if you think about it, as if romantic interests make us more of a person.

I could give you a list: Kristen Clark (Stitchers), Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory), Sun Bak (Sense8), The Doctor (Doctor Who), Walter O’Brien (Scorpion), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Jo March (Little Women), and probably way more, I consider to fall somewhere on the aro and/or ace spectrum. And all, every single one of them, had a significant and interesting storyline but the writers or producers decided to give them a romance plot, just because that gave them a more “human touch” (or at least that’s what I think it is).

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Another thing I’d like to address is that a person’s romantic and sexual orientation is something that doesn’t depend on someone’s relationship status, and for that reason, I think it’s just so powerful to have characters of every single orientation to get a happy and single ending. To have them be proud of who they are and not in a relationship. I want happy single gays and happy single bisexuals and happy single lesbians and happy single straights and happy single pansexuals and happy single aros and happy single aces REGARDLESS if they get their typical happily ever after. It’s much easier to give a character a happily ever after if that means you give them a significant other. It’s much harder (and I think more satisfying) to give a character a happily ever after if that trope is avoided.

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I wish it was more often that I coulld see a character I look up to and see them be happy and single and not get that romantic happily ever after. I hoped that would happen with Sense8 (I would still highly recommend watching it), but sadly it didn’t. But I’ll keep hoping, because I don’t know what else to do (Yell about it on the internet? yes that too). For now, I just hope that this post brings more awareness and that maybe, just maybe, people will change their ways a little.

Sorry if this post is a little bit more negative than my usual posts, but I thought it was important to talk about these things and try to bring some awareness. And because it’s Pride Month, I thought it would be a great time to talk about these things and start a conversation, so feel free to ask questions, comment, discuss!

55 thoughts on “Discussion | Romance in Media, Aphobia & Happy Endings

  1. great post! I was glad that you picked out Sun Baek, who I’ve also seen as coded on the ace/aro spectrum (although I feel like reading her this way can be a little problematic as well, because her ‘stoic asian woman’ personality is already such a minefield).
    Rather than focus on Sun specifically, I wanted to add that I found the entire ‘happy ending’ of Sense8’s 2hr finale (which I’m assuming you’ve seen given the fact you mention it) really freaking aphobic, because that happy ending is literally just coded as sex. Like, a massive, group-orgie of sex. Even polyamorous relationships that didn’t necessarily have to be sexually charged and would’ve been just as queer without it becoming sexual end up that way. You could have conveyed that sense of belonging and found family in a number of ways, but this is how Sense8 chose to encapsulate it, basically equating all types of love and acceptance with sex. I was just so frustrated because Sense8 does so much wonderful work for queer representation, but it continues to be massively aphobic, and excludes ace people from that happy ending.

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    1. Yeah you’re definitely right. I didn’t really mind the ending being this way but I do wish they didn’t give all of the characters a romantic plot line. I loved Capheus story line but then they had to give him a romantic interest and the same with Sun. They both had great story lines and great character development and it felt a bit unnecessary. I agree that they could have done better on being inclusive, I loved that they showed all these kinds of love but it really didn’t need to pair everyone off and equate romance/sex with a happy ending.

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      1. Yeah to be honest I love Sens8 and don’t have many problems with it bar that final scene. I like Sun and Mun, even though it suffered from not having enough time to develop. I’m uncertain about Caphaeus because while I think the romance didn’t feel necessary it did mean he got more screentime, and that a pansexual african woman was portrayed on screen.

        I basically just wish they’d been able to convey the message of the happy ending with something other than everyone having sex. I think that was why your post resonated with me, because they basically used sex to show happiness, inclusion, love, and acceptance, when it really doesn’t mean that for everyone. Even if they’d ended the show on the Eiffle Tower scene, it would’ve had the same impact, IMO.

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  2. I kind of understand where you’re coming from. I’m not asexual or aromantic, but for a long time, I didn’t at all want to be in a relationship and I was so tired of characters I viewed as strong, independent, and interesting in their own right be “made happy” by falling in love. I wish that trope weren’t so overdone. I agree that it’s much harder (and more interesting) to have a character be given a happily ever after through another route.

    And I so appreciate you putting yourself out there to talk about aphobia and how hurtful it is. I’ve noticed recently how my language and thought processes or nowhere near as inclusive and positive as I’d like them to be, so I’ve been trying to change the phrases I use and words I say to reflect that, but it is a process. I appreciate people gently calling attention to it so I can check myself and use better language. This is a great discussion post. Thank you!

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    1. Yes! I get that people want happy endings but it’s really unnecessary to have every single happy ending being to have the character fall in love.
      Thank you so much! It’s amazing you’re trying to do better, that makes me so happy!

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  3. It’s not exactly aphobia, but something I’ve been thinking about lately: sometimes it’s so incredibly exhausting to read romances with allosexual characters because it’s just so far from my experience. :/ I imagine some aromantic people may feel similarly about any romance in general.

    And often even ace content is aphobic. I finished Let’s Talk About Love recently and I had a number of issues with it, but there was this scene where Alice is talking to her friend and that entire conversation basically radiates “well OF COURSE romantic relationships are more important than friendships, you have to get used to this”.

    I completely agree with you that often romance is shoehorned in to be a happy ending even though they could have been happy without the romance as well.

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    1. Yes I get what you mean. Reading allo romance books doesn’t really exhaust me, I don’t really mind for the most part. It might have be because when I’m reading from the perspective of an allo character, I kind of understand why they’re drawn to a person, you know? Because there’s usually also an emotional connection. It’s more the physical attractiveness (in real life & fiction) that just feels very weird to me because I don’t understand it and it’s just something I don’t experience. It’s just so strange??
      wait what?? I never heard about that aphobic comment in Let’s Talk About Love! I’m really glad you brought it up because I would have been really annoyed (and probably felt hurt) if I would have read it without being aware..

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  4. Although I don’t experience the want for sex I’m not quite sure yet if I am ace or aro… maybe demisexual? I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Sex is so common in the media it’s honestly annoying! Not just harmful to aces but just plain annoying to see all the time. And omg I love your examples for characters and completely agree with Kirsten from Stitchers, Sheldon Cooper (before I even knew asexuality was a thing I was SURE that he wasn’t interested in sex but then the creators were like – possible spoiler ahead – “hm. how about he sleeps with amy? AND ENJOYS IT because oh you can’t be an actual human being if you don’t” ughhh), The Doctor (OMG i got so annoyed when they kept trying to make his companions and the doctor a thing. but if he’s not aro or ace he’s definitely bisexual (what’s the other sexuality called when you’re attracted to all genders?) And Katniss too! It was SO obvious!!

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    1. You might be! Being asexual is not exactly the same as not wanting/enjoying sex, though they are sometimes related. It’s quite a difficult concept to grasp at first and it took me a long time to figure out exactly what it meant and what it meant for me. If you ever want to talk about it just dm me!
      Yess what the creators did with those characters annoyed me so much! Especially since it felt like they were “fixing” the characters. I think you mean pansexuality? But actually bisexual can be 2 or more genders, while pansexuality, I believe, is that a person is attracted to someone regardless of their gender (so they’re not attracted to any gender in specific, they’re just attracted to a person no matter their gender). (it’s a bit confusing for someone who doesn’t id as either but I think the difference is partly a matter of preference)

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      1. Yeah I think I’m still in the learning process. I will definitely consult you with any questions I have. Demisexual is something I’ve been thinking of a lot recently because I don’t usually – not fall in love, but fall in lust I guess you could say – like noticing a pull of attraction towards someone until I get to know them. Which I believe is what demisexual is, if I’m not wrong. Yeah, pansexual is what I meant. I feel like gender isn’t something the Doctor cares about when it comes to having romantic feelings for someone, especially since he… or well… they? doesn’t have an actual gender since they’re an alien.

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      2. I think that’s more the opposite of demisexual? Demi means you are not attracted to someone until you get to know them and have an emotional connection. I’m not quite sure what it’s called if you’re attracted to someone until you get to know them?

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  5. This is such a great post!! I do sometimes feel romance is added for the sake of it, I feel some stories in media (ie. books or movies) could have done without that plotline. It would be awesome to see more stories of a character having a happy end without there being romantic love or sex involved. I feel that in YA books (and movies) love is so often part of the story. In some adult fiction this isn’t always the case, ie. I have read some adult fantasy books back in the 1990s in which love wasn’t that important in the storyline and in which the happy end was the ‘villain’ being defeated. That said, it’s been a while since I read those books, so I don’t know/remember if they contain aphobic writings (thank you so much for teaching me about that word! I had seen it around once or twice but I didn’t know what it meant).

    I don’t know if you remember me, but back when you made that post on aromanticism it really opened my eyes. I commented that your post made me think I might be demisexual (I can’t remember if I posted under this account or whether I posted under my first name + last name). I just wanted to say I’m really grateful for you opening my eyes to asexuality, aromanticism, demisexuality, and so on. I found a ton of resources since your post (about all sorts of things LGBTQIAA+) and I came out to my parents last weekend. I just wanted to give a big thank you to you for starting me on my journey to finding out more about these things and about myself.

    I personally do enjoy reading stories with love in them (less so with sex in them to be honest), but I would love to read more stories with any sorts of characters getting a happy ending without love & sex being involved (including ace-aro characters!). And not just fantasy books like I mentioned above, but also contemporary fiction ones. And also in YA books, which seem more focused on relationships than books for adults.

    Lately I’ve been reading mostly YA contemporaries with some kind of diversity element(s), memoirs of people who I find interesting (usually autism memoirs, mental illness, illness, and other things; I have autism btw), graphic novels and graphic memoirs and manga. I’ve not read much fantasy or science-fiction lately.

    Anyway, while I don’t understand some of the things (TV shows?) you reference to, because I haven’t seen them, I have seen most of The Big Bang Theory, and it is true what you say! I never thought about it in that way, because I actually liked the producers adding more female characters to the show initially, in a show that was more male-oriented, but it is so true that Sheldon could be ace-aro and that the producers gave him a romance storyline.

    It would be great to see more characters getting a happy ending without love & romance and without a ‘love fixes things’ trope (I don’t like that trope). I’d love to see more aro-ace characters anyway, because there aren’t that many out there yet (that I know of).

    Sorry for the long reply, but I love your post and wanted to reply :).

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    1. aww your comment made me cry! I’m so proud of you!! And I’m so happy that you learned more about yourself ❤ It can be really confusing and difficult to be a-spec so if you ever want to talk just let me know!
      I've also been reading a lot of (diverse) YA contemporary and I've also noticed a lot of stories have romantic plot lines to give it a "happy ending", and that a lot of other YA books have that as well. I don't know if it's different in other age categories' books, but I hope so.
      Yeah the characters were mostly from tv shows, for some reason the "character is not interested in romance falls in love" trope is often done in tv shows and it annoys me to no end! I do love Amy as a character and I'm really glad they added her to the cast but the storyline between her and Sheldon felt very forced and unneccesary.
      Thank you so much for your amazing comment!

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  6. This is such an important post, thank you for taking the time to write it. I completely agree with you that it’s disappointing to see characters paired off in order to cement a happy ending, as if romance is the most important and fulfilling thing a person can do. Don’t get me started on books were all of the characters are conveniently paired off, because that is my pet peeve. The idea that a person can genuinely be happily single needs to become more mainstream.
    I’m ace, questioning aro, and I’m desperate to see positive representation without romance/sex being forced into the equation. Like what is so wrong with a person living happily ever after in a cute cottage in the woods or something?
    Sorry, I’m rambling, I’ll stop now. 🙂

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    1. YES!! I need more single & happy rep! I agree with you on every single thing you said! Like, if I were a character, my happy ending wouldn’t be to be paired off, it would be to live in an apartment, have an awesome job, have a dog and be happy. I WANT THAT IN BOOKS.
      No need to be sorry! I liked your rambling 🙂

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  7. This is such a great post! I totally agree about what you said about happy endings! One of my biggest pet peeves is when characters are forced into a relationship when they don’t need to be. And I hate how there are SO MANY stories where people are unhappy then enter a relationship and are suddenly happy. Romantic relationships aren’t necessary for happiness, and it’s important for that to be acknowledged, especially in YA

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    1. Yes!! I hate that people think romance fixes things and automatically makes people happy?? I can’t imagine that every young adult is or wants to be in a relationship and yet almost every single young adult book is about that.

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  8. I love this post so much! I definitely am still working on my own language to make sure I am as inclusive as possible, but I think the simple fact that we label people/sexualities/genders/etc. makes it difficult to be completely inclusive.

    I recently read someone else’s post about race, but it talked about how writers write about what they know so we can’t really fault them for that. BUT I definitely agree that some characters just don’t need the romance. They are wonderful and strong on their own!

    Also, since you mentioned Doctor Who 😀 I actually liked the romance because that was just who he was for those specific regenerations. The 13th Doctor showcased more of a father-figure instead of a romantic relationship. Plus 11 kissed everyone 😀 I think the writers are working on being more inclusive and as long as they (and everyone else) are trying, it’s hard to fault them.

    Great post!

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    1. Thank you!! Yes, I guess labelling can make it difficult, but it’s also so important to a lot of people. A label can give so much clarity and confidence and can make it much easier to express to others how you identify.
      I’m glad you liked the Doctor Who relationship! I personally didn’t really understand it, and didn’t think it make much sense to me. I don’t think it’s something the writers did wrong, and I don’t dislike them for it. I just don’t relate to it at all.

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  9. Thank you for this post! A lot of what you said has been getting on my nerves recently, and as much as I love a good, cute, well-written romance, I don’t want it shoved haphazardly into every story I read, which seems to be the trend. As someone who’s ace as well (and questioning on aro), I get so fed up when characters’ arcs are “completed” when they get the girl/guy. It’s been making me read more LGBTQ+ representation because I 110% want to support the community and its representation, and because I find it so much more interesting to read about than heteronormative romances. I mean, who really gives a damn if the heroine gets the boy if that’s all she cares about? It detracts from her character and it’s not interesting to read about.
    As for the comments about needing a relationship to feel “fulfilled,” it’s not something really notice in literature, oddly enough. It’s something I notice much more in daily life, where it strikes a stronger chord. I had a friend once tell me when I was jokingly making fun of him that I’d “be nicer if I had a guy.” He was mostly joking, but I know some of it wasn’t, and it really pissed me off, especially because the media makes it seem like there’s truth to that idea. Everything’s made to seem like you’ll be a better person if you’re romantically involved with someone, which is so far from the truth. I’d much rather have literature and other media promote friendships that improve you as a person and change your life, because that is so much closer to reality and includes everyone, no matter their orientation.

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    1. “who really gives a damn if the heroine gets the boy if that’s all she cares about?” Yess!! I love reading more LGBT+ books but still for the most part, they’re about romance, which makes me a little sad because there are so many more stories to tell that are not like “and they fell in love and lived happily ever after”. Of course those stories are important but there’s so much more!!
      The people around me aren’t really that focussed on romance, so I don’t experience a lot of that but that comment your friend made would make me so mad! I do think fiction and other media could really help in a way, by showing examples of people living fulfilling lives without a romantic partner! And yes to life-changing friendships!!

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  10. I love this! It constantly irritates me whenever I rewatch Sherlock and the whole romance thing comes up. Honestly I identify more with Sherlock when he’s being his antisocial self and it felt like a violation to his character to try and implicate him in a romance of any kind. I think the reason why people tend to go that way, though, is that it’s been a common practice for centuries to believe that our ability to love is what separates us from the rest of the organisms (and computers) on the planet. I think people get kind of shaken when they’re asked to come up with a new reason (because, as you pointed out, that can’t be the only distinguishing factor. Or, maybe it is and that’s what everyone’s afraid of). Regardless, this is such an important topic to talk about and bring to people’s attention so thank you for writing this!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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    1. Omg me too! Whenever they try to change characters by giving them a romantic plot, I’m honestly always just staring at them like “what are you doing??”. It both doesn’t make sense and is really unneccesary??
      I think people use “love” as the distinguishing factor because it’s inheritely good and people like to think they’re better than other species. Not to be too negative, but I think our ability to destroy is a better distinguishing factor xD

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  11. I love this post! I completely agree and I have noticed so many times where people are “fixed” by romantic storylines, and even mental illnesses are “fixed” by these, and a. ROMANCE DOESN’T INHERENTLY FIX ANYTHING and b. mental illnesses aren’t something to be FIXED. This is just really frustrating to me a lot too!! Also, yes, there’s so much amisia in media in sentences like “everyone deserves love” and yes, but not necessarily ROMANTIC love and just. stop. Can people stop making romance and sex something “normal” for everyone?

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    1. Y E S
      I hate when they “fix” characters by romance or that all their issues are solved by falling in love. It’s so annoying!! I wish people would see that love is not some magic potion you can use to solve everything. There’s so many sentences that are well-meant and imply that everyone needs/wants/deserves romance and I’M LIKE “NO. Compassion (or kindness) is the word you’re looking for!!” ughhh

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  12. There will a post I will ever relate more? Probably not.
    Okay, there would a lot to talk about on my side about catching words and meaning that can invalidate ace and aro people. As an asexual myself I’m still working on that side because I’m having hard time to catch the little things that bother other people in the aspec. And I’m trying to work out on this, figuring out if I have other approches to it or I’ve internalized something. But I totally get why other feel in a diffrent way and I recognize that there are big problems in how people code their wording. Still today I’m in fear of talking of myself with someone I’m not super confindent because is super easy to be plainly looked down or looked like something to be fixed or even consider that you don’t exist.

    So, regardless if I will figure out if I’m aro or not, which part of the ace spectrum suit me more, I definitely would need to see aspec characters being single. Or even a single in general, at this point. It would mean so much to me. But also, a lot of people are much more botherd by someone being single than the single themself. I remember how I lot of people refer to this as being alone. But what does even mean being alone? It’s another point about how people percieve the lack of a romantic or sexual part as being alone in life.

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    1. I am so glad you related to my post! Before posting it, I admit, I was a little scared about how people would react to it, but you’re all so so lovely ❤
      I really hope you can continue to learn about yourself and become (even) more comfortable in your own ace-ness, if you ever want to talk, just let me know!
      We really do need more single characters! I don't understand why people would be bothered, it's not their life, is it? Being alone is not the same as being lonely and I am perfectly happy alone! And as are many other people, I wish everyone would understand that!

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  13. Great post! I didn’t find it negative at all. I think that pointing out existing issues and potential ways to fix/notice them is a very positive thing to do, since you’re trying to educate people. Thank you for sharing your experiences. As someone who is allosexual/alloromantic, these are things I’ve only started picking up on as problems relatively recently, so it’s always good to be reminded of them!

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    1. Thank you! I’m glad it didn’t come across as nagging or something. I really hope this will help people and that maybe we can be more aware of these issues in the future!

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  14. I love this post so much, Lia. As someone who is firmly ace and is still figuring out their romantic identity, I relate to everything you’ve said here. I just found myself nodding along to every line and the examples you used. So much respect and (platonic 😂) love for you!

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    1. Aww thank you so much! It makes me so happy that you related to my post! We really should be talking more about things like this! ❤ ❤ ❤

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  15. Thank you for this post! I didn’t think it was negative; this post and the commentary were clarifying. I recall a coworker who is bisexual once talking to me about how asexuals don’t make sense because “really the desire for sex is like hunger, it ebbs and flows.” And I was like…. OK BUT I’D DIE without food, not so much the other thing?? That’s a false equivalency????/?

    And I still really like Sense8 (some episodes of the show are damn near perfect and I don’t cry at things but it sure had me tearing up). On the one hand that finale made sense (ha) to me given the sexually charged nature of the show and I was very happy for the primary cluster // on the other, it was very disappointing that asexuals were nonexistent during its run. And the writing was always so rushed about other clusters they touched on. That /is/ one of the reasons I enjoy fandoms and fanfiction, though. Taking these wonderful wild concepts and writing within them to continue reflecting our own lives. And posts like this, a chance to “Yell about it on the internet” 😀 is very important and great and I think will inspire people to be more aware of their language and to write more stories that include asexuality/aromanticism.

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    1. wowww that’s so bad. I hate when people invalidate aspec people because they don’t understand it! It’d be like me saying “attraction really doesn’t make any sense, we’re not magnets!! So people should just suck it up.” Anyway, I agree on your thoughts on Sense8. I absolutely love the show but they really could have done better on aspec inclusion. Thank you for your wonderful comment! I’m so glad you liked my post ❤

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  16. This is a great post, I can understand what you’re saying about sex and romance in books. I enjoy some sweet romantic books but I’ve read some where characters just dived into bed and it felt unnatural and annoying, as if these strong characters couldn’t be strong alone and always gave into their sexual desires. I’ve begun reading more diverse books recently, what with pride month, but there definitely should be more inclusion to have a wider scope of character types, especially people who don’t need someone else. I feel the same way with relationships, always have – if there’s someone you click with and want to go into a relationship with then great, but I was never the type to be obsessed with relationships especially at school…Although that might have a lot to do with dealing with chronic illness at a young age and feeling like I matured years before my peers. A great post, and I read your other post too though I could load the like button. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I’ve felt the same way, if two characters have a genuine connection, I really don’t mind about the romance, but if it’s shallow, I struggle to relate and find it quite annoying. I love reading diverse books and that they are more inclusive of different identities etc, but for the most part it’s still about love and I think there’s a lot of work we can do to make that better!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. yay this is a really amazing post! – and so important!! I’m ace, and for so long I thought there was something wrong with me because all my friends were obsessed with finding and being loved but I found that none of it mattered to me? And that was somehow weird?? It’s easier to ignore those feelings now, as we seem to slowly be moving away from the idea that ‘romantic love is everything’ in the media, but it’s still pretty prevalent. I’m so glad there are people like this blogging about issues like these! Super grateful!! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is a really great post. I agree with you totally (especially about Sherlock Holmes. Creators all want him to be heterosexual and tons of fans want him to be homosexual but no one will just let him be). I know it speaks to the problem that I can only think of one explicitly ace character (it’s hard to count Raphael from The Mortal Instruments because that was announced after the series was over and he is given a romantic plot line in the show urgh) but I absolutely love Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate in part because there is an ace protagonist and because another character (who is pansexual) ends up contentedly single. Thanks again for your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yess just let Sherlock be! Though I do think he is heterosexual in many iterations of his character, he definitely comes across as very aro and very uninterested in romantic relationships. Yeah… well, I never continued watching Shadowhunters after the first season.. but tbh unless the representation is created with or by actual aspec people, I don’t trust people to get it right. I’m afraid if an allo person would create a series (especially a tv series) with aro or ace characters, they’d mess it up and create an even worse image for what aro and ace actually means.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for writing this, Lia!! It doesn’t even occur to most people that not everyone wants romance and/or sex, and that totally sucks. I also appreciate that you brought up the topic of single representation regardless of orientation—I feel like almost every book character ends up dating someone, and while it’s totally fine for authors to write about characters who are in romantic/sexual relationships, it just doesn’t seem realistic for this to be every character ever, because there are so many single people out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes, exactly! Especially in YA, it seems that everyone falls in love in their teenage years, but if I look around me, none of my friends and very few of my former classmates are/were in serious relationships. It’s just strange that somehow in fiction, everyone “needs” to be paired up. You’re so welcome!

      Like

  20. Thank you so much for this post! As someone on the ace and aro spectrums a lot what you wrote really resonated with me. Although I do often enjoy reading romance books, they don’t mirror my real life experiences, and they can just make me really sad that I don’t experience that kind of attraction in real life (or I don’t think I do…) The author Alice Oseman’s talked about this a bit on her tumblr which is really cool, and I very much appreciate that in her last 2 books the MCs didn’t end up in a romantic relationship. Great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! I love that about Alice Oseman’s books (among a lot of other things I love about her books). They all have a really strong plot without using the cliché romantic happy ending.
      I’m so glad you liked this post! There really isn’t enough talk about things like this!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Awesome post!
    I’m neither asexual nor aromantic, but it still annoys me when there’s unnecessary romance thrown into stories. Like you said when it’s used to make the character more human. I mean, what were they before? Animals? It just seems super old fashioned, something that reminds me of the 50s or something. I personally prefer stories without romantic story lines. I found some i liked, but i don’t actively look for books that are about romance.

    I don’t know if what you described is phobia or just ignorance, plain and simple. Like yea, it’s hard to understand people who are different from us but it’s not impossible and sometimes we just have to accept how things are even if we can’t fully grasp it.

    Slightly different topic (or maybe not, dunno), but i always get upset when some people say stuff like “oh but everyone watches porn, and who says they don’t is lying”. It always makes my eye twitch. I do have romantic / sexual feelings toward people but i can’t stand porn. And no, not because i’m a female. I know dudes who also don’t watch it, and i don’t go around thinking they are lying. Some people just simply don’t enjoy it. Personally it actually turns me off, if anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes! I don’t mind romance a lot but I do hate it when they just add it to give the character some kind of romantic storyline just for the sake of it.
      Yeah the term phobia is used loosely. It’s more ignorance mixed with naivity or something, but it’s quite annoying people don’t realize or don’t want to / try to understand.
      Yeah, I get you. I hate when people make generalized statements like that, especially when it comes down to sex/romance, because they always omit that some people just aren’t interested in things/don’t like them/don’t experience them/etc. It really invalidates people’s experiences and is just plain ignornat.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Lia, what a fantastic post!
    I’m not at all aro and probably not ace (but maybe a little??? idk this stuff is really hard to understand and I might never be sure) so all I have to add is a little anecdote that hurt me a lot a few weeks ago, hoping I won’t go off topic too much. I’ve gone through a breakup after 8 years of relationship and since I don’t live with my family it took me a while to tell my mom what had happened. She later told my grandma and after a week or so I called my mom again while she was at my grandma’s, so I also got to talk to my grandma for the first time in a while. Anyway, she told me she was sorry about what had happened, then asked me about the internship I was doing. Her second question was if there are boys where I work. As soon as I told her yes (I mean, of course there are *men*???) I could hear how relieved she sounded. (As if I would ever even consider dating anyone I work with, but that’s another story). Anyway, this probably has more to do with my grandma’s sexism and medieval mentality, but it made me feel like shit and not worthy *until* I find another relationship (with a man, of course!), as if me being single is something to mourn not because of the pain and loss I’ve gone through, but because without a relationship (with! a! man!) I am, allegedly, nothing.
    That is to say, I might not ever understand how hurtful it is to read such amisic comments in every single book, but you’re right that aspec people aren’t the only ones who need single rep and no-romance rep, and I want to thank you for mentioning that as well. Also, I hope I didn’t come off as wanting to center non-aspec (or maybe-aspec-but-doesn’t-know-yet) people in a post tackling aphobia, it wasn’t my intention but I felt like the issues are somewhat linked together (as well as linked together with sexism, but as you said we’d need to change society as a whole and that’s not really easy).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes yes yes!! Comments like that are both really sexist and also really rude?? Nobody has to have a significant other to live a significant life, you can be single and happy, and you can be in a relationship and happy and neither of those happinesses (is that even a word) is worth more than the other. I’m sorry you went through a break-up, I hope you’re okay!
      I definitely think there are a lot of commonalities between aphobia and sexism and it’s totally okay to address that in whatever way affects you! I think if sexism was less of an issue, there would be less aphobia as well, as a lot of sexism is related to love/sex and aphobia is as well.
      Thank you for your comment!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I definitely agree with everything you said. I’m not asexual nor aromantic but I do know someone who is. He never really was my friend and when I heard about it, I thought it was impossible. Because the thought was so ingrained in my mind that you needed a romantic relationship to be happy which couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you aren’t in the aspec, it’s still hurtful that it’s bad to be single. Even I sometimes say comments that I’m not even thinking could be aphobic. I’m really trying to rephrase my words so I don’t offend anyone in the future. I just want everyone to be happy whether you are single or not.

    As much as I love romance in books, I also agree with you that not everyone needs a companion to be happy. A romantic relationship does not fix people. And I never watched Sherlock but I can see that his character wouldn’t really need a companion and same for Sheldon. I always thought they could be content with themselves. I just don’t see why the media can’t see that. There should be happy singles all around and it should be ok.

    Personally, I’m not saying that you can’t love someone because for me loving someone isn’t just romantic. It can be familial or with friends. I feel like friendships and family are way more important than romantic relationships although it can also be on the same line as well. My point is that love doesn’t always have to be romantic. I really appreciate this post Lia! Thank you for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so happy you are learning to do better, that means so much to me!
      I definitely think the pairing up thing is just done so often and definitely too often. It’s both kind of stupid to just give everyone a love interest to finish the story up and it’s also really unrealistic??
      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! It is really unrealistic. Not everyone needs to be in love to be happy. As long as you’re content, that is fine!

        Liked by 1 person

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