Life as an ‘Aromantic’

We, Millennials, are obsessed with categorizing our sexuality. Somehow dating has become a taxonomic exercise. And in the midst of classifying ourselves as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, Pansexual, omnisexual, asexual, and my favorite: Sapiosexual (which is just a hipster way of saying you prefer to go out with smart people) We fail to take heed to Soren Kieradgaard’s advice “Once you label me, you negate me”. We also miss the point of sexuality.

I came across this term:Aromantic. Sometimes I facetiously use that term to describe myself. After all, it does summarize my attitude on romance with respect to dating, marriage, sexuality and life in general.

Every married couple has a ‘how we met’ story. My parents’ tale is the antithesis of a feel-good, heart-throbbing romantic tale. You see, two years after my mother relocated to the US with her two older siblings, she was called back to her home village. Her older brother, at age 30, wanted to get married. According to our cultural traditions, the male sibling had to wait until all his sisters were married before he entertained his own marital aspirations

A newspaper ad was printed for my mother, marketing her as an American-residing NRI (non-resident Indian) who could guarantee a US visa for any potential candidate  (this was before the era of eHarmony/Shaadi.com).

my father answered the marital ad, while skimming the newspaper for potential employment opportunities. In the 1980s, India’s License Raj regime and Kerala’s unionized nokku kooli culture stagnated job growth, prompting young people like my parents to seek economic prospects abroad. In addition, the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s State of Emergency in 1975 haunted the Malayali youth, who were raised with news reports of police brutality, youth ‘suicides’ and ‘missing people’. So much for democracy

Most young men sought oil rig jobs in the Persian Gulf countries but America was idyllic abode for every small-town Malayali. So naturally, without knowing his prospective bride, my father jumped at the opportunity and the two have been married for twenty-eight years.

My parents have never expressed any affection to each other. No hugs. No kisses. No endearing cards. No thoughtful gifts on anniversaries. Not even a ‘I love you, honey’. These are characteristics which would alarm most marriage counsellors. Yet, my parents’ marriage has lasted four times longer than most couples who perform all of those tokens of affection.

My parents never felt the need to ‘spice things up’. They’re content and secure with their relationship. Plus, they’ve invested their energy on more urgent affairs like maintaining a stable life in a foreign country, raising their two children (one of whom is autistic), and attempting to resolve stupid family drama back in their respective home villages.

Our comtemporary culture is obsessed with ‘love’. You can’t get through a novel or movie without coming across tropes like ‘the girl next door’, ‘love at first night’, ‘the adorkable boyfriend’ and of course my favorite, ‘the manic pixie dream girl’!!

I love a well-written, heartfelt romantic tale (which is rarer than a water stream in a desert) but at the end of the day, they’re just stories. Infatuation at first sight is an extremely poor basis for a relationship. Look at American couples. All of them resulted from love (or lust) yet over half of them break apart, like a river diverging into a series of tributaries.

I can’t imagine myself tying the knot while in my twenties. But I probably wouldn’t mind having a life partner once I draw closer to middle age. I figure the constant emotional support and companionship would outweigh the occasional nagging and loss of liberated solidarity.

If I do get married, I wouldn’t want my wife to be my lover. I mean, if I’m paired with a nymphomaniac, that would be a lucky bonus. However, I prefer a friend and life partner. I don’t expect my heart to skip a beat everytime I see my wife. One would have a better chance winning the lottery than hearing me serenading my ‘beloved’.

But I hope we would make a well-functioning team. I would hope that even if we’re not always the apple in each other’s eyes, we can still see the positive attributes in one another. And we would use those positive attributes to our advantage.

Labeling your sexual orientation is meaningless. Historically, whom you were sexually attracted to at a certain point in time was irrelevant. Marriage and sexuality had a societal function and people played their part. Today, our urban upbringing has given us a more individualistic outlook. Not a bad thing in itself. However, we spend too much time in our heads, compelling us to come up with all sorts of random terms to describe what turns us on.

Our sexual orientation is irrelevant because our turn-ons alter over time, and by the time we’re in our 50s, sex will seem more like a chore!

Romance is cute. Lust is electrifying. But there’s fantasy and then there’s reality. And the real world is far more adventurous.

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