Loveless: my asexual story as told by Alice Oseman

Amid exam season in my final year at Durham University, fresh off my social policy assignment, I was listening to ‘People Watching’ by Conan Gray as I stumbled into the Waterstones on Saddler Street and purchased a copy of ’s Loveless. Since coming out as asexual several months prior, I was excited to finally find a book where my identity was acknowledged, and even highlighted.

As Conan Gray boldly claims: “I want to feel all that love and emotion, be that attached to the person I’m holding.” But it is the idea of romance that we hold on to rather than the reality of it. I wasn’t sure why I never felt as emotionally attached to people as the way they were described in books. Romance is often portrayed as the idealised conclusion – the endgame rounding off a tumultuous story. The complex journey stretched out throughout the story of the hero and the heroine finally getting together after pining over each other from the third chapter leaves the reader feeling satiated, the story has completeness. Even when romance is not the focused genre, everybody loves a good love story. Since then, people praise the inclusion of the queer community in narratives, encouraging young people to explore their sexuality. Many of my friends have had no problem coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual, but I have never known anyone to come out as asexual. The latter letters of LGBTQIA+ are often omitted when referencing the community and become the forgotten identities.

Oseman tells another sexual minority chronicle of a teenager, Georgia, who discovers her sexuality

Following the success of the Heartstopper series, Oseman tells another sexual minority chronicle of a teenager, Georgia, who discovers her sexuality and identity in our own Durham University. Georgia spends her nights watching shows and reading fan-fiction that glamorises romance and sex, believing that one day she’d have her own love story – as did I. Before arriving at university, Georgia had never even heard of the word ‘asexuality.’ She soon finds solace in her college parent, Sunil, who leads the Pride Soc and proudly parades his identity as a homo-romantic asexual. He explains it as not feeling sexual attraction to any gender, but the concept confuses people, who cannot fathom the thought of not wanting to ‘do sexy stuff.’

What most people don’t realise is that asexuality is a spectrum with an entire range of feelings and experiences where some people don’t like sex and romance at all but and some see it as a ‘takeaway cuisine you thought was OK, but you wouldn’t personally choose it.’ Georgia soon finds that the fantasy of a romance she had built up in her head disgusts her, and she believes herself to be unlovable. Slightly more uncommon, and slightly more unusual, the identity of asexuals is often forgotten on the spectrum. Even on gay nights out in Osbournes, where everyone is accepted, our lord and saviour Tess Tickle in her calling out of all identities from behind the DJ booth, does not mention asexuality. How are we supposed to be proud of something that isn’t even recognised?

The concept of asexuality is still hardly recognised and it is difficult for most people to accept.

Brainwashed to think that the traditional route of finding a husband and getting married was the only way to feel self-worth, the reality of feeling something so against what we are brought up to believe incited anger, frustration, and feelings of resentment at the world and at myself. The lack of asexual representation in books and media is what pushes such hatred, inducing loneliness at the prospect of never feeling or falling in love. Despite how inclusive society has become for the younger generation, the concept of asexuality is still hardly recognised and it is difficult for most people to accept.

People believe that it is a deal breaker in relationships but it shouldn’t be – people should be allowed to have preferences – just as some prefer women to men, or blondes to brunettes, we should also be allowed to not prefer sex, without being conceptualised as ‘the nothing sexuality,’ as Georgia’s cousin Ellis believes it to be. Many people fail to see asexuality as a real identity, choosing to berate and call it ‘sad,’ thinking that we are giving up hope of forming a ‘real’ relationship – while there is no ill intent behind their words, the invalidating feeling it creates is still strong. But I’ve learned that you don’t have to try something to know for sure you don’t like it. Some people don’t like mushrooms, or riding the bus, for a whole multitude of reasons – why should not liking sex be seen differently?

I spent a long time thinking of all these things too. I chalked it up as finding myself, accepting myself, embracing my sense of individuality, and I did. I should have been able to guess – with my friends pulling boyfriends out of thin air, whereas romance has always taken a backseat in my life. It manifests in the form of fear and avoidance. However, this year, like Georgia, I was able to find my people, and I was able to come to terms that it was okay to be myself, to be individual, to be asexual. For us asexuals, friendships are more important than relationships, and I was lucky to find that, such as Georgia did with her roommate Rooney, and I believe that is something worth celebrating.

Image: MangakaMaiden Photography via Wikimedia Commons

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2 thoughts on “Loveless: my asexual story as told by Alice Oseman

  • Yeah I’m asexual and romance is just as important to me as it is to other people, I’m not fucking loveless, stop referring to asexual people as loveless. That’s your own experience and if you don’t experience romantic attractions or have an interest you’re probably aromantic, it’s not the same as asexuality, you can be both but please stop spreading this bullshit.

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    • I’m aro-ace and would like to ditto this and point out romantic attraction and love aren’t the same thing. Total opposites infact. I wish people would stop would stop associating love with romantic attraction and being aro with not feeling love bc it’s horribly toxic and perpetuates the shit stereotype that aros are cold emotionless robots.

      love: requires chosing to put in time, effort, energy into building a caring, respectful, trusting, affectionate, and understanding relationship that uplifts and protects the individuals who’ve built the love. Its not intense, it’s general and comfortable.

      romantic attraction: an often euphoric and difficult to ignore neurochemical response to an external stimuli that drives the person to engage in behaviors meant to fulfill a biological imperative for the benefit/continuance of the species. There’s no control over what triggers this and when. It just happens. I.e. “you like who you like”.

      As you said, asexuality has nothing to do with not feeling love and it’s exactly the same for aromantic. Both are about rarely/not experiencing attraction. Attraction isn’t love.

      Reply

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