Labels are fun and all, but sometimes I worry about the risk of overextending yourself. Or over-categorizing yourself, rather. I myself carry several labels: lesbian, agender (or nonbinary for the less informed), demiromantic, asocial, and my numerous mental disorders. I just don't wear them on my sleeve or display them on bios like I've seen done on social media. The most I'll do these days is tack on my pronouns and let people sort out the rest themselves. Or just ask, whichever is easiest.
When I was younger and discovering microlabels, I felt compelled to go along with the crowd and sort myself into the “demiromantic lesbian” box. It didn't last long, of course. It was too unwieldy, too complex, and while a mere “lesbian” lacked nuance, I grew to realize that it was fine as is. I can explain it further when the relevant person wants to know more about me and my dating habits.
I want to blame tumblr for this, the site where I saw it happening first, and taken to the extreme. So many people felt pressured to give intimate details of their physical and mental health, which seemed outrageous to me. But that was the only way you could make your claims “credible”. I still see a bit of this on Twitter, albeit for mental health and mostly to raise awareness or clear up any misconceptions right out of the gate. #ActuallyAutistic is just one example of this.
But it's more than just that; I also worry about painting a target on my back. For it won't only draw the eye of people like me, but those who seek to criticize and belittle us. But that's life for ya, isn't it?
Nonetheless, I'm weary of filling my plate with more labels and microlabels than I can manage. I don't want to painfully and define myself by very direct labels. I don't want to be reduced to just a list.
Funnily enough, I have taken recent interest in a little term called “aplatonic”. Asocial, something I've been called since I was a child (along with nonchalant; thanks, mother!), was a term I was well acquainted with and related to. It's a term I came across on Reddit, after getting frustrated reading comments about physical affection among “platonic” friends. The concept of saving “I love you” to friends has also rubbed me the wrong way. It's a bit much, isn't it?
Aplatonic does not refer to someone who simply “doesn't have friends” or “doesn't want friends”, although either of these may also be true for an aplatonic person, rather it describes someone who does not experience “platonic crushes” or “squishes” like some a-spec people do. Some aplatonic people may still have strong platonic bonds (though not all desire strong platonic relationships) or have a general desire for friendships, however they never experience a strong desire to be friends with someone in particular, or feel as though the term “love” can be applied to the relationship.
I simply couldn't relate to that sort of behavior, and while it wasn't my first time seeing it mentioned online or on television, could never understand why people put up with such a thing. Or why it's so wrong to prioritize romantic and sexual relationships over what I deemed mere friendships. I myself don't desire such close attachments to my friends. Never have, though that's partly due to my loner status for much of my life, and the loose friendships I made online. You can't hug pixels.
Furthermore, I dislike being touched unless it's someone I'm close to, like a romantic partner. Growing up, most of the affection I gave was out of familial obligations and/or forced upon me. I can literally count on one hand the people I enjoyed hugging, and out of those, two were farewell hugs. Overstimulation plays a huge part in this, and there are times when even cuddling my partner is too much.
This microlabel, and seeing more people like me, made me feel better about myself. That I wasn't just odd or a “psychopath” for not wanting to smother my friends or take up their personal space. It's a good label, in other words. But I won't get swept up in it. Rather, I intend to bring it up when it matters most, to show people that there's more to a-spec identities than just a lack of interest in sex or romance, as is commonly flaunted.
I think that's the point, no? To use these labels with caution and to remain relevant.
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