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For years now, I’ve found myself irritated with unnecessary romantic side plots in books or movies. It doesn’t matter what the protagonist is doing, they always somehow find a significant other created solely to be compatible with them along the way.
I’m so desensitised to romance at this point because I’ve seen so many iterations of the same stories played out time and time again. It feels like a story must be considered more valuable, considered more worth telling if it has people falling in love on the side.
And I’m sick of it. I’m so sick of it. I cannot put into words how much I don’t care about two characters made to like each other just because that’s how things are.
It isn’t all the time, I know that. But it’s so often that whenever there isn’t an unnecessary romantic subplot, it’s pointed out as if it’s revolutionary.
Take Disney movies for example. When Frozen came out, the internet was full of people enthusing about how Elsa didn’t have a romantic partner and how it meant so much that she ‘didn’t need a man’, that she could be a lesbian or asexual. I’m always on board with LGBTQ+ representation, but the fact remains that all she did to cause this discussion was… not have a boyfriend.
Why is a Disney princess not having a romantic partner so uncommon, so noteworthy? Why did all the others before her need a love story?
When I was 14, I had two close friends. One of them was my best friend and my favourite person in the whole world. So, obviously, my parents adamantly believed that I had a crush on him because of how much I talked about him, no matter how much I told them that I didn’t.
Our other friend was his girlfriend and I was, understandably, insecure about feeling like a third wheel sometimes. I mentioned to him in conversation that I often needed to remind myself that just because he was romantically into his girlfriend, it didn’t mean that he liked her more than me, just that he liked her differently.
He said, “well, obviously I like her more than you.”
You can imagine how heartbroken I was.
And the thing was that I genuinely never liked him romantically. I loved him and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him at my side but I didn’t want to date him. I know how romantic love feels and that wasn’t it – but it meant just as much to me.
Maybe I feel differently about things to everyone else but, to me, a romantic partner is a best friend with different sentiments. Neither inherently mean any more or less than each other, they’re just different. I think that the only reason why we as a society prioritise romantic love so much is because it’s shoved down our throats all the time. To succeed, to find our happy ending, we must get married and have children. We’re told that we want it, so we do.
I once considered myself a romantic until I realised it wasn’t a romantic relationship I desired, it was just any kind of closeness. I wanted – and still do – to be loved. And there are so many kinds of love.
If the media celebrated other kinds of relationships as much as it did the romantic variety, maybe people wouldn’t feel like they’re missing something from their lives because they aren’t dating somebody, when they already have plenty of people they love.