Asexuality and the Rules to Happiness, a guest post by Amanda DeWitt
From a young age, society tells us what the path to happiness is: fall in love, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. So when you don’t fit the mold, it sure sounds like society is saying that if you don’t do these things, you won’t be happy.
Not in so many words, but it’s the message all over the books we read and the movies we watch, especially when you’re still trying to figure out what you want, these messages are telling you what you should want. It’s a struggle a lot of queer people deal with, and being asexual or aromantic can add its own layer of complications to it. What do you do if you can’t check all the boxes society tells you you need in order to be happy? What if you don’t want to?
For asexual people who do have romantic attraction, they also have to wonder: what if I want this, but no one wants me?
Because you can be both asexual and interested in romance, the same way you can be both aromantic and interested in sexual relationships, or be asexual and aromantic all at once. It’s a huge spectrum, one that delves into the wonderful nuances of human relationships, but a lot of people aren’t aware that it exists. Not out of malice, but because the messages we’re sold and the stories we’re seeing that strive to break the human experience into boxes it wants us to fit into.
When I started writing stories about asexual characters, I decided that I wanted to write about characters who were asexual, but not about their asexuality. I wanted to write fun stories for asexual or questioning readers more than an educational tool for those that don’t know much about it. It was with that in mind, that I decided to write a romcom with an asexual main character, both to write a fun story and to push back against the idea that romance is something asexual people can’t have, or can only have with asterisks attached to it.
In Wren Martin Ruins It All, Wren knows and is comfortable with the fact that he’s asexual—it’s just the rest of the world’s perspective that’s the problem. It’s the obsession with dating and the assumption of sex, one that has made him swear off dating, because he refuses to have his asexuality be the deal breaker for someone being in a relationship with him. Behind that is a lot of frustration I’ve felt toward the way asexual relationships are discussed. I remember once, years ago, my friend excitedly telling me about an asexual character he read in a book, and how at the end the two characters had decided they were incompatible and had broken up. He didn’t understand why that left a bad taste in my mouth—why can’t an asexual character have a romance with a happy ending? That might happen in real life, sure, all relationships are unique, but we already know that. What’s the point in representation that only reinforces anxieties that asexual people already deal with?
Wren does have those anxieties, even if he tries to ignore them, because he does experience romantic feelings despite his best efforts, and throughout the course of the book (and with the help of an anonymous app) they sneak up on him. While Wren deals with a lot of ups and downs and decisions about who he is and who he wants to be, his asexuality is never an obstacle in his relationships or something he feels like he needs to compromise on.
The best part about writing asexual stories is the wide range of amazing people I’ve been able to meet and talk to, and through that community I’ve been able to see so many different experiences with asexuality. I didn’t have those things as a kid—especially when I was growing up we didn’t have even half the amount of books with asexual characters that we have now. Instead, I had those same messages about the way your life, your relationships, and your happiness are supposed to be. It’ll always be important to me to write stories that tell the truth: there is no should, there is no supposed to, and there are no rules to happiness.
Meet the author
Working in a public library by day and writing books at all hours, Amanda DeWitt is always surrounded by books. When she’s not writing, she enjoys drawing, Dungeons & Dragon-ing, and also writing, just not whatever it is she really should be writing. When she is writing, she’s always looking to try something new—but anything funny is a good bet. She holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.
Amanda lives in Denver, Colorado with her two dogs and a tiny cat. She’s represented by Cate Hart at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.
About Wren Martin Ruins It All
From the author of Aces Wild: A Heist comes a hilarious and compassionate romantic comedy for fans of Casey McQuiston and Netflix’s Love is Blind!
“My mouth still hurts from all the smiling.”—Sonora Reyes, National Book Award Finalist
Now that Wren Martin is student council president (on a technicality, but hey, it counts) he’s going to fix Rapture High. His first order of business: abolish the school’s annual Valentine’s Day dance, a drain on the school’s resources and general social nightmare—especially when you’re asexual.
His greatest opponent: Leo Reyes, vice president and all-around annoyingly perfect student. Leo has a solution to Wren’s budget problem—a sponsorship from Buddy, the anonymous “not a dating” app sweeping the nation. Now instead of a danceless senior year, Wren is in charge of the biggest dance Rapture High has ever seen. He’s even secretly signed up for the app. For research, of course.
But when Wren develops capital F-Feelings for his anonymous match, things spiral out of control. Wren decided a long time ago that dating while asexual wasn’t worth the hassle. With the big night rapidly approaching, he isn’t sure what will kill him first: the dance, his relationship drama, or the growing realization that Leo’s perfect life might not be so perfect after all.
In an unforgettably quippy and endearingly chaotic voice, narrator Wren Martin explores the complexities of falling in love while asexual.
Publisher: Peachtree Teen
Publication date: 11/07/2023
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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