Non-Romantic Love: Beautiful and Valid
February 10, 2023
Eri Ikezawa (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
Growing up, I remember love stories playing out through all manners of media—boy meets girl, they fall in love, they encounter trials and tribulations, but ultimately, love triumphs. There are variations, of course, but the recipe for this lauded love story only changes by a pinch more angst and a tablespoon less cliched resolution—not to mention the dire lack of LGBTQ+ and ethnic representation throughout these stories.
We have come a long way since then, thanks to a societal progression that I feel profoundly privileged to witness, but we also still have more to accomplish—and more marginalized communities to represent. It is heartwarming to see love stories including same sex or interracial couples—especially as a mixed child who’d been searching for depictions of couples like my parents in my youth.
Now, there is an area I still think society could still stand to represent and appreciate more—the importance of love in non-romantic form. Whether it is familial love, platonic love, or the love of a pet, all of these forms of love are often overshadowed and undermined in the shadow of romance.
I would like to clarify that I absolutely am not trying to whittle away the significance of romantic love and relationships in the lives of people—but there are many shapes of love that deserve the spotlight as well. Through emphasizing these other types of love, we—as a society—would also be giving comfort to those on the asexual spectrum.
Even for me now, being single from my mid-twenties to the present time, I occasionally find myself feeling insecure and worried about my (lack of) relationship status. But not because I’m inherently concerned—rather, it is the effect of years of societal conditioning and implicit pressure from peers.
There are intermittent moments where I question if there’s something wrong with me or if I should actively be searching for someone before I realize that the voice in my head doesn’t even belong to me. I never feel empty, lonely, or small without a significant other.
And so, as a person who doesn’t put an extreme stock into romance—having no ambition to have children nor being particularly invested in the idea of marriage—I do occasionally wish society and media would demonstrate the same reverence for platonic and familial bonds. Between my close bonds with my family (and pet) and the deep adoration I have for my friends—my chosen family—I have never felt like I have been missing out being a single woman.
I think the pressure oftentimes is infinitely worse for women, heralding women for being mothers and wives, while there is a tacit stigma behind being involuntarily (or voluntarily) childless and unmarried. On the other hand, single men are often viewed as playboys or “silver foxes”—but I digress.
The point is, when I look at the impregnable pillars in my life, from my doting father to my composed mother and to all my reliable, honest friends, I feel so deeply and so strongly that I simply feel fulfilled with all the emotional riches and sentimental wealth I’m blessed with. From my perspective, I truly value my independence to the point where I feel like if a romantic relationship is impeding on my happiness rather than meaningfully contributing to it, I would much rather be alone than wasting energy and making pointless compromises.
None of this is to demonize or disparage people who deeply desire a romantic connection—I simply think society would benefit from focusing on other sources of happiness as well. The steadfast, unwavering support from a friend is just as meaningful to many people as the romantic relationships.
There is even the argument to make that we expect friendships to outlast romantic relationships. That is, people enter relationships knowing that—however improbable or miniscule—there is a possibility that they might part ways with their significant other at some point. People tend to implicitly trust that their long-standing friendships will be lasting and enduring. If this is the case, why don’t we showcase the significance of our friendships in media as often?
The reality is we should be able to decide what we prioritize as being sacred to us—without social or media scrutiny. Although I am never offended, I always do find it wryly entertaining when people ask me why I don’t have a partner at this stage in my life. I can’t help but think, why does it matter? Why do I need one? And if I’m not worried about it, then why are you?
Honestly, the way I look at it, I am currently so focused on accomplishing what I want out of life—I find every personal triumph as an internal accolade, further developing my self-esteem and sense of self. I also profoundly understand that I need my happiness to come from within—I don’t want to outsource contentment and joy, finding a home in someone else.
I believe that if it happens, it will. And if it doesn’t? Well, even now, I am happy with myself and the kind of person I have turned out to be to the point where I fully recognize that my value and worth—especially as a woman—doesn’t come from my relationship status or whether I am a mother. It never has and never will—whether society as a large chooses to acknowledge that is not my problem.
With all this being said, I would like to reiterate again, it is not my goal to mitigate the importance of romantic relationships in any capacity. But it is undeniable that these are the relationships that tend to both take the most precedence in people’s lives and be the primary focus of a lot of media content.
I think if people understood and saw that other sources of love can significantly contribute to a fulfilling life, people wouldn’t berate themselves or be scared of “being alone.” Even if you don’t have a romantic partner, as long as you have other balusters in your life, you are—truly—never alone in life.
My name is Eri Ikezawa and I have an extended minor in psychology and a major in linguistics. I’m still on the path to quelling questions about myself and the direction I want to head in, but in the meantime, I have always wanted to find a way to help others and contribute to a community dedicated to personal development and self-love.
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