You can’t go breaking this heart
I have never been in love. As someone who identifies as aromantic, this doesn’t bother me. And, perhaps more importantly, it does not stop me from enjoying love songs, even when I don’t relate to them. Though if I choose to look closer at the lyrics, they will confuse me. Using ‘Break My Heart’ by Dua Lipa (one of my current favourites), I’m going to have a good hard look at the lyrics and explore the difference an aromantic perspective can make.
But before I get into that, a few definitions. Aromantic is an umbrella term, referring to romantic orientation defined by a lack of romantic attraction. For me, so far, it means I don’t fall in love – and frankly, I wouldn’t know what it looked like if I did. However, aromanticism is also a spectrum, and does not automatically preclude someone from experiencing romantic love. For example, demi-romantic is an orientation included under this umbrella. People who identify this way generally only experience romantic attraction after forming an emotional connection with their partner (see here for some of the more common forms of aromanticism).
But! the song. ‘Break My Heart’ is an absolute bop and I frankly need to stop listening to it because it’s going to be stuck in my head forever now. The chorus has a line that immediately stands out to me, more so than anything in the first verse or two: “but when you said hello, I knew it was the end of it all”.
I have to ask, is it really like that? Do people just hear someone say hello and fall in love? Are they falling in love with a person or a voice? And if not, is it really possible to fall in love with someone at first sight? And how do you know it’s love and not just ‘this person is cool?’ To add to my confusion, consider this lyric in the second verse: “You say my name like I have never heard before”. To me this strongly implies it is possible to fall in love with someone simply because they said your name a certain way.
First of all, no. Second of all, I’ve had my name said in many ways I’ve never heard before but it usually doesn’t lead to me thinking I’m falling in love. I know Dua Lipa doesn’t explicitly say this is the reason for falling in love but that doesn’t make it any less weird.
And it’s not just this song. In ‘Nobody Like You’, Vera Blue sings “I always catch feelings too fast”, and in ‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift, “Oh my God, look at that face / You look like my next mistake.” From just these few songs, it seems like speed is a prominent characteristic of falling in love. In this I find a societal expectation to fall in love fast, and feel pressured to go for the first person I have feelings for. A prominent example in my memory is from a primary school camp, maybe from year five? In our girls-only tent (of course), I was asked which guy in our class I had a crush on.
I didn’t have an answer. I froze, not knowing what to say. Eventually I just said the name of one guy I knew, but it was forced and in no way related to any form of recognisable love. They accepted it and went on to other subjects (but not before asking why I thought he was cute…). As I’ve moved on, I’ve seen similar things, though perhaps less overt. People in high school talking about dating, or my friends teasing me about why I hadn’t yet been on a date with one of my (at the time) closest friends. And now, at uni, I find myself confused and even scared. People are still dating and more than that, people are getting married. Do they expect me to be like them too? Do they expect me to talk about love, or to search for a romantic partner? Do they think of me strangely when I say I don’t want to get married, or don’t want to find someone?
Nevertheless, I suspect I am lucky. Despite these fears, my family is accepting of my lack of interest in romantic relationships, as are my core group of friends – although I have fended off a few date requests.
And I don’t think I’m missing out. I still feel affection. I can still form deep emotional connections and close friendships that, according to my social media scrolling, I’m not really expected to have. But I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel a need to search for someone to love romantically because I’ve got enough right where I am.
Finally, there’s one more thing I want to say. I do not experience romantic attraction. However, this takes nothing away from those who do fall in love and for those who do, I genuinely hope you are happy. But me?
I’m happy right where I am. I just… don’t fall in love.