No, We Aren't Dating, and Yes, You Need to Stop Asking

I’m a girl. My future roommate is a boy. Before you ask; we aren’t dating.

Believe it or not, despite the fact that we’ve never shown romantic interest towards each other, we get this question a lot. Frankly, it’s getting annoying.

There’s this idea in our culture that boys and girls can’t be friends without something romantic developing between the two of them. This stems from a cultural wide practice of heteronormativity, or the automatic assumption that everyone, everywhere is straight. This expectation- that my friend and I would obviously fall in love solely because of our genders- is an outdated and ridiculous expectation. You most likely wouldn’t hear gasps of shock if I were moving in with one of my best girlfriends because, again, it would be automatically assumed neither of us have romantic feelings for each other.

I have intentionally not told certain relatives and adults in my life about my living situation next year for the sole reason that I know they wouldn’t approve of my choice. Even if I explained to them that absolutely nothing romantic was going on between me and my roommate, they would still believe a sexual relationship would eventually occur. In their eyes, it is sinful to live together as a man and a woman before being married, and so they could never accept my decision to live with someone who wasn’t a female.   

Growing up in this world, we are constantly taught men and women can’t be just friends. From early ages we consume media that shows an abundance of heterosexual love and not much of anything else.  Any friendship that develops between a girl and boy is quickly met with “Awww, maybe they’ll date one day!” or “Let’s see how long before they kiss” no matter the ages of the children in question. Let me make something clear; teaching children that any relationship between a girl and boy has to be romantic is extremely damaging. Not only does it stigmatize those who are not straight, but it also puts a barrier between two people just having a friendship together. There’s no need to make people feel uncomfortable because of who they choose to be friends with, whether that be a boy, girl or someone else on the gender spectrum.

I love my future roommate dearly- just not in a romantic way. I’ve had enough of society telling me I should feel otherwise. It’s 2017. Girls can be friends with boys and not contract cooties; it’s time to grow up.