For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Archive for October, 2010

Aromance and polyamory

Mage has just posted something about the intersection between polyamory and aromance, which, coincidentally, is what I was gearing myself up to write.

They talk about why friendship can have the same sorts of intimacy as an emotional affair, but without the judgement. It’s like a get-out clause in conventional monogamy, the poly-style steam vent without which the whole thing would certainly blow.
(It’s also, as a side-thought, often routed in heteronormativity. “My boyfriend can go out with his guy friends because men don’t form threatening relationships with other men”, “My girlfriend can do likewise, because even when girls do form relationships, they’re sexy and controllable.” Hence the gay best friend. Hence one of the reasons many people don’t want to date bisexuals (because they know they’d have to be jealous of everyone, thus allowing them no friends). It doesn’t work when you start to consider the real gender-sexuality smoosh.)

I don’t want to be one of those non-monogamous people who then decides monogamy is terrible and should be destroyed (but I’m allowed my tactless venting period, right? Like snotty new AVENites?). However, I don’t think I’m stretching my luck when I say- It’s impossible to get all your intimacy from one person.

Monogamy is going to have to struggle with that fact. Doesn’t mean it can’t survive (as Mage calls it, ‘monoamory’), but it can’t pretend otherwise. When it comes to intimacy, humans will always be sluts.

I think polyamory and aromance have a lot to offer each other. And not in a theoretical, we can both learn things, kinda way. In a practical, “Hey, Poly, wanna hook up?” “Sure, Asexy, prepare to be cuddled harder than ever before” kinda way.

It seemed weird to me, first pondering this, that the answer to ‘I can’t have one romantic relationship’ would be ‘have several’. But there’s two very important points about polyamorous people.

Firstly, as a group, they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about relationships, figuring out why the relationship structure they saw around them didn’t work for them. They’re going to sympathise, if you can spin it right.

Secondly, they’re less keen on this idea that intimacy has to look a certain way, and all come from the same person. That means you’re more likely to get a tailor-made relationship with exactly the kind of intimacies you both want, and both of you having the freedom to look elsewhere to fulfil your remaining intimacies.

At the end of the day, a monogamous person who hopes to find the one and have a traditional relationship with them can never be more than ‘just friends’ with poor old Asexy. You can break the occasional small friendship boundary, you can commit to each other and look after each other more than normal, but they’re always going to be holding a little bundle of intimacies out ready for Mr. Right.

What you need, my dear, (he says, giving out fake advice to an imaginary person who is clearly actually himself, somewhere in the depths of the internet) is something queerer. Someone who won’t bind you up with ‘just friends’.

Another awesome plus is the visibility. If you reject the relationship binary and then hang out with people who haven’t, then you’re never going to be read as anything but friends. In the same way that asexuals aren’t assumed to be asexual, they’re just assumed to be single. Whereas if you create interesting relationships, that gives you the ability to subtly indicate to your corner of the world that stepping outside the binary is possible. And, as David Jay would say, it also gives you something to gossip about.

Get me off this tiger

I want out. Yeah, the hard way’s more rewarding if you survive it, but I really fucking want the easy way. Because we are the first, and we have no idea if that elusive milk-and-honey land that we’ve been telling each other about actually exists. Because we’re deluded fools on a ship bound to nowhere. Because I’ve been swimming against the tide for a few months now, and I’m starting to feel like I’m drowning. Because I can’t imagine how I could live my life like this.

And it’s true, only a few hours ago, I was feeling happier about this than I have done in weeks, talking to a friend who really genuinely gets where I’m coming from. And it’s true, I’m blaming aromanticism for completely other issues, screaming at myself that it’s my identity to blame rather than confronting what’s really going on. Yes, I have a crush that’s becoming unignorable. Yes, I have no idea how I’d ever translate that into any sort of mutually beneficial relationship without my aromanticism flaring up. Yes, it kills me to see him go home with another guy. But it’s more a standard story of unrequited love. If he really liked me, we could work something out. It’s the fact that he doesn’t like me (after, I should point out, spending almost no time with me socially) that makes all my old insecurities come screeching back with “YOU’RE DULL! YOU’LL NEVER BE AN INTERESTING PERSON!” Which, I should probably mention, is where a lot of my fears about aromanticism truly originate.

But sometimes you just need to rant, and lately, this blog has been nothing more than a place I can scream. And scream.

Construction will come tomorrow. And I mean actual construction, not this crappy, fake ‘blame it on the identity’ thing. I mean actually what’s bothering me, and why, and what I can do about it.

For now, just remember that feelings make you stronger. Remember that feeling you had as you were leaving and you shook your crush’s partner’s hand, staring into his face and wishing him a good night, smiling.

That’s a new one.

An explanation, if not an apology

Here’s where I actually spend just a little bit of time doing more than wailing at a computer screen. I can do that, you know. I keep a blog so I can join the exciting asexy discourse, not so I can go “WAAAAA, I HAVE NO FRIENDS, EVEN THOUGH I ACTUALLY HAVE A HANDFUL ALREADY AND HAVE ONLY BEEN HERE THREE WEEKS, WAA!”

Thought number one- this is exactly why I don’t want to join the LGBT. If I was proud and asexual, I would demand acceptance, but I’m not. I really hate that questioning implies ‘straight, maybe bi/gay’, possibly ‘cis, maybe trans’, and can never mean ‘asexual, maybe whatever’. So for now, I want to lick my wounds and concentrate on how to actually negotiate my sexuality, not just all the idiots who want to use it as their political victim. Screw them.

I want to explain my last two posts to you. Some of you may already know exactly where I’m coming from, but it’s those people I need to address most of all.
I don’t know what aromantic means. Romantic attraction as a concept seems nebulous to me. I don’t know if I am aromantic through and through or if I’m just too cynical, but this fact remains:
I am almost sure that I could not happily be in a standard romantic relationship.

That’s not to say I couldn’t have a relationship with the exact same structure as a romantic relationship, from the handholding and the kissing to the long-term living together and babies prospects. But each of these would have to be genuinely negotiated to be what we, as a couple (or triad, etc), thought was truly best for us.
I couldn’t pick a partner, do the wooing, buy flowers on valentine’s day and spend years being their ‘person-who-makes-me-not-single’ while they are mine. Literally could not do that, without living a huge and destructive lie.

What I have here is potential. I can tailor-make truly exceptional relationships. I can live by David Jay’s new guides, rip up the rulebook and really make things happen.

But there’s a lot that you miss when you give up romance. A lot that you don’t realise until you’re in that position. Sometimes, I think of romantic relationships as celebrated kidnappings, holding just one person in the crowds and making your needs their responsibility (see what I mean about cynical). Which is sort of… irresponsible. Especially if you then abuse that by expecting and assuming left, right and centre and never communicating. Your needs are your own. Deal with them.

That’s what I’m doing. Every need, out into the light, figuring out how to meet it. And it’s scary. I’m scared. I can see why people don’t do this if they have a choice.

I wish I had a choice.

So that’s why I talk about friends. Because they’re what’s important to me, friend relationships are my primary relationships. And I reckon this blog’s going to get seriously self-indulgent. I don’t know how long for. Stick around. Especially if you’re going through the same questions about romantic relationships as me. Learn with me.

That super-random last post- Part II

So the last post- a lot of where it came from was what I’ve been thinking about aromance recently. Thinking about friendships and relationships, and how I can create relationships which work for me. How I create relationships is fundamentally an asexual issue, and that’s… odd, when you’ve just abandoned the only label you’ve ever felt comfortable in and now you have a suuddenly decreased quality of relationships.

I’m not going to talk about relationships today. Instead, I’m going to talk about creation. I want to create something. Something interpersonal. It was a goal of mine already to figure out how to do that, and now it’s a need. For want of better words, a party, but not a party as such, because a load of strangers and loud music is the opposite of what I want. A gathering. A meeting of minds. Mostly, I want to create a space. A space in which I can be myself and relax.

And, for me, it’s big stakes. It’s not just the people I chat to in lunch breaks, friends mean everything to me and they will always mean everything to me. There is nothing more out there.

On the doorstep

I have a small group of friends, back home, that I used to hang out with. One of the best moments I remember was when we first started meeting outside of school. We went to one girl’s house, and someone assumed that their mother wouldn’t let us in. So we hung around outside the door for a while. A while turned into a little longer, people who had been standing sat on the doorstep and the pavement and eventually, her mother opened the door and said we were welcome to come in. We never got round to getting up.
We sat outside as evening fell. We sat outside, a circle of pale faces, and talked and talked into the darkness.

We never made that mistake again. We went round to that girl’s house every week and watched youtube videos and films, until her mother became too passive-aggressive and we started going round to mine. Where we watched films. And youtube videos.

One of the group understood. We used to go for walks, and we’d sit on the grass and talk and talk. One day, it threatened to rain as we were leaving. We only grabbed one, large umbrella. We sat on a bench as it started to rain. We huddled under the one umbrella. We watched the drifts of rain, the banks of clouds, the foggy lights of the city beneath us. We talked. Every time we tried to get up, the rain got worse. We sat down, and continued our conversation, deeper and deeper. We agreed- we were glad we had only brought one umbrella. It forced us closer.
Hours later, the rain stopped. The familiar world had become different, breathtaking. A beautiful, shared experience.

Within the last year, I’ve fallen in with a crowd who, I’ve just realised, have spoiled me rotten. They have this unspoken habit of finding some quiet room or garden in which to lounge- going to some event and then almost deliberately avoiding the actual event, just hanging out with the same old people in strange new places, as dusk falls, transfigures. As the dark draws in.

As the dark draws closer.

I was thinking, before I went to uni, about how to capture these moments, make them happen more often. And here- well, I’m in the middle of a sudden neurotic episode caused by the combination of my periodic “Oh god, I’m aromantic. How can I have the relationships I want while people won’t commit to me because we’re ‘just friends’” and the new “oh god, I need to go out and make some friends, but I’m incredibly ill with freshers flu.”

And every single event on the freshers week programme was in a nightclub, apart from the mother and baby group.

And the girl who’s likely to be my best uni friend hates walking even five minutes, which caused some tension today when I just needed go get out and stretch my legs, because that’s practically how I emote (I even wear holes in my hallway carpet).

And I just feel so scared that I won’t find anyone who does this thing of collecting moments, moments of non-conformity, of the elements, of coming together through the weird places you find yourself and the wonderful people you find yourself with.

And I just want to be back on that doorstep, on the corner of the street next to mine, as the light fades.

Quick post-freshers week update

Hi, all. Little internet access, so this’ll be short.

Apparently, the uni LGBT is both vaguely transphobic and probably asexophobes, too. I’ve not had any first-hand experience of them because I accidentally fell in with a small and awesome splinter cell who are much more accepting.

Also, I’ve decided not to label myself as asexual anymore. This decision happened more than a month ago, but I somehow never got round to writing the long-winded explaination. Basically, if the label fits, it’ll come back to me. However, I’m still aromantic, I’m getting more and more sure of that. So:
-I still feel like part of the asexual community.
-I should still have a lot to write on here. Whether and when I do depends on how busy my life is.

My society went out to a trans resources centre, and they had forms which actually had an asexual option on them! I ticked them, partly because asexual is the option I most identified with, and partly because I didn’t get a single asexual tickbox when I actually was asexual, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

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