This is a post written for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces. I believe it is just the first post I will be writing for this month’s Carnival topic (“Relationship Stages”), but time will tell if I actually do write any of my other ideas.
If you want a specific kind of relationship, how do you go about looking for someone(s) to develop that kind of relationship with?
Do you go looking to start a specific relationship intentionally or do you wait to see if it happens serendipitously?
Do you start off with an ideal image of your relationship member(s) or are you just open to seeing what works?
Life works in mysterious ways. I’ve generally been the kind of person who just lets life happen to her. At least, it’s sort of how I perceive myself. All 4 years away at college and not a single truly close friendship was formed, I just let myself get assigned random roommates each time.
I tried asking a guy to junior prom when I was 17-years-old, but both before and after that one instance (where he turned me down) since guys (and people of any other gender) didn’t ever ask me out, I didn’t ever go out on a date.
Heck I just let the world decide for me that I was straight. Didn’t even really question it, even when it was so clearly (in retrospect) not true.
When I decided, after graduating from college, with some prompting from my brother and his girlfriend, to try online dating… yeah, I wanted a specific type of relationship, and I went out looking for it on OkCupid, at first, and later at an even worse site too. I tried hard to present myself in the best possible light and I had a ton of “dealbreakers” in the way I answered those OkCupid questions… so ultimately I was very picky. I even broke social norms and messaged a few guys, the ones that really I thought I had a chance of liking if I met them. But most of them didn’t reply, and honestly, I was doing it more out of feeling like I needed to date someone to not be seen as a social failure rather than because of any intrinsic drive, so before long I fell back into my pattern. Letting life happen to me. Thinking about it only when a guy messaged me. Feeling wishy washy about if I should go out with each guy, not wanting to be too critical OR not critical enough of their profiles and the places we didn’t match.
(OKCupid questions were a weird experience for a pre-identifying as asexual me. I was suddenly forced to face so many truths about myself, answer questions about how I’d feel if a partner got jealous, or how soon I’d be willing to have sex after beginning a relationship, etc, things I really didn’t know yet, being so completely inexperienced.)
Serendipity didn’t feel like an option at all for me, as it hadn’t been working thus far, and I liked the control, and the distance, and the weeding out of guys that online dating gave me. I liked being able to be matched up with someone for objectively sensible “Reasons” for compatibility. (Maybe that was the aromantic asexual in me. Being so confused by what usually drew people together that I liked the structured format of being told by a website with an algorithm “you two should try dating”.) I also really liked that everyone on the site was there for the same reason, or at least for very explicitly stated up front reasons. You could know beforehand that they were looking to date, before making a fool of yourself and asking out someone who might, for instance, be taken.
“Do you start off with an ideal image of your relationship member(s) or are you just open to seeing what works?”
I honestly didn’t care about what the guys I dated looked like, and after my first bad kiss with a guy who I suppose was not conventionally attractive, and the second guy apologizing for lying about his (in truth extra short) height on the site, I realized maybe I could be asexual for having absolutely no preconceived “image” in my mind, that the word (“asexual”) which I barely knew what it meant might apply to me, because weren’t girls supposed to have a “type”, to have a preference, to care about these things? Weren’t the pictures they provided supposed to be important?
But you know what I did have in mind as I answered those OKCupid questions about having children and “Does it matter to you that your child be the same race as you” and questions I ended up mismatching with on a scary number of racist, homophobic, etc men about my age…
I knew, down the line, that I wanted to foster and/or adopt a kid who was quite likely going to be a different race than me (given the demographics of who needs to be adopted in my part of the country), and I didn’t want the race to matter…
I had a strong image in my mind of that fact being important, as well as the importance of them having similar beliefs as me in terms of all sorts of things that would affect raising a child (like religion/atheism)…
But it was more a “someday” kind of thought. The bigger image I had in my mind for the moment was that this would maybe NOT be a guy I spent the rest of my life with, but I wanted the first person I called a boyfriend to be patient with me and understanding and not expect sex before I was ready.
And so that’s who I found. A guy who wasn’t sure if he even wanted kids, and that alone was enough for me to know our time was limited.
Still, our relationship had stages. I think relationship stages are useful for looking back on a relationship that has ended and sussing out when each thing happened. There was the excitement of how much we really really liked each other that we messaged back and forth and then texted for hours, that we lived in the same town for once, that we’d both been on previous failed OkCupid dates, and that we had enough in common to want our first date to be a matinnee weekend movie in order to save money — a cute animated movie, at that. 😛
There was the awkward stage after our first kiss when some of that happiness immediately dissipated, because I felt exactly the same way about kissing him as the first guy I’d tried kissing. Namely, so lackluster we probably both knew our relationship was doomed, and I started telling him I might be asexual.
There was the comfortable contentment of the majority of our romance, where we basically were super close friends where he was falling in love with me and sexually interested in me, and I was both trying to feel those things back and also preparing myself for our time to be limited and my truth to turn out to probably be that I would never feel anything sexual. Period.
Flashforward a few years, and I know what kind of queerplatonic partner I want. I plan to wait a few years to start seeking out said partner, though, partially because I’ve been going to my local asexual meetup group for a while and forming some close friendships with some seemingly very happy and decidedly childfree folks. I imagine it will be impossible for this kind of potential co-parenting partner to “just happen”, to evolve out of a friendship I already have with someone. My non-ace friends are all female and all too heterosexual for this kind of life with ME (another woman), and my ace-friends are all too content being childfree. When I’m ready, when I have a more stable career and some money saved, when I’m no longer living with my dad and brother, when it’s the right time to find the person, I will seek them out on online dating sites, possibly places that cater to unusual specific desires or to asexuals, I will make it clear I’m not looking for a romance or for sex but rather for a co-parent to a not-yet adopted child, and see what happens. I will even consider creating a site for people looking to form these types of queerplatonic or otherwise nontraditional bonds if I have to.
But then, my plan is thrown off, because all of a sudden, I meet this guy, and life is happening to me again. He’s new to the ace meetup group and he is fun to talk to and hang out with and watch all the Star Wars films with (since we’d both never seen any of them before) and he says to me what I’ve already been thinking as we discuss what we want for our (separate, hypothetical) futures — we seem to want a lot of the same things. The important things like exactly the way we imagined having kids and how we always thought they wouldn’t be biological, even long before we knew we were ace. And I worry he wants me to become his queerplatonic partner, but it’s too soon, we’re just getting to know each other, so before he gets a chance to ask it, I’ve already told him that I need to figure out what part of the country I’ll really be living in and find a stable job and make some money before I can really consider the queerplatonic partner side of it all, and I cut it off at its knees, and I regret it almost immediately, because it’s all spoken about as if it doesn’t directly affect US and OUR relationship, and now neither one of us will say anything, we’re just… we’re just really close friends now, who are getting closer all the time.
And I tell my cousin at Christmas that it almost feels like the beginning stages of “dating”, that even if we haven’t said it I feel like we’re both thinking it, that maybe we’re almost (kind of) (could be) each other’s queerplatonic partners, I tell my cousin what the word means, and it’s new and exciting and I just really love hanging out with him, and I still feel like any second now it’s all going to be ruined, I’m going to say the wrong thing or alienate him some way and my close friendship with him will be a brief blip on the story of my life. And I have other friends, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I lost him, of course it wouldn’t, but somehow he texts me just the right amount about just the right things and it makes me smile still, he is everything I never knew I wanted, the exact definition of a serendipitous type of relationship, we were both already, by chance, not only in the ace meetup group but also in the atheist meetup group, we just “click” and we weren’t even looking for this kind of friendship, it just happened. And now we go to the atheist meetup group and Janet hears me talk about how we made our dish for the potluck together that night and she asks if this was a “love connection” formed out of the atheist meetup group. It’s hard not to laugh, but it also is hard not to feel like it’s partially true, like it’s the closest the two of us, two people who are not dating anymore, decidedly aromantic, will get to that kind of thing, so I blush. And she believes it’s true as I awkwardly try to deny it, and I swear it’s not what she thinks it is, and it’s funny she even thinks it is, because I’m somewhat out as asexual in that group, we both are, and the first time my brother met this guy he thought he gave off a “stereotypical gay” vibe, and he is more gay than straight, he thought he was gay for a long time… but here it is, it’s happening, and she seems to be one of the people in the atheist group to not know our orientations. That makes it feel so much more true, like we’re classic queerplatonic partners. The world thinking we’re dating. It’s already happening.
And then this Carnival of Aces happens, about relationship stages, and all I can think about is this new guy in my life, and are we at the stage I hope we’re at? The beginning of something amazing, the beginning of a partnership where we will be able to, one day, live together and foster or adopt kids together? The next stage would probably be having a conversation about it, but if the friendship fizzles, maybe this stage wasn’t a stage at all, but just the entirety of what our relationship ever was. It’s hard to say, at this point in my life, at this point in the relationship, where I don’t know if it will last, or not. Quite honestly, I don’t want to have too many hopes, dreams, and certainly not expectations. I want to shield myself from disappointment, so I’ve been doing it since day one. I’m trying to be logical and rational about this. We’re just friends, we’re just enjoying spending time together at the moment, and I don’t know where my life will lead me or his life will lead him. I want to be able to keep my options open, or to be happy for him with whatever happens. I want to be prepared for the unexpected, and for whatever happens or doesn’t happen in the future to not affect, too strongly, how much I enjoy what is happening in the here and now with this newly blossoming relationship.