This is the third and final part of a series of blog posts I’ve written (mainly belatedly) for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on the topic “Resiliency”. Please check out part 1 here, and part 2 here.
My queerplatonic partner broke up with me in June, a little over a month ago now, and I really thought I’d be able to write this post while it was still June. But for this post in particular, (part 3 of my mini-series…) I think the delay was partially because I needed more time to get over all my disappointment and sadness, to “grieve” if you want to call it that, and settle into being… Not “just” friends with him, but… Well I guess “friends-who-aren’t-partners”.
I just so happened to be an ace going through a break up during the course of the same month when the Carnival of Aces was themed around Resiliency. Of course. That would just be my luck, right?
I don’t know when the last time something brought me to tears to quite this degree was, and in some ways I’m really surprised by my own emotions. I actually cried on a few different occasions over this break up! I didn’t cry when I broke up with my only ever other boyfriend. In fact, it’s almost like what I experienced as a child here… I have at times over the course of letting this break up sink in for me felt a disconnect between what I actually “think” versus what I (subconsciously?) am/was feeling. But with time and more self-reflection, what I feel makes more sense, and it’s all very tied to my asexuality.
Many parts from the end of that post are still relevant to me and my life.
I wasn’t so sure I was that desperate to date anyone anyway. I felt like maybe I was actually more aromantic than I’d thought and I was just clinging onto being heteroromantic/romantic in some way because I’d been convinced for so many years that I was straight and would end up married with (hopefully adopted/foster) kids someday. I still desperately want that future, at least the parenting side of it, preferably with a co-parent to help me. I also don’t like the idea of living alone. The idea of a live-in queerplatonic partner – or multiple queerplatonic partners – sounds ideal to me. Especially ones that for whatever reason I can feel comfortable EXPECTING to respect my boundaries and wishes to never do anything sexual/never kiss. Whether that means they are ace spectrum too or just have their own sexual partner(s) who isn’t (aren’t) me or some other thing that has convinced me that they can be trusted.
But this year I took a risk and I let myself cautiously start to hope, and over time fell into truly expecting things about my relationship with Robert. I knew there was a risk for disappointment, and sure enough, I’m extremely disappointed now, in the kind of way many people are after a break up. I was looking forward to too many things – things that hurt to lose, even though I hadn’t had them yet/even though I only had them in my mind, in my imagined future. I was looking forward to a 9 hour road trip with him to attend a wedding earlier this month (July) and meet his family, and it hurt to be uninvited! But more strongly, it hurt to lose a partner who fit into my fantasies for what I wanted a partner to be for me so well. I didn’t even meet Robert for the first time until July 2015. In November 2014 when I wrote that post about expectations/disappointment, I said also:
But from a “partner” – I’d expect more of all of that. I’d expect more understanding and more time spent together, including actually looking at websites together, talking about my fanvideo editing extensively, discussing asexuality-related concepts in depth, more understanding of exactly what my mother is like, etc, etc. I’d also reciprocate and expect to enjoy spending a lot of time dealing with what is important to my partner. I’d be interested in discussing their life in depth. That’s part of what makes it a partnership, both of us doing it for each other. I’d expect them to want those same things from me. I’d expect them to have invested as much of themselves in our relationship as I have invested into it, and to respect that our relationship is important, not just important to me, but I’d expect it to BE important to both of us. That’s what’d make it something other than “just a typical friendship” in my life. I’d expect “breaking up” to be the only possible end (or well, one of our deaths) to the relationship, a significant moment of ending things, rather than it being possible for us to just slowly drift apart. I’d expect us to call each other “partners” or something similar, rather than simply “friends” – even “best friends” would maybe be okay, but something with weight behind it that would mesh with my expectation that our relationship would never end, or would only end under extreme circumstances.
Robert, somehow happened to end up providing all of that for me, and more. I didn’t feel like I had to compromise myself for him, I loved the parts of our relationship that surprised me, and I loved being the kinds of queerplatonic partners who barely ever touched and who didn’t need that from each other. I liked how safe and free I felt to be partnered with someone who explicitly was not attracted to me. I enjoy spending time with him so much, and I still do; that’s the complicated thing for me. Right before the break-up, I was just about realizing that maybe if I wasn’t “in love” with him, I had truly grown to love him and I was even thinking about whether or not it’d be appropriate to tell him that. I am really grateful he still wants to maintain our friendship, and that not being partners anymore doesn’t have to mean that all that much about what our current relationship was had to change.
But, since I suppose I am still hoping for a partner that gives me all of that one day and Robert seemed almost too good to be true, because I loved being partners with him so much…
Honestly possibly the first thing that came to my mind as I cried, a few hours after Robert had gone home and I was left to let our break up sink in, was this post: Other fish in the puddle: relationships, compromise, and being alone, which had resonated with me when I first read it. It resonates with me so much more now, but I probably re-read it a few times since it was first posted, since it was so easily accessible in my memory, so it was clearly an important piece to me.
The post starts off:
There is a non-zero chance that I will never again find anyone I want to date who is willing to date me.
I think it’s a bit telling that that was one of the first thoughts I had upon ending a 2 1/2+ year relationship last spring. Of course, I suppose that for any given person ending a relationship, the above statement could be true, but I think many aces (both romantically-inclined and not) feel especially acutely the constraints of their potential relationship pool.
And very poignantly later on says:
When your dating pool is small–and you’re not quite sure how small, but you know it’s small–you’re not worrying about meeting “The One” so much as you are about hanging onto Maybe The Only One You’ll Ever Have.
And most of my tears were because I couldn’t shake those feelings. I know non-aces feel this way after break-ups too – there’s a reason why one of Marianas Trench’s songs from their most recent album has as the main chorus the line, “What if the one true love’s the only love that you get?”. (Honestly I don’t relate to that song as a whole very much but it is a catchy tune haha…)
Mainly because I’m not (yet??) willing to compromise over the wanting to foster or adopt children part of my desires, and I’ve never met anyone else “in real life” (outside of the internet) other than Robert with whom I did see myself one day having the kind of future-relationship that I want-in-my-future, where we aren’t childfree nor do we have biological children. Where we don’t have a ton of cuddling as a big part of it.
According to this, especially when it comes to queerplatonic partnerships between two aro aces,
People don’t want to hear about the time that you and your partner misunderstood each other and someone got hurt and there was a lot of crying and you’re still trying to rebuild bridges. People don’t want to hear about how you tried to make that relationship work but you just weren’t compatible and everything wound up falling apart.
But here I am telling you about when it happened to me. Here I am saying that, unfortunately, I was surprised to learn that the wedding I had been really excited to attend with Robert, a portion of my excitement because of what it would signify about our relationship, he was dreading attending with me, because he didn’t like what he knew it would signify. I was surprised to learn that actually, he wanted to feel romantic feelings for me eventually, with time, over the course of our relationship – he was expecting to feel “more” by the then, butterflies or something, when for me part of what I loved about our relationship was the comfort and safety of knowing that we both didn’t feel those feelings for each other and knowing that we wouldn’t. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that he didn’t see a future between us, didn’t see us one day, say, living together, because my mind had, conversely, started to play with a few of those images, and I, conversely, really could see a glimpse of that future.
People want to hear happy stories about how you were lonely but then you found your ace partner/QPP/platonic partner/best friend, and suddenly everything was unicorns and rainbows!
I hated that even when our relationship felt, to me, as close to “unicorns and rainbows” as I really ever dared to dream, it still didn’t end up working out, and the two of us still ended up being incompatible, because Robert realized he is more comfortable living a nonamorous life – that he prefers to have multiple friendships that are relatively equal instead of one special partner. I told him this made sense to me. I do appreciate his perspective and actually think I’ve seen a lot of aromantic aces feel similarly as him.
I have started to feel a bit frustrated that the surprisingly not-that-tiny number of fairly close friendships I’ve made in meatspace with other aces pretty much all have at least one thing that means we’d be incompatible for what we want out of a long-term partnership (like children), or the person doesn’t want a partnership at all (and this latter subgroup now includes Robert too). I value each and every one of these friendships, but in the back of my mind I see my dating pool – my dating puddle – shrinking. And that can be painful as it happens. I am frustrated at the (so far, almost entirely female subset of) aces who don’t explicitly tell me their romantic orientation (if they even have one) but who, after I’ve just started to flirt-with-the-notion-in-my-head that maybe they could be a potential partner for me one day, they casually mention how they would only see themselves pairing with a man one day. I feel frustrated at a lot of things, honestly.
My dream for my future is complex, and evolving, and I’m learning to be resilient in the face of these new challenges. I feel that I have now, a month later, fully “Bounced back” from my break up and Robert&I perhaps are still settling into our new normal, but I’m grateful to be able to still have him in my life as one of my friends. I have been growing closer with a number of friends within only the past few weeks, and feel surprisingly social and extremely supported by quite a network of kind people.
Even if my latter two posts in this three-part series came way late, I’m really happy that the previous month’s Carnival of Aces inspired me to write about how resiliency and asexuality overlap for me, personally.
P.S. I still have hopes that Robert and I can answer the Ask Us Anything about our relationship. 😛 I still have plans to try to make that happen. Of course we only got like 2 questions total so we may need to be creative about how we do that…