My Conclusion About My Romantic Orientation

(oh look, I wrote something, who knew that would ever happen again?)

For the last few months, the idea of what my relationship is with “romance” has been on my mind, and in thinking about it a lot this summer, here’s what I’ve come up with about my (current) romantic orientation “label”.

I have now drifted into calling myself “quoiromantic” while previously I had been more inclined to go with “aromantic.” Aromantic might still in some sense be correct since I personally in real life have no interest in or desire for a personal romantic relationship, but what I want to focus on now is my understanding of relationships in general.

First of all, I have yet to actually understand what “romantic” is, how romantic love and relationships are defined against any and all other loves and relationships. And I’ve tried. I’ve done lots of mental gymnastics over the years and still I’ve got nothing except vague notions that seem to be taken for granted as universally understood, though they are certainly not and come packaged in all sorts of other social constructions that are just as deserving of deconstruction.

So, my thing is, I love relationships that are deeply intimate and based on mutual respect, trust, attraction (broadly defined), desire (also broadly defined), and intense empathy—seeing the partner experiencing joy brings joy to themselves, and the same is true for pain, sorrow, disappointment, excitement, etc. I love those relationships where they are so comfortable with each other that they just naturally share everything with each other without even thinking about it, where they feel so strongly for each other that they would do anything for each other, where they don’t even need to say anything because just being close to each other carries significance and its own language. That kind of intimacy—knowing each other like they know themselves, being the only ones who see each other’s every face, communicating openly and honestly and consistently, being the one each other relies on to be a better version of themselves, feeling like they would lose a part of their own soul if they lost the other—it seems like such a powerful, beautiful thing.*

But it’s not inherently “romantic”—not in my eyes.

To me, that kind of relationship can exist without “romantic” love (whatever that is) and certainly without anything having to do with sex.

Not meaning to get on religious terms here, but that kind of relationship has a more “spiritual” vibe to it, in the sense that it encompasses the heart and soul and mind and very identity of the people involved, and “romantic” and/or sexual dimensions don’t add or change the main dynamic of the relationship—that deeply ingrained intimacy. I’m not saying that romantic and/or sexual dimensions are bad, I’m saying that to me, having them doesn’t make the relationship any better or more loving or more intimate. To me, there’s nothing more intimate that that emotional intimacy of trust and respect and desire to just be together, so when I see that existing between two people, that feels like the climax, the ultimate height of their powerful bond, and I don’t interpret it as meaning that they are obviously romantically and/or sexually attracted to each other, or that that is the foundation leading to them becoming romantic and/or sexual.

I get the feeling that for a lot of people, when they are watching two people develop as a couple, they are waiting for that first kiss or that first declaration of “I love you” as a climactic moment, a milestone in the relationship. Again, I’m not saying those can’t be important or meaningful, but I am saying that for me, my focus is elsewhere: for me, the most climactic milestones are those moments when they first realize that they want to open up and share something with the other person that they’ve never told anyone else before, or they realize that because of their trust in this one other person they feel free to be a better person, or they realize that they don’t need to say anything in a particular moment because just by being together they can exchange powerful messages of love. Those moments carry so much more meaning for me than kissing or hand-holding or declarations of love. Those are the times when I know that they have a deeply intimate bond that is unique when compared to the bonds they have with anyone else in their lives. Those are the moments when I know they love each other deeply more than anyone else. Romantic and/or sexual stuff doesn’t do that for me so I don’t find it fulfilling or satisfying. I’m not “anti” those things (though of course as a sex-repulsed asexual I personally avoid sex stuff like the plague) but because I’m mired is a romance/sex-obsessed culture, I feel so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of romance/sex material both in canon and fandom that it just annoys me. If there was an actual balance of interest in diverse types of relationships then it wouldn’t be so bad, but if you look around you get the impression that the only kind of relationships anyone cares about or that are worth anything are romantic/sexual ones: if a relationship isn’t romantic and/or sexual, then it isn’t worth exploring.

But for me, even if a couple is romantic, I’m much more interested in exploring their intimacy and everything that goes into their relationship besides the romance (though again this is a tricky thing to say since again I don’t actually know what defines romance, but I say it this way because the things I’m interested in can exist in any relationship whether romantic or not so I’m going with the assumption that what I’m interested in isn’t what defines romance). And when I see a couple that is supposed to be romantic but I don’t see the kind of intimacy that makes a relationship attractive to me, then the couple doesn’t actually seem loving and so doesn’t interest/convince me.

I’ve heard the phrase come up several times in several different anime that I’ve watched lately “the most important person”/“taisetsu no mono” and I get the feeling that most people interpret this to mean the person the character in question has romantic feelings for. I don’t know if that is actually the connotation the Japanese is meant to have, but to me, this is not inherently romantic—for me, the most important person is my mom, and I definitely don’t have romantic feelings for her. I’ve seen characters who, for them, the most important person is their sibling (and without the sibling-romance thing going on). For others it’s their child. So my guess is that it doesn’t have an inherent romantic connotation in Japanese, either. I’m not saying it can’t or that the most important person can’t be the romantic love interest/partner, but again, it seems that whenever possible this gets interpreted as romantic and a sign that AHA these two are officially canon romantic! And that’s just not how my mind works. I basically have to be blatantly hit over the head with clear, explicit evidence in order to interpret two people as romantic because I don’t look for it otherwise. I don’t examine every scene looking for fodder for a romantic interpretation.

If the creators want me to believe two people love each other, they have to really make me believe it—and most of the time I just don’t believe the emotional journeys people go on that lead them to fall in love, probably because the things that happen between the two characters wouldn’t be nearly enough for me to fall in love with someone, so to my mind it seems forced and unrealistic even if it might actually be what does lead other people to fall in love. (Case in point, I despise love-hate relationships: I cannot understand falling/being in love with someone who annoys you or who you get angry at all the time or who is rude and callous toward you, but apparently this is a common thing??)

So, because I feel like such an outsider who can’t understand this mindset of looking for romance in any and every interaction, I’m going with the idea that I’m quoiromantic: the idea of romance does not compute for me and I find it irrelevant in my own interests regarding relationships and the dynamics between characters. For me to interpret characters as romantically involved, there basically needs to be a big flashing neon sign pointing at them saying “These are a romantic couple!!!” because otherwise all I’m doing is watching them and interpreting their level of intimacy based on the way they communicate, the level of trust and respect they have for each other, and whether they show a shared desire to be around each other and get to know each other at a uniquely deep level. I’m not repulsed by romance the way I am by sex, but personally I don’t find it an important or interesting aspect of intimate relationships so I don’t think about it, I don’t look for it, I get annoyed by how supersaturated culture is with it, and I purposely leave it out of most of my own fiction that I write for my own enjoyment.

*I don’t mean to say that they aren’t “whole” people without each other, as if they are each other’s half, more like they are supports for each other and that they have invested great portions of themselves into each other so that they are closely linked. I understand not liking the idea that you need another person to be whole or to live, but I also think there’s something beautiful in feeling like there is this one person in all the world who really really knows you and appreciates you and loves you and every little aspect about you.

**I say/focus on ONE person and on this kind of unique bond because as an introvert I like to limit the amount of relationships I have in general, so while I certainly agree that no type of love is or should be “more important” than any other and that there shouldn’t be a hierarchical conception of love, personally speaking I would only want one person to feel that intimate with otherwise I’d feel too stretched out.

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Health Status

It’s certainly been a while since I last put anything up here. The biggest reason for that would be I have pretty much effectively withdrawn from reality. My social interaction has gone down to the same levels they were in high school—which means I only really talk to people if it is absolutely necessary due to obligations to be at school (in this case, work). Otherwise I’m by myself at home wrapping myself in isolation and fantasy worlds. Because it’s just so hard being around people, having to maintain communication when I just really don’t want to, when it’s so much easier to be alone, when I’m so tired.

And that’s the biggest thing that’s been on my mind the last few days: how tired I am, how utterly exhausted I feel physically and mentally. I’ve been dealing with this off and on for years now, I’d say at least eight. And I feel like there just HAS to be something wrong with me—medically speaking. But no doctor has ever been able to come up with an answer. My blood and vitals and nutrient panels are always at normal levels. A cardiologist found nothing wrong with my heart after a 24 hour monitor was hooked up to me. I don’t have diabetes. I get plenty of sleep. I don’t think I eat poorly—at least I don’t eat any kind of “junk food.”

So then, why. Why am I so utterly drained so often? And why am I bloated so often? That’s the other thing I don’t understand. It seems no matter what I eat or when or in what combination, quite often I find myself feeling uncomfortably bloated and full during the day so it’s like I can feel my insides pushing up against my stomach and pushing acid up my throat. I don’t understand why this happens, and it’s super uncomfortable and unsettling—it doesn’t seem like it can be a good thing, and I’m worried about long-term consequences if this continues unchecked.

And now, in the last seven months, I’ve noticed that my menstrual cycle seems to have changed for some reason: I think I’m down to 21 days of not bleeding with 2-3 days of bleeding between. That’s not normal, right?? But my doctor said my blood count and iron were fine. She told me to go to see an OBGYN if it keeps going, but she didn’t seem too concerned ultimately. But today I noticed a tiny bit of blood, and I don’t know what to make of it. My period hasn’t actually started—and even if it had, that would have only been 17 days of not bleeding—so why would there be any blood down there? I’m just so anxious, because so much about my body doesn’t make any sense and I don’t know what to do about any of it, and I’m pretty much going through life day by day half convinced that I’m going to die at any second, and that I’ll die in my sleep, because whatever the fuck is going on in my body will finally cause everything to collapse.

It’s really hard to get motivated to do anything when I feel like I’m literally dying. What’s the point of getting started on anything that’s meant to take a long time if I’m genuinely worried that at any minute I could just fall down, my insides corroded and ruined by this mysterious condition. So instead of working on my dissertation or investing in any of my relationships, I hide away by myself and just try to race through as many anime as I can because I want to experience as many stories as I can in whatever amount of life I have left—I want to experience as much as possible, and the only way for me to do that is vicariously through characters in other worlds who actually CAN do all the things that I can’t. Real life is so boring compared to fiction, so I don’t feel motivated to invest myself in real life when there are no real experiential rewards to be gained. When I’m watching anime, I feel free and capable of anything, I’m only limited by my imagination, whereas in reality I’m limited by so much: laws—both human and natural—and my own body’s capabilities. And if I’m going to die soon, I don’t want to regret missing out on all the experiences still waiting for me in all the stories and worlds I haven’t visited yet because I chose to worry too much about whatever little things reality has to offer.

The highest potential here for me in real life is nothing compared to vast possibilities in fiction.

I am scared about dying alone where no one will find me for days, which is a distinct possibility considering how much time I spend by myself. I don’t want to die. I want to live a long life, I want to be healthy, I want to feel good physically and mentally, I want to have energy and be able to run around and do all the physical things I want to do. But I don’t know what’s wrong so I don’t know how to fix it, and I’m genuinely scared that I’m going to die any day now, and then I’ll just be gone, and I won’t be able to experience anything anymore—not real or fictional. I won’t have my consciousness anymore. I don’t want to lose my consciousness. I don’t want to disappear. I don’t want to not be able to experience things anymore. I’m scared. I’m really scared. I feel so helpless and lost. I hate not knowing. I hate not understanding.

I am going to see an OBGYN tomorrow morning. It’s my first time to see one, ever. I’ve never needed to because being a sex-repulsed asexual I have no need to worry about STIs, and I’ve never needed any birth control for any hormonal reasons, and I sure as hell don’t want anyone touching my area down there in any capacity so I pray to God that this doctor won’t need to do that, just thinking about it makes me nauseous. But I’m scared enough of this blood I saw and the change in my cycle that I’m going to give it a shot and see if they can come up with something.

God, I’m just so full of anxiety that I could cry. I hate my body so much, and not just because I hate how it looks, but it feels like everything about it is so fucked up and no one knows how or why. I feel like I wasn’t meant to enjoy real life, if this is the body I have. I was meant to be trapped by mysterious poor health and find ways to escape. But even if I can’t enjoy real life, I still want to be alive, because it’s only by being alive and conscious that I can enjoy my time spent alone in my imagination. If I die, I’ll lose that. If I could just know that I’m not dying, even if I still had to suffer these horrible, incapacitating symptoms, that would at least put my mind at ease while I’m suffering.

I just feel so depressed and anxious and scared and I needed to write this all out, since that’s how I process my own thoughts. And this is pretty much the only place I can post something like this, if I don’t want to just keep it as a Word document saved on my computer.

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Just Me Stuff

I’m terrible. Because I let my emotions rule me. I’d like to think I’m more rational, but one thing I’ve learned over the last two months especially is that I am very much at the whims of my emotions and current mood. And that makes me incredibly unreliable.

Unless my heart is in something, I lose interest in it. I get really excited about things, and in that moment it feels like I’m going to be excited about it forever–like there is no way I could ever lose interest–and then the excitements fades away, and then I feel awful. I feel like I’ve deflated. Like I’ve lost something.

And really, I have. I lost that high that made me feel so good and full of life.

And I rarely get something to replace it to keep me invested in the thing. There are some notable exceptions, and there are times when the initial excitement comes back–sometimes even in cycles–but as emotions are, it’s very unpredictable and uncontrollable. Even if I make a conscious effort to try to keep the excitement, I can almost feel it slipping from my fingers and there’s nothing I can do about it.

And then once it’s gone, I just can’t get motivated to stay invested in the thing the way I was when I was hyped up about it.

I let myself drift away from it because emotionally I just don’t have the right level of motivation even if logically, rationally, or practically, I know it’s a good thing and that I like it or that I should keep going with it.

That applies to everything: writing, music, projects, hobbies, activities, objects, and people.

I have way too many people in my life, and the bolder version of myself that I keep locked behind many layers of more presentable personality faces would very much like to just put out certain ultimatums to everyone, like, “If you vote Republican, stay the fuck away from me,” or if I’m feeling really ambitious about dropping people, “If you eat meat, I can’t talk to you anymore.”

Unfortunately, despite being as introverted and asocial as I am, I just am not good at setting up clear boundaries between me and other people. I go out of my way to be polite and friendly even if it makes me uncomfortable, and I can’t bear the thought of just telling someone straight up that I can’t take on any new relationships and so I’m sorry but we can’t be friends (at any level), or tell someone I already know that I have to disconnect from them now because I have gone beyond my maximum and need to get rid of relationships. I just let them linger, even though I’m not interested, even though I don’t have the energy to invest in them, even though they feel like a burden.

Because part of it is that, this is normal for them. Other people are used to just having loose relations with people, people they don’t talk to on a regular basis but they still feel connected with for whatever reason so they make an effort to stay in touch. Or it’s people they do see on some kind of regular basis so there is some kind of expectation that they connect in some way (Facebook, casual conversations as you pass each other, etc). It doesn’t feel like a burden to them to have those kinds of relationships. If it did, maybe I wouldn’t feel like a terrible person for wanting to cut off all ties to so many people, because then they would understand. But there’s this idea that because humans are “social animals” (as is the common expression) we must be happy to be social with anyone and everyone.

But I have almost zero natural inclination to be social, and when I do it’s for short bursts. I only need maybe 5-8 people in my life, maximum maybe 10. Other than that, I wish I was not bound to anyone, not bound in any social contract to be friendly or communicate beyond whatever is necessary to achieve a specific goal. It just gets to be too much for me, knowing that there are people out there who would start up a conversation with me if they saw me when all I want to do is be left alone when I’m minding my own business out in the world.

And even with those 5-10 people that I actually connect to, I’d still need a lot of alone time–mostly alone time.

I’m not good at commitment because of my unreliable emotions. Like I said at the start, I’m one of those people who makes decisions based on how I’m feeling, regardless of set plans or rational thought. And one reason why I think I’m probably better off with just a handful of human relationships is that I just don’t have much to offer other people: I’m not a good conversationalist, I’m not good for just “hanging out” or going out to do stuff, I don’t have resources that could be useful or enjoyable, I’m just a more or less isolated person who wants a very simple, low-key existence. So why would they want to connect with me anyway?

But they do. So I’m kind of stuck.

*when I say relationship, I mean in the broadest sense, as in any kind of general tie between two people

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What makes romance?

This post is my response to the Carnival of Aces prompt “Platonic Attraction

I was influenced in my thinking on the subject by The Thinking Aro’s posts about queerplatonic partnership and platonic love.

In starting to write on this subject, I knew my biggest problem that I would have to tackle for myself is, what makes love/attraction romantic instead of platonic (or, as TTA suggests, companionate, or as I’m going to use in this particular post, nonromantic)?

So far, in the few years that I have tried to figure out just what is romance/romantic attraction and how it differs from nonromantic love/attraction, I have not been able to come up with a satisfying answer. Some of the things I thought might be distinguishing qualities on further thought turn out to not be so unique. Like, going on dates, since you can have “dates” with anyone: friends, family members, roommates, whatever. Dates in and of themselves do not indicate romance. Well then, it’s got to be something about the dates, right? Ok, so maybe romantic dates are when you go get couples massages with oils and flowers petals all over the place and candles burning in the dimly lit room. But that seems like a pretty narrow way to define romance—too narrow to be useful, since in fact people are interpreting things as “romantic” all the time outside of such a narrow, specific construction.

Is romance, then, the level of excitement and passion that people feel? There’s lots of talk about being “madly in love” or being “crazy about” each other, so is romance that feeling of obsession and of getting all dreamy-eyed around the object of attraction? I don’t know, because I hear/see that nonromantic people still feel “passionate” attraction or feel passionately about people without it being romantic.

I also hear that in marriages, there’s the caution to not let the romance in the marriage die, and the advice they give is to do things like go on dates like before you got married, do gestures that show you still love your partner in that kind of giddy, infatuated, crush-like way. Now in that context, the assumption is that if there is no romance in the marriage, then the marriage itself is dead and empty, while aromantic marriages are loving, companionate, intimate, committed, and happy without romance. So do romantic couples feel like their marriage isn’t working if they can feel the same things that an aromantic couple feels for each other, including the lack of romance? Maybe that’s what leads some romantic people into affairs? When their marriage loses that romantic element, they look for it somewhere else?

But then again, is that romance they’re looking for, or passion and excitement as opposed to the steady, stable life they have developed with the partner they committed to?

And if romance is not synonymous with passion, then I’m still back to being at a loss as to what defines romantic and nonromantic love/attraction.

My current thinking is that possibly when distinguishing romantic and nonromantic, you have a lot of basic things in common like feelings of attraction (desire to be with the other), desire to know the other, desire to be desired by the other, intimacy (closeness and openness), desire to see the other person happy, trust and respect, a sense of vulnerability in that by caring for this person they can hurt you (intentionally or unintentionally) and you can be hurt by empathizing with them when they hurt, and maybe even a desire to live together and to take on major life projects together, and all of those feelings can be strong and deep and powerful—passionate. And then what they don’t have in common is the bubbly, sparkly, giddy sensation—that exciting, irrational, uncontrollable feeling that makes a person blush, sigh, lose focus, and get adrenaline pumping through them so that their heart races and their stomach flutters. With that feeling can come a desire to do a variety of things—like embrace, kiss, cuddle, do some kind of grand gesture—but those things are not exclusive to romance (they just get portrayed that way).

I think ideally that romantic feeling only adds to the base love that also characterizes nonromantic love, so that even if the romantic feelings faded away you would still be left with all the other good stuff. But I guess it is up to a person to decide whether that love is enough to make them want to stay in a committed partnership with a person without the romantic feeling. The problem is that that feeling is hyped up by society to be the end-all-be-all of partnered relationships, so it’s no wonder there is advice out there to keep the romance alive. People aren’t shown relationships being truly satisfying without it. They come to believe that it’s not a “real” relationship without it. If you don’t feel “crazy in love” with a person, then you aren’t a good match. If you “fall out of love” with someone, even if everything else in the relationship is good, then the relationship has failed.

I’m still not sure if I’m ready to call myself anything besides wtfromantic. I know I feel very strong romantic attraction to a handful of fictional characters, and I feel excited by watching other people be romantically in love, but I don’t feel any need or great desire to actually have romance personally, for myself (to feel romantic attraction to a real person or be romantically loved by a real person). And of course, that’s only assuming that everything I’ve just said is actually right when it comes to defining romantic love/attraction. Since I can’t say that it is, then I have to admit that I’m still unsure what makes something romantic. But in any case, the basic foundations that I think make love, whether it’s romantic or not, are more important than making/finding romance.

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January Carnival of Aces Collection

Well, it’s February! Which means that the January Carnival of Aces is done. Thank you to everyone who posted! I enjoyed reading everything and getting insight into other people’s experiences in, and ideas about, relationship stages.

Here are the links.

Ace of Swords wrote about their personal experience with unrequited romantic feelings, and their concluding statements about unrequited love NOT being tragic:
http://aceoswords.tumblr.com/post/136515003173/bonus-stage-unrequited

Sara wrote about letting relationships develop as they may rather than trying to start a specific relationship intentionally, given the lack of scripts and signals for the types of relationships they’re interested in:
https://thenoteswhichdonotfit.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/letting-relationships/

Thicket wrote down an example list of stages for a developing friendship, including the unpleasant parts:
http://thicketofcomplication.tumblr.com/post/136889835224/dating-to-friends-in-15-steps

luvtheheaven started off writing in Part 1 about her personal experience in trying to start up partner relationships online and compares the stages there with the stages of this new face-to-face relationship that has started up rather serendipitously:
https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/what-stage-of-a-friendship-am-i-even-in/

and then in Part 3 talks about relationships that don’t have stages—or at least not scripts and trajectories set out by cultural norms:
https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/relationships-that-lack-stages/

Siggy notes the distinction between talking about mechanical stages and emotional stages as a relationship develops, and also notes that there are multiple conflicting narratives regarding relationships which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to know what expectations he’s even counfounding as a gray-romantic ace:
https://atrivialknot.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/which-expectations-am-i-confounding/

I spent a lot of time just walking myself through my own experience with fantasy relationships and the difference between developing those versus a new real relationship:
https://kaleighzyx.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/early-emotional-stages/

Jo wrote a useful article on the concept of the Relationship Escalator in generally-accepted social norms and the effect is has on the way both asexual people and non-romantic relationships are understood and treated:
https://alifeunexamined.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/asexuality-and-the-relationship-escalator/

luvtheheaven, in Part 2, responded to Siggy and Jo by discussing how learning about general stages can be useful in some circumstances, but how generalizations don’t work for everybody—including in parenthood and for asexual people:
https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/stages-in-relationships/

Aqua describes their personal experience with a one-sided romantic relationship and the conflicting interpretations of the relationship’s stages:
https://cakeatthefortress.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/one-sided-relationships-in-relationship-limbo/

The February Carnival of Aces is being hosted by It’s An Ace Thing with the topic Platonic Attraction!

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Early Emotional Stages

So it’s late in the month, but I am finally getting around to writing on my own Carnival topic. Actually, I’m finally getting around to writing anything else at all since, what, December? Again, life has been super busy for me with lots of new projects going on, but I’ll save all that for a different time.

For now, I’m going to use this topic opportunity to think through my own personal experience in a relationship developing toward what could become, at some point, a (romantic*??) partnership.

First of all, in general, I am very happy being by myself, living alone, being single, with no one that I am responsible for or that I have to worry about having to be responsible for me. It makes me feel so much freer, at ease: my time is my own to do with as I will and I don’t have to feel bad about not giving someone the affection and attention they deserve as my partner (and that I would WANT to give them) because my introvert** nature is begging me to hide in my room and spend hours on end alone with no other living being’s energy clashing with my own in the same space.

It also means I can spend endless hours daydreaming, imagining, and writing my fanfiction, in which I fulfill all my greatest fantasies and desires for a deep, passionate, intimate, exclusive, and unique loving partnership with fictional characters that I absolutely love and adore—without feeling like I’m “cheating” or depriving my REAL partner of time and attention by spending it on these fanfictional relationships that I have invested so much of myself in.

I’ve mentioned my fanfiction and my love for fictional characters before, but really, I live vicariously through my writing. I get to have the best of both worlds, so to speak: the real one in which I get to be completely comfortable and secure in my single status with no pressures or responsibilities regarding relationships, and the imaginary one in which I get to enjoy all the wonderful, beautiful sensations of a relationship based on mutual desire, and any problems that occur are things that we want to overcome together, not conflicts that threaten the relationship itself.  “Perfection” in a relationship to me doesn’t mean being super happy all the time, it means knowing that you love the person and they love you and that you are both committed to surviving together through any troubles, respecting each other and relying on each other for support with open and honest communication, and knowing that no matter what neither of you is interested in—or would ever consider—leaving the relationship. Perfection, for me, is that absolute sense of security, and in that security feeling free to be exactly who you are without fear of loss or conflict. (and just to be clear, the relationships I write are indeed asexual)

Because reaching that kind and level of security takes time—time in 1) finding a person, 2) getting to know them, and 3) growing toward an intimate, loving relationship—and even with that time there’s no guarantee that you will actually reach that level, it’s scary to even think about entering into the process in real life, whereas in my writing, I can know without a doubt from the beginning that the relationship will go exactly the way I want it to, so even though my characters may feel unsure at first, I myself am in control and know that they will become “perfect” partners. And because I invest so much of my SELF into my writing, I can feel the emotions of my characters so viscerally and imagine the scenes so vividly that it does feel like I am really the one living it. I am the one in this perfect relationship. I am the one loving and being loved in return so passionately and with such commitment. Even when I’m not actively thinking about it, I’ll go through my day and an idea will pop into my head that I’ll have to write, or just the image of my love interest will pop into my head and I will get this goofy, giddy smile on my face just because the very thought of them makes me so happy.

It feels real to me, and yet I still am living in a life in my real body that is completely comfortable—I don’t have to worry about being touched in ways that I don’t like, or feel insecure about my body. Real single me is incredibly happy and free and yet is still able to feel the sheer joy of a “perfect” relationship because my imagination is that powerful.

And I’ve been in these fanfictional relationships for years, over 12 years, and they’re still going strong.

So what happens when a real person enters my life and I feel the spark of something—the spark of an attraction that seems similar to the love and desire I feel for these fictional characters?

It’s weird, and unsettling. It makes my life look potentially much more messy, which is unnerving. It’s this idea of making myself vulnerable to someone whose emotions and thoughts I can neither know nor control the way I can as a writer (to some extent at least—I can only control them within the range that is possible for them to stay “in character”). I am very controlling. I know this about myself. And I’m nosy, because I’m so interested in knowing a person’s backstory and motivations and desires, just as I am with fictional characters. So when my heart is drawn to a real person, it makes itself vulnerable to being hurt by loss and disappointment when things don’t pan out the way they would if the situation was under the control of my own imagination and will.

It’s scary. Being vulnerable, not in control, and in the dark. I don’t get involved with many real people in general because of how introverted I am, but I avoid close relationships especially also because I’m not good at not knowing what’s going on in the other person’s heart and mind and worrying that eventually, someday, maybe we’ll drift apart somehow. I have abandonment issues, I know this about myself as well, so the happiness I feel in the moment with someone is not enough to hold back or overcome the fear of what’s in the unknown future. So I depend on my writing to feel true security in a relationship. And furthermore, I only get attracted to someone (in the broadest sense) when I actually know them, so it makes sense why I would fall in love with a fictional person: I have much more insight to their character, mind, heart, motivation, and desires than I can have with a real person. I can know them deeply without having to go through any awkwardness in the effort of trying to get to know them or get close to them.

And yet, I am currently in some stage of a relationship with a wonderful person, a real person I met back around Halloween. He is, I think, the first person I have ever considered a potential person I could form a real partnership with. From the very beginning, it was clear we have a lot in common—in our interests, tastes, ethics, and temperaments/personalities. He is truly a sweet, considerate, thoughtful individual, and in some inexplicable, involuntary way I feel an attraction for him—I want to know more about him, spend time with him, and for him to feel the same way about me. We’ve communicated by sending each other long emails rather than texting or IMing, which I haven’t done with anyone for a very long time and I find it beautiful and unique among the other relationships I have. We’re reaching the end of the third month since we met and the sense of attraction and attachment I feel for him has grown at such an accelerated rate that I have never experienced before. Part of it, I’m sure, is due to just how much we have in common, which creates this sense of compatibility and relatability, but another part of it feels like something that I have no control over and that is happening in an irrational way. I don’t consider myself someone who quickly or easily gets attached to new people—it takes years for me to feel that level of comfort and ease and intimacy with someone (just a few exceptions to this exist). So I have felt very confused and weirded out by this development. It happened SO FAST, and it was SO STRONG. And the potential that was there made me SO HAPPY. I would wait excitedly for his next email, then read it with heightened emotions, then feel impelled to immediately write my own response. Just getting a notification that I had an email from him was enough to spike my excitement.

Well, a lot has happened in the last two weeks or so, and now I feel like maybe the emotional stage has changed somewhat on my side.

1) Alan Rickman died, which was a HUGE emotional blow for me (I’ve pretty much been in love with him since 1995), and that

2) sent me into a torrent of fanfiction writing that I’m still pouring myself into as a coping mechanism for the loss;

3) I made the decision to stop taking my antidepressant 100% overnight because it had stopped doing what I needed it to do and was in fact suppressing a lot of things in me that I wanted to fully experience, and the withdrawal symptoms were quite miserable and debilitating for several days but I pushed through, and now

4) I feel so much more vibrant and energetic than I have in a VERY long time;

5) I’ve started my new job at the library, and

6) my grandpa has decided he’s going to move across the country to be with me and is in fact going to have me move in with him in his new house that he buys.

I’ve been in a whirlwind of emotions and hectic projects, so I haven’t been able to devote as much time and thought to my new person as I had been since the beginning, and I have in fact poured the surging grief I feel into a creative act of fleshing out my ongoing fanfictional love partnerships instead. All those things combined has led to my attraction and desire for my new person to settle down into something much more reasonable and manageable. I still really like him and still feel drawn to get to know him, but it’s not the HYPED UP accelerated rate that it was at first. I feel much more patient now, much more at ease with how things are and not fantasizing (and worrying) about what might happen in the future. I am happy with my real life as it is (in fact, emotionally speaking, I am happier than I have felt in as long as I can remember), and I am currently working on my fanfiction heavily and passionately, so my relationship with my new person, whatever stage it is in now and wherever it is going, feels like icing, a beautiful addition to an already beautiful life that I am happy to enjoy in the moment but will not be devastated or crushed if I lose it or if it doesn’t become the full-fledged partnership that my mind had started imagining so quickly early on. So now I feel like the stage of this relationship has changed from excited infatuation to a more mature and moderate attraction that is patient and happy with a slower development.

 

*The other thing about this relationship is that the “romantic” status is unclear, mostly because—despite all my thinking and reading and theorizing—I still cannot come up with a definition of “romantic attraction/romance” that I am satisfied with. So, as a WTFromantic, in my mind maybe the relationship is romantic, maybe it’s queerplatonic, I don’t know; the more important (and definable) qualities of it are: the sense of mutual attraction and desire to know each other and be with each other, a sense of happiness when we are in contact with or think of each other, a sense of intimacy and trust, a feeling that the things we feel for each other are different from what we feel for anyone else in our lives, and an understanding of each other so that we can empathize with each other and are not hurt or offended or afraid when communication isn’t as consistent as we would like for it to be.

**reminder that introversion means that being around people drains me of energy really really fast and I need lots of time to recover

 

 

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January 2016 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

I am very excited to be hosting the first 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is also my first time to be host!

The “Carnival of Aces” is a blogging carnival where each month people are invited to write on a specific topic that is related to asexuality/the ace spectrum in some way.

(Also, vloggers are invited to speak on the topic in videos, artists/poets invited to be inspired by the topic, etc — whatever format you wish to participate with, please, use that format.)

The masterpost of all of the other amazing topics previous carnivals can be found here.

December’s was on “Staying in the Closet” and was hosted by Sara over at The Asexuality Blog.

I played around with a lot of ideas for topics that I am interested in reading other perspectives/experiences about, and it was hard to decide on just one. But I think I’ve finally chosen  “Relationship Stages” for January and maybe I can host more in the future with the other topics I thought of.

I know there have already been several carnival topics revolving around “relationships” but I want to draw attention to a specific aspect. The main idea that drew me to this topic was I’m curious to hear more about other people’s thoughts on/experiences with “flirting” and on even just getting started on potential partnership relationships, but obviously the topic is open to things beyond that. So potentially people can post and have conversations on

    • What is flirting? What does it look like? Can you recognize it? How does it make you feel?
    • If you want a specific kind of relationship, how do you go about looking for someone(s) to develop that kind of relationship with?
    • What do you do to get a know a person?
    • Do you go looking to start a specific relationship intentionally or do you wait to see if it happens serendipitously?
    • What kind of stages are there as your relationship develops? Is “stages” even a helpful concept when thinking about the development of relationships?
    • Do you start off with an ideal image of your relationship member(s) or are you just open to seeing what works?
    • Do you talk about the “state” of your relationship with the involved member(s) often? Why or why not?
    • How do you know when you are getting “closer” to someone? How do you know when someone is feeling “closer” to you? What happens when you feel differently from each other?
    • What are signs that a relationship is growing distant? How do you handle the situation?
    • How does being in one kind of relationship affect your other relationships? How does the development of one kind of relationship affect the development of your other relationships?
    • and anything else that the topic generates ideas on!

*Note that these topics apply to anything under the umbrella term “relationship”: friendship, queerplatonic friendship, queerplatonic partnership, romantic, polyamorous partnerships, whatever.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns.

To submit your entry, either leave a comment below with your link or send an email to me at veggychristian@gmail.com. If you would like to post anonymously, let me know and I will copy and paste text from an email into a Guest post on my blog.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone shares!

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