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Queer In My Dress

This is my contribution to August’s Carnival of Aces, about “deviant identities”, hosted by The Demi Deviant.

Queer In My Dress

I am queer in my purple dress
Pressed between postmodern sexuality
And the outdated marriage myth

I am, willfully not wanting sex,
Faultline in the fiction of virginity
I am queer in my blue dress

Am I lacking? people ask, perplexed
A woman divorced from intimacy,
Dating and the marriage myth?

Truth is, my desire is more complex
For company, beauty, sensuality
I am queer in my red dress

As the third wave wanes, I need to address
How asexuality clashes with
The outdated marriage myth

I want love with no regard for sex
A partner who sees I am not less
To be queer in my bridal dress
Let’s update the marriage myth

This started out exploring a deviant (queer) aspect of my asexuality and ended up trying to express how queer (weird, outlandish, new, upsetting, estranging) asexuality itself can be. Particularly an aspect I don’t often see explored: that asexuality upsets both traditional and modern ideas about sexuality, often at the same time.

In its simplest form, I think choosing to identify as (some shade of) asexual and daring to say “no, I do not feel sexual attraction like that” combines and subverts

a) the traditional ideal of lust or sex as a morally ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing

b) the modern ideal of everyone having a natural sexuality that is inherently human

c) the queer ideal of affirming your orientation through sexual acts

by claiming

a) absence of lust is a neutral state of being rather than a purity or innocence that can be preserved or lost; sexual activity is optional at all times, rather than forbidden or required at any time.

b) our motivations and experiences are more complicated than (mutual) sexual attraction leading to consensual sexual activity, orgasms, falling in love and sexual-romantic relationships.

c) queerness can be complex and comprise a multifaceted orientation and gender identity that has very little, if anything, to do with sexual acts.

Even as I write this I am aware I am already simplifying by focusing on the above as flowing from an asexual identity above any other.

Yet still, here is my demisexual-panromantic-monoamorous* deviant little fantasy, to wish to find and legalise a longlasting partnership and celebrate that with my community, without having to submit to the strictures society still imposes on that institution.

Oh, and go full femme on the day.

Today, at least.

I might dream of wearing a three-piece steampunk period costume tomorrow. Who knows.

*Since both polyamory and the newly-coined nonamory** are common in the ace community and I came across the word ambiamory*** (someone who can go for either monogamous or polyamorous relationships), I figure we’d clean up the vocab and go for monoamory as the correct word for the majority option on that list/spectrum. Also, also, I think we need a word for the grey area (greyamory? demiamory? semiamory?) between disinterest in relationships (nonamory) and interest in relationships, whether one or multiple (alloamory?).

**Relative, it’s been around a few years, I didn’t know it until this year. I like the new terms cropping up in the a-spec community, especially the ones that are useful. Can you tell I like words? I really like good words.

***Can’t find the original article but here’s a Rolling Stone article referencing the same research, which, actually, also uses monoamorous in its abstract.

The future past of mandatory polyamory

When I entered the asexual community back in 2015, a specific polyamorous scenario was touted as THE way some of us asexuals could be in relationships. Namely, that we ought to let our partner have sex with someone else while they remained otherwise true to us. At the time, this just squicked me, even though some beautiful webcomics existed exploring this scenario. Now, I can see the harmful assumptions packed into it that turned me off:

1) If you aren’t asexual, you need to have sex. Never mind that many heterosexual and queer partners don’t have sex with each other for extended periods of time.

2) Sexual attraction is mandatory for having sex. I think we’ve since come to realise there are many more motivations and rewards in this act.

3) Asexuals are always interested in relationships. Some are, some aren’t.

4) As asexual, you aren’t allowed to negotiate boundaries for sexual exclusivity or be monogamous. I believe partners must be equals in a relationship.

5) Polyamory is asexuals indulging their partners’ needs for sex, rather than people loving and having relationships with mutiple partners. Something asexuals must undergo, rather than something we potentially are.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I see jangling around in this scenario.

I don’t see that scenario floating around anymore now and I’m glad of it. I wanted to take one look back at it, before considering what actual, healthy relationships for asexuals might look like in the future. It stuck with me through the years as an example of how we might hobble ourselves right out of the gate.

Untitled haiku

Other birds have nests

Which winter will I have one

Ace feel less like ice

Ambivert?

I try to write constructive posts, on this blog. Honest about my struggles but also, in the self-reflecting, seeing what is good and what might work and what gives me hope and a plan and motivation. That’s deliberate. Dutchies make a habit of complaining and it’s a good way for me to find excuses to give up and get sad.

I’m telling you this to give you some context to for the following: I’ve been telling my therapist for a year that I feel lonely. I feel that loneliness is tied to my asexuality, in part because it made me limit myself in relationships and in part because moving and joining a more conservative church served to give rise to my internalised orientation-related-phobia (Acephobia? Homophobia? Queerphobia? We need a new word here).

I’ve been telling my therapist I’m lonely… not just in the kinda-wanting-company sense. But often physically craving company and getting an itchy skin because I wasn’t getting my dose of affectionate touch that week and having a broken record in my head mournfully crooning about wanting a good conversation.

Even though I do have company and I do have a supportive family and I do have friends… It wasn’t enough, by a long stretch.

We’ve tried different things. Finally screwing up the courage to go out and try dating. Seeing if I needed to do volunteer work or get a hobby and just have a low-key way to meet people. Journaling to dig up the details about how my brain works, especially given my orientation, and my prejudices and self-image.

It’s lead to some great stuff. I’ve gotten to know myself a lot better and figured more about how I do relate to people and what I would want out of a relationship, friendship, familial or romantic.

We didn’t get to the core problem, it seemed. It kept cropping up.

Finally, one session, after I was done laying out what I wished to dig into that time, she regarded me very seriously and asked, “Are you sure you’re an introvert?”

“Yes?” I said, because she has a habit of prodding at my beliefs until I have to re-examine them myself. “I mean… I crave time alone after a day around people and I’m good at entertaining myself.” And it made it easier to deal with not having many friends and a good excuse for sitting somewhere with a book by myself.

“But you keep telling me you need to be around people more and… well… you light up every time you tell me about a gathering or a meeting you went to that you liked. It charges you up even remembering the event.”

“Well….yeah. They are fun. But also hard.”

“Mostly when you’re not comfortable, right?”

“Right.”

“And when you are at ease…?”

“Best feeling in the world.”

“Hm-hm.”

I need people. As an instinctive, emotional social creature I need people. Far more than I was actually granting myself.

Having practiced with just being around people more in places I’m comfortable for low-key activities with few expectations doing things I find interesting… I have to say, this craving was far broader and far less discriminating than I thought. Yes, I’d like to date, but I don’t need to. Yes, I’d love to have good friends, but a mellow chat with someone I’ve just met is also great.

I was starving for company. Just because I was kinda quiet and socially awkward and also, yes, needed a measure of reflection, I thought I was a hell of an introvert. I’m really not.

I’m not sure whether I’m an ambivert or just a very quiet extrovert…

Just, I want to encourage you, if you’re asexual and you’ve been feeling lonely and you think it’s because you don’t have a ‘love life’… I encourage you to try other things too, you may be surprised by how many things can be satisfying and stimulating.

List of stuff I tried to start:

  • Do some work in a local cafe a couple of times a week, instead of at home.
  • A few free or low-cost events (lectures, plays, workshops) on topics I liked.
  • Take a little more initiative in meeting up with friends.
  • Take the bike more and say hello to every single person I make eye contact with (and get either responses or hilarious faces).

Featured image from:

https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-introvert-and-extrovert.html

 

 

 

An Ace Anthem

A Carnival of Aces contribution for October, theme “Asexuality and Poetry”.

PLEASE volunteer to be a host for the Carnival, if you’ve got the time! They need people!

Grace –

  1. a source of good things
  2. having a pleasing quality
  3. mercy, respite

 

An Ace Anthem

Hold fast to blessings, being ace
Thinking, without sex, what love is there?
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Loneliness? We’re not doomed to face
Going alone we don’t know yet where
Hold fast to blessings, being ace

Think of affections you can trace
The friends, all people for whom we care
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Each passion in our lives we chased
When we brightened our lives with some flare
Hold fast to blessings, being ace

Yes, we must custom design our place
In the lives of loves we wish to share
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Fills life to bursting, stand amazed
If courage fails you, you I dare
Hold fast to blessings, being ace
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Marriage Without – notes

Normally I’d leave a post like yesterday‘s alone, to be interpreted as you will, but it came out of a lot of feels and thoughts combining and sitting in a great big knot in my head this month (well, last month) and the poem was the overflow of the untangling… and I did wish to share that. You’re welcome to skip it and simply enjoy the post as-is, though.

As far as stages of coming out is concerned, I feel I’ve sat at synthesis for a long time. I wrestled anew with what it meant to be demisexual after I moved, what it meant for my faith (especially the expression thereof in commmunity) and what it meant for my writing. I lacked a sense of acceptance in my new environment, but that collided with a growing dissatisfaction of my own. Being demisexual has made me a different person, has put me on a different path and that has made me less sympathetic to those people that would only tolerate me out of privileged ignorance, rather than truly accept me.

What I’m far more new and hesitant to is the panromantic label, I feel I’m at about ‘acceptance’, certainly not at ‘pride’. Especially since it feels like it’s dragging the queer label in by the hand. That label is a loaded one, in my head. The publically known one I’ve placed al lot of the baggage on that I feel I dodged by being ‘only’ a type of ace… yeah. Add to that that living amongst more conservative folks, mostly in church but also the occasional colleague or friend I speak to during the week, most of whom I’ve had conversations with at one point or another when I mention I’m from a (politically) more socio-liberal church that raised the issue of blessing same-sex marriage* for member discussion and vote while I attended. All the ins and outs of religion-fueled homophobia have become much more well-known to me, suffice to say, and hit far harder because I’m not, myself, straight anymore and starting to maybe, tentatively consider identifying in private as queer. So I feel squeamish and conflicted. It’s not pretty.

Some of the biggest shifts in my progression from feeling included to excluded by the Christians I interact with are not about being queer, but the idea that everyone feels lust. For example, each sermon on the topic of reigning in sexual sin leaves me feeling more skeptical. Not just for the assumption that everyone has lust bleeding from their ears and eyeballs, but the assumption that one becomes more virtuous for having less sex. I certainly don’t feel more virtuous. The lack of peer pressure to have sex within the Christian community, which I liked so much initially, no longer makes up for the assumption I’ll have a ‘healthy’ sex life after marrying or forego a relationship altogether. I want a to have romantic-platonic or queer-platonic relationship, dammit**.

It also really doesn’t help when I have mental will-they, won’t-they-reject-me games with myself when I imagine bringing a woman rather than a man to church, when I have a moment to myself during coffee after service… Feeling out the roots I’d pull up since some of the folks have become good friends and I like several of the activities I’ve gotten involved in.

I also made the mistake of googling asexuality and Christianity together and read a lot of things that deserve warnings and zero screen time. Time and distance from my hetero-by-default frame of mind have made it a lot harder to step back into it, to sympathise with a point of view where I was part of the unthinking majority. I still stumble so much even when I encounter other minority identities, in speaking to and about them respectfully, inclusively, but at least I have a taste of how much work it is to bridge the gap when someone doesn’t really accept you, how hurtful being excluded can be, even in passing, impersonally, indirectly. I’ve sat in church so, so angry at a guest preacher rejecting ‘those unnatural homosexuals’ and how they ‘chose wrong’ and wanted to jump up and punch and yell and run out and instead wandered about the rest of the day with an unvoiced question in my head: I wonder what you’d make of me, then, sir. Until my poor unsuspecting mother casually asked me how I’m doing and it took me an hour to pour her ear full of all the worries now hanging off that initial question like it’s a set of monkey bars.

Also tied into the knot of thoughts, I would very strongly prefer to have a relationship that did not include anything more than kissing, call it asexual or platonic, regardless of the orientation(s) of my partner. Though I cherish each contact with a person for what it is, just as I have acquaintances as well as good friends, I’d ultimately want for one of them to flourish into a sharing-the-rest-of-our-lives, whatever that looks like. One contention in the QPR post really set me off**, namely, that the relationships – involving neither a formalisation nor sex and, in the case of the post, not the hallmarks of romantic relationship – could be dismissed as an especially deep friendship. Just as same-sex relationships used to be, still can be. Just as the type of relationship I desire, with romantic elements or not, may be.

This stings, because in Holland people are marrying way less because it’s not considered what makes a relationship ‘real’, like living together does or bringing your significant other along to meet friends and family. I feel it could be easily argued, by extension, that having sex or bringing flowers or the initial surge of territorial, sentimental obsession we call romantic love isn’t what makes a relationship ‘real’ either. The sexual drive, romantic drive and attachment drive*** are three separate instincts, after all, and I think we as a community could make a good case for them functioning perfectly well independent of each other. In short, you can have no sex, no romance, no marriage ceremony, (even no monogamy) and yet have a relationship that deep, that significant, that lasting, that it could arguably be equivalent to marriage.

I’ve seen enough couples together long enough that even without any outward sign, at some point people around them got tired enough of referring to them as “my boyfriend’s brother” or “my aunt’s partner” that they shifted to using terminology you’d normally use after a formalisation… so “my brother-in-law” and “my uncle”, in these cases. In other words, without anyone coming out and saying it, these relationships (often only defined by people always being mentioned together, Tom-and-Jane, Dick-and-Cathy) had passed some mental benchmark that made them as-good-as-married, in people’s minds.

What I’m saying in a roundabout way is, I think, that we don’t really know what makes a significant relationship a true and deep attachment with our chosen partner. We have some characteristics by which to identify them, but just like you can’t really define a woman by having breasts, long hair or a skirt, you can’t really define a ‘real’ marriage/relationship/person-and-partner based on whether there’s been a ceremony or sheet sharing or dates. I think that all the different folks in the ace community illustrate that truth beautifully. I also think that kicks some people into a big-ole existential crisis, if their ideas are broken down like that.

I like the idea though, that we can’t really define relationships, limit them within an absolute definition, the same way we haven’t really define life, or sentience, or reality. Gives us something to keep on wondering about.

So there I was, picking my own conflicted feelings about my labels apart, and my ideas on relationships, keeping the question in mind: what do I want? What would it look like if I had one?

What if… what if… this question I prefer to wallow in. My favourite pastor once said that the devil got so little attention in the bible because he wasn’t worth it, was deliberately omitted. The focus was on how people ought to live, ought to be bettering the world. On the promise of a better future, in defiance of a broken world with imperfect people making mistakes left and right. That we – Christians – would be harshly rebuked for how much we focus on fear, infighting, judgment, division. When I come to church to celebrate my faith and get rejected by a human in the middle of worshipping God, I can’t help but feel the truth of that. I think of the families that I saw come to Pride, three years ago, just to show their kids first-hand gay, bisexual, trans people were people too. I think Jesus would have loved that, I think he would have loved to be there.

In honour of that, I tried to put some of my hopes down on paper. To make it as accessible as possible, I decided to omit labels that might not mean much to outsiders. And I wrote this way-too-long author’s note about all the thoughts I carried around that led to writing “Marriage Without Sex or Ceremony”.

*) in our country, blessing civil partnership as well as marriage, both of which are legalised at city hall before the (Christian) couple has a bigger (optional) ceremony in church, both levels open for any couples as of 2001. Our denomination dumped the decision to be open to blessing them on the individual congregations, to avoid offending anyone (thereby disobliging everyone).

**) While I’m a panromantic, I figure my partner may not be, and that’ll influence the shape of the relationship, especially considering it may grow either out of formal dating or informally out of an existing friendship. I got schooled on the topic by this post on QPR’s,  which also left me poking at what exactly I’d name the relationship I want to have, and that inspired the title for the poemish freewriting on my relationship fantasy.

***) This TED talk influenced my ideas on relationships a lot, especially its claim that one has three instincts or drives that make us partner up, that could trigger in that order, out of order or independent of each other.

Marriage Without Sex or Ceremony

For the Carnival of Aces in August concerning stages of coming out, to celebrate where I’m at, acceptance of panromanticism and synthesis of demisexuality. Labels and explicit body parts deliberately omitted in the post.

Marriage Without Sex or Ceremony

Let me imagine our future together, beloved. With so few of us, the chance we will click, I will love, you will love, we will last seems so small. In the meantime, let me dream.

guitaristWhere shall we meet? Sterile pixels make for futile browsing so it happens someplace real.

My eyes fall on you, for you. The sight strikes the chord of some ideal in my mind. Little do I know the types I like to look at joyous confident hands that speak as much as a face. Sharp, short hair tops a lanky body with bright mind in the eyes or a wide smile garnishes a buffet of curves and kindness and curls.

You may arrest my aurally, my ears greedier than my eyes in seeking to enjoy the world so speak. Speak so I may hear your melody drop into my mind for a solo among a chorus becoming a backdrop harmonising with you and me.

My heart will gallop but no blood flow lower down to beat a more bestial drum. I want to sit and stare, sit and hear, my chest aflutter with lungs failing to fill my groin at peace. If in fantasy I approach and touch I am an admirer without desire, like the knights thought chaste of old.

curls and headphonesWith less courage than those figures I skulk around the edges of a meeting a strange face growing their comfort in polite conversation. Confronted, I will flee into the cerebral and seek your mind out first of all. Seeking safety, seeking substance in you and what you will share and myself in what I dare.

A risk, each new acquaintance, trading in time and costing heart to carry on, worth each little glimpse of a person, richer for each moment well-spent. With you it lasts, as it will with a friend, stretching into the incalculable when we are becoming and attach.

Yet with you, a little itching, discomfort and hunger, formless as yet. A little more and a little deeper, each time we meet vivid and stark, cherished in recollection, in speculation before I embark on delving into the next layer of whatever intimacy we wish to share. This time an in-joke, that time an ear lent, without judgment, a trust we build until the foundation sets.

These beginnings resolve, then, in our life together, some years after I first payed you court. Perhaps you indulged this romantic, perhaps you liked it. We could be ourselves with each other, that counted for more. Let me sketch a portrait here, beloved, of a moment, our paradise for here on earth.

sunsetI come home in early evening. The night is pregnant with fruit and mulch. The leaves are sunset, the sky is autumn. The street’s asleep and safe to walk, except our neighbour gardening with a head lamp, outside to greet me at the door.

The rasp of unlocking, creaky hinges you need to oil. Arms heavy because it was my turn to go to the store. I am serenaded by the song of the day, what you did and heard and thought I should know and do later there’s coffee and don’t eat the leftovers they need to go. I hum in tune and stay in range until the final note is sung. Then I approach, my skin too thin and cold clinging that I brought in until you brush it off and settle the soft cover back over my flesh with your palms soothing and smooth.

We share the evening as we tend to do, tending each other until the one burning low is cheerier lighter again. If we are apart in an indepentent motion it is to come back together for the next turn around the room we have built to suit the whole of us, wholly ourselves here and between us only a third, the relationship blooming.

Rowing, screaming, we explode when my temper matches that of yours. We parry volleys of biting phrases, hitting soft spots with hard edges that exhaust, until I take a walk to draft a new treaty unless we negotiate there where we drop and rest together not knowing how we got next to the rails. Except we’re human, we will do this, our only hope forgiveness and an equal to balance us out.

I bring you a drink and you mine over the course of the evening as we finish up and wind down.

At night we diverge by sleeping together, not too much or little at all. Just right we lie in parallel, a duet of slow breathing, sometimes touching, sometimes not. You hog the blankets and I snore.

When I fit my hand to your jawline, the other scratching fingers into messy hair, perhaps we kiss, perhaps we don’t. Loving you this long, when the measure is years, I might feel a thrill, blush and turn aside. We undress, even helping, but the shape of your body does not make me want to move to do more.

Bold or scared, I raised that question, will you want sex when I won’t? But this is my dream. You were just as scared and when I spoke up, we giggled our heads off and hugged it out. You told me you wanted more of my time and my life, hoarding my affection as I did yours.

I dream we live and love together, vague shapes that will shift to fit the future. I have thoughts of having children, thoughts of whether you come to church. But I wish to leave it here, at the thought.

Two people with two hearts choosing each other with a love that fits them.

Stock images from pexels.com

 

Attraction Not Required (Yet?)

With much hemming and hawing I’m edging into the world of dating, mostly because dammit, I want to try thing thing out and not just sit on the sidelines talking.  Can’t say much’s happened yet, aside from me feeling a little more at home tentatively saying I might like someone… just full of confidence, me.

Here’s what did happen: I stopped worrying I needed sexual, or at least romantic, attraction to even start dating.

It just doesn’t happen, with a few stats and a photograph in a profile. And I’m learning that that’s fine.

All I need is a ‘huh, something in common, may want to chat, might want to meet.’ A spark of general interest. Doable.

A few of those developed into chats, with either lacklustre response or none at all. I’m starting to suspect the folks on the other end are good at liking, not at chatting, and I’m not the best in keeping my phone to hand either.

But. But. It feels like a big fear’s been put to rest, the first of a few big hurdles that made me feel I couldn’t cross into this dating thing without being somehow fake.

I do not need to be attracted, at least in this initial stage. It’s fine just getting to know people.

That’s a relief.

It likely won’t stay smooth sailing, but at least I’m getting out of the harbour.

Ride that Rollercoaster!

This post was written for the May Carnival of Aces hosted at Prismatic Entanglements, on Nuance and Complexity…

I

For months I’ve been at this point, dipping my toe into dating sites only to pull it back out quickly.

Drift across the kitchen, cooking, my mind still there, browser window still open.

Oh, god, to do something mostly new, where I feel too old. Where others start as kids, teens, adolescents.

Can I be small again? Bumbling?

Can I take the rejection, when it comes, again and again and again?

Can I allow it not to matter? How do others even do this? Where is the manual?

Not tonight, I decide. Wooden spoon clenched between ring and middle finger, I swipe the window away with my thumb. Cheeks burning, I stir the pasta.

Coward.

Hungry coward, though.

“Dinner!” I smile at the people I do have, try to focus, to forget a longing for family I carry in my heart.

II

“Verlangen” is the more visceral desire, craving and the more cerebral longing, missing.

“Koesteren” is to cradle or hold carefully, used figuratively, speaking of tenderness and cherishing.

“Houden van” is literally “(have) hold of” and is the most common translation of “to love” but I like “liefhebben” better, which is more properly “to hold dear”.

“Verkeren” is oldfashioned as a verb, “verkering” is the relationship between the acknowledgement that there is anything more than a meeting or a hook-up, and (optional) the engagement.

Centuries of “verkering”: 13th, to turn around, a change. 15th, to associate with, 17th, to associate with a person with the intention to get engaged, 20th century, to be in a romantic relationship.

These are the words in my head, when I think and lurk and procrastinate.

III

These words are absent:

“Begeren” to desire, usually sexually. The noun: lust.

“Vrijen” is both being glued together in public and having sex.

IV

To say you wish without taking action is to make the dream a wistful lie instead of a hopeful truth.

I have trawled through calendars of events.

I have made known to a dozen people how hard it is to start on something.

I have nitpicked dating sites and types of events to find objections, based in pop culture, based in insecurity.

I have yet to start.

V

Finally I sit down and write and write until I’ve peeled the onion to the core.

I do not have dating friends I can ask to tag along.

I do not have places I go out regularly.

I do not have a time in my week where romantic interest is likely to happen.

I do not have the experience I would wish even to say what is normal and what is not.

I do not have clever words or social smoothness to make flirting come easily or at all.

I am so dreadfully scared of all the firsts, the immediacy of emotion that comes with new experiences combining with going into a foreign domain alone where the contact is personal.

“Eelt op je ziel” translates to calluses on the soul, a buffer between you and the world, being inured.

I go into this nearly new.

Bare. Naked. Tender.

VI

I sit with my phone in my hands. I appear as the rest do, just waiting for my bus, spending time.

In truth, I am staring at a black screen, suspenseful soundtrack thumping in my head.

I put my head in my hands and scold myself.

VII

“Just do it.”

“You have to start somewhere.”

“It starts with simply meeting people.”

“Don’t give it so much weight.”

“Be less harsh with yourself.”

Grace.

Mercy, not elegance.

Letting go and being alright with feeling foolish.

VIII

Let’s start with one, just one.

I download the app.

I find out about the wonderful world that is verifying through Facebook you exist.

I delete the app.

Facebook and privacy. Speak of antonyms.

I have an old account with which I did a lot. I learned, through others’ bad experiences, not to let apps access such information.

I’m in luck. An acquaintance suggests a solution over coffee.

I make an empty facebook account with just my name and picture. Only needs an alternate email address.

I download the app again.

IX

Filling out the profile goes smoothly.

Months’ hesitation means I already have a profile picture.

I fill out the questions like it’s a psychology test, just go with the first impulse.

First drafts can be edited.

I hit the questions about my preferred partner and pause, thumbs hovering over the keyboard on my screen.

I sit down and sigh.

I am demisexual.

I have no idea what my romantic orientation is.

X

I have a post half drafted entitled “An Elusive Romantic Orientation”. I love the title. I dislike the post. Too whiny, too incoherent.

I have been able to figure out I see relationships as growing, organic. Trees and perennials and bulbs that flower for a month and seeds that may never come up.

I have been able to figure out I wish for a romantic or platonic context, so I know what to cultivate about relationships that are otherwise very diverse.

I have been able to figure out I regard platonic as the default, easiest and safest and most known.

I have been able to figure out that defining something as romantic is like installing extra features and permissions, to my mind. Go for the thrill of flirting. Exercise a greater measure of territoriality and physical affection. Dropping more masks and showing more weak spots and thinking more tender thoughts.

In secret, tend a little flame which burns with hopes for a year from now, sharing time, sharing lives, sharing homes, sharing needs, sharing families and friends, sharing nights and days.

Just a small flame, that appears in idle thoughts before falling asleep and in a belly full of mellow warmth when watching a romantic movie or another couple walking down the street.

“Waakvlam” is a pilot light, the single flame that keeps watch, always on in case something needs to be heated.

I have figured out that, yes, I am romantic. Even that I lean strongly towards monogamy.

I still haven’t figured out the prefix.

XI

The prefix to romantic – when it is something other than “a” – is tied to the partner.

The gender of the prospective partner I need to fill out.

If asked, I would say I primarily, even perhaps only, want to interact on the romantic level. Well, and intellectual and emotional and social and… but.

So much else about a partner is more in the foreground, when I try to think of it, in memory or fantasy.

What do you put before -romantic if partner gender is simply less relevant?

XII

The lack of a word for the thing my brain’s settled on drives me to distraction for a few days.

However, this time the quandary cannot be left to languish unresolved.

I have a profile to complete.

I consider all the gender-neutral words I’ve been using and decide follow the same line here. Simply leave the option for gender open to all of it, and scroll on.

XIII

When it comes to personal information, I have another decision to make. Do I say I’m asexual up front?

I do not even consider demisexual. That is a word for the in-group.

I struggled with disclosure when it came to my new church, feeling I had to represent asexuality because of the potential for controversy.

Yet the fact that I feel compelled to be public about such a personal fact makes me want to keep it private all the more.

“Be open if you have nothing to hide” is an attitude that makes me want to close off.

If I am not trusted for what is hidden about me, I am not trusted.

If I am not free to keep myself hidden, I am not free to entrust myself to others.

I do not put my sexuality on my profile.

XIV

I click to complete it.

I consider taking the initiative in getting in touch and chicken out.

It’s alright, I tell myself. Let’s see what happens.

“Laat het over me heenkomen” feels to me like stepping into the surf to let the waves play around my legs or drown me, depending on how rough the sea is.

XV

After the first day I stuff my face into my pillow and laugh until I cry.

I have plenty experience with online communities.

The non-commital likes.

The awkwardness of having a chat conversation with a complete stranger.

The sudden absence of the other person.

I have feared this so much and yet it feels so familiar, so easy.

I decide to set a time to check it, like other communities, and put my phone down.

Time to write about this.

XVI

Much dawdling and a harrowing ride ended in an anticlimactic stop.

This is only the beginning, but I hope the end of the emotional rollercoaster.

Time for some unhealthy snacking and people watching at this fair.

A [hu]man of good character

I was going to write “man person”, but no strikethroughs in titles allowed on wordpress. So, scholarly brackets it is. I’ll worry about being inclusive to aliens when we meet some. This is my contribution for the April – Carnival of Aces.

I

My friend tells her unlikely love story, and concludes, “I had a list, so I knew who to date. He just fulfilled every item on it. I knew he was the one.”

“I… can’t even imagine.”

“What’s on your list?”

“I don’t have one. I suppose I’d like to just… see what develops when I meet someone.”

“No list? C’mon, what’s your type, what’d you put on there?”

I’m quiet for a few minutes. Her sharing at least obligates me to give it serious thought. “Really wouldn’t know what to put on it,” I admit in the end.

II

There’s a list in my head. It’s for me, not any partner:

  • Be at peace with loneliness, so company is joy, not necessity
  • Have a good circle of friends, then worry about romance
  • Have a stable income, so you can support a household
  • Meet in real life for dates, online contact hurts too much

III

“D’you want me to set you up?”

“Er… are they nice?”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” How else do I ever meet anyone?

A month later, I’ve still heard nothing.

IV

What I want: a list of ways asexual people identify partners in life, so I can try things, and support from friends when I admit to seeking a partner.

What I have: a list of expectations people have for how a good, normal, healthy woman finds a partner, and all the ways they joke about helping, and won’t, because it’s too unusual.

V

“God, I hate being single.”

“We all deal with some level of loneliness, in or outside a relationship.” The later in the evening, the more philosophical, though not necessarily wiser, my brain.

“I guess, but, I’d really like some company, y’know?”

“Depends on the company,” I mutter.

VI

I forget my own advice, gradually.

Out of my own fantasy, the things I did like about being in a relationship, pop culture and idle conversations I build a new, false image I wish to chase.

I start living in fantasy land.

It’s an excellent image to fall asleep with, but a bad thing to believe in the waking world.

VII

“Well, it’s a blessing, really, for your life, if you don’t desire anyone.”

“Why?”

“So you can focus on other things. On God.”

“What do you mean?”

Well, like Paul said, if you lust after others, you must marry. If you don’t, you’re more blessed because you can focus on serving the Lord, like him. Feel happy.”

VIII

Even as someone who actually does ministry, this made me balk.

I feel this is going to become the asexual equivalent of the scenario where gay people are accenpted so long as they are celibate and “they focus on God’s love.”

Sex is for heterosexual people, right? Bleh.

Oh, I desire another. Just very, very rarely sexually.

I don’t know how, but I know I do.

IX

“I can’t seem to actually start. I remain this… armchair philosopher.”

“Why?”

“Scared? Lazy? Ignorant?”

“Just… start.”

I tell her of all my insecurities.

“Stop thinking so far into the future. Meet people. Give them space to become your acquaintance or friend or significant other, whatever develops. All you can do is create the opportunities and invest the time to grow new relationships. The rest is not yours to control.

X

Okay, helpful list.

To do:

  • Meet people
  • Stop worrying
  • Enjoy the meeting of minds
  • Be conscious of but not stopped by my sexuality.

XI

I am spending a lot of time with someone in a relationship that is… not going well. Mostly, I’m in charge of making sure she eats and has enough fun, someone else is playing the part of confidant.

They pose for a picture. “Wait. I need to unlock my phone for you. It’s secured with my thumbprint. No one else can access it.”

“Oh wow, that seems handy, in case it gets stolen.”

I get one of those glances, one of the heavy, unsmiling ones. “Yeah, well, I got tired of his spying, y’know? My messages are none of his business.”

He messages her daily. He reads her email. He upsets her, over and over.

Yet, she loves him, he loves her. They’re trying.

XII

The realisation comes gradually that I have been idealising realtionships.

Living in fantasy land is safe and easy.

There are things, being single, that I’ve been taking for granted.

Independence.

My own space, respected.

Being on an even keel with others.

I realise I do have a list.

XIII

List (to be specified):

  • Adult of similar age
  • High integrity
  • Similar ideals
  • Compatible life goals
  • Kind
  • Equally affectionate
  • Does not discriminate
  • Comfortable with who I am

Seeking: a person of good character.

That Weird Ace Woman

Another angry Millennial internet queer

The Court of Ranternal Affairs

A Website of Wonky and Rustic Beauty by Calum P Cameron (he/him)

This blog is Ace

A blog about asexuality and other A things

The Demi Deviant

Demisexual, Demiromantic, Agenderflux Kinkster

The Asexual Agenda

Furthering upper-level discussions of asexuality

A Carnival of Aros

An Aromantic / Aro-Spec Blogging Carnival