Tuesday, August 29, 2006

#8- Relationships with sexual people

Today’s show includes some updates about the action on campuses, a couple of major press hits, and the sad, sad state of my computer. All that, of course, and a little topic I like to call:

Relationships with sexual people

Most of my close relationships are with sexual people. Because I do the whole community based intimacy things none of these are really Relationships with a capitol R, but it’s still worth noting. I have been able to do a lot in my relationships without sexuality ever entering the picture (or at least without it ever becoming unmanageable.)

The key for me has been to get comfortable blurring that line between friendship and romance. It’s a catch 22- for sexual people, a romance without sex is extremely limiting. Romantic relationships are, after all, where they are supposed to play out their sexuality, and asking them to engage in one without sexuality is asking them to mute an important part of themselves. The alternative, as many of us are all too aware, is asking us to mute a part of ourselves and go through the motions of sexuality for the sake of our partner. The relationship is forced to morph itself around a fundamental incompatibility, our ability to tolerate sexuality and our partner’s ability to tolerate going without it must be stretched painfully until they can find some happy meeting place. It works, if a Montague and a Capulet can build a relationship then surely so can a sexual and an asexual, but it ain’t necessarily pretty.

For the record, this is NOT how I do things. Maybe it’s the AVEN-lavender blood coursing through my vanes, but the thought of an arrangement so centered around sexuality makes me shudder. If my years of asexual escapades have taught me one thing, it’s that every time it’s about sex it’s never REALLY about sex. Let’s dig a little deeper.

What do sexual people mean when they say that they “need sexuality?” Science has yet to find a negative thing which happens to people when they don’t have sex, aside from the general theory that wanting anything too much and forcing a denial of it is a problematic behavior. When sexual people don’t have sex in their lives they in theory (though not always in practice) get cranky, and cranky people are no fun to be in relationships with. It may be useful to stop thinking about sexuality as a biological drive, and start thinking about it as a sort of identity. For most of you listening, asexuality is an important part of who you are. It’s a sort of toolbox of ideas and definitions that you use to think about yourself and your relationships, describe yourself to people and just go about your day without getting hopelessly lost and confused. (Which is not to say that most of us haven’t been there.) I’m saying, what if sexuality is the same way? What if sex and the desires that they feel around it are so integral to the way that sexual people think about themselves and their lives that asking one of them to suddenly live in a world without sex would be like asking one of us to live in a world without AVEN.

(Not to compare AVEN to sex, y’all already know which is better.)

So sexual people need sex for more than endorphins, they need it to understand and explore themselves. The important thing to realize is that we don’t need to be the arena of their exploration in order to be close to them. We don’t even have to help, all we have to do is avoid standing in the way. Sexual people are just as capable of nonsexual intimacy as we are, they’re just not as used to exploring it.

So how do you avoid standing in the way? Point out the facts. Unless your partner is gung-ho about exploring sexuality with someone who’s inexperienced, disinterested and bored, their relationship with you probably is not the arena for their sexual exploration. If you’ve never had sex play down the virgin card. Virgins swoon over the world of erotic possibility that their first time has unlocked, you would look at your watch and ask if there was anything good on TV. And not to bean-count, but does your partner REALLY have anything lose from a relationship with you? If they go from looking for sex, intimacy, and companionship to just looking for sex, then aren’t they better off?

This is, admittedly, where it gets tricky again. As I’ve noted in earlier podcasts I’m a ho, most of my friends are hoes and none of us has THAT much trouble separating intimacy from doing the nasty. Not all of us are so fortunate. For some people sex, intimacy and companionship can not be so easily separated. This is NOT because once intimacy and companionship enter the picture immutable sexual desire gets dragged in with it. (See Exhibit A, in which sexual people have been forming intense nonsexual relationships with each other throughout all of history.) It’s because when intimacy and companionship are served up with cake and AVENfries, sex is left a la cart. Your partner can’t get close to you because they’re saving themselves for a sexual relationship which rides in on a unicorn that shits rainbows.

In times like these that it’s useful to point out the flawed logic of “saving oneself.” The whole really fantastic thing about love is that you never run out. Love is a verb, not a commodity- when you love more you get better at loving. And unless looking for that all-encompassing sexual relationship is a 40-hour-a-week endeavor (in which case PLEASE stop them), there’s no reason that they can’t make that relationship better and richer by seeing just how far they can take their relationship with you. And who knows? Once they’ve had themselves a nice, big slice of AVENcake that unicorn may seem like more and more of a fairy tale.

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