Wednesday, January 21, 2009

All About Asexual Relationships: A Recap

Over the past several months I've had a running series of posts on issues facing the asexual community in general and on asexual relationships in particular. I'm going to take a hint from Pretzelboy and have a post summing up the series so that it's easily readable. It all started out with:

What Asexual People Want- A quick overview of the issues facing the asexual community, which I break down into Support, Visibility, Institutionalization (I know, unfortunate word) and Relationships. I posit that asexual people have a relationship problem, and go into more depth in...

The Asexual Problem Part 1: Numbers- A discussion of the (temporarily) shitty outlook for asexual people that want to form romantic relationships with one another. Until we can get a good system in place to hook up asexy singles, a lot of people are going to have a problem finding the kind of intimacy that they want. But it ain't all that bleak, because...

The Asexual Problem Part 2: Language- Asexual people don't necessarily have a problem finding relationships, we just have a problem talking about them. Most of us have very, very poor language for talking about nonsexual intimacy. If we improve that language we can pretty much do it however we want whenever we want with whoever we want. (Yeehaw!)

The Magic Words Part 1: Focus on Relationships
- To jumpstart the whole language discussion, I start talking about the language that I use personally. First rule: stop thinking in terms of "friends" and "partners," the binary sucks. Instead, just think in terms of "relationships" and explore the reasons why each relationship is unique. This has the added benefit of conceptually separating a relationship from the person with which you have that relationship (since relationships can often take on a mind of their own.)

The Magic Words Part 2: The Three T's
- So if there are no friends or lovers, just "relationships" then how do you distinguish them? I talk about my personal system, which looks at Time, Touch, and Trust (which I used to call "Talk", but whatevs.)

The Magic Words Part 3: Using the Three T's
- I flesh out the Three T's some more. They're not only a way to describe where a relationship is at, they're a way to think about growing it. I argue that spending time with someone leads to emotion (touch), expressing emotion leads to discussions about expectations which build trust, and trust makes people spend more time together. I think this cycle is the coolest shit ever.

The Magic Words Part 4: The Big Picture
- Ok I lied, I actually think community is the coolest shit ever. After all, I'm not in just one relationship, I'm in a whole community of them. I talk about what it's like to actively build that community, what it feels like to depend on a community for my emotional needs, and how that community provides the kind of deep trust normally found in partnered relationships.


Anonymous said...

Hi. You don't know me. I don't know you. I know your younger brother. I went to Crossroads in St. Louis. I just want to say I think it's cool what you're doing, bringing your face to something like this. It probably takes a lot of courage. I just have trouble wrapping my head around it. I mean, I'm 19, I'm a girl, I consider myself to be strait, I suppose. But I've never been in a relationship. I've never had the desire to either. At least not sexually. I've never even been aroused by another person. But I guess I still have hope that I'll meet someone who will make me want those things. Do you feel like that? Are you in a successful relationship now?

The Impossible K said...

I love this recap :)
I can definitely vouch for the asexual problem part 2 - having recently experienced several problems with language... but ya know, I'm glad I read this before entering my first relationship. It helped me resolve them (for the most part) and get my partner excited about exploring "pseudosexual" alternatives!!

Ily said...

I agree, community is the coolest shit EVAR. I don't think about community in the same way you do. But it's always been what I've wanted most in life, from my earliest memories. When I was younger, it wasn't a boyfriend or husband I wanted, it was always friends and lots of them. It wasn't until I started AVEN meetups that I realized "community" was what I was looking for, though.

Unknown said...

hey, yo. found your blog. putting a link for your page on my blog. hope that's cool. cheerios!

Rima Bhattacharyay said...

Hey there,
How's it going? Just came across your blog. This was all part of my online journey to joining AVEN. Yes, I am the newest (well at least until 5 hours ago) member to your site. It's very liberating and refreshing to be looking at things from a different perspective. This is exactly what asexuality offers. A different take on love. A different take on relationships.
I enjoyed reading your post. Keep up all the good work! Are you on Facebook by any chance?
Take care,
Best wishes,

Roger said...

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for that insightful and honest post. I agree that community is important, and provides that emotional framework that helps us to grow. Often for issues like this, friends and family are not always people you can depend on. Even though they may be well meaning and may love you in whatever capacity, that doesn't necessarily mean they understand your feelings or can help.

I sometimes think relationships are like open sockets on the Internet. All serve a different purpose and need. Connections between people can be abused the same way the connections between machines can, and each needs to be reguarded as unique in some way.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I know this is a very belated comment, but I just read through all the posts in this recap and I just want to say WOW. Wow, wow, wow. I love your idea of completely breaking down the binary between "friendship" and "romance" and using totally new language to describe relationships. I've spent years struggling with the romance/friendship binary and the lack of any sort of coherent language to describe relationships that don't quite fit into either category.

One question for you. Say I'm in a relationship (of whatever sort) with L. I'm having a conversation with S, who doesn't know L, and happen to make a brief reference in the course of said conversation to something L once said. Ordinarily I (and most other people, I suspect) would just say, "My friend/boyfriend/girlfriend L says..." But if I'm trying not to use the words "friend," "boyfriend," and "girlfriend" to refer to people, then how would I refer to L in such a context?

I can't drop the first part of the sentence and just say, "L says..." because S doesn't know who L is, so he'll be confused. But I also don't want to get into a detailed explanation of what exactly my relationship with L is, because it doesn't really fit into my sentence and might derail the entire conversation. After all, we're not having a conversation about L - we're just having a conversation to which something L once said is relevant.

So how can I give S a context for who this L person is while avoiding both (a) labeling L a "friend"/"boyfriend"/"girlfriend" and (b) going on a tangent about my exact relationship with L?

- A grey-ace and occasional AVEN lurker