Often times I get comments like, “So, if you’re aromantic that means you don’t go out on dates right?”
That’s not quite the case. Let’s explore the nuance here.
I am gray asexual and aromantic. Gray asexual means my default mode is not feeling sexual attraction, but under circumstances I can engage in sex acts. Usually, it’s just to make my partner happy or I just want to try it to see if it feels good. It’s not something that’s on my radar, but I’m not 100% against it so I try not to just tell people I’m full asexual. I’m mostly sex-averse or sex-indifferent. If I do choose to engage in activities, it’s with women. I’ve done stuff with men, but I’ve never really wanted to and just did it because I felt like I had to or it was against my will.
Being aromantic is similar. I don’t feel romantic attraction. However, I do like going on dates. I don’t like the idea of ‘dating’ or ‘going steady’ or whatever people are calling it these days. What’s not to like about some food and intellectual discourse or getting to connect with another person? I like dates, but I approach them all with a platonic attitude. Although, that’s not entirely true either because I don’t know what the expectations are and I’m afraid to let people down so I participate in the charade of romance to try to keep things kosher. This isn’t a healthy choice, but that’s how it turns out.
I’m also polyamorous with relationship anarchy as the subset style of it. I don’t believe in hierarchical relationships, and I don’t believe in partners. Every relationship is unique and will have different sets of boundaries. Some of these boundaries might look like from the outside that it has hierarchies, but it isn’t.
Often times, this trifecta of identities is off-putting to people. I attempt to communicate the nuance, and it’s lost on them. People often think that I hold zero interest in dating or having girlfriends or anything. I actually would very much like a partner I can be vulnerable with, and perhaps intimate with. However, the way I approach getting a partner is a little different.
Ultimately, I think the best way to explain this is to say that I’m looking for a friend with benefits, except the benefits are not sex; but instead, they are other things. The benefits I’m looking for is someone who can engage with me on a level that makes me feel safe. Making me feel safe is a damn hard thing to do, considering I come with baggage. Years of abuse and trauma make opening up kind of difficult.
People use terms like “no strings attached” and I feel like there shouldn’t be strings on anyone ever. We only engage with each other as long as we feel it’s appropriate and comfortable for us. In popular culture, most sexual discourse leans towards vocabulary implying ownership and other such things. “The boy is mine.” And of course things like “She’s MY girlfriend.” That sense of ownership gives us entitlement, and we feel like we are kings in our castle. We have an outlet by which we can feel vulnerable, and some semblance of control over how your insecurities are expressed.
I get that having a partner can be therapeutic, but I just find that most of the language is unhealthy. At least from my perspective.
I don’t want to own another person. I hate terms like “He’s my rock and foundation.”
I want to exist independently and engage with other people when appropriate to get my needs met. My needs are a mix of really simple stuff and then some the darkest stuff you can imagine. I end up not trusting anyone and pushing everyone away.
What I’d prefer is someone with whom I can hold their hand and perhaps touch them. Touching people releases oxytocin, but it also helps ground me. My dissociation makes it hard to connect with reality, and touching other people makes me feel real again, if only for a little while.
People on the asexual and aromantic spectrums can and do feel other types of attraction. In my article on the split attraction model, I explain how romantic and sexual attraction are two elements of our attraction. There is also aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction. There are multiple ways in which a person can feel attraction. We use these terms to explain that even though we might not feel sexual attraction, we can feel attraction in other ways.
The ways I feel attraction are generally through aesthetics and sensual. I am sensually attracted to women. Aesthetically attracted to certain types of women. I don’t feel sexual or romantic attraction with them, but I do experience attraction on some levels towards other people.
I use these words to try to communicate that I don’t “hate everyone” like is sometimes said of me. I do like people, but the way I experience attraction is multifaceted and nuanced. Like most things we discuss on this blog.
In the community, we have a term for asexual spectrum relationships called Queer Platonic Partner. A QPP is basically a person an asexual person is dating, but the term QPP implies that it is a nuanced asexual spectrum type of mostly platonic relationship. To many people in the asexual community, a QPP is interchangeable with boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. It just implies lack of sexual attraction by stating that the relationship is platonic.
I want a partner who won’t write me off as celibate. I don’t want sex to be on the table, and it’s probably never going to be my idea. But, I want it to be acceptable to talk about each other’s needs.
I think, deep down, I want it to be okay for me to ask for things. To express my needs. I want someone with whom I can tell everything to without judgment, hold hands, and do lots of things with. Maybe that’s romantic. Maybe I just need a therapist.
They tell you things like, “you should be comfortable on your own,” and “learn to enjoy yourself.”
That’s the major issue here. I don’t have a concept of ‘self’ to like more often than not. I reach out, hoping for connection. Hoping that the connection will give me some meaning. I already have so many connections with so many people, but I ultimately find them shallow and unreal. I can’t find anything that I can connect with, and it’s putting me in a place of distress. I end up impulsively and desperately clinging to anything that moves, hoping for a connection.
This is why I no longer identify as demisexual, I found that I’m largely incapable of forming connections or deep bonds so I found demisexual to be inaccurate.
I don’t necessarily need a partner, either. I meet a lot of people and make a lot of new connections every day. What I am looking for is someone I can be vulnerable with. It’s just most people put sex on the table, or romantic gestures, and I’m just over here destroying myself to protect myself from pain looking for a way out.
All I really want is someone I can tell my secrets to, hold their hand, and someone to tell me that everything is going to be ok.