Back in 2012, I had my partner C* do an interview with me, because I had been getting requests from non-asexual partners of asexual people for advice and I thought her perspective would be helpful. Since then, we’ve been through a lot, including becoming totally celibate and far less romantic. In the past year, she’s started to identify as aromantic. So I thought it was worth revisiting.
For context, she is bisexual and trans. We’ve been together for seven years, minus a short breakup, and have been polyamorous from the start. Right now we’re sort-of viewing our relationship as basically a queerplatonic type of thing. These questions were mostly submitted to me by readers, although I tacked on an extra question at the end today based on an interesting comment C made last night.
I’d like to thank everyone who submitted questions! There was one she really had no idea how to answer at all, so that one has been taken out. Sorry! But she really tried her best with all of the rest, and I hope you enjoy her perspective. If you have further questions for her, she’s open to answering them in the comments. :)
(* C stands for “Cupcake” which is her original chosen pseudonym on this blog. She may comment here using that name, or she may choose something else again. She doesn’t tend to stick with the same pseudonym, but generally they all start with C.)
Who are your favourite fictional LGBTQIA character(s)? Why do you like them so much? Do they make good role models?
The sad thing is, I can’t really think of any offhand. I never felt like there were any LGBTQIA characters when I was growing up to really look towards. Mostly had to look inwards for motivation on how to shape myself. Hopefully that worked out.
To what extent has being aromantic affected your relationship?
I didn’t really realize I am aromantic until rather recently (perhaps, 6 months?), so it’s something I’m still coming to terms with. My current primary relationship doesn’t seem like it has been affected much. Usually couples tend to grow less romantic over time, so most of our relationship has mostly naturally progressed in that fashion and there is a lot less reason to force the rekindling.
Now, early on in the relationship it was certainly a detriment. I didn’t realize that I was different than the norm, so I would constantly try to emulate, what I perceived, as normal romantic behavior. It worked well for the most part, since that behavior can be quite enjoyable. The problem is that after you set forth the initial experience, it’s hard to keep it up when you just view it as an activity instead of being generally more romantic.
My other relationships have been quite a bit less of a smooth ride, unfortunately. I have frequently missed the point of being with someone in a relationship, because I never developed the bonding feeling with them. Since our interactions were very friendly to me, but more romantic to them.
Do you have any advice for people in similar relationships to yours?
I am not overly fond of blanket advice for relationships, since I think they are all inherently different. But I’ll break down relationship types a bit and… maybe that’ll be interesting.
Aromantic + Grayromantic – Don’t over analyze if an act is romantic or not, just enjoy yourself. Acts themselves aren’t romantic on their own, the feelings have to be attached.
Trans + Ace – Enjoy it a lot. There is a nice combination of lack of focus on triggering sexual characteristics that is hard to beat. I believe this relationship combination is more about mental compatibility than anything else.
Sexual + Ace – This is tricky, since it’s depends largely on being poly or not. But I guess the overall advice would be to be very honest about sexual desires and do your best to find a reasonable way to deal with it for both parties. Be it poly, kink, masturbation, or even sex with eachother.
What advice would you give partners of trans women who are already done with transition?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that they are still trans despite going through transition. There are often still issues that will come up that would have been there during transition. These could be body issues that linger despite surgery or voice issues, or even societal pressures on suddenly being a woman.
What levels of attraction do you think exist, and which are important in relationships, for you?
The answer to this question could be quite in depth, but I’ll try to be short.
Attraction is a very broad topic as a whole. It plainly refers to being drawn towards an object. The reasons for the drawing are the distinction that we mostly focus on, but it’s a good thing to be able to focus on the overall point. Attraction is about the initial reason a change is pursued. Initial is the key part of that statement.
So, with that in mind, sexual attraction is the main one people focus on. This is a really basic ‘does this person’s physical attributes make me interested in sexual relations (and/or offspring) with this person.’ I don’t think I really need to expand on this overall point all that much, since I imagine most people that visit a site like this are familiar with the concept (or lack of).
The point that should be mentioned is that sexual attraction is the basis for a lot of relationships. It creates the initial desire to pursue someone and then a bond is created for the primary purpose of producing offspring (at least, as a biological base). The problem this creates is that the primary desire for relationships are based around a fluctuating image that someone has to maintain for years on end. This can be quite problematic, and I think it’s a good reason to avoid focusing on it in order to have a long-lasting relationship.
Romantic attraction is a term that doesn’t have a very set meaning. It’s simply stating that there is some sort of initial interest in someone that makes you want to create a romantic bond with them. I personally don’t experience the romantic bond, so it’s rather hard to define.
Aesthetic attraction exists as well. It’s not my forté though sadly. I believe it’s about whether a person fits in a view that you find appealing to look at, much like a painting. I personally don’t find this necessary to a relationship, since it has the same flaws as sexual attraction in that it changes over the course of a relationship.
How might sexual attraction be a help or a hindrance in a relationship with someone who’s asexual?
I’m not really sure it would be either. It depends largely on how the sexual attraction is used in the relationship. If it’s used for arousal purposes and the asexual person is okay with it. Then there isn’t really a downside.
If the asexual person has issues with it and it’s a monogamous relationship, it could hurt the relationship quite a bit. Which could lead to cheating or fights. Some people can use their sexual interest for self-enjoyment as well, so it really just depends on each person.
How would you explain the difference between being romantic and being aromantic?
There is some sort of feeling that makes a given activity feel romantic. Aromantic people don’t have this, and romantic people do. I am completely unsure what the actual difference is. I have a few theories, but none of them are completely sound.
There just seems to be some sort of intimate bond that never forms. Activities that are normally considered romantic have no special feelings associated with them. Not that it hinders close friendships/relationships, it’s just it lacks the romantic subtext.
Confusing, I know.
Yesterday, when I linked you to Laura’s recent piece about aromanticism, you mentioned that for you, being aromantic makes you feel able to “skip ahead” in emotional intimacy with people. Can you explain that?
I’m not certain I can aptly explain this.
My understanding of romantic relationships is that there is an initial period where you develop feelings for the other person, and then the intimacy ramps up over time. Where intimacy is slowly created due to over time accumulating experiences. But I don’t feel confined to following romantic relationship protocols in any particular order.
When I am interacting with someone in a new relationship, people tend to open up to me in normally very private ways due to the fact that I don’t hold back many experiences of my own or many topics that I’m curious about.
I’ve viewed that this experience might be related to not needing an emotional intimacy with a person before I can share intimate details with them. It instead is focused on using intuition with a person to accurately gauge their reactions.
Do you have anything else you want to add?
I’m so happy that people care enough to hear my thoughts on aromanticism and more. I hope it’s interesting to at least one person. Possibly two!
Make sure to stay safe on goth appreciation day!
7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Interview with C on Aromanticism and Relationships”
I enjoyed reading this and appreciate the opportunity to learn a bit more about C.
I’m still puzzling over the whole emotional intimacy thing and how to explain it better in the future (not trying to condense it into two sentences would probably help!). I think there are a lot of different factors that can go into it. For instance, C mentions not *needing* a feeling of emotional intimacy before sharing with others. For me, as someone who is extremely introverted, I do need to have that sense of emotional intimacy before sharing, and I think that’s compounding my problems that I wrote about in the post. Intimacy builds very slowly for me AND I need it before opening up so I get stuck more. Someone who also develops a sense of intimacy slowly but they don’t need it before sharing, might have an easier time in building relationships, all else being equal.
The experience of romantic attraction that Omnes described seems to be like feeling this sense of emotional intimacy very quickly (e.g., “We talked for three hours and I already feel like we’ve known each other forever”, “We met last week and I want to spend my whole life together with you”). It seems like if I felt this, then I would be able to “jump ahead” because the emotional intimacy would build much faster and allow me to open up earlier. However, C has a different way of “jumping ahead” that may be a factor of personality or of something else entirely. I don’t think that way is open to me either, but that’s a factor of my introversion or of other psychological hangups.
I think this is kind of a rambling response, but it’s definitely a good discussion to keep working at!
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I’m glad you enjoyed reading! And it’s interesting that you mention that needing to have a pre-existing sense of emotional intimacy is connected to introversion for you. Because C is also a huge introvert, like even more so than me. She would disappear from the rest of the world (including the internet, and me) for months if she had the chance. I kind of wonder if for her it might be connected to being a highly independent person, and yet at the same time incredibly empathetic so that almost everyone she meets feels comfortable enough with her to share their life story. She really has an extraordinarily high level of emotional intimacy with strangers, at least from the Stranger > C direction. She’s also the type of person who Knows Exactly What to Say. People tend to treat her almost like a therapist.
But I suspect that if everyone opens up to you so easily, then it doesn’t really feel special or romantic whenever it happens. So that might be part of the difference there.
Earlier this week, I was discussing some social anxiety I was having, and she said one of her “tricks” was just to greet everyone as if she already knows them, like a friend would. I guess that dispenses with a lot of the awkwardness. That’s something I will have to try. I feel like her ways of skipping through the usual “protocols” (lol) are mostly inaccessible to me, too, but that one might be something that could help.
This conversation has been pretty interesting, and helped me articulate/realize some things I previously couldn’t put my finger on. I’m just hoping tomorrow I’ll be able to finish my post about it before The Festivities begin, haha.
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I’m a straight 40+ male. I’ve just met a much younger woman who has identified herself as asexual .This is outside any of my previous experiences and diversity only covered LGB back in college. I have felt an immediate and completely overwhelming sense of attraction, far beyond anything I’ve ever known or could ever explain.
I am open to whatever type of relationship she will consider but she thinks I would be incapable of a non sexual relationship .I feel both romantic and platonic emotions about her and she is the most intellectually compatible girl I’ve ever known and is an absolute and constant pleasure to me .I cannot imagine being without her but how can I prove I have accepted the possibility of never having sex with her?
I am still trying to learn what I can about entering into a relationship like this and would appreciate any help (advice, links,forums,etc) anybody could suggest.
You know, I don’t know what to tell you really, other than… just focus on being friends with her or whatever type of relationship it is that SHE feels comfortable with, rather than trying to convince her of what kind of relationship you could have. Everyone’s relationships are very individual, so I can’t really offer any more specific advice than that (and, honestly, even if you told me more I wouldn’t have the time or expertise). But… just be very very respectful of her boundaries, don’t push for a closer relationship, and read all you can to educate yourself about asexuality. It is possible that, even with all of that, she might still want to back off from you, and it’s important to respect that if so. But it will be a lot less likely if you just focus on being a good friend to her, and nothing else, and see where things go from there.
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