[cw: sex, in specifics]
BD wrote in:
I’ve been wanting to share my story with someone who might understand, and I think perhaps that might be you.
Hope you don’t mind I’m sending you this?
Not at all.
I’m a sexual person, deeply invested in one of my best friends, who thinks he might be asexual. When it was only friendship he told me he thought he was, even though he’s very experienced and has had sex with many partners in the past. I didn’t quite understand, but accepted it as it was.
Something developed between us, however, and at first the whole asexuality thing didn’t come up. Our interaction was the same two sexual people might have: we flirted, we made out and we had a lot of sex (more than I used to have with my sexual ex bf!), which he often times initiated. He was very passionate in bed and didn’t seem to be at all uncomfortable. The only thing that was different was the fact he never had an orgasm. He told me that was the norm for him and that he was enjoying it so I didn’t mind, although I must admit some part of me wanted it, feeling only that would make him completely happy.
What we had ended very suddenly, one day he didn’t want me to touch him after sex at all. We always cuddled (he also initiated a lot of times!)and that day he completely rejected me and said a lot of things about how I was clingy and “too much”. He claimed I only “desired his body”, and that considering he had been the one to initiate sex that night. I felt awful. Afterwards, he took it back and admitted he had freaked out because things were getting too serious, but we both agreed we should probably stop.
I didn’t want it to stop, though. I really like him, in ways I’ve never liked another person. I would say I love him (I do love him), but it would be to simple to put it like that. What I feel for him is more than an infatuation, it’s deeper, more meaningful. What complicates is that I don’t think he feels quite the same way about me. I’m his friend and he enjoys my company, but I do not make him feel like he makes me feel.
One day I got drunk and tried to make a move on him. He rejected it and said I should move on with my life, that he was almost sure he was really asexual. I said I didn’t mind and that we didn’t have to have sex. He rejected me anyway.
Sometime after however, we ended up in my apartament after a party, just the two of us. We were behaving like normal friends, but somehow we ended up cuddling, just like we used to.
Since then we have spent a few nights together. We talk and watch TV and then cuddle, a lot. Sex is completely off the table. We also haven’t kissed. I’m okay with that, but it’s complicated because I don’t quite know where the limits are, particularly because we’ve had so much sex before. I caress his body and sometimes he’s completely okay with that, other times he very firmly tells me to stop. I think that’s when he get somewhat aroused. He sounds very frustrated with me then, as if I’m trying to seduce him against his will, and that annoys me. I’m not trying to seduce him. I want to respect him more than anything else in this world, but he doesn’t seem to understand that. He also complains about our cuddling, says I move too much and that I don’t give him space, but he is the one who comes to my house. If he didn’t want that, why would he come?
We haven’t really talked about what we have as well. I tried to bring it up and he said I “think too much” so I didn’t push. It annoys me because sometimes he acts like what we have is nothing, like we are merely friends. For someone who says he’s asexual he surely seems to put too much emphasys on the sex part of the relationship. Back then when we were doing we were together, and now that we aren’t we are just friends ? I don’t think that’s fair. The fact that I’m much more invested than him makes it all more complicated. It’s easy to start wondering if he does care about me at all, or if he only stays here because he’s lonely and has no one else.
I know it sounds like I’m complaining about him a lot, but that’s not why I came here. I’m really happy I get to have something with him, whatever it is that we have. I just wish things could be clearer between us and God, I hope I don’t mess up. I want to respect him SO MUCH, I’ve been reading a lot about the subject to try to make sure I don’t do anything wrong. I guess I’m afraid because no matter how much I read I won’t ever understand it fully.
Sorry to vent here, but I thought you and the readers of this blog might have some interesting thoughts. How do you guys perceive this entire thing? Have I done anything wrong? What should I do to make sure I’m respecting him and making him comfortable, at the same time we move forward in our relationship? (In the sense of getting to be more open and intimate, not in the sense of having sex again. I’m deeply aware that that will only happen again when he wants it, IF he wants it).
Well, I have a few thoughts. Feel free to reject anything that doesn’t apply, since I’m only working off what you’ve told me here, and there’s no way for me to know the whole situation.
First off, in one of the anecdotes you relayed — “I said I didn’t mind and that we didn’t have to have sex. He rejected me anyway” — something occurred to me there. This is just speculation, but given the insecurity aces are encouraged to have about whether a non-ace partner would really be content in a nonsexual relationship, I could understand, hypothetically, an ace rejecting someone preemptively to spare them both the hassle. That said, I don’t know if that’s necessarily what’s went on there. It’s just one possibility you might not have thought of before.
So you say he objects to your cuddling style, but also “but he is the one who comes to my house. If he didn’t want that, why would he come?” Well, I think the answer to that one is rather easy. To see you, of course! Or to pet your dog or something. But the fact that he comes to your house isn’t proof that he’s lying about his cuddling preferences or anything like that. It just means that there’s something that he finds worthwhile about being there (it’s not strange for friends to like coming over to see each other). If he says he doesn’t like the way cuddles are happening, then all that is, is a cue to not do things that way.
You said that “sometimes he acts like what we have is nothing, like we are merely friends.” I don’t know about you, but what me and my friends have is not “nothing.” Friendship can mean a lot of different things. So “merely” friends, to me, isn’t really a coherent idea. I’m sure there was something valid you were getting at there, though — presumably, that sometimes he downplays the significance of the relationship between you?
From what you’ve said, it sounds like he doesn’t want to discuss the specifics of what your relationship is right now. I can understand him finding some kind of value in that ambiguity — but it also sounds like you need clarity. As in, clarity is a need for you. That’s a valid thing to want, to be sure of where you stand with someone. Theoretically, you might be able to find a balance between the two. Instead of binary questions like “Are we dating or are we friends?” for instance, you could ask more open-ended questions like “What do you think of us?” and “How should I refer to you?” (like boyfriend, best friend, partner, etc.). I’m not certain that will work, but it’s something I thought I’d bring up as an idea.
From the anecdotes you’ve described, I do get the sense that he’s yanking you around, unpredictably hot/cold, and from your end, it would make sense that that would feel very unfair. I can’t necessarily be sure, from what you’ve said, what things are going on on his end. But regardless of the reason, it definitely sounds stressful.
You talked about how you don’t know where the limits and boundaries are for physical touch (like cuddling) between the two of you. That made me think of this physical boundaries checklist that I found through Queenie’s relationship linkspam. Not knowing much about the guy, I can’t tell you what the best way to use this would be. Here are some examples of things you could do: make your own version of the checklist with body parts/actions that you think he might like or that you might like. If you think he’d be relieved to get to specify in this much detail, you might present him with the chart directly. Or, if you think he’d get overwhelmed by the sight of it, you might start by trying to ask him — in open-ended questions — about a few of the items on the list. If he’s not amenable to conversation about how to cuddle, then that means you can’t get permission for how to cuddle. It may or may not help to assure him that it’s okay if his preferences change later and that you’re just trying to learn about what he’d like. But you may also have to get comfortable with the idea of having permission for zero of the things on the list.
Life is unpredictable, and I can offer you no guarantee of “moving forward in your relationship,” in any sense of the phrase. I can only hope that you might find something useful in all of this.
All readers are invited to comment.