AA: 25 Years

[cw: sex as a site of conflict in a relationship, antigay/homophobic analogy, atrocious rape analogy]

This one isn’t very long, but I’m going to address this one piece by piece instead of in block form.

Mer wrote in:

I just thought I should let you know that your post on how to tactfully end the relationship seems off to me. I have been in a relationship with an asexual man for about 25 years. I did the”right” things, in that I VERY gently & caringly talked to him at about 6-8 times during this time.

I’d just like to point out, that when I was sharing this with the engineer friend and the mermaid friend for perspective, one of them stopped me here to repeat “6-8 times… in 25 years.”  Meaning, eight times is not a lot of times in twenty-five years.

Presumably, we’re talking about the latter end of those twenty-five years, fairly recently.  Presumably, you’re emphasizing that you did all you could.  Given the sketchy timeline that remains unclear to me either way.

I started conversations about how we could improve our situation, although I have been the only unhappy partner.

Here I’ll say this: When one partner is unhappy with the relationship and the other is fine with that, that’s a problem unto itself.

I’ll also say: What do you mean by “improve our situation”?

He has never been empathetic enough to try to consider my needs. He led me to believe that it would get better, there wasn’t any problem, etc. The most recent time, I thought I had it figured out. I thought he had a porn addiction, and the masturbating addiction that goes with it. He actually said he did have a madturbating problem! He lied. He admitted to it as a way of appeasing me, buying yet more years of my life. (He said he was working on it.). He’s an intelligent man, so I now believe that he’s known all along & just chose to be dishonest with me by not letting me know that he is asexual. He has misled me, & kept me hanging onto hope because the relationship is good for him. HE isn’t lacking having any of his basic human needs being met. SO, since I now know he is, (beyond a shadow of a doubt), an asexual, I AM resentful.

Some of the things you have just told me with the above text:

  • You are convinced “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that this man is asexual, and also, “the most recent time” [that you confronted him?] was to accuse him of having a masturbation problem.  This tells me that since that confrontation there have not been more confrontations — meaning, your conviction that he’s asexual has nothing to do with him telling you directly “I am asexual.”  Presumably, he hasn’t said anything like that to you at all.
  • You believe that he does not empathize with you enough, and you believe he was being deceptive when he told you “it would get better” (“it” meaning “he” and “get better” meaning “change for you”?).  You have not ruled out, with these givens, the possibility that he lied to you because he does empathize with you and because he wants you feel better in the interim while he tries his best.  It’s also possible that he’s being manipulative to keep a relationship that suits him more than it suits you.  Given what you’ve told me, it remains unclear to me either way.
  • You confronted him with an accusation, he told you that you were right, and at a later point you somehow found out that you weren’t right.  What this tells us is that springing an accusation on him can lead to him just accepting whatever you say is true of him.  This is the behavior of someone who has learned that the best and most effective way to resolve a conflict is to roll over and submit as soon as possible, i.e. it is definitely an indicator of a relationship that has not made room for open and honest communication.  I’m very unconvinced that I should place the blame on him for that state of affairs.  You literally phrased this as him trying to “appease” you.
  • You are convinced that he is asexual, and you are also convinced that he knows he is asexual.  You have not told me why you think this.
  • You believe your needs are not being met.  If I were to agree with you, it would be because stability, security, and honesty in a relationship are what I consider to be emotional needs.  I would also agree with you if you told me that this relationship should not continue.

He chose to have me believe that I was totally unattractive for all of these years.

  • If that belief has been paining you, I’m sorry to hear that.  Your appearance, whatever it may be, has no reflection on your worth.
  • There are some more things that are unclear here.
  • Is “you are unattractive” something he told you?
  • Is “I am unattractive” a belief you expressed to him?  How did he react?  Did he try to convince you otherwise?  Did he directly encourage the belief?

It is wrong that he took advantage of my ignorance, that I didn’t know of asexuality.

Does he know of asexuality?

He has stolen decades of my life, and of my ability to be happy while raising 2 daughters. My confusion & frustration through the years certainly had to affect our children.

Well, I would agree that you two’s relationship may have negative implications for them.

This is no different than someone who knows that they are gay marrying a straight person (without disclosing it) to serve their own agenda, such as having children.

This is so wildly homophobic and unsympathetic to the trials of closeted people, I’m not even going to touch this.

It is wrong. I shouldn’t apologize to him no more than a rape victim should apologize to their rapist.

You should absolutely apologize to me for making me read that sentence with my own two eyes.

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2 responses to “AA: 25 Years

  • luvtheheaven

    Yikes. This was a great answer to a tough letter.

    I’ve met a few asexual men (via in-person ace meetups) who have been in heterosexual marriages for 10, 15, 20, 25 years. They didn’t know they were asexual, they didn’t know why they didn’t want sex, they didn’t know being asexual was an option. None of them did. Even 5 years ago the average population wasn’t nearly as likely to know about asexuality as much as they do now, so if you’ve been married for 25 years, assuming you got married at age 18 you are both at least 43 years old. Do you know how many 43 year olds know about asexuality and understand the concept, whether or not they are ace themselves?? Not very many. If you haven’t explicitly talked about asexuality, and yet you’re this convinced he’s asexual, you’re doing both of yourselves a disservice. What’s the harm in talking about it, especially if you’re that convinced there’s “no chance” you’re wrong?

  • elainexe

    One thing I might add for this person is that…asexuality as a sexual orientation label only came about in like 2001 I think? It’s almost impossible for him to have identified as such for the whole 25 years of this relationship, and only slightly more likely for him to have thought of himself as not straight (or perhaps, as not bi. Or in other words, it’s unlikely that he considered it possible to have an ace-like life). But this woman seems to be saying he was deceiving her since the beginning.

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