Fair warning: this is really long...I’ve had a lot of thoughts stored up that I needed to get out of my head, and would love knowing maybe some of you can see where I’m coming from with all this!
Ever since realizing I’m asexual (still sort of getting used to that), I’ve been mulling over every almost-relationship I’ve been involved in, reaching back into junior high and all the way to right now. It’s so fascinating to revisit my turbulent past with guys through this new lens, and to think, Wow, this explains so much.
I’ve had a lot of crushes over the years. I won’t deny that. Whether it was a boy at school or a friendly coworker, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about how things might go with a certain fellow, getting way ahead of myself... you know, considering what potential children’s names would sound good combined with his last name, the usual. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)
But one of two things have always happened, without fail. Either 1) he’s not even aware that I like him, and as time goes by my feelings diminish and I get over it, or 2) he has mutual feelings, wants to pursue a deeper relationship with me, and I panic/lose interest and break things off right away.
It’s like, as soon as I realize, Oh, this guy actually likes me...oh, he actually wants to be in a relationship with me... my feelings for him just vanish. Gone. And a lot of times, after rejecting him, I never want to see him again. Probably due to a mixture of guilt and embarrassment. I’ve always felt so bad because I thought all I’ve done is lead guys on and then shatter their hopes. But... that has truly never been my intention. The truth is, I’ve always been legitimately interested in them, but as soon as they wanted to get romantically closer I’ve freaked out. This has really got me thinking, maybe I am aromantic? Not completely sure right now.
But then there was Brandon. We met my freshman year of college. He lived one floor above me in our dorm. One day in the cafeteria, he saw me eating alone (I ate alone most days in college... severe introvert here) and invited me to sit with his friends and him. I very reluctantly agreed, only because I didn’t want to be rude. But somehow a friendship began to blossom between Brandon and me. He convinced me to read Harry Potter for the first time, and every time I finished a book we would watch the corresponding movie together. We bonded over a lot of mutual interests, and I found myself growing closer to him than I ever had to anyone else. Every night after work I’d go up to his room to hang out. We’d lie side by side on his futon and just talk for hours. I shared things with him that I didn’t feel comfortable even talking about with my girl friends.
Then, one day we were watching Netflix in his room, and he tried to hold my hand. Cue the internal panic. My entire body stiffened like a statue, my face burned, I couldn’t concentrate on what we were watching; my mind went on a continuous loop of what is he doing what is he doing please stop why is he trying to hold my hand this is so weird oh my gosh please stop.
Later, Brandon texted me apologizing if he had made things awkward. I responded that it was okay, it was simply that I saw him as more of a brother, and hoped I hadn’t led him on. We went back to being friends after that; things carried on pretty normally. But it was strange. Even though Brandon had expressed some romantic interest in me, I still desperately wanted and craved his friendship. He was my rock freshman year, one of my only friends, and one of the closest friends I had ever had. There were times that I thought I was in love with him, but at the same time I wanted no part of a romantic relationship. These seemingly conflicting feelings were very confusing to me.
Also confusing was how jealous I got when Brandon would talk to other girls. There was one particular girl who also lived in our dorm, that I knew Brandon hung out with on occasion. Brandon told me that she had a crush on him. This affected me to a surprising level: I felt almost heartbroken. And possessive. I didn’t want Brandon to date anyone else. You can’t feel this way, I’d tell myself. You can’t claim Brandon for yourself when you’re not willing to be in a relationship with him. But I kind of did want to be in a relationship with him, but I wasn’t ready to do the whole romantic thing. Hugging him was great; anything beyond that? Couldn’t fathom it. Yet I loved him, and I loved being with him.
Last night, as I was thinking through all this, I realized the answer I’d been grasping for all this time: I was in love with Brandon, in my own way. Without knowing what I was doing, I’d chosen him above all the other guys in the world, to be my closest friend, and what I wanted with him was a committed emotional, intellectual relationship. Back then, I knew nothing about a relationship without the romance, without the sexual attraction. I didn’t know such a thing could exist. It’s what I wanted, but I was confused by it, and assumed it was something I could never have. It caused a lot of frustration, that’s for sure.
Almost three years later, Brandon and I have gone our separate ways and don’t really talk anymore. It breaks my heart when I think about it. Part of me wants to write to him and explain myself. Explain that I did love him, that I never meant to lead him on or take advantage of him, but that I truly desired a committed relationship with him... just not the most conventional type of relationship. I want him to know that. But I don’t know if I’m brave enough. I haven’t told anyone I’m asexual. It hasn’t seemed necessary. But I feel like I almost need to tell Brandon. Do you think I should? Or would that just weird him out?
At any rate... it hurts so bad knowing our friendship will never be what it once was.
Can anyone relate?