Edge of Everywhere

Year In Review, Part II: Great Expectations

Posted on: October 4, 2009

Over the past year, while my understanding of asexuality has developed, the way I think about all of my relationships has evolved as well.

You know how when people talk about dating, they often talk about “deal breakers,” the qualities or habits that make them call off (or not want to enter into) a relationship? These are often small, ridiculous-seeming things that they would never hold against a friend, but for some reason find unsuitable for a partner. Since I am not looking for one person to be my perfect everything, I find it possible to appreciate each person and relationship for what it is rather than holding any of them up to a highly specific set of standards for the “right” person and inevitably being disappointed.

But at the same time, I often end up disappointed anyway, because I’ve raised my standards for what I expect from each of my friends in terms of how they treat me and show that they value our relationship. I want each relationship to be meaningful and worth both of our time, and just as people who are dating often want to be clear as to whether they are “in a relationship,” I have found it increasingly necessary to know whether or not someone is my friend, and to see it as an all-or-nothing thing the way people view romantic relationships. I’ve developed my own set of expectations, of “deal breakers,” that I think most people wouldn’t apply to people they are “just” friends with. I don’t care if any given one of them is taller or shorter than I am or snores or likes the same sports teams, but I need to know that each of them is committed to the maintenance and growth of our relationship, and that they won’t drift away and abandon me whenever they’re in a romantic relationship. But my expectations have just set me up to get let down again and again, and then to let go. It really frustrates me that while it’s normal and expected for people in romantic relationships to discuss their relationships, I’m pretty sure that if I attempted to have a similar “state of the relationship” conversation with a friend who had disappointed me, I would be seen as crazy, as imagining myself as and/or wanting to be that person’s girlfriend, when that wasn’t the case at all. I don’t have a framework for making demands, for fixing things, because I haven’t earned that right by being their primary person–we never actually made a deal either of us is obligated to uphold. So instead, frustrated and insulted, I walk away, wondering why it has to be that way.

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1 Response to "Year In Review, Part II: Great Expectations"

I hear you. I always thought it was some weird thing about me personally that I have such an “abandonment complex”. But according to this book I’m reading (Surplus Powerlessness, that I’ve been talking about on my blog), it’s rational to feel that way. Parents ignore you, spouses leave you, jobs fire you– it’s not paranoid to think that people will abandon you. I know that’s not really a consolation, but it helps a little to know that a lot of people feel the same way, and it’s not just an asexual thing. Apparently our society is pretty much set up for abandonment. I can’t tell myself it’s all in my head because I HAVE been abandoned by friends; we all have.

I also agree with your frustration about the lack of a framework in friendships. I could say a lot about this, but I feel like my ideal relationship doesn’t exist in “the real world”. It’s not really a best friend, because I’ve had best friends and as soon as they start dating someone, I feel insecure. And like I said, that’s something with a basis, not just me being neurotic.

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