Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Letting Go, Again
"Like a self-help manual that's been written in Braille, it seems the more that we touch, the more we learn about our failings."
--The Lucksmiths, "Sunlight in a Jar"
Well, it's been a slow week for asexuality in pop culture. Shocking, no? But I've been thinking, again, about this "letting go"concept. Specifically, this: Are traditional relationship structures (think one partner, a few good friends, a bunch of acquaintances, and selected family members) another thing we'll have to let go of in order to lead happy Ace lives? And furthermore, how can we let go when we don't know what to grab as an alternative? I compare the situation to people that tell me, "Hey, it's great that you're vegetarian, but I just don't know what I'd eat!"
Those people don't know that there is a whole wonderful and strange world of non-meat options. And maybe there is a comparable world of non-traditional relationship options. I just haven't found enough yet, to, well, eat.
However, many people have ideas as to what these A-friendly relationship structures could look like. (Picture me pausing at the top of the tofu aisle, with a mixture of fear and wonderment on my face.) Considering the fact that sexual people are 99% of the population, I'm going to focus on relationships that asexual people could have with sexual people. I mean, traditional relationships would be easy if we could all find fellow Aces to have them with. But, sometimes this isn't possible. So, onward to two alternatives.
The AVEN wiki (find it on top of the main AVEN page) discusses a concept called Community-Based Intimacy. Would it be too intimate for me to call it CBI? Anyway, CBI is described as a "constantly changing network of relationships as [one's] primary means of finding emotional fulfillment..." Believe it or not, this here old sailor is also an old hand at CBI. At the time, it didn't have that name, but looking back, CBI was definitely what I was doing. But it didn't work for me. At all. And it ended up being very sad. Buy me a whiskey and I'll tell you about it sometime. It might work for other people whose emotional needs and habits are different from mine. But I'll have to scratch CBI off my shopping list.
Then there's polyamory. It can be a thorny beast of a concept. But simply put, it is the act of having more than one primary partner. And, unlike your shady ex-boyfriend, everyone involved knows exactly what's going on. I won't admit to understanding it fully. Everyone has their final frontier in the world of sexuality; polyamory is mine. I respect people that are able to do it, but I have no idea how I could. Some see poly life as a boon to asexuals; in a relationship of three people, say, two could have sex with one another, and the Ace in the group wouldn't be pressured for sex. But how could I live in this arrangement without feeling like the perpetual third wheel, the child, or the maid? I am, after all, a jealous person. Knowing this about myself, entering into a poly relationship would be like throwing gasoline on a burning tofu kabob. And no one wants to eat charred tofu. Things that I can see working rarely enough work-- what chance would I have with something I could never see working? Okay, scratch scratch for polyamory too.
There you have it-- two ways that Aces could get down with sexual folks. If you know any more, please, toss them my way. I'd like to consider myself a good test kitchen for the topic-- a sort of barometer for what average views might be. I'm not very radical about relationships, although I recognize the need to be. Like a heck of a lot of people, I've always had a shadowy idea that marriage and kids would occur at some point, but I'm seeing now that I might have to revise this plan. Just because I write about asexuality-- still an esoteric topic by most standards-- doesn't mean I've been able to let go of the "one special partner" ideal. I haven't seen a movie about CBI or polyamory yet. And it probably shows.
So this is the asexual challenge. To somehow find out what kinds of nonsexual relationships work. And I'm talking viable options that even I could love, not ones only for the relationship daredevils among us. This would be a significant contribution to our world, for the sexual and asexual alike. Kind of like Gardenburgers. "Hey, this is pretty good...for vegetarian."