My birthday is coming up soon and while cleaning my room today I came across my pile of last years birthday cards. Cards from my parents, my sister, my flatmate, my flatmate’s parents (bizarrely) and one from my best friend.
Best friend was, at the time, the best way I had to describe my relationship with S. We’d been friends since high school when I dated a good friend of his for three years. When we graduated we started meeting up for coffee occasionally while giggling about how grown up we were being, and texting and, by the time I got into college we were firm friends in out own right, outside of my ex’s influence.
And we were friends. We cared about each other, communicated constantly, met up for events, talked, hugged and relied upon each other for support. I used the term “best friend” because that was the best way I had to describe a relationship with a person I trust entirely. Not only with my body, but also my emotions, my fears and my hopes. I am not one to trust easily and my unceasing paranoia means that I tend to trust in increments. My current flatmate was dismayed to discover I trusted him…but only to a certain extent. I trust him enough to share a home with him, but not with the rest of me. Not with what is really important.
So there was S, a key part of my life. We “dated”, if you can really call it that, twice.
The first time, I knew he’d been working his way up to kissing me for weeks. I could just see it on his face. And I wasn’t averse to the idea, I loved this guy after all, so I went along with it. And it…it…
It was a mistake.
I walked out of his flat that evening and texted my flatmate because I literally didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I said, “I think I just made a really big mistake“.
There is a big difference between loving someone and being in love with them.
We broke up after a few weeks and it was an awkward for a while. But I persisted in maintaining our friendship and he got a girlfriend so eventually, the awkwardness just burned itself out. We were as close as we had ever been, he lost the girlfriend and my touch starved soul got all the cuddling it could possibly hope to have.
And then I worked out my asexuality. I realised that my ambivalence to sex or kissing wasn’t because I was broken but because that was the way it just was for me. I told S and he was amazing about it. Educated himself and we continued on as always.
And then we started dating for the second time. I don’t know what it was about us if it was just we both got really really lonely around Christmas but we repeated almost the exact same pattern of behavour…except, I didn’t.
I began to think that maybe I could be in love with him. He was clearly attracted to me and cared about me a great deal and, I faked attraction on and off for three years, I know how to look at a man and make him think I want him.
I sound like a mercenary.
There was some conflict, some strife and eventually one long excruciatingly awkward conversation that resulted in the conclusion that we liked each other a lot, we wanted to be together but I wouldn’t sleep with him so he would be okay to see other girls on the side. An Open Relationship, we called it.
The thing is I went into that conversation knowing that this was it. This was the moment that would make or break things. Either everything would work or it wouldn’t and I’d lose him from my life completely.
I really, really, wish I hadn’t been right about that one. We broke up after Christmas mostly because of my ace-ness, and following that I watched our friendship decline. I did try and save it, but that requires two people and now I haven’t heard from him in months.
Infuriatingly now I have the vocabulary to deal with the relationship I was having. Queer Platonic Relationship or QPR is an intense, emotional relationship that is not familial or romantic in nature. Within the ace community, they are often committed relationships and it was only after struggling with my romantic identity (still struggling with that one tbh) that I discovered exactly what I had been feeling and dealing with.
Perhaps it was always doomed to failure. Perhaps it is impossible to form a QPR with someone who feels sexual attraction regularly. I don’t know.
All I know is that now, my birthday is rolling around again and I’m alone. No boyfriend, no QPR, no best friend…and no one I trust enough to let in.