I Don’t Wanna Be In Love

Dating is the worst, y’all. Not just in the general sense, but as an ace person, I’m getting hella tired of sorting through people who will actually respect my orientation versus people who think if they hang in there long enough I’ll magically change orientations. You know, time + affection = suddenly allosexual.

I was talking with an ex about how things might have gone (we broke up for emotional space reasons, not sex related reasons. Grieving makes romance hard) and he mentioned how if we’d gotten to that point in our relationship where we were close enough for him to want to be sexual with me, that might have been an ending point in our relationship. On the one hand, I really want people to be open about their needs and not bury them deep down in order to make a relationship work. I get that sex is important for some people, and wouldn’t want to put someone in a position where they can’t feel fulfilled…it just really sucks to think that even with everything else I put into a relationship, someone could be feel like it’s not enough without sex.

I know, it’s a little self centered. I just have had really great chemistry with people before, and we’ve otherwise been madly in love, but the sex thing is such a deal-breaker. It makes me wish sometimes that I wasn’t this way, as much as I’m fine with this aspect of myself. I’ve tried doing it anyways, even though it’s not something I enjoy. Let me tell you, most people can tell when your brain is elsewhere during that kind of thing.

Even in my current dating life (I’m dating someone who’s poly) I still worry about getting romantically entangled, because for a lot of allosexual people sex still does mean love. And while a lot of them can intellectually agree that love is not worth more or less just because sexual feelings are not attached, a lot more of them have a hard time feeling that in a romantic relationship.

Even though I’m indifferent, I often feel like I’m being dishonest trying out sex with people, because I don’t feel that attraction, and it feels like I’m pretending to feel that. I don’t know, how do other ace people feel about this topic? Have you ever tried being sexual to keep a relationship together? Did you like it? Just feel meh about it?

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I Didn’t Survive Suicide for this Bullsh*t.

It’s been about two years and three months since the time I went manic, decided I didn’t like this “game” anymore and tried to “quit.” (Weirdly, that was how I thought about it at the time. Yeah.) I have some pretty obvious scars down my wrist that were angry and red for quite some time, and that caused a LOT more people than I would have anticipated  to grab me and tell me to stop hurting myself (however, a critical thinker might realize that scars are not the same as fresh wounds. So. Little bit late on that one, guys.)

Nowadays, the scars are still there, but faded. To the point that someone didn’t believe I’d ever had mental health problems. Ya know, cause I am so…good now. How do I phrase that one? I’m not perfect or something, but there’s something about the worst things happening, and still being here and being okay. Some kind of quality that makes you realize that some things REALLY don’t matter. But also, life is short, and you don’t have to put up with things that are going to make you miserable if you don’t need to.

I call this my “WELL, I didn’t survive suicide for THIS” attitude. Pre-suicide attempt me wasn’t ready to fail. Or even make minor mistakes. I’d turn over even the slightest mistake in my head (and being socially awkward, there were a lot of missteps!) for so long, I’d have trouble remembering what really happened. Pre-attempt me wouldn’t take risks, and especially wouldn’t let people see me break. And most importantly, I bent over backwards to please everyone, and put up with behavior I should never have.

I allowed people to not only walk all over me, but I put my energy into them without receiving anything back. And really, with the way I held everyone at arm’s length, I don’t know how they would have given anything back to me. I set myself up to really only work well with self-centered type people, because I couldn’t even begin to have a two way street kind of friendship.

Now, however?

I don’t pursue things that don’t fulfill me in some way. Job where I learn cool and useful skills? Cool. Friend who pushes me to hike over mountains? Fantastic. Volunteering somewhere I feel useful? The goddamn best.

Twin who insists I make her look fat by….existing in a picture with her? Blocked.

Mom who insists I must be pregnant because I live with two men? Bye.

“Friend” who says I’ve “friendzoned” him? I think y’all get the idea.

I realize looking back that I didn’t value myself enough to make sure that the people I surrounded myself with valued me too. And frankly, now that I’ve faced the kind of emptiness that I did, I’ve decided that these bonus years are mine. Not my twin’s. Not my parents’. Absolutely not anyone who I’ve decided to grace with my friendship.

Looking forward to the next few years of healthy relationships, fulfilling life goals, and trying new things. Two years, three months, and counting on.

8 Gender Neutral Names That Aren’t “Alex” or “Ayden”

So, as a GNC and NB person, I had to pick out a gender neutral name at some point, because my birth name, which was something that was popular among women’s names about a hundred years ago (think Ethel, or Gladys, but worse), was just not cutting it. It didn’t suit me, and I sometimes think that I would have changed it regardless of gender identity. Seriously, most people I introduced myself to would have a scoffing kind of reaction and inform me that my birth name didn’t suit me at all. Which was a little rude, but I did agree with them.

After a couple years of digging (I take transition steps very slowly!) I found my name, and I’m happy with it, but I also have a few years worth of research on other gender neutral or neutral-ish names. So today, I’d like to share a few with you. Who knows? Maybe you were pondering a name this week, and you’ll find one you like here.

Just to clarify, though; a lot of NB people I’ve known don’t change their names, even if they’re not already neutral. It’s not a requirement, and it’s not a step one has to take if it doesn’t feel right. It is just as valid to decide “Well, my female coded name is mine. Therefore, it’s neutral.” just like you might with a dress, or cargo pants, or whatever other gender coded object is in your life. If it’s yours, and you like it, it’s appropriate for you.

On to names!

Aaren – This is just a variant of Aaron, and sometimes used as a feminine version of that name, but I really liked it when I first saw it because it looks unique (I know, I’m worse than those soccer Moms that spell their kids’ name like “Ashlyeigh” or something, but hey. I like what I like.) Anyways, this is an old name that some think means “high mountain” or “exalted” and has been a staple in the Christian community for quite some time. I personally like the idea of this name because it’s the name of Moses’ brother, and Aaron was basically the public speaker of the entire movement for freedom of the Hebrew people. When I first saw this name, it was when I did a lot of public speaking and activism on behalf of the trans and LGBTQ community, so it seemed like a pretty good fit for someone like me.

Aquila – This name means “eagle” in Latin, and I’ve mostly seen it as a surname, but for someone who wants a unique name with a cool meaning, this might be a great fit. In Roman culture, the eagle was often the standard for the military, and seen as not only fierce, but wise. Now, granted, because it ends in an a, and sounds a bit like Akeelah, this may not be the best fit for someone who doesn’t want to be gendered as female, but if that doesn’t bother you, or you want your name to err on the side of feminine sounding, this is pretty neat.

Bronte – Originally a surname, derived from Gaelic “Bestower” this name seemed like a good fit for someone with a literary background (Bronte sisters, anyone?) and someone with a giving personality. Also, coincidentally, sounds a lot like the Greek word for “Thunder.”

Caron – Kind of like Aquila, this does run the risk of sounding feminine. However, this name is Welsh, and means “to love” and has been used for both genders for quite some time. Might also be a good sub for someone with a similar sounding birth name.

Rain/Raine – Reasons I liked this combo was because I was searching for R names at the time; while the first one is an obvious meaning, the second one is thought to be derived from the “reine” meaning queen. Which I thought was a very funny coincidence.

Sage – Another on the nose kind of name, it means what it looks like. I’m kind of a fan of hippy sounding neutral names.

Sevan – So this particular name caught my eye after someone I knew named “Savannah” chose this name to stay close to their original name. It’s the largest lake in Armenia, and may also be derived from the word that means “lake.” I especially liked this name because I liked the person attached to it, though. Think of the pronunciation more like “Sev-OHN” not like the number 7. Hah.

Jorryn – Also biblical, this one means “the one God loves” and when I found it, I had a lot of thoughts on that. As a queer person with Christian beliefs, it was something I thought about a lot, and this name was something of a confirmation. In the end, finding an accepting church filled that void for me, but I figured I’d share this name as well.

So, obviously, this is a list of names tailored to my search; something neutral, something biblical, and something that wouldn’t be taking from another culture that wasn’t my own. There are a whole lot of really cool sounding Arabic and Japanese names, for instance, that I wouldn’t want to co-opt, because I’m neither of those things. What are some interesting neutral names you’ve found? Or even non-neutral names that you’ve found? And what made you settle on your name?

 

 

 

 

 

Going from Control Freak to Regular Freak

Whenever I reach a big milestone, my best friend’s first reaction is to take me on a hiking trip. I enjoy hiking on my own, but hiking with him is just a special kind of awesome that really makes me feel alive and appreciated. We’ve gotten sun burnt, mobbed by angry grouse, and frozen to death in some pretty spectacular places.

Getting to those milestones (things like 2 year anniversary of my suicide attempt, or one year clean of self harm) is on me, though, and I’ve developed a number of coping mechanisms to deal with the stress that put me in that kind of place.

So first, my background is that I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family; the more I live with people who had a stable environment, the more I realize that I need a lot of self soothing to function like a normal adult. For me, because of the chaos and unpredictability of my family, I have a lot of anxiety around planning and money. One such example that scarred me for life was when my parents burst into my room in the middle of the night, and demanded whatever money I had saved up. They had some sort of bill they urgently needed to pay, though I never got any specific explanation, and I never got the money back. I’m sure it wasn’t a lot of money, but I was very young, and had to pay for any adventures myself (Girl Scouts, field trips, etc), so the loss of the money I’d been saving up was devastating. It put me in the habit of spending money whenever I got it, because I might not have it tomorrow.

With that in mind, I want to talk about the things I’ve done to manage this anxiety and encourage better habits. So, here we go:

  1. I manage my money. This doesn’t have to be a planner or something like that (in fact, if I do a full blown planner, I get obsessive, so I avoid that), but I make sure that my math adds up every month, with some wiggle room left over, so that I don’t have to worry. For me, this covers both long term and short term money anxiety.
  2. In the case that I’m panicking about something in the moment, I go to my account and do the math again. This can be incredibly soothing to me: it reminds me I have money, and I have control over it.
  3. I get tips at my current job. These tips go into a “buy whatever the fuck you want” fund. This keeps me from going nuts and spending all my money in my account because I feel like I have to before it’s gone. When I (fingers crossed!) move up in management and stop receiving tips, I’m going to designate a small fund for this purpose.

When it comes to planning anxiety, here’s a few things I had to implement into my life:

  1. If someone is just a habitually late person, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you or value you. I have two roommates: one is always on time, and one is just always late. It could be the time we have to be somewhere, and he’ll still think he has time to get there. I remember one time, I nearly threw a fit, because we’d planned to see a movie at 3:15, and at 3:14 he was saying we had time to stop at a bank. We’ve talked about it since then, and I only make plans with him if A) the time we get there or get back is flexible or B) I am having a low stress day already and can deal with getting him to be on time.
  2. Letting plans change is good for me. I used to be super inflexible, but over time, I’ve learned to go with the flow, and “figure things out when we get there.” Yeah, it’s a little stressful to not know exactly what’s going on that day, but I just remind myself that being uncomfortable is not bad. And, assuming nothing horrible is going to result from plans changing, I am going to be fine. Yeah, I might have to eat Chinese food instead of Mexican, or sleep in a parking lot instead of making it to our campground on time. That’s okay.
  3. Let other people plan. Obviously, I’m almost never going to do that with my roommate who is horrible at being on time. Too many times, we’ve gone somewhere, and it’s closed because he didn’t check what times they were open (You know what though? Everything was still okay.) But my best friend is pretty good at planning, and I’ve been learning to trust him with our adventures. A year ago, I probably wouldn’t just hop into a car to be gone for the weekend in a park I hadn’t even looked up yet. But this past year, I’ve done this a few times, spur of the moment. Learning to let go and trust someone else has done wonders for my stress levels.

I think that covers the basics of it, and I’ve been very lucky to have people around me who have made this possible. For anyone else who has similar issues from their dysfunctional family, you should know that you’re not stuck like this. You can break these habits, and form new, better ones. The first few times you let go of control, it’s going to feel awful, but it’s completely worth it to keep trying. Good luck!

 

Beauty and Transness

I dated someone who transitioned from female to male, and while he was in the most difficult part of transitioning, we had a lot of long talks about the process and how it felt. I call it the most difficult part of his transition because he wanted more than anything to “pass” immediately, but he was still waiting for the effects of testosterone to kick in, and he hadn’t been able to get top surgery yet. However, he was living socially as a man, and it often made him feel especially raw and open to the world in a way that his introvert soul hated.

What stuck with me the most, however, was one night when he mentioned to me that he struggled with the idea that people not only saw him as a woman, but as an ugly woman. In hindsight, it made a lot of sense; no one wants to be seen as unattractive, and having been raised under a huge pressure to be an attractive young lady, some of that still lingered for him. He didn’t want to be an attractive woman, mind you; he wanted to be a man, and hopefully an attractive one at that. He confessed at one point that this fear of being ugly had delayed his transition more than anything else.

It made me wonder how many people focused on this when considering transition. I’ve seen posts where trans men compare their pre-transition pics to themselves now. While I have yet to meet someone who regrets transitioning solely because they were pretty as the wrong gender, there are a lot of trans guys who recognize and joke around about how hot they were, and what a pity it wasn’t a body/gender they IDed with.

I chatted with a few of my friends who went from male to female, and their beauty fears were similar, but with a different focus: they were concerned about being an ugly woman when they finished their transition. It seemed like this was something the trans community could all relate to; the last thing anyone wanted to be perceived as was an ugly woman. And I think that stems from sexism and misogyny, in advertising and in our culture. There is so much pressure on women to be beautiful, and not so much on men. A lot of trans men express a sense of relief from that pressure when they transition, and a lot of trans women suddenly feel that pressure as overwhelming and depressing.

As a non-binary person, I’d like to think this sentiment has skipped over me, but I’m vulnerable to it as well. I realized recently that one of the things keeping me from pursuing hormones or top surgery was that I worried I’d look ugly. I grew up ugly (braces, frizzy hair, overweight, acne galore), and while that actually made me less obsessed with my looks, I’ve abruptly hit a stage in my life where people think I’m pretty, and I’m not really ready to give that up. When I first came out and started cutting all my hair off and dressing in a way that felt comfortable, I overcame that first fear of being hideous. Honestly, it was an ugly duckling stage, but I was too deliriously happy finally being myself to really care. Now I’ve settled into a style that looks good on me, and part of me wants to stay in this “attractive androgyne” persona. However, the need to feel comfortable in my body is slowly becoming a stronger pull than the need for other people to find me attractive. Eventually, the other will win out, but in the meantime, I guess I’ll just continue to be anxious?

I imagine this is how a lot of people on the edge of physical transition feel like. What if it looks terrible? What if it doesn’t work and people perceive me as the wrong gender forever? What if I change my mind?

When I see stuff circulating about the most gorgeous trans men and trans women, I feel self conscious all over again, but I also think about other trans men and women who aren’t these pinnacles of human perfection. Why are we so focused on these images? Are we setting our community up for self esteem issues?

I hope as time goes on, trans will become just as normal a descriptor as “left-handed” or “brunette” and we won’t feel this pressure to be so pretty. Until then, all the love to people in their awkward stage right now; it really sucks to have to think this hard about your looks while dealing with dysphoria.

Danger: Dating While Asexual

“Hey, I think you’re beautiful…” was how a seemingly innocent (and somewhat flattering) message on OKCupid started out. I’m sure if you’ve seen blogs like OKStupid or other blogs documenting weird encounters on this dating site, you know where this is going. However, I’m a little too trusting, so I made an “awww” sound and then promptly choked on that as I kept reading.

I’m gonna summarize here, because it was a weird series of sentences, but the short version is that he took “asexual” to mean that I would enjoy “butt stuff” and/or treating him as a sex slave. (I’m guessing the logic here is that he wouldn’t be touching my genitals, so it’d be asexual sex…??)

I’d like to say this is the weirdest offer I’ve gotten on that site, but around once a week or so, someone bravely offers to “fix” my asexuality. You know, cause I haven’t found the right person yet. I often ask them if they’ve tried not having sex with the right person yet, just in case they might be asexual. As you might expect, this doesn’t really invite introspection so much as a whole lot of confusion.

The less expected downside of dating online as an openly asexual person is that some other asexuals think that matching sexuality is enough reason to date. Sure, we’re a small pool of people, but if you’re a 2% match for me, it’s probably not going to work out just because we both don’t wanna bone each other. I’d honestly rather date a better match who wasn’t ace, especially since sex is on the table for me. I’d get more into the difference of being sex repulsed and simply being indifferent to sex, but I can really only speak from my experience, which I’d compare to going to a sports event that you don’t generally care for, but your partner does, and you enjoy it because you’re there with them. This article, by a super awesome ace activist who runs the Resources for Ace Survivors website, details a little more about that topic than I’d really like to delve into here.

Currently, I’m dating someone who’s not ace, and I’ve learned from past experience, it means a lot of checking in, open communication, and explaining innuendos, because he’s pretty oblivious to them. It made me realize how hyper-aware I could be about invites to have sex, or situations that had a lot of sexual pressure in them, because I notice things like that way before he does, and it has a lot to do with past experiences. The last thing I want is to “lead someone on” by unintentionally agreeing to something sexual (reasons why the whole “consent is clear and enthusiastic” bit is so important!!). In past relationships, despite clearly telling the other partner I was ace, I often experienced either pressure to have sex, or worse, pressure to find them sexually appealing, which just isn’t something I experience. As in, holy shit that person is gorgeous, but no matter how gorgeous I find them, I’m not gonna experience any sexual feelings in relation to their utter beauty.

Being labeled a “tease” or “frigid” despite being clear about my sexuality has left me a little paranoid, and I’d like to thank the American film industry for that one. A combination of “persistence is true love” and “sex is true love” has poisoned a lot of my relationships, and has put me in some pretty creepy situations. I’ve even experienced sexual assault at the hands of one of my partners, who genuinely thought that doing so was showing me love, or teaching me how to love. Something like that. I never really got a full explanation on it beyond they felt like it was the right thing to do.

With that in mind, the more benign pit fall is that if I tell someone I’ve just started dating that I’m asexual, they abruptly disappear. And while that kind of hurts a little, I do prefer that over someone pretending they’re fine with it when they’re not. Though I’d like a little more honest communication than just…ghosting. When I was a young thing, I thought people were the Absolute Worst for not wanting to date someone based on their asexuality, but honestly, sexual incompatibility is a totally valid reason not to date someone, asexual or not.

What this all comes down to is that dating is already stressful, and asexuality is just one more layer of stressful in that dating game. Hopefully people will start googling “asexual” before they hit me up on the internet for kinky shit?

Looking Non-Binary vs. Being Non-Binary

I’ve talked about being called a “real” non-binary person by binary people before, and having embodied the general non-binary stereotype (white, androgynous style, short hair), I’m used to people thinking that my general aesthetic is representative of my gender identity.

The other night, I wore a dress. Someone asked me if I was having a “femme” day. Nope! Just having a “I wanna wear this dress” day. But it got me to thinking about a lot of younger non-binary people I’ve encountered, in real life, and on the internet, who do see their clothing as the most important part of their gender identity. I don’t mean that in a vain way, of course, but when the majority of any of the conversations I’ve had with them are about wearing men’s pants and seeking to be so androgynous thatstrangers can’t tell what they are, a pattern starts to emerge.

Why are we focused so much on how others perceive us, and is it damaging to our own internal journey? Are we spending more time seeking to look the part than exploring what we really like and want?

I’ve been out for a number of years now, so clothing and androgynous style isn’t new and exciting anymore. Apparently, people are going to be confused about me, whether I wear a dress or go for the classic flannel shirt look. And more importantly, appearing androgynous doesn’t make the people that matter respect my identity more. As a general rule, if it takes looking so ambiguous that your birth sex is unclear for someone to respect your gender, their respect isn’t worth having in the first place.

I’ve been blessed with a circle of close friends who don’t always understand what I’m going through, but respect who I am regardless of what I’m wearing (this hasn’t always been the case, and I’m so very grateful it’s changed!). I’m also dating someone who understands the journey I’m on (because self discovery is a never ending journey! Yay!). I think these things are waaay more important than looking the part, but even more importantly, I’d like to see the non-binary community focusing on this part of their identity more than their clothes.

This isn’t just a critique of androgynous fashion, of course. If androgyny is your game, more power to you. But if androgynous fashion is going to be made synonymous with non-binary identity, we have a problem. First, not every non-binary person considers themselves an androgynous mix. Second, not every non-binary person can look androgynous. There’s more nuances to this whole “looking the part” mentality, and more issues the more you get into it, but I believe these two points are the most important. Androgynous fashion is pretty damn cool, but it’s not representative of the whole NB community, and frankly, it’s not very accessible for curvy AFAB NB people, and generally not intended to suit AMAB NB people. It alienates NB people who are drawn to more “feminine” clothes, and that’s unfortunate.

I’d like to see a community where walking into a trans meeting as an AFAB person in a dress won’t have people assuming you’re a trans person’s SO. I’d like to see a community where AMAB people have more freedom in their clothing choices. And most importantly, I’d like to see a community where my androgynous fashion choices are not seen as “more real” than someone wearing a dress. No more costumes, just people.