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Standards of Emotional Intimacy: Open Discussion

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so it's been a while.

 

there is a sort of... nuance I've felt between relationships in it's varying forms with aro/ace people. i've actually lacked it in most of my other relationships. it's a little hard to explain, but i haven't seen a lot of people put it into words so i'm trying to do so here.

 

i have a hard time asking for things i want, but in relationships i've been shown the importance of asking. because of my aroace intersectionality, i work incredibly hard to make my emotions known (and we all slip up, but we all also try- i think.) i try to gauge someone else's comfort before my own, because what may be platonic for me also ends up being romantic for others. henceforth my tension surrounding physical touch, when i know how easily this can be misconstrued. but in relationships that i've had for years- with folks i unfairly deem near-life partners (for the work i put in to maintain it, for my desire to see it through to the end, for my longing for emotional closeness) my sort of... expectations fall flat. people that i put the time in for don't necessarily want to put in the same time for me, and it's been this back and forth of me trying to get more out of them when they don't want to, and me trying to confront them with a certain level of emotional intimacy that they cannot/will not match.

 

tldr; i care a lot about my relationships, and when i commit to a friendship... i commit to one. but so often the people i end up staying close to are ones who shy from emotional intimacy, or just straight lack emotional intelligence altogether. (knowing what they need, what they want, unable to have constructive conversations about a friendship that's gone wrong.) i wanted to see if other aro/aroace people felt similarly, and what your emotional invest in relationships sort of urges you to do. like because i'm emotionally invested, i strive for forthright communication with the people i love. i try to be emotionally intimate with my friends, and have that deep connection of understanding. the people i can't do that with, i either try too hard and burn out, or we mostly stop talking.

 

especially with cishet people, i have struggled to earn even a slight emotional weight to a friendship. is it just that aromantic people think more about emotions than others? i feel like we have to some degree be emotionally cognizant for us to understand our feelings, let alone try to explain it to others.

 

let me bullet point some questions, this feels all over:

  • what sort of things do you require in a close friendship? do you have standards about what you need from other people?
  • have you ever had issues with your relationships not meeting your needs, and what have you done? how has that gone?
  • with your personal standards, how has holding true to them gone? do you find a harm in having standards for your relationships?

 

thanks. just been on the mind.

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This is so relateable, I originally thought I had wrote this! Lol

 

I've been told by some alloromantic people that my dedication to my close friendships looks a lot like romantic relationships. I'm lucky in that a few of my closest friends reciprocate the commitment I put in to the relationship, but they don't view the relationship as romantic or even as a queer friendship. To them, I'm a very important lifelong friend that they are committed to. It's worth noting that all of these closest friends are alloromantic. Some of them aren't queer. But they are all open-minded and don't really buy into what society defines as friendship.

I suspect that people who struggle to reciprocate are people who are uncomfortable breaking societal rules and who have rigid notions of what kinds of intimacy are allowed in which relationship box.

 

Some people aren't compatible with me because they view friendships as more closely tied to circumstances or place. The biggest difference between the people I tried to have meet my needs (but failed with) and the people I succeed at having a close bond with is: the presence of unconditional love as loyalty throughout changes in our lives and growths in our personalities and selves.

This is a lot to ask. It's like lifelong commitment from a partner. It essentially is having multiple life partners.

 

It's why I've had relationships fail to meet my needs. Unfortunately, most of them I just had to re-conceptualize and give less time, energy, and depth to. I've always felt bad, as one often does when feelings aren't reciprocated or compatible, but some of these people are still in my life and still important in different ways.

I'm also a very open and honest person; consistent and open communication is how I roll. This has helped me on many occasions, because I've found that if I reach out and be vulnerable, but also tell the other person explicitly that it's OK if they aren't equipped to be vulnerable with me in return, there is less awkwardness and tension. Giving a choice and a safe space for saying no to me, because I will accept that, has done wonders.

 

Thanks for bringing this up. :) I feel like you've poked a part of brain that needed to externalize some thoughts too.

It doesn't seem to be an aro-only issue, but I do wonder how common it is in the community, compared to non-aros. *Research survey cogs are turning*

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20 hours ago, running.tally said:

It's why I've had relationships fail to meet my needs. Unfortunately, most of them I just had to re-conceptualize and give less time, energy, and depth to. I've always felt bad, as one often does when feelings aren't reciprocated or compatible, but some of these people are still in my life and still important in different ways.

I'm also a very open and honest person; consistent and open communication is how I roll. This has helped me on many occasions, because I've found that if I reach out and be vulnerable, but also tell the other person explicitly that it's OK if they aren't equipped to be vulnerable with me in return, there is less awkwardness and tension. Giving a choice and a safe space for saying no to me, because I will accept that, has done wonders.

 

this is something that I'm struggling with now. i'll keep details light but reading this i think gave me an awareness we didn't have before. i am in a situation where i am confronting directly the problems that the other person doesn't wish to. i know it's not going to end well, and perhaps explicitly stating that it's okay if they aren't equipped to be vulnerable with me in response might make things easier. it's not going to be a pretty outcome anyways, but i think that might soften the blow. i haven't found the proper words to say "hey, i love you, but you lack the emotional intent and growth that i require in a friendship."

 

i think what's so frustrating and difficult about this too is that, truthfully, the underlying feeling is constantly, "i wish you told me" or "i wish you could communicate this" when so many people can't. it's like i'm acknowledging the issue but still being frustrated by it. it's just obscenely frustrating when you're trying to be open and forthright and the people around you won't/can't/aren't capable. and that's okay, but i think i'm finally hitting a point where my needs in a friendship ... need to take some level of priority.

 

this helped a lot though, thank you. just understanding there are other ways to explain, elaborate, and delve into this carefully especially in a situation where the other person is adverse to a level of emotional depth (any level of emotional depth) adds something i didn't have before.

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I choose friends with healthy, wholesome personalities, open minds and some level of idealism. Quality of interaction is important, so that I can talk a lot and don't get shocked or bored to death and don't feel awkward. Having standards is important, but applying them rigorously can result in being either vengeful or overly legalistic, and ending a good friendship for a stupid reason. Usually women are more compatible with me than men, cos many men don't understand my lack of interest in archetypically masculine activities or my desire to talk about emotions. The main issue I have with my friends is that it's difficult to spend time together IRL because they always prefer to spend free time with their romantic partners. But also I found them really emotionally helpful whenever I really need them. I needed some time to find my true friends.

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2 hours ago, Blazkovitz said:

I choose friends with healthy, wholesome personalities, open minds and some level of idealism. Quality of interaction is important, so that I can talk a lot and don't get shocked or bored to death and don't feel awkward. Having standards is important, but applying them rigorously can result in being either vengeful or overly legalistic, and ending a good friendship for a stupid reason. Usually women are more compatible with me than men, cos many men don't understand my lack of interest in archetypically masculine activities or my desire to talk about emotions. The main issue I have with my friends is that it's difficult to spend time together IRL because they always prefer to spend free time with their romantic partners. But also I found them really emotionally helpful whenever I really need them. I needed some time to find my true friends.

 

I always think I'm careful about picking my friends. I worry so much about being over-dramatic about "standards," but I know I've neglected giving myself any at all and just sort of "take what I can get." I think it boils down to self-worth, in allowing yourself the space to need/want things out of a friendship. But I hear you, taking time in building the right connections is so important.

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I actually just this semester found my first friend since middle school who seems to put as much into friendship with me as I want. She doesn't really know what she wants in terms of relationships but knows that friendship like what she has with me is important to her. I feel like I can talk to her about pretty much anything and we have a lot in common in terms of having trouble forming friendships as well as some interests. I sort of want her as a zucchini, but I don't feel like I need that label to have a high-quality friendship with her. In general I think females are more compatible with me too, and in the past people have used my primarily finding female friends to try to tell me I wasn't really aromantic.

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All my life I've been told that I expect too much from friendship. I want too much intimacy. Yes, friends can cuddle sometimes, but they don't walk around holding hands. I want too much honesty. Yes, friends can share feelings but they don't do it that often. I want too much intensity. After all, if I'm willing to move heaven and earth for you, I want you to be willing to do the same for me. I want too much commitment. It isn't normal to be so upset when your best friend says that you aren't their best friend. It isn't normal to plan your entire life with your best friends and actually expect it to be a reality. It isn't normal to be so upset at the prospect of having to leave or lose a friend. After all, friends move on, that's just how it is. But I just feel too intensely.

 

I will clarify that this is only true about a few people. Most friendships that I have follow a normal pattern of what friendship is supposed to look like. But, some people are special. Some people I'm all or nothing for.

 

I always thought that these were normal feelings to have for a best friend, but I've come to realize that what I want from a best friend more closely resembles what most people want from a romance. I want the deep emotional bond and the commitment to being by each other's side through everything. I've never looked at these feelings and thought that they were romantic. When alloromantic people describe their crushes it sounds completely foreign to me. When they say you just know, I'm like, no??? I don't??? But at the same time I want to share my life with these people. I'm too intense for friendship and not enough for romance.

 

I don't really know what kind of relationship structure works best for me. I need structure and labels and verbal affirmations of commitment to be able to function. Maybe a qpr would work if I knew any aromantic people in real life, but the times I've tried it, it's been with allo people. I found that they viewed a qpr as a close friendship, but not a relationship. Maybe I'm a bad aro, maybe I'm a fake, but that's what I want. For it to be a structured, recognized relationship like the ones alloromantic people get to have with each other. It would also be nice to be able to talk about a partner without having to give a vocab lesson and get hit with "so you're just friends" more often then not. I tried dating an alloromantic who knew that I'm aro but didn't care, and I actually wound up scaring her away with my intensity. So basically, it's complicated. I know what I want out of the relationships but I don't see a way to actually get them.

 

I think I'm doing aromanticism wrong.

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On 12/1/2019 at 10:10 PM, lonelyace said:

I think I'm doing aromanticism wrong.

There's no right way of doing aromanticism or of being aro.

 

I know it can certainly feel this way when society splits relationships and intimacy into boxes. But I want you to remember that we didn't always have these boxes of romantic vs. platonic and et cetera. Ultimately, how one person does intimacy and what they require from their relationships will always be different from another person's needs. Just because society tries to standardize certain narratives and make things uniform and universal doesn't mean that that's how feelings work. It's frustrating to come up against people who have internalized the standards, who feel that those levels of intimacy and those boxes work for them. But you're not alone and I know there are people out there, aro and alloro and everything between and around those, who share your views. Society would function so much better if we were all allowed to express ourselves and do intimacy how we want. But alas, people in power want control.

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On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 4:10 AM, lonelyace said:

I think I'm doing aromanticism wrong.

I don't see anything in what you say that sounds lije you do? What I read is people doing you wrong.

There are probably people out there who'll want the same type of relationship you want. I hope you'll find them someday. That's really a shame we don't have aro "dating" website where people could find for this type of partners, that would make things easier.

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