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Understanding aro/ace friend in deep friendship

Guest wonderer

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Guest wonderer

I have a friend, aro and ace.  He has always been aro and ace, and has never had any sexual or romantic experience and repulses the idea.  He has never had any QPR either. 

We see each other 3-4 times a week and chat all the time. Whenever there is something new in life or something happens, he will text me. He treats me really nicely (within his boandaries). We hike together and travel together. We go out, to friend and parties and dinner. He asks me to come along to shop his clothes. I am his number one option for most activities, except the ones his is doing with old group of friends. He is physically closer to me than anybody else (including his family), but still than means a minimum 70 cm between us. He gives intensive attention to me whenever we are in company of friends (this would mean that he look at me very insentively, is really caring about my wellbeing, pays compliments about my looks etc). Everybody else calls it flirting, but I know better. He does that just in company, never when we are alone. 

He is my joy, I feel happy whenever I meet him and delighted whenever he texts me. 

I myself am a polypansexual demiromantic and I have a partner I live with and one other mostly sexual relationship. I could have other type of dates also, but there seems not to be space in my life or in my emotions mostly because of my friend. The three of us often spend the time together and there is no problem there, my partner likes him and they might occationally even do something without me (like play computer games).  There is a clear difference in my friend behavior towards me when my partner is a around, he keeps more distance and avoids "intensive attention" - this is obvious to our other friends also.  I would think it is becouse he want´s to be considerate towards my partner. 

And then the but.

I (think I) have figured out my feelings and they are some mix of friendship and  emotional devotion with a hint of romantic feelings with no so much need to act on them. I would like to touch him, though. Not kissing or anything, just to touch him somehow sometimes, but he can't take it, not even a hand on a shoulder. If I do that, he steps back. I can´t help the feeling of abandonment when he does that. 

We cannot talk about our relationship. We can and do talk about everything else. But not that. If I try to even hint about it, he lokcs down. For me it would be important to talk about this, to share my emotions, to know how he consideres our relationship or his feelings. I would like to talk about the possibility of physical contact. I have tried to link him about queerplatonic relationships, squish, avoidance issues etc. but he never responses. I have even asked directly, but he changes the topic.  Always. I have said that it would be important for me to talk about it. He says there is nothing to talk about, I am one of his friends. I feel sad about this lack of communication and cannot understand it. If I "push" him, meaning that I ask about this type of things etc. he stops the communication for days. And then returns and chats about something "safe" like hey, have you seen this film. 

Do you guys have any experience on this type of issue? What is the problem? How could I proseed or should I? What one we do, when talking is not an option? Is there something I do wrong? 


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How's your communication about relationship labels and such in general? When it's not about you. Can you talk to him about the concept of relationship talks among friends? Or maybe relationship anarchy. Maybe he has an idea that friendship is a very defined thing and outside that is romantic and sexual aspects he doesn't want. 

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Well, at this point you have tried a lot of ways to try to get him to talk about the state of your relationship with you, and you have some very clear information showing that he won't. He just won't. He likes things the way they are, and will not engage in any defining-the-relationship type discussion. You're probably going to have to accept that is the way of it, and decide what you want to do from there.

And one could make the argument that this is bad communication, and not fully healthy. But it could just as easily be that he smells that you are going to ask him for things he cannot give you. That you want something more, and he doesn't. It might be that the whole subject has gotten so contentious at this point that he just won't engage with it. Either way, I don't think there is much you can do about it, you have already tried so many things. It might just be the price of entry in this relationship that he does not want to talk about it, he does not want to be touched, and he will not be more comfortable with it for your pushing the matter. I mean, I am touch-averse myself, though not to that degree, so I get it from both sides. A minimum of 70cm apart? This is entirely normal now when there is a pandemic of course, but in general, like, who is getting out the measuring tape? Even I allow people I'm close to to hug me if they ask first.

But I also know what it is like to get pressured and pushback on this. An old teacher (one I like btw) once put her hand on my shoulder without warning and I jumped a meter into the air, as is my reflex, and she was like "people might take offense when you do that. If I didn't know you, that would have hurt my feelings" and I though 1) it's a reflex, and 2) she knows I don't like being touched. Don't do something you know I don't like and then act hurt when I don't like it. And even when you don't know, well, I jumped out of my skin so now you know I don't like to be touched, good information going forward no? I didn't agree that I needed to curb the reflex, I though people shouldn't touch me without my permission. Comfort with being touched came only AFTER I had drawn those boundaries very firmly, and people started to actually respect my personal space. Once I know you respect my bubble, THEN I can let you into it. Your friend have very firm boundaries regarding personal space. You show you care about him by respecting that. And I know touch is a way that humans show affection, I understand this desire. The people who gave me pushback on my no-touching policy were no weirdo strangers, but usually family members who just wanted to show they cared. Pushing on this still will not help either of you though, so don't touch your friend he doesn't like it.

That was a lot of words on the touch-averse part, which is really a side issue to the communication problem, oups. But that's where I have the most personal experience.

Closing thoughts: I. sending people links about avoidance issues has a risk of coming across as quite condescending, so I am not surprised that he didn't respond to that.

II. The fact that he circles back to you with a safe topic suggests to me that he really wants to keep a connection with you, even when it's awkward.

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It seems you did a lot to discuss it already. If he refused so much, the subject probably makes him uncomfortable. Maybe he doesn't like to talk abut his feelings, or maybe he likes the relationship the way it is and thinks you will abandon the conversation if he always dismisses it. I don't think it is wise of him because the frustration created by the absence of communication is never good, but unfortunately, if he refuses to talk about it you can't force him.

Maybe say that you are frustrated by this and that you need to know how he views your relationship to adapt your own behaviour and expectations. But I'm not sure it would work because he seems very avoidant.

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I think he has communicated his position quite clearly. He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want anything to change, and by body language he clearly doesn't want more physical contact. What you should do at this point, is respect that. You can't change change him, and ignoring his boundaries hopefully isn't something you would do to a friend, so at this point you can only take responsibility for your own feelings. Your sense of abandonment when he moves away, your need to discuss things he is not willing to discuss, your need to develop the relationship further... these are not his responsibility to address, and you cannot force him to, and so you need to figure out how to either live with them, or move past them.

I often observe this sense that everyone should want to talk about feelings and relationships and want touch, and not wanting those things is somehow unhealthy... just like some people think not wanting romance is unhealthy. Just like there is often an assumption that aromantic people must want a QPR, which seems like an extension of amatonormativity. That even if you don't want romance you must want some sort of committed or hierarchical relationship... Anyway I don't really have a point here, just thought that this thread inspired.

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Guest wonderer

Thank you all for your answears. They gave me a lot to think about.  

He is not a person to talk about any relationhips, we have common friends who have known him for years and don´t know he has a brother and sister. I know his family and have also visited them couple of times. They all say he keeps very clear distance to them also and try to ask me how he is doing, because "he just won't tell". Obviosly I cannot say anything more than some general things, like "Oh, fine, seems to be busy at work".  He does let his mother to hug him when she askes for it, but he does not look comfortable then either. He has no problem, however, talk about my relationhips or those of our friends. He seems to be finding them rather amusing, though. 

I do agree that we should respect each other as we are and not to push people on anything. On the other hand, we are two in this relationship and my need to talk is not of lesser value than his need not to. AND I found the way. I made a questionnaire for him to fill (based on somethig I found on internet in my mother tongue). Yes or no, do or can these things be part of this relationship. To my suprise, he responded to that. Not all of it, but some. It was a good idea, since I was able to find out much more about his limits and comfort zone. He has also been more relaxed after that so I guess it was good for him also to be able to communicate what makes him uneasy. 

He also wrote that he does not want to discuss the relationship further but "time is the most valuable thing you can give to somebody, it is there we make our choices". Well,  he spends huge amount of his free time with me. Last week we were at the gym on Tuesday, had had a dinner with us on Wednesday, we went for a walk on Thursday, he came to teach me a board game on Friday, we had a dinner with friends on Saturday and spent Sunday on a hike.

That is his choise - he is rather social and liked and has many friends. I understood it so that since this is the situation, he does not understand why would we need to talk about something else/more. 

 My partner is a nerd who mostly likes to be home (with his computer), so he is just very happy I have a company to do things I like. 

On 3/19/2021 at 6:38 PM, Rolo said:

Just like there is often an assumption that aromantic people must want a QPR, which seems like an extension of amatonormativity. That even if you don't want romance you must want some sort of committed or hierarchical relationship...

Interesting, he said something very similar to this, that for him the whole QPR seems to be something from the romantic world. 


So we did have a communication of some sort and it helped a lot. He also made me promise that we are now done with "relationship talk" :D

I guess we are. 




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