Word Alchemy LLC Publishing Presents:
About Awkward Ace
As you know from my title, I am quite shy. It is never hard to make acquaintances, just long-term friends. I was always referred to as kind and friendly. That bothered me as a child for some reason, maybe because it seemed like such a surface compliment. I wanted things to be more personal. However, I wasn't sure how to make that happen.
I started doing research when I got older. By that, of course, I'd watch shows and try to figure out how to be a bit more suave. My dyslexia has a tendency to hinder my communication skills. So, I'd try to find a way to articulate better. I'd watch characters I admired and think that sounded really cool. I would then go into the world and try it on strangers first. This led my best friend at the time to pull me aside and ask me if I was aware that I was just flirting with the cashier. During this trial and error phase, I never felt the magnetic pull that attraction gives you. So, my answer to her would always be no. Was I really flirting? I immediately got self-conscious and shut down. I look back now and wonder, when I got nervous and started trying to be suave, how many times was I accidentally flirting?
On the other hand, I started to build friendships with other women that were filled with deep platonic love. I think I was able to do that because I wasn't hindered by sexual expectations. I tried to do this with boys, but it was much more challenging as I got older.
As I got older, I ran into a few issues with boyfriends over not wanting sex. One even accused me of trying to be celibate for God, but that wasn't it at all. I just wasn't interested, and at that point in my life, I didn't have the knowledge to explain why. I would later discover, for the one who was mad at me, there were two reasons I wasn't interested. See Building Metropolis for more of Danielle's work!
Entry One: Many Forms of Attraction
What I didn't understand about my first full-fledged relationship was that I was experiencing a different form of attraction than him. Our passions aligned in several ways. He was intelligent and creative. He was the perfect balance of nerd and athletic. Just like me. I could watch anime after coming back from rock climbing. Do tricks on a trampoline and then look up at the beautiful sky to talk for a couple of hours. Plus, he was the first person ever to ask me out. It was a classic bump into the love interest situation. The class was asked to split into pairs. I only socialized a little in class, which usually resulted in finding the last person picked. We got along right away, and I had fun being around him. I saw him as a friend; he saw me as a potential girlfriend.
When he asked me out, I wanted to give it a chance. So far, so good; dating is how you figure out if there's a romantic attraction. He got me flowers for Valentine's Day and did his best to show me how much he cared for me. I loved being around him and even fondly remember going to Lord the Rings in theaters. As we went through our journey, his attraction turned to obsession, and mine turned to… What did it turn to? In my other experiences with kissing boys, I felt nothing, but I was too young to understand that it meant something. In that moment, with my boyfriend, it turned into what I can only describe as disgust. It seems harsh, but I think it was because there was more than a disconnect. It was toxic. I just didn't have therapy tools to turn to. The dates started to slow down. We spent more and more time at his place.
He wasn't the first and certainly not the last person to look at me with unrequited lust. He was just the one to get the closest to what he wanted from me. What is blowing my mind right now is that I've been carrying this guilt placed on me by others. This guilt inside me isn't mine; just existing seemed to tempt the predators in my life. I can feel it in my bones. My first relationship reinforced that being beautiful is dangerous. I don't think for a second that I'm a 10, but I don't even want to be a 6.
So, I wrestled with guilt for not being the prize he wanted. I couldn't be what he needed. I couldn't be what he wanted. I wasn't a goddess, I wasn't perfect, and most importantly, I wasn't straight. That last part took another man and a female coworker's crush to help me to confirm.
Next time On Awkward Ace: When did the line between Platonic and Romantic love start to blur?
Entry Two: Socially Awkward to the Max
So, you are probably wondering how in the world did I allow myself to crush on a coworker? Well, that's because the people who make me feel safe tend to tear straight through the mental barricade. This doesn't keep me clear of mistakes. I've also had a few times where I wanted to be friends, and it ends in a dumpster fire. But that isn't my focus for this post! This supervisor transferred to my store to help us out. I wish I could describe it as less saccharine, but she was a ray of sunshine. I felt myself drawn to her kindness and positive energy. We got along very well, and I found myself wanting to match her energy.
Going away party: I went to the General Manager's house to celebrate her moving on in her career. It was later in the year in that perfect zone of fall weather. So, being the forgetful person I am, I didn't bring a jacket. At sunset, I became so cold that I was shivering pretty badly. No one offered me a coat, and I was way too shy to ask anyone for something to warm me. The lovely girl my friend was, she did the only thing she could think of to help. She sat on my lap. It worked pretty well, and she was still able to talk to everyone. Here I am, usually in some corner, quietly observing the room's full attention. I was so grateful and did my best to mingle. Towards the night's end, I realized that everyone was looking at me strangely. That's when my brain screamed that friends don't usually do this, not to mention I'd been behaving differently since she came around. Now, I could've been wrong, and my anxiety talking, but I think everyone thought we had feelings for each other, at the minimum. As far as she's concerned, I believe she viewed me strictly in a platonic manner, but I discovered I couldn't deny that it was different for me. Once again, it wasn't the act of her sitting on my lap. I didn't feel anything but the relief of the cold. It was how everyone else perceived the event that triggered so many questions for me. What really confused me was that not once did I think I wanted to have sex with her. What in the world did this mean? I didn't know the different forms of attraction. I assumed Sexual and Romantic attraction needed to go hand in hand. An idea placed on me by society. Even when I first started to learn about Asexuality, I would have friends try to argue that you need both. Through the experiences of other Aces and Aros and some dear friends, I know now that it is not true. What a relief that was to my adorkable little self! Ace out.
Next time on Misadventures: How did I learn about the final form of attraction and realize I am a homoromantic asexual?