SF Unconference 2017 — Session #1: Planning for the Future as an Aromantic.

This is a summary of some of the topics discussed in the “Planning for the Future as an Aromantic” session at the 2017 SF Asexuality Unconference.

One of the first topics was the decision of whether or not to live alone, and how to live with others, if that’s what’s wanted.  The traditional progression of a romantic relationship often involves moving in with a romantic partner, but aromantic people don’t follow that script.

Many of the people did not want did not want to live with others.  They’d done the roommate thing in the past and didn’t like it, preferring to be on their own.  Others wanted roommates or living with friends.  Economic considerations also came into play, with some people unable to afford to live alone, despite their preferences.

There was a question about whether or not it would be worth disclosing your aroness/aceness to prospective roommates.  Some might prefer that you “won’t be bringing people home all the time”, or it might be a way to weed out incompatible roommates.

Some people talked about becoming the Single Aunt or Uncle, and what that would mean.  Primarily, that would be the expectation that because you’re not “tied down” by a partner or children, that you’re able to drop everything to take care of your parents as they age.  There was also a comment about becoming an ATM for nieces and nephews.  On the flipside, the Single Aunt or Uncle did provide a template for living alone for some of us, and some people like the idea of being the cool single uncle or aunt.

Things like emergency contacts, insurance beneficiaries, and medical decision makers came up.  For many people, that would be their current long-term partner.  But who is it for a permanently single aro?  Many in the session mentioned listing their parents, but were aware that was not a permanent long term solution.  There was talk about health care directives and living wills and other things like that, but there was a concern about how to let people know that you have such a thing.  Do you awkwardly blast out a Google Docs link to everyone you know?  Do you keep it in a lockbox in your closet where it will be discovered long after your wishes have already been ignored?  It was also brought up that it might not even matter, as things like living wills and healthcare directives are often ignored, even when they’re known.  The concept of a “Designated Person” was mentioned.  A Designated Person would be a person who can make decisions on your behalf and who will act according to your interest.

Parenting was discussed.  Some of the aros in the group expressed an interest in potentially becoming parents, but acknowledged difficulties.  Adopting can be challenging when single.  There were concerns about raising a child alone.  Coparenting arrangements were brought up, but finding a suitable coparent can be difficult.

Dying alone was a concern.  Whether that’s actually dying alone and wondering how long it’ll be before someone notices, or just going through the aging process.  One person mentioned that they’re planning to choose a good retirement home while they’re still healthy, so they’ll be where they want to be, instead of ending up where they’re sent when they no longer have a choice.

Becoming a partner in a poly group was suggested.  It could be more stable than random roommates, and can fill many of the holes mentioned above.  However, it’s not for everyone.

Intentional ace/aro housing communities were talked about.  There can be a house or an apartment building or something where we can live alone, together.

And on a final note, and less serious than some of the topics above, what’s the deal with a +1 at a work party?  In theory, it’s just a “+1”, so why is it so discouraged to bring a friend or a relative?  Why are +1s exclusively expected to be romantic partners?

Card Carrying Asexual

Are you a card-carrying asexual, aromantic, or demisexual?  Well, you’re not one YET.  Never fear!  Now you can make your own cards to prove your identity!

These images are designed for a 300DPI print at a standard credit-card size.

Card-Carrying Asexual

Card-Carrying Demisexual

 

Card-Carrying Aromantic

 

 

 

The Prospect of Romance

[This has been crossposted from a submission to AsexualActitives.com.]

A couple of years ago, a coworker began flirting with me.  Because it went on for a while (I saw them every day and we would spend hours together due to work), I was able to determine that flirting was indeed happening, which meant I was able to start preparing for a response if a move was made.

“Well, you see…  You’re fun to talk to.  And I like you, just not that way.  I’m sorry.  I’m what’s called asexual, so I just don’t work like that.”

Then the move came.

One day, I left a book of ViewMaster reels of dissected cadavers on their desk.  (Yes, that is a thing.  I own it because I’m into stereophotography and that’s an odd stereophotographic collectible item, not because I’m into anatomy or cadavers or anything like that.  They, on the other hand, were into vintage things with a morbid twist, so I figured they’d be interested.)  And that started the process.

We were in the office, so it’s not like we could just have a straight up conversation about anything like this without everyone else noticing or overhearing, so it began on the company’s internal chat program.  While they were pouring their heart out, I kept getting interrupted by people coming up to ask questions (which happens to me all the time at work), so it wasn’t ideal.  Among the words they typed were “I’m asexual too”.

Well, there goes my counter plan.

The conversation continued throughout the day.  We went to lunch (which I later discovered was considered a “date”), where they told me that they loved me and that they already had a boyfriend and that they’d never done anything like this before.  After work, we sat in a hallway talking about things for several hours as they inched closer and started touching my arm.  As we parted that night, they gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

For some people, this would be a dream scenario, but for me, it was extremely awkward.  I don’t know what to do with this sort of situation.

Should I give a clear no, ain’t gonna happen?  But how do I do that without losing them as a friend?

Should I make something up about “I don’t date coworkers”?  Well, no, they were thinking of leaving the place anyway, so they probably would just for the chance to be with me, at which point I would have ruined both their professional and personal lives.

Should I go for it and see what happens?  But there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship with this person.  Specifically, there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship period.  I don’t know how to do that and I don’t really want to do that.  I wouldn’t be good at it.  Going this route would lead to me being uncomfortably pulled into things I don’t want to do pretty much all the time, and it would lead to disappointment for them, and the combination of that would probably lead to the destruction of what had the chance to turn into a long friendship.

After agonizing over it for a day and a half, I told them the truth.  That it wasn’t anything against them.  That I just didn’t see a way that a relationship with me would work, because I’m incapable of doing the things that a relationship would require.  That I’d probably feel compelled to act like I was into it, even when I wasn’t, which would be stressful.  That I couldn’t be what they’d need me to be.

It was hard to do, but it had to be said.

After this, we remained friends until the end.  Ultimately, they transformed my life, both in silly ways (The adventures of the mountain goat!) and profound (Inspiring me to go to NAAC15).  No romantic relationship required.