Ask a Queer Chick is a monthly advice column for LGBTQ people and anyone who loves and wants to do right by us. Got a question about coming out, dating, sex toy etiquette, dealing with discrimination, or making really awesome vegan pumpkin muffins? You can Ask a Queer Chick!
I’ve identified as asexual for the last four or five years now (meaning I don’t experience sexual attraction) and a/demiromantic for almost two (meaning I experience romantic attraction rarely, and only with people I already feel a strong connection to). My mother considers herself an ally for the LGBTQIA community and both of my sisters are also queer, but she’s had a hard time really understanding my ace/aro identity. She’s told me (in front of another person) “I think, if you just met the right person …” and I know she’s afraid I’ll die alone.
Recently, a close friendship has shifted into something more (physically and romantically). It’s very weird but very great and I think it could have legs, but I’m hesitating telling my mom. How should I tell her that I’m really happy in this relationship and also that my ace/aro-spectrum identities still hold? In other words, that this is an exception, rather than something that validates that I just needed “the right person”?
You are remarkably clear-headed and I appreciate the hell out of it! You know who you are and what you want, and you are enjoying the relationship you’re in without unduly panicking about whether it redefines you as a person. That is so rad. I want to back you up in case you ever need it, so let this be a reminder that your identity is your identity and is not determined by whom you date or make out with. No one else can control who you are, no matter how cute they are face-wise.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
The latest news, delivered straight to your inbox.
So everything’s great except that you’re worried about how to tell your mom. Here is the problem as I see it: You think you are asking me one question, but you are actually asking me another.
You know perfectly well how to explain that you are asexual, aromantic, and in a sexual and romantic relationship. You just explained it to me in two paragraphs flat. You are lacking neither the vocabulary or the erudition to describe your experience and assert that your current situation is anomalous, not a new way of life. If you tell your mother exactly what you told me, you will have done your due diligence.
But you don’t just want to give her an update. You want to make your mother accept the truth of who you are. That’s what you’re really asking me: What are the magic words that she won’t be able to dismiss or ignore or willfully misinterpret? What can you say that will override her reluctance to acknowledge the ways in which your life will be different from the one she might have imagined for you?
And I’m sorry to say I don’t have an answer to that. I’ve longed for one myself, in fact: As a bisexual woman, I experience a different version of people assuming the relationship I’m in overwrites my stated identity. It’s similar enough, though, that I can viscerally imagine your frustration. I wish there were a foolproof way to communicate to people that we, not they, are the experts on our own reality. If those magic words exist, I haven’t found them yet.
So I can’t tell you how to convince your mom that your asexuality is valid, so I have to tell you to do something much harder: You, sweetheart, have got to stop waiting for her validation. She is wrong about you, and you have to accept that fundamentally there is nothing you can do to change that. She’s going to be wrong until she chooses to stop being wrong. Maybe that will happen tomorrow, or next year, or never. But it’s not up to you. It’s up to her.
The slow, sad work you have to do now is let go of the belief that you can change her when she doesn’t want to change. It will be painful to accept that this situation is out of your hands, but I think and hope it will also be freeing. Instead of trying to correct the way she perceives you, expend your energy on figuring out how you need her to behave toward you and on setting appropriate boundaries. You can say something like, “Mom, you’re welcome to believe that my being ace/aro is just a phase, but I am not willing to keep having this conversation with you. We’re going to talk about something else now.” It might take a few tries, but a little redirection should make it clear that you are no longer engaging in debates about the validity of being who you are. I also imagine that you may not feel comfortable introducing your personfriend to her with this continued pattern of behavior, and you can and should let her know that.
Finally and terribly, if she absolutely refuses to stop bringing up her disbelief in your truth and you’re finding it too painful to deal with, your last resort might be to limit contact with her. I hope it doesn’t come to that. You deserve a parent who loves and takes pride in every unique facet of who you are, and I hope you have that someday.
I am a probably-mostly bisexual 29-year-old woman, and while I’ve successfully avoided falling in love with any close friends, I DO have inconvenient crushes on (probably?) straight women that kind of knock me off my feet in a way that my crushes on and relationships with men haven’t. Obviously, this is stressful, but it’s also kind of great. But it DOESN’T point toward any clear action, especially when these women are friends and sometimes in (maybe shaky?) relationships, and OK, obviously this is just about one person. But like … what do I do to either just get over this talented and special person that consistently makes me remember how not-straight I am, and/or find someone who isn’t straight who also makes me heart-eyes-emoji with the same intensity?
Oh, the giddy whirlwind of the Straight Girl Crush. It is such a beautiful pain, necessitating many emotional Spotify playlists and effusive journal entries. It can be tempting to just hang out in this state forever, enjoying the intensity and adrenaline and also the fact that the whole thing is a fantasy where she never annoys the crap out of you by leaving the milk on the counter.
You didn’t give me a lot of specifics to go on, but I’m guessing from what you did say that you know this person is not available (she’s in a relationship) but are keeping the flame of hope alive (the relationship might be shaky, because … that would be nice for you? It’s hard to tell if you’re operating from a foundation of logical deduction or wishful thinking).
The first step to getting over this crush is really getting your head around the reality that It Ain’t Happening. If she were a close friend and your life would be ruined by losing her, I’d say you should work through that on your own, by spending less time with her and focusing your energies elsewhere until the passion subsides. But with a more casual pal there’s something to be said for putting it all out there and getting yourself a beautifully unambiguous face-to-face rejection. Rare is the infatuation that can survive a look of total bewilderment and an “Um, well, thanks but no thanks” from the fair lips of your belusted.
Whether or not you decide to bare your soul to this woman, you need to stop feeding your desire—no more walks in the rain listening to songs that remind you of her, no more Facebook creeping, no more just happening to show up at the place you know she always goes for lunch. And when you catch yourself in a fantasy fugue, get up and go organize your spice cabinet or something. Holy crap, who knew you had fenugreek back there?
Of equal or perhaps greater importance: Get yourself another crush as soon as possible! You didn’t say anything about making an effort to meet other not-straight women, but depending on where you live, there can be many options at your disposal. Sitting back and waiting for cute single queer girls to knock on your door is not a great strategy (unless your house is also an animal rescue) so get out there and find your people.
If you don’t know where the gay bars are (or you don’t drink, or your local gay bar is Dudesville even on dyke night), volunteering for things like Pride or the AIDS Walk or your local LGBTQ center is a great way to tap into the community. But even if your philanthropy doesn’t have a specifically queer bent, service is always a good way to make friends who are socially conscious and engaged. I’ve made more queer friends in three years of volunteering for my local Girls Rock camp than I did in four years of attending an arts high school. Other places that tend to have a higher-than-average concentration of girls who dig girls include craft breweries, roller derby tryouts, open-mic nights, and dog parks.
And if your schedule doesn’t allow for any of the above—or you maybe want a lower-key setting—get thee to a social media group. Just about every city, town, or hermitage these days has one or more online discussion forums for LGBTQ folks to connect, and even if you’re extremely rural and isolated, you can still get support and nourishment from online friendships. There can be groups for queer and trans people of color, LGBTQ business owners, bisexual single moms, you name it. If you can’t find a forum that’s perfect for you, create one and watch folks come running. Congratulations, you just found the next three girls who will break your heart!
There are special, talented, brilliant, gorgeous people out there, and some scientists estimate that as many as six of them aren’t already involved with a dude. Go find one!
What’s your problem? Maybe I can help: [email protected]