Pre-Therapy Isolation

CoA prompt for Oct 2019 – “Aromanticism and Aloneness” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 30 Oct 2019 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled after the roundup to avoid link/pingback confusion.

The first draft got unwieldy with a metaphor about dog and cat ownership (including comparing romance repulsion to a dog dander allergy and aplatonicism to a cat dander allergy), and the second draft got a little bogged down by thoughts on offline community spaces (perhaps better salvaged for another prompt).

The third draft (titled Let’s Be Alone Together) unpacked that the focus on living alone in some aro reblog chains brushes up against cultural and familial baggage about the failure to live independently and self-reliantly from one’s family signaling a failure at being a real adult, which means I haven’t really been coming at the discussion objectively in the past.

Fourth time’s the charm.

Therapeutic Context

I have bounced around from draft to draft and tangent to tangent this past month in part because other issues have required a higher priority ranking in the mental queue. Among the various topics brought up with/by my new general practitioner [GP] during this month’s follow-up was counseling intake, which will feature a bunch of questions off a template and hopefully some relevant questions about the diagnosis I’d like to confirm (or figure out my symptoms are actually from X) over a few appointments.

(For non-regular readers, I haven’t had health insurance since undergrad ended in 2016, so there have been a few changes to the identities I tote around. The Counseling and Psychological Services [CPS] offered on-campus did include therapy, but I’m not quite a good fit with Grad students who change every semester and require reintroductions, re-explaining, and ignoring personal details when I just don’t want to bother with an LGBTQIA+ primer. My last therapy visit with CPS that wasn’t a ‘the semester started’ drop-in was in the later part of the spring semester of 2015.)

I did ask to not be paired with someone who’s never had a trans patient before because I’m just not up to walking my therapist through the bare bones of Trans 101, but I won’t really know their familiarity with LGBTQIA+ basics until the first intake appointment in November. It’s possible they might know some identities but not all of them, and I may still need to break out a little 101 even for relatively more established identities (ex. nonbinary). However, the most relevant of my letters collected for this post is the A for aro-spec (specifically quoi/greyro), which is currently the most recent personal identity (2019) and, afaik, the youngest community when it comes to awareness.

Aloneness, Isolation, and Loneliness

On a literal, physical level, the prospect of going to therapy doesn’t really fit with being alone (“having no one else present”) or aloneness (“a disposition toward being alone”). But it edges along a nebulous mixture of talking about being alone, geographic isolation, and possible loneliness or isolation. The bridge connecting this nebulous alone/isolation idea with being aro-spec and facing intake for counseling:

Talking about being alone. It’s going to be a smidge related to context for past events, but it’s like a cloud on the horizon that I’m trying to ignore when it comes to talking about the future and/or future goals. I’m going to have to admit that it’s currently unwise to live on my own to someone’s face, so I don’t want that to be a goal of our sessions. Like, I’m really going to have to admit that my symptoms have gotten bad enough in the past that I would rather plan on having a roommate than risk being a danger to myself again.

The geographic isolation specific to living in a rural area that’s not exactly the intended ‘local’ area for the closest LGBTQIA+ resources and communities, especially if you get a-spec specific. It can range from some resources not being applicable when you live in a different county to inconvenient differences in meetups (it’s great to only have a 5 minute walk to a coffee shop for a casual meetup for the locals, but if I live over an hour’s drive away, I expect something a little more substantial to justify the driving and need enough advanced notice to actually drive there).

It doesn’t really feel like loneliness, but it doesn’t quite seem like a type of isolation, and it’s just this mixed feeling that I’m not going to have a choice but to be a teaching moment because I’m going to be the first aro-spec patient for this therapist. True, I have no way of knowing how many other aros are in this area, but unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if I’m the only aro-spec person around. It feels unbalanced and isolating that I can’t just walk in as an individual, and I now have to be careful as an ambassador of sorts.

Convergence of Mental Illness & Aro-spec Identity

Based on a quick search of Arocalypse, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a unique feeling to me, but that greyro pov post included revealing my connection between my mental health and feeling like I’ve become aro-spec. (Link covers why I’d rather not directly link to the post in question, namely personal growth. With a dash of embarrassment.) And yes, I said that I feel like I’ve become aro-spec instead of feeling like it’s been a static identity that I’ve always had.

I think the life events I went through – most strongly noticed after surviving suicidal shit – were the equivalent of the body prioritizing heating the core instead of the extremities in extreme cold. The vital to living parts of me made it through.

My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction when signaled in media? It’s not impossible, but it’s usually particularly scripted examples. My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction signaled in other people? I still have a chance at getting that right, but it’s not guaranteed. My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction when I might be experiencing it? Nope, that didn’t make it through. It’s like a fixed red-blue-purple color array that’s suddenly showing orange. It’s like looking down at your phone one day and realizing everything’s been switched to a language you only know a limited amount of (for me, Spanish). It’s like trying to wrap your head around imaginary numbers after you thought you were keeping up in Algebra II.

At this point, romantic attraction is a rather distant memory and feels like it happened to a different person. I’ve made peace with not knowing if I’m orange or red-orange, and I could stumble through figuring out more words in Spanish, but I don’t think proper management of my symptoms will “restore” what’s been lost. No amount of talk therapy is going to unlock those memories, and the right medication isn’t going to lift the fog of confusion. Maybe red-orange is close enough to red to count (non-normative romance factoring into maybe, sometimes experiencing something close to romantic attraction a la greyro), but I don’t want to pretend I know what i means.

Disclosure

I don’t want a therapist to get sidetracked by “fixing” me because I’m alright chilling out here on the aro spectrum. Maybe I’ll be able to live on my own at some point, or maybe I’ll have a roommate. Maybe the stars will align and I’ll find someone who’s alright with me being red-orange and mostly confused as long as we figure out each other’s love language(s), so to speak. Maybe I’ll have a collection of friends, but I won’t ever really partner with someone. I’m not sure. Those questions are too complicated and too far off into the future for me to answer when I’ve got to douse the embers my brain decided to light in its resident dumpster before they grow into a full fledged fire.

However, based on my experience with CPS, I need to be prepared for questions about my relationship status. Their intake process included screening for domestic violence, if my memory serves me right (single = skip that section), but I also remember a soft inquiry into who might be involved in my support network where it was relevant to establish that I had friends but no romantic partners to warrant referring to my significant other. Just based on the preliminary paperwork that’s a copy of what I had to fill out for GP, there’s a section for choosing from their offered gender and sexuality options [includes Other and lines to write in responses].

I didn’t really feel like getting into a ton of detail with GP, but it feels different when it comes to counseling and eventually a psychiatrist consult. If I’m going to compile a bullet point list of my identities, offer brief explanations, and point towards aro resources, I’d rather get that all out of the way in the beginning. Once it’s all on the table, I don’t have to dance around topics or play the rephrasing game where I avoid coming out part way through an answer. Maybe me offering up AUREA can make it a little easier for the next patient who’s aro.

Maybe I don’t want to ignore or downplay my connection to an online aro community, as tenuous as it may be at times, because I feel a little less alone. I don’t have to frame changes in romantic orientation as being broken. I have an alternative narrative for being the heartless monster who’s a bit too cold and less than human. I don’t have to take the negative impression that an inability to romantically love someone (or an unclear answer) means that any sexual attraction, desire, or activities amount to manipulative ‘using’ as truth. (The social connection to a community can be used to whack a self-isolating brain.)

Ultimately, prepare for disclosure, so I don’t feel caught off guard or forget differences in how resources define a word and how I relate to it. I can play it by ear during the intake process, and if I don’t actually want to disclose to the therapist, I don’t have to.

CoA Apologies

I think I went through about three versions of a draft for the CoAce theme for Sept 2019 (Telling Our Stories), but they got away from me in terms of length and an attempt at cohesiveness. Maybe one of them will get shared one day later, but it’s not quite the right presentation for now.

Ironically, this also dovetails into why I’m struggling with the CoAro theme “Aromanticisim and Fiction” and splitting that prematurely published draft about a-spec fanfic. I most definitely feel like I’m struggling against the idea that I have to be an ‘Ambassador from Aceland’ in a manner of speaking, but quite frankly, I’m just about the last person you’d want to nominate as an ambassador for either community.

Whatever ace adjacent experiences I’ve had are tied up in fluctuating gender dysphoria, euphoria, and at one point not having a way to talk about either of those. I hadn’t realized I was trans as a freshman in undergrad, but I had found part of the ace tumblr community (2012-13), and it was a lot easier to say I was demi than having no way to talk about “cis dating and sex conventions make me uncomfortable for some reason, but I’ve been sexually attracted to friends who know me well enough that being GNC isn’t an issue”.

It was easier to say I was gray-ace than trying to explain “there’s this ‘power saving’ mode where I just don’t experience sexual attraction when in a heavily misgendering/dysphoric environment”, “the negotiation and communication for a scene flips some sort of switch, and it does feel like I’m sexually attracted to a play partner”, “non-sexual kink can be great, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have sexual kinks as well”, or “I’ve been surprised by random sexual attraction to strangers, but I don’t particularly want to act on it”.

I don’t have a clear, easily digestible arc for coming out, and if it weren’t for a few irl friends following some of my tumblr accounts, I doubt anyone I know offline would know about my haphazard journey with ace over the years. I’ve even stopped calling myself ace at times because X’s symptoms could be rearing up, if I’m in a gender affirming environment I don’t seem ‘ace enough’, and so on. I feel like I’m “allo + ace” more so than just ace, and even though different sites, forums, etc. may stress the diversity of ace experiences, I have tended to just not talk about where I fall in terms of allosexuality and asexuality instead of ‘not fitting’ one. (Relevant in certain aro intracommunity discussions because I tend to have more in common with alloaro perspectives than aroace, which surprises and confuses people who know about the on-and-off ace questioning. Hence trying to only talk about being aro-spec with aros.)

I wouldn’t say it’s the only reason why, but I think this contributes to my struggling with definitely saying a fanfic has ace/aro representation (instead of leaving the fics in a general a-spec list). It might have an adjacent experience that a reader recognizes, but I’m not comfortable saying as a creator that xyz “counts” for this character to be a particular label. If I’m going to pour uncompensated creative energy into something, I’d rather pick a premise with something I haven’t done before and maybe isn’t commonly seen with a particular ship than get hung up on an LGBTQIA+ primer.

{polite swearing}

Do I have any memory of what was in that draft that was published instead of previewed (again)? Nope. I have no idea what was in “To Write”. Hope it wasn’t horrible.

Am I having issues with the CoA posts? Yup. While I would like to finish them and post them at some point, I’m just not seeing it happening in time for the carnivals.

Am I seriously considering drafting elsewhere to see if I can reduce premature posting here on WP? Yeah. I’m not sure why it’s hitting now after years of not having this issue, but I’m already very tired of this mistake.

A small bouquet of oopsie-daisies

This post is brought to you by the small space between preview and publish.

I’m aware I probably got the attention of the WP bloggers whose pieces were linked in that first draft that was posted too early, and I’m aware that might not have made sense for any followers reading the post in an email where I didn’t have sections finished. (I’ll absolutely put a heading or list somewhere without completely filling in the section, so there were randomly empty fic placeholders, I’m sure.)

Draft 2.0 will hopefully roll out a bit more smoothly. I hadn’t made up my mind before accidentally posting, but I was debating splitting the a-spec adjacent narratives in some of my fanfic plots into an aro (clearly marked for the Carnival) and an ace post. I figured it might be easier on the eyes than one super long post, but I also hadn’t factored in what might need a warning for squicks, triggers, and repulsed/averse readers yet.

Asterisks and Grayness

In which I remember that I try to keep my blogs separated enough that people over here probably didn’t see those Carnival of Aros or Carnival of Aces posts coming. I try to avoid being someone’s first a-spec person (and teaching moment) because 1) I prioritize my Educating Spoons on the gender front, and 2) I don’t consider myself the most ideal example of an a-spec person, who may give allo people an incorrect impression of the ace and aro spectrums.

Does this mean I’m arguably any less a-spec and have somehow become fully and unequivocally allo (whether in the sense of alloromantic, allosexual, or both)? Not necessarily. Some areas of variation just aren’t suitable to 101 discussions, and I really don’t want to have to Educate and then list all of the ways I’m not like the majority of the group I just explained. Some people who use a label just aren’t keen on being the forefront of visibility, awareness, and outreach in that way.

For those who haven’t been struggling to refind the tumblr a-spec community, “allo” isn’t necessarily a label people identify with, but it’s used to refer to people who experience a given flavor of attraction. It’s a bit like how most cis people don’t necessarily identify as cisgender, but there has to be a word to talk about them that isn’t “normal” people. As an all around confusing gray person, the lines between allo/ace and allo/aro can be squiggly, blurry, a bit uncertain if you will.

 

Updates to the about page (accurate as of 10 Sept 2019):

Noteworthy: Gray-ace

My sexual attraction rate / degree / intensity has varied and been influenced by other things over time (ex. body dysphoria), but I’m not going to deny that older posts may use different labels, especially if you poke around on different tumblr blogs. I generally don’t disclose this outside of providing context for interacting with certain ace content because I don’t consider myself the best example for the ace community, and I’d rather avoid becoming a teaching moment where I have to explain how I’m not like most aces to someone.

Noteworthy: Aro spectrum

The best way I can describe it right now – after certain life-changing events, I “lost” the ability to clearly differentiate between when I was feeling something that was romantic or platonic, like damaging an internal sensor. I didn’t lose the sensor, but I can’t read the screen anymore; I suspect wires are now jumbled together, and I’m not sure if “non-normative” romantic expression is setting off unclear results. I would say that I’m greyro (or grayromantic) and quoiromantic in terms of recognized labels.

A-spec intracommunity note: I try to keep aro-spec blogging on one tumblr dash where it’s separate from the ace blogging on another because I don’t connect being aro and being ace. I don’t call myself aroace; when I’m in an ace area, I refer to myself as gray-ace and that’s it, and when I’m in an aro area, I only refer to myself as greyro, quoiromantic, and/or aro-spec. I’d rather opt out of describing my sexuality in the aro community to the extent that I can.

Forewarning

Have I finished backdating fic? Nope.

Have I decided to crosspost and backdate Carnival of Aros posts? Yes.

Have I decided to write for my first Carnival of Aces prompt? Yes, but I can’t put it on the tumblr where I post the aro content*. Or the fandom tumblr that’s more kinky ace flavored where I’m opening myself up to the anti-kink people or (pro/anti/anti anti?) shipping people [fandom related].

(Some a-spec people aren’t comfortable with kink, but it’s a relatively small amount who are overlapping into ‘anti-kink and letting you know’ territory, which in part overlaps with the shipping issues. It’s a bit of a long explanation, tbh, but basically, I really don’t want to draw someone’s attention in case it sets off dogpiling.)

So, there’s going to be a new tag for such content here: carnivals round tables etc.

 

(*) Basically, I don’t describe myself as aroace and combine content. I talk about aro (sexual orientation undisclosed) stuff with the aro community, and I talk about ace (romantic orientation undisclosed) stuff with the ace community. I know this seems a bit odd to keep this so separate, but personally, it works because I don’t consider them to be connected.

Angrboda Devotional – Call For Submissions

Ironwood Witch

Working Title: Mother of Wolves, Mother of Monsters: Devotions for Angrboda, Hag of the Ironwood

Edited by Úlfdís

The giantess old | in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore | the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one | in monster’s guise
Was soon to steal | the sun from the sky.
Voluspo Stz 40, Bellows

Angrboda: Her name translates as “Bearer of Woe”, “She Who Brings Sorrow” and most ominously, “Foreboding.” Known in the primary sources as Loki’s wife and mother of their three terrifying children, Hel, Fenris and The Serpent, and believed by many to be the Seeress Odin raised from her mound, she is also one of the Mothers in the Rokkr pantheon (having literally given birth to many of them), a völva , and a mighty Chieftain. Feared by some, misunderstood by many, and deeply loved by those who know themselves to be Hers, Angrboda is…

View original post 196 more words

Polyplatonic, but Open

{Oh, the frustrations of having internet connectivity issues in the summer. Yeah, I accidentally posted a double comment on the Call for Submissions, but we’re just ignoring that. Afaik, all tumblr redirects in the links have been fixed.

This is a crosspost that’s been backdated to the original posting date, 29 Aug 2019, and the roundup includes a link to the tumblr post here.}

Carnival of Aros – Aug 2019 – “Relationships” from The Aro Anarchist on WP [Link to Call for Submissions].

What does an ideal relationship look like to you?

What a coincidence that I posted something back in April in response to the implication that I have one ideal relationship [link to the untitled post]. By this point, I can’t pinpoint an exact year where I first heard about polyamory, but I’ve been using poly-flexible long enough that I struggle with trying put all of my potentially conflicting needs onto the shoulders of one partner.

This doesn’t mean I have to have a minimum of a certain number of partners, and I honestly may find that spoons drastically affect the point where I get polysaturated after trying polyamory out. It’s rather noticeable in trying to explain the conflicting people of that hypothetical group, but whether there’s a sexual drive or romance drive involved, those two typically aren’t combined and directed at one person. Or to put it another way, I don’t default to wanting to have a romantic and sexual relationship with the same individual. (Unless the planets and stars align just so? But I can’t really predict if or when that might happen; so, it’s safer to err on the side of it probably not happening.)

In hindsight, I think knowing about appromour [link] and wavership [link] would’ve changed how I approached hypothetical Person E (QPP) when I first wrote that post. But the gist still stands that I’m open to doing activities a partner feels is romantic and/or others may read as romantic, even if I’m not sure I can differentiate romantic and platonic.

Do you consider yourself polyamorous or a relationship anarchist? What do those words mean to you as an aromantic person?

In my response to June’s CoA prompt (Imagine A World Without Amatonormativity [Link]), I mentioned that I first encountered amatonormativity from polyam discussions. I don’t quite feel confident in saying that I’m definitely polyamorous when I haven’t had actual experience with more than one relationship, so I’ve stuck with poly-flexible. Honestly, the realization that I’m somewhere in the aro spectrum/umbrella is still new enough that I’m more likely to consider myself a polyam person approaching the aro community.

While I can understand some of the foundational theory where relationship anarchists operate from, I actually haven’t really sought out solely RA (and not overlapping with polyamory) circles. It doesn’t come down to some sort of difference of ideas, opinions, or whatever that might sound reasonable. I just got the shitty luck of the first relationship anarchist I interacted with being someone I didn’t want to interact with any further so I avoided their circles, which extended to RA at the time.

These days, particularly on tumblr, it’s a bit of a coin toss in that I’ve typically found those who overlap polyam and RA in some way. Sometimes, it’s as simple as personally following an RA structure but interacting and tagging polyam because it is/was a larger community or had more frequented tags. For me, leaning into RA doesn’t seem to have room for allo friends who don’t want to fall into amatonormativity but aren’t really committed to RA themselves. RA doesn’t seem like a one-way endeavor, y’know?

How do you feel about various models that a-spec communities have come up with to talk about non-traditional relationships?

I suspect I tried so hard to poke at whether I might want a queerplatonic partner as Person E had to do with QPRs being the most commonly referenced non-traditional relationship model I’ve run into. It’s quite likely they still serve a need, or we probably would’ve abandoned this terminology, but sometimes, I have the distinct feeling that the vague, open spaces for what “queering a platonic relationship” looks like is a tad too vague and open for some people.

Honestly, I feel like I’m treading water with keeping up on friendship maintenance (particularly as it’s moved from in-person daily interaction from school environments to solely LDR/online spaces), and I haven’t really had the spoons for poking at non-traditional relationships. I have friends who I consider Important People, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier keeping in touch, let alone asking allo friends about whether they’re comfortable doing xyz that’s different from what they’re used to doing in friendships.

Not to mention that bridging the allo to a-spec gap in a friendship isn’t exactly the same as trying to ask about non-traditional relationships. It’s one thing to be like ‘hey friend, do you mind if I do x or say z?’, but once things start to stray too non-traditional, it gets into educational territory and explaining that I’m not trying to date them. (Or force polyam on them, break up their relationship, encourage cheating, etc. Have you had an allo explain what an emotional affair was to you? 10/10 don’t recommend.)

tl;dr While I can understand some of the foundations of relationship anarchy, I’m more likely to describe myself as poly-flexible due to longer exposure to polyamory circles. In theory, being able to split different attraction drives between a group of people works better than putting everything on one person’s shoulders, but realistically, I’m not sure if I’ll have the spoons for that in the near future, particularly when you take into account friendship maintenance spoons.

The Intersection of Religion and Aromanticism

{This was written for the May 2019 Carnival of Aros  – “The intersection of religion and aromanticism” – hosted by @aroacepagans and was originally posted on tumblr here. This crosspost has been backdated to the original posting date, 21 May 2019.}

Carnival of Aros (May 2019)  [Call for Submission post]

The Intersection of Religion and Aromanticism

Coincidentally, it was deciding to check out a blog recommended to this one (@aroacepagans themself) that led to trawling through different aro blogs and questioning if I actually experienced romantic attraction. [For the sake of saving space, I split the full “I don’t think I’m alloromantic, but I’m not sure if I can pinpoint a specific label” part into a separate post (link).]

Region’s Dominant Religion & Love/Romance

It’s not a shock for the usual blog readers, but I distanced myself from Christianity, particularly my family’s flavor of a certain Protestant branch, when I was younger and coming to terms with being queer. Some people reconcile their connection to Christianity with being queer, but I already had theological doubts and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back in a manner of speaking. In that stance, I was more concerned with the church approved relationship only looking heterosexual, and I honestly wasn’t paying as much attention to the intertwined issue that basically went “God will bring everyone a special someone into their life”.

Depending on the exact environment you’re in, you sort of run into different issues with how Christianity may have played into how you discovered your sexuality, lack thereof, romantic orientation, its lack thereof, etc. I remember a focus on the negative attributes given to sex between two people of the same sex/gender in arguments and an incredibly obtuse inability to see that queer people were capable of anything other than sex in irl interactions. It’s honestly a bit of a clusterfuck trying to remember it; “just friends” could cohabitate for years, might be able to hold hands, and could be physically affectionate until the point of Too Romantic when there were suddenly assumptions about The Gay Sex.

The conflation of romantic and sexual made it easy to fall into a trap of falling back on amatonormativity, especially when you were going up against people who didn’t even agree that non-heterosexual people were capable of love. It was all tied up in sin, and lust, and a confused teen who wants to hold hands with someone of the same gender without hearing how they’re “evil” (and probably going to hell) just isn’t on equal footing with that type of argument to get into dismantling amatonormativity when it sounds like they’re agreeing that they can’t love.

This isn’t to say that someone shouldn’t try to address the amatonormativity in those Christian settings. It would be a lot of years before I even had the terminology to try to talk about that, and I’m looking back and trying to be gentle with past-me for using the limited tools I had against adults who really should have known better. I wasn’t the first queer person to spring into existence, y’know? It shouldn’t have been my responsibility to miraculously Know everything to defend myself against homophobia, transphobia, and all kinds of interconnected types of queerphobia (bi, pan, ace, aro) from adults.

Weddings =/= Marriage

That being said, the shorthand for talking about queer acceptance in Christianity was tied up in religiously motivated opinions about whether “gay marriage” was ruining the sacredness of cisheteronormative marriage that dovetails into having 2.5 kids and the American Dream. I remember different levels of informal and class sanctioned debates on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, notably a whole class period devoted to it in AP US Gov in high school. (This was before the ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015.)

In the context of that type of discussion (“why can’t the gays just have a commitment ceremony?”) and the related issues of “just partners” in relation to the AIDS crisis (not having the legal rights tied to a recognized marriage), love wasn’t necessarily reserved for marriage, even though “us queer people basically love like you straight people do” was a popular defense, and marriage didn’t exactly mean the same thing to everyone.

Some people, often straight, associated marriage with the big wedding, a priest/preacher in a church setting, and the whole shebang of the reception and stuff afterwards, which is more tied up in having religious recognition and acceptance. The wedding gets turned into romantic shorthand, and I think that’s why I wound up with complicated personal feelings even while staunchly being the person to speak up and support alloromantic queer people’s rights for their marriage to be recognized and their weddings to be held.

Non-romantic Partnering & Marriage

I grew up with an ambivalent relationship to weddings because they were associated with being reserved for het couples, and even though same-sex marriage has been legalized nationwide (and therefore in my state) for almost 4 years, I haven’t really been concerned about having a big blowout, church approved, het acceptable wedding. I don’t mind the idea of romantic coded activity or partnering with someone, which has personally made me a bit wary of claiming an aro/aro-spec identity. (Not to say that these are incompatible. I, personally, just feel like I’m intruding at times in some aro places.)

Partnering is one thing, but it’s a little hard to nail down if I want to legally marry a long-term committed partner. (Having the potential for more than one and being poly-flexible also makes it hard to imagine picking one person unless there were a particular reason for accessing a marriage benefit with them.) I’ve also had depression for at least a decade and have struggled with suicidal ideation on more than one occasion, so I honestly have trouble with imagining anything that could qualify as “long-term”. The future’s just a hazy guess with some blurry sketched in goals. However, I can’t deny that the benefits of a legal marriage do look appealing, and I just can’t say I’d want to restrict it to a romantic partner.

… & Minority Religion

I’m a polytheist (sorted under the Pagan umbrella), and usually when I try to look into Pagan weddings, I mostly get Wiccan or Wiccan derived information on handfasting. I can understand wanting personally relevant symbology and scripts that don’t draw on Xtian ones, and I can understand wanting a rite that means something for your own religious community (not everyone just wants to go to the local courthouse and have their marriage license being signed be it).

For a taste of how handfasting has different definitions across time periods and the Neopagan and/or Wiccan wedding commonly thought of now doesn’t actually have some unbroken link to pre-Christian marriage ceremonies: Tying the Knot: Handfasting Through the Ages [link] and Historical Handfasting (Late Middle Ages to Reformation, Reformation to 1940, Historical v Mythical v Neopagan Usage) [link]. This doesn’t mean certain elements wouldn’t perhaps look familiar to certain pre-Christian people in a certain location, but the whole package of binding hands with a cord, talking about the union of the God and Goddessyear and a day ‘trial’ from one Beltane to another, possibly jumping a besom“greenwood” marriages starting on May Day isn’t an exact carbon copy of a historical pre-Christian marriage ceremony for everyone.

I’m not saying that no one should do any of this or call it a handfasting because the Neopagan definition has been around long enough to become its own recognized thing. Some of it just sounds like “our wedding ceremony is just as legit as a Xtian ceremony because it’s Old”, but I’m not really interested in that. While the aesthetics can certainly be beautiful, moving, and adaptable to commitment ceremonies for polyam arrangements, I just find myself about as ambivalent to the idea of handfasting as a church wedding.

If the stars were to align and I was clear on feeling romantic attraction or I wanted to get married to a partner for legal reasons, I would want the marriage (signing the paperwork) to be separate from any ceremony held for friends and family to attend. I really can’t lock myself into one ‘ideal wedding’ idea, in part, because I would want to take into account some sort of interfaith compromise in ceremony melding. Even though weddings get used for romantic shorthand, there are personally significant connections to culture, ethnicity, and other minority religions within the US in how some people celebrate a wedding, and I wouldn’t want to ignore that for my hypothetical partner.

Haircut as Platonic Service

A half-assed post about the pros and cons of approaching giving a partner a haircut as a platonic example of body service with a bit about approaching from a Dominant and submissive pov. I wrote it more as a personal thought piece and reminder after getting a haircut in March (local Great Clips had a sale), but the sccwriting club found it, reblogged it, and people responded (most favorably).

Titled on tumblr: This post brought to you by a local sale on haircuts.

Consider: Cutting someone’s hair as platonic service.

I have no idea if I’d want to do it all the time, but I’m just curious enough to want to let a Dominant cut my hair once. Right now, I don’t feel comfortable with letting someone else decide what my hair should look like, though.

While I have zero current knowledge of hair cutting, I’m awfully tempted to learn just enough to be able to do something for a sub. Obviously, it’s not something I’d try to force, and I don’t feel like I should be the one deciding on what the haircut should be, but I have this feeling that this could be a really nice intimate activity in the right situation.

Potential Pros:

  • Like playing with someone’s hair, but with a purpose.
  • Hair washing optional, but also really nice.
  • Clear task with immediate results. There’s no multitasking, complicated decision making, do x and maybe see y weeks later progress.
  • A practical task that serves a purpose beyond “I said so” or “I think it’s sexy”. Might help your partner save money.
  • Can be intimate in a close setting outside of a noisy business or salon.

Potential Cons:

  • Knowledge.
    • Some elements aren’t terribly difficult, or a determined toddler with a pair of scissors wouldn’t give out ‘haircuts’, but it’s not quite that easy, especially if you’re doing something you’ve never done to your own hair before to hair that isn’t like yours.
  • Nerves.
    • I can totally understand why some people would want to stick with easier body service like brushing or washing hair. There’s a difference between trimming hair and breaking out the clippers and dye for a wild mohawk.
  • Tools.
    • I mean, it kind of depends on what exactly you’ve learned how to do and what you’re expecting you’ll do. I’m not trying to get anyone to do full cosmetology training and spend a lot of money on everything you might need when you might just be trimming the back of someone’s neck or something.
  • Other service is easier and/or within your partner’s limits. It’s possible I may not run into someone who’d trust me enough to cut their hair, but they might trust me to help style it, for example.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a cultural or historically weighted racial association with someone else touching my hair. I do have some personal hangups with how social gendering of hair has intersected with my family’s thick hair in females, but that’s a little more complicated than this warrants (rain check on that post).