A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Beth Brooks commented on the Question of the Week expressing a desire to hear more about aces in relationships, especially long-term ones. I agree that this is a topic that really hasn’t been covered much but should be covered more. I suspect it tends to get glossed over because relationships involve at least two people by definition, and the “Hey, can I write about our relationship in public?” conversation is always an awkward one to bring up. Nevertheless, awkward conversations are my specialty, so here’s a post about my experiences within my long-distance queerplatonic triad.
About a month ago, I… completely failed to notice the one-year anniversary of the conversation I had with my zucchini Vir. (I would have liked to say we celebrated with something cute, but I’m not really… good with dates. Or feelings. Or conversations about feelings.) Vir and I actually met over AVEN, but didn’t actually talk to each other directly until some time after I left the site. Tay, who eventually reintroduced both of us, completes the triad; we met first through AVEN but more specifically through the old Transyadas group.
One of the things I’ve learned in the past year is to care a lot less about the names I give to things. I’ve often referred to Vir as my “Schroedinger’s girlfriend” on panels when I’m talking about my relationships or asked whether I date, but outside of that context I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about what to name it. The important thing is that everyone is on the same page and comfortable with where things are, not what label gets put on the existing relationship. Even if we hadn’t had that formal conversation about “hey, do we qualify as zucchinis now?” last year, I think we’d still be in essentially the same place, emotionally. The one place I do miss more formal language is in talking to strangers about each other, but even that is something that’s become less pressing over time.
I do think that for us, taking the pressure off about what it means to be in a queerplatonic relationship is really helpful. That’s one of the nicer things about having a weird fuzzy grey-areas relationship; you’re more or less understood to be making it up as you go along. I tend to worry about a lot of things, and it’s been really comforting to be able to sit back and take a breather and let this thing go where it wants to go without trying to direct it. I would probably be a lot more nervous if I thought there was some way in which I could do this “wrong.”
The long distance aspect of things sucks a lot, especially since we manage to all three be in different time zones and countries. When I was applying to graduate school, a program came up that would have let me live much closer to Vir, but funding wasn’t available at that program for American students so I wasn’t able to go to that school. It was pretty depressing to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to manage to move closer even though I had to move to a new city anyway.
It’s hard to maintain relationships long-distance. I had another queerplatonic relationship at about the same time that faded in part because for me, constant communication is really important to maintain that level of emotion and that wasn’t something we could sustain long-distance. (We’re still good friends; we’re just not as close as we used to be.) For me and Vir and Tay, it works in part because we all three talk to each other every single day. There’s a three-way Skype window that stays open almost all the time on my laptop, and on the uncommon occasions someone is out of town and won’t have internet access, we tend to send frequent emails back and forth.
Admittedly, the sex side of things isn’t so much an issue as it is in a lot of long-term relationships between allosexual people, but having a long-distance relationship is hard for us for other reasons. All of us are people who comfort each other with touch and who like to bond by cuddling with each other or hugging. Having to filter all your desires to touch one another through talking is not nearly as awesome as actually getting to hug someone is. Right now I’m sick and whiny and feeling slightly clingy, and I’d really like to be able to crawl on one of my people and be obnoxiously needy for a little while. (It is nice knowing that however much I bitch about my constant hacking cough that I’m unable to infect them with it, though.)
It’s also much easier to share things with each other if you can go out and physically do them together. Vir and I share a love of knitting, and Tay and I geek out about dogs all the time, but it would be so nice to be able to visit yarn shops or the dog park together once in a while. And it would be nice to try new things together, too; scout out a new grocery store, say, or visit local festivals. Right now, we share media a lot—we often synchronize viewings of TV shows or movies and have movie nights—but it would be nice to be able to do that while in the same room. There’s lots of things I would like to make more awesome by eventually moving in together, but for career reasons that’s very difficult for all of us right now.
I don’t really understand why some people would assume that an asexual long-distance relationship would be much easier than a sexual one. After all, if sex was the only thing that made long distance hard, that implies that the only thing couples do when they’re in the same room is have sex with each other. Obviously that’s not the case! There’s a lot of things people do to bond and take pleasure in each other’s company and presence that don’t have anything to do with sex, and sometimes I wish I could do more of them. All things considered, though, my life is much richer for having Tay and Vir in it.