Questioning, Part 2

An earlier post of mine mentioned that I was in that questioning phase again. I’m still there, and it hasn’t been very fun.

What I’m questioning in my identity is something that would affect my relationships with everyone. Not just my intimate partnership right now, but also my friendships. It would also change the way I see relationships in cultural norms and current society.

The gist of it? I literally don’t know what romantic love feels like. All of the examples of romantic love that I see have definitions that hinge on monogamy.

Soul mate. Partner. Life partner. Who you want to spend your life with. The one. Other half.

This type of love is seen as different to other types of love. It’s been very hard for me to find resources to help me question this part of my sexuality, because romance is always, always presented hand-in-hand with either sexual relationships or asexuality—and I’m not asexual.

I’ve felt incredibly outcast, because I don’t fit in with society’s expectations of relationships; and I don’t fit into the asexual community.

In seeing my friends grow up, go through relationships, get married, discuss their future hopes and dreams… I feel like an outlier. Marriage? A spouse? A family? I frown at the idea of having them for myself. I don’t want those things in any large capacity. Maybe one day, but right now—and how it’s predominantly been since I hit puberty over a decade ago—I don’t want a spouse and a child, a shared master bedroom and ensuite, a joint bank account, half a mattress.

That’s the social norms that I don’t feel connected to. This nuclear family ideal that starts with a locked pair of molecules. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I don’t know why.

There’s also this thing called the split attraction model that separates attraction into “romantic” and “sexual”—that’s why you can have labels like “homoromantic demisexual”—and I really struggle with it. I feel like I don’t fit into it, because who I have sexual attraction to isn’t dependent on their gender (hence the “pansexual” label I use and am very comfortable with!) and my romantic attraction isn’t based on gender at all.

My romantic attraction is just… I guess it’s all platonic? But it isn’t all platonic, because my love for some people is shown in different actions that aren’t strictly platonic. My love for my boyfriend, for instance, gets sexual. But I haven’t reserved sexual love for certain relationships (this is me trying to say that I’m fine with casual sex, ok, let’s just put that out there). Hand holding, hugging, kisses, mouth kisses—the more I question myself, the more I question the split attraction model.

Just, what is romance? What is it?

I don’t know. It’s confusing. Hence the “questioning” thing.

I feel like an outcast because I don’t relate to so many people when it comes to intimate relationships. We can all agree on what “intimate” is—it’s varying degrees of close interactions with people. Handshaking, high fiving, hugging, hand holding, kissing (which also has more variations based on where on the body those kisses go), cuddling, fondling, caressing, making out—getting more intensely sexual.

And all of that is stuff that I don’t feel the need to reserve for one person or one type of relationship. Those interactions depend on the person I’d theoretically be doing it with. I’d kiss a pal without wanting to date them. Heck, I’ve had sex with people I had no intention of getting any emotional connection with, and that was fine by me (that casual sex thing, okay? chill). The limitations of what intimate interactions I do with people are set by the relationships I have—both with the person, and with other people. My current relationship requires boundaries in my behaviour, as well as exclusivity.

But I have friends I won’t hug, because I know they don’t like it. I have friends I only hug. I have friends who hug me and pick me up when they do it (and vice versa). I have friends I’d kiss on the cheek or the top of the head or the forehead. I have friends who will put their head on my shoulder. I have friends who would put their head in my lap so I can play with their hair. I have friends I’ve done sexual things with, and we’re only friends. They’re all my friends. They’re all platonic, in that sense. But we’ve done romantic, intimate, and/or sexual things.

Where does “platonic” come up? I don’t understand how it fits into “attraction” when it’s really just… the nature of a relationship.

I don’t know. I’m confused. I’m questioning still. And my worldviews are shattering because of it, and I’m fucking terrified of the implications of this. I want to cry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if people will get hurt. I don’t know if I’ll come out of this unscathed or without guilt.

Questioning

Two tree trunks with spray-painted question marks and a text overlay reading Questioning

Lately, I’ve been in that hellish stage of questioning.

Again.

I was here at age 13 and here I am again, and it sucks.

I’m still not comfortable enough to do a broad “coming out” or “here’s what I’ve been questioning” post, but I’m putting this up for a very specific reason.

I’ve written about the fluidity of identity, in a way, when I discussed fluidity in sexuality. I intend to write a follow-up post to that one where I discuss gender identity. But I’ve always been a firm believer of supporting changes in the way people label themselves. There are some parts of your identity that can’t change, like your skin colour and ethnic heritage. There are others, however, that can only change or come about when you find out they exist, like gender, sexuality, romantic attraction, and religious beliefs—and you’re allowed to change your mind based on how much you learn about them.

So I’m posting this to say that I’m wondering if I need to change my mind, too. I’m unsure of the labels I once used. I’m unsure of the identity I once claimed. I’m being intentionally vague here, because I’m not entirely comfortable (let alone certain) of all of this and what labels are accurate. It doesn’t matter which ones I’m specifically questioning. What matters is that I’m back in this space and filled with uncertainty. Part of me is scared—as is normal when something changes—and that part right now is big.

When you question your identity, it often has a domino effect: it can change your relationships, your expression, and your interactions with society. You may have thought you were cisgender, but then you start to question that… and your life changes. There can be small changes or big changes, but it’s not going to be the same after you realise whether or not you are what you thought you were.