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Hey, remember Mantis? Welp, a while ago he messaged me on FetLife to let me know he would be in town soon, and to ask if I’d like to get together. He proposed we watch a movie at my place. And I (after a whole bunch of thinking about it) ultimately said yes.

The one time that we met in person (and somewhat in the aftermath of our meeting, too, where we had that exchange about his “emotional unavailability”) he kinda turned my crank in a dysfunctional way – like, he reminded me of The Pedant and other manipulative men whom I’ve chased after and yearned for but they always maintained an infuriating, tantalizing distance. I didn’t want to chase Mantis and try to date him per se; I wanted to engage with him and manipulate him back and win. I wanted to turn the tables on his manipulation so he ended up yearning after and chasing me while I acted indifferent.

But at the same time I felt like if I actually tried this plan there was a good chance I’d lose and get my feelings hurt. I ended up doing the second-best thing: refusing to be sucked into Mantis’ drama when he seemed to be contriving to pull me in. He made his big spiel about how he’s emotionally unavailable and prone to freaking out and bolting if someone he’s physically intimate with gets too close to him but maybe we could still make out sometime blah blah blah and I was like “nah, this sounds like waaaay too much drama. I’m up for friendship but that’s it.”

And I figured I would probably never hang out with him again, even if he asked me to, just to be on the safe side.

But here I am, fresh off my breakup with TA and missing feeling attractive and having sex and etc, but emphatically not wanting to actually date anyone – I’m burned out on dating and hate hate hate the idea of meeting anyone new. I’m also lonely and bored, though.

So when Mantis asked about coming over, I figured either

1) I could stick to my original boundary of friendship only, and having someone visit would give me motivation to tidy the apartment and I’d probably have a nice time socializing – plus if Mantis was having some idea of using his physical presence to reel me in and make me wanna chase him, my aloofness would infuriate him. Which is not to say that I knew for sure I’d feel aloof; I figured maybe there would be sexual tension. But the plan would be to ignore whatever tension I might feel and be sexlessly friendly and pleasant, just to mess with Mantis. And this sounded like an amusing use of my time. Better than languishing alone wondering if I’ll ever have a partner again, at any rate.

Or 2) If I still felt attracted to him (which is not a given; my ADHD makes me like new shiny things but then I get bored) I could initiate makeouts or more and it would be kind of perfect because I’m burned out on dating and he lives in another city so it could be an isolated “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” sorta thing. Like, I think in my current mental state I’d be more than happy to hook up with someone once and then completely ignore them. And if Mantis is the kind of person I’ve been sensing him to be, he’d assume that us hooking up would make me feel all attached to him and try to chase him, which was his plan all along. But instead of sending volleys of anxious post-hookup messages looking for validation from him and asking when we could see each other again, I would just completely ignore him – and that would infuriate him.

So, I would definitely be entertained no matter what. I said yes to him visiting.

Mantis asked ahead of time if I was into weed at all because he could bring some, in vaporizer format. I said I might be into that; that I’ve barely ever used pot in my life but I’m somewhat interested in revisiting it. He said he’s acted as a guide of sorts for friends while they tried drugs – making sure they got through their trip safely – and would be happy to do this for me, too, which feels like another sneaky “I’m gonna get you feeling vulnerable and depending on me” thing, not unlike when he offered to mentor me about “dude stuff,” only, y’know…worse. I wondered whether his aim was to get me off-kilter with drugs so I would do things I would not normally be inclined to do. I made sure The Dandy would be home on the day of the visit, just for extra insurance (yes, I am anxious/suspicious enough that I even wondered if Mantis would rape me by coercion. And I knew that just having another guy within earshot would probably discourage him from trying, if he was going to).

The visit was yesterday. When I opened the door and saw Mantis for the first time since we hung out a few months ago, my gut reaction to his appearance was cognitive dissonance – he looked the way I remembered, but the soft-focus magical glow of attraction had dissipated and without it he was just kinda funny-lookin’ to me. And I didn’t get an impression from him that he was trying to do anything untoward with me at all – he kept a respectful physical distance from me and didn’t bring sex into the conversation in any capacity*. I had a few small puffs on the weed vaporizer**, we watched a movie, Mantis and The Dandy and I all ordered dinner from a local place and ate together, we watched another movie with the three of us this time, and then it was 11pm and Mantis left. And that’s it.

It was a pleasant visit.

It’s left me wondering, though: did I completely mis-read Mantis’ modus operandi? Was he just a troubled but basically good dude struggling with some emotional stuff and accidentally oversharing it with me, and perhaps actually he did ultimately feel relieved when I drew a boundary and said “friends only”?

…Or is being a gentleman at first part of a larger, nefarious plan?

I dunno, I know that anxiety can sometimes taint my ideas of people but I also have good gut instincts and it seems unlikely that I could be this wrong?

*The other/first time that we hung out, he was definitely showboating a bit. He made a point of showing me some texts he sent to a masochist he was gonna play with; he seemed like he was expecting me to swoon at the domly-dom way he spoke to her, or something. He made a point of telling me about a time that he proposed casual sex with a woman-friend of his and she said she didn’t think she really even liked sex but for some reason they did it anyway and it turned out she did indeed like sex – because he gave her an orgasm and nobody else had ever even tried. Like, 100% he was trying to let me know that he was fun in bed just in case I wanted to try him.

**He didn’t partake, himself, though, which is…odd, yeah?

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Often, after a breakup, I can look back and see that some of the stuff we broke up over was there right from the beginning – I just glossed over it or it didn’t get really bad until later or something.

I was just remembering how, before TA ever contacted me, I knew of her existence from a personal ad she posted on FetLife that I was tentatively interested in, but decided not to respond to.

See, I’ve been noticing lately that queer folks will throw the words “masc” or “femme” into personal ads when describing what sort of person they’re looking for, and from context, I think sometimes it means “I want someone who dresses like this” and sometimes it means “I want someone with these particular secondary sex characteristics” and sometimes it means “I want someone with this type of genitals.” But usually people don’t clearly explain.

And the ad I saw from TA said that she preferred “masc people” or “people on the masc side” or something like that. And although I’m on testosterone and my gender leans a bit masc-of-centre maybe, I’m still read as a woman, have a vagina plus a big ol’ set of tits that I don’t bind, and don’t necessarily dress in a hugely butch/masculine way (listen, I’d like to see what I look like in a suit, but I can’t be spending that kind of money right now. So I wear whatever still fits me from before I started T. Which, at the time that TA and I first met, was sometimes dresses). Conclusion: this ad is Not For Me.

But then TA found me on FetLife somehow and wrote to me first. And a relationship developed. And when I later confessed that I’d assumed she wouldn’t be into me because I don’t have a dick or come off super manly or anything, she was like “what? Nooooo! None of that was even what I meant by liking masc people!” I think she might have said that she meant people with testosterone-based bodies, because she loves the way they smell. And she did love my mighty, mighty stink. But I still suspected that she was lying to me and/or herself and that men – cis men – were what really turned her crank; that she clicked with me emotionally but my physicality was a compromise, for her.

And then over the course of our relationship she:

  • Told me she’s not attracted to my chest.
  • Told me she’s not attracted to my genitals.
  • Became obsessed with obtaining cis dick to a point where it was clear I couldn’t offer her anything nearly as interesting.

Welp. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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I was miffed by the meet-up with TA where she explicitly told me that seeking out strangers to fuck was a higher priority than seeing me, but I figured I’d get over the initial horribleness of hearing that and we’d mellow out into friends who kept in touch via text and saw each other, I dunno, once every month or two.

She’s barely even texted me since then, is the thing.

I just looked at our texting history on my phone to do a quick analysis and yeah…I texted her twice about some random thing in my life I felt like telling her and once to ask how to perform a particular function on Discord, and she gave pleasant but minimal responses each time. That is the sum total of our interactions for the past ten days or so. She never initiated conversation and never extended the conversations I tried to initiate into much of anything. I remember now that I sometimes had memes I wanted to send but I didn’t because her aloofness gave me a vibe that I might just be intruding on her life.

When we had our “exit interview”/how-do-we-convert-this-into-a-friendship meet-up, she told me that she did love watching shows and movies with me while snuggling and she’d still like to do that, just not on a weekly basis like before. And I guess I also assumed that being friends with her would involve semi-frequent texting, still, because it did when we were friends before starting to date. But…no.

And her comparative silence/distance makes me wonder if she’s even more obsessed with banging randos than I’d realized, like she doesn’t have the willpower to even drag her thoughts away from dick long enough to have a real conversation with me. I mean, maybe not, maybe she’s just taking a bit of space to recover from our breakup. I dunno. But the thought that she’s gone mostly quiet because sex addiction is putting me off her pretty hard, hence me not trying harder to talk to her. Like I’m not asking her how she’s doing or sending funny memes or anything. My forays into talking to her were “I managed to get my testosterone prescription refilled in time, after all!”-type stuff for a reason: I wanted to see if she took the opportunity to tell me stuff about her life in return, or not. And she would just reply something like “great!” and that’s it, so.

And I’m fine, actually. Our relationship was great in its heyday but right now, as things stand, I don’t miss her. I miss – and mourn – the heyday of our relationship. Also I’m beginning to realize that our breakup was probably a lot more mutual than I had previously assumed, and that bums me out just on principle. TA and her live-in girlfriend don’t fuck (and haven’t in years) and she still wants to maintain that relationship; I guess I assumed she would with me, too. I know that she doesn’t consider sex necessary to a romantic relationship like I do, and that for her, romantic feelings are very distinct from platonic ones so she knows when someone she’s hanging out with and not-fucking is a friend vs something more. And aside from our sex and kink life tanking (which she said wasn’t an indication of the relationship failing) I didn’t get a sense that there was anything wrong.

But, again, maybe the lure of fucking randos is so strong that it simply supplanted me. The Dandy and I both very much wonder if TA’s gf is getting any dedicated time or attention lately, either; feels like TA’s home is a pit stop where she sleeps, showers, and works on lesson plans between fucks. I hope the gf is doing okay and not feeling neglected. She’s financially dependent on TA and also kind of a doormat so if she, too, is getting spooky sex addiction vibes from TA, I don’t think she’ll be holding any interventions.

tl;dr I’m basically fine in the wake of the breakup but my feelings are hurt.

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TA had wanted to meet up in a neutral place to negotiate what we’d each want a friendship between us to look like going forward. We ended up being on the same page about that: she really likes when I introduce her to movies and tv shows I like and she snuggles up and pets my head or back while watching (she hasn’t always had the attention span to watch things when she was over, but I guess she does enjoy it when it works) and that’s a ritual from our relationship that I wanted to keep, too. Just, no more nudity.

But. But. Fucking listen to this: during this negotiation she said that she couldn’t come over every week anymore like she used to because “I don’t get a lot of free time, and when I do I want to devote as much of it as possible to my hobby, which is being a whore.” Out loud she fucking tells me this, that seeking out dick is her first priority and I fall somewhere below that. I don’t actually mind seeing her less often – I need to see partners on a regular basis in order to feel like I’m in a relationship, but I’m more lax with how I maintain my friendships – but damn. I think my instincts are absolutely correct that if I’d tried to keep on dating her she would have canceled our weekly visits sooner or later in order to seek out more dick, and it would have hurt like hell. At least now she’s doing this when we’re not supposedly in a loving romantic relationship.

Another notable-to-me part of our exchange is that she asked me how comfortable I was talking with her about sex and kink now (I assume she meant “As my ex, will it make you feel jealous or weird to hear about all the guys I’m doing stuff with?” though she didn’t put it that way). I said let’s maybe scale back on that a bit, at least for now. And I made a point of saying that when we were first going out, it felt like we talked about all kinds of cool shit: cat genetics, the new language she was trying to teach herself, lots of stuff. But eventually it felt like just about the only topic of conversation she brought up was “the other day a guy gave me access to his dick and here’s what happened!” And it’s honestly getting kind of one-note and boring.

I was hoping (I know it was a long shot) that my saying this would make her go “Oh shit, I’m so obsessive in my pursuit of getting laid that it’s become my entire personality. That’s…probably not great.” But nah, she missed the implication of my statement entirely and replied, without irony, “Yeah, when we were first going out I was spending a lot of time depressed at home reading about different interesting things and now I spend most of my time pursuing sex.*”

That’s the closest I’m willing to come – at the moment, anyway – to saying “your behaviour gives me big time addiction vibes and it’s unsettling and I think you should rethink your life.” I was pretty sure she’s not ready to face this idea and nothing good will come of things if I say it outright. My tiny little foray into hinting at it makes this clearer than ever.

But yeah…my reasons why I’d like her to scale back on telling me all about her big ol’ slutty life are like…10% boredom because most of these stories don’t have any point except “I banged a dude,” 20% jealousy because she’s so clearly a sexual person but not with me, and 70% being deeply creeped out because her laser focus on this one narrow aspect of life is giving some eerie echoes of my alcoholic ex-husband. I bet it would surprise her to realize that.

*It occurs to me, though, that some of our talks back in the day were also her sharing cool facts with me that she already knew, not only new things she was in the process of learning. If she only ever brings up sex anymore it’s because she chooses to.

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But how though?

I’m turning 50 in a few months and I’ve never had a relationship that lasted longer than three years – except for my nine-year marriage (which I probably would have left within the first three years if I’d had the resources to) and my seven-ish year fiasco with The Pedant (which barely feels like it counts, given that we broke up several times during those years and he barely ever spent time with me even when we were dating). And TBH I tend to cling to relationships too hard and stay in them too long, so the longest I’ve been happy in a relationship is maybe a year or two.

Is this weird, to be almost 50 and never have managed to be happy with a partner for more than a year or two? It feels like it might be weird.

I just…I feel like I see people all the time, everywhere, who are in romantic relationships that have lasted for years and seem to be going fine. Even people in their early 20s. Even people who don’t seem like they’re the type to intentionally work at making a relationship functional and good. All these people managing to just kinda fall into a partnership and stay there, seemingly contentedly enough, for half a decade or more. And, like…fucking how? Howwwwwwwww?!?!?!?!?

It’s tempting to write these relationships off in some way – to assume that the people in them probably don’t actively like each other and are just blindly following the societal rule that everyone is supposed to permanently couple up, and it’s just like “This is my Designated Person. I don’t have passionate feelings for them like I did in the beginning, but it’s fine. We get along okay, I guess. And it’s good to have the ‘relationship’ portion of my life all squared away so I can focus on other things.” But maybe that’s just me being bitter about what I don’t understand.

What percentage of long term relationships do you think are overall happy, with the people in them actively wanting to be together and feeling like being a couple makes both their lives better, rather than just going through the motions (or even hating each other but being too chickenshit to break up)?

If we assume that a person wants a relationship to make them happy, but they also want to commit to their partner for the long haul (which will inevitably mean going through some ups and downs), what is the optimal balance of these things? How do you know when something is just a rough patch vs when it’s time to cut and run? What amount of unhappiness is the tipping point where it’s just not worth it anymore to stay together?

I remember one time when I was a kid, my dad got laid off from his job and found a new one and my mother basically told me privately, “OMG, your father’s been an angry unlikeable piece of shit for the past bunch of years and I thought it was just his personality but apparently it’s just that he hated his job and was taking it out on me. He’s so much more pleasant now that he works somewhere else!” And I thought, Years?!? She slogged through life shackled to someone who made her MISERABLE, for YEARS?! But it’s complicated, I suppose, because you can’t know at the time whether sticking it out with someone will be worth it. You can only know in hindsight. A few awful years might not seem so terrible if things got way better and you were happy with them for decades after that.

The double-edged sword in my relationship misadventures is that I think I prioritize romantic relationships an above-average amount*, which makes it extra sad that I can’t seem to maintain one, but is also possibly one of the big reasons why I can’t seem to maintain one. I think I might be so susceptible to the chemical rush of infatuation that I mistake it for love. Maybe I don’t know what actual love is even supposed to look like. Maybe I keep chasing after people who are wildly unsuitable for me but give me just the right chemical high.

I just really want one or more happy, committed relationships that last hopefully the rest of my life (by “committed” I mean we have agreed that we hope to be together indefinitely and are willing to put work in to make that happen) so that I have steady love and sex and emotional support and don’t have to keep starting over. And I’m extra mad because, okay, I’ll admit that it didn’t occur to me until my divorce that relationships require work – but then it did occur to me, and I invested so much work into all my subsequent ones. And they still fell to shit. And then I see other people in long term relationships that – if not deep and passionate – at least seem pleasant and uneventful and it doesn’t look like the people involved are doing anything to nurture their connection, they just keep on hanging out together and it works out fine.

I think I need to set aside the partner search for now and just work on myself. First off, I’m feeling a bit desperate/clingy/lonely lately and that can’t possibly lead to good dating decisions, so I should pause and get my bearings. Secondly, my ex husband, The Bunny, The Dandy, TA, and to a lesser extent Minx all ultimately stopped wanting to do kinky and/or sexual things with me and gave me various deflections and excuses about it for ages rather than telling me what was up. I think the pattern stems from a core belief (possibly put in motion by my ex husband) that I’m fundamentally unfuckable. As long as I believe it’s not possible to find someone who can maintain sexual interest in me long term, I’m not gonna find someone who can maintain sexual interest in me long term. So I need to try to hack into my belief system and edit some shit.

*Like, every time there’s a tv show where two people are in love but one of them is offered a job in another city/country and ultimately breaks off the relationship to pursue it, I’m like “whyyyyyy?!” because I can’t even imagine ending a good relationship for a fucking job.

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Slut shaming?

I used to be so, so slut-shamey when I was young. I don’t know where it came from – I mean obviously the society I grew up in is mononormative and slut-shamey, so some of that was bound to rub off on me, but I think I went above and beyond. I was more judgy than most people around me. I thought that if someone was totally single and had a crush on more than one person at a time, they were a slutty terrible person. When my mom told me she had a big crush on actor Richard Chamberlain I was aghast that she was cheating on my father. When she wore a blouse with the top two buttons undone (no cleavage showing, still quite prim-looking, really) I was horrified that she was a slut. Maybe I was overcompensating for being poly (I was in denial about being poly, and I didn’t start living polyamorously for another couple of decades, but the desire was definitely there since at least adolescence).

At some point I saw that my thought processes were pretty misogynistic and I started working to unpack them. And later, when I finally consciously realized I wanted to live my life in a polyamorous fashion, I worked even harder at the unpacking, because obviously the idea that sex is only special when I’m the only one someone’s giving it to – or that someone’s naked body is only special if I’m the only one who gets to see it – is antithetical to polyamory. The sense of specialness needs to come from someplace other than exclusivity.

And I really thought that I had done a good job of undoing all those shitty thoughts. But now I don’t know.

When TA started going to sex clubs for random hookups, I did find myself feeling slightly threatened and soothing myself by thinking “well, sex with me is different and special because with us there’s also emotional intimacy. The random dudes aren’t getting that; they’re just putting their P in a V.” Then it became clear that she wouldn’t be having sex with me ever again because sex with randos was more interesting to her and it really threw me for a loop. I mean it’s pretty understandable to feel jealous and unwanted because my partner isn’t giving me a thing I need but gives that same thing freely to just about anyone else who asks, right? But I don’t like that I was trying to use exclusivity (in this case, that I was one of very few people who ever fucked TA with feelings involved) as a means of determining specialness. Some experienced poly people whom I really look up to have said that it’s bad to base a feeling of specialness on your relationship on an activity – “this is our restaurant and neither of us can bring anyone else here, that’s how we know that our relationship is special” type thing. And it feels like I was kinda doing this with TA.

Then again, the idea behind “don’t pin the specialness of your relationship on the activities you do together” is that what you should pin it on is the unique connection that the two of you have. Which is kinda what I was trying to do by rationalizing that she and I had emotionally connected sex so it didn’t matter what she got up to casually with other people. I think.

Another anecdote: when TA and I were first dating, she was averse to having her picture taken. Especially the idea of a sexy picture. This was trans-related; she had worries about how well she was performing her gender or whatever, and some dysphoria about her appearance. She was worried about trying to take a “sexy” pic and the recipient not finding it sexy, which would feel like a pretty profound rejection. This is all quite understandable, I think.

A while before our relationship totally tanked, TA and I had pooled our money to order some kinky shit from an Etsy store. Which means that the stuff came to her place so we only had to pay the one shipping fee, and she would give me my item later. The thing I ordered was a heretic’s fork: basically a double-ended pointy piece of metal strung on a nylon collar. You strap the collar onto the person and the pointy “fork” gets wedged between their chest and the underside of their chin, so that they can’t look down without it hurting.

When TA received the order, she messaged me a photo of herself wearing this fork-collar so I could see what it looked like. She didn’t include her face in the photo, but to my surprise and delight, she did include her naked tits. And I felt absolutely honoured that she’d decided to entrust me with that image. It’s understandable that she left her face out of the pic; I never send nudes with identifying features in them, either, just in case. Even if I trust the recipient not to leak them, someone might be passing by behind them while the pic is up on their phone or something; it’s just not worth the risk, to me. But anyway it seemed like TA was taking little fledgling steps toward thinking of herself as sexy-looking, and trusted me to find her sexy-looking, too, and so she did this unprecedented thing and shared a naked photo with me.

Buttttttt…she made a Discord server a while back for coordinating sex club outings with her friends (and, later, for planning the play party that ultimately dealt a death blow to our relationship). She invited me on there when she first made the server, and since there are also channels on it for chatting and sharing memes and stuff, I go on there sometimes for that. And I saw that around the same time she sent me that topless picture (a day or two before or a day or two after, I forget), she posted a pic on the Discord of her covered in jizz from the bukkake night she’d just attended at a club – topless and with her face fully in the frame.

And I thought, “…Oh. She didn’t send me a photo of her tits because I’m special and she trusted me. She did it because she’s increasingly obsessed with exhibitionism and I’m just one of many outlets for it.” And the photo she’d sent me lost all specialness. And I’m not sure that’s fair.

Setting aside whether I’m being slut-shamey or not, it seems very risky indeed for TA to be posting nudes on a Discord server full of random sex club acquaintances (and some people who are friends and whom she presumably finds trustworthy. But definitely also random sex club acquaintances). She works in academia and surely if such a photo were leaked it might risk her job? Even just going to sex clubs all the time to fuck in public seems kinda risky, in that one of her students might be there at some point. Maybe she would even unknowingly fuck a student at some point; her classes have hundreds of people and I doubt she knows every single face in the crowd.

I don’t think it’s residual slut-shaming tendencies talking when I say that TA’s behaviour seems increasingly compulsive and reckless to me and it’s worriesome. If you think I’m wrong, let me know.

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I’d been wondering whether I should break up with TA, or try to reconfigure my expectations so that what we have is Romantic Relationship: Now With Zero Sex or Kink.

Blogging things out helped me get my head straight and I sent her a breakup text. I didn’t especially want to tell her all my reasons for ending things, because I believe that would open up a can of worms where she would either argue that I was wrong or try to negotiate some changes that would fix my stated issues, and I’m not interested in either of those things. So I just phrased it like “I’ve been doing some soul searching, trying to figure out if I can still consider this a romantic relationship without any sex or kink, and I have come to the conclusion that feeling desired is an integral part of a capital-R-Relationship, for me. So, although I still do have some romantic feelings for you, I need to categorize our interactions as something else for my own well-being.” And then – because possibly she’s been sad about this rift that arose between us since the play party, too, and I can’t assume that she’s ready to be friends the minute I snap my fingers, I invited her to let me know how she’s been if she feels like it, and to let me know if she wants to see some cute photos I’ve recently taken of Dickface The Kitten*. I figured I wouldn’t text her further unless she replied.

She did reply fairly quickly. She said that because she’s getting all her sexual and emotional needs met through various sources already and I’m not, she worries that there will be a power imbalance of sorts between us where I might end up depending on her to meet certain needs and feeling resentful if she doesn’t. She wants to meet in a neutral place like a restaurant and discuss what we might each like a friendship between us to look like and see if that would be viable. TBH my gut reaction to that idea is “uggggggggh,” but she probably does have a point about the imbalance thing so I’m gonna make myself do this fucking thing. I just wish we could’ve had a space of time where we were just texting friendly-like and not being all embroiled in interpersonal drama, as a palate cleanser of sorts. Just set aside all the breakuppy stuff and chill out for a while.

I guess we might have that, anyway, because she said her schedule is currently too full to suggest a day or time for the Big Talk and she’ll have to get back to me.

What I’m most afraid of with this talk is that I’ll end up blurting out something bitter about her compulsion to fuck strangers and we’ll end up having exactly the argument that my breakup spiel was carefully avoiding.

By the way, her answer to me asking how she’s been is “I’m living my best, sluttiest life!” (followed by some general non-sexual life stuff about how her thesis is going and whatever.) What an interesting choice, to make sure the person who just broke up with her because of the lack of sexual intimacy knows that she’s still happily fucking everyone else but them. Again I wonder if she’s on the spectrum. I mean I’m sure allistic people sometimes read a room badly and say something hurtful or inappropriate by mistake, but…

So yeah. She unthinkingly(?) rubbed it in my face that she’s out getting laid as much as possible, she wants to have a talk about how to proceed as friends but doesn’t know when she can see me next because her schedule is so packed (which more likely than not is because she’s pursuing random hookups and going to sex clubs, though she didn’t explicitly say that), and after we made some small talk and traded some photos of our cats she said she had to go because she was on her way to a guy’s house. Because of course.

I think I may have jumped clear of TA just in time. I have a horrible feeling that if I’d attempted to keep on dating her, it would only be a matter of time before she started cancelling our standing Monday date some weeks because it was the only time some dude she’d exchanged two messages with on FetLife was available to stick his dick in her and it was very, very important that she not miss that opportunity.

And then my heart would be even more broken than it is now.

*Dickface is like seven years old now, so not a kitten anymore, but that’s no reason to change her nickname. 😛

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It’s not you, it’s me pt 2

I think I’ve covered the ways in which I’ve been feeling lonely and taken for granted in this relationship. Now I want to talk about some other incompatibilities.

TA is…kind of an asshole. Not in any serious way. But she’s a bit blunt sometimes and she’s a person who expresses affection for people by making fun of them, I think. As someone who got bullied all through school, I don’t generally deal well with affectionate teasing. Like I don’t know that she’s actually doing anything objectively terrible, but I can’t cope. And it seems like this shit is a fundamental personality trait for her and saying “stop doing that entirely” might be basically telling her to be a different person.

There was the ongoing thing of hers where she’d giggle at me for having told her the same anecdote more than once (to a point where she even laughingly said “this is the fifth time you’ve told me that. I started counting a while back” which is SO RUDE wtf). I had to explicitly connect the fucking dots for her that I have told her my memory sucks and that I believe this was caused by trauma, therefore making fun of my shitty memory is tantamount to finding it funny that I’ve been traumatized.

There’s the thing where she loves to pick on people’s wording. So if I say a sentence that can be parsed some way other than how I meant it, she’ll deliberately take it the other way, I guess just to rub it in my face that every damn thing I ever say isn’t textbook-perfect English? So like if we were talking about a particular movie and I said “My one friend saw that the other day and hated it” she might go “you only have one friend?!” That might not sound like much but she does it a lot and is so gleeful at catching me out and it gets tedious.

There is (for instance) the time we were at a party and a clump of people, including us, were talking about how Queen Elizabeth II had just died. And I said “wait, does this mean our money is about to change and have Prince Charles on it? That’s weird to think about.” And TA kinda got in my face and triumphantly said “who? The money will have whose face on it?!?” because the Queen’s death would have made him King Charles now, not Prince Charles, and I guess she super loved pointing out in front of everyone that I had made this minor error. Like excuse me for not effortlessly changing over the title I’ve known someone by for literally fifty years. I don’t think my mis-titling was a big deal, and I don’t think anyone else gave a shit, so it was weird how TA was acting like she caught me making a major, mock-worthy gaffe. She could’ve just said “yes, and also he’s King Charles now!” and moved on with the discussion.

All of this stuff gets really tiresome. It makes me second-guess everything I say before I say it and puts me on edge.

Also: TA prides herself on being good at grasping subtleties in conversations. She says she enjoys conversations with a ton of subtext to them, actually, and sees them as a game she can play and win. And so, sometimes I’ve used her as a translator of sorts, because I’m autistic and although I’m pretty good at picking up on subtleties, sometimes I guess the allistic thing of having layers of hints does confuse me.

So one time, a friend was telling me about a speed dating event they were going to go on, and said I ought to come, too. And they linked me to a social media post from the organizers so I could check it out and decide if I was interested. Someone had commented on the post “are polyamorous people welcome at this event?” and the organizers replied something like “we have a checklist attendees can fill out to mark off what kind of relationship they’re looking for!”

And I was half-tempted to reply to that “and is ‘polyamorous’ on that checklist, or…?” because what in the allistic fuck was that response? It was a simple yes or no question and they managed not to answer it at all. I kinda wondered if the real answer was “we forgot that poly people exist when we were making the event, but we want your $35 entry fee, so just come to the thing and we’ll figure something out.” But I wasn’t sure if that was overly cynical of me.

I ran this exchange by TA to get her thoughts. First, she weirdly defended the organizers by saying “organizers are busy! They don’t have time to compose a whole novel to anyone who asks a question!” and I was like “nobody was asking them to compose a novel! They could have just said yes or no! It would have taken them less effort to do that than it did to compose their weird non-answer!” TA kept insisting that it wasn’t a straight yes or no question and I was like “but it is? Do they allow poly people at the event, or do they not? That is simple and binary.” Then she said that the response did answer the question, and I was like “but it literally didn’t. They didn’t say ‘yes, you are welcome at the event’ or ‘no, the event is for monogamous people only’ or even ‘shit, we didn’t even think of that. Ummm you know what, just come. But we won’t guarantee that there will be a lot of other poly folks there.’ They gave an answer that seemed like it said something but when you really look at it closely it’s a non sequitur.”

I was annoyed in this conversation because the event organizers gave such a vague and useless reply. TA didn’t have a dog in that fight because she hadn’t been interested in going to this event – but she was annoyed, too. And it seems like what she was annoyed with was me. Finally she yelled “Look, it’s perfectly clear that they mean ‘we haven’t made any actual provisions for polyamorous people but you can still come if you want to.’*” I yelled back “If that were ‘perfectly clear’ then I wouldn’t be asking you what it means.” And that made her pause and collect herself, as if she’d suddenly realized she was implying I was stupid. What else could I be, if I needed perfectly clear things painstakingly explained to me?

And this is the thing. When I first started talking to TA, I assumed she was autistic, TBH mostly because she’s getting her PhD in a STEM field. Also she’s diagnosed with ADHD, which is often comorbid with autism. And she’s trans, and for some reason a lot of trans people are on the spectrum. And she gets along with me. I wasn’t fixated on the idea that she must be autistic, you understand – it wasn’t central to my idea of her – but I figured probably. But at some point – I can’t remember how it came up – she said that she’s not autistic. And I thought that was because she had looked into it and found a bunch of evidence to support that she’s not. But now I wonder if it’s an ableist “I’m not like those people” thing. Because her occasional asshole bluntness and inability to see that she’s said a hurtful thing until I spell it out feels kinda autism-y to me TBH. And it’s fully possible to be autistic but just better-than-average at decoding allistic shit, just like how I’m autistic but great at reading body language when some other autistic folks can’t.

Because TA teaches a STEM subject, she deals with a lot of students on the spectrum, and she prides herself on being able to communicate with them in ways that they understand. Her girlfriend is on the spectrum, and TA is pleased with herself for accommodating that, too. And of course she’s felt pretty self-satisfied about “translating” allistic shit for me occasionally. One time when we were lounging in bed talking, I gave an opinion on something -or-other and she replied “this is just an observation, I’m not making fun of you, but that’s a very autistic thing to say.” From someone else on the spectrum, some version of “that was so autistic of you” would feel like we were bonding based on our shared neurotype. From someone who claims to be allistic, it feels infantilizing to me, or like she’s a biologist making notes about the weird, weird species they’re studying.

I’m sensing a subtle but pervasive vibe that she sees me and other autistic people as cute little aliens for her to rescue and help. Like, it is good that as a teacher she knows how to communicate with both allistic and autistic students, just the way she talks about it kinda puts my teeth on edge, like she’s underscoring how weird autistic people are instead of thinking of things in terms of “here are two separate neurotypes that need different approaches to teaching.” And her attitude would be annoying whether she’s on the spectrum or not, but if in fact she is autistic then it definitely adds a little extra spice to it all, no?

I don’t like feeling as though my gf sees me as a different species.

*So it looks like my guess was in fact correct and I’m not as obtuse as TA thinks. I maintain that the organizers’ answer was neither clear not direct; they were deflecting, trying to placate people enough to get them to pay the entry fee. And I am right to be annoyed by that and to prefer transparency.

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It’s not you, it’s me.

I haven’t spoken to TA in two or three weeks, except one text to cancel our usual Monday hangout and a second one a week later to say that actually I just need to be alone and sad until further notice.

I’ve been trying to puzzle out whether the lack of kink and sex with her was a relationship dealbreaker for me or not. Like did I need to break up with her, or could I just adjust my expectations and have a romantic relationship that didn’t feature sex or kink – just kind of preserve and enjoy all the other things the relationship offered me?

I believe I’ve come to a conclusion, and the conclusion is that I want to break up. And that the reason I want to break up is that actually, there isn’t a lot of non-sex, non-kink stuff that the relationship offered me. At least not lately.

And I feel bad, because she’s told me before to please say something to her anytime I feel like there are issues in the relationship so we could set about solving the issues, and I didn’t do that, and now things are too far gone for me and I don’t think a relationship talk could set us back on course. I mean, also I think if I told her all my issues she likely wouldn’t take it well. But even if she did…I just feel…done.

Let me vent here.

One big thing is that TA’s pursuit of sex with strangers is beginning to smack of sexual addiction, to me. And I don’t want to be with any kind of addict again. I’m guessing that if I were to tell her I think she’s sex-addicted, she would get pissy and deny it – and in a way, whether she actually has an addiction or not is not even the point, the point is that her behaviour twigs my anxiety and I know there are people out there whose behaviour wouldn’t make me anxious so I might as well go find some of them.

For the first bunch of months that we were dating, TA earmarked a day each week for me – Tuesdays, I think, though that doesn’t really matter, the point is there was a dependable schedule to her visits and this put my anxiety/insecurity at ease. She would come over at 3pm (because I usually wake up around noon, so this gave me the perfect amount of time to shower, eat, and do some quick cleaning/tidying) and leave around 11pm or midnight. But then, this past September, she told me that her work schedule was more intense this semester and it was a lot harder to dedicate a whole day a week to me. She proposed coming over on Mondays after work for a few hours, instead. And hopefully sometimes other days, too, but Monday evenings at the very least. She said she would be exhausted from work but perhaps “incidental togetherness” (just existing around each other, rather than making each other the focus of the visit) would still appeal to me? I like the idea of visits where I don’t have to be “on” all the time, and was pleased that TA was compromising and trying to reserve me a chunk of her time even though work pressures had increased, instead of just dropping off my radar for weeks or months at a time until she felt like she had a big block of time she could spare. I suppose I’m still scarred from The Pedant and his refusal to compromise to meet my companionship needs whatsoever.

I know that her being a teaching assistant didn’t mean that TA had to be physically at the school for 40 hours a week or anything. But I did kind of assume that she had one class every weekday – even having an hour of the day where she had to be physically present in the school would obviously prevent her from being able to come to my place for an entire day. And she has a girlfriend whom she lives with who is surely a higher priority than I am (though TA never really made me feel that way), and everyone needs alone-time to rest and rejuvenate themselves, so I figured that’s why she wasn’t offering to come over on Saturdays or Sundays.

But at some point she let it slip that she actually only teaches classes three days a week.

Yes, I know that people in teaching professions do a ton of work even when they’re not inside the school building – making lesson plans and grading and stuff. But to a large extent those things would be flexible, I think. Like it seems like she could organize her time in such a way that she could still give me a proper day-long visit every week. But she doesn’t.

TBH I don’t even know which days she teaches, aside from Monday, the day she comes to my place after class. She never told me. Oh, actually, I think maybe Thursday? Initially when she scaled back from all-day visits to evening visits, the deal was every single Monday for sure, and possibly also Wednesday nights but those would have to be a bit more flexible. The Wednesdays ended up fading into oblivion pretty fast, but early on when it seemed like she was still trying, she formally cancelled a Wednesday evening visit because she had a stressful workday coming up the next day and wanted to be rested up for it. Wait, Wednesdays themselves are probably a teaching day for her, too? At least I think she initially spoke of coming over Wednesday evenings and not all day because she worked in the afternoons.

Anyway, I don’t feel like I super know her teaching schedule or anything; possibly Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. But I do know that she’s been going to a particular sex club every Tuesday night like clockwork (apparently whatever work she does on Wednesday is never strenuous enough to be worth skipping getting railed by random dudes), goes to a different one on Sundays often, and she’s been putting up ads for casual sex and SM play on Fetlife and pretty continuously auditioning guys who respond to those. One week she told me she’d booked six dates with dudes, to occur over the course of four days.

And I know that she’s naturally a morning person, and would leave my place at around 11pm after our Monday evening visits because she didn’t want to stay out super late, but on the Discord she made for planning sex club outings she frequently talks about being at the sex club on Tuesday until 2am.

I dunno, it just feels like she prioritizes banging dudes over making time to properly be with me. And maybe I should have said something about that. But I wondered if my thoughts were unreasonable; if I was seeing things through anxiety goggles and shit wasn’t as unbalanced as it was feeling. And I felt like an asshole for questioning her commitment to me when she did, after all, put aside an evening for me every single week. Which is…something, right?

It’s not enough, though.

When TA talked about us having “incidental” together-time instead of deliberate, focused together-time, and that she would be exhausted from work when she came over in the evening, I predicted that this would mean silent snuggling instead of talking about interesting philosophical things or watching Netflix (watching stuff is an escape for me, but for her brand of ADHD apparently it takes a ton of effort and is draining for her. Having big deep conversations no doubt would be, too). But it ended up going beyond just that: a lot of the time, she would come over and I’d feed her food that I made and then we’d retire to my bedroom and she would say “I need to just chill quietly on my phone for a while” or “I need to take a nap” and she’d basically ignore me for a big chunk of time. No touching beyond whatever body parts were in proximity from us being two large people lying side by side on a bed. On one or two occasions she slept for the entirety of the visit (post-food) and I had to wake her up at 11 to tell her she should probably get going. And then over the course of the week I would see her talking on Discord about going to the sex club, or having play dates with new guys, during which she was, y’know…awake and active and probably attempting to be charming company. And after a certain point it just starts feeling like, why is she putting so much effort into trying to impress random dudes but not into trying to impress the person who makes her pizza from scratch and has exchanged “I love yous” with her?

And yeah, I could have asked her for more snuggles and touching. But she’d directly told me that she needed to essentially be alone, so if I then say “but my needs, though!” I look like an asshole. Especially, I think, since my need was for physical touch – like it just feels extra gross to wheedle at someone to touch me when they don’t want to. So I stayed silent, but yeah, I’ve been touch-starved for a long, long time now.

Touch-starved, and just kinda lonely and unfulfilled all around. TA doesn’t text me nearly as much as she used to. We used to have conversations via text fairly regularly, and (both in texts and in person) she used to talk about all kinds of interesting stuff but now mostly she just tells anecdotes about funny stuff strangers did when they fucked her the other night.

And then there’s the money thing: a few weeks back, TA texted me that she would be working a bit later than usual on our upcoming Monday; she still wanted to see me, but rather than her trekking out to my place, maybe we could meet at a restaurant near her work? I said sure; I’d been missing deliberate together-time, and was happy to have something resembling a date with her. I chose Swiss Chalet as the venue because it’s cheap and comfy and works with my food sensitivities, and I asked her if she would be treating me or if I should make sure to have an appropriate amount of cash on hand for my share. There was a long pause and she finally texted back that she couldn’t treat me all the time, but yes, she could treat me that night.

And yeah, I suppose I should have said “thank you, but also just for the record it irks me that I make so much less money than you do and I regularly feed you* and you seem so hesitant to throw less than $20 worth of food in my direction. I know you financially support your girlfriend in some capacity but it feels like you probably can’t be this bad off for money…? Plus, when someone pays for me it feels more like an actual date to me, like my partner actively wants to take care of me, so your reticence here makes me kinda sad.” But it would have been super awkward and really her finances aren’t my business so I just kept quiet instead. But yeah, I’m kinda pissed, because I feel like I take care of TA in whatever capacity I’m able but she’s not really giving as good as she gets anymore.

I have more things to vent about but this is getting long so I’ll continue in a new post.

*The Dandy pays for all the household groceries, so it’s his money feeding her, but still. I’m putting effort into ordering foods I know she likes, and making sometimes fairly labour-intensive meals for her, and for what? So she can sleep in my bed with her back to me for three hours and then leave? And then be visibly reluctant to pay for me when we go out, even though every dinner she’s eaten at my place is one less dinner she needed to buy for herself so I’m not actually leaving her at a deficit if she pays my way?

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An open letter to TA

So…how long have you known that getting emotionally close with someone kills your interest in doing sex or kink with them?

Did you only just work this out?

Or did you know it all along?

Did you secretly know it as you heard me talk about how sex and kink are very much expressions of affection to me – and a huge way that I bond with someone – and therefore if a partner stops wanting those things with me I feel distant and unloved?

Did you secretly know it when I was telling you how I felt bait-and-switched by The Dandy, who did a really good impression of an allosexual person until I got invested in the relationship, whereupon he spent years rebuffing most of my advances and acting like my genitals were gross while simultaneously insisting that he had a massive sex drive and had no issues with my body parts?

Did you secretly know it when you were rejecting all my advances with “oh I’m just not in a very sexual headspace lately, blah blah blah work stress” (and then going to the sex club the next day and staying out til 2am getting railed by strangers)?

Did I ever tell you about my ex, The Bunny? I can’t remember. He spent a long time rejecting my advances with excuses like “work stress.” Then on the occasions when we did try to fuck he started having erection issues, which he also claimed were due to work stress or general life stuff or whatever. Until the day he blurted out that the impotence issues only happened with me and he was fucking other people just fine. And I ended up breaking up with him because his FetLife profile showed him going to kink parties and sex parties all the time and having tons of sex and play, and meanwhile he still didn’t ever want to do stuff with me and he claimed to be “working on” that issue but when I asked him how exactly he was working on it he never had an answer so I gave up on him. Anyway did I tell you about all of that? And if I did, did you listen sympathetically while secretly knowing that you were about to lose interest in sex and kink with me and blame it on work stress while also blatantly doing those things with everyone else in the world?

Oh, hey – did you know you were about to stop having sex with me ever again when you acknowledged that the sex we were having was one-sided and you expressed an intent to make me the centre of attention next time?

Does your newest girlfriend know that whatever sex or kink you’re having is temporary? Or does it not seem worth mentioning to the people who love you that you’re inevitably going to withdraw certain types of intimacy?

I’m just curious.

Oh also do you actually think I’m fucking stupid, that I would believe you weren’t doing stuff with me because you “weren’t in a sexy headspace at all lately” when half the time you’d been to a sex club the night before and had plans to go the night after as well, and always ended up texting me that you’d had a great time and fucked and played with a bunch of people?

And, are you fucking stupid, that you would straight up tell me that maybe if we played at a party you could finally get into it because it turns you on to be watched? It didn’t occur to you that it might be hurtful to imply that kink with me was bitter medicine that you might be able to choke down if you had a spoonful of sugar to go with it? And then your follow-up thing was basically “okay so having an audience wasn’t enough to make me be into playing with you, so let’s think of some other external thing that might make you palatable to me.” Just shut the fuck up. Jesus.

But then again I did still go to the play party. I didn’t tell you to fuck off the moment you framed it as “the presence of other people might make me want you again.” So I guess I’m the dumbass.

And like…no judgment on you wanting to fuck or play with strangers (seriously) but you’ve started seeming laser-focused on it lately to a point where I’m starting to wonder if you have sex addiction issues. Not that you would believe me or care. It’s honestly probably pointless to even try to tell you this to your face. But I am kinda worried.

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