Since coming to college I’ve started getting a sense for the visual traits I find attractive (…baby-faced, pretty eyes; game’s up, I guess) but am still largely clueless about what I think I’d like in a primary relationship. They’re difficult to imagine, and what I’d be happy with would definitely change depending on the specific person involved. But I am nothing if not overly theoretical, so here goes.

So first. What is a relationship?

I suppose this definition would change over time as well, but for now I’m going with this: if you’re in a relationship with someone, that person lives at the top level of your emotional hierarchy, and you do things together. You partake in fun activities together, and not-so-fun ones as well. When something happens, good or bad, you want to tell each other first. I suppose eventually you start to become each other’s family; both in the more exciting emotionally intertwined way and the more boring take-care-of-each-other-when-sick way or maybe the file-taxes-together way. Perhaps eventually you’ll even try living or babyraising together.

That you start becoming part of each other’s lives is a no-brainer, but more important is that you make a commitment to that. I see the formalizing of a relationship as an agreement to free physical and emotional access to each other (still with consent of course) – making it a given that you can ask each other for funtimes, dates, emotional support, seeing each other, and so on, without any fear of rejection. And whether you will be together for a year or a hundred you don’t know yet (and will never know!), but you want to stay together for as long as possible and will put in work to maintain that, even when things get difficult. Your partner is to be treasured and the relationship a thing to be maintained. The idea of being a unit is also important.

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Here is an excellent post written by an allosexual in a relationship with an asexual and how they’re handling things. I’m appending, as commentary, what I wrote on her blog:

This is both beautiful (I’m so happy for both of you!) and reassuring – I’m…somewhere on the asexual spectrum, but I’m worried that I’m neither sexual enough (by a far cry) for an allosexual partner, nor completely asexual enough for an asexual partner. As a result, I’ve wondered about open relationships like these, and strongly considered having them myself, where the allosexual partner can go have sex with other people while remaining emotionally monogamous to the ace partner – and it is wonderful to read a first hand affirmation that such relationships can exist. I wish you and Tara all the best.

Not too sure how reblogs work yet – let me know if this is showing up funny for you.

I hope this post will be interesting to A and Y, who both asked me about my ex and got answers that were neither entertaining nor informative, and who both hear a lot about the ex (if you ever read this – sorry, A, I know you’re not really a romantic-relationships person either; sorry, Y, but you’re just way more experienced with relationships than me, and I come out of every rambly conversation with something new). This is both long and very personal and I can think of at least one subscriber who might not want to read it – and one other who would probably be quite interested. This post has also seen some minor addenda (more than I usually make) since it was originally published, so don’t worry if what you see in your email and what you see here are slightly different.

Last week I went for dinner with a girl from school. The term hadn’t started yet and people were still arriving on campus, catching up on each other’s summer shenanigans (oh, you went home? I went to Peru, then the UK, then Belgium, then Singapore, then Amsterdam, all while doing an internship with the United Nations and learning three foreign languages, oh no, I’m not jetlagged at all…), which was what we were doing when I mentioned – with a bit of hesitation – ‘so my ex came to visit a few days before I left…’

My dinner companion gave me a look of mixed horror and surprise. ‘Ah,’ she said, sucking the air sharply between her teeth in a sort of hiss of pity. ‘I’m sorry. Are you…you know, all right? How are you feeling?’

I didn’t really know what to say. ‘I don’t know, but I think so’, while probably the most truthful answer, seemed too negative and felt almost like an insult to what a nice time the ex and I had had together and how happy and comfortable I’d felt. So I brushed it off and started describing the museums we’d gone to instead.

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