Dating and Me

It is nearly two months since I wrote my blog on asexuality and I have written drafts of a follow up entry but nothing felt right. However, I decided it was about time I put my fingers back on the keys and write.

Eighteen years ago today I went on a blind date, I will probably always remember it was St Patrick’s Day 2001 for the following reasons. My friend Dianne had decided to set me up on a blind date, which in my years at university nobody else had tried to do or do since then. I was living in Aberdeen in the final year of my degree and had only had my first kiss the previous autumn at almost twenty two with a guy that stalked me by text for around three months and other things I do not wish to write about. To say I was nervous was an understatement as did not have a clue what the etiquette was for such an event.

We had been texting for a couple of days and agreed to meet that evening for a meal. All I knew about him was that he was 23 and Dianne had known him for a couple of years…oh and like me had glasses! I looked at my clothes and thought what do I wear…I don’t want to give out the wrong signals and not sure I want anyone in my life in that way. In the end I went for a long black skirt, grey jumper, boots and black coat. Just as I put my jumper on Dianne text me – “please don’t kill me after you have met him”. As if my nerves were not already in a mess and what was she meaning by this cryptic code!? Where was the reassuring good luck message? If she was sending that to me…what was she sending him?

I remember meeting Irish guys on my way to our rendezvous point, and part of me just wanted to go out with them rather than face this unknown person. I arrived five-ten minutes early (I was OCD with time and numbers so couldn’t be late at all for things) to see a man fumbling on his phone – 6ft tall, short dark hair and glasses – I realised it was him. My instincts said ‘run’ as still not too late. However, before I could my phone went off, it was him texting was I there yet as our eyes met. This put me off further as I was early and I knew from Dianne he was shy but this felt like someone ready to pounce or stalk me.

After the formalities were over and done with we were trying to decide where to eat – I love Italian, Thai and Moroccan food but wasn’t fussy. He led me round the back streets of Aberdeen to the biggest dump of a pub I had ever seen. I asked as we arrived if they had a lady’s toilet to which I was told ‘er I’m not sure if they do or not’! Where was I…not the notorious Grill Bar but one its equally appalling siblings by that response. My heart sank, how could someone bring a woman here for a date. It did not get any better as I felt like all the other men were staring at me for being in their pub. I declined anything alcoholic and went with water, after what had happened with the stalker I did not want any repeats.

Conversation was very hard, we had almost zero things in common…only he had graduated from the university department I was at and our mutual friend! It is almost ironic that Mr PMS I mentioned in my previous blog had exactly the same personality and interests…I have learnt my lessons believe me and will not let history repeat! I agreed to go onto another bar but I was allowed to choose so went to one which a friend managed so I could feel safer and politely tell him it was going nowhere as clearly did not get that. We were opposites in many respects – I love music, he only really liked heavy metal at a push; he preferred to spend Saturdays playing Dungeons and Dragons, I liked visiting art galleries and museums or going for walks in the countryside, to concerts and plays…! In this case opposites would not be attracting each other and I would not be killing Dianne but more demanding why she thought we’d click at all!

In the eighteen years since I have hardly been on any dates, even Mr PMS only managed one proper date with me to the cinema to see his choice of movie! I was told around twenty years ago that I am ‘far too independent for my own good‘ by a male friend. Perhaps that is true but being hurt and asexual means I have never looked for love and find the idea of ever finding romantic love more and more meant for others but not me. I do not judge others or have attraction as I am asexual so the idea of meeting someone through online dating makes zero sense to me. Equally, through this experience would I really trust someone to set me up with another person? Other friends do not date and that has helped me come to terms with this aspect of my life as slowly accepted I am just a girl that loves but not in a romantic love kinda way.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Asexuality and Me

For as long as I can remember I have felt different to others in many ways and that includes my sexuality. As a child of ten I was asked in the playground ‘are you a lesbian‘ to which I was uncertain what the meant and on asking my mum that night I was told ‘never mention that word in this house ever again’. It was only as I became a teenager I discovered its meaning and why her religious beliefs had led to the comment she had made, which all these years later have never changed.

In my teens amongst the many things the girls of my year chose to bully me over was my music choice as one they could not understand as I love all sorts of music and not just what was in the charts. I remember the day one asked me ‘which member of Take That do you fancy‘, like it was some great important thing to know, to which I answered ‘none of them‘. This was true I didn’t fancy any of them nor did I fancy any other male celebrity such as Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. They also asked if I was a virgin, which I was but the idea of sex was never something that I thought of and furthermore any signs of male genitalia had me running from biology classrooms to the thought of anything (even a tampon) made me frightened from memories my head did not want to remember. This led to me questioning my sexuality every time the subject was brought up.

By the time I reached university in Aberdeen and saw magazines aimed at teenagers with ‘position of the fortnight‘ in them I still had zero interest in it, if anything it made me want to retreat even more at what might be expected of me. I only ever had a fleeting interest in one guy as we spent so much time studying together and even then never thought of kissing him or more. By the time the year 2000 came round and just before my twenty second birthday arrived I finally kissed someone but he wanted more and tried to rape me twice and then stalked me for three months. The only other experience of note was a blind date a few months later, which when my friend text me just before it with ‘don’t kill me after you’ve met him‘ didn’t exactly fill me with confidence! The date itself was awful as he took me to a pub that he was uncertain even if had a woman’s toilet and had zero mutual interests to talk about!

Five years on and I was about to embark on my PhD in England when I invited a friend to visit for the day and he turned the visit into the start of a long distance relationship. On hindsight there were many warning signs: his visits being restricted to monthly (ironic given his initials were PMS), contact was on his terms through MSN (he destroyed his mobile phone sim card so I wouldn’t text him) to sexual things as forced me to have sex with him and perform oral sex, which I still had zero interest in but wanted to make him happy. This led to other issues of a physical kind in terms of pain due to vulvodynia and discovery of spasms from vaginismus as well as blacking out at times too. He was zero support when trying to explain this to a gynaecologist and when we finally split up nine months later I probably had only ever seen him five times. It was a welcome relief as spent every hour he visited in fear at what he wanted and even at night time I could not sleep for the two days he visited for. Although I was in therapy for other issues with my mental health he certainly added to the issues I had there too. The only other person to show any interest in me over the time I lived in England was a guy I knew online and lets just say I could spot his lies a mile off to the negative energy he gave off told me to run for the hills!

Since then I have returned to live where I grew up in Edinburgh, but it was only when going to Aberdeen to see a friend in concert and stay with a second friend that I had my first kiss with a woman, the friend I was staying with. She identified as bisexual and someone (her or a barman) spiked my drink so my memories of the time are hazy and cannot say that kiss was any better or worse than my previous experiences with men. It no more confirmed for me that I am straight, gay or bi as cannot tell from looking at someone if I find them attractive or not as genuinely is their personality that if I am ever to have any level of attraction it will be from. It was only after this experience I learnt of asexuality and realising that is probably what I identify as – a Grey-A.

Over the nine years since that kiss I have grown to accept, appreciate and love me for who I am. I am now 40 years old and beginning to wonder what the whole relationship thing is really about. I have zero interest in apps or online dating and would rather be introduced to someone through a friend. The kiss in Aberdeen showed me that I cannot classify the gender of a person I would be interested in. My experiences in England have shown me the kind of personality I do not want in a partner and those I do want if I did have one. I still have zero sexual attraction or interest in sex with the idea of looking for to having a partner scares the bejeezus out of me and beginning to wonder as I have often felt that it is something just not meant for me…and perhaps just need to accept that.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Love is a mystery

Now and again I find curiosity gets the better of me and tune into television programs just to try understand being human and how others see life differently to me. This includes ones like ‘First Dates’ that set up people and film them have their first date together in a restaurant, which of course is heavily edited like any reality television program. The program makers decide how they are going to edit someone to be like to the narrative of what unfolded. As someone that love is very much that mystery I have all but left out of my life so far it is interesting to me what the participants are looking for and what love means to them. From ‘friend zone’ to ‘baggage’ it often leaves me more bewildered than anything on the ways they often justify reasons for saying ‘no’ or to why they are single and thus decided to do the show in the first place.

The concept of ‘friend zone’ stems from the 1990s television series according to the Oxford English Dictionary but seems to be very 21st century to meet someone and decide they’ll only ever be a friend so immediately that’s any chance of anything more developing as someone learns more about a person over time to be zero. I guess it may feed into this instant gratification we now seem to have as often see on First Dates some say ‘there was no instant spark’…which to me is silly as they’re in an artificial environment and unless there was good reason to avoid that person in future then why not see how that person is away from the camera? Equally, a ‘spark’ can develop over time as the other person’s little quirks make us smile and see that person as someone we like to be in the company of. How many relationships in the past started from a friendship that grew into something more? It is almost stunting something with a full stop before it could be a beautiful friendship that means far more than something romantic too.

Although I am openly asexual to my friends (“An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. This does not necessarily mean that they do not experience sexual arousal, or romantic or aesthetic attraction, or that they do not want intimacy from their relationships.”) it is sometimes left unsaid on why I am single. Equally, it is always someone’s personality for me that makes them attractive or not, although I have had horrific vibes off people that I have learnt meant to run and keep running from them too. I do not care about someone’s gender when it comes to love as I have had rarely had feelings for anyone (male, female or however someone wants to define their gender); of the people I have kissed two have been male and one is female. Who that person is as a package not the shell around their body is what speaks to me. As a teenager I questioned my sexuality as had no idea who I found sexy but did find any sexual talk a trigger as made me upset and uneasy, which it still remains to this day due to unresolved issues.

That last point brings me onto ‘baggage’ that any human being that has ever lived has got. Yes some of us seem to experience more things in life than others but does not mean we should be determined by it. First Dates seems to love its sob stories and tragic events or stories from its participants. It takes a lot to learn to love ones self as I have learnt and know it would take a lot for me to love another as to me that is absolutely terrifying at beginning to imagine it. I know to some my personal ‘baggage’ may seem a lot but by sharing the weight becomes lighter as it also does with the passing of time, something that the only person I sort of dated did not grasp. Nobody gets to the age I am at now without a few scars but equally they should not be defined by their past as makes them the person they are today and what happens today will influence the future. Baggage sounds like we have several suitcases we bring from relationship to relationship, but equally they can contain amazing experiences and things we have done. However, they also show to me how we should deal with things properly and not bottle them up so become dragged down by them.

My love of music and musicality is no secret but have rarely understood why we write so many songs about love when there are so many other human emotions. One album I am enjoying right now is exploring many themes from awakeness to not giving up on life so meaning a lot to me beyond the fact the singer/songwriter is a special friend. For me I feel romantic love is a mystery meant for others and not for me. If I am honest if someone said they fancied me or loved me in a romantic way I would be sure it was a joke and/or a bet such is my cynical view. Love comes in many forms and we should be embarrassing that not giving friend zones at the drop of a hat as the love of a good friend should not be ignored but treasured as far as I am concerned beyond that of romantic. I do not believe in fairy tale love but would like someone to challenge my suitcases and me to see beyond the love I have learnt through friends that I did not think was even possible. So don’t give up as you’re single, enjoy it and who cares…the spinster cat starter kit is only a phone call away from your local animal shelter!

© Fi S. J. Brown

I believe in a thing called love

I have always felt we do not pick who we fall in love as it is the person with their quirks and idiosyncrasies, their gender should not matter and we should not judge another for picking someone that is the same as their own. It took me until my mid-30s to accept I am asexual, i.e. I lack sexual attraction to anyone, with zero interest in or desire for sex. Yes, I’m a grey-A as they say, but as most of you know I dislike boxes or labels, they belong on food not people.

The hate some give to another if they say they are gay, lesbian or bi can be considerable, even in areas like the UK and America that are seen as more accepting than others. Some use religion as a reason for this hate, why put your beliefs on another? Believe what you like but when it comes to love does a god or book really define something we all feel and that every songwriter tries tell us afresh from their prospective and redefine for a new generation?

Opponents of gay marriage say it changes what marriage means; what it doesn’t mean that two people that love each other and want to show commitment to each other for the rest of their lives? It breaks down traditional family values is often argued too; how many married in the past as they were unable to be true to who they were and be with the one they loved? Or stuck in an abusive relationship that they could not escape from as would not let them leave them for another?

It is not natural is one that sometimes makes me giggle; have they seen how all animals behave in the wild and not in circuses or zoos? It maybe idealistic to have a child to be raised with their natural father and mother, but with relationships breaking up all the time, isn’t it better a child is loved by two people that love them than two people staying together for the sake of that child? Being a parent is more than being a sperm or an egg to a name on a birth certificate.

So Barry Manilow has admitted he’s gay and been in a relationship for 40 years, should we be shocked or say so what we already knew? It doesn’t matter, to me what is amazing is that he’s managed a relationship that lasted so long particularly one in the entertainment industry that are fake or typify how disposable love seems to be for some these days. Should it matter who our favourite entertainers, be they musicians or actors, have as their partner as it is their business and not ours.

What should it teach us, if anything? Be yourself, be happy, and those that complain it says more about themselves than it does you! This world preaches enough hate, envy, and jealousy these days, can we not have more love, acceptance, and appreciation for others? Love is a rainbow as we’re all different. Believe what you want to believe, but I believe in a thing called love…just listen to the rhythm of my heart!

© Fi S. J. Brown

Love

Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, that commercial day of love sold to us by companies across the world, online or offline. Telling us to take someone special out for a candlelight meal at an expensive restaurant, buy a dozen red roses for the one our hearts desire or send a card anonymously to one we secretly adore in the hope that they love us much as we do them.

However, do we really need a day to say what our words, thoughts and actions do every day anyway, no matter how unspoken they may apparently be or hidden we try to keep them. Nobody has the right to say we cannot love another due to their gender, racism, beliefs, or ability, as it is their personality ultimately that matters and makes us fall in love with them. That love being like a parent, sibling, friend, or romantic, it is universal but one size does not fit all.

The way we view love now is has changed over the centuries, and is quite different to the our ancestors. In Ancient Greece for example romantic love was not held with the high regard and emphasis we put on it; to them love for friends was considered every bit as special as romantic love. The philosopher Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other.

The idea of unconditional love, which is a fairly modern concept. Love was been seen in different ways by philosophers until then: for example Plato saw it as conditional on the other person’s beauty; Aristotle emphasised another’s virtues; for St Augustine it was their goodness; and for Rousseau it was their moral authenticity. It was during 18th century Enlightenment philosophers suggested unconditional love on others rather than god.

We almost expect someone that said “I love you” to mean that they loved us unconditionally and accepted us for who we are. However, when someone says to us they love us but just as a friend we feel it is a second rate love as will never have that romantic love with them. To me for a friend to acknowledge their love for me is truly special as mean I matter to them and that is every bit as important as romance. Having a loyal and trustworthy friend counts for so much, and never know what it may blossom into.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Rainbow love

The internet has turned into a rainbow fest with news from the US supreme court yesterday announcing that same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. I have always felt who we fall in love with is a personal thing and not something we should put rules or laws upon as I respect everyone’s right and freedom to be themselves.

I am not one for labels as many of you know, as feel they’re better suited to food not people, so whether you’re gay or queer, bi or transgender, it does not matter, it’s love that matters with empathy and understanding. Even if you disagree with the judgement, why would you not allow another to experience love?

I can understand some of the emotions those that identify as LGBT because in my teens I wondered if I was gay, I had no interest in boys, and even into my twenties and thirties I was still uncertain as to whether I was straight/gay/bi for relationships and/ or sex were not something I thought about or held any interest in.

A few years back I discovered the term ‘asexual’ with regard to humans rather than plants and some of it ticked boxes in my head of yep that’s me. It is hard when life’s ‘norm’ is something other than we feel but realising and accepting that is our norm. It has been part of personal journey and now at the point I can do both.

I’m not going turn my profile picture rainbow on social media in support of the news but instead use my words to help those in countries that cannot express their love for fear of estrangement from family and even death know they’re loved too. Finally, I send kisses, hugs and toast my tea to you all with whatever love means to you.

© Fi S. J. Brown