Mono (Not the Virus) and Poly (Not the Wog).

Let’s begin with a (somewhat relevant) shout-out to Ily at Asexy Beast, whose page bears the tagline “Of course, there’s always something to fall in love with.” That’s what I’m musing on today, the thoroughly beautiful fact that I am constantly head over heels with something or someone or somethings or someones, and (furthermore) loving every minute of it.

Years ago, in one of my first online journalblogs (ah, reminiscence), I coined a term for this propensity, the tongue-in-cheek word “polyffectionate,” which — if it isn’t obvious — is meant to play on the notion of “a” as a prefix meaning “no(t)” (although the “a” in “affection” is actually part of the root), which suggests the need for a term that could designate the spectrum’s other end, given that I (for one) was a girl of many ‘ffections.  Nearly seven years later, I stand by “polyffectionate” as a self-descriptor, and in fact, a little over a month ago, when — while leafing through a copy of Eat, Pray, Love in a local bookstore — I came across Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of herself as “the planet’s most affectionate life form (something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle),” I chuckled more than a little to myself at how true this is for me as well.  The rather surprising thing?  I find I mind it less and less.  My propensity for dorky crushes — be they on people*, fictional people, bands, songs, movies, books or art pieces — keeps me rather happily occupied.  As I mention (or rather extol upon) in one of the recent spoken-word pieces (what was that about anonymity?  eh, fuck it … figuratively speaking, for you asexy types), I often don’t even mind that my crushes (when they do land on nonfictional people with whom I am actually friends) have gone unreciprocated, and thus undeveloped into relationships, up to the present point.  I simply enjoy them for what they are and enjoy the fact that I can freely jump from one love to another, like a hyperactive schoolgirl in one crazy game of hopscotch, without obsessing (too often) about the fact that I have yet to find a dateable girl.

I wouldn’t limit this kind of crazy-crush-happiness to the asexual community, but I do wonder if my quasi-asexuality influences it at all, in the sense that a lack of (or low level of, or delayed experience of) sexual attraction keeps a person from creating that traditional relational hierarchy that places True (Sexual) Love at the top and works its way down through family and friends to acquaintances.  I stand by a concept of asexual people that allows for them to have committed relationships (should they choose to do so) that are equally valid in comparison to the commited relationships of self-identified sexual people, and in fact, I aspire toward that single commited relationship that would stand separate from other equally awesome but not quite as touted friendships (et cetera).  I understand myself well enough to know that I would crash and burn if I ever tried my hand at polyamory, for instance; I’m too prone to the “why am I not enough for you?” insecurities that would make that kind of relational structure hell in a hurry.  That said, I think there might be something to the idea that asexual (and semi-asexual) people have the freedom to explore more possibilities and explore them simultaneously because the factor most commonly used to designate that one superior relationship — (sex, of course) — is often removed from the picture. 

AsexyAsexual, who has a livejournal account detailing her “quest to find [her] husband a girlfriend” (and sexual partner), talks in her most recent entry about a conversation she had with David Jay about “community-based intimacy” as a viable relationship strategy, specifically for asexual-types.  She describes it as involving a few primary relationships and a number of secondary relationships, which the way I understand it, serve to supplement but are perhaps not as intimate as the primary relationships.  (Correct me if I’m wrong here, kids.)  I find this terribly interesting because while something about the idea compells me quite a bit, I also suspect it would not exactly work for me.  There’s something ironic about the following truth, but I suspect I am not independent enough for this type of community, although perhaps it’s less an issue of “not independent” and more one of “not self-secure.”  I struggle to imagine a set of community-based or polyamorous relationships in which I would genuinely trust that I was valued and feel secure in the idea that I was not expendable, and while I can see that being the case in a monoamorous — (is that even a word?) — relationship as well, there’s something about a reciprocal commitment to one person, at least within the time period of the relationship, that I think would help convince me of my importance to that partner.  Granted, a few more years of therapy might convince me of it as well, perhaps even to the point that being “the one and only” for someone else (which strikes me as a pretty unrealistic thing to expect someone else to want or to expect myself to be) no longer feels so necessary.

Still, I think in a way, even with my borderline envy of the relational structure David was describing to AsexyA, and my tendency to fall for anyone and everything, something about a one-on-one relationship (although a less enmeshed, healthier version than I’ve been describing here) appeals to me.  I suppose that for such a diehard queergrrrl, I have some remarkably traditional points:  I want someone in my life who loves me and is willing to commit to making it work when she would rather bail.  I want to come home to this person, routinely, and have them come home to me.  I want to have a family together, although I struggle with attempting to determine in advance of knowing The Girl what that might look like or what it might mean.  I’m struck, however, by the possibility that desiring to create a family of some sort and desiring to create a community of intimate relationships is actually more similar than it is different.  In some ways, my “family” may look more in keeping with tradition (although less so if you start to plot its details or if you broaden “tradition” past the American 1950s), but the two still share some common goals.  When it comes down to it, who isn’t looking to connect with people, to establish a system of relationships that allows them to give and receive some version of love, in a way they find nourishing, fulfilling, and downright enjoyable?  If you can find a way to do that, more power to you, and seriously, I’m always open to pointers.


*Did you really think I’d link the people?  I’m not an entirely open book, thank heaven.


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3 Responses to “Mono (Not the Virus) and Poly (Not the Wog).”

  1. Ily Says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout! Have you ever seen the movie “Adaptation”? (It’s one of my favorites.) Anyway, one of the characters tells another, “You are what you love, not what loves you.” I love that line. 🙂

  2. theimpossiblek Says:

    I love this post! Normally, I try to keep my asexy crushes hush because I’m afraid people might get the wrong idea- but of course, my crushes on a random gal/guy are just as harmless as my crush on a shade of color… and I love the word- polyfectionate. 🙂
    And I’d have to agree- the idea of polyamory or community-based intimacy is tough to imagine. I think you’d have to be super secure in each relationship to trust that you’re not merely a “tool” in their box.

  3. willendork Says:

    Ily: I haven’t seen it, but what a great line. I will have to check it out!

    TheImpossibleK: Yeah, I was a little reluctant even to share the crushes in this entry for similar reasons. I was like, “oh wow, I hope they get that these are asexual. otherwise, I’m going to look like I’m simultaneously interested in young girls and [sculptures of] old women.” which is a bit unnerving. ha ha. but like you said, the crushes are harmless and even fun. …and yes, I have major respect for people who successfully sustain poly relationships. more power to them; I struggle to imagine that kind of security but in a lot of ways, I envy it.

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