“I don’t want to be anyone’s girlfriend,” she said.
That was disappointing to hear because I wanted to hold this dear friend, cuddle her, kiss her, possibly have sex with her, and be close to her in a significant way. I wanted to be sweetly interdependent for a long time.
So I was like–oh well. Better to know now, that deep girlfriend-style intimacy isn’t an option. I don’t do casual sex–I’m not good at anything casual.
That was before I moved here. I felt fine–we had been friends for years, and we could stay regular friends. It might be simpler that way.
Then some time passed, and this friend told me she felt like we were dating. I was like–oh, ok! Yes, I see what you mean. The style of connection and being there for one another was extra deep, in a wanted way.
Then some time later, after I moved to the same town as her, I was loving a man and attempting to date him. I asked my dear friend about dating her, because I was trying to get something significantly connected and tender with this dude. I needed to feel safe. Made more sense to interdepend with her, who I already loved, wanted, and had something good with. We already knew how to be close.
When I asked about dating, she said we were already dating, and we could figure out for ourselves what that meant.
Wow–that was exciting and destabilizing mixed together. I went through some internal joy-panic for a day there. Then I felt calm and grateful, open to whatever might be next.
Then one night, my somehow-dating person was dropping me off at home after we had dinner together. As we said our goodbyes, hugging by her car, she referred to me as her girlfriend.
I was happy but confused. Did she mean girlfriend like straight people say it? Like, “I went out last night with my girlfriends, and we got so wasted!”
I never used “girlfriend” like straight people. When I was young, I had a couple of girlfriends: we were charmed, devoted, full of love: lover-partner-girlfriends.
But we didn’t say partner back then, in the 1990s. Or partner meant something different–more like a spouse, before marriage was an option. Nowadays partner could be almost anything.
email for clarity
I thought my date-person and I were never going to be girlfriends, after that proclamation a year before, as noted in this post’s first sentence. So I asked over email about the word girlfriend–what did she mean by that? Was it a joke?
I heard back that no way, it was not a joke. We could use the word girlfriend, and we could make it what we wanted to.
Hmm, ok. That’s happened to me many times–I think it’s an autism thing. I hear a fact and get stuck on it as a rule, when life is always in flux. I hear a no, and trying to respect it, I set it in stone. Great to remember to stay more flexible–people change.
I love doing relationship in all sorts of ways. But this girlfriend and I were not having sex, so probably our term would confuse people. They would think it meant something hotter.
But since when is it anyone’s business, who’s having sex with who? Many couples there is no sex. Married people often do not have sex with each other. And then asexual people have relationships–of course. So many ways to do love.
Labels are confusing. Then I started referring to this girlfriend as my girlfriend. People probably do not know what I mean. A new friend asked outright if I meant girlfriend like partner, or girlfriend like friend. I was glad they asked.
I treasure my girlfriend, and the tenderness is sweeter than anything. There’s collaboration for sure, and a shared vision.
But in a way, she is holding the reins in this relationship. This is new for her, and she needs to go slow. I show up curious and open, willing to see what happens today. Now I’m glad we’re not having sex because I like this level of investment. If we were having sex, I would need more, easier to hurt. Maybe one day sex will make sense–maybe never.
What are you in relationships for? Does a girlfriend need to be one set thing, for you?
Holding her hands last night, I felt extremely fortunate. I told her how every time I hold her hands, I think of all the amazing things they’ve done. They’re smaller than mine yet strong and make foods, plant seeds, touch people like me, create wonderful music.
She is a very present, fully alive, brilliant, gorgeous, socially fluent person. Some traits I share, and some I will never have. I’m happy to see her once a week and touch how she wants to, with good consent and deep emotional investment.