Sunday, November 22

(Not) Dating: Post-Public Era

When I felt prompted to switch (G)MG from total anonymity to public a few years ago, I honestly felt like it would make dating and friendships easier. Being attracted to guys, and moreso not being attracted to the girls I went on dates with, was previously a huge issue that never came up in actual conversation.

Except once. But that was before I learned that you're not supposed to tell a girl that you're not attracted to her. Even if she asks. Before you impose all sorts of socially prescribed judgment on me, remember that I am autistic. Normal people somehow learn stuff without ever actually being told, but I had to have a girl sit me down and tell me everything socially wrong with the way I dated. Which was a totally socially awkward situation for her.

But that's beside the point.

My assumption was that when I told the world about (Gay) Mormon Guy, it would make it far easier to know who to ask on dates and who wanted to be my friend. Guys and girls alike would know from the outset that I had issues... and simply, anyone who met my previous criteria, and still met them after knowing about (G)MG, was someone I'd try to befriend.

Except the criteria, in retrospect, is anything but simple.

Since I'm not attracted to women at all currently, and I have no desire for sexual intimacy with guys, my own personal feelings don't really matter. My "simple" mental hurdles aligned with finding someone who was (1) aware of the things I juggled in life, (2) interested in spending time with me, and (3) close enough physically/socially that a relationship could work (e-relationships and distance relationships haven't really worked for me).

Simply put, I try to ensure that people are aware of (G)MG and that I'm on the spectrum. Then, if a week passes and I notice that someone is making an effort to be a part of my life, then I'll try to make it work.

On the surface, that seemed just fine to me.

Except that, being autistic, I don't pick up on most nonverbal cues. So a girl could be shouting nonverbally and I'd be clueless. And a potentially romantic relationship with someone with same-sex attraction isn't really an easy-to-understand issue that can be reconciled like different eating habits. Most straight guys my age already have friends, or they assume I have friends. And almost no one really understands developing a relationship - of any type - with someone on the autistic spectrum.

So the number of girls who asked me out or who I got readable signals from dropped dramatically. To almost zero. And the number of people who wanted to be close friends stayed close to there.

But a much bigger impact was that in the moment that I shared my blog with the world, part of me... changed? Gave up? Got scared? I used to get promptings to befriend people - I didn't just rely on trying to read their emotions. And even though few relationships worked out, the time I spent with people helped me learn about society and the world. 

Back then, I didn't feel like I had to come clean in the first sentence and say, "I'm not attracted to you (whether you're a girl or a guy). I carry a ton of baggage, but I want to make friends and you seem like a nice person."

Now I feel obligated to share that.

Maybe I shouldn't. Most people don't show signals that indicate their problems, and many take months or years to open up.


But then there's the reality of my history. My brain tells me that friendships are really hard to build and to grow they take a lot of effort from me and especially the other person. Is it fair to try to befriend people when being my close friend summons inexorable chaos into their lives? And if chaos from friendship is rough, dating is even worse.

I don't know.

My best friend is convinced that if I make other friends, date, fall in love, or get married, that I'll stop being his friend. He's seen a lot of people leave their friends completely when they fall in love, or when they make new friends. The mere mention of dating, by anyone, in any circumstance, has caused rifts between us. He doesn't date at all - a girl would have to ask him out to start the process, and even then he might say no. It takes a ton of effort to make our friendship work for both of us. 

But he gave me his support to reach out and make more friends - and inherent in his support is the acknowledgement that our relationship is secure enough that we can both focus some of our energy into building others. I had never needed his permission, but it's nice to be able to talk about my plans without jeopardizing the friendship.

Now I'm just facing one question. 

Is it worth trying?


  1. Person to person across age and whatever barriers, I would be honored to be your friend if we were geographical neighbors. As it is, I feel that you are a friend to many of us through your blog, I enjoy your writing as well as find it inspiring and thought-provoking.

  2. There are so many types of friends, movie friend, school pals, family friends, shoulder to cry on friend, etc. and each friend has a special place in your life. Just writing this blog has given you many friends that you do not know. They are friends who share your pain, understand your fears and pray for you. By-the-way, your friend is right. Most of the time when friends get married they stop hanging out with you because they are trying to build their relationship with their spouse, not because they do not value your friendship or think of you, but they have put you in a special place before they started a family and often they wonder about you and say "thank you" to Heavenly Father for your friendship. I think you are wonderful and enjoy reading your blog.


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