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Ask Amy: New friendship takes an asexual turn

Dear Amy: I’m at a complete loss right now.

I am an asexual person in my late-30s. I am in a five-year relationship and am currently in school pursuing a degree.

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About six weeks ago, another adult classmate of mine started pursuing a friendship with me (he has a wife and children). We’ve become really close during that time.

We talk about our feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, etc., and there has been an amazing level of what I thought was honest and healthy communication.

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Recently, he caught me off guard with a conversation about how “this relationship will never be anything but platonic” and “we can’t be anything more than friends.”

I know. I was never after anything else.

Amy, I feel like I just got dumped and that really stinks because I’ve been very careful to monitor my friendship with him and not ever push it because I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea.

It just hurts, because I don’t make friends easily, and I don’t know how to fix this.

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I don’t even know if I can fix it.

I guess I just need a little help seeing the light. My head knows that I didn’t actually do anything wrong, but my heart isn’t getting that message.

– Adrift

Dear Adrift: I hope my take on this will help to illuminate things for you.

You did nothing wrong. He did nothing wrong.

You have not been dumped. You have been confronted – very awkwardly – with the conflicted thoughts and feelings of a man who (it’s quite possible) cannot fathom having an emotionally intimate friendship without it becoming sexual.

My theory is that your friend has jumped into this close friendship, which doesn’t hew to the usual playbook of his other friendships (with men), where he exchanges greetings and sports scores for several years, before moving on to more personal topics, like the weather.

(I realize this is an extreme exaggeration of the stereotype but bear with me.)

Do you remember the juvenile “comeback” from childhood: “I know you are, but what am I?”

He is now asserting – way too emphatically – that he is not and never will be attracted to you, because his previous experiences with friendship have not prepared him for a unique friendship without a sexual component.

The fact that he might actually be attracted to you is another dilemma for another day.

Talk about it!

Dear Amy: Both my husband and I get anxious as we see pumpkins appearing in shops.

You see, both of our children have late-November birthdays.

They are the only grandchildren/nieces on both sides of our families.

Neither of our families live local to us, so beginning in mid-November, we start to feel a tidal wave of gifts entering our lives.

Last year, both kids ended up with STUFFED bedrooms and a mountain of toys in the playroom by the end of the holiday season.

It was completely overwhelming.

We have decided that in our immediate family, we are going to have birthdays and a Christmas that is more focused on experiences and less focused on gift-giving this year.

My question is: Is there a polite way to encourage our extended family to do the same?

I am not blaming them for our clutter problem, but would love to somehow discourage the tidal wave, especially because it has been such a big project digging out and it feels really good to be more organized.

What do you suggest?

– DeCluttered

Dear DeCluttered: Congratulations on your clean sweep!

Many distant family members actually look for practical suggestions when it comes to children’s gifts. It is not impolite to offer some ideas, but you should also anticipate that some family members will not comply.

You could send out a group email, offering some direction. Tell them: “The season is upon us and we are anticipating birthdays and holidays. This year we are trying to reduce the material abundance in our household and are encouraging people to send only one gift per child – or offer them “experiences” instead of material gifts. If you’d like ideas, we’d be happy to supply them, and as always, we are so grateful for your thoughtfulness and attention. Our children are very lucky!”

Dear Amy: You are so wrong again. “Confused” wondered why his stupid girlfriend let a drunken man lead her to the dance floor.

She was obviously trying to make him jealous.

You should have told him to dump her.

– Right Minded

Dear Right Minded: You might be right-minded, but you’re also wrong-headed.

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©2021 Amy Dickinson.

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