Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A person

My friend Jeaux just had (minor-ish) surgery and I'm helping him out in a few ways. I went to the hospital with him, sat with him before the procedure, held onto his stuff (someone's gotta keep your glasses and your phone, you know?), helped him get dressed after (well, just his socks and shoes), and let him recover at my house. It's not that he couldn't be alone or needed anything, but a) his apartment is a second-floor apartment and he's not supposed to climb stairs, and b) it's always good to have someone around to help you with stuff and observe you to make sure you're okay after something like this.

I got him a couple things at the store, cooked his dinner, hung out with him while he played video games, watched some silly videos with him, took his temperature when we were worried he might have a fever (probably not though), and bothered him with a bunch of questions about how he's feeling. He seems to be doing great, even though the recovery stuff is Very Gross and I won't go into why. (I have given him his own trash can for bloody things, and that's all I'll say.) He's taking care of his own Actual Medical Stuff so I don't have to do anything really except help him with little things, but if he did need help with something, I'd try even if it was pretty gross.

I don't mind helping at all, but he keeps saying thanks for all this and even gave me a hug last night. (We don't really hug much, though we don't have a policy or anything. We're just both not cuddly people.) I just say I'm glad he trusts me enough to be there for him during a sort of vulnerable time. We trust each other and can depend on each other. He's not my boyfriend, my partner, or my husband, but he's sort of my Person.

It's nice to have a Person to trust. But what's weird is that people think if we have that sort of confidence and trust in each other, we must have (or just probably have) a physically and/or sexually intimate relationship. At the hospital, they told Jeaux to get in his hospital gown and then just shut the curtain with me in there with him. Like it was obvious that if a girl was with him for support, she belonged in the room with him while he was naked.

I just stepped outside the curtain and waited 'til he was done. I don't need to see him strip. Like eeeeeew.

(Just kidding, kind of, because we don't mind like changing our pants in front of each other or whatever, but it's mostly because neither of us care to look. It's hard to explain, but I guess neither of us is uncomfortable doing stuff in front of each other that you don't do in front of strangers or acquaintances partly because we really have no desire to put those actions into intimate/sexual context. If that makes sense.)

Jeaux reminded me that if I ever have to have surgery he'll be there for me too. But besides that, we can sort of expect that each other will be around for such things as having a plus-one for things to make them less boring, having someone to ask for advice or help, and having someone there for the things you need a Person for--someone who knows when you don't want them there, too. We understand each other's boundaries really well. We both prefer low amounts of social interaction and enjoy our weekly hangouts partly because we're so well prepared for how long they'll last. Neither of us is clingy or sullenly expecting more time or attention than we get from one another. We just really found a balance that works, and we fulfill each other's needs really well.

But even though he's an important lifelong friend, the flavor of our feelings isn't romantic and never has been. And he has never once tried to move our relationship toward something more traditional--not even when we first met and men are most likely to interpret any feelings they have for a woman as sexual/romantic. He never presented me with those desires or acted like I was supposed to deal with them. He never acted like it should just be expected that a heterosexual man will desire an attractive woman no matter what and just expect her to live with knowing he would like it better if they were romantically/sexually involved. Jeaux has never, not once, treated me like my asexuality and aromanticism are some impediment to our closeness.

And of course there are still people (including some who should know better) who insist that he is surely hiding these feelings from me, or that inevitably he and I will just decide to stop being special snowflake friends and get married like everybody else, or that there's something inappropriate about us being each other's Person if we're not romantically involved. I've even heard people say that without that romantic bond and/or stated romantic commitment, you can't trust that the other person will be there for you. It is this bond and only this bond that guarantees that support.

Funny, since I've seen declared commitments (up to and including marriage) get violated and fail to hold up under stress all the time, and yet we seem to be handling "in sickness and in health" pretty well for people who aren't married. True, this is minor and will pass, and I can't guarantee I'd be in a position to help him if he, say, became permanently disabled and needed a caregiver, but I can say with certainty we'd both help each other to the greatest extent we could if we ever faced a really bad situation. We've already proved that we step up to the plate for each other.

I'm rambling again but I guess my point is a) partnerships you can trust can come in flavors other than sexual/romantic and b) Jeaux's pretty great and I kinda resent that people don't respect our relationship's depth because we're not involved that way.

I hope I never NEED to have a Person step up to help me, but I like knowing he's there.


  1. He's one of your very best friends. I love that.

  2. Conversely, I know a guy whose former romantic partner regularly dumped him whenever his income was lower - including right after surgery - and then got back together when he was making more money.