Finding Love and Intimacy on the Spectrum

I did some housekeeping recently, tossing out old posts that I did in the days when I put up stuff on a daily basis. This was initially for the purposes of having daily content ready, making a reliable schedule.

This was a mistake. I can certainly produce one solid article per week, but in aggregate I ended up having to toss out much of these because they hid articles that I wanted people to read. One series of articles that got deleted dealt with my experience in dating.

Much has changed, so much so that simply adding a new article isn’t going to help. My attitude on the entire subject has shifted, though not as completely as one may think. And of course, now that Rebby and I have been together happily for six months I can say that this phase of my life is over.

In my life, I have held serious doubts about my ability to perform in certain aspects of life, things like finishing school, holding down a job, or falling in love with a romantic partner. Neurotypical friends, well meaning as they were, didn’t understand my anxieties.

Some of these things were easier to accept than others. I regained my confidence with my triumphant return and successful completion of my degree at CCBC. I found out I could do journalism really well and kickstarted a freelance writing career. But dating and relationships? That was another story.

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When the Garage Door Opens

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Whenever I go over to see my girlfriend, Rebecca, I can feel the excitement build as she opens up the garage door. She shares the enthusiasm and within seconds we are in each other’s arms. She says to me “I missed you.” Unless I say it first.

We have been together a little over two months, although we were friends since last October. When we began going out, it had been a few months since I broke up with my last ex and a few weeks since we stopped talking completely. At the time, I was unsure of what to make of it.

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Do You Call it Solitude? Do You Call it Liberty?

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For the past month and a half, I have been occupied with the return to school and my relationship with my girlfriend. It has been a tremendously positive experience for the both of us, which I will write more in detail about in upcoming posts. Today, however, I wanted to address a canard that I heard when I was in my “chronically single” days. I kept hearing from others that it was far better to be single than to be in a relationship.

I have no doubt that there are some people who legitimately are better off being single, people who are asexual, aromantic and have no interest. But these weren’t the people I was talking to. They were people who I could infer as, for whatever reason, being unsatisfied with their current status. Perhaps they were in a toxic relationship, or perhaps they wanted to reduce their own discomfort about being single through rationalization.

But as someone who has spent a long time being single and who has seen a lot of lonely singles, I want to dispel this idea that “things are just better when you’re single”.

Is It Freedom or Stagnation?

My particular issue with this notion is the idea that being single “gives you more freedom”. The logic is that, without another human being that you need to be responsible for, you have more options available to you.

But in practice, human beings are creatures of habit, and it doesn’t take long for a rut to set in. My nights alone were spent with activities that were more about killing time than meaningful experiences. It was an alleviation of discomfort as opposed to the introduction of joy, and these two aren’t the same thing.

Above all else, I remember saying “This would be so much better if I had someone else to share this with.” While I was able to engage in solo activities, I found myself quickly bumping up against the limits of those activities.

When I started seeing my girlfriend, by contrast, I gained freedom. Now, I could go places that I previously wouldn’t consider because going to those places alone wasn’t going to be nearly as fun. Suddenly, walking around the park in Columbia, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and returning to Final Fantasy XIV were all viable options.

All of this has been great in terms of our bonding, and we’re practically inseparable now.

That being said, I would not advise anyone to stay in an unhealthy relationship for this reason. After all, it only works if you genuinely enjoy being around your partner. But to me, I have noticed a marked improvement in not only the activities I want to do but the enjoyable of activities that previously felt like chores. Cooking at home is no longer a menial, but necessary task, but a wondrous discovery of new dishes and ingredients.

Sometimes things are better when you have someone else to share them with. Don’t see anything wrong with that. Especially since my girlfriend is an amazing human being who is always fun to be around. I’m looking forward to all of the great times we’re going to be sharing together!

Where Do They All Belong?

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Photo by Routine @ Morguefile.com

Many days ago, I remember praising SunkenThought’s article in which she described the relationship she had with her husband. That was for a very specific reason, because I was at the end of a long string of lousy dates that never seemed to go anywhere. I was consumed by the cynicism that modern dating, online dating especially, engendered.

My peers have become worn out, and many of them remain single. But not just single, they’re lonely too. Many of them yearn for affection and love, but things just don’t seem to be working out for them. It is not just my male friends who feel this way, as my female friends also feel this crushing sense of loneliness. If there was a theme to the 21st century millennial dating experience, it would be the Beatles’ classic “Eleanor Rigby”.

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The Stroke of Midnight

2016-04-23-14-04-20Today is officially the first day of 2017. It is, by luck of the draw, the first birthday of Memory of the Star. As with most of us, it is a time to reflect on the year behind me but also a way to plan the year ahead.

My therapist has instructed me not to take up New Year’s resolutions and I understand her reasoning. Instead of performing a resolution, I am going to do what I like doing the most: taking a snapshot of where I am and where I was the year before.

Unfortunately, my inaugural post has since been trashed. Not because I particularly regretted it, but because Memory of the Star began as a directionless blog. During that time, I was at the start of a long process of recovery from depression, a process that continues to this day. My thoughtful posts were mostly forgotten by both me and whatever audience I had at the time.

In their place were daily prompts, which I often answered with little enthusiasm or vigor. Not that they weren’t helpful with bringing in fresh faces, but the bump in traffic that I received was not really that significant. Nor did it help build any semblance of community. Bringing eyeballs means one thing, getting them to stay is another. Yet, I’m glad that I let it remain dormant until my journalism classes completed.

Memory of the Star, like the New Year itself, represented a fresh start. As I had grown dissatisfied with the direction that Eyes Through The Glass had taken. Fortunately for me, a fresh start is not needed this year. Just a look back to the year before and a look forward to the year ahead.

Despite the deletion of my first post, I have an excellent recollection of what had happened. At the time, I was in a state of limbo, having been out of school for some time and in preparation for my triumphant return during the following spring.

My social group had formed over Dungeons & Dragons. I had focused on getting my social life and academics back in order before anything else.

Now, those aspects of my life have been pretty much fulfilled. So, I figured I’d spend the time this year focusing on some more subtle aspects. Some of these are things I’ve already started doing, others are things I started and fell off the wagon with.

Dating is an ongoing journey, and given that my post “Curse of the Lonely Heart” was the post that received the most likes I will likely make more references to it. For a while, it was a tie with my decent but personally uninteresting topic of weight loss. However, a few days ago someone pushed it over the edge.

For the purposes of this snapshot, I am currently single. Some things hint at a possible direction, and I am still trying, but we’ll have to see where this goes.

Speaking of weight…My NaNoWriMo adventures did my weight loss program no favors, having gained all of the weight I took the time to lose. Fortunately for me, weight loss was a simpler process than I anticipated and the most it will take is a bit of discipline.

There are other aspects that I could highlight, but for the sake of brevity and focus, I will use these. We’ll see where this is in 2018.

The Problem With Synthetic Relationships

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Photo by marinapriest @ Morguefile.com

Well, if there were anything better to come back from hiatus for, I can’t think of it. It is a topic that I have wanted to write about for some time but never felt the impetus to write an article. But, after exploring the topic further and hearing some things floating about the cultural ether, I believe this needs to be addressed.

Let’s talk about virtual girlfriends, or perhaps more appropriately “synthetic relationships”.  It’s a phenomenon most associated with Japanese culture, but has global implications, given that we now have more access to Japanese culture than ever before thanks to the internet.

Due to my status as outside of that culture, I can only speculate on the cultural factors that resulted in this rising trend. But what we can discuss is their impact.

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