When I was a younger ace, I often treated things like “would you like to have a queerplatonic partner”, “would you consider legally marrying a partner?” or “do you want to have kids?” as abstract yes-or-no propositions – and the answers seemed like an easy “yes”, “yes” and “yes” at the time.
Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of my mid-twenties, it’s started to sink in that these questions aren’t quite that simple. Part of that realization stems from the fact that I am having to confront those possibilities head on for the first time, as actual current possibilities rather than abstract considerations for a future me.
As a student, it was easy to think of these decisions as simple, binary, and abstract, because I knew I had no plans to act on them anytime soon – I didn’t even want to think about settling down with a partner or having a kid until I finished my education and had a job.
At that point, I was still progressing at a standard pace through all the typical life milestones – Graduate high school. Get into college. Pass the next midterm. Pass the next final. Get a degree. Then, time to find any job that will pay. Then, as my old roommate left for grad school in another city, it was time to find a new apartment and new roommates. Then time to find a long-term job that could be more of a career. When I was focused on all these immediate goals, it was easy not to think that much about all the other questions about kids and partners and houses and such that I had tabled for an abstract “future me”.
Within the last couple years, though, as the new grad chaos has settled, I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine – I have a good apartment, a job I like, stable roommates and active social groups. And when it comes to next steps, things are….much less clear. I’ve already reached all the easily achievable milestones, and now I’ve found myself in uncharted territory.
That means seriously thinking about not just “if” I would like kids or partners or a house or a marriage – it means thinking about things like “when” and “how much” and “at what cost”. And as I’m taking into account things like the realities of how much I’d have to change my lifestyle to find and form a partnership, or how far I’d have to relocate to own instead of rent, or how much of an economic hit it would be to have dependents, things that seemed like easy “yes”es have become a lot more uncertain. It’s come with the reality that even if I like the idea of something, I’m not sure I want it enough to put in the labor and make all the sacrifices that might be required to achieve it.
At the same time, it’s also the first time I’ve really experienced a long period of life with no immediate milestones ahead to strive for, and I’m still not completely sure what to do with myself.
And this isn’t just an ace thing, necessarily – I think this is the kind of existential crisis that a lot of young adults go through. But I think that being ace – and perhaps more importantly, being aro – adds another level of complexity to the situation. So while things like “Would I be willing to move just to be able to afford to buy instead of rent” are common problems regardless of sexuality, other issues like “how do you go about finding and evaluating potential life partners/co-parents if you have zero interest in casual dating or romance, but also are nowhere near ready to settle down just yet?” are not so common, and just make things all the more complex.