This is my submission for the June 2020 Carnival of Aros, on the subject of “Most Precious“.
As an aromantic person who has never really been interested in dating or anything like it, I have never had – and may never have – anything that could be commonly be described as an “intimate partner”. Even though the concept of a queerplatonic relationship – or some other form of “platonic life partner” type arrangement – is appealing on a theoretical level, it’s also not something I’ve been very motivated to pursue at this stage of my life. As such, I’ve had to look elsewhere to fill what is often considered part of the role of a “partner”, whether it’s serious matters like finding an emergency contact or someone to help get me soup and medicine if I get sick, or lighter dilemmas like finding a plus one to a party.
For many years (and to some extent to this day), I’ve turned to family for many of these roles – my parents are still my main emergency contact in many places, my sister is one of my main targets for spontaneous gift-exchanging, and I’m fortunate in that we are all close enough (and similar enough in political views and social standards) that I’ve been able to get a lot of social support from them – not to mention financial support as well, especially when I was younger and still a student. (And indeed, that financial support – as well as the benefits of a well-paying white-collar job since – have also gone a long way in smoothing over the difficulties of being a person with unconventional relationships.
However, while having a supportive family is wonderful, it only goes so far – as my parents get older, they may eventually start needing my support, not to mention the fact that we live over 300 miles apart at the moment; and as my sister is currently pursuing a professional degree on the opposite side of the country, that physical distance limits our involvement when it comes to many practical things. And while money always makes everything easier, a $20 bill alone can’t open a can of soup and heat it up on the stove when you really need it.
Instead, this is where I turn to friendships.
What Friends are For
In general, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that I’ve been able to get nearly all of my social, physical and emotional needs met through the various networks of friendships I’ve cultivated over the years, including:
- Roommates/cohabitation with a couple of my old friends from my college student orgs, which makes for much more affordable living
- Food and cookie deliveries from another old college friend who’s always down to make the drive to Costco or Safeway or a local clinic or pharmacy (esp. when I have no car)
- Emotional support and sounding boards from friends online – both old friends who are now miles away, and new friends I may not even have met in person yet
- Peer support from local ace/aro/queer folks when it comes to sexuality and gender discontentment
- Well-off foodie friends who are happy to spot the check if I realize I forgot cash or card, or if finances were to ever get tight.
- and more!
Over time, I’ve been fortunate enough to build up a very robust social and support circle – part of which I can attribute to deliberate strategies, like joining and getting heavily involved with various hobby/social organizations, but part of which also comes down to sheer luck (in happening to find people I can mesh with; in having the free time to spend on forging such social connections; in not having my life majorly disrupted by moves or health issues or drama that could also disrupt such friendships). Because of this, having a strong, active social and support network is something I’m incredibly aware of and always grateful for – definitely one of my “most precious” possessions.