I find very often that I’m reminded of the opening chords from one of my favorite wrestler’s songs,
You think you know me.
I spend most every day of my life being thought of as someone else entirely. I live as a shadow on the wall of many people’s stories, never quite gaining sentience. I am the theoretical, the liminal, the unknown. When people encounter what appears to them to be an abyss (when in reality it’s just the inside of my mouth as I yawn), they tend to fill it with superstition, with heuristics, with assumptions.
Humans are supposed to be naturally adventurous, the great explorers, but oftentimes it simply seems to be pretend rather than actual.
Nowhere is this sort of thing more apparent to me than in the dating world. There are so many rituals of proper courtship, so many conflicting values, and rarely any actual clarity on what’s appropriate and what’s not.
Amatonormativity requires interested parties to randomly stumble around and pray that whatever they bump into is a willing receptacle for their…offering. This is especially unfortunate and rather dangerous for uninterested parties.
Consent becomes a dance, a game, a goal rather than an uncoerced requirement. Manipulation, deception, and and trickery become the norm.
Of course, for someone who places logic ahead of emotion, for someone for whom things must make rational sense, for those who simply don’t feel whatever it is that motivates others to participate in such a dance, this all strikes us as being extremely bizarre and incredibly uncomfortable.
It’s already awkward enough for a cis alloromantic allosexual to feel comfortable or safe expressing disinterest (because men are supposed to want to fuck anything and everything and because women are literally being killed for saying no).
Can you imagine seeing through these posturing facades or wondering at the purpose of such mating rituals when one speaks an entirely different language?
Being autistic is often described (and partially diagnosed) when one feels consistently and perpetually alienated from the wider world. We feel as if we’ve been dropped onto the wrong planet. We don’t understand the customs, we don’t fit in no matter how well we might imitate normalcy, and we are constantly misunderstood and accidentally offensive.
For a lot of us, the romantic landscape, regardless of the poisonous culture infecting it, doesn’t make much sense.
Being propositioned is especially awkward, insulting, and often results in embarrassment for the interested party once they realize I’m not what they think I am.
But that’s the problem. That’s where this amatonormative shit starts and sneaks in. It starts with any assumption. And then snowballs into so much bullshit.
They approach me as if I’m female. As if I’m neurotypical. As if my form of flirting is flattery. As if my courtship style is inherently sexual and romantic. As if I am “Black”. As if I haven’t been abused or raped. As if I’m anything but aesthetically and maybe (that’s a very tentative maybe) emotionally drawn to males. As if I’m inexperienced or young. As if I’m vanilla. As if I’m submissive.
As if I’m anything but who I am.
They’ve already set up their idea of me within their mental landscape. Their mental models are highly inaccurate, and after talking with me and realizing this, they’re often left a bit speechless or incredibly hostile.
When I don’t smile at their compliments. When I stare blankly when they try to flirt. When I respond with facts rather than romance. When I’m not impressed by what they “read” about me.
What disgusts me about this sort of romantic approach is that it injects the personal where there is none. It implies an intimacy that has to be earned from me, not pried out of me. It steps across a boundary that is much wider for me than for any neurotypical person.
You see, instead of being made to feel a certain way, instead of wanting to feel wanted or romantic or desired, my intimacy is formed mostly by knowing.
That’s my noetisexuality: I can only engage intimately by engaging with someone’s mental reality. I deal with the facts of who someone is, not a dream of who they could be or the role they’ll fill in my life.
In this way, I come across as utterly disengaged, uninterested, and even cold to many people. Unless I feel like I am encountering the very root of who a person is I reflect what’s there; usually nothing. Many social situations skim the surface, and I don’t exactly have a surface. Which is why I make a rather shitty mirror for what people want to see. I only ever reflect what’s underlying.
Which makes anyone who’s slightly more aware incredibly uncomfortable because I am, in effect, looking into their soul. Not in any sort of mystical sense. Aspies are among those who are ultrasensitive; we are actually deeply empathic people, (which might seem incredibly odd).
It’s part of why we become overwhelmed with a large amount of external stimuli. Like those with mental illnesses, we are unable to shut out extraneous information like neurotypical people are.
And nothing is more annoying or makes me want to run away faster than feeling a desire, especially romantic, aimed in my direction. Because I know it’s not genuine. Or even if it is, I know that I can never reciprocate it.
The greatest gift I can give is to let someone know who I am in my own words, even if they truly See me. If you ever find me blurting out random things about myself to you, know that that’s my way of signalling my desire to grow emotionally and mentally closer to you.
Because the vast majority of the time, I don’t get personal. I refuse to. And others trying to get personal with me is an incredibly big turnoff. Nothing annoys me more than inaccuracy, and when I damn well know someone’s reacting or approaching or interacting with me based on anything less than the reality of who I am it makes me livid.
Maybe other people need those social niceties, bits of flirting, or acknowledgment to feel balanced. It’s not that I don’t desire social contact; it’s simply that for me it has to take an extremely particular form.
Most of the time, I just want to be left the fuck alone. Because even if you can’t see it, I am constantly working. And you are stepping into my space, interrupting the many thought tracks that I currently have engaged, and sometimes literally stepping into the mental model of the #cuilverse that accompanies me everywhere (where you are absolutely not welcome unless invited).
It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that I hate you. It’s not that I’m rude. It’s simply that there is literally nothing personal about most of my encounters with people when they require or are based on certain assumptions.
The most valuable relationships in my life were built on truly, actual, and appropriately personal first encounters. Free of assumptions, free of expectations, free of any social requirement. Moments where no one wore a mask, or tried to be coy or clever, or tried to impress.
They simply came as they were and left space for me to engage if I wanted to. They came empty, without leaving their souls hanging out but without shielding them behind injuries of the past, or heavy walls, or posturing.
So if you want to get personal, come at me as you are, and let me be me.
After all, only I can do me like a boss!