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Background: I was born female and I am hetero-romantic, but I'm starting to think that I might be both asexual and agender. I have always been uncomfortable with the idea that I am "supposed" to look, act, and feel certain ways because I am female, but I don't want to be male, either. Overall, "gender" just doesn't make sense to me. I also find the thought of reproduction absolutely repulsive. I dislike listing myself as something other than straight, and it's a really new idea for me to do that, but using the term seems to help other people understand my position on the whole ...situation.

Situation: Now, I have this straight male friend whom I've known for over 12 years now. I have had a crush on him for at least the last four years, and I am fairly sure he likes me as well. He asked me out once, but I never actually answered him, and we've continued being "just friends" since then. We have started seeing more of each other lately, and I'm starting to get the idea that he wants to move things forward romantically.

The problem is, we talk to each other about all kinds of things, and one time our conversation turned to LGBTQ issues and gender dysphoria. He explained that he didn't really "get" the whole concept and found it really weird and unsettling. If I had to choose one word to describe him, it would be "gentleman". He holds the door open for women, took cotillion classes as a kid, and hopes to someday have a wife and kids. Although I have mentioned that I dislike being called a "woman" and the idea of physically having kids, it was always in a semi-joking way, and I don't think he is aware that I was serious.

I really like this guy and I enjoy having someone to talk to with virtually no subjects off-limits. But I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place: either keep a really massive secret from him or risk alienating him. In addition, if he does ever ask me out, should I even pursue a relationship knowing that he will always want someone without reservations about sex or her role as a wife. That is all pretty far away, but it just seems cruel to enter a relationship thinking there is a 100% possibility of both parties being hurt and no chance of achieving the ultimate "goal".

Question(s): Do I tell my friend I think I am not straight? Do I pursue a romantic relationship with him with or without sharing that secret? Should I risk losing him as a friend by possibly breaking up with him later because we are just too different?

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    While I sympathize with your situation, we cannot tell you what to do. What we can do is suggesting how to approach should you decide to coming out to him, or how should you keeping the status quo (while I definitely won't recommend it). Please edit your question so we can better provide answers that meet your needs. – Vylix Oct 9 '17 at 2:26
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    @Vylix please leave this one be. They're struggling with something rather emotionally fraught... Be kind and cut people a little slack sometimes. – apaul Oct 9 '17 at 4:16
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    Unfortunately, all the answers we can give to the question as it is now will be opinion based. What is your goal? If you can ask about what you want to achieve we might be able to help you. For now, I've voted to close this question as opinion based until it's edited to include a clear goal. – Tinkeringbell Oct 9 '17 at 8:04
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    I'd make it less about the labels you are using, and explaining upfront the things you are uncomfortable with. You don't want to have sex or physically bear children? Then explain that to him. You don't want a role as a typical 'wife'? Explain to him what you dislike about that. He has already liked you for a long time, he may very well accept you as you are even after you explain so. – user4788 Oct 12 '17 at 2:00
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    I'm very curious as to why this question was re-opened without any edits being done. See for example this meta answer and this meta discussion about questions asking 'what to do?' – Tinkeringbell Oct 13 '17 at 9:58
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You might just be missing the point by almost making this about labels.

You said you don't feel like the typical "woman", the woman society expects you to be, act like, look like. I personally try not to care about gender roles and what society thinks (most of the time), though I wouldn't identify as asexual.

Your friend knows you for a long time and seems to like and have accepted you for who you are, not for what label you carry, "woman", "man", "other", "I don't know", "there is no label to describe me, yet". I'm sure he knows to some degree that you don't look or act like you're supposed to. Or do you?

Do I tell my friend I think I am not straight?

Does it matter? Since you seem to want to identify as something, what does "straight" mean to you? Aren't you attracted to him and interested in him romantically? You said you identify as hetero-romantic. Why not just tell him how you feel about him?

Do I pursue a romantic relationship with him with or without sharing that secret?

You said you are romantically interested in him, are you also interested in having sex with him? If yes, then what is there to say other than perhaps you are not interested in having kids (if you think this will not change in the future, but do you know for sure?). However, if you aren't interested in having sex with him at all then this is something you definitely need to talk to him about and not hide and the sooner you do it, the better.

Should I risk losing him as a friend by possibly breaking up with him later because we are just too different?

We can't know that. You might lose him as a friend if he can't feel he can be friends with you (he might be too attracted to you to see you as a friend). But what other option do you have? You are risking more by being dishonest with him.

If you want to tell him how you feel about "gender", if you want to tell him what you think about society's expectations and how those don't fit with what you think about yourself, do that.

You could even say you don't feel you would be the typical wife because you just don't get what that really means. Just remember that a romantic relationship is about love and attraction (mental and physical) among other things like respect, communication, empathy and so on. Discuss with him what you want from your relationship and what being in a romantic relationship means to you. You will likely get the answers you are looking for.

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    +1 "_ a romantic relationship is about love and attraction (mental and physical) among other things_". OP's friend seems to be a common straight male, highly unlikely to be interested in a platonic relationship without sex. The OP seems very concerned about labeling herself, instead of just being herself. The biggest source of potential problems, IMO, is the obvious presence of a profound personal issue regarding sex. Which, IMO, will prevent any healthy romantic relationship in the long run. – r41n Feb 16 '18 at 14:26
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TL;DR - Don't say you think it won't work. Say why you are worried about your long-term relationship. Let him react.

My situation isn't exactly the same, but there may be some parallels that could be helpful to you.

My wife and I have been friends for about 11 years, pretty close to your 12 years. Two years into our relationship we started dating each other. I met her immediate family the same year, then I met her whole extended family the next year. Everyone knew things were serious. Then, at the end of that year, we broke up.

We spent the majority of the next year in agony, but toward the end of the summer we started talking again. By the fall, she decided to live near me. We were engaged before Christmas. Around that time we started living together. As we did, I began to notice little things about my wife-to-be. She seemed physically attracted to many female celebrities, but not many male celebrities. The next year, she raised the possibility of us seeking a threesome with a woman.

My wife and I were both raised in very conservative religious households, but I am a freethinker and read a lot--I was aware of LGBT issues. I suggested to her that she might not be all the way straight. At the time, she didn't give it much thought. We got married that summer.

After we got married, she kept thinking about this possibility of not being straight. She didn't like to voice it aloud directly, because it scared her that she might be in conflict with her upbringing. However, because I was comfortable with it, she did start to express her physical attraction for women more often.

She also had a friend that was questioning her own sexuality. One day they decided to share a kiss, to see how it felt. They both enjoyed it, but my wife's friend wanted to do more right away--and my wife wasn't comfortable with it, as she wasn't really romantically interested in her friend. My wife stopped talking about LGBT issues for a little while after that.

My wife had a best friend, however, that she was romantically interested in. As time went on, she had trouble not admitting to herself that it was the case. We talked about it a lot, and she decided to share her feelings with her best friend. Her best friend shut her out of her life, and my wife was understandably wounded.

About this time, I told my wife that I wasn't certain that I was cisgender, and I started to explore presenting female sometimes. So, my wife considered herself bisexual and I considered myself bigender, but my wife didn't like to label herself much. She felt like a fake since she couldn't have a relationship with a woman. My wife was also nervous about my gender identity. Though most people she's attracted to are women, I was one of the few men that she actually liked as a man. She was uncomfortable with the idea of me presenting female at first.

Fast-forward a few years, things are going really well for me and my wife, but my wife still wants something more. She has friends who are polyamorous, but she's not sure how she feels about having more than one lover simultaneously. She gave a relationship with a woman a shot, and she really fell in love. During that time of getting to know her, she asked me if it would be all right and told me that while she was getting to know her that she might be distant because she would have to learn if and how she could share. Unfortunately, that woman turned out to be on the cusp of a psychological breakdown, so that relationship fell through.

So, how does this help you? The lesson learned from this whole experience was that my wife and I could continue to have a deeply intimate romantic relationship and marriage with each other (with or without sex, though that has resumed). Ultimately, as others are saying, you need to talk with him about your feelings, but don't sound fatalistic when you do it. Don't tell him you don't think it will work out; tell him you're worried. Tell him why.

Be ready for some hurt feelings, but don't be the one to doom the relationship. If you're lucky, it may even turn out that you can continue to have a long and intimate relationship--no matter what circumstances the two of you have to learn to deal with.

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    You sound like a great husband. – Mafii Jan 5 '18 at 8:41
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Do I tell my friend I think I am not straight?

How you want to identify is entirely up to you. That said, you mentioned that you're leaning towards agender, asexual, and hetero-romantic. I would recommend telling him more than "not straight" if and when you decide to have that conversation. Make it clear if you're attracted to him and what that means for you.

Do I pursue a romantic relationship with him with or without sharing that secret?

Given the length of time that you've known him... I would advise against anything other than being completely up front and honest with him. If he was someone you had just met, going on a few dates and seeing how you feel before disclosing could make sense, but even then I don't recommend it. People can, and often do, react poorly if they feel they've been led on or deceived, particularly when it comes to dating.

That means if you want to pursue a romantic relationship, you two are going to have to have some long honest talks about what you're both looking for in a partner. If those talks go well and you're both looking for similar things, it may be absolutely wonderful.

I've met a couple people who were in a similar situation. Believe it or not, one partner was asexual and the other wasn't. They've been happily married for more than a decade now. Don't discount the possibility of having wonderful loving relationships simply because you're "not straight"

Should I risk losing him as a friend by possibly breaking up with him later because we are just too different?

Sorry, can't really tell you what to do there. But I can tell you that breaking up doesn't necessarily mean that you can't be friends. My best friend in the world is someone I dated once upon a time, and well things didn't work out, but we're still close. I'm also pretty good friends with my ex-wife. Even if he doesn't work out there's plenty more where he came from ;)

tl;dr

Be honest. Be upfront. And don't lose hope.

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    Honesty is the best policy, and keeping quiet would be like lying. – user3114 Oct 9 '17 at 4:51
  • @Mari-Lou Kinda dismissive, but I can live with that =P aww you edited and I can't retract my vote now =P =P – apaul Oct 9 '17 at 4:58
  • You disagree that keeping quiet after a 12-year-friendship, would be like lying? P.S I often edit my comments, what sounds OK in my head doesn't always match what it reads like in "print". – user3114 Oct 9 '17 at 5:05
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    @Mari-Lou I don't disagree, but that wasn't what I voted or commented on. You seem like a pain in the a**, but I think we could be friends =P – apaul Oct 9 '17 at 5:08
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Long story short, you don't need to tell him, but you must be ready to tell him. It's not necessarily something that he needs to know right off the bat, but it's something that you have to be ready to tell him at the right moment, and be willing to accept whatever consequences come from it.

Dating is a game of figuring out what two people want, and seeing if those wants line up. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Most people know this. What isn't so commonly known is that often people don't know what they want going into a relationship. They find that thing along the way. When you say "there is a 100% possibility of both parties being hurt and no chance of achieving the ultimate 'goal,'" that assumes both parties know what they want going into the relationship. I find real people aren't so simple.

There is a line in the sand, however. If the relationship progresses towards marriage, you must be ready to tell him before you get married. Without putting too many details on the internet, I'll just state that I am an authority on the issue. Differences in levels of sexual desire can be a sufficient force to end marriages, and at the very least call for some very open discussions about the topic. You really don't want to have the feeling that you "trapped" someone with a marriage. It'll wear on you every single day, bleeding off the energy you need to be spending on the relationship to keep it alive.

Dating, however, is not a trap. If they want to walk away, they can. It's just some of their time, not the rest of their life. Don't feel bad testing the waters. Our culture is moving further away from the "traditional" relationship every year. You and he may find that a nontraditional relationship works just fine! Just make sure that, when the important moment arises, you are willing to tell him, before it's too late. It sounds like you guys are very open, so you may find that the right time to tell him is early. Or it may be something to discuss before picking a wedding day. Or somewhere in between. Just make sure you are comfortable with telling him, and accepting what comes from it. If the day comes, you have to be ready to not back down.

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    Best part: "If the relationship progresses towards marriage, you must be ready to tell him before you get married. Without putting too many details on the internet, I'll just state that I am an authority on the issue. (...) You really don't want to have the feeling that you "trapped" someone with a marriage. It'll wear on you every single day, bleeding off the energy you need to be spending on the relationship to keep it alive." Expert answer @Cort Ammon, and I upvote! – English Student Oct 9 '17 at 2:51
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    The two have been friends for 12 years, they've past the "getting to know you" stage. The OP knows that he wants a family, and she knows she doesn't. This is something that should be sorted out before getting in a romantic relationship, not after he has proposed to her. – user3114 Oct 9 '17 at 3:57
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    This is a pretty good answer in spirit, but waiting till the last moment to disclose is probably going to leave people hurt on both sides. – apaul Oct 9 '17 at 4:38
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Does he not "get" it because he's never met anyone who could explain how they feel, from the inside? Well, now he has. If he's talking about stuff like this, can you?

For the majority, "romantic" will pretty inevitably turn sexual. It's important not to start something which could destroy your friendship. To be clear, it's not the romance which could affect the friendship, but that he may feel like you have concealed an essential part of yourself from him. Talking about it now cannot get you or him hurt; but only talking about it somewhere down the line inevitably will.

Of course, it is absolutely not your job to raise awareness amongst the general public or to be a spokesperson for your orientation. But someone you are considering as a partner is not just any random person. If you feel you need to hide your "real" self from your partner (or a potential partner), I suggest they're not the partner you need.

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First question. Do tell him, even if you are not going to pursuit a romantic relationship. It looks like not telling him is putting some pressure on you and your relationship with him. He is a close friend to you and talking about those kind of issues helps the other part to properly understand you.

2nd question. Don't go into a love relationship while hiding secrets. A relationship is about trust, that is the best foundation for one. Overtime you two will fight over different points of views but those wounds can and will heal overtime. Lies and secrets on the other hand are hard to heal. Be as open as you can be.

3rd question. Every type of relationship, family, love, friends, every type out there, has this type of risk. You cant predict the future, you guys might even break up over some nonsense like leaving the milk outside the fridge. You already jumped that bridge when it came to start a friend relationship with him. Now, all you need to decide if furthering this relationship with him would have the potential to make you happy. That is all that you need to find out to make a decision.

That said, you put too much weight on labels. Being in love is not about a woman being in love with a man, or a woman with a woman, or having sex with with the other of the same or different gender.

A love relationship is between two different people that open themselves to the other to be allowed to love and be loved. The other part will also make a decision about if furthering a relationship with you will make him/her happy. The decision is all about what the other defines as happiness, if your persona, by any means, falls into that, then we have a match. Don't feel bad or afraid about rejection, it is not about your persona, since we each have responsibility and control only about our own feelings.

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