Growing Old and Finding My People

I reflect on some long-held existential fears of being abandoned by my friends as I grow older.

This post was written for the December 2022 Carnival of Aros, where the theme is “Getting Old.”

Hey! I haven’t posted on this blog or written for a carnival in a while, mostly because I’ve been busy with other projects.

I think I want to experiment with the format of this blog a bit, so we’ll see how this goes.

This is one of two submissions I’m writing for the Carnival this month; the other one is “Navigating Generational Rifts in Queer Communities”.

A lot of aros talk about the logistical challenges of not having a person who fulfills the roles a romantic partner is expected to fulfill: someone to be your emergency contact, someone to split rent or domestic duties with, someone to take care of you when you’re sick, etc.

That was a huge existential fear of mine for the first few years after coming out as aro. What happens when all my friends inevitably find exclusive romantic partners, “settle down,” and forget about me?

Lately, that anxiety has actually started to disappear. These days, most of my friends are non-monogamous, and even the ones who aren’t still have fairly non-normative attitudes toward relationships. And the interconnectedness and level of mutual support in my relationship network has been nothing short of amazing—friends and partners and not-partners and metamours and roommates all looking out for each other.

When my close friend of several years started dating someone, it made us closer, not more distant like I had feared.

This friend and I even managed to fall into the classic aro trope of realizing that what we have is basically a QPR.

So yeah, that long-standing dread of being alone as I get older has started to disappear. It won’t be like this forever—friends will come and go as they always do—but I’ve gained a lot more confidence that among the queer and polyam community, I’ll always be able to find people who don’t treat me as secondary to their romantic partner(s).

I’ve also started to grow more comfortable with the idea that I don’t need to be a main character in all of my friends’ lives. Realizing that I have friends to whom I’m mostly a side character—and being okay with that.

I have friends who I only catch up with every couple weeks—or even months—but that doesn’t make them less important to me. I still treasure the time we spend together.

So yeah, amatonormativity still sucks, but I’m having far more success navigating life as an aro person than I ever expected, and that’s been pretty great.