r/AmITheAsshole? Asexuality Edition #3

Despite Courtney’s persisting gavellessness, we are once again passing judgement upon 7 internet strangers who have asked the age-old question “Am I the Asshole?” in various situations somehow pertaining to asexuality.


Courtney: Hello everybody and welcome to the podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And I have good and bad news for you. The good news is we are doing more r/AITA: Asexuality Edition, I know so many of you out there love when we do that. The bad news is I still don’t have a gavel! We really need to rectify this, Royce. So, despite my gavel-less-ness – gavel-less-ness, yes – despite my gavel-less-ness uh… we are going to be acting as judge, today. Judge, jury and executioner, if you will. Not really, mostly just judge. Are they the asshole? Yay or nay?

Royce: Oh, I thought you were declaring them all assholes prematurely, for a second.

Courtney: They’re all assholes! The lot of them! No, some of them probably aren’t. [laughs] but we aren’t really acting as jury or executioner. We aren’t– we aren’t presenting a punishment to them. We’re just telling them, “Hey, maybe don’t be so much of an asshole.” Or we tell them, “You’re fine, don’t overthink it. The other person sucks, not you.”

Courtney: It’s been a nice little bit of time since we’ve done this. I think we’re right at about doing one of these every six months, like give or take a couple of weeks. So, uh, you guys all really like them, so we’re gonna keep doing them as long as we have ace-related stories to find. This definitely did work a lot better for us than when we tried r/AreTheStraightsOK. Because there are just too many visual memes that don’t translate to podcasts very well. Although, I will say, we are considering wading into the dark, dark depths of r/DeadBedrooms, which only recently came to my attention as a subreddit. I didn’t know it existed. But I found one story on there where someone was very disparagingly using the word asexual, like almost insulting their spouse by using asexual as an insult, and I was like, “Oh no… Oh no, do we– Do we have to? Do we have to dive into Dead Bedrooms?” I imagine there’s probably a lot of weird, allo marriage dynamics that we cannot fully relate to. So it might yield interesting discussions.

Royce: It’s just an interesting thread name too, because if you just went out and asked people what they thought dead bedrooms were, you could get the sexless marriages sort of angle that I assume this is what the thread is. You could get hauntings and superstitions, people who died and haunt their– their houses from their place of bedrooms.

Courtney: Ooh… haunted house.

Royce: You could get home makeovers, where it’s just like a bedroom that is so poorly, like, painted and put together that no one spends any time in it, so it’s just vacant.

Courtney: Or one that is so bad that it’s like, “This is beyond repair. We need to like– we need to tear out this wall, do a full renovation. This is a dead bedroom. We need to liven it up a little!”

Royce: Didn’t we watch a couple of episodes of a, like, home renovation show that was like: old british lady builds you a sex dungeon.

Courtney: We did. We did watch the sex dungeon show.

Royce: In some cases she was like, “Here’s your problem. Your bedroom’s a mess. We’re gonna fix your bedroom and that’s gonna help your marriage.”

Courtney: Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into that show, because I am on the sex repulsed side of things, but I’m also on the kink curious side of things. So I was like, is this going to be so graphic that I don’t like it, or is it going to be interesting? And it was honestly probably pretty clever that they had, like you said, a British lady as the host. Because at least to our American ears and our American audience, something about a British accent is just going to give that person, like, an air of poshness, even if it isn’t the type of British accent that– that they will see as posh. To us, all of it is, all of it is posh. So we’re like here’s a posh, prim and proper old lady who is making people sex dungeons. [laughs]

Courtney: It probably did make it a little more accessible to the average audience, but it was kind of interesting to watch. It wasn’t too difficult for me. I think my least favorite part was anytime there was like a, I don’t know, dildo wall or something, because I don’t like even the illusion of phalluses or phallus-like things. But every time they’re like, “Here is a piece of furniture that will help you do kinky things,” I was like, “Wow, fascinating, tell me more.”

Royce: I believe the title of that was How to Build a Sex Room.

Courtney: How To Build A Sex Room.

Royce: And it was on Netflix.

Courtney: The interior design aspect of it is just so fascinating to me.

Royce: It was interesting because sometimes these were secret rooms behind hidden passageways. And in some cases it was just like the master bedroom or something.

Courtney: Right, yes. Oh yeah, really really interesting. So– And it was very, very diverse as far as the people who were the clients, compared to like your average dating show or home buying show or renovation show. Because we had gay couples, we had polyamorous, like, full polyam families that were all, like, “You know, we all like different things, so we want to make sure our, you know, sex room can accommodate all of us. And also it has to be big enough for all of us. And we want a place where all of us can cuddle.” And it was like–

Royce: They had a couple of very nervous straight couples too.

Courtney: [laughs] Yes! So that was a very fascinating watch, to be perfectly honest. But we are getting wildly off track now because we aren’t here to talk about British ladies building sex rooms. We’re here to pass judgment upon internet civilians! So I’ll start us off with the first story. Why don’t I? [reading] “Am I the asshole for telling my mother I don’t feel like she’s supportive? A few days ago we had a fight about two people at my school getting fired for supporting LGBTQ+, and she’s been giving me looks and calling me ungrateful.” Oh boy… [resumes reading] “Background information: I came out as panromantic and asexual, as well as gender fluid, and explained what they meant to my mother about a year ago, and since then I felt more open about my sexuality and my involvement in the LGBTQ+ community.

Courtney: While me being panromantic has been something my mother acknowledges whenever she asks me about my crushes or if/who I’m dating, she has some complete– she has almost completely ignored the fact that I am gender fluid. She has only ever used she/her pronouns for me, and is one of those people that claims that they/them can only be used in plural forms, even after I supplied several examples of they being used in a singular form.

Courtney: I don’t really mind all of that, as much as I’m upset about an argument we had a couple days ago. Two faculty members at my school were fired because they support LGBTQ+, and I immediately told my mother when I found out. I told her that I didn’t feel safe in an environment where teachers who support people like me are fired. I said that I doubt the others would accept me or like me anymore if they knew I wasn’t straight or cisgender. This wasn’t the only time I felt unsafe at my school, as the biology teacher has made countless remarks about LGBTQ+ people that have made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. She said something about trans people all going to hell–” Oof… Jesus.

Royce: Biology teacher?!

Courtney: Jesus… [laughs] Okay, I’ll try to save my commentary for the end but– [resumes reading] “–and that they’re not human. As a gender fluid person, I didn’t take that too well.” No, you wouldn’t now, would you? [reading] “I told her that I no longer feel safe around many of my teachers there and want to go to another school. She didn’t have a problem with me considering leaving my school because I felt uncomfortable socially, but as soon as LGBTQ+ was involved, she said that they deserve to be fired because they didn’t believe what the school believes. When I told her I no longer feel safe and want to leave she started calling me ungrateful and giving me looks. She refused and then went on a huge rant about how ungrateful I am and how I should just suck it up and shouldn’t be talking about my preferences at school anyway.

Courtney: After all the comments my brother and father have made about LGBTQ+ that she didn’t say anything about, the time she’s said negative things about pride flags, all the time she’s made a face when I’ve talked about LGBTQ+ or Pride Month, I’d had enough of pretending I was okay with her saying she supported me but acting like she didn’t. I told her that if she didn’t support what I identify as, she could just tell me. She started screaming at me and saying that (again) I’m ungrateful and jumping to conclusions. She’s been giving me looks since then and I’m worried now that maybe I overreacted and shouldn’t have said what I said. Am I the asshole?” No!

Royce: So do you have any examples, that you can think of, of a parent or some other older figure telling someone that they are ungrateful that is actually grounded in logic and is not just emotionally manipulative?

Courtney: No. [chuckles]

Royce: I couldn’t think of one myself. That seems to be the: “I can’t think of a good reason, but I don’t like what you’re doing or saying, so this is the word I’m using.”

Courtney: Yeah. It’s– especially when it’s a parent and a child, and it’s like, “Well, I raised you and I fed you and I put a roof over your head,” like–

Royce: Which has nothing to do with the current situation.

Courtney: Like you’re a parent. That’s your job.

Royce: Yeah, that’s what we signed up for.

Courtney: That’s not a favor you’re doing to that person. It very much has a similar air of when– Oh gosh, if any of you listeners have had a person like this in your life, you’re all going to cringe and know exactly what I’m talking about. But the kind of person who will, like, mentally keep tabs on every gift they’ve ever given you, or every, like, dollar they’ve ever loaned you, and if you ever upset them for any reason, they’ll be like, “Well, I bought you a bike 10 years ago.” And they’ll pull out these things that are so old and have nothing to do with the conversation at all. And they’re basically saying like, “I’ve done so much for you, so just fall in line.” Like, don’t cross me.

Courtney: Yeah, I can’t stand when parents do that. Because, again, you had a child. Taking care of that child is the number one job now. That’s the thing you do. And queer kids, queer teenagers, deserve to be supported. And they deserve to not have basic human needs held over their head, as– You know, even in school, like if you’re saying, you know, you’re being ungrateful to your teachers or your school. It’s like, education is also a right. And we have public education. I don’t know what country this is in. It was not stated. But as soon as– like people getting fired, like that very much to me– like, I see Florida in my imagination.

Royce: I immediately thought a conservative American state.

Courtney: Right. And that– That’s a thing that’s been ramping up a lot lately. We’ve seen, even recently in the news, Florida teachers under investigation for showing a Disney movie to, like, a class of fifth graders because there’s a gay character in it or there’s some kind of queer character. I haven’t seen the movie. I honestly hadn’t even heard of the movie, because I don’t know what Disney is doing with their advertising lately, but–

Royce: They’re setting their advertising money on fire.

Courtney: They must be! Because someone will be like, “Oh yeah, this Disney movie that came out a year or two ago.” And I’m like, “Why haven’t I ever heard this title before in my life?” Like I get that I don’t have children of my own, but like I, I would watch a new Disney movie that had a queer character in it.

Royce: How can random startup companies deliver you targeted ads somehow, even when you try to remain private, but Disney can’t tell you about their new movie…

Courtney: Why can’t Disney tell me about their new movie? Yes! So it’s– It’s wild because, from reading this teacher’s account too, like it had something to do with, like, an environmental science that they were actively learning about. But because of the presence of a queer character, like, she might now lose her job. All of her students don’t understand what the big deal is. And members of the school board are saying just utter nonsense like, you know, “God put me on this board so that I can stop the minorities from infiltrating our schools and our lives.” And it’s like… Wha– what is happening?! What is happening…? I am– Woo...

Courtney: This will probably be an episode that comes out during our Pride Month, in June. It’s not yet Pride Month as we’re recording this, but oh man, I’m not looking forward to it. Pride should be something we’re happy and excited about, but I don’t think I have any queer friends that are like, “Yay, Pride Month is coming!” Every single one of us, we’re like, “I’m so exhausted, I’m so exhausted! I can’t handle the discourse, I can’t handle the conservative hate, I can’t handle the legislation.” It’s– it’s all just so much. So– Queer youth deserve to be themselves and they deserve proper education, and that education should not involve a biology teacher saying that trans people aren’t human and– It’s vile. No, I feel bad that they felt the need to come to r/AITA. Like I just want to give them a hug. So I will say, yes, mother being the asshole. Anybody who fired those teachers is the asshole. That biology teacher is the asshole. And really just like anybody on the school board, and probably most of your state legislators also assholes. You? Not an asshole. Keep doing what you’re doing!

Royce: [reading] “Am I the asshole for not accepting my brother’s apology? My brother, 16, had outed me, 18, as asexual to my mother, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mom in a conversation I was not a part of about a month ago. Since then, I have not been talking to him, as this incident has shown me that he truly does not respect my boundaries. My mother has been asking me to forgive him since he meant no – quote – ‘malice’. But my relationship with my brother has been bad since I could remember, always ending up in verbal or physical fights, which has taken a great effect on my poor mental health.

Royce: Yesterday I was doing laundry before work. When I went to get my washed load, I found it on top of the washer bundled up as well as my dried clothes taken out of the dryer. I went and confronted him on why he had taken my things out and replaced them with his, which ended up in a screaming match.

Royce: [still reading] “My mom came and told him he knew that he shouldn’t have touched my belongings and he was doing this out of spite because I hadn’t forgiven him, which he then decided to call us pathetic for arguing about laundry. My mom then set us down and told me that I should forgive him for my sake (she’s Christian). I told her I am no longer willing to keep forgiving someone who doesn’t want to better our relationship and that I’m the one always forgiving him, even when it’s something that someone else would go no-contact. When my mom asked him to apologize, he started to have some sort of mental breakdown and started screaming/yelling in tears. I left the house for work but realized I could no longer go in my mental state, so I ended up going to a friend’s. My mom still believes I should forgive him and has told me she either wants me to start going to church (to – quote – ‘cleanse’ my soul, I guess) or go back to therapy, because I shouldn’t be – quote – ‘holding grudges’. So am I the asshole?”

Courtney: Uh, does the brother also need to go to church or therapy?

Royce: I would say therapy.

Courtney: Well, I– From this post, it doesn’t seem like the mom is holding the kids to the same standard.

Royce: They aren’t, and it seems like the brother is having issues communicating in a way that is appropriate for a 16-year-old.

Courtney: Right. Yeah, I mean, OP is not the asshole here. Op is eighteen, if this is not a household that you can live in anymore, perhaps that is something you can rectify in the near future.

Royce: Hopefully.

Courtney: Because, I mean, here OP is like, “I couldn’t go to work because of my mental state,” and that’s not good.

Royce: No.

Courtney: If your mental health is, you know, that bad as a direct result of the people you’re living with, I would say that is something that should probably be corrected. Also feels like there’s probably more to this story. They didn’t elaborate too much on what happened as a result of the outing, or how it happened, if it was, you know, potentially an accident, or if he did it because he didn’t think the people would have accepted it, and he wanted to sort of fuel the flames a little bit. So I do think there’s more to the story that we just aren’t privy to, but I don’t– I don’t see anything that OP has done wrong.

[reading] “Am I the asshole for blaming my parents for being aro-ace when she didn’t want to accept me when I came out?” Whoo, I don’t know where this is gonna go, but based on the title alone, I kinda wanna say everyone sucks here. But we’ll see, we’ll reserve judgment.

Courtney: [reading] Recently, I (18, female) broke up with my boyfriend and I began to start questioning if I am an aromantic asexual. I’m still quite unsure and I’m trying to figure things out. My mom was very surprised since, admittedly, my ex was what society would define as conventionally attractive and had an amazing boyfriend overall. She thought my ex did something that hurt me so I assured her that it wasn’t his fault and that I did not feel the – quote – ‘spark’. While I thought she was being overly dramatic, I did understand her point of view so I didn’t act up or anything, but when she said, “Maybe in the future I’ll find a better man,” I disagreed and told her I most likely will never date again. She was shocked by this statement and asked why, and I decided maybe I should just tell her that I might be aromantic asexual.

Courtney: [reading] “Now my mom was raised in a rural town and isn’t very educated with the whole LGBTQ+ community and was upset that I would even entertain the idea of myself being aromantic asexual. She called me – quote – ‘broken’ and assured me that we could try to fix that. But no matter how much I tried to reassure her that being aroace is normal, she was still really worried and upset. Eventually, this got to a breaking point where I was just frustrated with her and just said that if anything, me never wanting a partner could just be her fault since she and my dad are just suffering while being married to each other even though they don’t love each other anymore.” [laughs] Savage, okay. [resumes reading] “I could tell my mom was hurt by this since it was true that she and my dad have stopped loving each other a long time ago.

Courtney: [reading] “My mom deeply regrets the decisions made when she was younger, but still decided to stay married since she wanted to give her children a complete home. However, there was always a lack of affection between my parents, and right now they’re just tolerating each other (they don’t even sleep in the same bedroom). Deep down, there was some truth in my own statement, since growing up, I’ve always been scared of ending up in a marriage like my parents, which was one of the reasons why I began to question if I was aroace or just fearful of relationships. Am I the asshole?” I think I kind of want to stick with my gut reaction of everyone sucks here.

Royce: I think it’s a light “Everyone sucks here,” like–

Courtney: Soft everyone sucks.

Royce: What OP said was a little harsh, like that was a very knee jerk reaction. Like, “You aren’t listening to me, so I’m going to say something that I know is going to hurt you, to get you to stop,” kind of a thing.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: But it seems like most of the issue is coming from the parents.

Courtney: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the parent’s not accepting and saying you’re broken and can be fixed. That is egregious.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: That is awful. On the other hand, based on the last paragraph, it sounds like OP is aware of the fact that being aroace is not the same as having, you know, possibly generational reservations about long term partnerships. And it sounds like that was part of their process of coming to understand their own identity. But if you know– if you know that that cannot make you aroace, but you know saying that will hurt your mom… [wheezy laugh] like, I don’t know, it’s a little bit extra, little bit more than what was needed. I think, yeah, most– mostly mom sucks. Mostly mom sucks. Really soft– like, I don’t think I blame OP for lashing out, but to intentionally try to twist the knife as, like, your relationship sucks and has failed, which is clearly a sore point for the mother.

Courtney: I don’t think you’d even have to use it as like, “Well, maybe your failed relationship is the reason why I’m the way that I am.” Kind of lends credence to her initial like, “Well, maybe you’re broken and maybe that’s something that could be fixed, maybe that is something you could do with therapy.”

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: And I almost– And I don’t want to like, tone police. But I would say, if you’re going the route of like, “Well, your relationship’s fucked up,” you could almost just be like, “Why do you want me to fall into a loveless relationship like you do?” Like– I don’t know.

Royce: Fix your own relationships before you start commenting on mine, kind of a thing.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So mostly mom’s the asshole. Really, really light, I don’t know if I like that response from OP. Just because you’re also negating your point in doing so, out of a desire to hurt her back.

Royce: This one is: “Am I the asshole for not expressing my affection?” It goes [reading] “Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I (15 year old male) love her (15 year old female) more than anything. She’s my first girlfriend and I’m her first boyfriend, and yes, there’s a few rocky things here and there, but we’ve always made it through that stuff. Now, for a bit of context, last night she asked if I was asexual, which I replied to her no, but she has asked me that question about five times since the start of the year, so I’ve been getting kind of annoyed, but never voiced my opinion until last night.

Royce: [reading] “Then this morning she gets mad at me for not showing her my attraction for her, which is why she thinks I am asexual. And I tried to explain to her that I have no idea how, I was never taught or shown, and I have never found anything online about how to do that other than to tell her and compliment her. I tried relaying that information to her and she keeps saying things like, – quote – “If you can’t figure out the difference between verbally and physically showing your attraction, that’s sad,” or – quote – “I feel like you are not attracted to me at all, so you’re not– So you’re acting like you don’t know.” Am I the asshole?”

Courtney: No. I don’t know if she is either? I guess–

Royce: There’s definitely a communication issue going on and some of those comments were mean.

Courtney: Yeah…

Royce: And also there is the social dynamic of physical affection being needed to be started by one party.

Courtney: Mmm. That’s true.

Royce: Like this relationship seems to be very steeped in gender roles, where the woman present here wants to move things forward, wants more physical interaction but is not comfortable initiating it, and then is complaining that it’s not happening.

Courtney: Yeah, and there is something that, with a growing awareness of asexuality, and just being a part of more people’s vocabulary, people will misunderstand maybe what that means and try to see it where it might not even necessarily be there. But from my experience, a lot of the time when someone’s like, “Are you asexual?” It’s more from trying to figure something out, instead of trying to support the person. It seems like the girlfriend in this scenario is like, “Well, if you don’t want to show me physical affection, then clearly there’s got to be something wrong here. And is it because you’re asexual?” And that’s kind of lightly putting words in her mouth, but that’s normally how I have tended to see people use that question when it’s brought up out of nowhere, when it’s just like, “Are you asexual?”

Royce: And this couple is also fifteen.

Courtney: They are fifteen!

Royce: And this is their first relationship, and he may just not be comfortable doing anything yet.

Courtney: Right, and that’s the thing too like, especially with a relationship that does seem to at least be assumed to have heavy gender roles. Normally, you know, it is the man who’s supposed to initiate things, and you don’t even have to be asexual to not be ready, or just not want to go at the pace other people are, and so this is very much a– Like, I hope they have a robust sex education in their school. I hope consent and boundaries are a thing that is somehow taught to these 15 year olds. Because, yeah, that’s– I don’t want him to start feeling pressured. I hope he also doesn’t think that being asexual is a bad thing, even if he doesn’t identify that way. Because something like this could, at a young age as 15, could sort of taint your overall impression of an orientation. Because if someone is constantly accusing you, and being like, “Are you asexual? Why aren’t you doing this?” That can sort of give an unconscious bias as, like, asexuality is a bad thing and relationships can’t work if someone is asexual. And so I just hope OP takes some time and learns boundaries and consent, and what they are and are not comfortable with. And– I don’t know. Not much more I can say about that. Not the asshole.

Royce: Reading through the comments, they’re all supportive. They’re all just saying go at your own pace, don’t feel pressured. There is one that I thought was interesting because I hadn’t thought of this, and the first couple of sentences read: “Not the asshole. As someone who was taught that physical affection is a punishment. For example, when you do something to upset someone, you give them a hug. Or if I make a mistake and my mother is mad at me, she makes me give her a hug to apologize.” [pensive sound from Courtney] That– that rooted a negative connotation to physical contact.

Courtney: Mmm, that’s a thing that does happen. But yeah, and we also don’t know, and nor do I want to know. But we don’t know if, as 15 year olds, it’s like, are they actually just talking about holding hands and hugging and cuddling, or is she like, “Why haven’t we had sex yet?” You know? Fifteen is not even at the age of consent for some places. So yeah, wishing them the best. There’s something, like, saying, “Before you get the wrong idea, I love her more than anything.” It’s like, I wish the best for you, but I am gonna be really curious to see if, 10 years from now, if in hindsight, you still feel that way. I too thought I loved someone at fifteen, and that got real abusive real fast over the subsequent years. So I hope that does not happen to OP.

Courtney: Ooh boy, this, um, this title: “Am I the asshole for – quote – ‘manipulating’ my girlfriend?” [uneasy laugh] Probably… Gotta find out why that’s in quotes first. [reading] “Background: When I first met my girlfriend Ashley (who is now my ex), she was joining my friend group via one of my other friends, Jessica. Over the weeks, my friends and I got to know her and Ashley told us that she’s aromantic and asexual. A few weeks after learning that, I realized that I liked Ashley romantically, so I went to Carly for some advice on what to do, and she told me I should respect Ashley’s sexuality, leave her alone and not to act on my feelings toward her. However, the following week, I was hanging out with Ashley and another one of my friends, Greg, when Ashley had a panic attack. I tried to distract Ashley from her panic attack by asking random questions (some advice from Ashley’s best friend). One of the questions, asking her to be my girlfriend. She said yes. Afterward, Greg, who is the next closest to Ashley in our friend group (after Carly) told me that I was being manipulative by asking Ashley while she was having a panic attack. But I don’t understand what I did wrong. Am I the asshole?” Yeah.

Royce: Yeah, that was not the right time for that.

Courtney: No!

Royce: I mean there needs to be a conversation, a second conversation about that, given the time frame that was asked.

Courtney: Well, he’s saying, now my ex, so they aren’t even together anymore.

Royce: Oh, okay.

Courtney: So they aren’t even together. My only question is did Ashley– not with this guy and not under these circumstances, but did Ashley actually not want a relationship? Because a friend said, “Leave her alone, because she’s ace.” She’s aro-ace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s closed off to having a relationship. So I want to know if that did actually come from Ashley first, and the friend knew her well enough to do that, or if the friend just assumed and didn’t really understand what she would or would not want.

Courtney: So I don’t know whether or not OP got bad advice to not ask her out, period. But regardless, you don’t do that when someone’s having a mental health issue. The middle of a panic attack. Like, sure, if you’ve been given advice, to say, like, if she’s having a panic attack, just ask her questions. That’s more about, like, what do you see around you? Like, what can you feel, what can you smell, or something totally unrelated. Hey, have you seen this movie? Maybe. But like you don’t make life decisions in the midst of a panic attack. And deciding to date someone, or otherwise partner, is a life decision. And it is manipulative to pop a question like that in this circumstance.

Royce: Yeah, the point of the questions is just to stop any sort of spiral that’s happening, and get the person to focus on something very simple.

Courtney: Yeah, I’m also– I feel just a bit like I’m completely losing parts of my memory, because as I was reading that, I was like, “We’ve covered this one before.”

Royce: It sounded very familiar.

Courtney: Certainly we’ve covered this before! But–

Royce: But we paused for a moment to do some searching.

Courtney: I was like, “Have we covered this?”

Royce: Through our transcript. I wonder if it’s something that was maybe covered on an r/ video or something where we’ve heard the audio.

Courtney: Maybe. Because I– it sounds so familiar. I feel like I’ve heard this story before, but we just confirmed that we have not read it in a previous episode, so.

Royce: [reading] “Am I the asshole for talking behind an ex-friend’s back? I (23-year-old female), autistic, asexual, tend to prioritize friendships. I once had a close friend, Allie (now a 24-year-old woman). She used to be the kindest person I’d ever known, and we had a lot of great times together, but a few months ago she ditched me for seemingly no reason. I tried talking to her about it but she just brushed me off and said everything’s fine. (She also recently got married to a rich, attractive, older man, if that has anything to do with it).

Royce: Back when we used to be close, Allie was the one who introduced me to all the friends I have now. Since we have so many mutual friends in common, I still see her all the dang time. In the past few weeks, when I would see her around, she wouldn’t even say hi back. There had been many times when she had made plans in front of me and invited everyone except me, sometimes even interrupting my conversations with other girls to do so.

Royce: [reading] “Recently we were both invited to a mutual friend’s (a 21-year-old woman) graduation party. I asked Allie for a ride there, hoping to get some time with her to talk about things and possibly fix the friendship. She said she had a – quote – ‘full car’ which seemed to me like she was lying. Sure enough, at the party, I saw her come with just her husband, and I heard her offer a ride home to two girls who had arrived later than both of us did, and had a few drinks. I was trying hard not to cry, but I must have had some kind of scowl on my face because this guy saw me from across the room and asked what was wrong. I told him something along the lines of – quote – “nothing. I just hate it when people lie to my face.” I refrained from saying any names. He said he was sorry but did not ask any further questions, and we kind of just left it at that.

Royce: [reading] “Later that week I got a call from the party host, Emma, who I am really close to, asking who had made me upset/lied to me. (I’m guessing the guy must have said something). I told her it was Allie, and I told her that losing a friend is always hard. I also told her about all the times Allie made me feel excluded, and that she seemed to be avoiding me and I couldn’t figure out why. I thought talking to a mutual friend who knew both of us very well would help.

Royce: Keep in mind that I am ace, and that friendships have a whole different level of importance for ace people. However, I am also fully aware that I am immature for my age. (Emma reassured that Allie and I are still friends, and that she was probably just busy with work and marriage). That doesn’t completely add up to me, since I see her posting on social media with other girls all the time, but that is beside the point. My parents always told me not to badmouth anyone– not to – quote – ‘badmouth’ anyone. I feel like I just did that with Allie. Am I the asshole for talking behind someone’s back, or was I just expressing my feelings?”

Courtney: Um, so I don’t think I’d consider this badmouthing. So the primary concern, I would say, is not as much a concern. I don’t know if I necessarily agree that friendships have a whole different level of importance for ace people. I think ace people are more likely to reject a hierarchy in relationships where the ultimate pinnacle, the aspiration, the highest, best relationship is a romantic and/or sexual one. I think we are more likely to reject that as a societal norm. But losing friendships is very, very hard for everyone. So I don’t know if I agree with that necessarily. It does seem like OP would probably be better served talking to the friend where there is a perceived issue though. ’Cause something isn’t adding up. Something has happened either without our, as the readers, knowledge, or possibly even OP’s knowledge. Maybe OP genuinely doesn’t know what has happened. But either way I feel like that needs to be cleared up.

Royce: Potentially. I mean, if OP needs some sort of closure, or explanation, or wants to attempt to repair things, yeah, there needs to be a conversation. Or the relationship is over and that just has to be accepted, and ties severed or whatever needs to happen.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Because this could be the case where the friend is intentionally trying to sever ties, but is just ghosting instead of actually explaining it.

Courtney: Yeah, and that always sucks. I don’t like people that do that. I really do not like people that do that. Like, if you’re ending a friendship, have a conversation about the friendship ending and like set that boundary. Because it’s not fair to leave someone languishing, unaware of what they did wrong, or the fact that the relationship is over. But the fact that the third friend that was sort of consulted here is like, “Oh, maybe she’s just busy with work and marriage.” That doesn’t seem to be the case if in fact she has, in front of OP, invited other people to do things and not extended the same invitation to her. Like that does feel very intentional. And it could be that, in time, OP will see that this entire group of friends is not necessarily healthy. Because it can be really difficult when, sort of, the person who introduced you to everyone else decides to distance from you. As much as people often try to be adults, and try to keep good relationships with everyone, in a situation like that it is not uncommon for the person who sort of facilitated all these people meeting to, like, poison everyone against you. I sincerely hope that that is not happening. But there’s something that needs to be figured out here. You gotta get to the bottom of it and have a conversation. So I wouldn’t say it was bad for badmouthing, because this is also a friend of yours and you are expressing a concern, but it’s not the only action that needs to happen.

Royce: And I wanted to mention something about badmouthing, because that is something that people are just told and then the word badmouth is not necessarily defined. There’s a difference between, like, going around and gossiping and spreading misinformation or intentionally twisting things, and just trying to communicate with people.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Because if you’re talking in a group of friends, you’re all interacting, you’re going to end up mentioning someone by name when they’re not in the room.

Courtney: Yes, and sometimes there are, like, not relevant to this story, but sometimes there are situations of, like, legitimate safety where in a marginalized community you may need to have a sort of whisper network to say like, “Hey, this person is not safe.” When there is a known safety issue. Because sometimes there is an imbalance of power and you’re not able to say that as loudly as you would like for fear of ramifications. So– and sometimes people will be like, “Oh well, don’t gossip.” And it’s like there is a difference between petty gossip and safety networks. But overall, I definitely think OP is not the asshole. I don’t know if we have enough information to know if the other friend is an asshole, or at least not to know how much of an asshole they are. I don’t know if any of this is just a misunderstanding.

Courtney: I know it’s not uncommon for autistic people to be like, “I need to be expressly invited to something, or I do not feel like I am welcomed there.” So best case scenario here OP was, like, implied to be invited, it just wasn’t explicitly enough stated, and it was all a big misunderstanding. That’s what I’d like to believe. That would be the nice ending to this story. But we don’t know if it’s that, or if OP is just– or if a friend of OP is very intentionally snubbing her.

Royce: There are a couple of cases that, unless OP completely misunderstood or misread a situation, there are a couple of instances like the, “My car’s full,” thing that seem to be lies.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah. And yeah, if you don’t want to be friends with OP anymore, tell her that, have a conversation and then go your separate ways. Because I don’t like this ghosting stuff. And ghosting doesn’t work if you’re in a friend group. That’s what I don’t understand. It’s bad enough to ghost someone if you two are the only ones who know each other, and you have no fleshed out community around you. It’s just you two. But if you’re in a community of people, and you have a shared friend group, and you try to ghost someone, I don’t understand how anyone ever thinks that’s going to work. It’s not gonna work! Communicate!

Courtney: Okay, last one for today: [reading] “Am I the asshole for being jealous of my best friend’s boyfriend? So my (18 year old man) best friend (18 year old woman) is this really cute girl who I’ve known for a few years. I’ve known she was an asexual lesbian for around two years now, so I never tried to make any moves out of respect (even though I had a pretty big crush on her). Eventually I started seeing someone, our relationship lasted a year, but we broke up about a month and a half ago, which has really bummed me out. Since breaking up, I realized I was starting to develop feelings for my best friend, since she treats me better than anyone else I’ve known in my life. She confided in me that she’s been questioning her sexuality, which obviously made me think about telling her how I felt.”

Courtney: See, it’s all in the timing! That’s not a time to pop that either. [resumes reading] “I was still working up the courage to say it, but she told me about this guy that had previously asked her out through a friend she no longer talks to. She said the dude asked if they could try going out, since he had gotten cold feet the last time. They started going out, and I tried to not let it get to me since I wanted her to be happy. Since we’re so close she would tell me about how each date went, which was a little hard to listen to. Last week, we were supposed to hang out but she cancelled the same day, saying she felt sick and was busy working on college projects, which was a bummer since I really love our hangouts, but I didn’t let it bother me. On the night of the next day, she texts me “just got home from meeting with parents,” and describes how he literally sucked on her boobs.” Okay! [reading] “We talk about pretty much everything with each other, so I wasn’t surprised she told me about this, but what did surprise me was the fact that she did anything sexual with him, despite venting to me about how uncomfortable she gets doing anything intimate with guys.”

Courtney: [keeps reading] “Obviously, I don’t have the right to feel betrayed, but, God, it seriously hurts to see someone I fell in love with happy with someone else, especially when this whole time I kept it to myself because I thought she wouldn’t be interested. I’m still pretty depressed from my last relationship and this is getting to me more than it probably should right now. Should I feel guilty about my emotions toward her boyfriend? TLDR: best friend, who I thought was an ace lesbian, turned out not to be and I’m really jealous of the guy she’s seeing.”

Courtney: Well, she’s not the asshole. I don’t think he’s done anything that I can qualify as being an asshole yet, but he’s riding the line. There’s a vibe. [laughs] There’s a vibe I don’t much care for. ’Cause him saying, “Oh well, I thought about telling her my feelings when she was questioning her sexuality.” I don’t think someone confiding in you that they’re questioning their sexuality is the time to spring something like that. ’Cause that can already be a confusing time, and if you have an established relationship that is not that kind of a relationship, that could add a lot more confusion to the mix.

Royce: It could. And I think, I guess, I have trouble interpreting this question. Because the: “this is my emotional state. This is what I’m feeling. Should I feel guilty? Should I feel more emotions about the emotions that I’m feeling?” That whole train of thought doesn’t really make sense to me. It seems like there has been a big communication gap this whole time. OP hasn’t mentioned his feelings. OP didn’t ask. During the entire time that they’ve been friends, which is two years, what his friend’s orientation actually was. Like, there was just this sort of unspoken assumption.

Courtney: Well, and the assumption here too, which is not said in so many words, but this is the vibe that I don’t like that I’m getting, the assumption here, like, being jealous of this guy, should I feel guilty of this? And the fact, like, I know I don’t have a right to feel – quote – “betrayed,” but God, it seriously hurts to see her happy with someone else. It’s almost like he has this assumption that had he told her his feelings, that she would now be with him.

Royce: Yeah, it’s very possessive.

Courtney: And that assumption is bad.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: Never have that assumption. Because it could have just as easily been he says, you know, “I have feelings for you,” and she’s like, “Oh, what the hell? We don’t have that kind of relationship.”

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: “I don’t feel that way for you.” And it could also been, like, “Wow, I’m going through this big change in my life. I’m questioning my sexuality, I’m discovering myself, and now I don’t even have my best friend anymore because my best friend got weird on me.” So that’s the vibe I don’t like. But as far as he’s said here, he hasn’t done anything to actually bring his mental burden onto her.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: Like, it seems like he’s kept it under wraps. Unless there’s something he hasn’t told us. So there’s nothing I can say like, yes, you are the asshole. But I can say, like–

Royce: You’re close.

Courtney: Watch that feeling, watch that impulse that you’re feeling and really examine it.

Royce: Yeah, I think the only real way– Well, the main way to have avoided this would have been to have talked more openly about things a year or two ago. Like before any of this started happening.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: And now you’re past that and it’s dangerous to try to have that conversation right now.

Courtney: Right. It’s also dangerous, because I hope there is a way that you are able to stay friends in a way that is mutually beneficial, but you need to understand yourself well enough to know whether or not that’s going to work. Because if you’re also now, here, hurt by your own past relationship, pining after this woman who’s with someone else, it wouldn’t be cool to share your feelings while she’s still in this relationship. It also wouldn’t be cool if you’re just secretly hoping that they break up so that you can have your chance, you know? That’s the vibe I’m getting. You can deal with your emotions and you can work through them, maybe even see a bit of therapy, since you’re saying you are depressed from a previous relationship issue. Like, you can deal with all that and still try to maintain that friendship. But if you at any point see yourself just like picturing yourself with her one day…? I don’t like that. I don’t like that. Don’t do that.

Courtney: Like, that can be very manipulative and predatory in its own right. Because imagine, three years from now, they’ve been friends for five, she now breaks up with someone she’s been in a relationship with, she’s hurt, and then all of a sudden you’re like, “I love you, I’ve loved you this whole time.” Oh, that’s gross. Oh, that’s terrible! I speak as someone who has had that happen to me multiple times! Multiple times. Don’t let it get to that point. So not the asshole, but watch yourself, buddy. This has been r/ am I the ace-hole. Have I made that joke yet?

Royce: I don’t think so.

Courtney: I’m shocked! I am surprised at myself. Maybe we will do another one in another six months, who’s to say? Maybe we’ll– maybe we’ll dip into r/DeadBedrooms, and see what fresh horrors await us there. But until then, thank you all so much for being here. We love having a little chat with you. And we will see you all, same time, same place, next week. Good bye!