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relationship with pre-transition ftm friend - support

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Hello, I'm new here and am not quite sure what I'm doing but I'm a bit lost in a relationship with a close friend and could use some advice and support. 


One of my closest friends is trans and still figuring out if he wants surgery or T, and if he want to publicly transition at all. He is one of the most caring, thoughtful, intelligent, soul-deep beautiful people I know and I love him dearly. He struggles with mental health and has a lot of anger from his past that he processes in different ways to avoid showing it, including self harm. Building intimate relationships has always been hard for him and I feel incredibly honored to be so close to him, I know I am the closest he has felt to anyone in a long time. He identifies as asexual and is unsure if that is related to his trans identity, he has a hard time identifying emotions with physical feeling and is afraid that this will prevent him from having a partner. We've had a number of in-depth conversations about these things over the years and I have seen him grow a lot. I feel a potential for our relationship to move to something more than friendship but feel both struggle with physical intimacy (loving touch) and both our fears of loosing the friendship as major blocks. And we've had several conversations about the romantic nature of our relationship, but it always falls through. I try to be patient but sometimes it is frustrating that we are unable to talk about the future of our relationship without fear. 


Any support or advice on any of this would be wholeheartedly welcomed.



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Hi Rosemary,


Welcome to the forum. Please don't hesitate to read around and join in as you feel.


As you are finding out, relationships when combined with trans issues can get rather complicated. That said, it is my opinion that things are complicated with any relationship anyway, and we all have our fears about the future, especially in the early days. I think it best to take things as they come, working together into the future. There will be obvious major steps, and it is good to be looking into things. You obviously care for each other. Be there for each other, taking things slowly, encompassing the trans side into your life. It can and does work with many people. I hope it does for you.



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Robin Winter

You have a lot of questions to ask yourself and you need to be honest with yourself in order to be fair to both of you.  To start with, if he's asexual, is that something you can be OK with, possibly for the entire length of a romantic relationship?  Sometimes aversion to physical intimacy is a result of trauma and can change with healing.  But sometimes, asexual is just a fact of someone's sexual identity and it isn't going to change.  Walking into a relationship with the expectation that things would be different or they could change, or YOU might change, is not fair to your potential romantic partner, and it isn't fair to you. 

Also, is a romantic relationship really the next natural step for you both?  You mentioned fear of losing the friendship.  That's a real possibility.  I know I'm not maintaining a friendship with my exes.  Sometimes it's easy to mistake closeness for romance, particularly for those with mental health concerns.  When one's life is filled with emotional pain, that closeness is going to feel *really* good whereas the same closeness might be run of the mill for someone with relatively good emotional health.

I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue it, but make sure you both recognize the unique challenges a relationship like this would most certainly have and respect yourselves and each other enough to reexamine things every step of the way.  If you do pursue a deeper relationship, well  you can't force him to have the conversation, but if you let go of your fear, he might be able to do the same.

And I do speak with some experience.  My wife and I have a unique relationship that I think very few could make work, and we passed the 13 year mark in March.  Believe me when I say for us, that's a major, major milestone.

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