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The Wordsmith's Forge - Nonsexual Intimacies (Part 3 of 5)
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Nonsexual Intimacies (Part 3 of 5)
This series on asexual forms of intimacy is part of my activity for Asexual Awareness Week.  Read Part 1Part 2Part 4Part 5.


Sleeping & Other Spacial Closeness

Everyone has a bubble of space around them, its size varying by culture, but usually about arm-length. Strangers and casual acquaintances customarily stay outside that area. Friends and coworkers will touch or slightly overlap edges. Only close friends, lovers, and family members tend to come into very close physical proximity. This is especially true in terms of sleeping, sitting, or traveling in the same space. In fact "sleeping together" is a euphemism for sexual intercourse, precisely because of its intimacy. However, that intimacy can be just as deep -- or deeper -- without involving anything sexual at all.

Putting someone to bed. Interestingly, this activity can happen among people who are just getting to know each other -- most often if someone passes out drunk, but exhaustion can have a similar effect. It's a gesture of caring to put someone to bed rather than leave them where they drop. A milder version involves draping a blanket or coat over a person asleep on a couch or the like.

Sleeping in the same bed. This is an act of shared vulnerability and intimacy. Lovers customarily do this; so do some siblings or friends, especially as children. People may also be driven to share a bed, sleeping bag, etc. for warmth or lack of other accommodations in challenging circumstances.

Watching someone sleep. There is more vulnerability on the part of the sleeper, and more intimacy from the watcher, when only one person is asleep. Parents often watch their children sleep. Lovers sometimes do this with each other, which can be cute or creepy. It's also a guard position, useful for showing that one character seeks to protect another.

Waking someone up from a nightmare. A subtler form of rescue than more physical actions, this is still a gesture of protection and caring. It often leads to comfort afterwards. A typical courtesy between parent and child, or lovers, this can also be an early threshold for characters thrust together unexpectedly if one of them has sturdy daytime walls and a lot of issues. It is common, but often unspoken, among war buddies or veterans, many of whom have nightmares.

Camping or hiking overnight. You wind up sharing a tent, if you're lucky enough to have one, perhaps a blanket or a pile of leaves if you're unlucky. Long-distance wilderneering pushes people to rely on each other as well as share space and more intimate awareness.

Sharing a saddle. Riding a horse or other animal requires a careful coordination of two bodies; adding a third makes it even more complex. The motion usually causes two people to rub against each other constantly, and fighting it throws everyone off-balance. Either you learn to cooperate very closely, or you wind up very uncomfortable. Friends often ride together; lovers and family members sometimes do; but this can also happen with strangers meeting during a rescue. It's a good way to push standoffish characters together.

Sharing car/berth space on a long trip. This is less intimate than riding, but still involves relatively close contact over an extended time. That usually gets people talking, a terrific icebreaker early in a relationship. In established relationships it offers a chance to spend time together and catch up on news.

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Comments
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: October 26th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
wrt the saddle thing -- most saddles won't actually accommodate more than one butt, and in a lot of cases two full-size riders are too much for a horse. it's easier to manage two riders bareback, though you still need smallish riders and a sturdy beast :)

(i ride double with some of my students sometimes as part of teaching, to help them learn to feel the body in different gaits. but i am small, my horse is strong, and we *always* do this bareback.)
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 26th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
This information is a little concerning. I was going to have Forizano ride behind Lyria on the same mount, since her mounts aren't horses, but predatory creatures called Addoneqqui. Hmm... though now I think about it, maybe they should all ride pegasuses instead.

*Smacks head* Oh duh, I already established in the story that she has at least one pegasus. That was 5 years before the present events, but still... should be easy to scare up a couple more. Herp derp.

Thanks for this comment!
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: October 26th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
well, or you could have your mounts be sturdier than horses -- i believe elephants (also a fairly common mount around here) can carry absolutely enormous amounts of weight...

enjoy :)
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 26th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also had a momentary thought of Lyria using an Addonequus and Forizano using a pegasus, but Addoneqqui can't fly, so that's out. They can run faster than cheetahs without getting winded, but they can't fly. And unicorns make temperamental mounts.

Hmm... there are dragons of many kinds in that world...
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 27th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
*Smacks face* I have a solution, that should have been obvious. Lyria can ride her bodyguard Voluponek (he's not even remotely humanoid), who can take any shape at all, and can fly. Then the others can use pegasuses. (pegasi?)
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: October 27th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
i love how these problems resolve :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

It depends on the style of saddle, size and strength of mount, size and weight of riders, and whether the situation is ordinary or an emergency. Sometimes riding double works, other times not so much. It also matters whether all bodies are coordinating or not -- even with light riders and a heavy mount, if the riders are pulling away from each other, they'll exhaust the mount and make each other miserable.
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: October 27th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

*raises eyebrow*

what saddle are you thinking of that makes it okay?

horses are not known for being more tolerant in emergencies. what mount is?

it's true that if you are pulling away from someone else on horseback you will irritate the horse, but the likeliest course ime is really that you'll fall off.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

>>what saddle are you thinking of that makes it okay?<<

A courting saddle is designed for two people. I've seen pictures in books, though I couldn't find one online. Also, it's a lot easier to ride double on some styles, such as English, than on others, such as Western.

Also, I said "mount" rather than "horse" -- a camel, elephant, etc. can bear more weight. For that matter, a medium or heavy horse can carry more than the light saddle or racing breeds.

>>horses are not known for being more tolerant in emergencies. what mount is?<<

That depends on the training. A warhorse is trained to tolerate things that would panic an untrained horse. Other contexts may choose different approaches with similar results. Trying to pull a second person onto an ordinary riding horse in the middle of an ambush may wind up with both people on the ground -- but that doesn't mean it's the only thing that can ever happen.

>>it's true that if you are pulling away from someone else on horseback you will irritate the horse, but the likeliest course ime is really that you'll fall off.<<

Which is a different story, and also worth exploring.
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: October 27th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

....i find it hard to imagine a "courting saddle" -- there's not that much comfortable room for a horse to carry a person, between the withers (where the shoulders peak and you can't sit) and the loins (where you're over the kidneys and it hurts and you can't sit) -- but people do make the damnedest things :)

i love the image of someone trying to haul someone up onto elephant-back!

my stjarni is of warhorse stock. (the genuine viking article from iceland.) he's short but very big-boned, has uncomplainingly carried close to 300# of rider and tack, and he tolerates helicopters, coyotes, children, and guns. but he is certainly quite exceptional among horses i have known.

thanks for the topic discussion, it has given me tons of ideas :) :) :)
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 26th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
It just occurred to me that Lyria Spellspinner may be asexual. She's over 300 years old, has never been pregnant, and is a virgin.

Actually, now I've written that down, there's no more doubt. So if she and Forizano ever do become a couple, Forizano won't be getting any anytime soon. Though I'm not sure if he cares, either. I get the sense he's a virgin, too. Or if not, doesn't care much about sex. Hmm... I should start reading these "asexuality" entries of yours more carefully, then.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>It just occurred to me that Lyria Spellspinner may be asexual. She's over 300 years old, has never been pregnant, and is a virgin.<<

Um ... yeah, at that age, it's probably not "just a phase."

>> I get the sense he's a virgin, too. Or if not, doesn't care much about sex. Hmm... I should start reading these "asexuality" entries of yours more carefully, then.<<

I'm glad that I've made another writer take a closer look at character orientation. I found more aces in my fiction once I deliberately looked for them, beyond the ones I knew about who were obvious.

In my blogs, look under the "gender studies" tag to find the ace material. I also recommend asexuality and Asexuality and Asexual-fandom on Dreamwidth.

fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 27th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

RE: Sleeping together

Statistically speaking, couples who sleep in separate beds, even separate bedrooms, are happier and have smaller divorce rates than people who attempt to sleep in the same bed together.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 27th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sleeping together

I can see the truth in this however strange it might seem. There is such a thing as too much togetherness--married people do need a bit of privacy and space to breathe at times.
Hubby and I decided, after nearly ripping the sheet in two the first night, that each of us should have our own sheet and blanket because both of us like to hog the covers. And nothing less than a king-size bed is big enough to hold the both of us since we are both restless sleepers--a full size bed is nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen when we have to share it.
:)

fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 27th, 2011 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sleeping together

It's especially helpful to have different beds/bedrooms if one or both partners snores.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2011 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sleeping together

Conversely some partners find it worth compromising over. It's not fun to wake each other up in the middle of the night, but for some folks, sleeping alone is even less so.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 27th, 2011 10:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sleeping together

Also true.
:)
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 27th, 2011 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Of course the next item on your list should be standing in line next to someone.
I am the absolute Queen of talking to people while I am standing in line. In the Deep South where I'm from, it's actually considered snobbish and rather rude not to talk at least a little to the people you are standing next to while you wait in line for something. The reactions of the Midwesterners here (who aren't used to this) range from delighted to shocked at the idea that someone they don't know is talking to them while they are in line. Most folks take a look at me, decide I'm harmless, and settle in for a good gossip. You'd never believe how many life stories I've heard while I've stood in line at Mule Wart's.
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

In central Illinois where I live, that varies. (It's an odd blend of North and South, culturally.) Short lines, people don't chat much. But if the line lasts more than a few minutes, they'll talk. Our electric co-op throws a great cheap picnic in the park for their annual meeting each summer, and the line for the food is always like 30-45 minutes long. So people are usually looking for someone to talk with.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 27th, 2011 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

I've told a lot of local people that they're just southerners that talk a little fast--many do ask why I say that and I tell them that are a lot like the people who live much further south even though they don't have the typical southern accent.
:)
aubrey1234565 From: aubrey1234565 Date: November 19th, 2012 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Reply

Oh god, 'double saddling' is the most difficult thing EVER. Just saying. It's way worse than trying to trot bareback or jumping 3 feet bareback (done both...not fun).

Like someone else said, it's a whole lot better to do it bareback and to make sure your horse/mount is strong enough to handle it.

On fun days, days when we don't have lessons or anything, we just go out and ride, my friends and I do this sometimes. Believe me when I say you better have small friends.

The best way to do this if you actually have a saddle (if your friend is too big to fit on the back of the saddle behind you) is to seat them immediately behind the saddle and have them hold onto you (sort of like they do in the movies, but not really). That way, they have a little bit better balance, and they're not too far back on the horse's haunches to provide immense discomfort.

Still, it's a lot better for the riders and the horse to just double ride bareback.

There are bigger saddles that can technically accommodate more than one person; however, they're not well-used and very difficult to get on and off. They're a fair bit heavier than 'normal' saddles, you see.

Edited at 2012-11-19 07:15 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 26th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Reply

>>Oh god, 'double saddling' is the most difficult thing EVER. Just saying. It's way worse than trying to trot bareback or jumping 3 feet bareback (done both...not fun).<<

I've shared a saddle, but we were both in our tweens at the time. With full-sized characters it would be a lot harder.

>>Like someone else said, it's a whole lot better to do it bareback and to make sure your horse/mount is strong enough to handle it.<<

Agreed, if it's feasible. If you're stuck in the wilderness, you might not want to lose the saddle.

>>There are bigger saddles that can technically accommodate more than one person; however, they're not well-used and very difficult to get on and off. They're a fair bit heavier than 'normal' saddles, you see.<<

Now there's an idea for a fun scene, watching two characters try to wrestle a double saddle into place.
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