I have a best friend who I have romantic feelings for, but the thing is he's very passive and sort of asexual. It's making it hard for me who's very dominant and very passionate about things to have these feelings for him. It also makes it hard on him because I overwhelm with my feelings. I just need some advice on how to settle down; I don't want to make it hard on him because I'm just swimming in emotions for him.
Received via Skype (name withheld)
There are a few different things going on here. First off, before even taking some of the specifics of your question into account (I’m dominant, he’s submissive and on the asexual spectrum), this question really boils down to being about how to handle rejection. If you want some more information on how to do that in general, we talk about how to handle rejection a bit on Episode 9 of the podcast, which is all about emotional bandwidth and how to say no to new connections.
In this specific case, it sounds like your friend is potentially using his asexuality as a bit of a smokescreen, emphasizing that he isn’t interested in sex or romantic connection in general so that he can avoid rejecting you specifically. I asked my friend Friday Otter, a self-identified asexual, what his take was on this situation, and his thoughts largely echoed my own: “You seem to be placing blame on him for being asexual and that's not how this works. He's not making it hard on you by being asexual, you're making it hard on you by not taking disinterest/rejection as a no.”
Thus, whatever the reason for the disinterest and the rejection, you do have to take no for an answer here. Your feelings for your friend are not requited, and you need to stop entertaining the idea that the two of you could be together in a romantic way. Once you accept that nothing beyond a friendship is in the cards for the two of you, your feelings can begin to cool and your friendship can settle down. If instead you keep entertaining the idea that the two of you might end up together, you’ll be keeping a wound open that will eventually drive a wedge between you and your friend. As you mention, it’s a huge emotional burden on your friend for him to have to constantly reject you without hurting your feelings. The feelings of guilt that you create in him by expressing your romantic interest over and over again will eventually become too great a strain. Your friend is therefore likely to distance himself from you more and more until you are able to control your romantic feelings and cease inappropriately expressing them to him.
Now, you may be worried that your friendship will be over if you accept that no romantic connection is possible between you and your friend. Unfortunately, it is indeed possible that there is no way for you to be friends with him without these romantic feelings bubbling to the surface. If that is the case, you may have to end the friendship in order to protect your emotional wellbeing. The status quo, in which you pine after your friend and he keeps having to let you down, is not a good situation for either one of you. The only two ways to resolve the situation are to accept that nothing more than a friendship is possible or to end your friendship and allow distance to cauterize the feelings for him that you otherwise cannot control. Friday agreed with me on this point as well, saying that you may be “worried about dialing back [your] feelings because [you are] worried [you’ll] lose a friend. But that can’t be helped. It will happen or it won’t.”
Sorry not to have better news for you here; rejection is unfortunately the cost of doing business when it comes to participating in romantic relationships, and everyone has to face it from time to time. Keep hopeful, keep trying, and it’s likely that eventually you’ll have feelings for someone who is able to return your affection.