This has brought up a lot of interesting points. It seems that the man/woman thing is a common problem. Like I said, there has never been an attraction for me towards my Sensei. Admiration for skill, yes, and I'm old enough and mature enough to know the difference. Although, that doesn't mean that my enthusiasm for the art can't get mistaken by others for being attraction. :/
I think the hard thing is the expectation on my part of having a closer role with Sensei as one of the few yudansha at the dojo; starting to take on more responsibility, and helping with the newer students. I guess I expected that part of that meant being able to have open discussions with Sensei so that I know when he needs a class covered or if a new student is coming by or if a student needs help in a particular area. For whatever reason, Sensei doesn't include me in that kind of thing, and it's painful to stand by and watch other students get included in that way when he doesn't seem to be able to say more than Hello to me.
To a certain extent, I agree that it is more about the training and the dojo isn't meant to be a substitute for a social life. I've seen people come through that clearly want to just go get a beer after practice, and they never last. But, I think the best Aikido dojo's have a strong sense of community, with the students supporting the sensei and the sensei being caring and attentive towards the students. I think my dojo used to have that and it has been slowly turning into a place that is, unfortunately turning into a dojo with an impossibly small 'inner circle' and lots of brand new students that only stay for a short while.
BTW, I've also been practicing long enough to get really picky about where I practice. Not the best attitude, I know, but being small and not physically strong, I feel like it's justified. I like the other Sensei in the area, but their styles don't work well for me. The next closest Sensei that I like is farther than convenient commuting distance, but I am thinking about making the trek once a month or so.
I would like to eventually be good enough that I am able to teach, but I am starting to feel that just being female is a huge stumbling block. People talk about wanting more women in higher ranks in Aikido, but if this sort of misunderstanding is common between male sensei and female students, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that there are so few women sensei. I have a lot invested (time, blood, sweat, and tears
in my dojo and I have been a lot more tenacious than many women would be in my position. How many women that could have been great at Aikido have simply left rather than put up with a similar situation??