Hey there, friend. May I call you friend? We’re going to be getting really personal today, so I hope I can consider you a friend in the meantime. If you’re not comfortable with getting into personal things, you should probably move on to the rest of the blog. I’ll see you next time, we can still be friends.
Anyways! Today, I’m going to be doing something a little different, and I’m going to be talking about myself, and my personal experiences and feelings as an asexual. Two things before we dive in, I’m an overly honest person most of the time, and I’m going to get real with you in this post. Also, these are my personal experiences and feelings, but they may not directly translate for another person who is asexual. We’re all different!
Hi, I’m asexual
Look, there we have an asexual in their natural habitat. Fascinating.
If you’re new here today, yes, I’m asexual. The short version is, I don’t experience any sexual attraction to any person, regardless of gender. I experience a lot of other attractions, but it’s never been anything physical, or sexual.
Well, what attractions do you experience?
The attractions I feel are romantic, emotional, sensual, and aesthetic, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to differentiate each one from another. Romantic attraction is wanting to impress them, feeling giddy, and happy, and tingly around someone. Emotional attraction is feeling really connected to someone; bonded in a very close way and understanding each other through your experiences and emotions. Sensual attraction is the feeling, the desire to touch someone, listen to their voice, and be physically close to them. It’s wanting a hug, a touch, a kiss, to run your hands or theirs all over each other, for that person only. And aesthetic attraction is the draw you get from a person’s appearance. You want to stare at them, you could look at them for hours, any time you see them, you’re kind of blown away by their appearance, their body, the way they move. If you could draw them, or capture them on film, you would in a heartbeat.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience each one of these attractions separately, so I could think and tell them apart. Many people have a very difficult time separating them from sexual attraction, and indeed, if I read each description without context, they can certainly have a sexual edge or vibe around them. And that’s why it’s so hard to figure out that you’re asexual sometimes, because we see these attractions as part of sexual attraction, when they’re not. I thought, for such a long time, that having crushes and being aesthetically or sensually attracted to someone meant I was sexually attracted to them as well. When I finally was able to break it down and analyze it, I realized I had no idea what sexual attraction felt like, because I had honestly never experienced it. I can read about it, listen to descriptions of it, have a vague idea of what it feels like, but I have never experienced it.
What’s your romantic orientation?
My romantic orientation is really complicated at this time, and I don’t really know how to explain it to anyone. I guess the easiest way to label it would be somewhere around heteroromantic or aroflux, but neither one really fit, which is fine, it doesn’t need to be defined, it doesn’t need a label, but it might make things a little easier, you know? I know I get crushes, on men, but not often; I haven’t had a crush (a serious crush) for nearly two years, but when I get crushes I want to be around that person all the time, I want to laugh with them, flirt with them (though, I’m really, really horrible at it), and have them notice me as someone special and significant. I feel really giddy, and stupid, and I can say really, incredibly stupid things to them that I would never in a million years say, because I’m so blinded by how hard I crush on them. It’s, frankly, embarrassing.
But then, that’s kind of it? It feels like an elementary school crush. I don’t really want to kiss them, I don’t want to go on really romantic dates or do anything that would typically constitute as a ‘date’ for most people, and I certainly don’t want to have sex with them. When someone actually starts staring at me with that ‘far off’ look and tries to whisper sweet things in my ear, or hold my hand, I get really uncomfortable and embarrassed. I want their company, I want to cuddle with them, I want to fall in love, but I don’t feel at all comfortable with what would typically be labeled as ‘romance’. Whether that’s because of a romantic orientation or because of my own discomfort with myself (see: self hatred), I’m not entirely sure. And I’ve never really had a chance to figure it out because I am inept at flirting or discerning when someone is interested, and I haven’t had an actual, literal date to go through and figure it out. It is, to be quite honest, something that really bothers and worries me.
When did you realize you were asexual?
The day I realized something was different about the way I felt.
I can’t honestly pin it down to one moment, but rather three. I had three different moments of realization and acceptance on different levels from each other. The first, I was 16 and at a festival sort of deal with a friend. There was, as there always tends to be, a very angry Christian man on his soapbox, yelling at the crowd. He’s yelling in people’s faces, about how they’ve all lusted, and he’s being very dramatic, pointing at people, “You have lusted! You have lusted! You-” and he points and me, and I’m just laughing my ass off, like the idiot that I am, and I’m just like, “This guy’s a sucker, I’ve never lusted! What a moron.” And I turn to my friend, and being the poor, guilty Christian that she was, she looked really ashamed and guilty about it, which totally shocked me. So that was kind of a, “Huh.” sort of moment for me. I really thought no one had lusted.
Truly, I had played the game I thought everyone was playing, to pretend to want and be interested in sex, but I had never really thought anyone my age was actually interested in sex at all. I really thought they were lying, or weird, and it frustrated me every time I got into a conversation about it. I had friends all the time, telling me about their sexual escapades, and every time I would, out loud, express how uncomfortable and weird it sounded, that I wasn’t interested in any of it at all, thinking that somehow, they would open up and go, “Yeah, me too, but…” or something along those lines. Every time, they just kind of got this bewildered expression on their face and moved along with the conversation, like I had never even said anything. All the time, I would hear, “Man, I’m just so horny today, you know?” and it was like, “No? I’m never horny, I’ve never been horny, I have literally no idea what you’re talking about.” Or we’d talk celebrities, “They’re just so hot, I get turned on every time I see them!” “Yeah, ok? Sure?” I never felt what other people were feeling, and it didn’t really hit me until that moment, with a guy yelling about how horrible I am for lusting, and then realizing I never have. I think I felt the way a lot of queer people do, that you know it, deep down inside of you, even if you can’t place it. You know that you’re not straight, even if you can’t immediately say, “I’m this!” That’s the way I felt. Something was a little off. I always assumed eventually it would all click into place, and I would feel what everyone else seemed to be feeling, but at the same time I knew that wasn’t right either.
So, jump forwards in time, to incident number 2. I’m 18, I’m depressed, my life is falling apart, you know, the usual. I was really, really into Michael Jackson at the time (don’t get me wrong, I still love his work) and I was reading an article about him and people’s opinions on his relationships. It seemed that, a lot of people held the opinion that his kids couldn’t possibly be his, because he was, by all appearances, asexual. That was the first time I stumbled across the word. What the hell does this mean? So I looked it up, I got a few websites and short, kind of vague definitions (asexuality had only just started picking up steam and recognition) and it was like the sky opened up. I wasn’t weird, I was this, I was asexual, and other people felt this way too! That was all for about a minute, then enter depression, doubt, anger, self loathing etc. I wasn’t asexual, I couldn’t be asexual. I liked guys, so there was no way I could be asexual! How stupid was I? And I didn’t look up anything else about it, because I was so scared to be something I assumed was bad, was broken or weird. Like my depression, it became a dirty secret that I couldn’t let anyone know. I pushed it to the back of my mind and ignored it as best I could.
Not that I could escape completely. It nagged at me, and when I finally got away to college and felt like I wouldn’t be discovered, I searched a little more about it. Every time I thought about it it was a tug of war in my mind, like literally everything else, “I am, I am not, I am, I am not…” I didn’t have the resources or anyone to help me make up my mind. I just knew, I wasn’t really interested in anyone that way, and that would have to do in the meantime. The only thing I could do was talk about it with a few friends, who were about as knowledgeable on the subject as I was. Not to their face, of course, God, no one I would have to look in the eye and be terrified of the shock, or terrified of rejection that I had no doubt they would feel. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t help much to talk about it.
Three years later, and incident three hits me. I come across the word again, but this time it has a really long explanation. It has resources, chats, opinions from other asexuals. I was in an emotionally safe place, finally, to face my fear of whatever the hell this was. So I looked up everything I could, I absorbed knowledge and everything made sense at last. Yes, I am asexual, no it’s not weird, yes I feel these things too! I poured over all sorts of information for days, to confirm it. And from there it was like, I just had to tell someone, I had to tell someone the good news. I had to be out, just a little bit. I was so excited to just feel like I was normal, that this wasn’t something alien, that it even had a name. I came out, to just one person, and it was terrifying, but I don’t think I could have kept it a secret from the entire world. Just the idea that one person knew, was good enough. I could finally, accept and say absolutely, I am asexual.
So are you out?
It is standard asexual custom to wear a dead animal on your head when you come out. No it isn’t, don’t do that.
I am not currently ‘out’ to most people. I have no problem telling anyone that cares to ask what my orientation is, or if I’m straight, but it’s not exactly something I need to go around telling every person I come across. I’m still new to this, and I’m very afraid of judgement and people in general. I look for acceptance and validation for myself, and I couldn’t bear it if someone decided to be rude to me because of my orientation, or if they wanted to get into an argument with me about it. Because of that, I’m not out to my family, and I’m not out to most of my friends. Unless it comes up in conversation, or I feel like it’s something I need to address, I don’t think I’ll ever really be ‘out’ to everyone I know. I say it a lot, but it’s really no one’s business to know what I’m not doing.
So you’re ace, so what? What changes?
Well, like with any other orientation, some things don’t change, and other things are just more complicated. Like dating, not that I have many prospects, but I have to decide if I want to try to take allosexuals or try my luck and attempt to find another asexual. Because I have more of a neutral reaction to sex, I have the option to choose either. I don’t exactly need sex or have any interest in it, but I can’t necessarily say it’s something completely off the table. It just wouldn’t be something frequent or something I wanted, which I feel like would be confusing and frustrating for an allosexual partner, but there are ace/allo couples that have made it work before. A complication, but not an impossibility.
Flirting, even, seems to be a foreign language class that I missed out on. Without an ulterior motive, with an almost naive perspective, it’s something I’m very bad at. My world is unconcerned with sex, and as a result I simply get a different experience, a different perspective on everything. The positive aspect is that I get to see people for their good qualities, without something physical getting in the way. I get to prioritize other things when I’m getting to know someone, and see them without being distracted. I can focus on other types of attractions, goals, and desires.
It makes for a very honest interaction with people. I’m either going to enjoy your company and enjoy talking with you, hanging out with you, or I’m not. It’s that simple. There’s no lingering thoughts of, “Well, but the sex is good” or “I just want to have sex with them”. I’m infinitely more interested in talking with a crush and learning about them as a person, hearing their thoughts, than I’ll ever be in taking them to bed. I feel like there are hundreds of ways to express love and passion that don’t require sex, and I feel like a lot of people don’t see that. So many people have difficulty separating sex out of their life, their interactions with others, so in some ways I’m very fortunate and in other ways I’m not.
Fears and struggles
*Asexual struggles do not typically include climbing the Great Wall.
I am, as many asexuals are, perpetually worried that because of my orientation, I will never find someone to be with. I worry that, if I find an allosexual to be with, they won’t understand how I feel, and they won’t want to be with me, or that they will want to be with me but it will be too frustrating or difficult for them. I worry that I’ll never meet an asexual man in my entire life and that I’d never in a million years have an opportunity to see what that relationship would be like. I worry that somehow I’ll be accidentally outed to everyone I know. I worry and doubt nearly everyday whether or not I’m right and I’m really asexual. I worry that someday it’ll ‘click’ and that it’ll turn out it was actually all in my head. I worry and stress over my future and what impact this has on my life.
Not just my life though, I worry about other people too. I think about asexual men, and how they feel they need to be hypermasculine and horny and want sex, but don’t. That they won’t recognize what they’re really feeling. I think about asexuals in marriages that are just figuring things out, and how confusing and terrifying that is. I worry about asexuals being bullied by their parents, their peers, the rest of the queer community and even other asexuals. I worry about asexuals in danger of corrective rape, or asexuals who are sex repulsed that force themselves or are forced to have sex. I worry and concern myself with a lot in the asexual world, and that’s why I’m writing this.
Everyone has a different experience, different emotions, different thoughts in life. I mostly wanted to share mine, not just because I wanted to be honest and open and share my experience, but for other people who are questioning themselves in orientation or otherwise. I also wanted people to understand what I feel and experience as an ace, as opposed to an allo. Yes, it’s the absence of sexual attraction, but it’s a lot more than that too. No, it’s not the same struggle as being trans or gay, but it’s still a struggle. My experience is something that a lot of asexuals have gone, or will go through, and I want that to be understood. That’s why I’m sharing this, even though it’s not something required, it’s not something expected of me. I want to communicate that I’m human, and I’m normal, and that my experience is valid and that if other people are feeling the same way, that that is totally ok. I want to put my story out there, because for several years I thought I was alone and abnormal, and the only one feeling this way, and I don’t want other people to think that they’re alone or broken.
Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden; what is your own experience? Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.
To any and all aces, I love you, you’re beautiful, and I’m here to talk with if you need to.
Have a very sexy day,