Originally published May 2015:
I lacked the enthusiasm my then-boyfriend of three years had about our “first time” that was to occur once we were married. I couldn’t comprehend his excitement, but “waiting until marriage” was the only excuse I could come up with for having no sexual attraction to the guy I loved with my whole soul, that I could easily imagine marrying after college.
I didn’t feel off, or sad, or troubled by this. I just knew I didn’t have any answers as to why I didn’t want my serious boyfriend sexually. So I always claimed religious reasons and my ex just believed I had an extremely high willpower and faith.
Fast forward a few years and a slew of responses hit me on Tumblr as I vaguely questioned my sexual orientation:
Me: “What does it mean when I have no desire or interest in having sex, but I really enjoy kissing and cuddling? =\”
A dozen Tumblr users: “Sounds like you’re asexual!”
Asexual? It’s more than just a bio term?
I looked into it and had never felt more relieved in my life to find so many people who felt exactly like I did.
What is asexuality?
Asexual, in a very general nutshell, means you lack sexual attraction (and no, your sexual attraction and libido/sex drive are not interchangeable).
Now over the years, I’ve researched the topic to death for my own identity purpose and to help answer questions when I’d receive them.
One thing I’ve learned and believe is very important for anyone to know is that sex doesn’t equate to all versions of attraction/intimacy/caring/love/importance of a relationship.
When I’ve told people about my asexuality, I’ve had people squint quizzically and respond in several manners:
- “But EVERYONE needs sex!” Have you been to the doctor’s? Something sounds wrong.”
- Having a boyfriend not touch me AT ALL after coming out in extreme detail to him, because he believed it would make me uncomfortable to hold hands or cuddle.
- “Have you tried girls?”
- “You’re too young to know what you want. Wait until you get ‘caught up.’ There will be no stopping those urges.”
- “So, you’re celibate/abstinent?”
- “But sex is vital to a healthy relationship”
- “Get with me and I’ll change your mind.”
No. No to ALL of this. This is a small portion of ignorance that you may receive if you chose to come out. Let’s break down some other myths as well:
There are asexuals who masturbate to relieve urges (whether they enjoy it or not… think of it as another bodily function like sneezing or blushing… it just happens). Getting aroused is a behavior that doesn’t have to have anything to do with thinking about, or wanting to participate in sexual acts with any particular person.
Believe it or not, there are people in this world that can maintain a healthy romantic relationship without sex.
They’re just underrepresented and the minority and because of that, they can also be challenged by people who’ve known nothing else but a sex-driven world.
There are also asexuals who are sex-repulsed, for ANY reason (trauma, just because, etc.) and asexuals who will have sex to please a partner (because they want to please them, not out of forced consent or as a chore). Even so, they more-than-likely still lack sexual attraction, but they’re willing to give someone that means the world to them what they want despite being completely indifferent to it.
And with that, there are asexuals that fall in a gray area where their sexual attraction fluctuates but is usually nonexistent, or they’re demisexual, which means they literally CAN’T become sexually attracted until they’ve developed a very strong emotional bond with someone… if it even happens then. No restraint is happening here, nor is this equivalent to celibacy, which is a choice.
Since I’m trying my hardest to transition smoothly into as much as I can, I’ll talk a little about the different asexualities and attractions that exist.
Sometimes people become confused because their whole life they hear attraction is just one or two things: physical and emotional/chemistry, but there’s much more than that once you meet people who lack certain attractions, but have others.
For example, I’m a heteromantic asexual. I still have romantic (and sensual) attraction to the opposite sex, but lack sexual attraction to anyone (making me fall under the asexual umbrella). And if we get really down and dirty, people can also have an aesthetic toward certain people, but still not really get the whole “they’re HOT/sexy/etc.” I know I find women very appealing, but not in a sexual, romantic, or sensual sense. It’s more like admiring art in a museum. I don’t understand the love for butts and breasts, or genitalia, but I do admire the various contours of a woman’s body. It just doesn’t trigger a thang for me, but appreciation.
You may think “… so you’re straight?” Well in this world, I wouldn’t consider my sexuality (or lack thereof) the norm. I can’t tell you how many guys have fled, no matter how long a novel I’ve written about my asexuality, due to them not being able to wrap their head around me not ever having an interest in sex. Like I said ALL above, libido and behavior isn’t the same as sexuality, but I’m still looked at as an emotionless android once I come out to potential dates. All the patronizing and condescending responses toward my explanations are no fun, either. Sometimes people are very rude, other times they just don’t get it. Like I tried to explain to a girl friend once that even though I was with the ex I mentioned above for as long as I was, I had no desire to gawk at him shirtless, smack his butt or any of that. I was super happy and love-y with much less ammunition and was absolutely fine with it. Her response was that maybe all that would’ve changed if I did see him shirtless. 😉
It went right over her head that I don’t look longingly at any guy shirtless and just because I don’t didn’t mean I didn’t love my then-boyfriend with all my heart.
Or it may even go over a guy’s head and they’ll commend and applaud me for having such a strong sense of self-control. I have to tell them numerous times that THERE’S NOTHING TO CONTROL MYSELF FROM.
Going back to the types of attractions, there are separate ones people in general can feel and/or may not feel. I feel like (as usual) I’m getting pretty wordy with my post, so I have a diagram for you about attraction:
As you can see, there are also aromantic asexuals, which are people who lack both sexual and romantic attraction. Based on my research, I’m seeing that any type of relationship (if one is formed) is like an upgraded friendship. As I said before, sensual attraction and behavior aren’t the same, so aromantics can still enjoy sensual/tactile things such as cuddling and snuggling. They may even be willing to get married, but think of it more along the benefits it could bring legally. Some aromantics may like the fact that they’ll have a long-time, upgraded friend by their side if they were to get married. Aromantics may just be completely fine on their own with no type of companionship on that level.
Next time you see LGBQTA, know that we want to be seen, too! We’d love for the “A” to immediately be thought as defining Asexual, because being an Ally should be a given. 😉
- Feel like this may fit you? Here’s the official website with forums and info about asexuality: http://www.asexuality.org/home/
- Here’s an AMAZINGLY concise comic that thoroughly explains the asexual umbrella (I love it TO DEATH): http://adriofthedead.tumblr.com/post/65540442968/okay-i-realize-this-hilariously-late-for
- Asexual Advice on Tumblr has EVERYTHING you’ll need. Plenty of links to external info, people asking ALL SORTS of questions about asexuality and a HUGE and VERY informative FAQ: http://asexualadvice.tumblr.com/
- Check out the Tumblr Tag (or any social media tag honestly): https://www.tumblr.com/search/asexual
Cierra is the creator of ditchingadulthood.com, a supportive blog community for adults with unconventional interests and passions such as art, cartoons, anime, video games, and the like. In her spare time she enjoys writing, creating art, reading, studying Korean and Japanese, and cooking. Coconut Chobani makes her knees buckle.