For those of you who may not know, I am asexual. What this means, in short, is that I do not, and have not, ever enjoyed sex. I can feel pleasure, physically, I can even participate in such a way that it is pleasant. However, Sex is always uncomfortable. It’s roughly, to me, what doing the dishes might be to you, or perhaps cleaning out a toilet. It has to be done, but only when necessary.
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN for short), an Asexual individual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. For the laymen in the audience, this is where you have to separate Sexuality from Romantic-orientation. They are two different things. It is entirely possible to feel Romantic attraction to someone, while simultaneously feeling no sexual attraction whatsoever. When the reverse happens, that’s usually when you find someone hot, but completely un-dateable.
There is an entire spectrum of Asexuality, ranging from Sex-repulsed, to gray-asexual, to Sex-positive individuals. The common ground here is this: A lack of sexual attraction. This does not mean that an asexy individual doesn’t have a libido. It is entirely possible that an ace individual will choose to masturbate frequently, or only once a month, or never! There is the possibility that an asexy person will choose to have sex as many times as their partner wants to, without hesitation, because they enjoy the closeness. For others, they might not be able to tolerate sexual contact at all, from the gentle brush of fingers down one’s arm to the touch of lips to lips. And then, there are some who even enjoy sexual contact!
For me, my asexual journey has been one of much discovery. When I was young, my mother was a very sexual individual. She had complete control of her sexuality, and was never ashamed of it, that I knew of. Not only that, but she made sure I knew the birds and the bees pretty early. I actually can’t remember when I got the ‘Talk’ so to speak, I just… always felt like I knew it. I feel my mother was amazing in that regard.
During my teen-hood, however, I had several fitful stops and starts with normal teen romances. My very first boyfriend I had for a week, and any time he touched me, I felt nauseous. Not nervous, nauseous, as if I was going to throw up if his hands were on me for more than a mere moment. He left me for my best friend, who would hold hands with him when he wanted. That was fine with me. It was more a relief.
In high school, I dated a very nice young man, who took me to homecoming and to the corn maze before Halloween. He was always very respectful, and when I held his hand, I felt nervous, not sick. So I thought maybe it was all a fluke. But even when he hugged me, I couldn’t let it last for too long. I felt like if I did, something bad would happen. I didn’t want to go beyond holding hands, and spending time together happily. A week after he asked me for our first kiss, and I gave it to him, I broke up with him. I claimed that it was because my family was moving, and while we were, it didn’t change the fact that, once again, I was relieved not to have to satisfy those needs for more kisses and things that I didn’t like.
Now that isn’t to say I wasn’t normal in other regards. I discovered masturbation, and engaged in it almost nightly. I enjoyed role-playing online with those anonymous people who would, and it was through that that I discovered that I enjoy erotic literature. So I felt that perhaps, there was something wrong with me, because I didn’t want to actually engage in those acts with PEOPLE. I told myself that I was simply trying not to follow in my mother’s footsteps as a teen mom. That it was fear, and not something else.
When I was nineteen, I had my longest lasting relationship. Almost a full year, and it was an unhealthy thing. He was always frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do. I sought help from relationship sites, my friends, everyone. They all said the same thing. In a relationship, Love equals Sex. He thought I didn’t love him because I wouldn’t have sex with him. So, I did. To prove I loved him, I had sex with him, and while it wasn’t horrible, it was uncomfortable, and I was, again, glad that it was over. It didn’t happen again, luckily, because he dumped me a week or so afterwards.
I went back to thinking that perhaps something was wrong with me, and decided that I was better off without boys. Without relationships in general. But I always came back to loneliness, and needing that romantic relationship. I’ve always wanted a partner, to help me through the rough, to keep me steady and stable. I’ve always wanted the kind of marriages that last through decades. But I couldn’t seem to hold a relationship for more than a few months. One particular man, I even slept with every week, because I thought he would stay if I did, and it was no worse than any other chore, really. At least holding his hand didn’t make me feel sick again.
Here, I feel, I should clarify a few things. This sort of contact, holding hands, hugging, leaning against someone, falling asleep near someone, are triggers for this feeling of wrongness only when in a relationship context. I have never had an issue laying on, hugging on, cuddling with, or in general being touchy with my friends, and those that I am close to. It is only when there is this added romantic portion that I find myself sickened. It is that expectation of sex that taints the actions for me.
But then, after years of complaining and trying to explain to my best friends, a married couple who took me in in the later part of my teenager-hood, it finally came to a head. The husband, he’d watched a documentary on Asexuality, and while watching it, had noticed that a lot of what the main person in the documentary had spoken about experiencing, I had mentioned experiencing as well. So, he asked me to watch it too.
It was like, a revelation. I felt such an immense relief that I wasn’t the only one. That there were others like me, and WE WERE NOT BROKEN. There wasn’t something wrong with me that couldn’t be explained. I was just Asexual. That’s all there was to it! But of course, being who I am, I had to do research first, to find out if that was true, or not. So I found AVEN, and read through forum after forum. I gathered the courage and went on the chat-room, and talked to those around me, and it was like coming home.
Now, that isn’t saying that my troubles were over, upon discovering this. Because I’d also discovered the section of asexuals who ‘compromise’. What compromising means, in this instance, is dating an allosexual individual, or someone capable of sexual attraction, and having sex with, or performing sexual actions with them in order to keep the relationship healthy for both parties. I thought that I could handle this.
I fell into a relationship quickly, with a boy who said he thought he was asexual as well. However, as our relationship grew, it turned out he was demisexual, or rather, a person who only experiences sexual attraction and urges after an emotional connection is established. He asked me to compromise, and I agreed to try. But I just… After a while, it grew too stressful, too much, and I found myself in that situation where I felt sick when he touched me again. So, I broke up with him.
This last relationship has helped me realize that I am sexually-repulsed. Which means sex, and anything related to sex, is something that I cannot do. I am not broken, it’s simply the way I am. A homosexual won’t experience sexual feelings for a heterogendered individual. I can’t have sexual contact. It’s simple. And while I am still an avid masturbator and enjoyer of sex comics and pornographic fanfiction, this means I will never enjoy sex with another person. And that’s alright.
As a promise to myself, and a reminder to never compromise again, I wear the black ring on my left middle finger. This tradition started in 2005, when AVEN user Mega Mitosis posted this on the boards:
You know, a friend of mine wears a ring on her left middle finger. Her explanation being that: your right middle means “currently single”, the right ring means “currently taken” and since the left ring means “taken/married” in a permanent sense, then the next logical conclusion would be that left middle means “permanently single”.
And while I might not be permanently single, I do fully intend never to allow myself to fall into a situation where I feel sickened just by the touch of someone again. I am in control of my sexuality, just as my mother was, and while I am a different sexuality than she, I am no less important. So please, if you know someone you think might be asexual, don’t tell them there is something wrong with them. Don’t ask if they’ve gone to see a therapist. Instead, show them this article, and let them find out for themselves what they are or may be. And if you think that you are, in fact, asexual as well? Welcome to the club, we have cake.
By the by, the colors there are the Asexual Flag. Pretty cool, huh?