I once had a conversation with Betty Please about communication and how I'm not a mind reader, that ended with her saying that she imagined living inside my head would be like being on a porno set 24/7. I hate to admit it, but she's really not too far off. I am just a little bit preoccupied with sex, and have been for as far back as I can remember. I sometimes think that if I could lose this preoccupation, my inner genius would be free to focus for longer than 30 seconds before my mind drifted off to some nice girl on girl action, and I might actually be able to excel at some intellectual pursuit. I could accomplish so much. If only.
But really, living in the culture we do, it's not hard to be distracted by sex. It's so pervasive, it's everywhere. It's in movies. It's on television shows. It's in magazines. And books. And advertising. It's in music. It's the plot, the subtext, or the tension, of damn near everything. It is an expectation and an assumption that if you are an adult, and especially an adult in a relationship, you are having sex with the person you are in a relationship with. Because we all need sex, right? Well, for most of the population it's true, sex is a driving force in and a very integral part of our lives. But for a small and nearly invisible part of the population, who identify as asexual, sex with another person is a not a need. In fact, not only do asexuals not need sex, they don't experience sexual attraction to other people.
Now just because asexuals do not experience sexual attraction does not mean they do not experience other forms of attraction. They can be physically(aesthetically) and/or intellectually attracted to someone, but those attractions do not necessitate sexual attraction. Many axsexuals, want a romantic relationship and maybe even a long term partnership. Some do not. Like attraction with people who are sexual, asexual attraction can be gay, straight, bi, queer or however they want to further identify. But, asexuality is their primary orientation.
To me, looking at an attractive man is a bit like looking at a beautiful dress that I know wouldn't suit me at all, or a photo of a holiday location I wouldn't actually want to visit. I might say "Ooh, that's lovely!" and enjoy looking at it for a few minutes, but I don't actually desire it.
As for the people close to me who do get that I'm asexual... I get the impression they don't know how to react if I find someone attractive. They seem uncomfortable with the idea I'm looking at someone in what they would think of as a sexual way, even though they know I don't have sex.
-Glad to be A
Now it only makes sense to me, that for everyone who is preoccupied with sex as I am, that there would be someone on the other end of the spectrum who has no interest in it what so ever. Kind of like Newtons Third Law of Motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I mean, you can't have good without evil, sunshine without rain, night without day... right? It's all about balancing out the universe. Anyway [reel in tangent]. As with all identities, there are naysayers who do not believe this orientation is real. Or believe that those who identify as asexual feel, or are, somehow incomplete.
Once I started on this train of thought, I realized that a large proportion of the unwanted things people say when we come out are actually attempts to make us feel better. Maybe this is obvious, but since I tend to assume everyone knows the same things I know, it took me awhile to figure out. Being told "You're just a late bloomer" is supposed to give us hope, as is "You just haven't found the right person yet." If the other person can convince us that asexuality doesn't exist, we're supposed to find that a huge relief. Uh...no. Someone with little understanding of asexuality might think it's a negative thing, and assume that we want to be talked down off the edge of identifying as such.
-Ily, Asexy Beast
The one thing that makes coming out so difficult at times (outright rejection aside, of course - but that does not make coming out difficult, it makes it painful) is the other person trying to convince me that I am mistaken about my orientation. I can understand and accept the need to convince the other person that asexuality and aromanticism exist, because they are rather ignored in popular culture, while we are constantly reminded that we need to have exciting and fulfilling sex lives and to be involved in romantic relationships to be truly happy. But I find it unbearable that other people dare assume that they know me better than I know myself. Nothing, in my opinion, gives them the right to believe that, neither the fact that they are older or have a longer or broader experience of life than I do, nor the fact that they experienced something similar once or know someone who did - nothing.
I can totally relate to this frustration. It's just like coming out as anything that doesn't fit into society's collective notion of "normal." Like, how can you be sure you're gay, if you haven't had sex with someone of the opposite sex? Or, you're not really a lesbian, you just haven't found the right guy yet. Or you're too young to know for sure. Or it's just a phase. Or worst of all, something traumatic must have happened to you to make you this way. Well, nothing traumatic happened to me, and I don't feel broken or incomplete because I am not straight, but many people would have me feel as though I should. I can only imagine the pressures and ridiculous comments that asexuals must face on a daily basis. And geeze, what if you were asexual and same-sex attracted? How tough must that be? That would have to be one tiny dating pool.
But see, right there, I'm using my own feelings and understanding of my sexuality to bias my thinking about the asexuals' dating pool. There is nothing that says asexuals are limited to only dating asexuals. Just because I can't wrap my brain around how a couple, made up of a sexual and an asexual could ever possibly work, doesn't mean it couldn't. From what I've read, there are asexuals in relationships with sexual people who are willing to have sex with their partners, and there are sexual people who live a celibate life to be with their asexual partners. When people truly love each other, they make it work.
I pass for "normal" really well now, and there have been a few who assumed I was sexual too- that somehow my innocent displays of affection must mean I'm tempted to do more. It hurts to hear people making those sorts of assumptions[...]I've expressed my frustrations to my fiance. His words of common sense are always a comfort to hear - Our relationship is as unique as we are. Love does not come with a script we must follow- it's an improvisation. We write our own script. We do it our way.
-Ace of Hearts
Her fiance (who does not identify as asexual) sounds like a pretty wise man. I bet living in his head is nothing like living in mine. I'm telling you, if only I could have stayed focused. I could have had this post written in half the time.
Zoe is a BlogHer Contributing Editor (Life-GLBT). She also blogs about her daily life at gaymo.
More Like This
Recent Posts by no_I_am_zoe
Most Popular on BlogHer
Most Popular on Work/Life
Recent Comments on Work/Life