Edge of Everywhere

Archive for December 2008

The other day, I told one of my friends, who is clearly attracted to me, that I’m asexual. His immediate response was, “You’re not asexual.” Not helpful. He then expressed skepticism about the existence of asexuality as an orientation. I think he was driven by wishful thinking that I’m normal and he might have a chance at hooking up with me. I tried my best to explain it, but I hate being on the defensive and got flustered. By the end of the conversation, he actually had me half-convinced that I might not be asexual after all.

I was brought back to reality when I read the recent post by The Gray Lady in which she discusses her current relationship. She writes, “The key to my enjoyment is in the approach my partner takes towards asexuality. If they try to convince me I’m not asexual, I won’t be comfortable with it. If they try to understand asexuality, accept it and work around it, then it won’t be an issue.” I realized this applies to me as well. If someone can’t accept what I tell them about my identity, then I can’t be involved with them. I have this habit of making huge sacrifices in relationships without even realizing I’m doing it, and I can’t keep getting stuck in a trap of going along with what other people want if I know on any level that it’s not what I want. 

I’m so grateful to have found the asexual community. Reading about other people’s experiences has been invaluable to me. It helps so much to know that other people have experienced the same things I have, and to be reminded that I have the right to decide what I want in relationships. I know it sounds obvious, but sadly, deciding exactly what I want in a relationship and making sure I get it is somewhat of a foreign concept to me. It’s great to feel like I have the support of people who, for once, acknowledge and accept the way I am and inspire me to make sure that the people in my life do so as well.

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Ever since I discovered my asexuality, I’ve had a fascinating time collecting the clues and signs from throughout my life. One of the biggest, which I only just recently remembered, is a vague sense I had in recent years of not having a sexual orientation, even though I wasn’t sure yet that I didn’t want to have sex with anyone. I knew that I liked guys in some sense, but for reasons I could not explain, I didn’t identify with the word heterosexual. Instead, I considered myself to be straight by socialization–i.e., due to being raised in a society that taught me to view boys as potential romantic partners and girls as friends to talk to about boys. I also had a feeling that if I ever chose to be with a girl, it would be just that–a choice–although I understood that my queer friends did not feel that way about their orientations. I just wasn’t convinced that there was something in my genes or wherever else that was orienting me to any particular gender(s). Therefore, I was pretty amazed to discover that there is actually a sexual orientation that involves not being sexually oriented to anyone.

People in the asexual community talk about romantic orientations, but I’m not particularly convinced I have one of those either. I have had a tendency in the past to view guys as potential romantic partners, but I don’t really feel like it’s anything stronger than that. I’d be curious to read more about what other people think about romantic orientations and whether they are as intrinsic to asexuals as sexual orientations are to sexual people.

There’s a great Modern Love piece in yesterday’s New York Times by Lauren Slater called “Deeply, Truly (but Not Physically) in Love”. Ms. Slater, a woman with “almost no sex drive,” describes her disinterest in sex and touches on the problems it has caused in her marriage. She also includes a telling history of her sexual life, including the time she was driven to lie about having been raped in order to put off having sex with a lover when she was young. Problematic, yes, but also a moving testament to the deep shame and confusion that can accompany a lack of desire for what society expects us to want.

Towards the end of the article, Ms. Slater writes, “I am a woman in love, but I am not in love with sex. I am in love with glass and stones, with my children, my animals. I am in love with making, as opposed to making love. ” The final five paragraphs describe the wonders of the world that thrill her in a way that sex never could, ending the piece on a positive note. It excited me to read about many of the same feelings expressed on the AVEN boards and asexual blogs in the Times.