I am asexual. I know many of you won’t have ever heard this term, so I’ll try to describe what it means to me, and link you to more resources to learn more about the asexual spectrum. Please also recognize that if you’re reading this post on the internet, you can learn more about anything by typing it into the search bar.
These are some of the ways in which I see my asexualism manifest:
- I have observed that many people have a mind that often jumps to sex. I do not have a sexual mind. I say things that are sometimes taken as sexual innuendos and I don’t notice until someone points it out. I don’t notice sexual innuendos when other people make them. I don’t enjoy sex jokes. I don’t usually notice if things are yonic or phallic because vaginas and penises are rarely on my mind.
- I’m fairly oblivious to come-ons. Since I would always prefer to get to know someone than to hook up with them, I don’t realize that the reverse is true for many people, depending on the situation. When making plans with someone, I almost always assume it’s friendly plans, and then get anxious when I learn it might mean something else to them.
- I need sexual intent to be extremely explicit. To illustrate how explicit communication needs to be for me to understand that somebody means to have sex with me: invitations to sleep in the same room or bed does not imply sex to me. I love spooning all night long and rarely imagine that it could lead to sex.
- I am tremendously sensitive to being sexually objectified. That doesn’t mean I have never enjoyed showing off my body, but it means it’s rare. When I dance, it’s for me and me alone, and I generally feel really awkward dancing with other people, especially if I don’t know them. I hate it when people dance with me nonconsensually. This is partly a response to a traumatic experience when I was younger, but I think it also has to do with the societal link between dancing and sex; I don’t want to be thought of as someone to have sex with.
- I have a lower-than-average sex drive. It is almost entirely controlled by my cycle. When I do crave sex, it is a physical stimulation I desire, not a connection with a person. In most situations in which I’ve had sex, it’s been to fit in. My choice to have sex rarely comes from a physical desire; I am more often curious or desiring closeness. Sexual exploration is something I am comfortable with, as long as it is clear that I don’t want to explore very often.
- I can be physically attracted to people. I might want to touch their breasts and/or kiss their lips. I don’t view kissing as sex, but it seems that lots of people view the desire to kiss someone as sexual attraction. One thing that helps me process this is the idea that there are many types of attraction; sensual, sexual, romantic, visual. I experience sensual attraction without knowing someone well. I also don’t always equate sensual attraction with romantic attraction; in high school I cuddled with my friends all the time, but didn’t have a crush on everyone I had a desire to cuddle with.
- I am very confused about what romance is. Society tells me it is related to sex, but, for me, it’s not. Society tells me that a desire to be sensual with someone is a desire to be in a romantic and therefore sexual relationship with them. It’s not! Society tells me that if I find someone physically attractive, I must want to sleep with them. I don’t! I often find people attractive, but that doesn’t usually mean I want to have sex with them. It typically means I see some mannerism or personality trait exhibited that leads me to want to get to know someone better. It means I want to feel close to them. It might have some sexual implications, such as a desire to kiss, but I don’t usually think about having sex with them.
You may have heard me use the word “pansexual” to describe myself. A more accurate word would be “panromantic” (I also use the word “queer”). I’m not very sexual, but I am romantic. I have crushes. But crush to me means something closer to “I want to get to know you better or have emotionally raw conversations with you, and maybe make out a little”, rather than “I want to sleep with you” or “I want to enter into a sexual relationship with you”. I use the word in a romantic sense; I have romantic feelings for someone on whom I have a crush. This article also helped me accept that I focus my attention in bed to intimacy and sensuality, but not necessarily sex.
It has taken me a long time to understand my sexuality. I want to be clear to all of my past sexual partners that you had no way of knowing that I was asexual. While I wish I had known so that we could have had a healthier relationship, I didn’t. The only bitterness I feel is toward society, because asexuality was not something I knew anything about; I hadn’t heard of it until a year ago. Let’s do better – let’s validate more experiences
Here is an article I referenced while trying to figure out my clearly nonconforming identity. The site has some great links and resources about demisexualism, which I first landed on as an identity before realizing I’m asexual. If you’re interested in learning more you can also check out this site about asexualism.