Guest Post: Why Date An Asexual? An Interview with C

Since I started hosting guest posts, I’ve been bugging C (aka Cat Pajamas), my partner of roughly 3.5 years (and now gayancée), to write one for me. She couldn’t come up with any ideas for the longest time, and so to help her out and make it more comfortable for her, I sent her a bunch of interview questions to answer. If the questions don’t seem to flow from one to another very well, that’s because they were asked in no particular order, just as I thought of them, over email and rearranged later. She’s really worked hard to get her thoughts down and then organize and clarify them better. I’m afraid she found my questions rather frustrating, because they were hard to answer without writing book-length responses. I love that her tendency is to go into great detail about these things… and scribble huge diagrams on my white board about them, too! <3

We don’t often hear much from sexual partners of asexual people, so my hope here is to do a little bit to fill that void. C has another post that she’s working on about sexual attraction as well. If anyone has questions for her that aren’t answered here, feel free to ask in the comments!

From here on out, my questions and comments will be in purple text.

*************

Hi, I’m a 26 year old MTF.  I love to talk about sexuality and some other topics.  I believe I have a very in depth experience with both sexes because I’ve gotten to experience being gay/lesbian/bi in both genders, which is pretty cool and fun to talk about since I think it’s a perspective not many people get to fully experience.

So, if you read that the same way I did, that means I’m at least 200% gay.

Besides sexuality, I have a rather large interests in PC gaming and some outdoorsy hiking/camping stuff.

Can you briefly explain how we met, and how we sort of accidentally ended up in a romantic relationship?

We ‘met’ through a mix of an LGBT group at the university we both went to and me messaging you on OKcupid. Sadly I don’t remember why I messaged you initially, although I do know I was fairly curious about asexuality. We talked online for a time before we decided to go see a movie as friends. The movie wasn’t supposed to be romantic (kung fu panda) and my plan was to just take you back to your place afterwards, but you wanted to just sit around and talk. So we went to a uh, tea/sandwich place that’s kinda artsy and we just sat around and talked.

As it turns out, if you go to see a movie with someone and then talk to them for about 5 hours afterwards and you can’t say good bye, you’re probably doomed to start some sort of romance, whether you intended to do it or not.

Before you met me, if somebody had asked you, “Would you ever date an asexual?” how would you have responded?

I would probably respond with “I’m not sure.” At the time I wasn’t really aware of asexuality and without some information about it or the person, I would probably not do anything. Although I like people that are different from the norm.

If someone asked me that before I started transitioning, I probably would have said “no” since I was quite a bit more sexually active at the time (and ignorant). Once I started transitioning, it would have certainly been closer to a yes (still based on ignorance).

What did you think when you first encountered my profile on OKCupid, and in the early part of our relationship thereafter? Why did you contact me?

When I first encountered it? Who knows! At this point, I’m not sure if there was a reason I messaged you for reasons other than “I don’t know what asexuality is” and I think we had some music groups in common.

I’m pretty sure the reason I messaged you was mainly because of asexuality, since I wasn’t really aware of it and I wanted to know more. I don’t recall wanting to date you. ;)

How did you expect things to proceed? What things surprised you?

Well, ignoring the whole “What? We are dating?” thing… I fully expected the relationship to develop very slowly sexually, so I tried my best to go very slowly. Since usually my relationships have a very sexual nature to them.

What surprised me is how comfortable you were with certain kinds of play. Also how open you were/are to various sexual activities. Based on my (old) knowledge of asexuality, I would have imagined you to be a uh, prude. Thankfully that’s not the case.

You have never been someone who sees sex as the distinction between friendship and romance, and often have casual sex with friends. So what do you see as that distinction? Have there ever been times where the friends you’ve had casual sex with have seen it differently, and that’s caused problems?

My basic viewpoint, prior to dating you, was that generally people enjoy sex and it’s something that people like to experience on a fairly frequent basis. So, why shouldn’t you have sex with people to share a mutually enjoyable experience?

Oh, I might have misread that, although I will leave that anyway. I believe the distinction between casual sex with friends and a romance is experiencing the romance itself. When you actually have sex with someone there is an intimate experience shared with another person, however that feeling differs from what it feels like to be romantically involved with a person. I would imagine that the feeling is harder to distinguish if your only sexual partners were also your romantic partners. Most of my early sexual experiences were with people that I was just friends with, so I got an early viewpoint on the difference between being romantically involved with someone and just having sex with them.

Course, when I was younger I made the mistake of confusing sexual intimacy and romance.

I have had friends have that problem as well since I started having sex more often with just friends. My biggest way to deal with it is that I always brought up the issue as soon as I thought it was occurring. This mostly eliminated any large problems or anything long lasting. Besides the initial confusion that I’ve had a few people experience, there haven’t been any actual problems from it that caused a loss of friendship or any actual drama. Is that because of luck or me? Who can say really, but discussing the experience as soon as I could certainly seemed to help.

Briefly, can you explain why you choose to be polyamorous, and what impact that has on our relationship?

I didn’t really expect to be poly for the longest time actually. It was just one of those things that fit my personality very well. The reason I chose it, is that I had a poly relationship about a year and a half before we started dating that I was just sort of drawn into because of falling for one person in the relationship. The entirety of that relationship changed over a period, but the poly aspect of it was very interesting to me and it allowed me to experience attraction, love, sex, etc… without the worry about my partner getting jealous (too much, anyway) or have it considered cheating or any other number of problems that being monogamous involves.

The poly aspect of our relationship has a rather significant effect on our relationship. One of the biggest ones is that it removes any sort of sexual need in our relationship that you might be uncomfortable with or unable to do at all. This could be related to genitals or style of sexual contact or fetishes.

Although another big one is that it removes the need for a single person to fulfill all my sexual ‘needs’, socializing, or even dating.

If we were monogamous, do you think it would be much harder to deal with me being asexual?

Definitely. I don’t know if I could have actually had a relationship with you if we were monogamous the entire time. The asexual aspect of you alone would probably have caused quite a few issues with me wanting to uh, release sexual energy without it bothering you or it being too awkward. I mean, sexual stuff in person works just fine, but long distance stuff can be a bit more awkward because of sexual fantasies not being as arousing (or at all) for you compared to how they are for me. If that makes sense.

From your perspective, what challenges does my asexuality present to our relationship?

I really want to write this from someone else’s perspective…

This question is a bit tricky, since I’m not entirely sure if there are a whole lot of challenges in our relationship that are entirely from asexuality.

The only thing that definitely is a ‘challenge’ is that you never find me arousing based purely on looks or a situation. So, regardless of what I’m doing or how I’m acting, it can’t be a (good) signal for sex.

Which leads me into the problem with initiating sex. Now, for those who don’t know me, I am a submissive person in the bedroom (mostly), which means I prefer my partner to be in control of the sex acts. So, one big thing to me is someone who is able to initiate sex. I can do it, but I prefer someone else to.
Now, I know my partner doesn’t know how to initiate sex (even when interested), but is that based on asexuality? I have my doubts. I mean, it’s almost definitely related.

I’m sure someone is shaking their head at that last remark, but hear me out. I will make the assumption that those who are asexual are less likely to engage or experiment in sex as often as those who are sexual. Due to this lack of experience, the individual wouldn’t know how to do various activities in sex play which includes initiating sex.

Now if you read that paragraph and think, “But wait, don’t sexual people know how to do all these sexual things based on instinct, culture or social training?” The answer to that question is certainly no. I know from personal experience that I was absolutely terrible initiating sex and doing about anything sexual in my early sex life.

So, to get back to the question, is that a challenge to our relationship that is caused by asexuality? Probably, yes. But, is it a current problem that asexuality affects? I don’t think so.

Are there any benefits to dating someone who is asexual?

That’s a good question. I certainly find some interest in the way that, from my perspective, asexuals don’t really react to sexual remarks or topics in the same way that sexual people do. That would be, they don’t seem to get aroused or express sexual interest when those topics are brought up. For me, this is a very good thing since I greatly enjoy talking about sex, but I have a lack of desire for it as often.

Of course, that’s also a negative since sometimes initiating sex by talking about it could be nice? Or maybe not.

I would imagine that asexuals are a group of people that would be much easier to date if you had any problems related to your body, like for me personally, there was a rather long period where some sexual touching would/could cause some fairly severe depression due to body dysphoria. Having someone that isn’t super interested in sexually touching your genitals could be a VERY good thing. I imagine the same would apply to people with other traumatic events involving sexual body contact.

How much do you feel sexual attraction matters within a romantic relationship? Both in a general sense and for you personally.

This question is rather complicated.

Sexual attraction (or physical attraction, which is not the same) is one of the primary reasons why many relationships form in the first place. This might not be exactly clear to everyone, so I’ll try to explain further:

When a person is interested in another person, there has to be some form of attraction that causes the two people to interact and form some sort of romantic bond. I would say that a rather large portion of them are initially formed based on a physical attraction level, which while shallow, is very important to some people. Course there are many other relationships that form based on interests or sense of humor or many many other things. However a lot of people do find physical characteristics of their potential romantic interest important, even if that’s not the primary reason for forming the relationship.

Now, this initial attraction can be a very important thing for early relationships, as well as things you notice over the course of a relationship.

Loss of physical or sexual attraction can also be a reason (or one of many reasons) used for ending a relationship. Usually they will be cited as something that indicates change over the course of the relationship. I would imagine that the largest physical change is gaining weight, since people tend to gain weight during a long term relationship. Many people have issues with an overweight partner, especially if they weren’t overweight at the beginning of the relationship. So a loss of physical/sexual attraction can cause problems, or sustained physical/sexual attraction can help create memories and/or other positive associations.

I think that physical/sexual attraction isn’t really as important in longer term relationships that don’t have problems though. Since a lot of the time you use a mental picture of how someone looks and you associate that imagery with positive feelings. Those feelings could be sexual or romantic depending on the imagery invoked, which could be on the basis of what they looked like at another point in time more so than what they currently look like.

It’s also important in a relationship because sexual attraction can initiate a sexual experience, which many people can use to help strengthen their romantic relationship.

So, to get back to the question. I think sexual attraction matters significantly more in early relationships than in a long term relationship. It also has the potential to cause problems in any relationship. So I believe that it can matter quite a bit, depending on the nature of the relationship, whether romantic or sexual or any combination of the two (or more!).

For me personally? That’s so much easier. Sexual attraction doesn’t really matter since I don’t really use you as a basis for sexual interest and your body shape doesn’t affect how I view you, even if you are quite attractive.

How has your experience changed throughout your transition? Would you give different answers for the above questions at different points in the process?

I definitely would have. Pretty much everything has changed during transition. Even stuff like what I find arousing has changed rather significantly, which is pretty surprising to me.

How have other people reacted when you told them about my asexuality? What have you told them?

When I have told people, they typically respond with things like ‘oh that must be hard to deal with’ or some other line about not having a clue what asexuality actually means, and not understanding that your sexuality doesn’t have to be the basis for what sexual experiences you have or what sort of relationship you are able to have. I usually try to clarify to a limited extent. Usually just on the basis that asexuality means that the person doesn’t experience sexual attraction, but they can still have sex. That’s about where I stop explaining it unless they ask for further clarification.

What would you tell a sexual person who finds themselves with the prospect of dating an asexual person, but is not really sure if they want to or not?

This has actually happened to me a few times now. The first thing to really ask the person is how important they value sex in a relationship and if it’s okay to not have it over a period of time. Of course, the sexual person should ask the asexual person directly if they might enjoy having sex, since some asexuals do not, while others do.

I would probably ask the sexual person if they are poly as well or at least, if they would consider it since it takes a lot of pressure off the asexual person to experience sex on any uncomfortable level, which could be too often or at all, depending on the person.

What advice would you have for a sexual person who decides to proceed to date an asexual person? How should they go about it?

I don’t really know if there is a whole lot of advice that would be specific to this situation. Most of the advice would be about having any kind of relationship with another person, but here are things I would stress:

- Don’t make any assumptions about subtle or non-verbal gestures with regards to sex.
- Clearly ask questions before any sort of sexual thing happens, since the asexual person might not be okay with things that are sexual in nature.

Really that’s about it. I mean, the sexual person probably shouldn’t rush into a sexual relationship with an asexual, but that could be advice for everyone regardless of their sexuality.

17 thoughts on “Guest Post: Why Date An Asexual? An Interview with C

  1. I’ve seen some of the responses to this on Tumblr, and because I don’t have a Tumblr myself, I guess I’ll just post a couple of things here:

    1. For those of you who are partnered to asexuals and offering to answer questions, please consider submitting your posts to the Carnival of Aces round I’m hosting this month–the theme is Sexual Exploration and I want to hear from you, too!

    2. For the one person who was offended by C’s answers… what were you offended by? I’m really curious.

    Like

    • It’s a joke, dude. :P

      But since gay people can’t *actually* get married around here (and despite her trans status, the point at which C and I could pretend to be a “straight” couple and do it anyway is long past), I think it’s well warranted to point that out. C noted last night that while straight people are only concerned with making their wedding romantic and special, gay people are much less concerned about that. They’re mainly just concerned with “where can we get it done?” which is… depressing.

      Also, fiancée in English is only obviously gendered when written. It works in French (and Spanish? What word do you use in Spanish?) because the pronouns are gendered, but English doesn’t have those, so when you say it out loud there’s no difference and people will automatically assume I am straight.

      Like

      • Yes, I know that fiancé and fiancée are pronounced the same (even in French?) but this is a problem for you because you date binary-gendered people. If you dated a neutrois, precisely they like the spoken neutrality of the term, and maybe even a neutral spelling like fiancey.

        In Spanish all the words for a partner are gendered in the usual -o/-a way: novio/a, prometido/a, enamorado/a… except pareja, which is epicene feminine. In Spain we say novio/a for boy/girlfriend and prometido/a for fiancé(e), but in some American countries they say enamorado/a for boy/girlfriend and novio/a for fiancé(e). Apart of these, novio/a means groom/bride too, so Spanish is very nonspecific for the status of an unmarried couple.

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        • If I was dating someone who is neutrois, then yeah, it would be desirable to use fiancé(e/y), and in situations where it is useful to be vague I do use it… but as it is, given C’s trans status especially, it’s not really something that I want to use often. I don’t like her being misgendered, and the (almost guaranteed) assumption of heterosexuality annoys me. In the rare situations where I feel unsafe being out I’ll use it, but most of the time I just say “partner” because I don’t like to call attention to the engagement at all. I find that most people make a HUGE deal out of it, and it’s all they want to talk about when they find out about it. Some demand to be invited to our wedding, which, assuming we even have a ceremony at all, we’d prefer to be quite small. The difference in their focus compared to ours is depressing, so I prefer to take the focus off our enga(y)gement in the first place.

          Given that it’s by no means certain that we can even get married at all, or be allowed to stay married if we manage to, I think it’s worth pointing out the difference in our legal rights by using a different word, even if it’s mainly done in a joking manner.

          Like

          • Such an interesting discussion – this could be a post in itself!

            As the aforementioned gender-neutral person, I have to say the reason I wanted to get engaged is so we could both say “fiancee” and be purposefully vague about gender (ok, that’s not the only reason…) I don’t mind that people will think my girlfriend is straight, and they already think I’m gay, but at least there’s some mystery to it. Funny enough, since getting engaged, I don’t use fiancee. I keep saying “girlfriend” – habit maybe?

            One thing I do like about the term is the conferral of “status” or degree of relationship. Girlfriend / Boyfriend makes no distinction on whether you’ve been dating for 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years. Engaged = serious. Whatever the time period, you are committed. (Whether that is true in all couples is not the point, it’s the symbolism).

            So “gayancee” makes perfect sense when highlighting the importance of the seriousness of the relationship, and the gender of the people involved.

            As for “pareja, which is epicene feminine” – I don’t like to say partner, in English or Spanish, because it sounds so… gay. Fiancee has a lot more wiggle room for gender.

            Like

            • Re: “girlfriend” not conveying the status enough—god, I know!! It’s so annoying, but I do it out of habit too, especially in situations where I’m not totally comfortable with having the “Oh when’s the wedding? :D” “…Uh, actually…” discussion. Which comes up pretty frequently, because people who know C’s MTF status usually just kind of… assume we can still get married, even though they know she’s already gotten surgery. Which sadly is not the case. “Dating” is another phrase I’m not comfortable with because it doesn’t really convey the seriousness of the relationship, but it’s hard to figure out what else to say. In this case, I chose the post title because I figured more people would be trying to figure out whether dating an asexual is even possible, and not as many would have marriage in mind when they start typing into Google.

              Sadly, C is currently sick and injured and probably too miserable to focus on writing for a while, but she does have a post trying to describe the elephant of sexual attraction that she’s been working on for a while now!

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