Someone asked me recently whether I (paraphrasing) engaged in sexual activity just to please my partners, or whether I also enjoy “sensual/erotic” things.
It’s interesting to me that sensual and erotic here are used as synonyms, or near-synonyms. To me, they’re not. I know what sensuality is, and I definitely do enjoy it, but I actually had to look up the definition of “erotic” before I started writing this (“You know you’re asexual when…”). As I suspected, the word does not apply to me, since the key component is sexual desire, which I do not have.
Or to be more accurate, I suppose it could apply to me, to my body, as perceived by someone else, but I would never use the word to describe anything but someone else’s perceptions. It just doesn’t have a place in my personal lexicon.
But I do enjoy sensuality, and part of that involves touching, and being touched by someone else. Sometimes that results in physical arousal, but I have an odd habit of not even noticing when I’m aroused. The goal for me is not arousal and physical release, but just to luxuriate in the senses.
I suppose for a long time, I mistook this sensuality for sexuality. It took me a while to realize that other people didn’t think the same way that I do. But that doesn’t change the fact that for me, the idea of sharing a nice, long, hot bubble bath with someone I love strikes me as infinitely more intimate and fulfilling than having sex.