Almost-Sexual Frustration

Excerpt: As the title suggests, I have been feeling increasingly frustrated for the lack of physical contact with any other human being. Not sexual contact, but intimate contact: kissing, spooning, hearing someone else’s heart beat, feeling their skin beneath my nails, and pretty much anything that, according to popular ideas, is supposed to lead up to sex. Hell, I wouldn’t even really mind having sex, though it’s the part that comes before that I truly enjoy. Among asexuals, I seem to have a pretty broad view of what borderline acts are acceptable and enjoyable. This is why I sometimes call myself and almost-sexual, because if the definition of sexuality were broadened enough to include them, I might be able to identify as a sexual person. Although I still doubt whether even under the ideal circumstances, it would ever occur to me to initiate sex as it’s usually defined (i.e. intercourse, oral, manual). Point is, I still have a drive to be physically intimate with people even if I couldn’t care less about actually having sex with them. The only word I have to describe my feelings when that drive is frustrated is “sexual frustration” but it’s not quite that.

I’ve been in a bit of a bad spot lately, emotionally. This is hard for me to admit, because as a proper INTJ, I tend to be rather unemotional (to put it mildly; really, I am blank as a goddamned robot). I don’t like talking about emotions, and showing them even less. Fortunately I don’t often have strong emotional reactions anyway. Usually I’m just in a pretty much neutral state—call it calm or zen or whatever you will. But the effect of this is that when I DO have strong emotions I sometimes find them difficult to deal with simply because I’m not used to it. I don’t have a support system in place, I don’t have that kind of talking-it-over -at-3-am relationship with most of my friends, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that, because I don’t want to selfishly disrupt their lives with my own emotional crises. I tend to think talking about my own emotions is self-indulgent; nobody wants to hear it, so I should just deal with it on my own. And I’m more comfortable doing things that way. In fact, I don’t know if I could cry in front of other people even if I really wanted to. I’m too used to suppressing myself in front of others, which I’m sure all introverts do to some extent. I need time alone to recharge, deal with my emotions, be myself.

The problem is, lately I’ve been having too much of it.

I haven’t seen any of my friends since early May, and hardly talked to any of them either. I haven’t seen anyone except family members and potential employers (all of whom rejected me). Everyone else is busy, and I’m here lonely and bored. It doesn’t help that I am more in need of a distraction now than I have been for at least the past two years, since without one I fall right back into a heartbroken rut. I hate that word, as if my heart stops working just because I’m in pain, but how else to describe it? It may be better that the relationship ended, but I still love him, I still miss him, and all the more because I am always near my computer, which is where I would talk to him nearly every day. He had a tremendous impact on my life and that crater is not going to go away. I just have to get used to it, until eventually it will fade into the background, and begin to feel like a natural part of my emotional landscape.

And, as the title suggests, I have been feeling increasingly frustrated for the lack of physical contact with any other human being. Not sexual contact, but intimate contact: kissing, spooning, hearing someone else’s heart beat, feeling their skin beneath my nails, and pretty much anything that, according to popular ideas, is supposed to lead up to sex. Hell, I wouldn’t even really mind having sex, though it’s the part that comes before that I truly enjoy. Among asexuals, I seem to have a pretty broad view of what borderline acts are acceptable and enjoyable. This is why I sometimes call myself and almost-sexual, because if the definition of sexuality were broadened enough to include them, I might be able to identify as a sexual person. Although I still doubt whether even under the ideal circumstances, it would ever occur to me to initiate sex as it’s usually defined (i.e. intercourse, oral, manual). Point is, I still have a drive to be physically intimate with people even if I couldn’t care less about actually having sex with them. The only word I have to describe my feelings when that drive is frustrated is “sexual frustration” but it’s not quite that. Is it? Maybe, if you define “sex” broadly enough, but that kind of goes against popular understanding and thus makes communication too difficult to be useful. And any neologism I can come up with is either inaccurate, unclear, or just sounds stupid. “Romantic frustration?” No, because it’s not connected to romance, really. “Physical frustration?” Uh… what?

So I think I’ll stick with almost-sexual frustration. I like it because it gets the point across a bit better than something like “sensual frustration” would, since the meaning is somewhat intuitive (if a little vague), at least to anyone with a good knowledge of asexuality. I wouldn’t necessarily have to take a lot of time explaining it. And it emphasizes what I have in common with sexual people. If this is anything like what they call “sexual frustration,” and it seems to me that it’s very similar, then… I get it. It sucks. I know. I can actually relate to you, I can understand you, if not so much why you like those particular sexual acts that I’m not so fond of. This, essentially, makes my understanding of sexual people akin to a vanilla person’s understanding of kinkiness, and while there’s still a gap, it’s not so hard to bridge because at least I understand the frustration, if not the particular desire.

So, I want to be physically intimate with someone. The thing is, I can’t do it with just anyone. There has to be… not so much an emotional connection, not in a romantic sense, because I enjoyed being with M before things got that far. But there has to be some sort of attraction there, and it seems that for me, developing that kind of chemistry with someone is incredibly rare. It’s possible to have it from the start, but I would have to work on another issue before I consider doing anything with another person: that is, understanding. I need them to understand my asexuality, and that just because I like x doesn’t mean I also like y. I need them to understand that for me all these things are separate, not a progression of mild-to-full-on sexuality. I need to have an understanding that if I do one thing, it’s not automatically going to lead to me being pushed into an uncomfortable situation. In that way, I can relax in the knowledge that I’m going to be (relatively) emotionally safe.

It’s frustrating because I was never able to get to that point with M, who is the only person so far that I’ve known in real life whom I’ve had that kind of attraction to. I tried to initiate several discussions about it, but he didn’t understand what I was trying to do, and dismissed me prematurely without taking the time to even try to understand. It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation, since I’m too inarticulate not to try his patience in the first place, but his lack of patience made me even more inarticulate, which made him less patient with me, and so on… At any rate, it was unsatisfying, and extremely frustrating (probably for both of us). I still think that if we had ever managed to communicate, we could have had a fantastic physical interaction, even if it didn’t match up exactly with what each of us wanted. But at least, even though we never did make that far, I got some practice out of it.

But that’s over, and now I’m back to square one and wondering just how long it’s going to take to establish a physically satisfying (not necessarily romantic) relationship with anyone. It took me a good ten years past the point where I should have been interested in this sort of thing to find anyone that I even had the potential to develop such a relationship with. Ten years, during which time I wasn’t interested in anyone around me, at all. How long is it going to take this time? And when I do finally find someone else I’m interested in, will I actually be able to make that person understand? I expect it will be easier next time because I have a little bit of experience now, but I can’t be sure. Realistically, I can’t expect to find someone to do this with anytime soon, even if I make myself more available. And so, I just have to manage my frustration for the time being, even though it’s become quite hard to do that at the moment. Hopefully it will get easier once school starts again and I have a distraction…

And hey, if you’ve actually made it through this ridiculously whiny post, then congratulations. I’m glad you survived!

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13 thoughts on “Almost-Sexual Frustration

  1. LOL, thanks. It doesn’t *quite* fit since what I’m after is a liiiitle more aggressive than just cuddling, but that’s a great term nonetheless!

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  2. Are you kidding me? I love angsty posts! Fo reals.
    First of all, I really feel you on the emotions thing. I find strong emotions almost painful, even if they’re positive. Anything that deviates from my basic 3 emotions of love, fear, and indignation can be hard to deal with. I can really relate to wanting physical contact, too. The funny thing is, I can only handle a tiny bit of it. But I do feel deprived without that.

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  3. I’m all about emotion (bizarrely intellectual blog posts aside), so I tend to not mind other people expressing it… and I feel you on the “it’s taken me this long to find it at all; how long before I have another chance?” frustration. I already feel so “behind” in a sense, even though I understand timing to be relative, that it’s hard to be patient for a relationship, especially knowing that the next person I could work with might work for me…

    Hang in there.

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  4. I know how you feel, as one INTJ to another, you really need to be careful how you deal with powerful emotions. We (introverts) as a people tend to internalize all our problems, and even if we know the source of our discomfort is external, we tend to blame ourselves with that little part of our brain that seems immune to rational thought and this leads to self-loathing and self-destructive behaviour. I’ve had this conversation on i.org’s forum a few years ago, it seemed like everyone had a story where they lost it for a bit. One person said something along the lines of; when an extrovert would throw dishes, an introvert would cut them self. I know it may sound weird to the rest of you but as an introvert, I can’t scream, I don’t know how, even when I know all I need to feel better is to just bellow I can’t seem to do it right. I don’t understand it, but it seems against my nature to externalize any sort of turmoil.
    Usually we you bottom out, it doesn’t last long. I was there 3 year ago, for lack of a better word I was ’empty’ it lasted for about three weeks, then, presto change-o, popped out of it and have been slowly going up ever since. As long as you don’t throw your self into this down swing, I think you should weather fine.

    By the way, my isolation count is: Last saw friends in march, last non-accidental human contact from a non-family member (like a hug or anything) september 4th 2008 (11 months, 4 days, and 23 hours in counting)
    Tomorrow is always better, Ciao.

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  5. Thanks, guys. It really helps just to write about it, at least then it stops it from circling around in my mind with nowhere to go.

    For some reason, the situation always seems much more grave when I express my negative emotions that it actually is. At least it’s nowhere near as bad as the situation I was in last year, since right now I have the space I need to deal with things without having others impose on me too much, and I’m not quite as isolated from my friends as I was then (plus I’m not slowly losing the best of them right when I need her the most). I’ll see them soon. Back then, somewhat ironically, the only thing keeping me sane was my continued relationship with M. Since then, I’ve gotten into a much more stable situation, so I can handle this.

    Marshall–That’s an interesting quote, about introverts cutting vs. extroverts throwing dishes. Personally, I can scream, but only under the most extreme duress (I kind of had to learn, growing up in the house I did), and really, it’s true that I’ve always been more attracted to cutting as a way to deal with emotions than taking them out on objects/others. I’ve never done it, though, mostly because I don’t want *any* visible evidence that I have emotions, at ALL. Cutting would surely get me into serious trouble if anyone ever found out; I’d be hounded invasively by a lot of people I don’t trust to tell my emotional difficulties to. So instead I usually turn to escapism and writing to deal with things.

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  6. Gray Lady, Ken Wilber called it “skin hunger”. I know what you mean.
    I just found your blog today and so relate to everything you are saying and the way you are expressing it. I mean your particular type of “asexuality” as you describe it. I’ve been trying on and tweaking different multi-word labels for myself for some time, heh.
    Thanks so much for keeping this blog up.

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  7. That’s a good word for it, I like that. I’m glad you’re getting something out of what I’ve written! It’s always nice to hear from people who can relate. :)

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    • Dear Gray Lady,
      Wow, it’s great to know that there is someone out there just like me. I also crave physical contact just the way you describe it but couldn’t care at all for sex, no interest whatsoever. My beliefs forbid me from touching myself so masturbation has never been an option.

      It’s great to write about things in a diary or a blog just like you did because it helps you organize your thoughts, at least it works great for me. It’s also hard to explain to anyone how ‘frustrated’ you are without them misunderstanding you.

      Good luck to you and the person you seek is rare but one day you will find Mr. Right,

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  8. i’m just a random reader, but i love the post. the problem with me however is that i’m in a relationship and my partner (she) has her moments of “on-off” periods that constantly change according to her mood and her moods which seems to have sta on an off period leaves me sexually fustrated. i want everything you described and i’m a male. i do have my softer side to things but my masculine aggression takes over my thoughts and feelings – sexually. i’d love to have this answered … what can i possibly do to overcome this? why do you think she goes through these periods of “on-off’s”? and do you have any tips on how i can convert my energy into something positive and contribute to the relationship? i ask you these because i’d love to hear from the opposite sexs’ perception as my partner is extremely low with levels of expressing emotions. much appreciated though. thanks alot!

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post… I’m not sure if I can provide any satisfactory answers to your questions, because they’re a bit outside my realm of experience, but I’ll try!

      Though I am female, I’m kind of an atypical one in that I’m not interested in actually having sex (though I’m okay with it if that’s what my partner wants)–this physical drive I describe in this post is more of a sensual, rather than sexual thing. I’m guessing that’s a little different from your partner, since you say she has these “on and off” periods. I get that to a degree with this touchy-cuddly sort of thing, but speaking sexually, at my most “on,” my desires are only ambiguously not-quite-sexual (i.e. “Well, I wouldn’t mind having an orgasm, but I don’t care if I don’t.”). So, I don’t think I can answer for her about why she goes through it–quite possibly, even she can’t say. Sometimes you’re in the mood, sometimes you just… aren’t.

      Your best bet is to just ask her what she’s feeling. I may be another female who is not terribly emotionally expressive, but just because we both defy the stereotype in that way, that doesn’t mean I’ll have any kind of insight as to what she’s feeling. You really need to communicate with her to find some way to work this out. That’s going to be absolutely crucial to this, and it will be tricky, because you want to communicate honestly, but don’t pressure her. She may not be comfortable with a face-to-face conversation. There are people (and I’m one of them) who tend to shut down when asked to have a serious conversation face-to-face, and feel unable to express themselves simply because that is not their area of strength. Give her the space, if she needs it, to express herself in writing, or however else she feels most comfortable. It could be that she’s very expressive in other mediums, just not so much in the one you use most often.

      As for dealing with your sexual frustration… This is where I have the least experience, since I’ve never felt that, myself. However, I do have experience with trying to keep my partners from being sexually frustrated, despite my asexuality… There are a number of things you might be able to do to deal with it. Masturbation is a good one, but I realize it may not help your desire for sexual intimacy with your partner. One thing that has helped my partner and I is to find things that aren’t sexual for me, but are for her. For example, I will hold her and caress her while she masturbates. Or do something that she finds kinky (like spanking) which allows me to stimulate her while being free from having to be touched myself. Of course, this depends on your partner’s level of comfort with these things… There are some more ideas in this post, which, while it is aimed at an asexual audience, might be helpful to you as well.

      Good luck with this situation! I hope I was able to help.

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  9. hi, i found this blog by coincidence and can’t stop sympathizing with everything you are saying! I was further shocked because I myself is another INTJ. (maybe the almost sexual frustration is an INJT thing?) Well anyway, I just want to say that i have similar frustrations, and the biggest problem to that is the inability to connect to anyone. So sometimes i even think that i can live on faking it in an attempt to make people sexually like me. However, as you say, i can’t remove this frustration and anger deep inside me – the fact that i really cant genuinely feel the emotions that everyone else seems to be feeling!

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  10. I’m an infj so I kind of get the overwhelming emotions thing when they so rarely make an appearance haha

    As an aro ace I’m finding this “sensual frustration” a very weird place to be in right now as it’s definitely not romantic or sexual in nature. I also feel like I need to have some form of attraction to the person (sensual attraction?) and for me that’s only happened once and I’m 19 so I’m also worried that the situation won’t line up for a sensual/platonic relationship to be a real possibility for me for a long time.

    I was on Arocalypse when I mentioned something like “the only person I’d be able to get that from is 5000km away” when my friend irl responded by offering me that affection and in another comment he also seemed to think that that desire is only general and not directed at anyone in particular but I know I’ve only ever felt it for this other guy who is 5000km away. I just wouldn’t be comfortable getting that from anyone else right now yet I need it so badly and all I can think about is hopping on a plane just to see him and it’s so stupid.

    (I wish I could use my regular username but my irl friend who I mentioned lowkey stalks the shit out of me online and I don’t want him to find this without talking about it first)

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