Time passes me by lately like water does a fish—I am always in it, it is always flowing around me, but each moment is just something I live in without really thinking about it. I pay attention only to the strong currents and my eventual destination, letting the usual ebb and tide just make its lazy circles about the unconscious.
Of course, I’m still able to focus on time and its various aspects, bring it out of the background and into the forefront as I am doing now. But that kind of focus might as well be a flash of lighting. For the most part, it passes, and I make neither an effort to live in the moment nor hold fast to hope or memory. Things happen, mostly boring and not worth reporting—or so it was for a while. Unfortunately, no news does not necessarily mean good news, even though I am significantly less likely to update without the motivation of conflict. This past summer, I’ve been beset by a number of injuries and illnesses, including a brief visit to the hospital (which fortunately turned out to mean nothing except that I should take better care not to exhaust myself). Those injuries and illnesses have continued since I started school, which means that I have missed a lot of class and my ability to keep up with assignments has suffered. My relationship with my partner suffered a lot as well—partially, indeed, as a result of my being sick so often—and now we have broken up, albeit somewhat tentatively and while keeping the possibility in mind that we may be able to resolve our differences and work back up to a romantic relationship.
With all this going on, I hadn’t really been thinking about asexuality. Over the summer, there were still plenty of moments, from time to time, when I would see my girlfriend looking at porn and, upon hearing my comments, she would groan at me and says, “You’re so asexual.” But for the most part, it went unnoticed, and barely mattered.
I have been trying to decide what is different about the part that sex played in our relationship as compared to the part that it plays in a pairing of two sexuals, but I can’t come up with much. It’s not as if it isn’t generally enjoyable, and I can’t say that it isn’t intimate. There were periods when we go without for quite a while before either one of us would crease her brow and say, “Hm. When was the last time, anyway?” That is probably the most obvious sign of my asexuality combined with her relative lack of sexual attraction to me. The thing is, our relationship actually did seem to suffer more during the dry spells than when we were doing it relatively frequently, despite my conviction that sex should not be a necessary part of a relationship.
For a while, I really thought the relationship wasn’t suffering on behalf of my asexuality. It was more of an issue between the two of us that I would rarely be in the mood to watch a movie than it was that I would rarely be in the mood to have sex. And after all, even if it didn’t occur to me to want to generally, it’s not like I had a problem with doing it whenever she would ask. I am far from frigid and unresponsive; and this is why I find it so odd that I have been called “sexually disabled,” because I am entirely capable of normal sexual function. It even comes a little easier to me, from a physical perspective, than it seems to for a large percentage of women who are sexual. Usually, during a typical sexual encounter, I would orgasm at least twice, and a handful of times my partner and I even managed to achieve what seems to be considered the Holy Grail of orgasmic experience—that is, simultaneity. That’s not meant as a brag—I hate bragging, and in fact I do believe that most people who brag about sex a lot aren’t actually getting much of it, and what would be the point of me bragging, anyway, since it would be so misleading?—but I say this just to demonstrate exactly how minuscule a problem it actually was, to my mind. I was with the right person, in the right circumstances. The rest was cake.
No, as it turns out, the problem was initiative. I am not dominant enough to match her submissiveness, and I am not sexual enough to start something that it does not usually occur to me to start. Actually, I am still not sure exactly how it is done, this initiation of sexual activity. Even if I was the one who suggested it, I was always taking my cues from her in the first place: a playful bit of fondling when she seemed particularly receptive to it, a diversion of her attention when she was going to go masturbate (which she seemed to take awry anyway, since she began to get the idea that I had something against her masturbating; an odd bit of irony, isn’t it? that a person who is not so into sex should give the impression that it is not okay for her partner to satisfy herself alone! But in my eagerness to keep her pleased, the simple statement that I would offer myself to her if she was more interested in my body than the computer screen was somehow perceived as an anti-masturbatory remark). The few times I suggested it apart from that, there was this awkwardly deliberate, premeditated quality to it; it felt unnatural, almost forced.
How can I dominate when I barely understand what doms do, or why they do it? She says maybe I should read a lot of books, but it’s not as if I have lacked reading material in that area. In fact, one of my favorite book series—one which she can’t even read because she gets so turned on by it—prominently features characters into all kinds of BDSM, and I read it in part because I find it fascinating. But I am not at all sure how I could apply what I have read to a real-life situation. Actually, I do have some intrinsic sadistic tendencies of my own (to which my sister would be able to attest, since as a child I often expressed them on her), as well as a moderate interest in rope bondage—but as it turns out, none of my interests coincide with hers. And so, my natural instincts suppressed, I am left with no lead to follow. Such situations are then stilted and awkward, and I am constantly wondering if I am doing it right, which doesn’t make for a very satisfactory experience for anyone.
Of course, there was another issue, that being what I physically lack. She is more attracted to men than to women sexually, even if she seems to be extremely disappointed with them otherwise. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder occasionally if that meant she would be happier with someone other than me. We had an agreement that she would be allowed to have a “friend with benefits” if she could find someone interested who was actually trustworthy, and not just after her because of a fetish—she did, once, during our relationship, exercise her prowess at giving blow jobs, and it was never a problem—and, in fact, she was allowed to look for another lover, too, if she wanted. I didn’t expect to fulfill her completely. Still, still. I couldn’t help but wonder. If she found someone else to have sex with, would it mean that she would completely lose interest in me? Had she already lost all her interest in me? I found that I considered that prospect depressing even though I was not even sexual to begin with.
I realized then that sex was becoming for us, much to my dismay, something of a shorthand for intimacy, the way it often is with sexuals. That’s not to say that there was no form of non-sexual intimacy that we shared, and not to say either that there wasn’t the occasional time that we had sex that really wasn’t all that intimate (though those were usually terrible experiences anyway). But on the whole, she was beginning to push me farther and farther away emotionally (and sometimes, she out and out shoved), and for a while anyway, sex seemed to offer a brief respite. But my own private torment was the creeping realization that her degrading sexual interest in me was a mirror of her disengagement from the relationship as a whole.
Nothing diminishes the sharp, cold sting of rejection. Gradually, she was becoming more and more closed off to me. She no longer texted me in the morning to let me know she loved me, and seemed apathetic when I attempted to continue the tradition. And although she would reasonably often profess to being horny, she would no longer ask me to participate, and would even seem to balk at my meant-to-be-courteous suggestion. Was one a symptom of the other? Did they feed off of each other, the slow mounting fog, the thinning breathless suffocation so much like the way the air thins as one approaches a mountain peak, until finally there was no oxygen left? Am I the only one left panicking at the possibility that what we created between us has iced over so thoroughly that there may have been too much cell damage sustained for it to survive?
Such questions plague me, and maybe only me, but my fear of rejection was certainly not unfounded. During this time, I even began to question my own asexuality for a while, since so very much about our relationship resembles a relationship between two sexual people. But upon further reflection and a number of discussions with her about it, I realized that my asexuality was undeniable, and undeniably a part of the problem. In this area, we simply are not compatible. But that is not a huge problem when it is compared to our other areas of incompatibility, which, although they may not be so very many, have been far more harmful to our relationship than a simple lack of sexual compatibility.
Next week, we are slated to see a couple’s counselor so that we might decide whether there is a chance we can resolve some of our issues. I think, personally, that there is a strong possibility that we might indeed be able to do it, if only—indeed, if only—she is as willing to put as much effort into working on them as I am. I am not so confident of that, but either way, this is one sexual/asexual relationship that is not ending purely because of sexual issues, and most likely, we will be able to at the very least put everything aside and be close friends.
Still, it was useful for me, and I thought it may be of interest to my readers, to articulate what sometimes oddly counterintuitive difficulties we have had with regard to sexuality. Maybe someone somewhere will find in my analysis of my weird-ass relationship with this girl I cannot yet bring myself to call an ex a helpful reflection. I figure at the very least, it can’t hurt to add to the available pool of asexual content, which is something I have been neglecting to continue for far too long! I will make no promises about posting more often since I am completely overburdened as it is, but for this moment at least, I am back.