The following is a guest post for the Carnival of Aces by henshin, who describes herself thus:
I’m a 28 year old bio female, I identify as homoromatic or queer. It took me a long time (about the age of 25) to realise I was asexual because I had always assumed that sexual desire would come with age or sexual experience. It also took me a long time to realise I was interested in the same sex (say 22) because I was never interested in anyone in a sexual way. Once I came to terms with my ‘sexuality’ I started a relationship with a girl who was unsure of her sexuality and our sex life was very exploratory, neither of us were massively interested in sex. After that relationship I had a couple of casual flings where sex was the main focus and then started seeing my current partner who is sexual but with whom I have a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.
The post was edited for typos and the title was chosen by me, but otherwise, all words are hers.
I’ve never been squeamish about sex. I guess my parents helped with that. I know about all the STIs, how to put a condom on, teenage pregnancy and consent issues. Without even trying I’ve just gained this knowledge from friends and their dilemmas, school, and my own research because of the fact that even if I am asexual, sexual situations will probably crop up in my life.
My first sexual experiences as a teenager were pretty negative. They were always with guys who were trying to push me further than I was comfortable, I would have preferred to just hang out, listen to music, and play games, but apparently when we hit 13 I became a different species and being friends was no longer enough. I’ve always been a tomboy and I never really grew out of it. I was a pretty clueless teenager, I didn’t know what people wanted from me and I didn’t care to find out. That changed when I started University as a 19 year old and I met my best friend. She taught me how to express emotion, how to listen to people, how to have a deep and meaningful relationship. Of course I fell in love with her, and of course I didn’t realise this for many months because I didn’t have any sexual thoughts about her, it was all about how I wanted to be close to her, share her bed, have her confide in me, touch her back, hug tightly.
It was off the back of this unrequited love that I finally determined I was probably homosexual. After that I forced myself to get over my bff and move on. The first girl I had a relationship with refused to declare her sexuality, she claimed it didn’t matter, that she was just interested in people, not their genitals. I sympathised but I couldn’t understand. The first time me and this girl got intimate, while fully clothed, I could feel the warmth between her legs as she got aroused and it was the most exciting thing I’d ever felt. I think that feeling is the basis for how I’ve built my sexuality.
We were together for almost a year but neither of us cared about sex really, we argued once because she felt pressured into sexual activity by me. I think I was feeling socially pressured to be interested in sex now I had a partner, but also I was curious. I always was curious about sex because it seemed like such a big deal culturally, but I never got it, I could never make myself like it, and my attempts to make sex into a big deal for me just ended in hurting my girlfriend. I was pretty confused.
In between then and now I had 2 pretty casual relationships. The first was with a girl who asked me out. I get really nervous when people are interested in me in that way. I feel like I have to pre-emptively stop them liking me because I won’t want to have sex with them. I feel like if I kiss them I’ve somehow given them reason to believe they’ll get all the way with me. Anyway when this girl asked me out I felt like I should say yes, and then when she kissed me I didn’t protest, and when she initiated sex I didn’t say no but I had to stop her because, oh yeah I didn’t mention this, I have never had an orgasm, and I find it hard to deal with sex, especially lesbian sex, when you know you won’t come but your partner is desperately trying to make you. Anyway, she wasn’t too impressed when I stopped her. But we still went out for a while. She eventually cheated on me with a guy, she was a very sexual person so I don’t blame her, it was evidently never going to work. But it bugged me that she didn’t even try to comprehend my point of view, she just thought I was a problem to be fixed. Sex with her was mechanical and dull.
I should probably take a second here to point out that sex between two girls is not, obviously, penile-vaginal sex. We take turns predominantly, we arouse each other, make each other come, then switch roles. This means that I can have sex with someone without having to have my own genitals stimulated. A blessing really.
My next fling was with a girl I really liked. We were friends for a while, and she was even going out with someone else. What can I say? I was the other woman. I was never primarily interested in sex though cus, y’know, asexual. But I thought that having sex with this girl would make her want to be with me. Turns out that wasn’t the case. We had sex a good few times, I was flattered by the attention and thought it meant more. I’m willing to give my body in exchange for romantic affection, I guess that sound bad but I think it’s just human. Anyway I did get some sexual pleasure from her touching me, but it never lasted long. I think it helped that she was a cool feminist and never saw the point of sex as orgasm, unlike the previous fling. Still it ended soon enough because we both felt too bad about her girlfriend. Judge me I guess, I just feel like we’re all fallible.
It was just before this last girl that I had started exploring asexuality. I remained friends with her after our fling and we talked about my asexuality a number of times. This girl maintained I wasn’t asexual because I had become physiologically aroused when we had sex. I never had the heart to tell her that my heart was never in it, or that all I ever wanted from her was a cuddle and a kiss and some reassurance. She tried to convince me that she only wanted to have sex with people she liked and that this wasn’t so different from what I felt, and therefore my claims of asexuality were over the top. I just stopped trying to explain after a while.
My current girlfriend is a bit of a godsend. We met at Pride and she hit on me shamelessly. I don’t know why but my typical reticence when being hit on faded. I was embarrassed sure, but I think I’d been reading a lot about asexuality and consent recently and felt confidently armed with the ability to say No. Anyway we stayed up really late, I told her at some point that I was asexual, she told me she was in an open relationship. It seemed like a fair exchange of secrets. We shared a bed that night, hugged and kissed and had fun but we didn’t do anything sexual. She was very concerned that I didn’t feel pressured to have sex and I had never felt so respected or cared for in a sexual situation before.
Fast forward a few months and this wonderful woman is my girlfriend. We have sex regularly; like I mentioned above, sex can be nice and one sided in lesbian relationships when your partner knows you’re asexual. And I still love most feeling the heat between her legs when she’s aroused and watching her orgasm. Sometimes I laugh out loud for the pure joy of it, which, to her credit, she’s never interpreted the wrong way.
We’ve had a number of discussions about my asexuality, we’ve gone through the phase where she doesn’t think I’m really asexual, and now we’re at a place where she’s accepted that I don’t feel the same emotional connection and vulnerability during sex that she does, but that I love it in other ways that are important to me. And very recently I’ve started missing her in an emotional way if I don’t get to experience her body in a sexual way for a while (we are a bit long distance and only see each other once a week or so). This is the biggest revelation to me so far and I know it makes her happy to think that maybe I’m changing in how I view sex but I don’t think I’ll ever be fully like her. But as long as we have mutual respect and we can communicate with each other I am pretty confident in our relationship.
If anything I think that being asexual has made me better at relationships. I mean, I guess it’s a combination of that and my personality but I guess I stopped believing in a normal life path a long time ago and I dedicate a lot of energy to reading about and thinking about alternative sexualities and ways of being. I’m never going to fall in love, have a normal sexual relationship, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. Some of that is being gay, some is being asexual. Either way I’m glad I had to stop believing in that path because it has made me more grateful for what I’ve got and more free to move around the boundaries of normal existence than I otherwise might have been.
And the best thing about being in a relationship with someone you can trust is the option to explore your sexuality not only with another person as your experimental partner, but also as an emotional safety net when you don’t know what the hell you’re getting into. I am nothing if not open minded about my future and the future of my relationships.