Q&A X

All search terms appear exactly as they were typed into Google/Formspring, so I take no credit for any spelling or grammar errors.

Standard Definitional Disclaimer: Asexuality refers here to a sexual orientation among humans.  It does not have anything to do with biology, whether that means the biology of non-human asexually reproducing species, or humans with non-standard anatomy (if you’re looking for that, google intersex conditions instead). Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction; it does not mean or imply that we are “not sexual” in any way at all. The term is analogous to homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc. For a more detailed explanation on this, please check my FAQ page. Asexuals are a widely varied group that may have little else in common with one another aside from not experiencing sexual attraction to others as a general rule. I can only answer for myself. My answers may include sarcasm.

On to the questions!

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Q: Very new to all this, and so much of what I’ve read hear and elsewhere through Aven makes sense to me, helps me to understand how I feel. But now I have so many questions (well, three) and only 37 characters left. Would it be okay to post more than once? (from Formspring)
A: Of course. :) You can post as many times as you want–and if you have a longer question, you can post more than once, or email me if you want. Whichever is more comfortable for you! I know some people don’t like giving their email or IP address.

Q: Thanks. Okay, firstly: I have a mood disorder, which means that periodically I get very hyper and at those times, do sometimes feel some element of sexual attraction. But not often. Does this mean it would be wrong to identify as asexual? (from Formspring)
A: No, I don’t think it’s wrong to identify as asexual in that case. You should identify however you’re comfortable identifying. If you feel really uneasy about feeling something similar to sexual attraction, you might identify as gray-asexual if that’s more comfortable for you, but some people who occasionally experience sexual attraction do identify as just asexual, because they feel that it’s still most accurate. Also, keep in mind that there’s no shame in identifying as asexual and then later changing your mind. Some of our best allies have done that. Whatever works for you, works! Don’t listen to people who tell you you’re wrong to identify that way.

Q: Secondly: even if I don’t feel any sexual attraction, I kind of like it when someone feels that way about me. My self-confidence has always been a problem, and it’s nice to feel wanted, even if the feeling isn’t reciprocated on my part. Is this wrong? (from Formspring)
A: Nope, it’s totally understandable, and I kinda feel that way myself, although I tend to be conflicted about it. Sometimes I have actually felt a little sad when I felt my partner wasn’t very attracted to me, because I felt like I couldn’t fulfill what she was looking for. I think having these feelings is not only understandable, but also allows you to have more empathy for your girlfriend, if she feels rejected because you don’t feel sexually attracted to her, which could be very helpful when you do raise the issue with her. (transitioning to the next question…)

Q: Thirdly: as I said at first, I recognise so much of myself in what I’ve read, and feel a lot more comfortable for having done so. But I have no idea how to raise this with my girlfriend; she may have guessed already, but it’s still a awkward prospect. (from Formspring)
A: Knowing how to bring up topics like this is always tricky. For me personally, whenever I have a serious issue to discuss it always helps to write down what I want to say beforehand, even if I intend to just talk it out without actually giving the person the letter I wrote. Sometimes the conversation doesn’t go as well as I’d expected, and in that case it’s useful to write a letter to explain what you mean without interruptions. Or sometimes it is so daunting to even begin the discussion that I just use the letter to start it. Your girlfriend may not understand at first, and may feel rejected. Gently try to reassure her as much as possible that even though you’re not sexually attracted to her, you still love her and want to make it work between you in whatever way that you can. She may need some time to process it, so give her some space if she needs it. Other than that, I can’t think of much else to tell you right now–you may find some of the recent guest posts helpful, though. Best of luck!

Q: I like your definition of intellectual sexual desire and responsive sexual desire! I can relate to that too (I’m not sure I’m grey-A or asexual). I have a further question: when asexual people enjoy sex, do they just enjoy the physical pleasure, or do they also feel a deep emotional connection with their partner? From some posts I read on AVEN, it seems that asexuals only enjoy the physical part, so partnered sex isn’t really different from masturbation to them. Is this right? (reposted from comments)
A: I think it totally depends on the person. For me personally, I enjoy both the emotional connection with my partner and the physical part of it—and the physical part of it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me without an emotional connection, because masturbation is safer and easier than partnered sex while still satisfying on the physical level. Some asexuals don’t really find sex particularly pleasurable or desirable on a physical level themselves, but do really enjoy the emotional connection they get from it. Others don’t feel, enjoy, or don’t want to feel the emotional connection as much, but can enjoy the physical part of it. I’ve heard some asexuals talk about how they think they might enjoy trying casual sex or sex with prostitutes more than sex in the context of a romantic relationship, although I’m not aware of any who have actually tried it. I know there are some who have done the sex-with-friends thing (more commonly called “friends with benefits” although I dislike that term because it implies friendship doesn’t have inherent benefits), too, and from what I recall some had enjoyed it on both levels as well.

Q: So… what IS your farorite color? (from Formspring)
A: Haha, it’s blue. Usually medium – deep blues in particular. Purple is a close second.

Q: how do i know if my partner is asexual (from Google)
A: By talking to them. If you suspect your partner may be asexual, first ask them if they’ve ever heard of asexuality. If they haven’t, or if they don’t seem to understand the definition, show them AVEN. Give them time to think about it. While many asexuals have an immediate “omg this fits me so well!!” reaction when they first discover that asexuality is a real, legitimate sexual orientation, that they’re not the only one, others don’t accept it right away. Some people have a knee-jerk “What? No I’m not!” sort of reaction. Others may be afraid to accept their asexuality because they don’t want to acknowledge that they’re not “normal”—they may fear that it means they’ll always be perceived as somehow broken or wrong. Reassure your partner that if they are asexual, it doesn’t mean that they’re broken. Let them know that you don’t blame them for any sex-related relationship problems that you may be having, and that if they’re asexual it’s just a (potential) compatibility issue that the two of you didn’t know about when you first got together. (I say that it’s a potential compatibility issue, by the way, because some people find it really isn’t a big deal to date an asexual person at all.) Be honest about your emotional reaction to it, but at the same time, realize that right when they first come to understand their asexuality is not the time to bring up your personal issues with it, and give them space to think. I’d recommend giving them at least a few days, maybe a week. Don’t expect them to come to a definite conclusion within that time frame, but I think a week is a reasonable amount of time to wait to check in about how they’re feeling about it. Most of all, DON’T pressure them to have sex!

Q: does masturbation lead to asexuality
(from Google)
A: No, that’s ridiculous. I have no idea where people get ideas like that.

Q: why is a unsexual 14 year olsd girls period late (from Google)
A: You know, I’m not sure how this even led here, but I guess I’ll answer it anyway. There are a number of reasons why young girls can have late periods. It’s pretty common for girls who have just reached menarche to have irregular cycles in the first place, so it’s not necessarily anything to worry about. If a girl is underweight, or physically stressed in some way, her period may be delayed or she may stop having periods at all. All that said, I’m not a doctor, and if you’re worried about it, you should go see one. If you are the 14-year-old girl in question, you can talk to your parents/guardians or school nurse about it, if you feel unsafe talking to parents.

Q: asexual chronic masturbaters? (from Google)
A: I don’t even know what this is supposed to mean or why it has a question mark… Seriously, why would anyone define themselves—or anyone, for that matter—as a chronic masturbator? Masturbating is fine. It’s not a health condition, it’s not an addiction. It really isn’t a bad thing, it won’t hurt you, unless you do it too hard or something. But the good thing about masturbating is that you can feel what you’re doing, so you can stop being too rough with yourself.

Q: are gregory house arguments valid? (from Google)
A: Uh, which ones? Many of his arguments are, but not all. Sometimes the writers do a terrible job.

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Have you got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask me here. Remember to check the FAQ page!

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8 thoughts on “Q&A X

  1. I think that the idea behind the question “does masturbation lead to asexuality” is that trying masturbation make people like it and prefer it over partnered sex, making them behavioral asexuals. The idea behind “asexual chronic masturbaters?” is the reciprocal of the previous one, that behavioral asexuality is the consequence of trying masturbation and preferring it.

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    • I understand the idea, it’s the same that Rabbi Schmuley Boteach had a long time ago. However, the idea doesn’t make any sense. There’s no such thing as a “behavioral asexual” anyway, that’s called celibacy.

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  2. So let me get this straight. Someone who is asexual may not want to have sex but may masturbate. They may enjoy the physical aspects of sex but not the emotional ones. Or the emotional ones but not the physical ones. They might have sex or not have sex, enjoy sex or not enjoy sex. They can have sexual relationships with a deep emotional connection or engage in casual sex. I’m pretty sure you’ve just covered everyone in the world.

    I don’t doubt the existence of asexuality, but I’m not sure if you’re applying the term “asexual” where there is no need for it. It may be useful shorthand to explain a sexual orientation where no sexual attraction is felt towards other people, but stretching labels to shades of relative types of enjoyment of different sexual activity seems pedantic. I think there is a difference between “I’ve never had sex I enjoyed”, “I don’t like sex that much”, “I don’t like sex” and “I do not experience sexual feelings in any shape or form”, but you seem to lump them all under the umbrella of asexuality.

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    • Asexuality has absolutely nothing to do with enjoying sexual pleasure or not enjoying sexual pleasure. It has to do purely with lack of sexual attraction.

      The fact you even wrote this comment is astounding. At the very top of this post, the second paragraph is: “Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction; it does not mean or imply that we are “not sexual” in any way at all. The term is analogous to homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc. ” So, if you fail to understand that, you might wanna write that instead of talking about sexual situations that occur and whether or not you think it’s valid that they have terminology associated with them.

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    • Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. I’m saying, asexuality is a sexual orientation, and it is based on not experiencing sexual attraction, not on behavior. The only thing we all have in common is our lack of sexual ATTRACTION. Other aspects of human sexuality, like masturbation, physiological responses to sex, ability to emotionally connect through sex, and so on, ARE NOT COVERED BY THE TERM ASEXUAL. Naturally, asexuals can have a broad range of different experiences with regard to the aspects of human sexuality that are NOT covered by the term “sexual attraction,” and sure, if you toss out the (key!) sexual attraction part, it would cover everyone in the world. There’s no “stretching labels” here, and in fact it would be stretching the label to strictly apply it only to asexuals who don’t like sex. If you think that it is stretching the label to apply the term to aspects of human sexuality that it does not apply to, you are misunderstanding what asexuality means.

      I don’t really care whether you think I’m “applying the term where there is no need for it,” because by saying that, you are implicitly saying that I should not apply the term to myself. You think it is “pedantic” to apply the term asexual to people who can enjoy sex? Well, honestly, that pisses me off because this has been a HUGE issue in my life. Ironically, finding out about and identifying as asexual is the thing that allowed me to even get to the point where I was open to experiencing sex and could learn to enjoy it. Prior to that, I was celibate and strictly guarded, waiting for the time when I would start wanting to have sex spontaneously (which never came, because I am not in fact a “late bloomer”). It doesn’t matter whether YOU see a need for someone to identify as asexual. What matters is that THEY see the need for it. And for me? It has been extremely important for understanding myself. And if I hadn’t been able to understand my own orientation, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate it to my partners, who would probably then take it as a sign of rejection that I don’t initiate or ever seem turned on by their bodies. It would cause ALL KINDS OF PAIN in my relationships if I didn’t know that I am asexual. If you want to read about people who have actually experienced that kind of pain because their spouses did not know that they were asexual until decades after they were married, check out these two guest posts. (Edited to add: Also, do note how completely different the asexual spouses discussed in those posts were from each other, in the way that they dealt with sex.)

      It is a sign of privilege when you find yourself questioning the labels that other people use because you personally don’t see the need for them. Instead of doing that, you should listen to those people when they describe why those labels are essential to them.

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  3. I’m hesitant about replying to you because I don’t want to antagonise you further, which was not my intent – I wanted to start a discussion, not an argument.

    I’m sorry you’ve had a horrible experience understanding and dealing with your sexuality. If you feel that you are asexual then you have every right to call yourself that and I was not questioning you or implying anything except literally what I said in my original post. The vast majority of the issues you brought up in your response were personal and therefore completely irrelevant to the point I was making.

    The only issue I wanted to raise is that stretching the label of “asexuality” to include an incredibly broad range of behaviour (e.g., if you are attracted to a person emotionally while having sex despite not experiencing physical arousal, this is still a type of sexual attraction, which comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes) is not HELPFUL. It is similar to saying that gay people are people who experience a sexual attraction to the same sex but they are also people who sometimes masturbate to gay porn or who have kissed a member of the same sex – sort of, but no, not really. I do think that sexuality is a lot less black and white than is typically culturally accepted and the vast majority of labels will inaccurately describe the vast majority of people. However, you blur a very, very broad range of sexualities and sexual behaviours which will only contribute to the term “asexual” losing all meaning.

    Please understand that I was questioning the semantic boundaries you have set in your post – not asexuality itself.

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    • if you are attracted to a person emotionally while having sex despite not experiencing physical arousal, this is still a type of sexual attraction, which comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes

      Uh, no, that is NOT in fact sexual attraction. This may be difficult for you to grasp if you are a sexual person for whom all your other attractions are tied in to sexual attraction, but you can have sex with someone you aren’t sexually attracted to—really! You can be in love with someone (i.e. emotionally attracted) that you aren’t sexually attracted to, and just because you have sex with a person you love, that does not make you sexually attracted to that person. I want my partner to explain this, because she is rarely sexually attracted to the people that she has sex with. Perhaps later she will be able to comment.

      Behavior is not a determinant of sexual orientation, and that includes homo-, bi-, and heterosexuality. Gay people can pretend to be straight, and that doesn’t make them not gay. What matters is how they FEEL, NOT how they ACT. Gay people are people who experience sexual attraction to the same sex. They CAN, but do not necessarily, masturbate to gay porn. Whether or not they watch gay porn or have kissed a member of the same sex is irrelevant to determining whether or not they’re gay. Straight people also can watch gay porn or kiss members of the same sex. Although gay people often are motivated to watch gay porn, they may not be, and whether they are defined as gay or not is not contingent on their doing so.

      Likewise, asexuals are people who DO NOT EXPERIENCE SEXUAL ATTRACTION. Whether or not they have ever had sex or been in love with someone before is likewise IRRELEVANT. What matters is HOW WE FEEL, NOT what we DO. Whether or not someone masturbates makes no difference to whether or not they are asexual. But people have a lot of questions about how we live, and I’m trying to answer them. Don’t confuse that with me saying that by definition, asexuals either masturbate or don’t. The definition of asexuality says nothing about whether or not asexual people masturbate, just as the definition of homosexuality says nothing about whether or not gay people masturbate to gay porn. Whether or not people masturbate and what they masturbate to is irrelevant to both definitions.

      I find it funny that you are claiming I am including all of these behaviors in the definition of asexuality, and you make that comparison to including those behaviors in the definition of being gay. I honestly don’t understand why you think I am doing that. I also don’t understand how you can’t see that the implications of what you’re saying (whether you intended them to be there, or realized they were there or not) DO in fact call into question my identity as asexual. You give lip service to the idea that I should be able to define myself however I want, and then go on to say that how I define asexuality is wrong. You are trying to frame the conversation in a way that allows you to deny that your attempt at redefining asexuality is personal for me. My personal experiences are not irrelevant to this conversation, and you are wrong to say that they are.

      I see you did not bother to visit either of the links I provided in my first reply to you, by the way. You should really read them, as it might give you some much-needed perspective.

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  4. Pingback: Why I Identify as Sex-Postitive, Despite Seeing Sex as Neutral « Shades of Gray

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