Guest Post: Traveling Together, You May Find What You Seek Close to Home

The following is a guest post for the Carnival of Aces by Olivier, who has been a very insightful and eloquent poster at AVEN for the past five years. I personally have found his and his wife’s story quite inspiring, as I find my own attitude/tendencies to be somewhat similar to his wife’s, and had I not discovered asexuality so early in life, I suspect my own story would might have ended up sounding a lot like theirs. Here is how he describes himself:

I’m a heterosexual in a 22-year relationship with an asexual. Like many longer term sexual/asexual relationships, my wife and I had not heard of asexuality until relatively recently (2007), and for many years struggled with the failures of other theories, such as sex-aversion or libido-mismatch, to adequately describe the dynamics of our relationship. I’m incredibly indebted to AVEN for helping us put a name to something that we’d known about – lived – for decades, but had always misunderstood by looking at it through weird normative lenses instead of just seeing it for what it is.

The post is pretty much as he sent it in, but I chose the title.

______


So. Sexual exploration. I’d been banging around, looking for an analogy (‘cos I like analogies!) when the one I wanted sort of slapped me in the face: exploration! Or in a less 19th-century-pith-helmet way, finding somewhere nice to go on holidays together.

First, a bit of personal background. I’ve always got the impression in asexual spaces that sexual exploration is seen as something natural for sexuals to do lots of, and very much an optional thing for asexuals. I don’t necessarily disagree, but that’s not really been my personal experience. I have pretty vanilla tastes, and so in some senses I’m pretty easy to please sexually – not much exploration required. Just pack me off to the nearest beach, or city full of theatres and museums, or rainforest with waterfalls, and I’m happy. My wife on the other hand, knows that these sorts of things are generally regarded as good holiday experiences, but they do nothing much for her. Some people might decide that they’re basically a homebody and leave it at that. But not my wife, her natural reaction is to go exploring.

And so it was for us at the start. We’d do sexual stuff that I found really quite fabulous, and that my wife was putting a lot of effort into. As people who’d never heard of asexuality, and who saw both ourselves and each other as heterosexual, this seemed to me to be a perfectly normal way to approach sex and relationships. But then it would stop. And when it started again it would be something different, approached with gusto. Until it stopped. In hindsight it’s easy to see this for what it was – an asexual who thought she was sexual trying to find the thing that would do it for her. At the time however, it just seemed like the girl I was crazy about was just way more sexually adventurous than I was. Now, that’s not a bad thing, at all, but it is really, really, really, the wrong expectation to take into a long-term sexual/asexual relationship. Drama and confusion, of course, ensued.

While I was wondering what was wrong with that nice beach town with cool places to hang out, my wife would be planning a few weeks in Afghanistan to see if an element of danger made travel more fun, or a month in a place where nobody spoke a word of English, just for a challenge. And some of these places I enjoyed, and others not so much, but being with her certainly broadened my horizons. Problem was, and is, that even places that ticked all the boxes for her in theory, she didn’t much enjoy in practice. For all that drive to explore, there turned out not to be anywhere she particularly enjoyed going. And while she liked some of them well enough once she was there, she still thought that none of them were worth what you had to do to get there – airports and expense and lots of boring standing in queues.

So what’s a guy to do? My first tactic was to deal with all that boring stuff for her. Spend weeks planning. Get all the details sorted. Have things she liked – good books, tasty food – on hand for every step of the way to make all the transit fun. But when you’ve planned the perfect holiday in your head, there’s only one possible outcome: disappointment. And so with our sex life, until we finally admitted what we knew all along – all that exploration and adventure is basically not going to work for us.

So what to do?

Firstly, take a deep breath and get some perspective. For all the fact that sex is not what either of us hoped or planned, we’re ridiculously well matched and happy in every other department. In travel terms, we may not to get to travel much, but we’ve made sure our home is a great place to be, too.

Secondly, our compromise is to do stuff sexually that’s quick and not very adventurous, but is still something. Ironically, this is what works best for my adventurous wife, and leaves less adventurous me wanting more. Not at all what we would have predicted, but it works well enough for us. So it’s like taking a short drive to a beach we both like instead of spending a week in a resort, which would be torture if one of us didn’t want to be there.

And, you know, that’s not the worst, or most uncomfortable way to live. Sometimes I still get the travel bug, and sometimes even a drive to the beach is too much for my wife, but on the whole, it works, and it works well – simply because it’s shaped by the sort of people we both are. Sometimes all that exploring just makes you want to stay close to home.

Sex With Friends: An Asexual Perspective

I planned to write my post for the Carnival of Aces quite a while ago, but something came up this month that made me reconsider what I had planned to write about. I’ve decided to go with the original idea, but make it more generalized than I had originally planned. My blog is receiving a lot more attention lately (by several orders of magnitude!) than it normally does, so I’m being more cautious about what I talk about here.

Today, I want to talk about having sex with friends, and how while it may not seem intuitive, it might be a choice that some asexual people do want to make, and they can come out of it just fine. But the language we use to describe relationships like that tends to exclude asexuals, so it can be an even more difficult minefield to navigate than engaging in sexual activity while in a romantic relationship.

Back when this blog post by Snowdrop Explodes* about the phrases “friends with benefits” vs. “fuck buddies” was written, I stuck a link to it in a draft and decided to come back to it later, but then forgot about it until now. In it, Snowdrop says that he prefers the term “fuck buddies” because it is more honest than the euphemistically named “benefits” that also imply that friendships don’t normally come with benefits. In his words:

So how come the only “benefits” that are worth mentioning, or making special mention of, are sexual favours? Why is the rest of it considered not to be benefits of friendship, such that the only friends who come with benefits are the ones who’ll let you fuck them? Do you think that it is too literal-minded of me to suggest that “friends with benefits” means that all other friends are “friends without benefits”?

I don’t think it’s too literal-minded at all. At the very least, it shows that everything else in a friendship is being taken for granted. I think it’s very much worth considering the implications of the language we use to describe relationships like this on a literal level, because it says something about how we value certain things and devalue others. If on a cultural level we truly valued friendships as highly as sexual relationships, the phrase “friends with benefits” wouldn’t sit right with most people, and it would fall out of use.

I disagree with Snowdrop’s use of the term “fuck buddies” as basically a synonym for FWB, since I think (and he does note that this is how he sees others using the terms) they do indeed refer to different kinds of relationships, or at least, the same relationship viewed with very different emphases. If you say you have a “fuck buddy,” then you are saying that the primary activity that you do with that person is fuck them, just like if you say you have a “drinking buddy” or a “knitting buddy,” you’re saying you primarily drink or knit with that person, respectively. The activity is the focus, not the friendship itself. If anyone describes a friend as a “_____ buddy” to me, I will assume that they do hardly anything else but [fill in the blank] together. With the phrase “friend with benefits,” however, you indicate that the friendship comes first, and the “benefits” are an added bonus, although the fact that this particular thing is the only thing that gets to be called a “benefit” still devalues friendship.

The other term that I think really needs mentioning is “casual sex,” which wikipedia informs me has no set, commonly agreed-upon meaning. The way I tend to view it is as a wide umbrella term for different kinds of sex outside the context of a romantic relationship, including both one-time encounters with strangers and, on the other side of the spectrum, habitual encounters with friends. So both fuck buddies and FWBs are engaging in a type of casual sex, and while the relationships may be similar, the two phrases have a different emotional tenor.

To demonstrate… if I were in a relationship that I considered basically a FWB-type arrangement (for lack of a better term), I would be hurt if I found out I was being described as a “fuck buddy” to others by my FWB. Because to me, that means they consider the rest of our friendship to be shallow, nearly meaningless. It strongly implies to me that should the sex ever stop, so would our friendship.

I personally can’t imagine a situation in which I would be okay with having a relationship that focuses solely on sex. I always want to be friends first and foremost, and that includes in romantic relationships. I’m not the type of person who would be comfortable having sex with strangers, since there are so many considerations that I need my sexual partners to keep in mind about me in order to have a truly positive sexual encounter.

But with a friend? Maybe that’s possible.

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Guest Post: The Afflicted Marriage and Great Compromise

The following is a guest post by Laura for the Carnival of Aces. She is 44 and identifies as a heterosexual female, and her husband Tom is 48 and identifies as a hetero-asexual male. I think their story is an important one, which I have only seen being told previously on AVEN, where it tends to get lost in the shuffle. I’m glad to have her perspective posted here—judging by some of the searches that lead to this blog, people are interested in hearing it!

The post has been edited for typos, and I helped her to organize her thoughts and format the post. She and her husband chose the title together.

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Our story starts in college, not unlike a lot of young couples. We met in a night class and hit it off right away… it felt like we were just drawn to one another. I was 18 and Tom was 21. The year was 1986 and we were both starting our second semester. We didn’t finish. After three or four weeks of spending most of our time “hanging out” in my car, we decided to drop out, and on February 7th drove four states away to stay with Tom’s brother and make a go of it. Working for a temporary employment agency kept us busy for three months, at which time Tom said he thought we should get married, and even though this wasn’t the marriage proposal I had dreamed of, I agreed. We drove to my parents where we proceeded to make arrangements for a wedding in the backyard. Six days later on Mother’s Day May 11th, 1986 we were married.

Flash ahead almost 25 years later… it’s now April 11th 2011. I’m having a really bad day, and our anniversary is only a month away. The years have been filled with a fair amount of conflict, all of it seeming to center around one thing. I always felt Tom was uneasy with all things sexual, although I was not savvy enough to read the signs during our “whirlwind romance,” and would I have wanted to know? I can’t really say. Tom announced early on that there would be no children, but I thought I would change his mind. I eventually changed mine and that was fine… but where was the physical affection??? And the sex… why was I practically begging for it? And why did I always suspect that he preferred to be alone? I don’t know why I only typed in the one word, but I did… asexual. I had never heard it in reference to an orientation, but I really felt he was different and there had to be other people like him. I came to AVEN and found that there indeed were other people like him. I cried…

So much was going through my mind as I read the definition of asexuality. I felt in my heart that it explained the 25 years of wondering why he loved me but didn’t really want to have sex. In all those years I cheated, I left him, I fought with him, I acted out in many ways. I cried because in a way, the deepest need in my life had been met, the need to know why. I had no chance at understanding him without that piece of vital information. I had no chance at overcoming my anger at the prospect of going on endlessly wondering why we couldn’t connect through the act of sex like I thought we should and by no means as frequently as I thought we should.

The AVEN FAQ’s had advice for having a “talk” which I followed to the letter. I went to work that day feeling scared and wondering how Tom would react when I tried to have this “talk” with him. Following the advice was the best thing I ever did; the approach made him feel loved and even though he resisted listening at first, the truth of what I was saying made sense to him and he was willing to look at the front page of AVEN a little. Years of strain washed away from his face as he realized his own very real sexual orientation at age 48.

That night, we sort of saw each other differently. I saw him for who he really is, and he could feel me seeing that, and somehow we knew we could try to accommodate each other in a more loving way.

A really great thing that has happened is that now, on occasion mind you, we can talk about it and how we’re going to make a compromise work. For example, Tom really didn’t want to ever cuddle much because he was afraid I would take it as a precursor to sex. I can honestly tell him that I don’t take it that way because I know he is going to initiate and will tell me. Our compromise consists basically of this:

  • sex twice a month. we started with once, and just recently changed it to twice
  • Tom does the initiating and chooses when
  • making out only on occasion

Sometimes talking about all of this goes well, sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part, we realize that we don’t want to be in conflict so we continue to try and work on ourselves and the relationship.

A really big part of being sensitive to how an asexual feels about compromising seems to be realizing they’ve always felt pressured. So I try to be calm when we do talk about it and realize that everything I want from him I’m not going to get, but I’m going to get what I need, and in order for me to get that I can’t apply pressure… I have to relax. And on Tom’s part he realizes that he would prefer to never do this but since he’s capable, he will. I might add that when I let him lead, and I allow myself to be passive as opposed to aggressive during our encounters he seems less bored or uneasy even. Basically what it seems to come to, whether it involves talking about sex or having sex, is that I can’t be demanding or insistent, I sort of have to squash my sexual urges to be passionate and intense so to say, and he has to put himself out there when he would just as soon not. It’s the pressure and expectations that the sexual partner has that cripple their relationship with an asexual.

He’s my best friend and he has been for 25 years. I enjoy being with him more than anybody else. He tells me he loves me several times a day and hugs me most every morning. We both try to grow intellectually and spiritually together, and we share a lot of interests… this helps us love each other in many ways.

We both feel strongly about monogamy, I think we both prefer and want that from our partner. We tend to feel that someone would end up hurt if we had an open relationship.

We still have work to do (25 years of bad habits don’t break easy), but we’re doing it. Sometimes, love is work… but I guarantee you won’t ever find a better boss in the whole world.

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Edit: At the author’s request, I’ve reposted her story on AVEN here. So if you’d prefer to comment on it over there, now you can!

Guest Post: Curiosity, Exploration, and Self-Discovery

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.

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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.

Guest Post: Why Date An Asexual? An Interview with C

Since I started hosting guest posts, I’ve been bugging C (aka Cat Pajamas), my partner of roughly 3.5 years (and now gayancée), to write one for me. She couldn’t come up with any ideas for the longest time, and so to help her out and make it more comfortable for her, I sent her a bunch of interview questions to answer. If the questions don’t seem to flow from one to another very well, that’s because they were asked in no particular order, just as I thought of them, over email and rearranged later. She’s really worked hard to get her thoughts down and then organize and clarify them better. I’m afraid she found my questions rather frustrating, because they were hard to answer without writing book-length responses. I love that her tendency is to go into great detail about these things… and scribble huge diagrams on my white board about them, too! <3

We don’t often hear much from sexual partners of asexual people, so my hope here is to do a little bit to fill that void. C has another post that she’s working on about sexual attraction as well. If anyone has questions for her that aren’t answered here, feel free to ask in the comments!

From here on out, my questions and comments will be in purple text.

*************

Hi, I’m a 26 year old MTF.  I love to talk about sexuality and some other topics.  I believe I have a very in depth experience with both sexes because I’ve gotten to experience being gay/lesbian/bi in both genders, which is pretty cool and fun to talk about since I think it’s a perspective not many people get to fully experience.

So, if you read that the same way I did, that means I’m at least 200% gay.

Besides sexuality, I have a rather large interests in PC gaming and some outdoorsy hiking/camping stuff.

Can you briefly explain how we met, and how we sort of accidentally ended up in a romantic relationship?

We ‘met’ through a mix of an LGBT group at the university we both went to and me messaging you on OKcupid. Sadly I don’t remember why I messaged you initially, although I do know I was fairly curious about asexuality. We talked online for a time before we decided to go see a movie as friends. The movie wasn’t supposed to be romantic (kung fu panda) and my plan was to just take you back to your place afterwards, but you wanted to just sit around and talk. So we went to a uh, tea/sandwich place that’s kinda artsy and we just sat around and talked.

As it turns out, if you go to see a movie with someone and then talk to them for about 5 hours afterwards and you can’t say good bye, you’re probably doomed to start some sort of romance, whether you intended to do it or not.

Before you met me, if somebody had asked you, “Would you ever date an asexual?” how would you have responded?

I would probably respond with “I’m not sure.” At the time I wasn’t really aware of asexuality and without some information about it or the person, I would probably not do anything. Although I like people that are different from the norm.

If someone asked me that before I started transitioning, I probably would have said “no” since I was quite a bit more sexually active at the time (and ignorant). Once I started transitioning, it would have certainly been closer to a yes (still based on ignorance).

What did you think when you first encountered my profile on OKCupid, and in the early part of our relationship thereafter? Why did you contact me?

When I first encountered it? Who knows! At this point, I’m not sure if there was a reason I messaged you for reasons other than “I don’t know what asexuality is” and I think we had some music groups in common.

I’m pretty sure the reason I messaged you was mainly because of asexuality, since I wasn’t really aware of it and I wanted to know more. I don’t recall wanting to date you. ;)

How did you expect things to proceed? What things surprised you?

Well, ignoring the whole “What? We are dating?” thing… I fully expected the relationship to develop very slowly sexually, so I tried my best to go very slowly. Since usually my relationships have a very sexual nature to them.

What surprised me is how comfortable you were with certain kinds of play. Also how open you were/are to various sexual activities. Based on my (old) knowledge of asexuality, I would have imagined you to be a uh, prude. Thankfully that’s not the case.
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Things we don’t have words for

C and I made this observation over lunch today:

We have a word for someone who abstains from sex (celibate) and the idea of abstaining from sex in general (celibacy). Actually, we have two words for it if you count abstinent as well.

But as far as we know, there isn’t really a word for someone who has decided not to pursue romantic relationships for whatever reason (whether they’re celibate during this period or not). The closest we have (as far as I am aware, at least) is aromantic, but that’s different. The vast majority of people who don’t pursue romantic relationships are not aromantic, they’ve just decided that now is not the time, for whatever reason. Maybe a bad break-up, maybe they have career goals that they don’t want to be distracted from, maybe they just want to spend time single to get to know themselves well and gain a sense of independence. It’s the same as the difference between asexuality and celibacy, only with aromanticism and… a person who is abstaining from romantic relationships, I guess. You see what I mean? We have a description, but not a word.

Has anyone heard of such a word? It gets rather unwieldy to say that every single time when you’re trying to have a conversation about someone who is intentionally, purposefully single like that. I guess there’s “independent,” but that’s more of a general personality trait used as a euphemism than an actual term for it. Since it has that general meaning as well, if you say that without explaining what exactly you mean, other people are liable to get confused. You can say, “She’s very independent” about a married woman, too.

And what does it say about our culture’s values that people have never thought to name this concept? It’s like the idea of people being single on purpose is considered so wrong that people don’t even consider naming it, even though it’s not unheard of. It always seems to be considered just a temporary thing that requires explanation.

Q&A IV: Advice for DrkChief

DrkChief on Formspring asks:

I hope im not out of bounds but im in a relationship and we both think that im asexual and I am at a loss as of what to do and just wonder if you know anything that could help?

He clarifies:

Hi again, okay well we are monogamous, and as of now she’s responded positively but would I guess rather it not be this way if it didn’t have to be and with sexual activities we have been dating for just over a year and it’s been the first relationship where either of us has done anything sexual with a person in a relationship and so Neither of us knew what to expect I guess but as we started trying to do more (I’m at college and she just finished her senior year so finding alone time was hard) it was like she wanted the sexual attentions more then I did and at first I didn’t know but she thought I just didn’t find her attractive and so then I started doing stuff just to try and make up for that and there were times where I think I genuinely wanted to do it but I’m the type of person who has always done what other people wanted or even didn’t want me to do to make them happy and I think I might just enjoy being able to experience some of these thing because of what I’ve been told that it’s supposed to be the the best thing ever (I have two older brothers who have been preaching this to me). One of the big things is I’ve never started any of the sexual things we have done it’s always been her and I have been anxious/scared to be alone with her in case she wants to do something and I’m not up to it or I’ll be able to please her but her not me and she takes it as being her fault. Sorry for rambling but just another piece of information is that about two years ago I was trying to find out if I was gay or bi or really anything and this was before I knew her but that was because I originally felt that the lack of sexual attraction I felt was equally low for both female and male I wanted to know If I was that, and about a year after I has started thinking about this I had my gay brother (drunk) holding down and telling me basically that I should not be gay (this was around when I told her for the first time that I had thought I was bi or gay and at that time (a bad choice) I had gotten myself to believe that I had figured out that I was straight) and this just made me think about it more and more. And sorry it is so long I’m just glad for any advice at all.

To summarize briefly, the basic situation as I understand it is this: you’re in the process of figuring yourself out, while in a monogamous relationship, and you and your girlfriend have both started to think that you’re asexual. Now, you don’t know what to do.

Well, first of all, I have to ask: you’re at a loss as of what to do about what, exactly? Presumably, this has to do with the sexual parts of your relationship. But what about it? I want you to really ask yourself what your goals are here, and be specific about it. Some people, upon realizing they are asexual, start to think that maybe they don’t want to be in a relationship at all, or only want to be in a relationship with either another asexual, or someone who is comfortable forgoing sex. From what I can glean, you seem to be looking for a way to maintain your current relationship while staying true to yourself. But what exactly does that mean? Does it mean not having sex at all? Having sex at a certain frequency, or in a certain way? It’s certainly possible for sexual/asexual couplings to work out well, though it depends on a number of factors. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.

But first of all, since you are just recently coming to identify as asexual, I want to talk about that. When I first realized I was asexual, having gone through a similar phase as you where I thought I was bisexual (and later pansexual), it was a comforting realization. It was like, “Oh, wow, this is a real thing. I’m not the only one.” I never really thought anything was wrong with me, so it wasn’t really anything like feeling that “I’m not broken after all!” like some asexuals describe. Other people describe their realization that they’re asexual as being to some degree upsetting, either because it’s a huge change in their world view or because they feel like nobody would ever want to date an asexual, and so on. So how do you feel about it?

This can’t just be about placating your girlfriend. Whatever solution you decide on, make sure it is what you genuinely want. It worries me that you say, “there were times where I think I genuinely wanted to do it but…” If you’re having sex you don’t want, that is not okay. It’s not your duty to have sex with your girlfriend. It should be a choice that you make, not because you feel you have to or because you’re pressured into it, but because you want to make it. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to do it that don’t have to do with sexual attraction. But here’s the thing: if you’re only trying to maintain the relationship, if you’re only trying to somehow “make up” for your lack of sexual attraction to your partner by having sex, you’re not going to fool her. It’s hard to feign interest, much less to feign interest for an extended period of time. If you don’t actually want to have sex at all, that will become obvious over time, and it will leave both of you unsatisfied. It could erode the relationship to the point that it would be much worse than where just not having sex would leave you. Even if she decides to break up with you because you don’t want to have sex, isn’t it better that to just have that out in the open and consider it now, rather than drawing it out doing something you don’t want to do, leaving you both unsatisfied and resentful?

Essentially, this is a compatibility issue. Nobody is ever perfectly compatible, and if they think they are, they’re deluding themselves. What the two of you need to determine is how great the incompatibility is, and whether you are compatible enough in other areas to make up for it. Where are your limits, with regard to sexual activities? Keep in mind that intercourse is not the only option when it comes to sex; some women, for example, are very happy to just have their nipples played with, and can orgasm easily that way. If you’re uncomfortable with having intercourse but you’re okay with doing that, and she likes it, that can be a way for you both to enjoy sexual activities together. You should have an open, honest discussion about what each of you wants, doesn’t want, and so on. You mentioned that you’ve never initiated anything sexual, and while I myself am not sure exactly how to go about initiating sex so I can’t help you on that one, what you can do is initiate a conversation about it, to show her that you care about this, that you care about her and want to find a solution that both of you can work with. In a way, you’ve already shown that; by writing to me, you’re already looking for a solution.

If she understands that you’re asexual, she should also understand that your lack of attraction to her is nothing personal. It’s not a rejection, and it’s not her fault if you don’t enjoy sex in the way that she does. It’s just your personal preference. Explain to her that you feel scared that she is taking it personally, and that she does think it’s her fault. Talk about whatever your anxieties are about sex, and how that’s making you feel scared to be alone with her. Explain to her the reasons why you’re scared of rejecting her, and listen to her point of view. Once you have had a good discussion (or more likely, multiple discussions) about this, you’ll be able to better assess the situation to find a possible solution.

Whatever you do, remember that sex is not your duty to provide, and it is not okay for her to pressure or otherwise coerce you into doing it. Only do it if you genuinely want to, because doing it when you don’t want to isn’t worth the pain and resentment it would breed.

I wish you the best, and hope my advice helps. If you want, feel free to comment here to update us on the situation. Anyone else who wants to provide advice, feel free to comment to this post. However, keep in mind that any comments saying that sexual/asexual relationships never work out or things similar to that will be deleted.

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If you have a question of your own to ask, you can ask me here or get in touch with me by email at grasexuality [at] gmail.com.

Boquet Remix

Since we’ve been talking about marriage here lately, I thought it would be nice to make a post about my updated views on marriage. For reference, here is my original post from before I met C.

Let’s start at the beginning: I’ve realized that although I made an update mentioning my break-up with C in October, I never made any kind of post—or informed my friends—that we’ve since gotten back together. I suppose I should have done that, but at the time it was quite difficult to distinguish whether we were or wanted to consider ourselves to be friends or dating or what. We were in that weird blurry zone without labels again, basically. So to this day, I still have friends who don’t know that we’re back together, and for that matter, there are still people who never knew we broke up at all… and some people, of course, who never knew we were together in the first place!

I don’t really know why it doesn’t occur to me to tell people these things, honestly. I mean, I would tell them if they asked. But they don’t exactly invite me to hang out with them very often anymore. For some reason, if I’m not standing right in front of them or living in the same dormitory, they just don’t seem to think about me too much. And so we end up going months without talking. I suppose it is sad that I go so long without talking to every single one of my friends, but I’m not sure how to change it. I’m too timid to contact them most of the time. I guess I feel like too much of a bother and a burden if I contact them, but if they contact me it must mean they really want to hang out with me. But this is getting off-topic.

So anyway, C broke up with me basically because our living situation wasn’t working out, and she felt like she needed more space. She was freaking out thinking that there wasn’t any solution, and so she thought that we should just break up. But she still wanted to be friends and made a very big effort to stay in my life. And she has sex with her friends, and she is romantic with her friends. So there weren’t many clear boundaries. When she moved out, she began to recover and feel much more positively towards me again. After a while we were behaving exactly the same way that we would when we first got into a romantic relationship with one another again, except better because we had cleared a lot of what wasn’t working between us. So we agreed to just get back together in labels, as well.

What’s interesting is that when we first got back together, we ended up having sex a lot. This continued for like a month and a half or so, after which it dwindled and dropped down to zero for about a month. During which point we were still feeling very close and intimate, and spending lots of time together, but we were spending that time cuddling, talking, and watching movies and T.V. shows together. Lots of nonsexual intimacy.

Now we’re still not living together, and the time that we are able to spend together has been severely curtailed due to school and work. But we are back to planning what we are going to do for the future. Her plan is to eventually move to Canada because of how much better it is for trans rights there. My plans are much less solid, but I would like to live there with her. It makes sense, then, for us to get married because it would make immigration much easier. And since we are perceived as lesbians, I have no political objection to it. It’s allowed in Canada so our being married wouldn’t be a weird tip-off about her birth sex there. I’m also not worried about the possibility of divorce, because we plan to keep that possibility in mind and keep separate bank accounts. I think we both have a pretty healthy attitude about it.

It’s weird to think of myself as being engaged, although I guess I kind of am? We don’t have a date in mind or anything, we’re just sort of planning to do it eventually. Do people start calling themselves engaged when they have a date in mind, or just when they decide to eventually get married? I don’t see any reason to call her my fiance. I don’t see any reason for us to have a ceremony. (Especially not one that we have spent a lot of money on!) Besides, neither one of us is Christian, so what kind of ceremony would we even have? I do want a ring, but that is mainly to get rid of the annoyance of people hitting on me. I don’t care if she wears one. I don’t see the point of having a wedding. The important part is what comes after that. The important part is the day in, day out ebb & flow of life and relating to one another. I don’t see this as a personal accomplishment, because I was never planning on getting married in the first place, and I don’t think being married is necessarily any better or more fulfilling than not being married. For us, it just makes sense because it is much more practical to do it this way. It’s nothing to be congratulated about. I wish that people would realize that marriage (or the length of a marriage) is not a measure of the success of a relationship or the happiness of the individuals involved, and that there are so many unmarried and single people out there who are way more happy than they would be if they were married, and lots of people out there who have stayed in unhappy marriages/relationships because they think it is a measure of their success as a person.

The Primary Function of Marriage?

This is sort of like a part two to my previous post, but it is actually more like a part three or four, or even five (who knows? I’ve lost count) in an ongoing discussion about asexuality and rape culture. Originally I proposed the idea that sexual coercion and marital rape might be a fundamental human rights issue for asexual discourse to focus on in a comment directed towards the A Life podcast team, who seemed to misunderstand my point and were quite dismissive of the idea. I believe Henrik said something like “Well if you’re going to get raped, then don’t get married.” (I’m not going to go through the podcast to find the actual quote, but if you want to do it, you can find it here. Keep in mind I am also not up-to-date on the more recent podcasts, including the one about asexuality and marriage.) I was kinda pissed off that he would say something like that, because it ignores the reality of the situation that many asexuals are in, and implies a callous attitude towards my own mother’s situation (and mine by proxy). (Why should she have been expected to predict that my father would spiral into alcoholic depression and choose to take it out on the whole family? How could she have known? I think this is called “blaming the victim.”) I’m pointing Henrik’s comment out because it provides context for what I am about to say, and you will see the reason why in a moment.

I posted a clarification here, which recently Britni the Vagina Wig linked to and commented on here. Her post refueled the discussion, and in one of the comments, ignorantarmies said:

For one, this is not so because “marriage is for procreation”. We have long since decoupled sexuality from procreation, thanks to reliable contraceptives. Some Christian groups might promote this, but the reality is different. Relationships involve sex, because one of their functions is to produce spaces where we can have legitimate sex. There are other matters of bonding, belonging, emotional and economic connections, but almost all of those are related to sex in some way. And, I would argue, its good, even necessary to have some kind of institution that does this. Most people want sex and they need some way to satisfy this desire in a socially acceptable way, that is without suffering social sanctions. They do this be having an institution (or several) in place that produces legitimate space for sex. This institution in modern, western society is called the (romantic) relationship. It’s vital for its functioning, that it implies sex (at some point, in some way, details are open to debate).

Yes, social institutions do have coercive force. But this is just a matter of being social beings. Requirements of social spaces like reducing of complexity, producing reliability and stability and encouraging cooperation cannot be had unless we somehow make each other conform to some regular forms of behavior. And to some degree, this is always coercive.
This was a central point in my article on seduction.

The easy answer would be to say that if you don’t want sex, don’t have romantic relationships. If you want other things that romantic relationships produce, find someone who will do that with you without wanting sex. If you do want to participate in a full blown romantic relationship, find a way to communicate with your partner, and find a partner with whom you can communicate your problems on the matter, maybe you will find a solution, maybe you won’t.
Queer people (in the widest sense) have solved the problem of heterosexual monogamous vanilla relationships being unfit for their desires by creating queer interaction spaces where they have set up their own institutions regarding sex. A good solution if there ever was one. I’m not sure if there are enough asexual people for this to be workable, but it makes sense to me at least.

So, I think that attacking that the institution of romantic relationships involves sex is not a good move. Alternative institutions would be better. But any institution requires a semi-stable group of regularly interacting people in order to bring it forth. Then, the requirements of sociality as well as the desires of the individuals can be satisfied.

I posted a response here, and then ignorantarmies posted a reply here. To which I posted the following comment:

I see where you are coming from and I understand that people have different reasons for getting into romantic relationships/marriages. I didn’t mean to imply that people DON’T get into them as a way to have legitimate sex. I also know that people get into romantic relationships without being in love with their partners, in many cases. Usually, I believe this is a temporary thing; either people intend to get into such relationships for sex, or to solve the problem of loneliness. Or, they may see the person as being compatible and give it a try even though they’re not crazy about the person, to see if love grows over time (this I have done myself, with the effect that I did end up falling for the person). Some may just settle.

Of course people have different reasons for getting into romantic relationships: that was actually my point. I probably should have drawn my it out, made the effort to articulate it to a more definite conclusion, instead of leaving it mostly unstated. Sorry for the confusion.

My issue with your original comment was that it seemed far too dismissive of other reasons that people may get into relationships, and seemed to imply support for the idea that upon getting married, a person is automatically assumed to be giving consent to sex with their spouse under every circumstance (i.e. that there is or should be no such thing as marital rape).

People get married for lots and lots of reasons. The fact of it is, not all married couples have sex or ever intend to have sex. Marriage legitimizes a relationship in the eyes of society, and gives a number of legal benefits. That’s why people fight so hard for gay marriage. And that’s why some asexual couples also get married.

I’ve been in a romantic relationship with a fellow asexual before, and it kinda sucks, because the vast majority of people are not willing to acknowledge it as a “real relationship” just because there is no sex involved. My sister was the worst about it; she would belittle me for it constantly, saying that I was too stupid to realize that what my ex and I had was “just friendship.” Few people would just accept it and be happy for me. I almost always had to try to prove that it’s possible first.

Now, you say that marriage “does not work” for asexuals, but are you aware that asexuals DO get married and that it CAN work for them? Getting married would FORCE society to recognize that there really IS a strong bond between two asexuals beyond “just friendship” (although I would contend that friendship is and should be a huge part of a romantic relationship, there is also usually a different kind of feeling to it), at least on some level.

So should asexuals not get married then, just because ONE of marriage’s functions is to provide a space for “legitimate” sex (in the eyes of Christians)? Should asexual couples just avoid that social institution altogether even though it would certainly be beneficial both legally and socially? That seemed to be what your comment was implying. It also seemed to lack awareness of the actual situation that many asexuals are in, with regard to marriage.

My discomfort was never with the idea that some people get into relationships just so they can have legitimate sex, although of course that doesn’t appeal to me. It’s deeper than that. It was because the way you phrased your comment reduced my experience of romance to something that apparently does not count as a “real” romantic relationship. It seemed to imply support for a system that would discount my experiences and enforce my subjugation, should I ever get into a situation where I might be raped by the person I had married. Although this is not likely to happen to me, because I have an unfortunately deep understanding of domestic violence and how to avoid it, as well as a good understanding of my sexual orientation and how to deal with sex in a positive way, there are lots of asexuals out there who did not realize they were asexual until AFTER they had gotten married, because they were waiting until after marriage to deal with sex. They just operated under the assumption that they were heterosexual and would enjoy sex when they had it, but then found out that was not the case. Should they be legally obligated to provide sex for their spouse, in the event that they discover that it is detrimental to their well-being? Should their pain be ignored? Should they be silenced just because one of the functions of marriage is to provide a space for legitimate sex?

I don’t think we should see marriage as primarily a way to provide a space for legitimate sex precisely for that reason. That is one function, sure. But to reduce it to that one single function, when there are plenty of others, is very dangerous, especially if it is used to support laws that discount the possibility of marital rape. I don’t know if that is what you meant to say in your comment or not, but that is what it seemed to imply. I think we ought to acknowledge ALL the reasons why people get married, and make laws based on every possibility, rather than reducing it to one “primary” function. Because all that really does is serve to enforce sexual-normativity, and silence the minority of people who DON’T want to have sexual marriages.

Another thing I want to point out is that what is culturally considered the “primary” reason for marriage changes as culture does, and enforces dominant cultural attitudes. At one time the “main functions” of marriages WERE considered to be procreation and economic union. Now they are not, but those are still functions of marriage, and for some people they are even the PRIMARY function. I know a couple who have been together for years without getting married, but plan to do so when they get pregnant. Lots and lots of people get together just so their kids will be legitimate, and lots and lots of people stay together just for the kids. It’s not accurate to say that the primary function of their marriages is to provide a space for legitimate expression of sexuality.

That is why I do not think your position is justified.

I realized after I posted that comment that I mainly refer to marriages throughout, but the original comment actually said that asexuals should stay out of romantic relationships, not just “don’t get married.” Which is even more offensive, because it does imply that asexual romances don’t count as romances, just like my sister used to explicitly tell me over and over and over again. There’s not really a serious adjective yet to describe what kind of comment this is (“asexophobic” sounds pretty silly), but it is definitely a product of sexual privilege and seeks to enforce sexual-normativity. Asexual romance is being erased from possibility, at least in the minds of the majority. That has got to change.

Asexuals really don’t face much discrimination, if by that you mean outright hostility (although I have heard there has already been a case of a hate crime committed against a woman specifically because she is asexual). But people Other the hell out of us, and refuse to acknowledge our existence even when they have been made aware that such a thing exists. Why should we be barred from having “romantic” relationships (in quotes because I think that what’s really being referred to is just a synonym for sexual relationships) or from having our relationships called romantic and honored as such even though they would fit that description perfectly, just because we aren’t having sex? There’s a word for that, you know: it’s called marginalization.

I don’t want to be too harsh, now. This person probably did not realize why the comment was so offensive, and did not mean for it to be. But it comes from a place of privilege and that should be pointed out. I point it out to the asexual community instead of just leaving it as a comment because of attitudes like Henrik’s which parallel this to some extent (and I think are also indicative of another kind of privilege: that of not being affected by domestic violence). It is certainly an option to create a new kind of alternative relationship space for asexuals to exist in, and I absolutely applaud efforts to do that. (David Jay is doing a great job of exploring these options over at Love From the Asexual Underground, for anyone interested.) But not all asexuals want to do that. Some of us want to get married, and some of us already are married before we know that asexuality actually exists. Creating a new relationship style is fine, but creating a whole new social institution with the same legal and social benefits of marriage would be extremely difficult or (more likely) completely impossible, and would also fail to address the issues of those who are already married and stuck in a painful situation. Therefore, instead of dismissing the possibility of a violent marriage because it is “not relevant” or “does not apply” to most of us who have already connected to the asexual community, I firmly believe we ought to fight to make marriage a friendlier space for our fellow asexuals (and everyone else) to inhabit.

I’m going to finish this post off with a link: via Womanist Musings, here is a call for submissions for an anthology of personal essays dealing with queerness and sexual violence. If you have had any kind of experience with sexual violence and asexuality, I would urge you to submit something for this. I think it is very important that we bring these issues to light!

Continuing a Discussion on Asexuality and Rape Culture

My blog was linked by Britni today in a discussion on asexuality and rape culture, which you can read here (NSFW). I found the discussion very interesting. I was just going to leave a comment on her post, but first I exceeded the character limit and then even when I tried to split up my comment into different posts, after five attempts at posting the comment Blogger was STILL giving me some weird unspecified error message. So I gave up and decided just to post my thoughts here and hope the link to this post will make it into the discussion somehow. I figured you all wouldn’t mind having something else to read, anyway.

So here’s my comment:

Interesting discussion! I am glad this topic is being raised among people who are otherwise not likely to come across asexual discourse. :D

First, I want to explain something about asexuality, because it seems to me that some of the commenters here are getting the meaning of asexuality confused with the meaning of its individual morphemes (not + sexual), rather than understanding it in the way that asexual people typically understand it. Asexuality is about a lack of sexual attraction, not about lacking a sex drive or not being sexual in any other way (in fact, plenty of asexuals have sex drives). Asexuals aren’t sexually attracted to men in the same way that straight men aren’t attracted to other men. And they also aren’t attracted to women in the same way that gay men aren’t attracted to women. Thus it is parallel to the other three widely accepted sexual orientation labels, and I think it should be considered a fourth option (rather than dismissed as “category x” as Alfred Kinsey apparently thought it should be).

If the definition is still unclear to anyone, please read this post. It’s not really geared towards outsiders, but it does address some of the most frequent issues with miscommunications between asexuals and non-asexuals that I have encountered. For the record, I agree with ignorantarmies‘ point about labeling yourself whatever you want. Labels (and all words) are useful in social settings. If you just make one up without ever working towards its social acceptance, it’s doomed to be an empty word. There are a few people in the asexual community who think that asexuality should be defined intuitively based on however each person thinks it fits their life, but I don’t think that’s tenable as a definition. I think that asexuality should have an objective definition… however, due to the internal nature of sexual attraction, and the fact that there is currently no way of objectively measuring it (penile plethysmography and the like are flawed because they measure arousal, not attraction), you can’t really go around telling people they are or aren’t asexual with any real degree of accuracy (although admittedly, in the six-ish years I’ve been around, I have seen some people in the asexual community that I suspect may not actually be asexual).

With that said… Not being sexually attracted to other people in a world where it is expected that you should be to the point that it is not even considered POSSIBLE for a person to NOT experience sexual attraction is… alienating, to say the least. I think that asexuality really ought to be recognized as an option, because a person who is asexual can go their entire lives thinking something is deeply wrong with them, without ever being able to identify what the problem is. An asexual woman who thinks she’s heterosexual (because she doesn’t know that asexuality can exist) might get into a romantic relationship of some kind, even a marriage, and find that she is especially susceptible to coercive situations, or even outright rape. And that’s the issue I wanted to bring up.

Personally, I believe that NOBODY, asexual or not, should ever be expected to have sex against their will, even if they are married to the person who is coercing them. Ever. And if marriage (or any romantic relationship) is really meant to be an institution which allows a sexual free-for-all with absolutely no thought given to consent, well then that’s a pretty skeezy institution, in my book. It puzzles me why domestic violence does not apparently include marital rape, why beating up your wife can land you in jail but raping your wife (in far, far too many places) won’t (and yes, I get that rape is much harder to prove, but it should at least be considered a possibility). What is the difference? Why is one apparently condoned (and not even accepted as “real” rape), while the other is not?

What constitutes a “real” rape?

Did M rape me? No. Did he come close to it? At one point, yes. I don’t think he meant to at all, and if I had told him to stop, I think he would have. I didn’t give him that choice because I didn’t want to give him the opportunity to choose to ignore my rescinded consent, even though I was 95% certain that he wouldn’t. The 5% of doubts that I had came from his playfully pushy and mildly coercive behavior, which was largely behavior that is considered socially acceptable and even expected. I think that he was greatly affected by rape culture, had absorbed a lot of ideas from it without ever examining them or realizing that he SHOULD examine them. I doubt he had ever even heard of the term “rape culture” at all.

I kind of take issue with people saying that he was the “wrong” person for me, because in many ways he was the “right” person—and in fact, I think the ways in which he was “right” for me outnumber the ways in which he was “wrong” for me, and I would never have arrived at this level of personal growth had I not met him. I think the issue is way, way too complex to characterize him as “right” or “wrong” for me.

M ultimately arrived at the conclusion that asexuality is not a sexual orientation but rather a disability, and told me that he had to give me “special treatment” in order to properly deal with the situation. I disagree with this notion. I don’t think that asexual people deserve “special treatment” but rather, the same kind of consideration that you would (or should) give to anyone. I have no sexual disabilities or dysfunctions of any kind. Regular old patience, kindness, and respect go a long way.

I really don’t think that asexual people are necessarily all that different from non-asexual people. I think that EVERYONE should have their boundaries respected, wherever those boundaries may be. Of course, in a romantic relationship, compatibility becomes an issue, and some asexuals may not be compatible with some sexuals. But it depends on the people in question. My girlfriend thought that compatibility would be a huge issue between us when we first started dating, but as it turns out we have more problems deciding when to watch a movie than when (or how) we have sex. And for us, the relationship really isn’t based on sex at all. We work it in, but we could probably stop having sex completely and still be okay romantically… and in fact we do do that, on occasion.

I don’t really see how romantic relationships are supposed to be meant solely to provide a space for legitimate sex. (In fact, I’m rather confused about what counts as “illegitimate” sex as I don’t see how such a judgment can be legitimately made. Sex is sex. You don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to have sex, and I think it’s fairly common and reasonably acceptable to have a fuck-buddy these days. Plus, I think most people will tend to say that “love” is the primary reason why they get into romantic relationships, not sex.) I don’t see how emotional bonding is intrinsically connected with sex. I don’t think it is, and for me, it’s even somewhat counter-intuitive to suggest that sex creates emotional bonds. Sex really doesn’t do that for me. It took me a couple of years to finally see how sex can even be considered intimate on more than just a physical level, but I don’t so much think it’s the sex itself that is intimate, but rather that intimacy already created through other (non-sexual) means is being expressed through sex.

What really bugs me about the idea that romantic relationships are all about sex is that… it seems so… shallow. Do people really see romantic relationships that way? How could that be fulfilling? It seems like the relationship is just an excuse, just a structure that you use to make it socially acceptable to have sex. It doesn’t seem like a deep connection with another person is necessary or even desired… and in that case, why get into a relationship? You could just have sex without worrying about it, and it would be a lot less trouble. Who cares about the stigma? That will probably go away gradually as more people actually do it… and you don’t really have to let people know that you’re having sex with someone you’re not in a relationship with, do you?

I see romantic relationships as enjoyable and desirable because of love, not sex. Forming a deep emotional connection is what matters to me. Economic connections follow because on a practical level, it makes sense to facilitate the emotional connection. Sex can be part of forming a deep emotional connection… or not. It doesn’t have to be. I do it because I’m okay with it and it’s enjoyable on some level, but it’s not something I crave or something that makes me feel particularly connected to my partner, any more so than just talking and laughing and sharing my life with her does. I don’t see how my relationship with her would be any less of a romantic relationship if we stopped having sex, and it bothers me that most people wouldn’t consider it a “real” or “full blown” romantic relationship. Actually, a lot of people think for some reason that I must be incapable of experiencing love after I come out to them as asexual… including M, up until almost a year after I met him. I don’t want to go on too long about this, but I think that point is important to consider, and I hope that people will keep it in mind.