Romantic Initiatives, Part I

So, Ily got me thinking with her comment on my last post and subsequent post about how it all started, and I think that’s a worthy topic to explore. I have been one of those people who goes, “Uhh, I don’t know, it just sort of happened,” when it comes to the question of how I started dating C. Maybe explaining the circumstances of our first meetings will help both to elucidate how a friendly outing can unexpectedly turn romantic, and to give me some much-needed perspective on what we started with, and how we ended up this way. I have a lot to say on this topic, so I won’t try to say it all in one post!

It was just over a year ago, now. The girl and I would have celebrated her birthday two days after she broke up with me, and our first anniversary the day after that (if we bothered to celebrate it, that is; she doesn’t like to celebrate arbitrary dates, but I think it might as well be an excuse to have fun–but so much for that idea!). We met on an internet dating site, but it had never been our intention to go on a date. It was supposed to have been an innocent friendly outing to see Kung Fu Panda at the dollar theater, and that was all. “I’m going to be too shy to talk to you when we meet,” she told me over IM. I didn’t quite believe it, because we had already had several fairly long and interesting conversations before, just not in person. And, sure enough, after I suggested that we go and get something to eat–since I was interested in actually getting to know her, albeit as a friend and not a date, and 90 minutes in a dark room just sitting next to one another and watching a movie didn’t really give me that opportunity–sure enough, we got to talking.

And after we had gone through a pot of tea at the local hippie New Age gay-friendly tea and trinkets shop, we didn’t want to stop. So we didn’t. I said that we could stop by my dorm and grab the moldy bread that I had been meaning to take out to the pond, and feed it to the ducks. We kept on talking and talking, and when we were done with the bread we started wandering around campus together. We wandered vaguely in the direction of her car but then never went to it. We kept circling around it, until it was more than obvious that neither one of us wanted her to leave. We kept ending up near the dumpsters, which spawned an inside joke about dumpsters being super romantic.

We talked about all sorts of things, dating being one of them. I told her I didn’t understand how dating worked, and had never really been on an actual date before. I didn’t really know what they were like; all I knew was that traditional dating seemed so structured, so overly formalized. I didn’t understand the game, the etiquette, or the point. Because, after all, from my perspective, it seemed to me like dating, at least in the mainstream world, was aimed primarily at two things: sex in the short term, and marriage in the long term. Neither of which I was even the least bit interested in, so why would I want to bother? Not knowing what the other person was after would have made me extremely uncomfortable, and not knowing what I was supposed to do would make it even more so. I’m sure my date, unless maybe he was someone like M, would have been quite uncomfortable with it too, because of the way I was acting. About three years ago, there was a boy who had a very obvious crush on me, and although he was generally pretty charismatic, always seemed rather weird when it came to me. Eventually, he asked me out on a date, and while I considered going out with him, I had to turn him down because it would have just been too awkward for me, and probably painfully so to him. But it wasn’t that I was uninterested in relationships in general, mind. Only that I would never date someone traditionally.

Then she told me about her dating experiences, which were mostly internet based, but included one case of what struck me as pretty much a romantic friendship, where the two of them were so close they really could have been thought to be dating. The only reason they weren’t, she thought, was because he was too straight to go for someone with a male body, which she still had at the time. It was almost like a more informal version of dating, it seemed. I wondered if dating wasn’t always as strict as it had seemed to me at first. I wondered if my lack of experience was just limiting my perspective on what it was like to go on a date. Maybe it isn’t always like how it is presented in the media, which was up until then my only source for understanding how the dating world worked. Meanwhile, she was telling me that she had been previously involved in a polyamorous relationship with a married couple. She described some of their sexual escapades, which I found interesting but confusing at the same time. When the topic turned to whether or not we would be a good fit for a date, she said, “You’re really not my type at all. So don’t worry, I’m not trying to date you.”

Well, likewise. She wasn’t my type either, or so I thought. But at the same time, I did enjoy her company a great deal, and on many levels she seemed to get me, and what she didn’t get right away, she had already proven through our few weeks of chatting over the internet that she was curious enough and open-minded enough to put a great deal of effort into discussing. Although she wasn’t sure about dating an asexual herself, at least she didn’t have a problem accepting it–she was even intrigued by it. She brought to the table a cutesy style backed by a lively intelligence, an intriguingly unconventional perspective, and collections of sex toys and socks. I wasn’t in the least bit infatuated with her and wouldn’t get to that point for quite a while, but I did like her. I suppose that’s how a lot of people must feel on first dates, now that I think of it.

Apparently, the secret to getting me to date you is to approach me strictly as a friend.

Tired of walking, we went off to find a secluded bench somewhere, hoping that our already hours-long conversation wouldn’t be disturbed anymore by passing people that we knew. We sat Indian-style on top of it, facing one another, and I remember feeling the coldness of the thick marble slab seeping through the seat of my jeans. I don’t remember if I was wearing a jacket; I don’t think I was. Since it had been a hot afternoon and I hadn’t planned on staying outside so late, either I hadn’t bothered to get one, or I had gotten one that was too thin. In reality, we were right near my dorm so I could’ve gone to get a nice warm sweater if I had wanted, but I didn’t want to bother going back there, and risk the awkwardness of seeing people we both knew who would want to invite us to come hang out with them. For some reason, even then we were bothered by people interrupting our private, two-person-only conversation. So I was cold, and my hands were especially so. I folded them together as if I were praying, rubbed them together a little bit to generate heat. She stilled my hands, and covered them with her own to keep them warm.

We kept on talking and talking until it was nearing midnight. She had an early class, so she really had to get home and get some sleep–I had already kept her up past her usual bedtime. Finally, we parted, but before we did, she said, “This is a date, isn’t it?”

I still hadn’t really thought of it as such, but it seemed to be true. “I guess so,” I said. I didn’t know, really. I thought maybe it could be.

We hugged each other then, and it wasn’t like a typical friendly greeting. I had friends that would give me long tight bear hugs, but this wasn’t one of those. It was long and lingering and ever so slightly awkward, but nice, too. I was kind of shocked about it, that our meeting could have run so counter to both of our expectations and intentions. I didn’t have any fuzzy feelings, I wasn’t sure if I would develop them, and I didn’t know what would come of it, but for the moment, I was okay with seeing where it would lead.

[Part II]

Identity Maintenance

Time passes me by lately like water does a fish—I am always in it, it is always flowing around me, but each moment is just something I live in without really thinking about it. I pay attention only to the strong currents and my eventual destination, letting the usual ebb and tide just make its lazy circles about the unconscious.

Of course, I’m still able to focus on time and its various aspects, bring it out of the background and into the forefront as I am doing now. But that kind of focus might as well be a flash of lighting. For the most part, it passes, and I make neither an effort to live in the moment nor hold fast to hope or memory. Things happen, mostly boring and not worth reporting—or so it was for a while. Unfortunately, no news does not necessarily mean good news, even though I am significantly less likely to update without the motivation of conflict. This past summer, I’ve been beset by a number of injuries and illnesses, including a brief visit to the hospital (which fortunately turned out to mean nothing except that I should take better care not to exhaust myself). Those injuries and illnesses have continued since I started school, which means that I have missed a lot of class and my ability to keep up with assignments has suffered. My relationship with my partner suffered a lot as well—partially, indeed, as a result of my being sick so often—and now we have broken up, albeit somewhat tentatively and while keeping the possibility in mind that we may be able to resolve our differences and work back up to a romantic relationship.

With all this going on, I hadn’t really been thinking about asexuality.  Over the summer, there were still plenty of moments, from time to time, when I would see my girlfriend looking at porn and, upon hearing my comments, she would groan at me and says, “You’re so asexual.” But for the most part, it went unnoticed, and barely mattered.

I have been trying to decide what is different about the part that sex played in our relationship as compared to the part that it plays in a pairing of two sexuals, but I can’t come up with much. It’s not as if it isn’t generally enjoyable, and I can’t say that it isn’t intimate. There were periods when we go without for quite a while before either one of us would crease her brow and say, “Hm. When was the last time, anyway?” That is probably the most obvious sign of my asexuality combined with her relative lack of sexual attraction to me. The thing is, our relationship actually did seem to suffer more during the dry spells than when we were doing it relatively frequently, despite my conviction that sex should not be a necessary part of a relationship.

Continue reading

What Changes in a Year

Well, I fail at blogging for this month, but to be fair, I’ve been pretty busy looking for an apartment. I’ve finally found one, and I’ll be moving in with my girlfriend tomorrow. It’s a very drastic change from where I was one year ago, when I first started this blog. Back then, I was suffering the loss of someone I really cared about, whom I had a terrible time communicating with about asexuality. Now, I’m in a committed relationship with someone who understands asexuality pretty well, and with whom I generally have a pretty great relationship with.

I don’t think I would have gotten to this point if I hadn’t started this blog; it’s helped me a lot with just articulating my thoughts about asexuality, and it’s good to get my perspective out there so that maybe reading about my experiences can help others. Thanks to all of my readers, especially those of you who have left me comments or emailed me directly–without you, I wouldn’t have kept this up!

Here, more for my own personal reference than anything else, are some stats for the year:

Top Ten Posts

  1. Doing Sex – Tips for the Adventurous Asexual; 646 views
  2. Asexuality as a Fetish; 576 views
  3. Gender Variation in the Asexual Community: Results; 501 views
  4. Why Trendy Bisexuals are Dangerous to Asexuality; 497 views
  5. On “Creepy Asexual Guys,” Porn, and Misogyny; 436 views
  6. Dating Site Review: OKCupid; 393 views
  7. Asexual Masturbation; 308 views
  8. Sex as a Responsibility?; 286 views
  9. Sex 2.0; 295 views
  10. Positive Metaphors: Chandelier Culture; 225 views

Most Comments: Almost-Sexual Frustration

Most Popular Month: March 2009; 2,088 views

Busiest day: Monday, February 23, 2009; 237 views

Total views: 13,873

Coming Out Again (and again… or not)

Real life has been eating up my time pretty heavily as of late–school has been incredibly stressful this semester due to the higher level of the courses I’m taking, and the fact that they all involve a ton of reading and writing. On top of that, I’ll have to move in a month, so I’m pressed to find a place. Of course, I’ll be moving in with my girlfriend. Whom my parents know absolutely nothing about.

I’ve come out to my parents before, as asexual. I was met with little success; my parents are still firmly convinced that I must be a lesbian. This time, oddly enough, I’ll be coming out to them as… not lesbian, which of course they will probably expect a firm statement of how “this is who I am” or something like that, but as just simply being in a relationship with a girl. Again, from their perspective, since they thought my pre-transition FTM ex-boyfriend was a girl. Except, of course, what I don’t plan to tell them is that my current partner is still legally male. Oy.

I’m not even sure whether I want to tell my mother or not–okay, no, I DEFINITELY don’t want to tell her, but what I meant to say is, I’m not even sure it’s wise to tell her, given that I am still financially dependent on her for my schooling (and since I am working a student job, I would lose that too if I had to drop out of university). But, at the same time, I’m not sure how I’m going to hide it from her given the fact that we plan on getting a one-bedroom apartment and sharing a bed (which, actually, we’ve already bought and use regularly). My parents are pretty horrible about all this stuff–absolutely convinced (my father to an absolutely pathological degree) that God says homosexuality is wrong. My mother, there might be hope for, maaaaybe, but my father unfortunately is the one who lives (most of the time) close by, and whom I might have to rely on to move my stuff–at least from his house back into my car. But on the upside, I don’t have to rely on him financially.

Of course, the irony in this is that I’m not actually homosexual, or even homo-anything. I’m asexual, but if they don’t believe me about this now, how on earth will they believe me after they see that I have now been involved in a “second” so-called “lesbian” relationship (to their eyes–of course, there is no reason to tell them anything whatsoever about M, and I don’t plan to. The less they know about my private life, the better!) I’d be two for two. Personally, I find it extremely difficult to come out to someone without using a commonly accepted, easily identifiable label. There are some asexuals who recommend avoiding labels in favor of explanations, but in my experience, I receive skepticism either way, and all the more so because the people I’m talking to are totally unwilling to sit down and listen to a long, drawn-out explanation, which I am loathe to give them anyway. The less time I can possibly spend around these people, the better. I don’t really care if they believe that I am asexual; I just want them to drop the conversation, and I don’t want to have to deal with the shit they’ll inevitably give me for something that isn’t even true.

But it seems doubtful that they will simply leave it at that. This is pretty much a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. There is probably nothing that I can possibly do to make them leave me alone about it, except not to tell them, but even then, that can only be a temporary solution. They’ll eventually get suspicious, especially since my girlfriend and I are very, very bad at hiding the fact that we’re together–and in most situations, we don’t want to.

And if you take all that and then factor in the trans stuff, it gets even MORE complicated. My parents certainly haven’t reacted well to any mention of trans people before–in fact, my mother seemed to think I was a pervert when she found out (by my sister’s spying on our conversations and subsequent tattling) about my ex. Another piece of ironic contradiction to my asexuality. Of course, I’m not too worried about that, since my girlfriend passes pretty darn well. Still, it just adds another layer of difficulty to the already precarious situation (like, what if our parents meet? Her parents don’t use the right pronouns), so we will need to be that much more careful when dealing with it.

I mainly wanted to post this so that I could get some of my concerns articulated before Wednesday. My gf and I are scheduled to go and have a talk with someone who might be able to give us some advice about it, and then we’ll decide from there. If anyone else has any suggestions, feel free to throw them out there. I might not have the time to make a long post to update about the situation, so I’ve decided to try something different. I was a little wary of trying this service at first, since I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how spammy and annoying it is, but… I now have a twitter account integrated into my blog, so you can read my tweets on the sidebar on here, or follow me as you like. I probably won’t be making super-frequent updates, and I’ll always post something at least tangentally relevant to this blog, which is interesting or amusing–i.e., I won’t be posting about what I’m having for dinner! Hopefully, the focus will keep it from getting too irritating. Anyway, it’s bedtime now, so until next time!

Whenever I see the abbreviation “VD” I think Venereal Disease.

I know several of you are anxiously awaiting the results of the survey, but I want to hold off on that because there are still people actively taking it (plus, writing about the results takes a fair bit of time). As of right now, I have 263 responses, 243 of which are complete. I’m kind of hoping to get as close as possible to 300 finished responses.

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please go here and do so–if you missed this whole survey business and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read my previous post or this thread on AVEN.

In the meantime, I thought I’d try out the poll feature on here. And since Valentine’s day is tomorrow, let’s go with that.

Personally, I’m not too into the idea of Valentine’s Day in its traditional Hallmark form. In high school, it used to bother me how it was used mainly as a competition: who could get/give the biggest, flashiest, most expensive gift? Of course this was somewhere in Texas, where Valentine’s Day is rivaled only by the horrors of Homecoming (for those of you who don’t get the reference, I google image searched a demonstration–and the scariest thing is, I’ve seen bigger).

Aside from my qualms with the superficial aspect of Valentine’s Day, I have qualms about the kind of expectations it sets up. I don’t want a day specifically set aside for romance, because I wouldn’t want to be disappointed when my lover didn’t come through. I also don’t want my lover to be disappointed when, following their grand romantic gesture, sex doesn’t ensue.

Personally, I advocate making every day like Valentine’s Day, or at least a few days a month. I prefer months of steady, low-key, everyday romance over flowers and candies and candle-lit dinners, and I’d rather be a prince myself than wait for one.

This Valentine’s Day will be the first one that I have actually been in a long-term relationship during, without it being coincidental with another holiday (my ex was born on the 14th–and if you ever read this and recognize me for who I am, happy birthday). It’s the same for my gf, and for a while now, we’ve both been like, “Eh, I don’t know what we should do for it. I don’t really care… but I kind of want to? Because I’ve never done it before.”

We decided to just attend the Vagina Monologues, being the good feminists that we are, and screw any attempt at gift-giving or dates. We’ve got that covered anyway.

So, how about you?

Doing Sex – Tips for the Adventurous Asexual

Most of the time, when asexuals talk about sex, we’re engaged in the task of pointing out why it’s overrated, and why sexual people are wrong to dismiss our perspectives as being the result of several d-words: delusion, denial, disorder, disability, disease, dysfunction, or damage done by some kind of (apparently dis-remembered) abuse. Sometimes we get caught up in discussing how our perspective on sexuality can add to the collective scientia sexualis, but rarely do we ever talk about actually doing it.

And when we do talk about it, most of the time it falls into an identity-reinforcing narrative, an “I tried it but I just didn’t like it,” or “I tried it, it was okay I guess, but I really don’t care.” Among the asexual community, sex is just an oft-repeated “So what?”

But there are asexuals who, for whatever reason, decide to have sex anyway. For those who don’t absolutely hate it, it may be an acceptable compromise to help maintain a relationship with a sexual partner. But it seems a lot of asexuals in that situation run into a problem:

“What the hell am I even supposed to do?”

For us, the instinct to have sex with our romantic partners is not there. It’s not something that would ever occur to us on our own, so how can we know how to act in a situation like that, beyond the vague basics of what goes where?

When I started having sex, I was quite lost. Everything was blurry, and I mean that literally–I had my contacts out at the time, and I couldn’t see three inches in front of my face. I’m not sure if M was even aware that I was basically blind. Probably not. But I think it turned out to be quite an apt metaphor. I could only see shapes and colors, and every once in a while, when he brought it close enough, I could catch a glimpse of M’s face. I mainly relied on sound and texture, but even that was fallible, because whatever I was listening and feeling for was alien to me. There was a point where he tried to get me to get on top, but it was too painful, and I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing there, or how it could possibly be enjoyable to try. I didn’t want to drag it out. It felt unnatural, and I wanted it to just be over with.

Such was my experience, and so was my understanding. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I even could get through it, which was one of my main reasons for trying. I felt it was the right time to find out. Still, that’s not a very fun attitude to have for either partner, as it is likely to take the enjoyment out of sex for the partner who does like it. Even though we weren’t romantically compatible, I wanted to establish a relationship with M that would have allowed me to get used to sex and adapt to it to the point that I could be comfortable enough with it to actually get some enjoyment out of it, so that I would be able to deal with future partners without a huge barrier between us. I thought that with time, I could do that, but he proved to be incapable of providing a safe space for me. I doubted, for a while, whether I would find someone else who could (at least for a long, long time), but as it turns out, I found a girl who is excellent at it. As time has gone on, I have indeed adapted, and learned how to, in my own roundabout way, “do” sex.

And since there’s not a whole lot of material out there written for the sexually active asexual, I decided to do a quick write-up of some of the things that I have learned which have helped me.

  1. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! This is the number one rule of sex, and it’s extra important for asexual people. You can’t expect others to have any idea about what your needs are unless you tell them. If they won’t listen, do yourself a favor and take it somewhere else. If you’re not with a partner who is willing to be patient with you, you will not even have a chance to get past the awkward, painful “lie back and think of England” stage.
  2. Educate yourself. Obviously you need to know how to be safe, but there are other things to learn as well. (For example, learning your partner’s name. Not that that would be too much trouble for asexual people, but you know.) Hopefully your partner is more experienced about these things, and can (or is willing to) show you the ropes. My own policy is the more knowledge you have, the better off you are.  Be curious, ask questions.
  3. Know your own body, and know your mind too. Of course, you will need some time to figure this out, but it’s good to take some time to figure out what you’re okay with, and what you have problems with. And then, be sure to communicate that to your partner, because that information is useless if you don’t.
  4. Be careful about going past your limits! This can be a really easy trap to fall into, if you don’t know your limits well enough. You need to go slow, and be SURE that you and your partner are on the same page. Any doubts will cause problems, and you might freeze up and be unwilling to show any sort of affection, for fear that it will lead to sex.
  5. Find out what your partner likes. Maybe dressing up in a certain outfit helps. Maybe they like bondage. Maybe they like using toys. Ask them what kind of things they like, and if it’s something you’re all right with, see if you can find a way to work that into whatever sexual activities you engage in together. Also, don’t be afraid to explore your partner’s body–very likely, they have sensitive spots that they want you to find. Try new things, even if they wouldn’t occur to you normally, and just mess around.
  6. Realize that sex is not just limited to intercourse, and be creative. The vast majority of the things my partner and I do in bed do not involve things going in holes at all. For example, I can hold her and play with her nipples while she masturbates. A lot of things we do are not even sexual for me at all. Sometimes sex is more in the mind than in the act, and if you can figure out what turns your partner on, you can manage to give them pleasure without having to go through anything distasteful yourself.
  7. Be playful! I have just recently discovered that playfulness and flirting are very closely related. Although I still don’t understand flirting, if I act playful while touching my partner in a more intimate way (I don’t necessarily mean naughty bits, though since she enjoys that I am willing to do that too), she tells me that’s basically the same thing as flirting. I treat the sexual things I do with her (especially the things I do to her) as a game. I don’t have a point system or anything like that, I just feel rewarded whenever she is really enjoying herself, and that makes me more likely to enjoy myself, too.
  8. Realize that there is an emotional component, too. If you are one of those people who has sex mainly because their partner enjoys it, then you should understand how your partner feels when they enjoy you enjoying yourself. It seems a lot of asexuals fall into the trap of thinking that sex is purely a physical, animal drive. In some ways it is that, but it is also something that a lot of emotions get channeled into, and you should try to be sensitive to that. It may seem counter-intuitive to you, but try to listen to your partner about it, and try to make them feel that you don’t feel you are wasting your time.
  9. Find reasons to enjoy it. You don’t have sexual attraction and instinct at your disposal, or the intuitive understanding of and desire to engage in sexual activity that that would bring. So, come up with some reasons why you like having sex with your partner, even if you don’t care too much about having sex in general. Focus on those, rather than the other things you could be doing with your time.
  10. Talk the talk. Talking about sex is important, and I know I already mentioned communication above, but this time I mean it in a different sense. It’s one thing to talk about sex from a distant, intellectual perspective, but if you’re actually having it, that’s probably not really going to go over too well all the time. Talking during sex is not always appreciated, and if it is welcome, usually it is only a specific kind of talk that your partner will want to hear. It’s good to try to listen to people when they’re being seductive and try to match their inflections. Learn what words people think are sexy, and which aren’t. This is especially helpful if you do any role-playing scenarios with your partner, or if you use a slightly different persona to try to get into the mindset of what you’re doing. Keep in mind, too, that there are many different kinds of “sexy talk” and that not all people like every kind. Some like to have vulgar words spit at them, others like soft murmurs that flow water-like over the ears. Find out what kind of thing your partner likes, and either try to learn it, or at least keep chit-chat to a minimum.

These are all I can think of right now, but feel free to add your own in the comments. I hope these will help some of you!

Dating Site Review: OKCupid

As we all know, asexuals are scarce. It’s hard to meet other asexuals in real life. Even if by chance we do meet up with another one, it’s not like there’s any way to pick an asexual out of a crowd just by their appearance, and the topic of asexuality may not be likely to come up. Or the person might not yet have realized that they are asexual (this happened to me with one of my closest friends–consider this a shout out!). There are a lot of barriers to overcome.

Most of the asexual or near-asexual people I know in real life I initially met online. Most of the time it’s just been by chance, meeting them through other interests and then discovering that we’re both asexual, but a few times, I have met asexual people specifically through online dating sites. I know that often, we romantic asexuals do end up foraying into the (potentially scary) world of online dating, so I thought I might help those who are considering it by putting up some reviews of the dating sites I’ve tried.

First up: OKCupid.

This is where I met my “wife,” so obviously, I’ve had some success with it. To some extent, I realize I was extremely lucky, but at the same time, this site ranks up there with the best dating sites of all time. I am really hard-pressed to think of any that are anywhere near as successful, and although I would attribute that to my own ignorance, I’ve asked a few other people too, and they can’t come up with anything, either.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: It’s free. Not that I would even bother with any sites that aren’t free, so I guess that’s not saying much.

DISADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: The options in the drop-down box for orientation (and gender too, if that’s an issue) are limited. You must choose straight, gay, or bisexual. That’s it. Obviously, this seems to be very unfriendly to asexuals, but honestly, using the current system, I can’t imagine how allowing “asexual” as an option would work. You have to realize that this is being used as an indicator of gender preference, not as an indicator of sexuality. The sexuality is simply assumed, because everyone is assumed to have a sexuality, and of course that’s stupid, but that’s not really what this is about. In order to allow people to find your profile, you have to indicate whether you’re interested in men, women, or both. So in order to get the system to work, you have to be willing to “lie” a little. I personally think that instead of using a drop-down menu as they do now, they ought to just have little ticky boxes for men or women. That way it would be easier to add in an option for asexuals, and they could also configure it so that we would be able to search for each other.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: But all is not lost! There are other ways that you can indicate that you are asexual. Obviously, you can write about it in your profile (which I’d recommend if you’re not worried about outing yourself to people you know in real life–otherwise you can just tell people using the messaging system). The second way you can do it is by answering user-created match questions. If you search for “asexual,” you will see a list of questions (and quizzes) that are about asexuality, and if you answer those and make the questions mandatory, then anyone trying to message you will have to answer those questions before being allowed to do so, and it will significantly impact your match percentage with that person. If you do a WTF report with that person, you can see exactly what they answered and decide whether you want to message the person or not. So, although you can’t choose “asexual” from a drop-down box, you still have a few different ways to communicate to potential matches that you’re asexual (because really, who else would have “would you be willing to date an asexual person? (yes)” as a mandatory question?), plus if the questions that already exist about asexuality (admittedly, there are not that many yet) aren’t satisfactory, you can always add your own.

DISADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: It takes time. These filters aren’t a sure thing. You may still be inundated with messages from jerks who don’t even bother to read your profile, or send you stupid messages about asexuality not being real (though that has never happened to me, personally; I’ve found most everyone who talked to me was very nice about asexuality, and wanted to learn more even if they weren’t interested in dating an asexual person), to the point where you may start to feel discouraged. This site was not created with asexuals in mind, so you will probably run into a lot of people who aren’t interested in an asexual person before you will run into someone who is. However, in a way, this is an advantage in itself, because you may be able to find people who would not have specifically searched for an asexual themselves (maybe because they had never heard of the idea, or never really considered it), but who are willing to date one anyway. But with a little time and a little luck, you may well be able to find someone who is compatible with you.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER THREE: This is a very well-known site with a LOT of people to choose from. Sites that are specifically targeted to asexuals and/or celibate people generally have the disadvantage of being very obscure. OKCupid, on the other hand, has a target audience broad enough to attract a decent amount of users, has been around for long enough that most people who use the internet on a regular basis have probably encountered it, if not because they have any interest in online dating, then because of their great selection of time-wasting quizzes. I had an OKC account long before I actually started using my profile for dating purposes, because I found the quizzes to be an excellent way to waste inordinate amounts of time on the internet. I think the quizzes are a big reason why OKC has become such a success, since they managed to find a way to advertise to so many idle bloggers wanting to put some neat quiz results on their journals. So the chances are relatively high, compared to other sites, that you will be able to find compatible people in your area (I have heard, however, that OKC is quite US-centric, though since I am from the US, I can’t really judge that for myself).

MINOR QUIBBLES: The IM feature sucks (but not enough that it’s unusable). There are also a few annoying things about searching for matches, like that my highest match (my gf) doesn’t always show up when I search for “highest match” in every range.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER FOUR: User-created content. I know I already mentioned this, but I think it’s just that important to mention again. This means that you can create your own quizzes and match questions, so there is an inbuilt flexibility to the system that can allow for anything the creators (and the rest of the user database) overlooked. This is good news for little-known sexual orientations and anyone who practices alternative relationship styles. And because the site is so well-known, we can get some free awareness-spreading done just by trying to score ourselves a date. Just think of the possibilities!

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

If you’re ONLY looking to date a fellow asexual, you may not like OKC. But if you’re going to go for the chance that you might find someone who’s not ase but willing to date one (and by “date,” I mean have any kind of romantic or blurry-lines relationship), then by all means, go with this one. It has a ton of advantages over other dating sites, and is flexible enough to accomodate all manner of people. With time, it will probably grow more and more asexual-friendly, too. Good luck!

Less Relevant

Lately, I’ve encountered an odd problem. Every time I open up a new post and attempt to write, I find myself stumped on what to write about. Where once I had tons of things to say, now they all escape me.

In the past few months, a lot of things have happened. That’s such a bland statement, but I don’t really know where to start if I were to talk about everything, nor do I even really want to publicly catalog all the events that have occurred since October. Still, I feel an obligation to keep this blog going, if only at a very much stunted pace.

The truth is, asexuality no longer seems very relevant to my everyday life.

This is not to say that I no longer identify as asexual, just that my asexuality has faded into the background in such a way that I don’t really have much motivation to post about it—not to mention the lack of time! I am hardly ever even on my computer anymore, except on those rare occasions (like now) when Cupcake decides she would rather bond with her video games (which, if it gives any indication of how often this is, she complains that she’s been taking such long breaks from them to play with me that when she returns to them, she has to relearn how to play the games).

One of the things I was frustrated about with the dissolution of my relationship (non-specific to romance) with M was that, although I felt that, given the time and understanding, I could have gotten over my discomfort with sex and learned to enjoy it despite my lack of interest. Because he wouldn’t listen to me and try to work with me (nor could he even apparently understand what I was asking), I couldn’t. Either way, I viewed him as a “practice run” of sorts, which allowed me to get past a hurdle which otherwise most certainly would have impeded my current relationship.

I most certainly did not expect this relationship to start as soon as it did, or progress as quickly as it has, but nevertheless, I’m in a good position now to try the things I couldn’t with M. Every obstacle I encountered with him is gone. Asexuality was something that Cupcake and I dealt with early on in the relationship, and with her understading, I have gradually become more and more comfortable with sexual activity, to the point that it’s no longer an issue.

I’ve found—contrary, perhaps, to popular opinion of asexual women—that it’s pretty easy for me to have a orgasm. I can (and generally do) enjoy myself when having sex, but when I’m not having it, I don’t really crave it. I can take it or leave it. And I still don’t understand what sexual attraction is.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would say that, because I enjoy sex, I must not be asexual, but really? The key to my enjoyment is in the approach my partner takes towards asexuality. If they try to convince me I’m not asexual, I won’t be comfortable with it. If they try to understand asexuality, accept it and work around it, then it won’t be an issue. Of course, it helps that my partner’s attitude towards sex is similar to mine in various ways, and if it weren’t, she and I would probably have more difficulties, but I think they would still be resolvable, as long as she accepted my orientation.

All things considered, I don’t see myself as being limited by my orientation in any real way. Outside of the bedroom, it doesn’t affect my life, and even its effect on my sex life is negligible, now that I have found someone willing to work with me rather than against me. For being such a weird couple, Cupcake and I have a surprisingly “normal” sex life, to whatever extent at least that a cis/trans lesbian couple can have. I might as well be sexual, for all the effect that has on the way we interact sexually. In the long run, though, it will likely make things easier for us that I am asexual. I realize this probably isn’t something that most asexual people in relationships with sexual people can say—there certainly is a lot of angst among the romantic asexuals about the possiblity that they might never find a comfortable relationship. Some might not be able to handle sexual activity at all, and so I don’t expect my own “solution” to be workable for everyone. Still, I think it’s important for me to make my story available to the rest of the community, so that it may provide some hope, and perhaps even help to disspell some myths about asexual people.

That Weird Couple

My girlfriend and I get a lot of stares.

As I mentioned before, she’s transsexual. Male-to-female, currently right in the middle of her transition. She hasn’t gone full-time yet, so most of the time she still presents as male, but she no longer really passes for one even if she tries. At best, she looks completely androgynous. When she’s in “guy” mode, they stare at us because they can’t figure out which gender she is.

When she’s in girl mode, they stare at us because (they think) we’re lesbians, and apparently that’s fascinating.

To some extent, I suppose I can partially understand the fascination (from the general public, not specifically from straight males, who like to make a point of being creepy). It’s not something you see everyday, around here. There are very, very few openly queer couples running around on campus, and even less among the general public. What few there are generally keep their public displays of affection toned down. The gf and I don’t bother. We don’t care who sees us. As a result, we are starting to become somewhat infamous around campus. We are not what people expect to encounter in their day-to-day activities, so of course they are a little shocked to run into us. Hopefully that will fade with time, as people become more accepting of queer couples, and more used to seeing them around.

It’s kind of odd, being perceived as either being in a straight relationship, or a lesbian one, depending on how my girlfriend is dressed and how well the people around us know her. Especially since I have fought against being labeled a lesbian for years, and now I would prefer to be seen as a lesbian, since that is closer to the truth. In this circumstance, I don’t mind it because there is a legitimate reason for other people to think that, rather than an assumption that just because I don’t show interest in guys, I must be interested in girls. There is still a level of inevitable invisibility when it comes to my true orientation, much the same as bisexuals face–whenever they are with someone of the same sex, they are assumed to be gay, and whenever they are with someone of the opposite sex, they are assumed to be straight. My close friends know that I’m really asexual; why should I care what strangers think? The only thing that really bothers me is the way my family will react, once I tell them. Only my sister knows I’m in a relationship right now, and I haven’t told her anything more than that. In the past, she has been vehemently anti-trans, and so have my parents. I expect them to react badly when they find out, so for now anyway, I’m not about to tell them.

What’s really interesting (albeit stupid), is the way that people who knew my girlfriend (I’m getting rather tired of saying that every time, so I’ll nickname her Cupcake) before she started transitioning have reacted to the fact that she is currently dating a girl. A lot of people seem to make a false connection between relational gender preference and personal gender identity, as evidenced by the fact that earlier this week, Cupcake sent me an instant message conversation in which someone who knew her before was confused because she said she had a girlfriend, thinking that she must have “changed her mind” about transitioning, because having a girlfriend is apparently “more of a guy thing.” Her parents have both seemed to see my presence in her life as a good sign, as if somehow (just by being there) I would straighten her out (to make a bad pun), make her normal. Little do they realize that if anything, I am going to help her become a woman, not a man. Penis or no, this is by no means a heterosexual relationship, and I am not at all inclined to try to make it so.

One of the main reasons we can understand each other so well is because we are both queer. Neither one of us is entirely comfortable with straight people, especially straight (and, I should add, cisgendered) men. They tend to be pushy, in my experience, way past the boundaries of what is acceptable. By and large, they can’t understand queer issues because it is so far outside the scope of their own experience, and it is exhausting to try to deal with that, especially when trying to (somewhat blindly, for me) navigate the seas of sexual interaction, where it is absolutely vital to deal with issues like asexuality and body dysphoria.

Interestingly, these two issues have had kind of the same effect on our sex lives–that is, a dampening effect. There is a level of distance between what the body wants, and what the mind does. We have both gone through the awkwardness of being with someone who doesn’t understand that, and have become used to staying silent when whatever’s going on becomes uncomfortable for us. We both have to make a conscious effort to unlearn that self-sacrificing behavior. And, her hormone therapy has caused her to lose much of her sex drive, so although she’s not asexual, she doesn’t see sex as something absolutely necessary. Most importantly, she talks to me about everything, and tries to work something out with me. There is a level of understanding between us that I haven’t experienced in previous relationships, and hopefully that will carry us through whatever potential rough times lie ahead of us.

It’s new to me, to become attached to someone so fast, to spend so much time together and not get tired of one another. People already joke about the two of us being married. Although marriage itself has never been one of my goals for relationships, if things continue to go well between us, I could actually see myself spending my life with this person. I suppose it’s a little early to say that, but I think there is some serious long-term potential here. I can’t say what will happen in the future, but my feeling towards her now is that I want to stand by her through whatever trials she will inevitably face. No matter what outsiders may think of us, I want to stay with her.

Apparently, the internet works.

For those of you who have been wondering where I’ve disappeared to these past few weeks, I’ve recently gotten a girlfriend, and she has been regularly kidnapping me. Met her on OKcupid, and by coincidence we turned out to have already met in person, but not directly spoken to one another, at our local QSA. We sort of ended up going on a date by accident, as our originally planned “first” friendly meet-up ended up lasting five or six hours longer than expected. I’m quite pleasantly surprised at this recent turn of events; I hadn’t expected to find someone so soon after M, especially not around where I live.

She has been ridiculously supportive about asexuality, too. She not only asks questions, but also spends a lot of time thinking about it by herself, trying to come up with definitions of sexual vs. non-sexual attraction. She listens to me and tries to understand, and being a fellow queer person (currently without much of a sex drive) it comes quite a bit more naturally to her.

I’ve been trying to balance my time with her against school, my friends, and the internet. Since my priorities are in that order, and we’re in the middle of midterms, well. My updates to this blog have obviously become less frequent. I’m going to try to post more often, but I surely won’t be able to keep up at the same pace that I did previously. I will also eventually get around to replying to comments.

Anyway, this past Sunday was declared Asexuality Visibility and Education Day. I don’t spend much time on AVEN anymore, so I wasn’t aware of that until three or four days prior, but somehow I managed to arrange a meet-up with the two other asexual (or close to asexual) girls I know of in this area, whom I met over the internet (one on asexualitic, the other on LJ). We went to a little international cafe, and ended up talking for four hours. Which is certainly unexpected, since all three of us are shy and introverted. It was a great success! I guess meeting people over the internet really does work.