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.

Carnival of Aces: Call for Submissions

Apparently we didn’t have anyone doing the March carnival, so I volunteered! To that end, sorry that the call is a little bit late this month. I know that February is a short month, so it’s a little bit extra annoying because it leaves people with even less time to write. I think I will post the roundup on the 3rd of March to make up for it a little, although that’s quickly becoming standard practice for these anyway.

What is the Carnival of Aces?

A blog carnival is an event in which various people write posts around a single topic. These posts are then collected at the end of the carnival and linked together by the carnival’s host. The Carnival of Aces is a blog carnival about asexuality, hosted on asexual blogs, and it’s a fantastic way to get people talking about asexuality. If you’re an asexual blogger having writer’s block, it’s a great way to keep ideas flowing. The carnival needs volunteers to host the next several rounds, so if you have a blog and you’re interested in doing it, please go visit the master post to volunteer!

Theme: Sexual Exploration

This is sort of meant to have a double meaning. First and foremost, I want to hear from asexuals, but I also want to hear from their sexual romantic partners, because it’s kind of difficult to find perspectives from them. This may sound like a topic that’s too narrow to include a lot of asexuals, but I actually intend it to be fairly broad. Consider these questions to get you started:

  • Are you sexually active? Have you ever considered becoming sexually active? If so, why did you make the decision to become sexually active or not to become sexually active?
  • How informed are you about sex? Have you made efforts to educate yourself about sexual health even though you may never plan to have sex? If so, talk a little bit about why you value sex education even if you aren’t interested in sex yourself. If not, I challenge you to look into it some more, and report your findings. Try to discover something you didn’t know before.
  • Are you gray-asexual or demisexual? What are your experiences with sexual attraction, and how do they inform your overall identity? How do you relate to and explore your more sexual side?
  • Are you fascinated by sexuality on an intellectual level? What sort of things fascinate you about it?
  • What are some of the positive/interesting things you’ve learned about sexuality just by being part of a culture where the majority of people are sexual? What do you understand about it? What don’t you understand about it and would like to know more about? (Try to do this without any angry ranting! Don’t focus on the negative stuff, that’s not the point.)
  • Have you ever made any earnest attempts to explore sexuality (on an intellectual level, on a level of physical intimacy, whatever) and been shut down because you’re asexual, and the others involved thought that you couldn’t understand, wouldn’t be able to handle it, or for some other reason related to your asexuality?
  • Do you ever make sexual jokes? How do others respond to an asexual making such jokes? If there are any other similar situations where you’ve said or explored something considered sexual? How did others who know that you’re asexual respond to that?
  • Have you ever had casual sex or sex with a person who was a friend, but not a romantic partner? If so, how did that go? Was it successful, or just a big mess? If it was a messy situation, do you think there is anything that could’ve made it positive and safe for both of you? If you haven’t but would consider it, why?
  • Have you ever explored any kinky/BDSM activities, even if they were not sexual to you? How did it work out for you, and how did the other people involved respond?
  • Are you in or have you ever been in any sort of happy, successful relationship involving sex? How did you make it work? Are there any specific tips you have for other asexuals in similar situations? If you are happily partnered to an asexual person but not asexual yourself, how do you make it work? What challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them? What advice would you have for any other sexual people wanting to date an asexual person, or for an asexual person trying to relate to a sexual partner? If you’re low on ideas, you might try reading this post by my own partner to get some thoughts going.

Obviously not all of these will apply to everyone. These are just some potential ideas. By all means feel free to supply your own!

How do I submit a post?

You can leave a comment here with a link to your post or email the link to grasexuality [at] gmail.com. The soft deadline for this month is March 1st, although since it’s a short month and the call was posted late, you have until March 3rd to make sure your post is included when the round-up first goes up. If you submit a link to me after the round-up post goes up, I will still edit the post to include it, but your post may not get quite as much visibility as it would if it were included from the start. Please do not link me to any posts written before February 1st! Posts must be new and written sometime this month. You can link to older posts you’ve already written in your submission, but the point of the carnival is to generate new ideas and discussions, so the submissions themselves must be new.

I don’t have my own blog, can I still submit something?

Absolutely! I host guest posts here on my own blog, so if you’d like to submit one, please email me at grasexuality [at] gmail.com and I’ll be happy to put it up for you. Even if you do have a blog, maybe you don’t want to host it on yours because it’s private, or maybe asexuality is not something you want to discuss there for whatever reason. If you would, please provide a short bio for me to include at the top of your post. If you are not comfortable doing that, however, you can submit anonymously as well. If you would, please provide a short bio for me to include at the top of your post. Please review my guest posting guidelines before submitting.

By all means, please feel free to link this call post around so that more people are aware of it. The more submissions we get, the better!

Things I Have Learned About Sex and Sexuality

I know I am posting a lot lately, but it just so happens that I’ve got a lot of nearly finished drafts lying around, so all I am doing is putting the finishing touches on them and scheduling them. Enjoy it while it lasts! But just to warn you, this post is definitely not work-safe, and if you’re kinda squeamish about sex talk you probably won’t care to read it.

Anyway. A little while ago, I was interviewed for this article [Edit: link stripped because of this] (I’m identified as Elizabeth Collins there, which is sort of a half pseudonym). The interview was much longer than one might otherwise assume from reading the article, and the interviewer asked some very interesting questions. One of those questions in particular I was at a loss to answer on the spot, but I thought it was certainly worth exploring further.

She asked, “What have you learned about sex/sexuality, from your experiences with it?” (paraphrasing, of course)

“There are so many things,” I said, “I really don’t even know where to start!”

My perspective on sex of course changed gradually. My parents tried to raise me conservatively, and for a while I kind of held on to those values not so much because I believed they were right (in fact, I thought my parents had gone insane), but because there was no adolescent stirring within me to contradict them. I didn’t necessarily think it was wrong for other people to have sex in their teens, but me? I was going to wait. Because I didn’t want to do it, so it seemed right to wait. I always thought I would end up wanting to have sex someday… and I was right. Sort of. Because I don’t want it the same way that other people do. I chose to do it for many different reasons, none of them involving attraction (at least not sexual attraction) or desire. In part, I did it because I wanted to challenge myself, find out where my limits are, see whether I was really so indifferent about sex as I thought I would be. And as it turns out, I can hold out just fine in a sexual relationship, as long as the other person is supportive. And I’ve learned a great deal in the process.

So here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. There is no such thing as an “innate understanding” about sexuality, even though asexuals may be tempted to think that sexual people have this. Attraction or no attraction, nobody knows what sex is or how to do it innately. You have to learn to get good at it. And nobody really knows why they like whatever it is that they like, they just do.
  2. There is an extraordinary amount of things to be learned about sexuality, and some people must apparently be spending hours and hours going through google search results looking for sex tips, because my piddling little blog post compiling some sex tips for asexuals is certainly not listed in the first few pages, with the search terms they are using!
  3. Unfortunately a lot of people who write guides for certain sexual techniques (like cunnilingus) like to (annoyingly) assert that anyone you try them on will love it, without taking into consideration that different people have different preferences. According to them, people who don’t love it are just repressed.
  4. There’s definitely more than just two types of orgasms for women, although some of the ones that are mentioned here leave me scratching my head. I find it kinda weird that she goes off into talking about “energy orgasms” and such but completely fails to mention something like a “nipple-gasm” (orgasm reached purely from stimulating the nipples, with no other stimulation of any kind) which I would imagine would be somewhat more common? I dunno, but it seems like it would be at least worth making a broad category for something like that, wouldn’t it? It doesn’t fit any of the ones she’s described. Anyway, I find the mysticism about orgasms to be really over-the-top, to the point that it’s confusing. They’re nice, sure, but are they really THAT special???
  5. The hymen does not just break and stay open at the same width as your last partner. If you don’t have any penetrative sex for a while, the vagina will gradually tighten up again. Some women even have hymens that will completely regenerate. So for women especially, that kind of sex tends to be easier/less painful if you do it relatively frequently.
  6. But we should also keep in mind that penis-in-vagina sex can hurt for men, too.
  7. Communicating about sex is especially important. Don’t allow anyone who says, “It’s your problem, not mine” to be (or continue to be) a sex partner.
  8. There’s more to sex than just PIV, anal, or oral. It’s not even all about penetration. Going outside the traditional box can be very helpful for an asexual/sexual couple. Or perhaps just for any couple, because intercourse can be used as a sort of standard formula, a way of avoiding discovering what each person likes and how sex might be better… and, for asexuals in particular, it could be used as a way of avoiding dealing with sexuality as much as possible instead of taking it as an active learning experience.
  9. There are some sexual people who are not so much visually (or sonically) attracted to people, but just attracted to certain body parts or (imagined or real) situations. This makes the question of what constitutes sexual attraction a little more complicated.
  10. Male and female genitals are really not all that different. Given the appropriate hormone balance, male genitals will become similar to female ones and vice versa. There’s a limit to that, of course (which is why bottom surgery is common among trans people), but it is way beyond what most people would expect. I won’t go into the details of it unless people ask, but really, it’s impressive.
  11. Yes, sex CAN be intimate! The phrase “making love,” stupid and corny as I still think it is, does exist for a reason. Most people use it to refer to a specific kind of sex.
  12. Dwindling interest in sex can indeed be caused by relationship problems. And sometimes having more sex is a way to facilitate re-bonding, although it certainly can’t be used as a replacement for intimacy or as an excuse not to engage in other, non-sexual forms of bonding.
  13. If something exists, there’s probably someone out there who has a fetish for it. Did you know there’s such a thing as a sneezing fetish? Tickling? Farting?
  14. Power dynamics are very important to consider. Make sure you find a balance (or imbalance) that you’re comfortable with.
  15. Sex is gross. And that shouldn’t be a big deal. There is also a learning curve, so it’s best to have a sense of humor about it.
  16. Different types of lube and condoms most certainly make a difference.
  17. Because C is a sex toy enthusiast, I have learned more about sex toys than I ever wanted to know. Now, I certainly don’t disapprove of sex toys. But you know, every time I walk into a porn store I am still completely overcome by confusion and the desire to laugh.
  18. Totally unrelated to C: did you know there is a Twilight dildo? Creepy! (Check out the comments, they’re hilarious.)
  19. Some people have been so badly educated about sex that a 20-year-old (American) woman will freak out about getting pregnant after only having slept over at a guy’s place. Nothing sexual happened at all, not even clothes coming off. True story! She also believed that guys could die from getting blue balls, and I have a very special story about that, but it will have to wait for another time. She’s a special person.
  20. In that light, I thought I’d link you all here: Stuff Everyone Should Know.

Edit: I totally forgot that I had scheduled this post to go up last night, so I was a little confused at first when I saw the comments, haha. Just to round it out and make it even, and because I thought they were important to include, I added two more points.

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

Being Spontaneous in Bed

I’m currently reading The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro Kazuo (British or not, out of habit I still put last name first). The main character, Stevens, is a sad, sad man who is completely unable to be spontaneous. He has to think his way through witticisms, practice making them up while he is alone in his room, listening to the radio. If you are familiar with personality types, he is a rather extreme example of an ISTJ who has not developed his shadow functions.

It got me thinking about how spontaneity is often used as a synonym for “fun,” and tends to be viewed as an essential trait for exciting sex. This can certainly pose problems for the sexually active asexual person, whose natural tendencies do not coincide with their partner’s desires. Whether one is spontaneous or not outside of a sexual context, it’s just very hard to be so in a situation that ordinarily one wouldn’t be inclined to get oneself into at all.

So we may find ourselves doing the same thing as Stevens, trying to think through sexual encounters to figure out what we are expected to do beforehand, and then try to simulate spontaneity later on. But does this method work? I’m sure some people will insist that it doesn’t, but I have had some moderate success by doing so. I think the key is to have several different things in mind which you could choose from, but not to let your partner know what specifically you have in mind (although of course, if this is a BDSM scenario, you’d better be clear about boundaries), and then do something that they don’t expect. You ought to be thorough when thinking it out, but don’t succumb to paranoia. Being too insecure about it can get in the way of figuring out what is really going on in your partner’s head. You may be perfectly fine at whatever you’re doing, but not realize it and decide not to do it anymore.

It’s very important to get a clear picture of what your partner wants you to do. Unfortunately, they may not always be forthcoming about that information–tons of people just rely on the assumption that everybody knows what is supposed to happen during sex (it’s the “facts of life” after all), and not be willing to apply so much thought to it, out of the idea that it’s just supposed to happen “naturally” out of instinct. Different people approach sex in different ways, though. Some expect it to mean something emotionally, others just think it’s a way to have some fun–and may see this process of thinking through it beforehand as a damper on that. So figuring this stuff out can be a pretty big problem, and it’s not one I have an easy solution for.

Has anyone else tried this strategy? What has worked for you? For sexual partners, do you think this strategy would be satisfying, or ultimately lead to disappointment?

Sex 2.0

I just received a nice email from someone inviting me to go to Sex 2.0:

Hello,

I want to invite you to Sex 2.0.  I think it would be wonderful to see the asexual movement represented.  After all, in our talking about sex, people who don’t want it need a place at the table too.

“Sex 2.0 will focus on the intersection of social media, feminism, and sexuality. How is social media enabling people to learn, grow, and connect sexually? How is sexual expression tied to social activism? Does the concept of transparency online offer new opportunities or present new roadblocks — or both? These questions, and many more, will be addressed within a safe, welcoming, sex-positive space.”

http://www.sex20con.com/

If you think it looks interesting, spread the word around.

I hope to see you there!

Bitsy

Unfortunately, that’s finals week for me, and one of my final projects is due that day, so I won’t be able to go. But I wanted to let everybody else know what’s going on, so that maybe someone who is free on May 9th can make it to Washington, D.C. to represent asexuality. If anybody does go, let me know what happens!

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!

Making Sense of Things

I’ve had a draft of this epic-length post sitting around since sometime in the middle of last month, but I’ve been vacillating about whether I should finish and post it because every time I reread it, it seems too self-indulgent to me, and too far off-topic (and also, because the time I have spent not finishing it has distanced me from it enough that it almost seems not pertinent anymore, but then of course I still keep coming back to it…). I suppose it isn’t really, and my dismissive attitude towards emotions just makes it seem that way. It’s hard for me to keep a balanced perspective about these things, since I am so heavily biased towards rational thought. Still, I try not to make too many posts like this because I don’t want to start getting annoying, and end up sounding like some twelve-year-old girl who can’t help but mention her crush at every opportunity. At the same time, though, I don’t want to deny my experience, and though it might not be outright denial, to not mention M’s contribution to my life would at least be a significant oversight. Indeed, it was his influence which ultimately led to the creation of this blog. I would never have done such a thing if I hadn’t needed to distract myself from the pain of losing him, if I hadn’t had the experience of being with him in the first place. I have no penchant for dramatic overstatement (especially not as clichéd as this)—really, I am much more fond of the ridiculously understated—but his effect on me was such that I don’t know where or who I would be today if I hadn’t met him. He changed me, permanently. For the better, I think. And even if at some point my love for him fades away, my gratitude at least will ensure that I always have a soft spot for him. So I will indulge, in the interest of getting it out, off my mind, and maybe making room to heal.

I am incredibly happy and grateful that M decided to get involved with me, because he enriched my life so much. And yet, I think he made the wrong decision by getting involved with me in the first place, if he wasn’t willing to listen to what I had to say and make allowances for my so-called “sexual disability.” It is bizarre to think that something which was, for me, so uplifting (no matter how frustrating it was at the same time), could have been, for him, a grave error in judgment. Maybe he does not perceive it as such, I don’t know; but I do, and I find it somewhat difficult to accept that he of all people could take such an attitude. Continue reading

Almost-Sexual Frustration

Excerpt: As the title suggests, I have been feeling increasingly frustrated for the lack of physical contact with any other human being. Not sexual contact, but intimate contact: kissing, spooning, hearing someone else’s heart beat, feeling their skin beneath my nails, and pretty much anything that, according to popular ideas, is supposed to lead up to sex. Hell, I wouldn’t even really mind having sex, though it’s the part that comes before that I truly enjoy. Among asexuals, I seem to have a pretty broad view of what borderline acts are acceptable and enjoyable. This is why I sometimes call myself and almost-sexual, because if the definition of sexuality were broadened enough to include them, I might be able to identify as a sexual person. Although I still doubt whether even under the ideal circumstances, it would ever occur to me to initiate sex as it’s usually defined (i.e. intercourse, oral, manual). Point is, I still have a drive to be physically intimate with people even if I couldn’t care less about actually having sex with them. The only word I have to describe my feelings when that drive is frustrated is “sexual frustration” but it’s not quite that.
Continue reading

Sensual vs. Erotic

Someone asked me recently whether I (paraphrasing) engaged in sexual activity just to please my partners, or whether I also enjoy “sensual/erotic” things.

It’s interesting to me that sensual and erotic here are used as synonyms, or near-synonyms. To me, they’re not. I know what sensuality is, and I definitely do enjoy it, but I actually had to look up the definition of “erotic” before I started writing this (“You know you’re asexual when…”). As I suspected, the word does not apply to me, since the key component is sexual desire, which I do not have.

Or to be more accurate, I suppose it could apply to me, to my body, as perceived by someone else, but I would never use the word to describe anything but someone else’s perceptions. It just doesn’t have a place in my personal lexicon.

But I do enjoy sensuality, and part of that involves touching, and being touched by someone else. Sometimes that results in physical arousal, but I have an odd habit of not even noticing when I’m aroused. The goal for me is not arousal and physical release, but just to luxuriate in the senses.

I suppose for a long time, I mistook this sensuality for sexuality. It took me a while to realize that other people didn’t think the same way that I do. But that doesn’t change the fact that for me, the idea of sharing a nice, long, hot bubble bath with someone I love strikes me as infinitely more intimate and fulfilling than having sex.