Being Bi/Ace, Part Two: Aesthetic Attraction and the Visual-Aural Gender Split

This post is for the May 2018 Carnival of Aces on “Nuance & Complexity,” which I am hosting. Please check it out and consider submitting! Cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

Last time I talked about how there’s a lot of extra scrutiny about attraction for both bi and ace people, which makes inhabiting that intersection difficult, and the misconceptions that become barriers to talking about it. Now I’m going to talk about some specific aspects of my own attraction and how it’s different enough from the norm that it usually goes unrecognized. 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.