Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 26 August 2011

The Post I Don’t Want To Write

I don’t want to write this post. I really don’t. See, the whole world seems to believe that there’s no such thing as asexuality and that asexuals are people who are confused, or repressed, or secretly gay or G-d knows what. And I don’t want to add to that. But, I began this blog as my personal journey through the world of asexuality and dating. My journey’s took a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t expect it to take, and now I’m at the point where I’m questioning exactly what I am. So what better place to express all my doubts, and confusions and questions then in this blog?

This really is nothing new for me. I started wondering if I was actually demisexual back in January. I just wasn’t self-aware back then to know exactly what I felt, so I wrote the blog and forgot about it a few days later. But lately, I’ve been thinking about looking for a romantic partner, and the more I’ve dreamed of finding someone, the more I’ve been aware of questions about who and what I am.

It’s somewhat of a terrifying journey, because at the end of it I might find that after everything I’ve done to become visible as Ace, that’s not who I am after all. And so I’ve kept my thoughts and feelings mainly to myself (my life coach and a few close friends know and are supporting me while I try to figure this out.) But this morning I woke up way too early and can’t get back to sleep, so I’m going to share anyway.

Okay…having said all that… I don’t know where to begin. The thing is that I don’t experience sexual attraction — or I don’t think I do — but I do sometimes experience sexual desire if certain conditions are met. So I guess that’s where I’ll begin.

First of all, last night I was trying to figure out what sexual attraction is because my personal identity kind of hinges on it. See, lately I’ve noticed that when I meet someone I might notice they have nice eyes or a nice body shape but I never have any feelings of wanting to do anything physical with that person. So if sexual attraction means having feelings of desire because someone is pretty or whatever, then no I don’t have that. But if it just means the thought that a person is “hot” or “gorgeous,” without any desire to do anything with them attached, I’ve always had that.

The problem is that it’s difficult to explain what attraction actually is, especially to someone who might not have experienced it. Wikipedia says that sexual attraction is “the ability to attract sexual interest.” Oh so helpful. At first I found this really annoying and circular because it didn’t tell me anything about what I wanted to know. But I kind of understand. You can’t explain sexual attraction. It’s an abstract concept. That’s why I don’t know if I experience it or not. I mean, I think John Barrowman has beautiful eyes. Does that mean I’m sexually attracted to him even though I’ve never thought anything beyond that?

Okay, so let’s leave that aside because it doesn’t seem to have an answer. The fact is that I’ve figured out that I might enjoy having sex ONLY as an expression of deep emotional intimacy. For me, the emotional always comes first. I don’t feel the desire to have sex with random people or celebrities or whatever. But if I feel emotionally intimate with someone then I might want to do some things sexually with them as an expression of my deep emotional connection with them.

As best as I can tell, three things need to happen for me to feel any sexual desire.
1) Emotional intimacy — the person’s gotta get behind my walls and me behind theirs so we see everything about each other.
2) Some sort of feeling that the person is beautiful… that feeling that they have nice eyes or whatever.
3)The other person initiates sexual activity

I put the third one in bold because it seems to be a major part of the equation. See, for a while I thought I was aromantic. The reason I thought I was aromantic was because I have lived with my best friend for several years and we are very clear that we are not interested in more than friendship with each other. But I felt that emotional closeness with her. After we both agreed last year that our relationship was in danger of falling into a grey area between friendship and romance, and both seriously started dating other people and untangling our lives from each other a little bit, I thought, I wanted to find someone who was as good a friend to me as she was.

So I thought, I could live forever with a friend and who cares about whether I ever have any physical contact with the person. Therefore, maybe I’m aromantic.

But here’s the thing. Lately, I’ve been feeling that an aromantic relationship would not fulfill me. This is where things get sticky and I get embarrassed and feel my desire to write this blog slowing way down. Because it’s not that I COULD be physical within the context of a relationship. It’s that… I want to be. And wouldn’t that make me… kinda sexual?

I’ve looked back on my previous relationships and I’ve realized that in every romantic relationship I’ve been in, I’ve wanted to hug, kiss and cuddle. Okay, so far typical romantic asexual, right? Well, if and only if the other person has initiated going beyond that, I’ve developed an interest. Obviously the emotional connection has to be there because when people want to be sexual with me and I have no emotional investment in them, more often than not it really upsets me. But if I’m in a relationship and the person wants to be sexual, not only do I consent, but I start discovering that there are certain things I like and want to do and look forward to doing.

My relationship with my best friend didn’t develop that way — she wasn’t into me that way and so she didn’t initiate anything of that nature and thus I didn’t develop sexual feelings for her. (Which is good because I would have had more of a mess if I had…) But because the emotional closeness I had with her was so close to what I wanted I got confused and thought it was all I needed.

So I guess that does make me demisexual or something. I can’t say I’m purely 100 percent asexual at this point. Lately I’ve been saying I’m quasi-asexual.

I’m trying to remember it’s just a word and its only purpose is to help me define what I want, but it’s really hard to let go of a label that has been me for as long as I can remember, and I don’t want to betray the asexual community or the people that I have helped encourage.


Responses

  1. I think that the last part is the most important part to remember. It’s only a word. One word is too simple to describe anyone. You define your own self; take all the time you need to decide exactly what you want. Also, what you want might change over time, that is natural.

  2. I’m very proud of you for being able to be true to yourself and not letting your being a ace activist make you feel obligated to lie.

    This is just growth on your part. People change in unexpected ways.

  3. You already know what I think about it. Most of all because of the confusion in defining abstract things and terms. I just wanted you to know again that I support you wherever this path is taking you to. No matter what the community as a whole thinks or says.

  4. I don’t think that makes you demisexual, honestly. I think you’re falling into the trap of conflating desire with attraction… and the only thing that makes you asexual is not experiencing the attraction. Asexual people can have desire for sex without compromising their asexuality. There’s so many reasons you could want to have sex besides being sexually attracted! I was in a place where I had similar thoughts once, but I realized I was sort of buying into stereotypes/myths about asexuality, as well as mistaking something else for sexual attraction, hence why I don’t call myself gray-a anymore. What you describe sounds like emotional attachment and aesthetic attraction, and those are not the same as sexual attraction. It’s really sounds very similar to my own experiences. The other person has to initiate before I start wanting to have sex, too… and I don’t mean they have to initiate sex every single time, but initiate the sexual part of the relationship. Then I’ll start feeling that sex is a way I want to express an emotional connection.

    Of course, whatever label you choose is up to you. But if you’re worried that you have to give up the label of asexual, based on what you describe, I really don’t think you do.

    • Thanks Elizabeth! A lot of my confusion lies in what exactly is attraction? A friend told me that if I think someone has nice eyes or nice other parts of their body, that’s sexual attraction. But that doesn’t make sense to me because that would mean a lot of asexuals experience sexual attraction. I can’t figure out what it is from looking online either, because all I get is “sexual attraction means being attracted sexually.” Um, thanks? So I figured there was a desire component to attraction and then my head exploded. LOL

  5. All I know is that I know some people that are sex addicts and I know some asexual people and I know about every type in between! I myself am not someone that experiences sexual attraction as often as most people I know. For me too there has to be a major emotional connection before I can be turned on by someone. We are all different though in what if anything ‘turns us on’. You just always do whats best for you without worrying about what other’s think or want to lable you. Only you know you and its good that you are learning more and more about yourself! Just let your opinions of you be based on what you think and not what others think.

  6. When I read, “the whole world seems to believe that there’s no such thing as asexuality…” then I knew instantly that I wanted to share something : I am almost 40 years old and despite being worldly and no stranger to the internet, I had never even heard of the very IDEA of being asexual until this year. Officially, anyway. A couple of years ago a person I met had confided that they just “don’t” feel “sexy” or “sexual” at all. It was only this year that I met some “out” asexual folks who told me about their journey. You might be happier to think that people just have no idea about asexuality as a feasible reality for their own lives. It’s like when I realized I could decide to NOT have children – all of a sudden my life was so much easier to fathom! I’m in the sex industry (not prostitution, although I have no problem with prostitution itself) and I actually mention asexuality when I educate others about variations in sexuality, now that I know more about asexuality. I think that your blog and others like it shed a lot of light on a very new terrain. Bravo! -Warmly,
    Maria Bareiss
    P.S. As far as labels go, author Pat Califia went from being a “dyke” to transitioning into a male, and then being in a relationship with another man! Labels are awesome for leftovers, us humans don’t need ‘em as much!


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