When I was in college, I was dating this wonderful guy. He was smart, talented, and funny. He was a hell of a good cook which was a major plus when you’re a starving college kid. We spent a lot of time together, and he was my first sexual partner. The problem started coming up that he wanted to have sex more than I wanted to. In fact, I rarely wanted to have sex. It’s not that I didn’t like sex. I liked it just fine. But the urge and the drive was barely ever there.
This culminated in a beach trip one summer. He wanted to be intimate. I thought of so many movies and shows where couples had romantic getaways to the ocean. They would have passionate love making scenes.
And I couldn’t feel it. No matter what I tried to do to get my mind in that place, I just couldn’t. Romance was incredibly easy. I could dress up, make dinner, laugh, dance, and joke. I could hold hands, cuddle, lay together, and admire my partner. But the moment it reached the time to have sex, it was like a mental wall was thrown up. I struggled to get past that point.
It’s not that I didn’t care, because I loved him very much. I enjoyed spending time with him. I missed him when he wasn’t around. It was just the urge to want to have sex never struck me. In fact, sometimes I had to make myself go that distance just to feel like I was a good girlfriend.
As I watched my boyfriend once again look so disappointed, I felt horrible. I felt like I was ruining our beach trip. I didn’t understand what was wrong with my body. Why did the thought of me having sex weird me out? I loved reading about it, thinking about characters having sex in media, writing sexy roleplays with my friends, and watching it. But the idea of me having sex completely shut down my body.
After college and a mutual break up with the boyfriend, I was so confused about myself. He never said it, but I had a feeling our lack of sex was a contributor of us growing apart. I blamed myself. I felt like he didn’t deserve someone broken like me when he could have someone whole. It was like I was missing a piece in my brain to make me a functioning woman.
I moved through my twenties, and I would hear my friends talk about dating and one night stands. I wanted to date as well, but I didn’t want to ruin another relationship. I went on a few dates here and there. I met up with an old buddy from high school. We had a good dinner together. But once we returned to his car, he suggested going back to his place. I internally panicked, immediately flashing back to college. He tried to kiss me. Pretty comically, I leaned back as far as I could to avoid his kiss. He caught on quickly I wasn’t into it. Luckily, he was also very understanding and took me home.
We didn’t have a second date after that.
One night, I was sitting in the living room with my older and my younger sisters. Both of them were going on and on about how they hadn’t had sex in months. It was driving them crazy! They laughed and joked about it, about how they needed to get that urge satisfied. By this time, I hadn’t had sex in a few years. The way they spoke made me feel embarrassed about myself. Society dictated that if I waited too long to sleep with someone, then I was an outcast and weird. I didn’t want to be judged for not shacking up with someone. But I also really didn’t care if I had sex.
That night as I laid in bed replaying my sisters’ words, I wondered if that’s what it was like to be normal.
It wasn’t until 2013 that I started to understand. I attended the first 221B Con here in Atlanta. I was a fan of BBC Sherlock and some of my friends were attending. I was surprised to find out it was more than just a con about one of the greatest literature detectives. While it’s still very much a Sherlock Holmes convention, it has shifted into a queer convention for many shows, movies, and meta discussions of fandom as a whole. While listening to a panel about Ace portrayals in various works of fanfiction, I learned what Asexuality was.
Aces and Aros defines Asexuality as, “…a sexual orientation where a person experiences little to no sexual attraction to anyone and/or does not experience desire for sexual contact… Like any other sexual orientation, asexuality isn’t a choice. Unlike abstinence and celibacy, which are both choices to avoid sex, asexuality is an innate part of who someone is.”
There isn’t just one type of Asexuality either. It’s often described as a spectrum or an umbrella as it varies from person to person. Some people are aromantic, meaning “a person experiences little to no romantic attraction and/or has little to no desire to form romantic relationships.” Some people are demisexual which is, “a sexual orientation characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person.” These are just a few of the more of the common identities. Asexuality is a vast and wide net that is full of nuances.
I realized why I was drawn to Sherlock Holmes as many fans saw him as Asexual. Since then, I also started realizing how media harmfully portrays Asexual people as well. There are many stereotypes where Asexual people are seen as robots or sociopaths. Ace characters can have their orientation erased from already canonized media. They’re often the butt of jokes like Lord Varys in Game of Thrones. These portrayals in media hurt me as well. I still often wonder if I would be seen as cold or a robot in future relationships. I didn’t want to have a repeat of my past relationships.
As I started to meet my fellow Aces, I began to really understand that I wasn’t broken. I began to learn the vocabulary I didn’t have in college to explain why I felt a certain way about sex. Most of all, I realized I wasn’t alone anymore. For the first time as I crossed into my 30’s, I really began to understand who I was. There is more to relationships other than just sex. Intimacy is what is defined by the individual and their partner.
And being Asexual didn’t mean I was broken. It is part of who I am as I was born this way. I don’t need sex to define who I am. I still love reading about it and watching it. I love writing about it in my work. But I don’t necessarily need it in my life.
I haven’t had sex in a decade, and I’m fine with that. I still want to be romantic with someone. Even now, I want to have someone to buy flowers for. I want someone to cook dinner with. I want to whisper little sweet words and jokes in someone’s ear. I want someone to share my life with. To me, all of that is love. That is just as valid and good as those normal people out there.
Sure, I am open to having sex with a future partner. But this time around, I have the vocabulary to discuss why sex is very difficult to me. I have the resources and information to share. Most of all, I have a wonderful community of Ace friends to help me out as well to share their own viewpoints if needed.
Being Ace doesn’t make me a robot. I’m not a sociopath. I am not broken. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me.
I’m just a hopeless romantic that you need a little extra patience with.
And I’m fine with that.
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