Asexual Experiences

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Some people are like “If you don’t have sex in your marriage then what do you do together? How do you show your love?”

And I just sit there confused, like, do you not…talk to each other? Watch movies, play games, do…things together? Sing goofy silly songs to each other, burst into the room where they are on the computer and frail around all convulsive like and then run out as quickly as you came in, tell them you have a secret for them and then burp in their ear and run away, snapchat your face to them super close up and upside down?

I obviously know other couples don’t just have sex and don’t see each other until the sex happens again…but to say the defining moment of your marriage, your lifelong commitment to each other is….just a physical act? I understand that sex is way more than just the physical it is the emotional and sometimes people even feel spiritual but…I don’t know. The weird shit that S and I do together brings us so much joy and smiles on our faces…even if I could tomorrow enjoy sex and it be everything the world makes it out to be I still wouldn’t trade it. I can’t imagine sex ever being as wonderful as our dorkiness together.

(via southpawscopic)

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Why don't we talk about non-normative relationships failing?



[Link to original post by queenieofaces

I think I really needed to read this. At one point I decided that I was really going to try to talk about my platonic partnership with an allosexual person, and then I floundered. I’m a very private person about my relationships, I have surprisingly big insecurities about “jinxing” this even after four years living together, and like you said, I’m scared for us to be held up as an example, either positive or negative. Especially because we are, as a partnership, very present-, not past-tense.

There is so much pressure, when I’m talking openly about our relationship. A pressure to be not just a functioning crime-fighting duo but also a perfect one, because I’m  asexual/aro-spectrum, female pronouns and disabled, and he’s an allosexual dude. Because so many people shout that this should have completely shattered years ago, that guys and gals can’t be friends never mind live together like we do. And dear gourd, I co-run qpadvice. If I’m gonna talk about this, I feel like I should at least be a really good example. And at the same time I don’t want to end up setting up some sort of absurd, definitive model just because I’m running my mouth about my platonic partnership. The last thing the two of us need or want is to be stuck on a pedestal. We WILL fall off. We are NOT graceful people.

And here’s the thing. A thing. Sometimes I SUCK at communicating properly, but that’s the number one advice I give to anyone in this sort of relationship? Like? I feel like having “hypocrite” stamped on my forehead wouldn’t be forthright enough. But I’m not a hypocrite. Communicating is hard. Everyone brings baggage to the table in any interpersonal relationship. This is fair.But how do I maintain a comfortable level of privacy, for me, for B, for anyone else who gets involved in our lives, and talk about us transparently? How do I admit I’m sometimes abominable at communicating without lending doubt to my credibility and to the validity of our crime-fighting duo? We put a lot of hard work into this thing, I don’t want people misunderstanding, devaluing, or dismissing it. I feel pressure to talk. I feel pressure to stay silent. Sometimes I manage to talk about us, trivially, or fandom-related, or serious (it has a tag in my tumblr). Mostly I end up feeling lost in the middle, not knowing what to do or say.

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I dated an ace, and it all went horribly wrong.

Queenie has a new post about (the end of) non-normative relationships, and why we don’t talk about them. Honestly, I have wanted to talk about them for a long time. Here, I’ll go first:

The moment in time that might mark a “start” to my non-normative relationship with L. was when I went to pick her up at the train station, and one of my coworkers was there waiting for his girlfriend to arrive. I still hadn’t accepted my attraction to women at the time, and it made me a little scared and evasive, that I might be perceived to be there to pick up my secret girlfriend, just like he was. Now, my coping mechanism is to make a joke out of things, so that’s what I started referring to L. as: My Secret Girlfriend. And then… it stopped being a joke.

To me.

I’ve written before about how and why that iteration of our relationship ended, and it’s been important to me to analyze that ending because, while I had no control over how I got into it, if I ever get into another one, I will have some measure of control over how it ends.

The thing is, though, I’m not sure I made any “mistakes,” per se; it was just timing and circumstance and two people with a mismatch in their priorities. I dated an ace, and it went horribly wrong, because that’s just life.

But. I dated an ace, and it went horribly wrong partially because of a lack in the scripts and narratives for friendships.

We didn’t communicate well, or indeed in my case transparently. We didn’t assess or work on the health of our relationship. And when we “broke up” there was no African Violet of Broken Friendship — there was just a half-hearted joke on the train platform about how were going to break the news to our friends.

This community and all its constituent parts and associates seem to me to spend a lot of time talking about traditional romances, non-traditional romances, queerplatonic relationships, non-normative relationships, &c., and while there is nothing wrong with that, I think we really need to put serious effort and thought into friendship

Because if we want to talk about “messy, human reality” (and I think we should), let’s start with how ace/aro spectrum peeps are, on balance, going to need to lean on their friends as they try to struggle through getting and keeping and navigating capital-R Relationships, and how a lot of those Relationships are going to have a strong foundation in the principals, tools, and expectations of friendship.

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I’ve decided to finally write about my personal experiences with asexuality, which of course will intersect with my experiences with my race, gender, and romantic orientation. This is a bit of a leap of faith.

(NB: I will censor myself on some topics because I don’t want this traced back to my personal blog, my name, or any other social network profile.)

I want to first say that I don’t write this in response to anything I’ve read - I will not address the writings of anyone else, nor sample other essays.

I am a young South Asian woman. But I’m not quite South Asian - my people were moved from India and Nepal to British colonies in the Caribbean in the late 19th century. My family has been in the Caribbean for decades, increasingly distant from our home nations and cultures, and so to say I am South Asian is to both be false and to offer you the product of many years of grappling with the truth.

Our people developed in a different hemisphere and among different cultures, climates, and colonial attitudes than our distant relatives in Asia. They have undergone separate political changes and oppression. The British have taken our family names, languages, and histories and replaced them with Anglicized names, what they call “broken English,” and new histories.

As part of a secondary diaspora - the first largely unwilling and violent, the second similarly violent but intentional - in the United States, facing these facts has been difficult. How has colonialism shaped me? My future? What of the mental illnesses passed down from my parents and their parents to me? What of my relationship with Indian diaspora? What of my relationship with Nepal, a country to which I’d felt no connection until late childhood?

I grew up in a sad home. Poverty had greatly affected my parents (in vastly different ways, which is a story for another time and place), as had the trauma they had experienced in their home country, which still follows us today. It was (is) still a home, though. It had to be; I quickly made peace with the reality of it.

My parents had an arranged marriage. I lied to myself at a young age - or perhaps I did not know - and told friends fake stories of how they met based on pieces of tales they’d told me about their respective lives before marriage. But I soon accepted this as well, for maybe it explained why there was always discomfort in the air, and why I couldn’t understand my white friends’ parents, and why I was so well trained by the age of four on how to avoid tense situations (which would develop into one of the mental illnesses the family carries).

There are arranged marriages that work, of course. But I’m not here to tell that story - and I never will be, for there’s a weight that will never leave, in ways I cannot explain to those who will never experience it. Arranged marriage in such a broken place as my parents’ home country was a means of survival in a dark political climate post-independence, and that’s how it still plays out.

A combination of alcoholism, the tension of an arranged marriage, mental illness, poverty, and the shadows of trauma meant that not only did I learn to navigate a lot as a child, but also that I grew into a specific understanding of relationships. Sisterhood was a guardianship; friendship was a series of lies I told in order to feel like what I interpreted of my environment outside of home; marriage was unhappiness, entrapment, anger, and a lot of disappointment. There was nothing romantic about my parents - they were a functional unit that produced me, and I cared about them, and that was that.

I had a lot of positive experiences as a child - I hope I don’t make my childhood seem bleak, because it wasn’t. I was imaginative and bright and I enjoyed my life. I have/had near perfect recall until recently, and the positive memories certainly outweighed the negative - and I mention recall because there were times I did lose time and memory due to trauma.

Nonetheless, I entered puberty with a set understanding of how the world worked. I knew I wouldn’t be in an arranged marriage, and I understood how my parents hurt a little better and tried to keep that in mind, but there was still a clear distinction between what I understood at home and what I witnessed at school. And I embraced the latter with full force. I knew I’d get married; I tried to make myself think of sleeping in the same bed as another person (thinking of beyond that was still too much for me), and ignored what I’d implicitly come to understand from home.

I started to “like” someone toward the end of middle school. This (white male) person had bullied me only two years before, and I took what I read to be his apparent, quiet shame about it as attraction. I didn’t know what attraction was besides hurt - and it was also an opportunity to demonstrate what I had learned about relationships as other people seemed to experience them. It wouldn’t occur to me until much later the danger in my worldview.

Because this bully’s first move had been to joke about marriage. I would afterwards blame myself for not understanding social norms and how to identify jokes because of how upset the joke (a simple posturing of “let’s get married”) made me. I didn’t even realize that the joke itself must have been that I was considered so undesirable as to warrant humor. The very idea of marriage so violated me because of what I had intimately come to know as a means of survival and nothing else.

By mid-high school, I’d accepted that I was heterosexual, despite a decent amount of stifled confusion in middle school, and that I was also goal-oriented and focused on schoolwork such that my lack of romantic interest in others was understandable within the framework of heterosexuality. My relationship with my parents was at a general low, especially since my “guardian” in tense home situations (my sister) was away at college, but things were generally fine.

I was thrown into a relationship with the second person I’d ever liked - both white boys - at this time. It lasted three weeks.

During those three weeks, a lot of red flags went up. Why didn’t I want to touch this person? Why was it so important to others - him, my friends - that I should want to touch this person? Why did it feel so wrong to think of anything besides hugging? Why was I so afraid?

These flags - which I now see as tiny white flags in comparison to actual red flags I’d seen - kept adding up and they led to two possible conclusions: that there was something about how I’d been raised, that a romantic/sexual relationship with a person seemed like betrayal, or wrong, or inherently false, just as how my friends’ jokes about marriage shot ice through my veins, not dissimilar to the bullying I’d endured in middle school. This idea wasn’t about how marriage to me was a violent thing, but how my parents would be disappointed in me, maybe for following in their footsteps instead of living the better life they wanted me to have (i.e., the ability to do more than just survive), maybe because I felt that I hadn’t received all the instructions in the manual I’d begun compiling from age four on how to navigate a household built on a marriage.

Or that there was something about my orientation.

At the encouragement of my friend, I looked up asexuality almost exactly a year later. But a lot had happened in that intervening year. I’d realized that I really had taught myself, and been taught, the harm of marriage and relationships, and that I’d been trying to distance myself from this facet of my upbringing. (Was this wrong? There’s no answer. I don’t believe in rights and wrongs, just facts.)

In that year that second boy had become an emotional abuser, a status he still holds today. He ensued to sexually harass me, especially after I came out to him as asexual, through text message. He manipulated me and used me and I am still healing from the wounds he has inflicted; almost all of my friendships from those years have been destroyed and I’m still on damage control and taking care in navigating social situations in my home town.

Needless to say, my trust in relationships dwindled from a low fire to embers. My depression rapidly reemerged, and the self-blame I’d inflicted in middle school also returned. It then turned to fire and anger. And, incidentally, I found myself surviving instead of living.

College was an escape of sorts. I was able to clear my head, and heal by myself before eventually considering forming friendships and really discussing my childhood with my sister. Some fires cooled; others raged. And here I am today.

What does all of this mean for me now? 

I currently identify as asexual and aromantic because I don’t think I experience sexual or much romantic attraction. I once was elated with these ideas. I am not anymore.

There’s a lot of pain in not knowing where you come from. I have to tell myself too frequently to not look at my people - Indo-Caribbean, Indian, South Asian, brown - with the white gaze because of the after-effects of colonization and becoming diasporic. I have to really come to terms with the fact that addiction and mental illness are in my blood because of racial trauma experienced at the hands of colonizers. I recently have begun to tackle the issue of losing my memory because of chronic illness, a sick parallel to family history that hurts too much to write about anymore than this sentence.

Part of confronting this pain is to be angry. I have plenty of anger; there is no end to my anger. But the other end is acceptance. Not of a fate; not that horror must occur - acceptance that this is my people, that I am permitted to embrace them and continue to forge a new cultural identity free from words like “broken” and the abusiveness that pervades our relationships. I have to accept that my parents will never heal, and neither will I, and that’s okay because right now we have enough to work with to ensure a better future.

I don’t think any of this racial trauma “caused” my orientations purely because as a scientist I’m tired of discussing cause. We’ll never find out. There is no solution. There were no cameras or wires and heart monitors. I’m sick of this question because it is as useless as asking “is that good or bad?” I’ll say this: colonialism is bad, trauma is bad, the illnesses I have are bad. I am good, my parents can be good, my relationships can be good. Isn’t that enough?

The fact remains that I am cynical of marriage and will never willingly enter a marriage. I have to continue to move past the abuse I have suffered at multiple hands. I have to deconstruct the realities I have taught myself in order to survive in a dangerous home. I have to confront my phobia of people drinking alcohol, just as much as I have to forgive the tension between my parents.

If I was going to be asexual and aromantic from birth, these would still be my realities. But right now, inside of me, these things are tied, so that question is meaningless. I came to understand my orientations through a culture so broken that it’s taught me that massive disconnect happens in places outside of science fiction; through misogyny and bullying and betrayal of friends; and through learning the difference between survival and blossoming. I don’t care what caused what because these aspects of my existence are still associated and any relationship I have in the future, whether sexual, romantic, and/or friendly, will be marked by all of my history. All of it. No single part of it.

I don’t want anyone to get anything out of this. I am a human being and that’s not my purpose. Tomorrow I go back to my life and I want you to return to yours. I just want to make it clear that never will I be simple, just as you never will be. This is why I do not address a “community,” issues, politics, essays, attitudes. I just want this to be me.

To each their own.

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trueemergence asked: I'm really happy because I've been in a functional asexual relationship for months now. Her and I spend enormous amounts of time together and are going to be 'officially' living together soon.

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"But I’m not gay": being visibly queer and invisibly asexual


This post has been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

This post was written for the May 2014 Carnival of Aces.  This month’s theme is “Obstacles in Being Asexual.”

"But dating’s easier for you, you know?  ’cause you’re gay."

- a friend I had already come out to twice

In the past 6 weeks, I’ve had four people refer to me as either “gay” or “a lesbian.”  To be fair to them, three of them called me gay in the context of congratulating me for having a girlfriend.*  On the other hand, of those three, I was out to two as both queer and ace.  In each and every case, I’ve been unsure whether to completely derail the conversation by pointing out that, hey, I’m actually not gay (and some of them should know this ‘cause I’ve only told them multiple times).  In each and every case I’ve stayed quiet, because it hasn’t seemed worth it to get into a fight over semantics.

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m00nbat asked: I'm collecting stories and experiences about asexuality because I'm tired of the exclusion we get in most sexual education. I want to make my own kind of book, and I need all of your experiences! I'm accepting stories & experiences centered on asexuality in any medium. You can write, draw, paint, etc. And then when I've collected a good amount, I'm going to design a book and publish it. The submissions can be anonymous if you'd rather! Thank you. :)

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Anonymous asked: How I wish people were talking about this when I was younger. I always thought there was something wrong with me. I am now married with kids, and have never once enjoyed sex. I love my husband, and would never leave my kids, but sex is a must for him... I've been faking it for 20 years, but I just don't see a way out. I'm glad there's more education now so no one ends up like me.

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My Boyfriend Is Amazing!

So, just last week, the guy I’ve been crushing on for a while and hanging around (we were in a play together) became my boyfriend. Moments after we made it official, I reminded him that I’m asexual, explained what it means, and said that I’m the type that doesn’t like sex (basically that I’m a repulsed ace). Without a hint of shock or anything, he immediately and calmly responds “Ehh. I can live with that. :)” I was speechless.