I’m asexual, though I personally like “ace” better (partially because it’s shorter, easier to say, has some positive connotations, but mostly because it feels less like a clinical diagnosis or something you say about the reproductive process of bacteria). Some of you already knew that, some of you may have guessed, others may have casually wondered, and a bunch of you are probably surprised.
What does this mean? Well, it means that I don’t feel sexual attraction. I do feel romantic attraction (maybe? I’m not really sure what “romantic attraction” is), though the lines are pretty blurry and distinguishing between friendship and romantic interest is rough. I’ve touched on that before, but haven’t ever explicitly labeled myself as ace (besides to a handful of close friends). This doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to all physical affection (I dated a woman for a couple months at the end of last year and spilling over into the first of this one and we would hold hands and kiss and it was very nice—great, excellent, delightful, 10/10 would recommend and do again—, but for me that wasn’t sexual, it was romantic certainly, it was a way of showing our shared affection and commitment to each other or something—and yes, I know, these lines are getting blurrier and blurrier, but hey, what can you do?).
I’d like to get married and have a family one day, but don’t know what that will look like. That’s a bridge to be crossed at some future date (though that won’t and hasn’t stopped me from thinking about it, but I try not to get too far ahead of myself).
I feel love for people, love of varying shades and degrees, but never sexual love (I love[d?] the woman I dated, for example)—I mean, I know it seems for many/most/some people that romantic and sexual love are synonymous (or at least closely related), but that’s not true for me. I mean, love is a messy, complicated thing (and this seems to make it messier and more complicated). But that’s an internal sort of complication and not one that really impacts you, dear reader (unless you happen to feel sexual love for me and were hoping for that to be reciprocated, in which case, you are definitely impacted). I’m open to having sex (sexual attraction is different from sexual behavior), but never having done so, there’s a lot of ambiguity there. If I get married and my wife wants to have sex, at this point, I’m open to doing that because she would want to and maybe it’d be great? Maybe terrible? I don’t know.
Alternatively, it is entirely possible that one day I’ll meet someone and feel sexually attracted to them. I’m open to that possibility (in which case I’d identify as demi- or grey-sexual rather than ace). But, I’ve lived for 26 years and some change and haven’t felt sexual attraction yet, so, I’m not holding out for that to come my way. Or maybe I just need to have some amazing sex and suddenly I’ll feel all sorts of sexual attraction. Again, I doubt it, but I’m open to that possibility, though don’t plan on a lifestyle that will really give me the experiences necessary for such a revelation.
I’ve known for a couple years and had the vocabulary to talk about it, but always knew there was something a little different about the way I felt attraction (or not). Growing up dudes would be crude and crass and express all sorts of sexual attraction, but I never felt what they seemed to be expressing (and found their language frequently demeaning and objectifying). Given the discussions on the Law of Chastity at Church, I thought I was just more righteous or holy or something or not tempted with the same things that all the other dudes seemed to experience.
Though once I got back from my mission and people that I knew were good, spiritual people seemed to be experiencing the same sorts of sexual feelings that all the boys did when I was younger, I was really struck by how different my experience was (thankfully at this point, these feelings were expressed in a much more respectful, less demeaning/objectifying way, for the most part).
I would frequently express how attraction has to be more than physical, that you can have a sort of deeper attraction tied to intelligence, wit, humor, etc. Because for me that was really the only sort of romantic attraction I’d felt. I can recognize physical beauty, but in the sort of way that I see beautiful works of art or find shots in films beautiful—there’s an aesthetic attraction and sometimes pleasure there, but not a sexual one. I struggle with flirting not entirely because of my asexuality, but that definitely factors into the difficulty I have in trying to demonstrate romantic interest in people. Also, I’m probably terrible at gauging romantic interest in me, so if that’s caused you angst, I’m sorry (not really sure what you should do with that information, but there it is).
So why share this with all of you?
- I feel like it’s an important piece of my lived experience and shapes how I view and interact with other things, so for you, dear reader, to better understand where I’m coming from.
- Aces are often thought of as invisible or non-existent, so to combat that belief.
- I wondered if something was wrong with me, if I just didn’t know what love felt like or if I needed some sort of attention because I didn’t feel sexual attraction (this was never terribly strong or difficult, partially I think because Mormonism privileges chastity and sexual purity). So, for any other ace people out there wondering if you’re alone, you’re not. I’m with you.
Nothing in my lived experience is going to change because of this (besides probably making more jokes about not feeling any sort of sexual attraction and not getting what the whole big deal is with sex). I’m happy to talk more with anyone that wants to—reach out in the comments here, via facebook, twitter, text (if you have my number), email (if you have it), or whatever other means you use to communicate with people these days.
Peace and love.