Asexuality is a recent term (only becoming a term in the last twenty years or so, according to asexualexplorations.net) that is defined as “a sexual orientation characterized by a persistent lack of sexual attraction toward any gender”. An asexual, therefore is someone who doesn’t experience sexual feelings or desires.
I love the way that whatisasexuality.com describes it as a misunderstood orientation. It doesn’t mean you are celibate now, in your past or in your future. It also doesn’t mean an asexual has a hormone imbalance or a fear of sex. It simply means the absence of those types of desires.
But what does it REALLY mean in day to day life?
I’m a middle aged (ugh, that was hard to write), married woman. I’ve been with my husband for 18 years, married for 13. Previous to him, I had been in relationships with two different women. So, until I met him, I thought I was a lesbian. Then when I met him, I thought “I must be bi-sexual”. However, now that I have an understanding of what asexuality is, I realize that I am far more on the asexuality spectrum than anything else.
Sex just doesn’t do it for me. It’s not that I don’t love or care for my husband, or didn’t in my past relationships. I’ve never been one to look forward to sex, more often than not, I try to find a way to avoid it (I’ve never had this particular discussion with my husband, as I don’t think it would go well). Sex is something I often think that I have to do, to keep a happy marriage, to satisfy his needs, whatever the reasoning.
Once that is complete, I know I have a few days of freedom until I do it again. Is it optimal? Of course not. But just as you might stop at the store to pick up milk because your partner wants it, even though you have no desire to stop anywhere on your way home, that is what I need to do for him.
Do I masturbate? Yes, sometimes, but more than likely not. Toys don’t do it for me either. The issue is not mechanics, the issue is the lack of even desiring to do any of these things. These are not acts that I look forward to on most occasions.
However, loving someone and being loved? That is important to me. I want to be important to someone. I want to feel loved, and necessary. I just don’t need sex to feel that way. For me, love is an emotion of the brain, not a sexual reaction.
Asexuality is a difficult orientation to navigate. There is no clear cut answer, as in so many things in life. Some of the questions that can help to answer it include :
- Are you generally disinterested in sex?
- Is your interest in sex more scientific than emotional?
- Do you feel left out or confused when others discuss sex?
- If you had sex, did you think it was dull or boring, and not the amazing experience other people made it out to be?
- Have you ever had to pretend to be interested in someone in order to fit in?
- Have you ever felt “broken” because you don’t experience sexual feelings like those around you?
- Have you ever felt that you were straight “by default” or that you were bi or pan because you were equally (dis)interested in all genders?
- Have you ever gone out with someone or had sex because you felt “that’s what you’re supposed to do?”
Even with all those questions whether you answer yes or no…there is still so much gray area. For me, though, if I look at the spectrum of sexual orientation, the key is “sexual”. There is very little of that word that is meaningful to me personally. I love to read about it, even like to watch porn sometimes, may have an orgasm, but the amazing feelings that people feel from a great sexual experience? They have never really been there for me, and as I get older, I find that I am okay with it.
Accepting things that you can’t change can take years to do, but when you do, there is a certain freedom in knowing where you stand. Even if you feel you have to keep it hidden, because almost nobody will ever understand it.