An Asexual’s Guide To … Female Anatomy

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(For most women, most girls, and anyone else who happens to have a clitoris and/or vagina.)

Between your legs, right where they meet your body, you’ll encounter a kinda squishy area that’s full of folds of skin and flaps of various sizes.  That area is your vulva, and that’s where we’ll start our tour.  Contained within are a number of points of interest.  Sometimes the whole area is mistakenly called the vagina, but that is actually just one of many things in the area.

First, you’ll encounter the flaps of skin known as the labia.  These act as a sort of covering for everything else that’s down there.  The thicker outer lips are called the labia majora, while the thinner inner lips are the labia minora.  They vary in shape and size from person to person.  Yours may be small and tuck themselves away between the outer folds of skin or yours may be large flaps of skin that stick out or yours may be somewhere in between.  In many cases, one side might be larger than the other, and the thickness of the ridge may not be the same for the entire length.  The labia are often a different color than the rest of the skin in the area.

If you venture between the labia, you’ll find a tunnel leading inward.  This is the vagina, also sometimes called the “pussy”.  It probably feels somewhat smooth and slimy, and is a bit stretchy.  Should you ever find yourself pregnant, the vagina was likely involved in that process somehow, and will likely be involved when the baby decides it’s time to get out and face the world.  At the far end of your vagina is your uterus, also known as “Aunt Flo’s Apartment”, where she lives and prepares for her monthly visits.

Along the forward wall of the vagina, several inches in, you may encounter an area that’s slightly harder and ridged.  This is known as the G-spot.  Although you may be touching it right this very second, many scientists (most of whom do not have a vagina) continue to debate its existence.

As you turn around and exit the vagina, you may come across an elastic ring of skin surrounding the outer opening.  Or you may not.  Either way, this is called the hymen and has absolutely no bearing on who you are or how you’ve lived your life, despite what other misguided people may claim.  The hymen has no practical use, and, if it’s even noticed at all, it’s largely known for being a painful nuisance if you choose to put anything inside your vagina.  In rare cases, the hymen covers the opening of the vagina, a condition that typically requires medical attention.

Okay, now that you’re back on the surface, head toward the front of your body, but stay between the labia.  Where the two sides of the labia come together, you’ll find a nubby thing hiding up there.  That’s your clitoris.  It’s probably not as prominent as some of the other bits and pieces around.  In some cases, people may not even know it’s down there until someone points it out.  However, it’s actually one of the most important bits down there and is usually well worth making friends with.

The size of the clitoris can vary greatly from person to person.  Yours may be the size of a grain of rice or may be two inches long.  The size of your clitoris has very little effect on what can be done with it.  Sometimes, the clitoris may change size and get harder.  This is called an erection.

Surrounding it is a loose bit of skin known as the clitoral hood.  In many cases, your clitoris is a bit shy and will often hide underneath the hood, only occasionally peeking out now and then.  The bit of the clit that sticks out on the surface is called the glans.  Under the surface, your clitoris has two legs which extend back and reach alongside the vagina.

In between the vagina and the clitoris, you may have come across a small lump with a hole in it, somewhere in the smooth skin that’s down there.  That hole is your urethra, and it’s where pee comes out.  Pee does not come from the vagina, unlike what some people believe.  Furthermore, some people (people who have not taken this tour or have not consulted a road map of the area) may confuse the urethra with the clitoris.  Let me tell you, that’s just a recipe for disappointment.

Let’s head outside and take a look back at the vulva as a whole.  You may have noticed a forest of short, curly hairs surrounding the area.  These are pubic hairs, also known as the “bush”.  The area that they cover and their density varies greatly from person to person.  For some people, the hair is limited to a small area immediately outside the labia.  In others, the hair will live around the vulva as well as in a tuft on the mound that sits in front of the vulva.   In still others, the hair is thickest around the vulva and the mound, but may spread upward and start a colony around the navel.  Sometimes the color of pubic hair may not match the color of the hair elsewhere on your body.  In some cases, people shave some or all of this hair away for various reasons.   According to scientists, the only known purpose of pubic hair is to be particularly repulsive when found in a hotel room.

If you travel back from the vulva, you’ll encounter another hole.  This one is known as the anus, and it’s where poop comes out.  There isn’t much else here, so let’s keep moving.

We’re now leaving the lower reaches and heading up to your chest.  On your chest, you’ll probably find a pair of small nubs of skin, known as nipples.  The nipples may be surrounded by round bits of darker skin, which may or may not have hairs protruding from it.  Occasionally, the nipples will tighten up and get harder and stick out.

In many cases, the nipples live on squishy bags of fat called breasts, also known as “boobs” or “tits”.  Your breasts may range in size from completely flat to protruding a foot from the surface of your chest. While they occasionally provide food for babies, most of the time, the breasts have no practical use and may just be in the way.  Despite their general lack of utility, they are inexplicably one of the most obsessed about body parts.

It is, however, not obsessive to learn how to give yourself a breast self exam.  A breast self exam will check for lumps that may be related to breast cancer.  (Just do an Internet search for instructions.  The phrase “breast self exam” generally leads to a fairly safe, medically oriented set of results.)

This concludes the tour.

(You will notice that the tour did not stop at the magic orgasm button.  That’s because there’s no such place.  If you want an orgasm, you’re going to have to work for it.  More on that later.)

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An Asexual’s Guide To … Male Masturbation

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The techniques and details described in this post are not the only way to masturbate.  They’re not the “correct” way or the “best” way.  They may not even work for you.  They’re provided as a base upon which you can experiment and learn what works for you.

Okay, so, I’ve got a penis and I want to try masturbating.  How do I go about doing that?

The first step is to get ready.  Find a comfortable and safe position, where you’ll have enough time to experiment and try things out without being disturbed.  Lock your door if that would make you feel more comfortable.  You may want some sort of lube to help things along.  Pretty much anything slippery will do, but try to avoid soap or shampoo, because those have a tendency to dry out your skin or cause a burning sensation if they get in your urethra, neither of which is very fun.  Lube specifically designed for sexual activity (typically called “personal lubricant”) is your best bet, but something like hand lotion, baby oil, or Vaseline will also work.  (However, oil and latex don’t mix, so if there’s any chance that a condom and another person will be involved in your session, stick to water-based personal lubricants that are specifically made for use with condoms.  To repeat:  Do not use hand lotion, baby oil, Vaseline, or anything else like that if there’s going to be a condom involved.)  And finally, you’ll want to have a towel or some tissues nearby.  If you end up having an orgasm, you’ll probably ejaculate, and you’ll probably want to clean that up.  (Or just masturbate in the shower or bath and wash it all down the drain.)

All the prerequisites are taken care of, it’s time to get down to business.  The most common and most straightforward way to masturbate is to wrap your hand around your penis and stroke up and down repeatedly until you orgasm or decide to stop.  That’s the technique I’m going to explain here.

For this to work, you’re going to need access to your penis.  I’d suggest taking off your pants and underwear, so it’s all out there and freely reachable, and so you don’t have to worry about accidental stains on your pants when you’re done.  Of course, it’s also possible to pull your penis out through your fly, although that can sometimes lead to painful zipper bites.  Or if you want, you can simply reach into your underwear and do it entirely inside your pants, but that typically leads to restricted motion, which may make things uncomfortable and more difficult.

Now you’ll need an erection, also known as a hard-on.  This is where your penis fills with blood, becomes somewhat stiff, and tends to stand up.  At this point, most other resources will direct you to “Think of that hot girl in accounting” in order to get an erection, but since you’re here, I’m assuming you’re ace, so that’s probably not going to work so well for you.  That means you’ll need to get one some other way.  Of course, you might already have one from reading this far and anticipating what’s next.  Awesome, you’re ready to go!  Then again, you may know how to achieve erection, in which case, proceed.  Or, you can always wait until you have one naturally for some reason.  Morning wood can be used for masturbation, just like any other erection.

However, in many cases, you might have to help your little soldier stand at attention when you want to use it.  Here’s a few things you might try to get you up and running.  Feel free to mix and match these techniques.  If one doesn’t work on its own, it might work with the help of another.

  • Touch or rub your penis.  This may seem obvious, but it’s often rather effective.  Don’t just poke it with a finger or hold it like you would when you pee, but run your fingers or hand around it.  Near the head on the underside (the side that faces your balls when you’re soft) is an area that’s often more sensitive than the rest of skin.  Rubbing there in a circular motion may get you aroused.
  • Grab and pull your penis.  Don’t yank or jerk, but gently pull it outward and move it around.  Start stroking or pushing along it.
  • Move the loose skin back and forth.  Pull the skin back, then pull the skin up over the head over and over.  If you have a foreskin, pull it back all the way.  Try gently pinching, rolling, or stretching the skin.
  • Caress your stomach, inner thighs, and balls.  Try focusing on other areas around your penis.  Those regions are often fairly sensitive and may send a wake-up signal to your equipment.
  • Constrict the base of your penis for a short time.  Make a loop with your thumb and forefinger around your penis, down near where it attaches to your body.  Make the finger loop tighter. This will allow blood to enter, but make it more difficult to leave, which may result in an erection.  Toys called “cock rings” do this same thing.  Don’t stay like this for too long or hold it too tightly, or you’ll cut off circulation, which could be bad.
  • Apply pressure to your penis.  Press it against your body with your hand.  Lean against something, so that your penis is between your body and something else.  Or try laying face down, with your penis between your body and your mattress.  Make a gentle rocking motion with your hips to vary the pressure on your shaft.  You might also try crossing your legs with your penis between them.
  • Tense or clench your genital muscles.  Try tensing the muscles that you use to hold back pee.  Clench and hold, or repeatedly tense and release.  After a while, you might start to get an erection.
  • Think about sex, look at porn, or read something erotic.  Yeah, you’re asexual, but this still may work anyway.  Don’t ask me why, I haven’t figured it out myself.
  • Use a vibrator.  The little buzzing machines aren’t just for a clitoris.  A penis can be woken up by one, too.  That zone on the underside is a good place to try placing it.

By the way, you don’t actually have to have a full erection to begin masturbating.  An erection isn’t an on-off binary, where you’re either completely soft or rock hard.  There’s a huge area in between, and you can usually work with your penis even if it’s in a semi-erect state.  So, if you’re able to get yourself partially hard, but not completely there, then you’re probably far enough along to continue.  The later stimulation will likely complete the erection.  And if you start to lose the erection after you’ve started, come back to these tricks and you might be able to regain it.

Okay, so now you have an erection (Or at least enough of one) and are ready to go.

At this point, pretty much anything that slides up and down your penis over and over may eventually lead to an orgasm.  Some techniques are very effective, while others are a quick trip to rug burn.  I’m going to describe one of the most common techniques.  Note that this is not the only way to masturbate.  There are many variations that you can do, so I’d encourage you to experiment and improvise in order to find out what works best for you.

Reach down and wrap your hand (doesn’t matter which) around your erection.  Your grip should sort of be like you’re holding a cup or a refrigerator door handle.  Your thumb and forefinger should be able to completely close a loop around your penis near the head, your palm will fully contact the shaft, while the rest of the fingers will curl around as far as they can reach.  You want to hold tight enough that you can feel some pressure, but not so tight that you’re really squeezing it.  You’re not trying to pull off your penis, so you don’t need a death grip.

Start sliding your hand up and down the shaft of your penis.  It should be a smooth, continuous motion.  If you’ve ever seen the piston on an oil well or on a steam locomotive, think of the continuous back-and-forth movement of one of those.  You don’t want to “jerk” it or “yank” it, despite what the common euphemisms for masturbation imply.  Keep stroking up and down your penis repeatedly.  If you have no idea how fast to be going, try about one or two full up and down strokes per second, but don’t worry about precise timing.  Faster or slower is okay, and you’ll find the speed that works for you.

There should be some play in the skin of your shaft.  Your grip should be tight enough so that the skin moves slightly back and forth with your hand, but loose enough that it’ll slip back into position as you move.  You don’t want a grip so tight that it feels like you’re going to pull the skin off or so loose that you don’t feel the skin move at all.  If you have a foreskin, you might be able to slide that back and forth.

You do not have to move your hand along the entire length of your penis with every stroke.  The base of the shaft is less sensitive than the head, so you may not get much from stroking the base.  Then again, the head may be too sensitive to stroke, so you may want to avoid it at certain times.  You’ll probably keep your hand in contact with your penis most of the time as you stroke, instead of pulling it completely off the end with every movement.  Sometimes you might make several short strokes close to the head between strokes along the full length.

If your hand’s not sliding smoothly across the skin of your penis as you stroke, you may want to use some of that lubricant that I mentioned above.  Start with a small amount, like a drop or two.  It’s easy to add more, but harder to take it away.  You want to add enough so that you reduce friction, but not so much that you’ve completely eliminated it.  Too little and it’ll probably feel sticky, but too much and your hand will slip right off.  Make sure that the lube is spread around to all of your fingers and your palm.  If it starts to dry out, adding a little bit more or a few drops of water will usually bring it back.

As you continue to stroke, it should start to feel different downstairs.  It probably will begin to feel good.  Varying the pressure of your grip (even mid-stroke), the speed of the stroke, the angle you’re holding it, even how many fingers you’re using may all have an effect on how much pleasure you experience.  Everyone is different.  Some people like fast strokes while others take it slow, but too fast may cause irritation and too slow may not be enough stimulation to keep the erection up.  Some prefer looser grips and others prefer more pressure, but too loose and you won’t feel anything and too tight and it might hurt.  There’s no “perfect” speed or pressure, so you’ll have to experiment with what works best for you.

There are various areas of your penis that will react to stimulation differently.  The shaft is probably the least sensitive area.  On the underside of the penis, near the head, there may be a zone that is very pleasurable to stimulate.  A band of skin called the frenulum connects the shaft to the head in that area, and the frenulum can be quite sensitive, although it’s unfortunately sometimes removed during circumcision.  The head is often the most sensitive area.  Sometimes, particularly for someone who is uncircumcised, the head may even be too sensitive to stimulate directly until you reach a high enough level of arousal and your body is prepared for it.  The corona, the ridge around the base of the head can also be a highly sensitive region.

Now, you may be thinking, “If the head is so sensitive, why don’t I just spend all my time focused on that?”  Well, the answer is that it’s generally too intense to do that.  The stimulation will sort of overload your senses and it may become too much to take.  If it starts to feel too intense, back off a bit.  Slow down, loosen your grip, maybe retreat to the shaft for a while and stroke the head a bit less.

Okay, so, you’re stroking over and over, and hopefully it’s starting to feel like you’re getting somewhere.  There’s a misconception that you won’t feel much of anything until all of a sudden, BOOM! Orgasm.  That’s typically not how it works.  It’ll probably start to feel good well before the orgasm, with a small surge of pleasure with every stroke up or down.  You’ll start to get a feeling for which areas feel best, and you’ll start to focus on them.  You’ll probably start to adjust your speed and pressure to maximize the sensation.  Just keep at it like this.

Don’t worry about whether or not you have an orgasm.  You probably won’t have one the first time you masturbate.  Or first five times.  Or maybe even your first hundred.  Don’t try to force it and don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have one.  It doesn’t mean you’re broken, it doesn’t mean you’re impotent, it doesn’t mean you’re unable to have one.  More than likely, it just means you’re inexperienced.  So, just relax and keep doing what feels good and trying different things when something doesn’t feel good, and eventually, you’ll probably get there.  If it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere this time, then stop for now, don’t sweat it, and try again later.

However, if it feels like you’re getting somewhere, keep going.  As you proceed, the pleasure will probably increase.  You may notice that your pulse and breathing have changed.  Muscles all over your body may start to tense up or shake involuntarily.  You may start to focus on the sensations and begin to tune the rest of the world out.  Eventually, you may feel like you’re climbing a hill or pushing against a wall, that’s there’s a sense that something is about to happen, if you can just get there.  At this point, a lot of people become nervous and think that something’s wrong or that they’ve hit a dead end, so they stop masturbating.  Keep going, keep trying to get to the other side.  You may want to change the speed and pressure of your strokes at this point.  A lot of people will go faster and grip tighter in an effort to get over that hill.  You’re not far off from the orgasm, so keep going.

In some cases, your penis might pulse or twitch when you’re at this stage.  That’s not a sign that something’s wrong, it’s just your body preparing for what’s next.  This doesn’t always happen, though, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen to you.

Eventually, all that repetitive stroking you’ve been doing will pay off.  You’ll have a sensation that you’ve made it to the top of the hill and you’ll start coasting down the other side.  This is the orgasm.  Usually, there will be an intense surge of pleasure that lasts for several seconds.  Often, there will be a series of rhythmic muscular pulses in your penis, kinda like a very strong heartbeat.  These pulses are often accompanied by a surge of pleasure.  They’re roughly a second apart at the start, but they slow down and become weaker with each passing pulse.  You can have from one to over ten of these pulses, but generally you’ll probably have somewhere between 3 and 7 of them.

Most of the time, you’ll also ejaculate when you orgasm.  Ejaculation is when the muscular pulses pump semen through your penis, causing it to come out of the end.  Semen is a whitish (or maybe yellowish) liquid that generally contains sperm.  Sometimes, it’ll just dribble out the end, while other times it’ll squirt out with such force that it can fly several feet.  Sometimes it’s thick, while other times it’s runny.  The volume of semen, as well as the strength of the ejaculation is different for every person, every time they have one.  In many cases, if you haven’t ejaculated in a while, it’ll tend toward thicker and more volume, while if you’ve ejaculated more recently, it’ll become thinner and there will be less.  I should probably point out that although your testicles produce the sperm, they’re not really all that involved when ejaculation happens.  They don’t pump anything, and if you touch them during ejaculation, you won’t feel them moving at all.

Your first few times, an orgasm may feel more weird than good.  You’ve got muscles moving on their own in ways you’re not used to, you’ve got sensory input you’ve never had before, and you’ve probably got strange liquids being expelled from your body.  You may even feel slightly nauseous.  It’s almost a guarantee that it won’t be a mind-blowing, world-shaking experience and it probably won’t be the best feeling ever.  More than likely, you’ll get used to the sensations of orgasm over time and it’ll start to feel better as you go along.

After you orgasm, you’ll probably feel deeply relaxed.  All the tension that had built up while you were climbing that hill has been released.  At the same time, your penis has probably become very very sensitive.  Trying to continue stroking it is probably unbearably intense.   Even a light motion might be uncomfortable.  You can let go of yourself at this point, but you may also enjoy the feeling of simply holding your penis (without moving anything) for a while afterward.  During this time, you’ll gradually lose your erection and your heart rate and breathing will return to normal.

Most people will stop at this point.  Most of the time, everything downstairs will need a bit of time to recharge.  You’ll probably lose your erection and find it difficult to get another one for a period of a few minutes or up to several hours.  This is called the refractory period.

In any case, that’s just one of many ways that you can masturbate.  As I’ve been saying all along, don’t be afraid to experiment and try other things.  You’re the only person who can know what works best for you.

tl; dr:  Put your hand around your cock and stroke until you come.

What if I don’t want to touch myself?

If you’re not a fan of direct contact with your penis, then you can try wearing a rubber glove on your hand or a condom on your penis while you masturbate.  You will almost certainly need to use lube in this case, and if you go the condom route, be sure to put some both inside and outside.  This method has the benefit of being pretty much identical to the hand stroking technique outlined above.

If that’s still not your cup of tea, you can try using toys.  Many masturbation sleeves cover your penis completely, so with the exception of possibly helping your penis into the sleeve, you won’t have to touch it while you masturbate.  I’ll talk about some of them in a bit.  However, you’d have to purchase a toy, so that may not be the best solution.

Another option is to remain fully clothed and grind against something.  Grinding or humping is when you press your penis against something, then rock your hips back and forth in order to stimulate yourself.  The hip rocking motion should either move the penis or it should change the pressure point, in either case, the part of the penis that’s being stimulated will change as you rock.   Lying face down on a mattress is a common way to do this, as is grinding against a couch or other piece of furniture.  There are downsides to grinding, though.  First, since you’re probably grinding against rough clothing, you may end up irritating your penis.  Second, if you orgasm, you’re probably going to ejaculate in your underwear, which would probably get a bit messy.

What if I don’t like fluids?

Probably the best way to avoid fluids is to wear a condom while you masturbate.  They’re specifically designed to catch and contain your semen when you ejaculate, after all.  You can put one on when you first get started, wear it the whole time you’re masturbating, then take it off and throw it away when you’re done. The downside is that condoms can get expensive if you’re buying them all the time.

You can try keeping a tissue or a towel handy.  When you sense that you’re about to come, place the tissue around the head of your penis and cover your urethra and try to catch the ejaculate.

Masturbating in the shower is another good way to deal with fluids.  When you ejaculate, it goes straight down the drain, and you can immediately wash your hands.  A similar technique would be to ejaculate directly into a toilet.

Many masturbation toys will contain your semen after you ejaculate.  You simply ejaculate into the toy, then wash it out later.  These toys also contain the lubricant, leaving your hands clean and dry.  I’ll talk about them shortly.

Another option is to stop before you reach orgasm and ejaculation.  It can still be quite pleasurable.  If you learn the signals of your body, you’ll be able to tell when you’re about to reach orgasm, so you can slow down or stop for a bit then resume a while later.  This allows you to continue masturbating almost indefinitely without having an orgasm.

Are the fluids harmful?

Your own precum and your own semen are not harmful to you in any way.  It’s perfectly safe to touch them, it’s even safe to ingest them if you think you’d be into that.  Semen might start to smell bad after a while, but you’re probably going to clean up long before that happens.

What about toys or other implements?

Masturbation toys, also called sex toys, are a way to enhance or alter your masturbation experience.  You can use them in addition to or in place of another masturbation technique.  Some toys won’t get you to orgasm on their own, but they can potentially increase the pleasure.  There are far too many types to talk about all of them, so I’m just going to cover a few of the common ones.

  • Penis Sleeve:  A sleeve is a toy that encloses your penis.  You typically apply lube to the sleeve, insert your penis, grab the sleeve and stroke with it.  The sleeve usually has soft ridges or bumps or some other texture on the inside to vary and increase the stimulation.  Sometimes, sleeves are little more than a thin tube that’s open on both ends, while other times, the sleeve is made of a thicker material, or closed off on one end.  Sleeves that are large enough or that are closed on one end are often a good way to contain the ejaculation for easy cleanup. Occasionally, sleeves have an opening that resembles a body part, but the opening rarely has any practical effect on the stimulation.  Common sleeves include the Tenga brand and the Fleshlight.
  • Vibrator:  A vibrator is wide term that encompasses any toy that vibrates.  You typically press the vibrator against a sensitive spot on your penis, run it around your testicles, or, in some cases, insert it in your anus.  Most vibrators have adjustable speed or strength.  Vibrators by themselves may not get you all the way to orgasm easily, but they can be used to help with arousal or enhance the sensation of orgasm.  There are multiple types of vibrators.  Bullet vibes, where the vibrating motor is encased in a small egg are fairly popular.  Dildo vibes are the combination of a dildo and a vibrator.  Cock ring vibes are the combination of a cock ring and a bullet vibe and allow hands free stimulation of your penis.  Ring vibes that are sometimes sold with condoms are typically single use and have weak motors powered by watch batteries.  It’s possible to get stronger ring vibes which have larger vibrators attached, and which are powered by AA batteries.  Then there’s the personal massager vibrators, which are typically larger, stronger, and are usually marketed as back massagers.  The Hitachi Magic Wand is a popular personal massager.
  • Cock Rings:  A cock ring is a ring that fits around your penis (sometimes your penis and testicles), and is designed to restrict blood flow.  Restricting blood flow tends to create a stronger erection, because the blood can get in, but has a harder time getting back out.  Most of the time, cock rings are passive, you just put it on and leave it on until you’re done.  Sometimes, however, they’ll have vibrators attached, which can provide additional stimulation.  Cock rings should not be used for an extensive period of time and you should take it off immediately if it starts to hurt.  Also, remember that your penis probably will grow when you get erect, so a size that fits when you’re soft might become uncomfortably tight when you’re hard.  Don’t use a ring that you can’t cut off in an emergency, or you might be facing an embarrassing visit to the ER…
  • Dildos:  A dildo is a generally somewhat cylindrical toy that is designed for penetration.  Sometimes a dildo may have a vibrator inside it, and sometimes a dildo might be designed to resemble a penis.  You use it by applying generous lube and carefully inserting it in your anus.  You may choose to move it in and out, or you may with to simply leave it there.  Anal stimulation rarely leads to orgasm on its own, but it often will enhance the pleasure of masturbation.  Anal dildos are an effective way to stimulate your prostate.  Be sure to only use toys specifically designed for anal penetration, which typically have a ridge to prevent the whole thing from going inside and getting stuck.  Also, take note of the size.  Many dildos are designed for vaginal penetration, so they can be fairly large and using them in your anus can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant.  Anal penetration can also be a bit messy, so be prepared to clean both the toy and yourself when you’re finished.  The Aneros is a dildo that’s specifically designed for prostate stimulation.
  • Handheld Shower Head:  If you have one of those detachable handheld shower heads on the end of a small hose, you can direct the spray toward your penis, testicles, or perineum.  Adjust the spray pattern and water temperature to find what works best.  In some cases, you may find that a direct spray at a specific spot works, while other times it may be more effective to sweep the spray across your genitals.  It can be difficult to reach orgasm with only the spray from a shower head.  You may wish to direct the water at your balls while you stroke your penis.

Ejaculating seems messy.  What do I do about that?

First, it’s important to understand that there typically isn’t much fluid produced when you ejaculate, often no more than a few milliliters.  That means there isn’t too much to clean up, and it also means that it’s fairly easy to contain, if that’s what you want to do.  As I mentioned in an earlier response, you can contain it when you ejaculate by using condoms, certain toys, or by finishing into a tissue or towel, or you can simply masturbate in the shower and wash it all away.

You can also deal with it by controlling where you ejaculate.  Some people will shoot into toilet or sink when they masturbate, while others might try to aim it so that all of the semen lands on their stomach, where it’s a quick wipe to get rid of.  It’s also possible to ejaculate into your cupped hand, then wash it off from there.  Also, instead of ejaculating directly into a tissue or towel, you can place it on your stomach and chest or wherever and just ejaculate onto it.

Some of these techniques are more disruptive than the others.  If you’re lying in bed masturbating, it can be quite a shift to jump up and run to the bathroom to ejaculate when you feel orgasm coming on.  Try different methods, and you’ll find one that works well and doesn’t distract from the experience.

There are several techniques to prevent ejaculation during orgasm.  One is to apply pressure, either by squeezing very tightly around the base of the penis or by pressing hard against the perineum.  Both of these techniques will close off the urethra and not allow semen to exit through the penis, but both can also cause discomfort.  Another method is to clench and hold the muscles around the penis as tight as you can for as long as you can during orgasm  This will disrupt the ejaculatory pumping, and you may experience and orgasm without ejaculation.  (These are also some of the techniques that could lead to multiple orgasm.)  Both of these techniques are not 100% effective and take a lot of practice to get right.

If you ejaculate on something, you’ll probably want to clean it up fairly soon after you’re done.  Semen will turn dry and crusty after a while, and will probably leave a yellowish stain behind.  (So, don’t use your favorite shirt to soak it up…)

Will I always ejaculate when I masturbate?

Not necessarily.  While orgasm and ejaculation usually happen at the same time, they’re not actually the same thing.  It’s possible to have an orgasm without ejaculating.  Sometimes it just happens, where you get some sense of an orgasm happening, but nothing comes out.  Other times, you may have ejaculated so many times within a short period of time that there’s not really anything left.  And, as mentioned above, you may also be able to train yourself to have an orgasm without ejaculating.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get anywhere close to the orgasm/ejaculation zone when you masturbate.  And even if you do, if you’re able to sense when you’re getting close, you can easily stop before you get there.

On the other hand, if you do experience orgasm when you masturbate, but you rarely or never ejaculate, you may be experiencing what’s called retrograde ejaculation, where the semen enters the bladder instead of exiting through the penis.  If that’s what’s happening, you might want to consult with a doctor about it, especially as it may point to a condition that’s more serious than simply not ejaculating when you orgasm.

If I don’t masturbate, will I explode from an unreleased buildup of semen?

No, not at all.  Semen doesn’t endlessly build up in some internal balloon until you eventually ejaculate.  If you fail to ejaculate regularly, exactly nothing happens.  Most of the time, the sperm produced will simply be reabsorbed into the body.  Occasionally, you may have a wet dream and ejaculate while you sleep.  But you’re not going to explode because there’s too much sperm in you.

Think about people who’ve had vasectomies.  A vasectomy doesn’t do anything to turn off the testicles.  They’re still there and running, constantly producing new sperm.  A vasectomy just cuts off the tubes that connected the testicles to the penis, so that the sperm has no way to get out.  People who’ve had vasectomies don’t have to go in for a sperm draining every couple of weeks.  The sperm just gets absorbed back into the body, and that’s the end of it.

People who say that they’re going to explode are just exaggerating.  They might have a high libido, they might really enjoy orgasm, but nothing physically is going to happen to them if they don’t ejaculate.

What’s the deal with the prostate?

The prostate is an organ that produces some of the ejaculatory fluids.  It’s located just behind the forward wall of your rectum.  And for some reason, despite its location, it can feel good if you stimulate it in some way.

Prostate stimulation should be considered an “advanced technique”.  If you’re just starting out, it’s best to get a little bit more experience masturbating before trying to include the prostate in your play time.  Otherwise it’ll just unnecessarily complicate things.  Even if you’re a veteran, you may not find prostate stimulation to be worth the trouble.

The prostate is not in a terribly accessible location, so stimulating it isn’t the easiest thing to do.  It can be reached by sticking a well-lubed finger in your anus.  (Be sure to clip your fingernails first!)  Go in a couple of inches, then press against the wall toward your front.  You should eventually come across a walnut-sized lump on the other side of the wall.  That lump is your prostate.  If you’re not too keen on sticking a finger up your butt, there are many toys that are specifically designed for prostate stimulation.  They typically have a curved shape that will press against the prostate when inserted.  And if you’re not a fan of anything at all going in that opening, then it’s sort of possible to stimulate the prostate from outside.  There’s a soft patch in your perineum, directly in front of your anus.  If you press there, you should be able to feel your prostate.

Prostate stimulation generally consists of rubbing it or pressing against it.  Some people claim that prostate stimulation alone can cause orgasms, orgasms without ejaculation, or ejaculation without an orgasm, but in most cases, it just tends to increase the intensity of the sensation.  It also may make it so that a much larger than usual amount of pre-ejaculatory lubricant will flow from your penis, even if you’re not doing anything to stimulate your penis.

Can I have multiple orgasms?

Maybe.  There’s a common belief that once there’s been an orgasm, the penis goes into sleep mode and can’t be used again for a while.  While that’s typically the case, it can be possible, with practice, to be able to have an orgasm, but then keep going afterward.

Multiple orgasms should be considered an “advanced technique”.  If you’re just starting out, it’s best to get a bit more experience masturbating before going for extra innings.  Otherwise it’ll just unnecessarily complicate things.  Even if you’re a veteran, you may not find going for multiple orgasms to be worth the trouble.

One technique is to prevent ejaculation when you orgasm.  This can be done by tightly squeezing the base of the penis or pushing hard against the perineum just as the orgasm starts, in order to close off the urethra.  This way may, however, be uncomfortable.  Another method is to tighten and hold the muscles you use when you pee.  As soon as the orgasm starts, stop stimulating yourself and clench those muscles and hold them as tight as you can for as long as you can.  You’ll probably need to have strong PC muscles to pull this off, so practice those Kegels!

Another technique is to completely relax and stop stimulating your penis as soon as the orgasm starts.  Completely relax and hands off.  Your penis will probably twitch and pump and you’ll likely ejaculate a little bit.

In either case, once you feel the orgasm is ending, resume stimulation.  If you’re successful, you won’t feel too sensitive or not sensitive enough.  It’ll be just right, and the stimulation will feel pretty much like it did before the orgasm.  You should be able to build it back up for another orgasm (and possibly another and another…).  You probably won’t be able to keep going forever, though.  Each successive orgasm tends to become harder to obtain.

The orgasms in a sequence of multiple orgasms are often less pleasurable than the typical single orgasm.  This is because you’re disrupting the process and making it less intense.  Unfortunately, this means that if you ever fail to ride through the orgasm and aren’t able keep going on to another one, you’ll probably only have had a relatively weak and unsatisfying orgasm, and be facing a limp penis that’s not interested in continuing.  Because of this, you’ll probably want to try to finish with an orgasm that you don’t intentionally disrupt.

If you decide to pursue multiple orgasms, be aware that it takes a lot of practice and a willingness to experience disappointment while you try to get the hang of it.  Even if you get it figured out, you may decide that it’s not worth the effort.

What other things can I try?

The penis isn’t the only body part that you can use while masturbating.  Try caressing your testicles or your perineum, try touching or pinching your nipples, try rubbing your thighs, stomach, or chest.  All of those places, and more, can enhance the experience.  In particular, don’t be afraid of your testicles.  They’re not as fragile as you might expect.  Don’t be afraid to rub, tug, or even squeeze them.  Just start gently and work up from there.

Some people enjoy anal stimulation.  You can try rubbing the opening, or gently push a well lubed (and well-manicured) finger inside.  The prostate, mentioned before, lives in that area.

You can try sitting on a rubber ball, rolled up sock, or bunched up blanket or towel in such a way that it presses gently against your perineum.  The penis extends back into the body, just above the perineum, so pressure there can work to stimulate that extension of your penis.

Try a different grip on your penis.  The “door handle” grip is just one.  You can turn that grip upside-down, so that your thumb and forefinger are on the positioned closer to the base.  You can place your fingers down the side of your penis and have the head cupped by the palm of your hand as you stroke.  You can use only fingertips.  Any way you can hold your penis is a valid way to try masturbating.

Go at it two handed.  You can stack your hands on top of one another and have an extra long stroke.  You can perform an “endless” stroke by stroking one direction with one hand, then when you reach the end, place the other hand and stroke with it, in a continuous motion.  You can stroke with one hand, and rub circles with the other.  You can place the palm of one hand over the opening in the other hand, so that a downstroke will have the head of the penis rub against the palm of the hand.  You can rub your penis between two palms.  Or you can have one hand pay attention to the shaft, while the other hand works the head.  Any way you can think of to use two hands it probably something worth experimenting with.

You can try a completely different method of masturbation, one that does not involve manual stroking.  One fairly common method is to thrust into something smooth and slippery.  The smooth and slippery object can be any number of things:  Your lubed up hand, a penis sleeve or similar toy, a condom, or even something improvised, like a plastic sandwich bag with a little bit of lube placed inside.  You can try sandwiching the object between a couple of pillows on your bed.  You might want to place a towel between the object and the pillows, in case any lube or anything else spills out.  Once you’re set up, you lie face down on top of the pillows and place your penis inside.  After you’ve adjusted everything and found a comfortable position, you can start moving your hips back and forth in order to thrust your penis in and out of the object.  This method often feels very different than masturbating by hand.  (And always, experiment with technique, speed, and pressure to discover what works best for you.)

What if it doesn’t feel good?

If you’re first getting started, it might not actually feel all that good.  You’ll probably have to try a couple of times before you start figure out what works for you.

If you’ve been at it for a while, but still nothing, shake up your technique a bit.  Switch hands, try using lube, try a different position, try using a toy, go faster or slower, relax or strengthen your grip.  In particular, try squeezing a bit when you stroke over the head of your penis, adjust your grip so that you press harder on the underside of your penis, or try tightening the loop made by your thumb and forefinger as you pass over the corona.  And remember, there’s no cookie-cutter way to masturbate.  What works for someone else might not work for you.

If you’ve tried it all and it still doesn’t feel good, then maybe it just won’t.  If it bothers you, you might want to consult with a doctor.  There may be a treatable medical reason for why it doesn’t feel good.  (Notably, it’s a side effect of many medications.)  However, if you’re cool with it, don’t worry about it.  You don’t have to masturbate or have orgasms to survive, so don’t worry about it.  It’s not your thing, but it doesn’t have to be your thing.

Are there any dangers or warnings I should know about?

  • This post has been written specifically about solo masturbation.  There are numerous health and safety concerns that would potentially need to be addressed if you’re doing anything I’ve mentioned here with someone else.  Most notably, there are countless disease prevention (and in some cases, pregnancy prevention) steps you would probably want to take that I have not mentioned here.
  • Don’t stick your penis into anything that wasn’t meant for it.  Always remember that a soft penis grows into a hard one, so something that’s easy to get into may be considerably harder to get out of.  Also, if the object is hard or rough, you could potentially cut, scrape, or otherwise injure yourself.
  • If you’re masturbating by thrusting into something, be careful not to accidentally jam your penis into something with the full force of a forward thrust.  Although there are no bones to break in your penis, it can still be severely injured by something like this.  If you slip out of whatever you’re thrusting into, carefully guide your penis back in before resuming full speed.
  • Watch what you use for lube.  Shampoo and soap might seem nice and slick, but it can severely dry out the skin or cause a rash.  They also may get into the urethra, where they’ll burn.  Some creams contain a “medicated” tingling or warming feature.  It might feel good on a sore back, but the sensation could be excruciating on your penis and testicles.  (Then again, that one’s up to individual preference…  Some people like how it feels…)
  • Inserting an object in your anus carries the risk of it getting stuck.  Save yourself an embarrassing visit to an emergency room and only use items that can’t get pulled completely inside and “lost”.  Many anal toys will have a ridge or tab to prevent them from going all the way in, or they’ll have a string attached to easy retrieval.
  • Make sure anything entering your anus is smooth and well lubed, and don’t force it in.  In particular, cut your fingernails!  A long fingernail might cut the inner lining, which can be unpleasant and runs the risk of infection.  Inadequate lubrication might cause irritation or tearing.
  • NEVER do ANYTHING that forcibly cuts off your airway while masturbating.  People have actually died from doing that.  You can hold your breath, but leave it at that.  Besides, taking long deep breaths can actually increase the sensations more than holding your breath will.
  • If it hurts, stop!  You’re probably doing something wrong.

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An Asexual’s Guide To … Male Anatomy

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(For most men, most boys, and anyone else who happens to have a penis.)

The most prominent part of the male anatomy is the penis.  Know that floppy, dangly, tube-shaped thing at the top of your legs?  The thing you pee out of.  That’s your penis.  It’s also known as “cock”, “dick”, “member”, “johnson”, and about 247,000 other slang terms of varying vulgarity, popularity, and descriptive inaccuracy.  Sometimes the penis will stop being floppy and dangly and will instead get stiff and stand up, which is called an erection, or “hard-on” or “boner”.  The penis has a number of components and points of interest that I want to mention, but let’s continue the tour and come back to them later.

Behind the penis is a lumpy bag.  This bag is called the scrotum and the lumps inside it are the testicles.  This part is also known as the “balls”, “nuts”, or “that thing that really really hurt and was sore for days when I accidentally got hit there that one time in PE”.  There are typically two testicles in the scrotum.  Sometimes the testicles dangle and sometimes they hug the body.  When they dangle, it’s common for one to hang lower than the other.  If you feel the scrotum, you should be able to feel both testicles, as well as a series of tubes connected to them.  In many cases, the word “testicles” is used to refer to both the testicles and the scrotum.

Many testicle owners are afraid of handling them, since they have a reputation for being very sensitive and causing a lot of pain when injured.  The truth is that you can often handle them quite safely.  Just be gentle and work up from there until you find your limit.  And handle them you should!  If you’re a testicle owner, you should periodically conduct a testicular self exam for lumps that may be related to testicular cancer.  (Just do an Internet search for instructions.  The phrase “testicular self exam” generally leads to a fairly safe, medically oriented set of results.)

While you’re down in this area, you may have noticed a forest of short, curly hairs.  These are pubic hairs, also known as the “bush”.  The area that they cover and their density varies greatly from person to person.  For some people, the patch of hair starts at the shoulders and stretches uninterrupted all the way down to the feet.  For others, the hair is limited to the area immediately around the base of the penis and testicles.  In still others, the hair is thickest around the penis and testicles, but may spread upward and start a colony around the navel.  The testicles are usually covered in hair, while the penis is typically hair free beyond a certain elevation.  Sometimes the color of pubic hair may not match the color of the hair elsewhere on your body.  In some cases, people shave some or all of this hair away for various reasons.  According to scientists, the only known purpose of pubic hair is to be particularly repulsive when found in a shower.

As you travel further back, between the legs and behind the testicles, you arrive at a  long, fairly featureless stretch, called the perineum, sometimes also called the “taint”.  On the surface, the most prominent landmark is the fold of skin in the middle, that looks like a sealed up seam, known as the raphe.  If you trace this seam forward, you’ll find that it continues along the bottom of your scrotum and keeps going up to the tip of your penis.  If you trace it backwards, you’ll find that it ends at your anus (which is our next stop).

The perineum is most notable for what lies beneath the surface.  The structure of the penis continues into the body underneath the perineum.  When you have an erection, the part of the penis located under the perineum also becomes hard, and you can feel it through the skin.  Also, if you press inward, into the soft area just in front of your anus, you may be able to feel your prostate (Although more on that later).

The anus is as far back as we’re going to go on this trip.  It’s the hole in your butt where poop comes out.  Strangely, this area is also home to a notable point of interest, called the prostate.  It takes a bit of spelunking to get to, though, so not everyone may wish to take this part of the trip.  (If you plan venturing inside to find your prostate, be sure to clip your nails first, wear a rubber glove if you’ve got one, and use some form of lube, or else your trip will likely be short and even more unpleasant than it already is.)  To find the prostate, venture a few inches inside and start pressing against the forward wall, as if you’re curving your finger to point at your belly button.  You should find a hard, kinda roundish lump on the other side of the wall.

Okay, now, enough of that.  Go wash your hands.  Thoroughly.

Our tour now leaves the lower reaches and travels up, onto your chest.  There you will likely find two nipples, one on each side.  The nipples are largely pointless little nubs of skin that typically are surrounded by darker discs of skin which may of may not have hair growing out of them.  Sometimes the nipples will get slightly hard and stick out.  Most people regard nipples on the male body to be some sort of cosmic joke, although they do have some limited utility that I’ll get into in a later post.

Okay, let’s get back to the penis.  Remember where it was?  Good.

The part that’s sorta long and tube shaped and fairly smooth is called the shaft.  The mushroom shaped squishy bit at the end is called the head or the glans.  The ridge where the shaft connects to the glans is called the corona.  The hole that pee comes out of, probably near the tip of your penis, is called the urethra.  (Other stuff comes out of there, too, but more on that later.)  The rest of the urethra is a tube that runs along the lower side of your penis, and may become more pronounced when you have an erection.  Also on the lower side, there may be a band of skin that connects the shaft and the glans, called the frenulum.

You may have a turtleneck sweater-like bit of skin at the end of your penis, which probably covers all or most of the head when you’re soft.  This is called the foreskin.  The foreskin is usually pretty loose and can slide back and forth along your penis.  It can be pulled back to expose the head (which often happens naturally when you have one of those erection things I mentioned earlier), or it can be pushed forward, past the tip of the head.  (I’ll cover what’s likely to happen if you repeat that pull and push motion over and over in a later post…)  If you don’t have that turtleneck sweater bit, don’t worry, that’s fairly common, too.  It was probably just cut off and thrown away when you were a baby, in a process called circumcision.  If you’re circumcised, there may be a ring scar that circles your penis.  The skin on one side of the scar might be smooth and thin, while the skin on the other side might be rougher and thicker and a different color.  There are many styles of circumcision, so it’s possible that you may not have a visible scar and that the smooth skin continues all the way to the head.  Some circumcisions even eliminate the frenulum.

Penises come in many different shapes and sizes.  The size of your penis has very little effect on what can be done with it.  Often, a two-inch penis is just as useful as one that’s nine inches. The one you have probably even changes shape and size every once in a while.  If you’re naked and cold, it’ll probably shrink and hide all close to your body.  If it’s warm, it’ll probably hang lower.  Sometimes, it’ll get wider, longer, and harder, and may stand up on its own.  This is called an erection, and occurs when the spongy inner bits of your penis fill with blood. The size of an erect penis does not necessarily indicate how small you’ll be when you’re soft.

When you’re soft, your penis is floppy and can easily move and twist in any direction.  When you’re hard with an erection, the movement of your penis is greatly restricted.  (This has probably been known to cause a great many frustrating mornings, when you wake up with both a full bladder and a hard-on…)

Don’t worry if your penis isn’t a perfectly straight, perfectly symmetrical cylinder.  Your erect penis may have a curve to it.  It may lean one direction or the other, it might stick up, it might stick out, or it might stick down.  There may be a slight twist to it.  Veins may crisscross the shaft at all angles.  And the whole thing may be lopsided in places.  That’s all normal, every penis is unique.  (In some extreme cases, the foreskin might not retract right or the circumcision might be too tight or the frenulum might be too short or something else could be wrong that causes a very sharp bend.  In those cases, surgical intervention is often a possibility.)

This concludes the tour.

(You will notice that the tour did not stop at the magic orgasm button.  That’s because there’s no such place.  If you want an orgasm, you’re going to have to work for it.  More on that later.)

[Up to Anatomy | Main]

Not Broken. Not Alone.

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I am not broken.  I am not alone.

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We are not broken.  We are not alone.

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(in)Visibility Activist

I’m still afraid.

Every day, I wear a black-gray-white-purple bracelet.  I have an ace flag bumper sticker on my car.  I have a magnetic black ring on my cabinet at work. I have a little asexuality lapel pin that I keep on my camera lanyard. I like to consider myself openly asexual.

Hell, I literally wrote the book on asexuality.

But I’m afraid.

I’m worried that one day, someone will ask me about one of those things.  “What’s that bracelet about?”  “What’s that ring for?”  “What’s the flag mean?” The bracelet typically gets hidden by my watch, so it’s not very prominent.  The flag pin on my camera lanyard is only seen when I’m using my camera, and I typically only use my camera when I’m on vacation a thousand miles from anyone I know.  On the rare day that I’ve actually worn the ring, I end up hiding it.  It’s like everyone is staring at it.  I know they aren’t, that no one even notices, but that doesn’t help.  I fidget with it, I hide it, I start using my left hand to point at things.  It feels like I’m wearing a giant flashing neon sign on my finger.

I met a new coworker the other day as I was leaving the office.  We made small talk about the company as we took the elevator down to the parking garage.  She got off on the same floor as I did.  She walked the same direction as I did.  She kept the casual conversation going as we walked.  It quickly became clear that she had parked near me and would see my car.  I became filled with dread.

“What if she asks about the flag?”

I feel like I’m a visibility activist in the witness protection program.

Mostly, I guess I just feel that it isn’t anybody’s business but my own.  I’m a natural recluse and don’t really like sharing personal details with others.  I don’t even talk to people about the music I like, so why on earth would I want to talk to them about my sexual orientation?  Asexuality has very little to do with my day job as a software engineer.  It’s just not relevant, so why should I bring it up?

But what would I say, anyway?  If someone asks about my bracelet or my bumper sticker, they’re probably just making casual small talk.  Talking about my sexual orientation isn’t idle chit-chat with a stranger in the elevator, that’s a thermonuclear TMI bomb.  How am I supposed to explain what it’s about in less than ten seconds, without confusing the person or making them feel uncomfortable?  What’s the best way to approach asexuality education and outreach in a context where that education is unexpected and potentially unwanted?

Maybe I’m simply not suited to one-on-one outreach.  I’m much more comfortable when I have hours, if not days, to think about what I want to say and have the opportunity to edit, tweak, and fine tune my message for as long as I feel is necessary.

None of you know who I am.  I never use my name, I rarely give any kind of personal details.  I’ve been completely unable to form any kind of meaningful connection with any of you.  I prefer to be anonymous.  I prefer to do my work behind the scenes.  All of the posts on this site are attributed to the website itself.  So’s my book.  There’s no me here.  Just a nameless, faceless website.

And that’s a problem.

Someone wrote to me about my book once and remarked that their parents are skeptical of asexuality because everyone who talks about it seems “unofficial”.  We mostly hide behind Internet handles and anonymous 60 pixel square images.  There are only a handful of asexuality activists who use names, and it’s a good bet that some of them are pseudonyms.  Reporters ask if you’ll go on the record with your real name.  If you don’t, you’re ashamed of who you are.  If you do, you’re relentlessly attacked by the Internet Troll Machine.

It feels like many of us are trying to spread visibility while staying invisible.  I don’t think it works that way.  How do we fix that?

…And Then What?

[This post was written for the December 2012 Carnival of Aces topic of “Dating and Significant Others as an Ace”.]

It was the first day of the ninth grade.  A new girl was in a bunch of my classes.  She had a funny name and long red hair.  Over that year, I found that she was smart, quirky, and had a dangerously sarcastic personality that matched my own.  She could play the piano and the cello.  She was going to grow up to become a doctor who would save the world.

People said we’d be perfect for each other.

I remember deliberating over all the options before deciding that she should be the one I’d have a crush on.  I guess I thought that’s how it worked.  Come up with a list of candidates, weigh their strengths and drawbacks, narrow down the list, then pick one.  Presto!  Instant romance!  Now, I don’t think other people tend to consciously choose potential romantic partners with the mental equivalent of a feature comparison chart.  (I suppose it’s a good thing they don’t, given that the runner up using this method turned out to be a drunken rodeo queen the next year.  Clearly, if you do use a mental feature comparison chart, make sure it’s comparing the proper specifications.  If you’re not looking at the right criteria, it can lead to some poor decisions…)  But, at the time, that’s how it seemed like it was done, so that’s what I did.

Anyway, I think I obsessed over her for months.  And by “obsess”, I mean that I would think about her name over and over and over.  Sometimes at night, I would attempt to telepathically communicate with her.  (To my knowledge, it never worked.)  As I was trying to send brainwaves in her direction, I would occasionally imagine her sleeping…  While wearing a full-length thick cotton nightgown with frills.  Once, on a family trip to the Bay Area, I spent the whole weekend with “I Love Saturday” from Erasure’s I Say, I Say, I Say album stuck in my head because, for some reason, I had associated the synthpop hook with her.

I never asked her out.

I was supposed to ask her out, right?  I mean, I was a boy, she was a girl.  I liked her, there was a significant probability that she held a positive opinion of me.  On top of that, we were in the same math class.  Obviously, we were made for one another.  So, clearly, I should ask her to be my girlfriend.

…and then what?

That’s where I got stuck.  I wasn’t afraid of being rejected.  I was afraid of being successful.  If she said yes, what on earth would we do together?  I just couldn’t figure that part out.

I couldn’t really take her on a date, because I had no money, I hate restaurants, and the nearest movie theater was about 20 miles away.  I couldn’t take her to the monthly school dance, since that would have been a traumatic social experience for me.  (Plus, my long arms and awkward steps are not allowed to attempt to engage in uncontrolled rhythmic motion, especially around other people.)  She lived ten miles away, so just hanging out and doing homework was out of the question, too.  And I wouldn’t buy her flowers or trinkets, because the entire concept of that sort of thing seemed silly to me.  I didn’t really see the appeal of the idea of dating anyway.

So why should I ask her out?  What would be the point?

I analyzed and theorized, worked through the options, and tried to come up with something that would work.  At one point, I think I even launched a misguided attempt to get her to be my girlfriend in title only, without any of the attached social responsibilities.  (That was less than successful.)  I don’t think I realized that I didn’t need to have a 23-step six-month plan for going steady.  Just talking to her at lunch and calling once in a while would’ve been enough to fulfill the boyfriend requirements.  (Of course, I’m terrified of the phone.  So that’s out, too.)  I guess I looked at going out as literally going out: That you and your partner had to regularly go out and do something, such as seeing a movie or going bowling or something.

Through all of that, no sex of any kind was ever in the imaginary picture.    I never even fantasized about her.  It’s not that I actively resisted those kinds of thoughts.  It just wasn’t something that I even considered.  I mean, look, even when I imagined her sleeping, I pictured her in what had to be least erotic sleepwear ever to enter a 15 year old boy’s imagination.  I think the furthest I got in my mind was maybe a brief hug and a kiss.  On the cheek.

(Well, okay, there was a vague sense that there would probably be sex in the far future, like maybe after the 527th step in the extended plan, which was something like “Get married at age 23″… But it only turned up there because people who date eventually get married, and people who get married have sex, not because of an actual longing for sex.)

Now, I was 14 or 15.  I was supposed to be clueless and awkward about dating.  I was supposed to make painfully embarrassing mistakes on the road to figuring it all out.  But…  I just wasn’t interested in figuring it out.  The idea of romance and coupledom held no real appeal.  I think I just wanted to be a closer friend, but societal pressure and gender expectations ended up twisting around my head.  It was like I was not permitted to have any female friends (Unless they lived on my street), so she had to be my girlfriend or nothing at all.

I figured that I’d eventually get “activated” and decide that I wanted to give the relationship world a spin, but that never happened.  I went all the way through high school and college without going on a single date, and that never really bugged me.  There were a few people I found vaguely interesting, but not interesting enough to do anything about.  I think a couple of people flirted with me, but that was completely wasted on me.

I’ve only had one girlfriend.  When I was 21, a woman from a forum I was involved in began expressing an interest in me.  I did not express interest back.  She left her boyfriend for me.  Still not interested.  She attempted to give me a topless webcam show.  I didn’t catch on and told her to put on a different shirt if she hated the one she was wearing so much.  She came to visit for the day.  I had an escape plan.  During the visit, she pounced on me and began caressing and kissing me.  I didn’t react.

You might say she was persistent…

Eventually, after months of begging and declaring her love and pleading and getting angry that I didn’t feel the same way and wishing that I would change, I came around and declared that she was my girlfriend. It was an LDR, so our relationship was mostly conducted online.  It really didn’t change much when we became a couple.  We still spent all day and half the night talking, just as we’d done before.  About once a month, though, we’d have a visit.

These visits were essentially dates.  We’d go to restaurants I didn’t like and felt obligated to see a movie together, even if there wasn’t anything particularly that great playing.  And occasionally, things would turn physical.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I had no internal “This is nice” barometer to guide me.  Obviously, when she touched me, there were some things that were physically pleasant, but overall emotionally, I was indifferent.  And when I touched her…  Nothing.

I didn’t feel anything when I put my arm around her.

I didn’t feel anything when we held hands.

I didn’t feel anything when I kissed her.

I didn’t feel anything when she had me touch her breasts.

I didn’t feel anything when I reached into her pants.

I didn’t feel anything when we slept together.

Wait…  I did feel something.  I felt like I was acting.  Like I was supposed to be following a script, but I hadn’t learned my lines.  The physical connection felt alien and forced.  I didn’t know how to respond.  There was a hollowness there.  Emptiness.  I was just going through the motions.  None of it felt natural.  Everyone else talked about how amazing all these things were, but for me, there was nothing.

And I lived in fear of being found out.

I did love her.  I think.  Maybe I’d just convinced myself that I did because I should.  Maybe I just convinced myself that I did because I wanted to be in love.  Maybe I didn’t understand the concept of love.

I didn’t cry when she broke up with me.  I didn’t beg her to reconsider.  I was relieved.  I had been feeling that I wasn’t in it for a while, but I just couldn’t bring myself to dump her after all she went through in the first place.  And it’s not like I had a clear reason I could point to.  There wasn’t anyone else, no horrible event that turned me away.  There was just that sense that something was missing, there was that hollowness that never went away.

That was ten years ago.  I haven’t been on a date or in a relationship since.  (Came close once, but didn’t quite get there.)  I don’t know that I’d actually like being in a relationship.  I certainly don’t need one.  When I think about having a girlfriend, I think about it in practical terms.  If I had a girlfriend, she could drive when we go on vacation.  If I had a girlfriend, she could help me load Ikea flat pack furniture boxes into my car.  If I had a girlfriend, she could do something about that weeds in the back yard.  If I had a girlfriend, she could make phone calls for me.  If I had a girlfriend, she’d get me to the hospital if I fell down the stairs.  But never anything about companionship or love.

So…  I don’t know.  Am I aromantic?  Am I just bad at being heteroromantic?  Is this all just extreme shyness and social awkwardness preventing me from being able to have a relationship?  Do I need to fling myself out of my comfort zone and experiment more, or would that just lead to disaster?  Is it asexuality coming into the picture and saying “Why Bother?”.

 

(By the way, in case you were wondering, no, that first girl didn’t grow up to become a doctor and save the world.  Instead, she’s making awful indie comedy movies with her director husband.  Had I known at the time, I might have been able to set in motion a chain of events that would have prevented those movies from being made, but I did nothing…  Or because I did nothing, did I, myself, set in motion the very chain of events that led to them being made?  Either way, I must live with the guilt…)

Hey you! You wanna help change the world?

YES YOU!

You have a unique opportunity to change the world.  At this very moment, an elite team of asexual activists is preparing to journey to Atlanta, GA.

Their mission:  Raise awareness of asexuality by hosting panel discussions and workshops and distributing pamphlets and other informational materials at Creating Change 2013.

But they can’t do it alone!  They need your help to get there and spread the word about asexuality.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it):   Watch the video and donate if you’re able.  Go here for complete details.  Then reblog, cross-post, tweet, like, share, retweet, or tattoo the QR code for the link to your forehead in order to spread the word.

First we take Atlanta, then…  THE WORLD!

If you’ve ever wished that more people knew about asexuality, this is how that will happen.  This kind of outreach will directly connect with the sorts of people who’ll help to get asexuality into the mainstream consciousness.   It’s activists and educators and organizers.  It’s politicians and musicians. It’s your town’s LGBTQ*/GSRM group. This is visibility at its core.  Big things might come out of this, and if you donate now, you can tell people that you helped make it happen!

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

That’s right, if you donate today, one of these fabulous prizes can be yours!

  • An Ace Flag Button!
  • A Postcard Signed by David Jay, SwankIvy, SaraBeth Brooks, Siggy, and Other Super-Awesome Acey People!
  • Your Choice of Asexuality Themed T-Shirt!
  • Cupcakes!

What more could you possibly ask for?

ACT NOW!  LIMITED TIME ONLY!  WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Again, if you’re interested, go check out the project page for details.

(A bit of disclosure:  I’m not affiliated with the Make Atlanta Asexy campaign.  I’m not an organizer, I’m not a panel member, I’m not even going to Atlanta.  I just think it’s important.)

Here’s the QR code in case you needed it for that tattoo…