This is the second post in a three part series on the possible signs of asexuality. The items discussed here aren’t meant to be any kind of “Am I Ace?” checklist, so it’s okay if you don’t identify or agree with any of them. They’re just experiences that I’ve seen pop up over and over when asexuals talk about their lives.
The first part in this series focused mostly inward, on thoughts you may have had about yourself and your identity. Today is all about sex and sexual activity. If that’s not your thing, you might want to skip today and come back for the conclusion tomorrow.
Links to the posts in this series:
You’d much rather do X than do sex.
When you think about sex, you realize that there are dozens of things you’d much rather do. I’d rather read a book, I’d rather watch TV, I’d rather play a video game, I’d rather go to a movie, I’d rather stargaze, I’d rather walk the dog, I’d rather go shopping, I’d rather organize the books on the bookshelf by date of author’s birth, I’d rather go bird watching, I’d rather build a Lego tribute to the Prime Ministers of Canada, I’d rather work on the car, I’d rather mow the lawn, I’d rather learn Esperanto, I’d rather fly a kite, I’d rather eat cake…
Your sex dreams don’t really have sex.
I had a dream with a warning for “adult content and mature themes”. It was about mortgage payments. I’ve had dreams where naked women throw themselves on me, and I tell them that I’m really busy and I’m supposed to be somewhere. I’ve had dreams where women are very obviously coming on to me, and I completely miss it. I’ve told women in dreams to put their clothes back on, because they look cold. It’s like the part of my brain that generates dreams didn’t get the memo that I’m asexual, so it still is sending out these prompts for sex dreams, but the rest of my brain doesn’t process them, so they always end up weird.
Many asexuals say that they’ve never had sex dreams of any kind.
You think that “sexy” clothes just look uncomfortable or cold and can’t understand why anyone would wear them.
Tight pants look like they’re going to squeeze the life out of someone, and if it’s a guy wearing them, you know he’s gotta be in pain. Heels look like a broken ankle waiting to happen. Shirts that expose the midriff have to be freezing in this weather. All that lace is just going to leave a weird pattern in your skin. Thongs seem like they’re going to cut you in half like a wire saw.
And I never got the point of make-up, either.
You don’t really fantasize.
Everyone else seems like they undress people with their eyes.
Everyone else seems like they dream about having their way with the quarterback or the head cheerleader.
Everyone else seems like they would “hit that”.
But not you. It’s not that you won’t, because you think it’s sinful or something like that. It’s that you don’t. Your mind just doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t spontaneously imagine leaping into bed with someone. Maybe it’s even that you can’t. Maybe you’ve tried to devise erotic fantasies and have failed. You tried to undress someone with your eyes once, but you couldn’t even figure out how to get their bra off. And if you can make it to the hot & heavy, rather than picturing the perfect mix of ecstasy and passion, you get bogged down in the details and distracted. You spend so much energy trying to maintain the fantasy that you lose whatever pleasure you were hoping to get from it.
You don’t like sex.
Some asexuals don’t like sex. They don’t want to do it, they don’t want to see it, they don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to think about it. At the age when most people were hearing about sex and thinking “I’d like to try that”, they were thinking “You want me to do what with WHAT? No. Just. No.”
While not liking sex is not the same as asexuality, many asexuals don’t like sex, and discover that they’re asexual when they’re trying to find out why they don’t like sex.
A lot of non-asexual people feel this way, too, when they first hear about sex. Let’s face it, the whole process is a bit icky, after all. However, for most people who feel this way, those thoughts are pushed aside once sexual attraction kicks in. But for the aversive asexual, sexual attraction never comes along to override these feelings.
The “ick factor” isn’t the only reason people don’t like sex. Some asexuals don’t like sex because they find it uncomfortable or boring. There are thousands of reasons that someone might not like sex.
You like sex, but it doesn’t feel “right”.
I don’t mean this in an “Oh, it’s sinful and dirty” sense. I mean it in the sense where something seems off, like gears with mismatched teeth or walking with gum on your shoe or using a shopping cart that always pulls to the right. At first glance, it seems like everything’s okay, but the more you think about it, the more things feel off.
Perhaps you physically enjoy sex. Maybe you like making your partner feel good. There are things you might really like about sex, but at the same time, there’s something missing. When you watch your partner’s reactions, it’s clear that there’s something there that you’re not feeling. It’s impossible to put your finger on it, but you know there’s something there. Some intangible spark is behind their eyes, and you’re acutely aware that spark is missing in your eyes.
This was how I felt when I had sex. It physically felt great, but emotionally, I was not connected to the moment and to my partner. She wanted it, she was into it, she had been craving that moment for months, while I just didn’t have any of that.
You had sex because that’s what you were “supposed to do”.
You never were really interested in having sex, you never felt a drive or biological desire to have sex, but you thought you wanted to have sex because “that’s what people do”. Later on, you got a partner, they wanted to have sex and you went along with it because “that’s what people do”. You kept having sex because “that’s what I’m supposed to do”. It felt more like an obligation or a chore than the expression of love it was supposed to be. At first, you may have even wanted the experience, but as time went on, you grew tired of it.
When you encountered the naked body of someone for the first time in a sexual situation, you looked at it like a real-life anatomy lesson, rather than an object of desire.
This one happened to me. I was in my bedroom with my first (and so far, only) girlfriend. Following her lead, we were fooling around a bit. She was wearing short shorts and sitting on my bed. She sat me down on the floor in front of her, spread open her legs, and pulled aside her shorts.
I think that most young men in this situation look upon it with unbridled glee. It’s a milestone in their life, something they’d been working toward, often for years. Instantly, their mind fills with ideas and opportunities and a thousand fantasies, any number of which could come true within the next five minutes. For many men, a sight like that is like being invited into the playground of their dreams and told to run wild.
So, what went through my mind?
“Oh, so that’s how it all fits together!”
There was no explosion of sexual urges, no endless stream of desires. I didn’t really even feel compelled to touch it. Instead, I was busy looking over the terrain like it was a road map, full of places I’d only heard of in passing. I wanted to identify all of the bits and pieces that I knew were supposed to be down there and see how they were all oriented relative to one another.
Needless to say, I now look at this event as one of the big red flags that should’ve clued me in that I was asexual years ago.
You focus on the motions, not emotions.
When dealing with sex and physical closeness, you put an emphasis on trying to make the right moves, like touching the right place in the right way, instead of focusing on the emotional aspects. In some cases, the pressure you feel to push all the right buttons may make the experience highly unpleasant.
“If I try it, maybe I’ll like it.”
So, you haven’t had sex. You’re not terribly enthusiastic about it, either. It’s not that you’re against it, it’s just not all that interesting to you. But everyone else seems to like it, so maybe you will too, if you just gave it a chance. Maybe you just need to try it out and you’ll see what the fuss is about.
I call this the “Green Eggs and Ham” hypothesis:
You do not like them, so you say. Try them! Try them, and you may. Try them and you may, I say.
The idea that maybe you’ll become interested in sex if you try it out is a compelling one. The thinking goes, how can you really know if you’re not interested if you don’t give it a shot? Well, the answer is that you really can know. After all, you don’t actually have to hug a saguaro cactus to know that would be unpleasant. So, if you’re certain that sex is not for you, then don’t feel pressured to prove that you don’t like it by going a few rounds.
On the other hand, if you feel this way, you’re open to the experience, and the right situation comes along, then go for it. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t, it doesn’t really matter, either way. I felt this about myself, and I did try having sex. Of course, what it lead to was…
You had sex and thought “Is that it?”
That’s it? That’s all there is?
Weren’t there supposed to be fireworks and standing ovations? Wasn’t my life supposed to be changed forever? Wasn’t it supposed to be the single greatest experience of my entire life?
What was supposed to be so great about that? Why do some people devote their entire lives to pursuing that? How could that possibly be responsible for ruining the careers of so many politicians? How could so many people consider that to be the very meaning of life?
I don’t know, I guess it was kinda fun, a little bit, sorta. Bit boring, though, too.
I mean, seriously? Is that really it? What’d I miss?
You don’t like masturbating.
Maybe you’ve tried it before, but it didn’t work out and you didn’t get anywhere. Maybe you never saw the point. Maybe you do it, but you look at it like any other bodily function, like a sneeze or a shiver. Maybe you think it’s gross or disgusting or repulsive. Maybe you do it and wish you could stop. In any case, you don’t look at it as something pleasurable and fun. And it’s not out of a sense of guilt or shame or anything like that. You just genuinely don’t enjoy it.
You masturbate, what would you need anyone else for?
You might look at other people and how they talk about sex and about what person X did for them last night, and think, “Huh, I can do that by myself. I don’t need any help.” You’re perfectly fine taking care of yourself and really don’t mind reservations for sexual pleasure as a party of one. When other people talk about masturbation as if it were some sort of consolation prize for a distant runner up, you’re a bit confused, because it certainly doesn’t seem like a terrible thing to you.
When you think about having sex with someone else, you may think that a second person would just get in the way and complicate things. Maybe you’ve even had sex and didn’t think that it was really any better than what you’re capable of by yourself.
You think arousal is annoying.
Instead of looking at arousal as a sign from down below that you need to get all sexed up as soon as possible, you just find it annoying. It’s distracting. It’s random. And, for some people, it literally gets in the way. If you could shut it down, you would. It’s never directed at anyone, you don’t really want to do anything with it, it’s just kinda there.
Tomorrow’s conclusion is all about other people and things. Hope to see you there.
Links to the posts in this series: