This is the third 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 day was all about thoughts you may have had about yourself and your identity, the second day was all about thoughts on sex and sexual activity, and today is all about thoughts about other people and other things.
Links to the posts in this series:
You’ve never wanted to “jump someone’s bones”. You’ve never thought “I’d hit that”.
This is one of the more common reasons people discover that they’re asexual. At some point in their lives, they’ll look around and realize that other people say things like that and mean them. That straight out of the blue, one person will look at another, often a complete stranger, and think, “I would like to have sex with that person”, and that, in some cases, this thought will drive people’s actions.
Some asexuals may even look at this and think that’s bizarre. Why would anyone do that sort of thing? The whole concept is so different from how they look at the same scenario that it may be impossible for them to process those actions into something that makes sense. For some asexual people, the thought “I would like to have sex with that person” could seem as random and unexpected as “I would like to paint that person blue, cover them with twigs, and dance around them in a circle all night”.
You don’t feel that anyone is “hot”. “Cute”, maybe, “pretty”, maybe, but not “hot”.
Some asexuals don’t connect with the word “hot” and other words describing someone’s sexual desirability. We’re able to judge and rank subjective beauty on a scale from “ugly” to “pretty”, we may feel that some people are “cute”, but “hot” can be a word that some asexuals avoid. It’s not that we don’t understand it. We can usually point at someone and identify whether other people might classify them as “hot”. It’s that we don’t feel it. When other people use words like “hot”, we can sense that there’s some innate internal buzzer going off inside their mind, and that the word is not just some synonym or sub-category of words like “cute” or “pretty”. The word means more to them than “visually appealing”. There’s something behind it, some sense, some response that’s driving them to choose “hot” over “pretty”, and we don’t experience what that sense is.
Additionally, the word “sexy” is also not within your realm of understanding.
You thought that everyone else was just pretending to be interested in sex.
Many asexuals describe having a sort of “Emperor’s New Clothes” view of sex at some point in their lives: That everyone else is just pretending to like it simply because everyone else seems to like it, and they don’t want to be the only one who speaks out and says “No, I’m not really into that.” In this view, a sexually charged culture enforces conformity.
This view often comes about during the teenage years. The asexual’s friends all start talking about boys or girls, but they don’t feel anything yet themselves. Puberty strikes different people at different times and in different ways, so at first, they’ll just think they’re not there yet, but as time goes on, they’ll realize that they never started getting all that interested in boys or girls. This may lead to thoughts like, “Well, I never got interested in sex, so maybe no one else really did, either. Maybe they’re all just faking to fit in.”
Which brings us to…
You just pretended to be interested in sex.
Sometimes, some asexuals will feel pressured to pretend to be interested in sex in order to fit in. All your friends get caught up in what they’d like to do and who they’d like to do it with, but you don’t feel that way about anyone. So, you just smile and nod, until…
“So, who do YOU like?”
…and you sputter out something about Johnny or Sally, not because you’re actually interested in them, but because they seemed like acceptable options to use to hide how you really feel, because if you told your friends how you really feel, they’d just laugh at you and think you’re a freak.
And so, you lie and go along with it. Eventually, you may even end up in a relationship and…
You pretended to like sex so your partner wouldn’t think you didn’t love them.
For many people, love and sex are inextricably linked. A sexual rejection is taken as a rejection of the person as a whole, a sign that they’re unloved, rather than just an indication that their partner has an activity they’re not all that interested in. This can pose a challenge for asexuals in a relationship. They can be truly, madly, deeply, and endlessly in love, yet just not care for sex. They fear that letting their partner know how they feel would mean that their love would be doubted and the relationship would be destroyed as a result. “If you really loved me, you’d want sex with me.”
It’s even possible that the asexual partner does enjoy sex, but are afraid to let their partner know that they don’t find them sexually attractive. And so, they put on an act of attraction and will say things like “You’re so hot” or “You turn me on so much” when that’s not actually the case.
Sex is not love, love is not sex. It’s possible to love someone you’re not sexually attracted to. It’s possible to have and even enjoy sex, even if you’re not sexually attracted to the person you’re involved with.
Conversations about sex aren’t interesting.
Friends and coworkers like to talk about sex. They like to talk about what they’ve done, what they’d like to do, and what they’ve heard about other people doing. They boast about bachelor(ette) parties or one night stands. They discuss who’s hot, how hot they are, and what attributes make them hot. They make suggestive comments about the delivery person or the receptionist or the wait staff at the restaurant.
And you couldn’t care less.
If they’re talking about other people, like how “hot” the waitress is or how “steamy” the delivery guy is, there’s a good chance that you didn’t even notice them. If they’re talking about parties or one-night stands, there’s a good chance you don’t have any comparable experiences to discuss. You just zone out when they start talking about these things, and let the conversation run its course. Sometimes, people may notice that you’ve gone quiet and think that you’re offended by where the conversation has gone, but that’s not necessarily the case. You’ve gone quiet because you’ve got no input, no commentary, no questions.
You often find sex scenes in books/TV/movies to be out of place or boring.
You’re watching a movie when suddenly the male and female leads start going at it for no reason: [fast forward!]
You’re reading a book when suddenly it turns to “heaving bosoms” and “love’s juices”: [next chapter!]
Perhaps it’s a sense of “Ew, icky”, but it doesn’t have to be. More often, it’s a sense of “Why are they doing that? What’s the point? Get back to the story!” Half the time, the sexual encounter is unforgivably contrived. Sometimes you can even imagine the writers meeting with their editor or producer and being told to “sex it up a bit, the ratings are off this year”, and the writers just randomly drawing character names from a hat to decide who should go at it.
Bad acting and lame stories in porn really bug you, because, after all, what’s the point in watching a movie if it’s no good?
“Oh, come on, if that sort of thing happened in real life, she’d have that doctor arrested. That guy is a terrible actor, it’s like he never even bothered to look at the script. And don’t even get me started on that set and how cheap it looks! It’s supposed to be a doctor’s office, so where’s the blood pressure thingy and the jar of tongue depressors and the bed with the paper stuff? I mean, that looks like a cheap Army surplus cot from the 50’s! That can’t possibly be sterile! What’s this now? Why is she moaning? He’s not anywhere near her! What is supposed to be happening? She keeps looking directly at the camera, too. And that guy keeps getting in the way of the shot.. Didn’t the director plan out the scene with the actors ahead of time? Why am I even watching this?”
You feel like sex comes naturally to everyone else, but you have to work at it.
You look at other people, and they seem to instinctively understand sex, and how to play the game. Your partner handles it effortlessly, while for you, sex ends up more like a poorly-choreographed attempt at a secret handshake that no one taught you than a spontaneous expression of intimacy. It’s like everyone else went to some sort of intensive training camp and knows everything inside and out, while you have to pick it up on the job. Even so, there’s some secret that everyone else seems to know, the key to understanding the whole thing, and you know that you will never learn that secret, no matter how hard you try.
If given the hypothetical chance of a no-strings, no-regrets, no-consequences sexual encounter, you’d have to think about it.
Usually, this comes in the form of a hypothetical situation: “Random Hot Person X appears in front of you and says ‘Let’s get it on’. Would you go for it?” For many people, the response is an unequivocal and immediate, “Yes”. For others, it’s “No, I can’t, my boyfriend wouldn’t let me”. But for you, it’s something more like, “Well, I don’t know… It’s Friday. Fringe is on. I guess I could record it, but I was looking forward to watching it all day.”
You never initiate sex.
It’s not that you dislike sex. It’s not that your partner isn’t any good. It’s that you just never think about it. It’s never on your mind. So, as a result, you never think, “Hey, I’d like to have sex right now. I should go see if my partner is up for it.”
This, of course, can cause problems in relationships. Your partner may end up feeling like they always do all the work and may even begin to think that your lack of initiative is an indication that you’re not really in love with them.
You don’t catch it when people are flirting, even when you’re the one doing the flirting.
I’ve seen this one pop up in asexual discussions a couple of times. It’s happened to me, and I just thought I was completely oblivious. I’ve been told that I’m good at flirting, even though I just thought I was having a normal conversation. And whenever someone is flirting with me, I won’t notice. (And probably wouldn’t know what to do, even if I did.) Only hours later, when I think back on the conversation, will I realize that something was off.
I was once on vacation, in a park, taking 3D pictures with a homemade stereoscopic camera. A woman called me over and started asking questions about the camera, and telling me how she was a photographer, too. We spoke for a minute or two, then I continued wandering around the park. On my way back to my car, I passed the bench, and she loudly lamented to her friend “Where are all the good men in this town?”.
I was literally in the next state when I realized that she probably wasn’t that interested in my camera.
I know that I didn’t discuss every possible indicator of ace-ness, and I’m sure there’s some of these that that you’ll have your own take on. I’m even starting to come up with more things I should’ve written about, but I know that if I keep adding and adding, I’ll never actually get this out the door.
I sense a part 4 in the future…
Links to the posts in this series:
(BTW, in case you’ve been wondering about it this whole time, this is a XONOX. It has absolutely no relation to anything else, I just needed a nonsense word and that’s what popped into my head, because that’s just the kind of nerd I am.)