Questions

One of the biggest things I’ve been struggling with as I’ve moved along on this journey of self discovery is the recurring and annoying sense of self doubt. What if I’m not really asexual? What if I’m just ___ (scared, confused, repressed, etc)? What if I’m misunderstanding the key definition of sexual attraction?

In what I’ve found and read, this seems to be a very common element in people trying to figure themselves out. I think that’s very understandable. This isn’t easy stuff. Not by a long shot. And while the definition of asexuality is pretty precise and clear cut, it has a vagueness about it that allows for those self doubts. I’ve read lots of things by people trying to explain it, clarify terms, and help others get a handle on it. One of the earlier things I read was someone saying that the definition could almost be “if you think you’re asexual, then you’re asexual.” Now of course, that’s not much of a definition. It’s more like some ancient mind riddle. The author even declared that it wasn’t really practical, and I agree. But, in a way, it’s kind of right.

When I read the definition, and tried to figure it out, and figure myself out, I definitely had a lot of questions. I tried to answer all those questions with mixed results. Ultimately, my (and your) individual experience is what counts. It’s mathematically unlikely that someone else out there will have had the same, or even very similar experiences as myself. But that doesn’t nullify my experience, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not really asexual. Eventually, I came to a point after having read dozens upon dozens of personal accounts where I realized that even if my experience and story isn’t identical to any of those, it shared so many key elements. That, I think, is where the wishy-washy definition of “if you think you’re asexual, then you’re asexual” comes in. I basically got to a point where I just intuitively felt it. This feels like home. I may not understand why, and my experiences and opinions may be different, but on the whole, I feel right with the label. So in a way, I am, because I think I am.

This probably is not what someone trying to understand all this wants to read or hear. I certainly dismissed it when I read it the first time, but I think it’s what will really help seal the deal for someone. What label makes you feel safe? What label makes you feel comfortable? What label makes you feel like home? Sure, it would’ve been great if I had read someone’s account and felt as though they could’ve been telling my story. It might’ve made accepting it faster and easier. If you get that chance, great! Not to get too deep here, but if I (or you, or anyone) feels that yes, I am asexual, I identify with that experience, then by definition, the range of experiences of asexuality is increased to incorporate mine. Merely by existing and identifying this way, I’m defining in some small way what it means to be asexual.*

At the end of the day, all those self doubts I might have probably won’t go away, and that’s ok. No one worth my time is going to give me a hassle about whether or not I’m really asexual. The label fits my experience right here and now in a way that nothing else has. I can either feel incomplete, inferior, and broken, or I can feel totally complete, normal, and just different. That’s not even really a choice at all.


*So wouldn’t it be great if that concept was something I came up with? Too bad is isn’t. <sigh> Always, great minds have come before me. I’m pretty fond of it though, it’s called existentialism and you’ll have to thank people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard for it, not me.

Getting In Tune

I for one think it’s pretty darn amazing how the more I think about my history, my thoughts and feelings over time and now, the more asexuality just nudges pieces into place. It’s like when you have two tones of the same note, but one is slightly out of tune. The waveforms don’t align and you get a wavering in the sound. It doesn’t sound good at all. It’s very dissonant, despite being the same note value. Even the waveforms might be really close. One slight adjustment though, and boom, the waveforms match up and the dissonance is gone.

I think that’s a good metaphor for how things have been unfolding for me over the past month. Yes, I tend to ruminate on things, but this is important, so I don’t really mind. I also have a lot of old writing that I’ve done. Like way more than I think the average person would have. It’s just what I’ve done, and it makes it really easy to see what I was thinking in the past, but also jogging my memory to recall past emotions as well.

One thing that came up recently was how I had thought about friends. At times in the past, my feelings about friends have caused me a lot of anguish and feelings of abandonment. Until now, I’d never really thought about how I had made friends, or what my best friendships had looked like. In thinking about it though, it’s clear that I value (and have valued) a small number of incredibly close friendships very, very highly. To me, that was normal. I would do anything for these friends. I wanted to include them in anything I did. I was always thinking about them. That’s how it was for me, and that’s how I assumed it was for them. To a certain extent, it may have been, but in retrospect, I think friendships meant something very different for me.

I noted in a previous post about how when the subject of girls became an increasingly predominant interest among friends, them and I started to diverge. It was like dominoes. One by one, friendships waned despite my best efforts all at the hands of mere girls. I genuinely didn’t get it then, and until discovering these things about myself, didn’t get it even in present times. I was just confused, and hurt. Really hurt. To them though, I’m starting to think the choice was obvious, if it was even a choice at all. I inherently engage in friendship differently, and my expectations just aren’t quite in line with how others engage in friendship. That’s not at all to say that one way is better than the other. Absolutely not. But it does mean that there’s going to be a mismatch of wants, needs, and expectations. That mismatch was something for which I was unprepared.

Over the years, I remember lamenting on and on to anyone who would listen about how much I was hurt when friendships dissolved over the introduction of girlfriend/boyfriend/partner love. The responses I received were generally mildly sympathetic, but ultimately dismissive from the position that I would, “do the same thing when I found a girl.” That always baffled me. My rebuttal always consisted of insistence that I’d never do that to a friend. I knew how bad it made me feel when it happened. I just wouldn’t put anyone else through that. In a way, I think a large part of my motivation for getting a girlfriend was simply to prove that I wouldn’t abandon my friends. That’s a very warped reason to desire a girlfriend, but that’s how I felt about it. But also, a part of me genuinely didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand how the opposite party feels in a situation like that. As I said, I think they hardly feel a decision is even being made at all. When I disagree with someone who says that I’ll do the same thing when I find a girl, I’m being genuine. There’s a disconnect there between me and someone like my mom, from whom the “you’ll do the same thing” response comes most.

For most people, I think there’s a certain force in these situations (what I’m now understanding to be sexual attraction, among other things), that compels them to do god only knows what. Realizing that is absolutely mind blowing to me. It also goes a long way into solidifying how I feel about identifying as asexual. Not only have I never felt that kind of compulsion as the result of the opposite (or even same) sex, I can scarcely imagine feeling it. I feel good and bad about that. Good because it’s just one more thing that’s been brought into tune by understanding asexuality and my life. Bad because I kind of wish I could feel it. Let’s be real; it sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? I think deep down, part of me has been holding on through all my teenage and adult years hoping and waiting for when I would feel it.

But there is good to be had here overall. While I may never get to experience that compulsion and attraction, no matter how amazing it sounds, I do have ample amounts of caring and love to give. That’s been clearly demonstrated in my past friendships, and it’s something I want to drive into future friendships as well. Now though, I have the benefit of being aware that I do treat those platonic relationships differently. It can be hard, given that our culture doesn’t always do the best job of supporting those kinds of relationships, but ultimately, that’s where the best me is going to shine.

All that said, I still would love to have a close, intimate, romantic relationship with a woman. There are so many reasons that I can’t even list them all here. I’m curious. I want to know what that feels like. There’s also a lot more cultural wiggle room in a more traditional-looking relationship like that to allow for the depth I’ve always kind of sought from friendships. Cultural pressures aside, there’s also the sexual aspect I’m so curious about. Sexual attraction be damned! Imagining sex with a real person, where I’m involved, has always been extremely difficult. I hesitate to call it an aversion, but it’s…something. Nevertheless, I’m confident that with great care, it could be done. It’s possible that, curiosity satiated, I’ll have no more interest. It’s also possible I’ll even come to enjoy parts of it. I don’t know. I just want to make sure I’m open to allowing myself all the options, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ice Cream Signals

I remember when I was in middle school and high school, there was always so much droning on and on about “peer pressure”, or as my sister mistakenly called it “pure pressure”. At the time, it was mostly about drugs, because shit, this was the late 90s and early 2000s; everyone was doing drugs. Not really. Aside from feeling really bored with all of it, I never really felt like peer pressure had much to do with me. Sure, I understood it conceptually, but it seemed like something you had to “fall for” and I was pretty smart, and not super popular anyway. I never personally felt pressured directly by any of my friends. Other people couldn’t pressure me because I didn’t know them, and didn’t really value their opinions of me.

I guess if you were to understand it like that (which I did), yes, I don’t really think I ever felt peer pressure. But with so much focus on this kind of explicit peer pressure, I think they missed in advising us about a more subtle, indirect peer pressure. A pressure to which I was much more susceptible. I’ve hinted at this kind of pressure in my recent previous posts, but I wanted to write more explicitly about it here. The layers of implication and my discovery of them is something I feel is worthwhile to note.

These pressures for me created a number of “wants”, but these were strange wants. Normally when you want something, there’s a clear chain leading to the want. It’s summer, it’s really hot, I’m hot…therefore, I want some ice cream. So you’re sitting there, eating your ice cream (rocky road, naturally), and I ask you, “why did you want that ice cream?” If you can stop shoveling it into your mouth for long enough, your reasons would of course have something to do with the fact that it was hot, how you were hot, how it was summer, etc. A clear set of conditions existed that you and many other people would’ve added together to arrive at the same conclusion; I want ice cream! Ice cream-hating communists notwithstanding, that’s a simple, logical argument. Of course you’d want ice cream.

Imagine how strange it would be if the situation were a bit different. I’m cold, it’s not sunny, I had a big lunch. All my friends I’m with are just infatuated with their ice creams (mint chocolate chip, eww). They’re enjoying them so much, they’re almost ignoring me. I try to get them interested in doing things, but they’re just so interested in their ice creams. Eventually, I start to think, “boy, they’re really into those ice creams. Maybe I should get one. I really want some ice cream!” Now I have this want, a want for ice cream. I try to find somewhere to get it, but all the shops are closed. I have no idea where my friends got theirs. What if they start talking about how good it was later and I feel left out? I want ice cream. I have to get some ice cream.

Clearly the want in the second version isn’t as clear cut. Sure there’s a vague chain of circumstances, but it’s not like one leads to the next. Should I extrapolate and continue with the second version? I still can’t get the ice cream. I don’t know what it is, I just can’t get it. I start to feel horrible. Why can’t I just get it? Years pass and I still can’t get it. I feel even worse now.

You’d have to be pretty dense not to realize that ok, I’m probably not actually talking about ice cream here. Yes, it’s delicious, but I’m not going to spend years fretting and feeling bad because I couldn’t get some lousy mint chocolate chip. Replace the words ice cream with girlfriend, ignore the grammatical errors, the fact that girls aren’t typically cold and you don’t eat them, and you’d be more on track with my life.

Replacing with girlfriend would be reasonably accurate I think. I suppose you could also replace some of them with sex but I’m going to be dead honest, that would just not be accurate, or how my mind works or ever worked. It would all still hold true. I did feel so bad. This want, this grating want. I couldn’t figure it out. Why wasn’t it working, I’d do anything. People are going to start talking and wondering. It just feels like an endless cycle: “need experience to get experience.” At no point in time did I stop to think about that chain of events leading to the want though. I suppose with a girlfriend and/or sex, the chain of events are probably much more varied, and more complex, but they should still be there. Right?

Well, for me, I don’t think they were. And having started into that kind of thing at a relatively young age (16-17), I just wasn’t self aware enough to imagine that my experience could be different, and equally valid. I’m not sure I would’ve wanted it to be. That’s a hard age to be, and while I know many people that age and younger are so assured of their sexualities, I sure as fuck wasn’t. I think it had something to do with my kind of late entry into the field, but also, I hated the idea of being different and noticeable. I still feel that way to some extent. Many people will say how great it is to be yourself, and be different, but when doing that just gets you picked on constantly, my bet is you’ll eventually stop (like I did). To put it simply, being different, especially that kind of different, was absolutely not an option for me at that time. I guess if you just start getting those gut signals at 13 that you’re sexually attracted to other guys, then yeah, it’s going to feel obvious from the get go. At the time, I didn’t feel like I had gotten any of those clear signals. Once essentially everyone close to me had gotten them, I kind of  figured oh well, I must have received them and just didn’t realize it.

Those phase 1 signals should’ve been my clear chain of events. I skipped all that. The message was garbled on the way, a falcon intercepted it and dropped it into a volcano, who knows. All that mattered now was that I not slip any further behind. I was pretty sure I wasn’t sexually attracted to other guys, but I wasn’t feeling too much attraction to girls either. At the time, I’m sure I thought I was. I mean, I liked girls. Right? In retrospect, not at all in the same way, or to the same degree that others did. Since I was 15 or 16 I can honestly say the number of girls I’ve been actually attracted to (in any way), as in actually having my gaze drawn to them, and wanting to be near them, would have to be no more than 4. That’s an at best scenario. The devil’s advocate in me would love to say that I wasn’t that social and didn’t meet that many people, but I met tons of people over the course of high school and college. Introversion has all of nothing to do with orientation anyway. The nature of those attractions is hard for me to define, but one thing they definitely were not was sexual. No doubt in my mind. If I had to, I’d say it mostly had to do I with their faces, and hair. I was always relatively able to point out girls who were pretty, or cute (I was and still am incapable of using the word “hot” authentically), but almost nobody agreed with me on that (you’re looking at faces and not boobs?!), and I didn’t agree with who they said was “hot”. I felt I had to ignore that and just press on to phase 2. Everyone else was, I didn’t want to fall any more behind.

And so ensued so much anguish and mental stress over so, so many years. Now though, in being much, much more self aware, and starting to get a solid handle on asexuality in general, and how it fits me (pretty well, even if sometimes I’d rather it didn’t), I’m doing a lot of rewinding. Why did/do I want those things? Why did/do I want a girlfriend? Why did/do I want sex? And the real fucking bombshell, did/do I even want sex? 17 year old me couldn’t have handled questions like those. Hell, 22 year old me couldn’t have handled questions like those. I’m not even positive 26-year-old present me can handle those questions, but at least I can ask them now. Do they even need definitive answers? Maybe. I think just considering them has already been useful and helped me understand myself more than I ever have before. *See elaboration here.

Like I said, if at 13 I had gotten those clear signals, I probably wouldn’t be asking these questions at all right now. Those original signals would’ve been my chain of events, and I wouldn’t even really question it (although I certainly could, and doing so might be healthy for anyone). I think with something like asexuality where there’s an intrinsic “lack”, these kinds of questions are almost imperative. It’s just far too easy to be like me and assume that the signals in phase 1 didn’t matter, and could be skipped. They do matter, and they shouldn’t be skipped, but if you’re not getting them at all, what should you do? There’s not really any framework for that. Asking these questions kind of takes the place of the missing signals. It kind of gives me a blank canvas to work with. Why do I want a girlfriend? How do I want that to look for me? I get the opportunity to decide how I want those things to look and fit in with my life.  Pondering the questions and potential answers is going to help me carve out my asexual space. It’ll probably be a different space from most people, and maybe even different from many asexual people, but that’s fine!

I’m still pondering these questions. I expect it’ll take a lot of time. After all, I was just walking into the phase 2 wall for the better part of a decade. It might take some time to undo that. That’s fine though. I don’t care how long it takes. I’m just happy as can be that I’ve thought to ask them, and found the solid ground of asexuality upon which I can stand while I do it. At this point, I expect to be standing on that ground indefinitely. For the first time in, well, ever, I feel safe, and genuinely relaxed about all this stuff. I can’t even begin to describe how good that feels. I think it’s one of those things like getting glasses for the first time. All the 20/20 people out there never get to know the feeling of suddenly realizing that, “holy shit…trees have individual leaves on them!!” If at some point in the future, I realize that asexuality ground isn’t the best place for me anymore, I’m free to move on, and that’s totally ok!

Blue

There’s a bit struggle I have with all of this stuff, and that’s wracking my brain to figure out if I’m right. It’s a bit like an “emperor has no clothes” moment I suppose. I think it says a lot about my personality (good things mostly) that I’m boring so hard into this “WTF is sexual attraction?” question. I’ve read a few really good analogies, but to be honest, I think I’m a bit better at analogies and writing than most of those I read. If you can do something better, my thought is that you should.

What is sexual attraction? Well shit, what is blue? No, not the sky or the ocean. What is the color “blue”. Describe it to me. I’ve never seen it before. Pretty tough isn’t it? I mean, sure I can tell you that it’s an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 450 and 495 nanometers. Is it any clearer yet? No? Ok, well it’s if you just kept increasing the wavelength of violet light, all the way to green light, you’d have to pass through blue. Still no good? Um…

And that’s the problem. But in a way, I think it’s also kind of an answer. I know what blue is, but really, the actual way in which I see and experience blue is unique to myself. I could point at the sky with a friend and say, “yup, that’s blue!” If my friend had perfect vision (and let’s assume she does), she’d say, “yup, sure is!” We could go grab a spectrometer and even verify that yup, 460 nm, this checks out. But in reality, for all I or anyone else knows, my friend might be seeing the sky as red. At this point I guess we should just go bowling because we’re just entering nihilist territory here, but before we do that, there is something important to take out of this.

Neither of us was in disagreement that the sky we were looking at was indeed blue, so is there really even a problem? I don’t really think so. We’re both experiencing a phenomenon (the color blue), and we’re both in agreement on how to use language to describe that phenomenon (the word “blue”). The fact that the spectrometer backs that up is kind of irrelevant.

But what if you couldn’t see? I can still describe the properties of blue to you, and you can even rationally understand them. Hell, with colors, you could even understand all the mathematical relationships and create great color themes even if you were blind.

What of sexual attraction though? Most people seem to get it, “what do you mean? It’s just blue” they’ll say.  And while they can’t describe it objectively as, “the feeling in your brain when nerve x oscillates with nerve b’ at 25KHz,” they’re happy to describe their experience of it. It’s so intrinsic. You must be feeling the same thing, or at least something you’d categorize in the same way, right? Right?

Well, maybe not. In my case, I don’t think so. That’s such a hard thing to accept and come to terms with. All those years, people were feeling and being driven by something that wasn’t there for me? That’s scary. All this time I thought I must’ve been seeing blue, but actually, I was seeing red.

Master Branch

I just want to say how good it felt to write my previous post. It was really hard to condense a decade’s worth of feelings, thoughts and emotions into a few thousand words, but I’m happy with how it turned out. For the first time in a long, long time (too long), I feel truly relaxed. It’s hard to describe. I can really feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. Smells seem more vibrant and pleasant. Even enjoying “myself” feels more relaxing (like, actually feeling the relaxing biological effects that makes it worth bothering at all. Crazy, right?).

That said, there are definitely aspects of the whole thing with which I struggle. This is a big deal though, so I’m trying hard to allow myself to acclimate so to speak. I realized that I feel like sometime in my late teens (likely when I tried so hard to get a girlfriend), I got sidetracked. Before that, I was relatively content with what I was doing, what I liked, how I felt. When I realized so many close friends were diverging from me though, I definitely panicked, and in trying so desperately to mimic them (what I assumed I was supposed to be like), I created an alternate path in my life. That path was not me. In realizing these things about myself, it’s like I’ve been reunited with that past me, and our paths have merged back together. I’m sorry for this, but I’m a software engineer, so it was like I was on branch master, then created a new branch, default-heterosexual. I worked on that new branch for all those years, but it just didn’t work. It wasn’t right for me. But the master branch never went anywhere, it was still there waiting for me to git checkout master.

Since writing that previous post was so helpful to me in figuring this stuff out, I thought I’d try to write a bit of a follow-up that focused a bit more on much more recent history and the present. I’ve certainly spent a huge amount of time over the last few weeks reading, and thinking, and reading and thinking. It’s enough to make anyone’s head hurt. I might read one person’s experience of things, and feel that it doesn’t apply to me, but then I’ll read another and really relate to it. This is to say nothing about trying to find anyone anywhere who’s willing or even able to describe what sexual attraction even is, or feels like. I mean, shit, describe the color blue to me.

Based on definition alone, I have to say it’s a pretty solid “nope” on my end, but it would be helpful (both in my identification, and intellectual curiosity) to have some sense of how people experienced it. On top of everything, as a virgin (and super curious person), I have to wonder if I don’t feel those things because I have no experience with it. My suspicion though, is that you don’t have to have the experience to fantasize about it, or feel an attraction based on imagined sexual actions. Hell, even I know what those are. My imagination is like a 911 on an empty autobahn—totally bad ass and totally capable. In this case, I know what all the parts look like, how they work (mostly), and what things are supposed to go down (HA!). But even knowing all that, and having the capable imagination, I know with 100% certainty that I’ve never felt that kind of sexual attraction or imagination with some “rando” on the street or anywhere in real life, but especially with friends or acquaintances. In the handful of times I’ve known someone and tried to force the imagination in that direction, it feels gross, and horrible. I’d like to just avoid it, but I’m the kind of person who runs self-diagnostics all the time. So I’m sure I’ll keep forcing it every now and then, just as verification that things haven’t changed. But that kind of attraction? Never happened. No questions. “She’s cute”, yes. “That girl is so pretty, I love that outfit and her face and hair”, less common, but yes. I might even imagine what it would be like to talk to her, or go out. “Would you look at the boobs on her? The things I’d do with her. She is so hot.”, erm, definitely not.

Now, in not really understanding all these things, and feeling like I must be the “default”, I attributed these kinds of “differences of opinion” between my friends and me as me just being a nice person. Maybe I didn’t want to look at people and feel that way. That’s a good thing, right? Without much else to go on, that’s kind of where I went with it. But now I realize that there’s a pretty clear dividing line there. That feeling of raw sexual attraction is definitely going to come up first. Your higher reasoning can kick in and squelch it at a conscious level because you “don’t want to look at people and feel that way”, but it’s too late. The thought and feeling was there. And that’s totally fine, it’s a natural feeling, but for me, that’s really not what was happening. There was no feeling to squelch. It wasn’t there to begin with.

With the handful of girls I’ve been interested in?  Things feel a bit hazier. Now, I’m pretty sure the haze is actually just “default expectations”. I’m supposed to feel those things, so I must be feeling them, right? Again, my “endgame” in most of these situations was just to get a girlfriend. If anyone had pressed me at the time about what I was planning on doing after that, I probably would’ve sounded silly: “Uh, go hiking a lot. Bring her to my parents house for some family function. Play games. Maybe hold hands”. That’s pretty much all I’d have had, and that’s if I were pressed about it.

In the few instances where I was able to move in a direction of any kind of closeness, did that change how I felt? Not really. I mean, sex as an abstract idea? Yeah, sign my ass up. Actually imagining me myself in that situation? Woah, what did that fine print say? Actually imagining myself in that situation with someone I know, or someone I felt an emotional bond with? Do you have like whiteout or something? Can I un-sign my name? Now it’s really hard for me to say if that’s driven by fear (some of it definitely is) or a lack of sexual attraction. Since my understanding of sexual attraction is…let’s say worst case, unreliable, I’m willing to mostly let this slide as an ambivalence to sex at best. And since I’m pretty sure people have sex with people they don’t find attractive all the time, not really indicative of any kind of orientation at all anyway.

I think the better way to talk about it is the scenario in which I can imagine sex working out for me. That scenario looks like being with someone who is aware of my hesitations, confusion and ambivalence about sex. Someone who respects those things enough to be extremely cautious with me. Someone who will be very aware of how I’m handling things, and will immediately cease and desist if I either start “checking out” subconsciously or directly ask to stop. Me and myself are pretty close. I’ve known me all my life. From the womb to the tomb. So I think I know enough about me to know something like sex is something with which I need to exercise extreme caution. Yes, for the usual safe sex reasons, but also because knowing me, I know I face a myriad of substantial emotional, physical and mental risks.

Then there are things that, if I’m honest about it, are plainly unappealing to me, and I would not be comfortable doing. Generally speaking, skin-to-skin touch (outside of hand shakes, high fives, and other nonchalant things) is extremely hard for me. My instinct is to brush someone away. I used to think this was fear, or god only knows, but I am acknowledging now that it’s a very real factor for me that I need to be aware of. It is however something I want to work really hard to improve. I don’t even like to touch other people because I assume they feel the same way about it as I do. This is going to escalate quickly, so be warned now.

  1. Holding Hands – At first, this seemed like the kind of thing that I’d like. Non sexual. Non threatening. Easy, right? Yes and no. Being that it’s the only thing I’ve done, I can say from experience that while I found it moderately enjoyable at first (novelty), I quickly became uncomfortable. My hand was sweaty, and I don’t like the feeling of my hands being out of my control (if that makes sense). This is why hugs are much easier for me: lean in, embrace, release, done.
  2. Kissing – Never done it. I think I could handle simple on-the-cheek kinds of things, and maybe a mouth-to-mouth peck, but beyond that just feels weird to me. I’ve never fantasized about it, I’ve never understood the appeal, and honestly, I worry tremendously that women will expect it of me at some point. How in the world am I supposed to explain that? I think this is something that I may be open to overcoming very carefully, very slowly, and with a large amount of trust. I have no idea how long it might take with a person to get to that point.
  3. Oral Sex (on me) – No. Just hell the fuck no. No times infinity. Revoke my “man card”, say I’m insane, a loser, whatever, I don’t care. Don’t care what it feels like, don’t want to know. No. I find it baffling that so much porn consists of this too. Are people actually turned on by watching it? Hell I even remember a dream a long time ago where some girl started trying to do it to me and I pulled her up immediately for a hug instead.

Now what about in the other direction, myself to her? Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely), I think that’s pretty much the context of how this stuff will end up working for me. There’s very little I can think of that I wouldn’t be willing to do for her if she was getting pleasure out of it (and unambiguously consenting obviously—I can’t even believe this has to be said). Her feeling good would honestly be my highest priority, because that’s what’s going to make me feel good as well. If she’s not feeling good, then why the hell am I bothering? What would be the point? I probably can’t convince everyone of this, but me saying this isn’t to be corny, or chivalrous, or a “nice guy”. Her pleasure is genuinely the only thing that’s going to allow me to get into it. Myself? I can take care of myself, that’s not a problem and never has been.

When I write all these things, stuff seems so clear cut. I’m being genuine and honest here too, so why my hesitation? I guess it’s a lot of little things. Now I know many of these things obviously have no bearing on sexual orientation, and therefore are moot, but to me, they’re like wind at a ballpark. Not a big difference, but maybe the difference between a solid base hit or a standing double? For one thing, there’s porn. I know, asexuals look at porn and it’s no big thing. It doesn’t affect their asexualness. For me, I’m pretty sure it’s purely an arousal thing to speed things up. I’m a busy man, I don’t have all day (ok, sometimes I do, but that’s another story). It’s also somewhat of a curiosity thing, but honestly, I find myself doing way more “next…next…next” clicking than actually watching. Basically the only thing I’m interested in seeing, the only thing I’ve ever been interested in seeing, is women experiencing genuine pleasure. This has always appeared to me to be an extremely minor percentage of all the porn out there. If I have any sense that it’s fake it does nothing for me. I guess there’s an element of seeing someone else experience pleasure in a way I understand, so it’s ideal if they’re by themselves. If I look in “that folder”, what percentage of it contains a second person (male or female)? < 3%. And that’s being generous, a couple of those the second person wasn’t really involved themselves.

Another thing is my general predilection for self pleasure (which is kind of all over the place). Obviously in teen years it was a matter of “body keeps asking, so I’ll keep delivering”. After that, I kind of petered out. Still very regular (if sometimes infrequent). Still mostly enjoyable (lots of factors here). Still lots of things and sensations to explore. Never really been able to fantasize in a sexual context, especially if I myself am involved in the fantasy. Makes me feel gross. I remember being younger and trying to fantasize about a person because I thought you were supposed to. I couldn’t do it, and I haven’t even tried since. Most of the time, it’s focusing on what feels good and what doesn’t. More of column A, less of column B. Pretty hard to miss with a winning formula like that!

Finally, I am a virgin, and I do want to try sex. Again, within the boundaries of what I described earlier. I’m curious. I want to visit Iqaluit, Nunavut too. Why? I’m curious. I’d like to try sky diving some day. Why? I’m curious. I’d like love to drive a Tesla Roadster around the Nurburgring. Why? Are you kidding me? You leave now! With sex, I kind of imagine it’ll feel pretty awesome (the limited amount of stuff I can’t replicate on my own anyway), but like so many things that have been hyped to me over the years, I’m also expecting to be pretty let down, so my expectations aren’t too high.

I seriously can’t believe I’ve written all this. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this stuff so openly before. Maybe it feels alright now because I have a name for how all this stuff adds up for me? Maybe just feeling better about my true self and feelings means I can be more open about these kinds of things? Either way, I feel that writing all this has been so beneficial for me. When I write, I have to think clearly, and thinking clearly allows me to feel better about identifying as asexual. I’d be seriously tickled if someone else read this and it helped them figure stuff out. Remember, there is no “default” you have to divert yourself to. You don’t have to git checkout <branch>. Just stick to the master and things will turn out alright.

Mangoes

Do you like mangoes? I sure do. I don’t think I’d ever want to live in the tropics, but if I could somehow have my very own mango tree to provide me with mangoes whenever I wanted, that would be pretty great. They’re an interesting fruit. The first time I had one, I didn’t know there was a pit inside. At least, not one so big. Unlike other stone fruits I was familiar with like peaches, plums or even avocados, the mango pit was really hard to distinguish from the meat of the fruit. It went from skin to delicious flesh to fibrous flesh to pit so gradually. In my desire for more things mango, I’d often just gnaw or suck on the fibrous parts even if I couldn’t cut them off. It still had juice in it after all.

So where is this going? A post about mangoes? I wish. They’re a really delicious fruit, but in this case, the mango is a metaphor. I’m a lot like the mango. I bet most people are like mangoes as well, but I’m not most people. I’m just me, and that’s all I can speak for. This is a story about me. A story about how I was finally able to pull apart the skin, the soft fleshy meat, and finally tirelessly work through the tangled fibrous web to isolate it from the pit. No easy task. This story has been a decade in the making. Some highs. Plenty of lows. Second guessing, depression, frustration and learning galore. My hope is that by writing this, I might be able to save someone else even just a few weeks or months of struggle.

This story starts like many stories do. I was a kid. See, you were once a kid too. This is already so relatable! I could start this at any point in my kid-hood, but I might as well start when things got interesting, or rather, when things got awkward: adolescence. I don’t really recall exactly how old I was when I got hit with the freight train called puberty. I remember watching “The Video” when I was 11 in 5th grade, but I’m pretty sure at that point it was just an omen of things to come. I suppose things started happening when I was around 12 or 13. You know…things. Pretty standard fare I should think, like The Simpsons’ sex-ed spoof video, Fuzzy Bunny: “Voice changing, fur where there was no fur before” etc. Yes it was awkward. It was for everyone. It was like your body was saying, “hey, everybody, I’ve picked up a shit ton of this new drug called hormones from a dude at a liquor store, let’s go on a 4 year bender!!!” That’s pretty much what happened.

Now though, my story and the stories of so many of you will likely start to diverge. My body’s 4 year hormone bender was just that and nothing more. I was 12, stuff started kicking in and changing like it was supposed to, then I was 16, but I wasn’t really any different (aside from my physical body which the hormone bender had ravaged horribly!). I did pretty much all the same things I did before: Built things, played baseball, hung out with friends…things just weren’t that different. I definitely started noticing *ahem* myself, but in a very “oh, this feels pretty awesome” kind of way. Like getting a new toy and trying all the buttons and seeing what everything did. It felt good, so I did it. I certainly didn’t really notice girls any more than I had before. Oh sure, I noticed (rather matter-of-factly) that friends and other people seemed to be interested in them, and the hormone bender had left me with a major dose of curiosity about the *ahem* physical differences, but it was just curiosity. A curiosity that could be (and was) satisfied by books, or talking to a friend, or even the burgeoning internet (the mythical non-porn part). It wasn’t that I had thoughts of “oh, I’ll probably be interested in girls in that way later on.” Honestly I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t interested in the same way others were. My radar screen had nothing on it. Dating? Isn’t that just like being friends? Kissing? Why would I want to do that?

I can say with complete honesty that I went through all of middle school without once being interested in a girl in any meaningful way. I remember in 6th grade hanging out with my two friends, and these two girls from class working on a project. I liked one of the girls because I thought she was cool (I remember her being really excited that she was going to start a chocolate business), but I didn’t like her anywhere near as much as I liked my friends. Why would I? One thing I remember doing a lot (purely because my friends were so amused by it) was going up to groups of girls and “asking one out”. I actually continued to do this up until probably my sophomore year in high school. My friends thought it was hilarious, or bold, or whatever, but I genuinely didn’t care. To me, it was easy, and my friends got laughs out of it, like I was completing some insanely difficult dare. Truthfully, girls were like stealth fighters on my radar screen. They were opaque, and despite the fact that I was most definitely going through puberty, all “urges” were completely without direction. In my head, those things were NOT linked together. Dating, being interested in girls (in any way)? Those were things my friends did. Those were things other people did.

Eventually, it did make it onto my radar screen independently. I was 16. I remember exactly where I was when it hit me. I was walking down the main hallway in high school between classes, past the library and my biology class. Out of nowhere the thought popped into my head that hey, dating, being with a girl, kissing, those things could happen to me. It really happened just like that. It didn’t last more than a few seconds though, because I immediately started extrapolating wildly as I was (and still am) wont to do. Being with a girl in that way? Crap! That’s going to require holding hands probably. I don’t think I want to do that. Kissing? Not interested! As quickly as the thought had arisen, it was quashed back into the depths. That was my first experience thinking about girls in a way where I myself was part of the equation. Not exactly promising, and at 16 (almost 17) I was already quite a bit behind my peers in this regard, although I didn’t recognize the extent of it at the time. I never stopped to consider that this wasn’t a normal reaction for an adolescent to have. Most tragically of all, I never stopped to think that not wanting those things was valid, and something I could have (and probably should have) embraced. This was the moment. This was my moment. I didn’t have the self confidence, the language or the understanding at the time to do anything about it.

Around that time, I also made my first half-hearted attempt at showing interest in a girl. What reason I had in mind at the time god only knows. She was new to the school, and chatted with me in the lunch line. I was supposed to like her, right? Asking her out, that’s what I was supposed to do, right? It was a sense that basically everyone else I knew was heading in that direction. Maybe you had to get a girlfriend first and then everything would snap together. It didn’t end up working out, and important lessons were learned. Unfortunately, the most important lesson was completely lost on me. So I kept at it without much introspective thought. Stumbling along, often painfully.

By the time I was a senior in high school, all of my friends had solidly made the foray into the dating realm. This was a really hard time for me, because these were all people I assumed were like me. I trusted them. I looked to them for advice. But they were diverging from me at an accelerating rate. They all (including my best friend with the abrasive—but somehow lovable—personality, and the momma’s boy nerd) seemed to just get it, and be successful with it. I remember hearing about how one friend in particular was actually rather aggressive with certain physical aspects of his relationship. That was inconceivable to me. He seemed so much like me. To this day I have difficulty accepting that. The possibility that they might be receiving some subtle information, or pull, internally or externally related to connecting to and being attracted to girls that I was not receiving was not something that crossed my mind. Feeling left out and defective, I panicked.

I’ve always been a problem solver. So that’s the approach I took. There weren’t really any girls I had interest in at school. I had reasons I’d give for my lack of interest, such as seeing most girls my age as sisters, since we’d been in school so long. In the end, I kind of just picked one who I saw somewhat regularly (felt important to me), seemed like I could get along with, was reasonably good looking and outside of my primary social circle. I waged a months long campaign of information gathering, testing and internal agonizing basically over how to make her my girlfriend. It got thick. Really thick. By the end, I had even convinced myself I actually did like-like her and that she would be able to correct my “defects.” The years in between now and then let me see the truth though; I was woefully indifferent about her. What I really wanted was for her to be my girlfriend. That was it. That was the endgame. There was nothing after that. Nothing I wanted. Nothing I planned for. No thoughts of wanting to kiss her. No thoughts of hugs or anything physical. I was very much taken by surprise when she wanted to hold my hand when we were hanging out once. I went along because I thought I was supposed to, but it felt very uncomfortable. After all that, I did get what I wanted. A girl, who if you asked her, would’ve said she was my girlfriend. We were anything but. The whole thing lasted barely a month.

After that episode, college came around. Having enough trouble just making friends, I reverted back to my default (and arguably most true) self. With no one around to constantly remind me I didn’t have a girlfriend, I had nothing to prove. And prove nothing I did, for 4 years. Sure I suppose there were “cute” girls around, and if pressed, I probably would have even pointed to a few, but that’s where it ended. That’s where it had always ended for me. Again, the notion that for most people it didn’t end there was just not something I considered.

Now yes, during my time in college, there were 2-3 girls who I felt an actual interest in. I never really took the time to sit and really analyze that interest though. I should have. It would’ve revealed a lot. Nothing came out of any of them. Without the direct reminder of friends that I was girlfriend-less, the level of motivation I had conjured in high school was simply not there. To put it bluntly, I had other shit to do. What motivation was left internally within myself wasn’t anywhere near enough to make anything happen. These were hard times. I remember at the time writing in a rare moment of true self honesty how much things a, b, c, d, e, f…and so on meant more to me than having a girlfriend, and how I could barely imagine a girl who would supersede those interests. Aside from emotional closeness (which I longed for then, and still do today), what could she possibly offer to take my interest? There wasn’t any naivety here. I knew what people were doing with their guy/lady friends all around me (I heard it on more than one occasion). This was genuinely my thought process. It seemed infallible.

Of the few girls I felt interested in during this time, one was certifiably insane. We hung out a number of times, but the interest just wasn’t there. Plus her truly bizarre behavior made me want to get away as fast as possible. I remember one time hanging out with her, and the conversation somehow got around to her telling me how she was bisexual and was really more interested in a FWB kind of thing (although I think she used the more colloquial, “fuck buddies”). Not only did I, just like the other times, have no future plans or ideas, but to throw that wrench into the mix…way more than I could handle. Another girl just didn’t work out, and I ended up inadvertently attracting the attention of her roommate. Attention that I did not want, and was frustratingly difficult to make go away. The last one, well, I was about to graduate and just didn’t care anymore. I fixed her computer, recovered important data, got a hug in appreciation and went back to my room. I still blamed myself and the shortcomings I thought I had for all of it.

Post college had even less friends and even less motivation to be interested in girls. But the culture. Damn, it’s always the culture! That gnawed at me constantly. It was always: 23, still a virgin, still never had a girlfriend, 24, still a virgin, still never had a girlfriend, 25…and so on to present. It was just a constant “there must be something wrong with me. What do I have to do to fix it?” Even though I felt basically normal. I didn’t identify with any of the stories I read by people in similar situations. They always seemed to have obvious (even to me) flaws or quirks that I definitely didn’t have. I felt so alone. By a certain point, I literally could not think of anyone I knew who was as inexperienced as I was. Even people who I thought would never date, have relationships, etc. A few years of that will make anyone depressed, and depressed I was. Depression is a real bastard. I’m still in the midst of working to get past it (writing this feels like a monstrous step forward). I felt like those age numbers would just keep going up, and nothing would change, and it would be oh so horrible even if logically, I knew there was nothing horrible about it. I pushed myself out of my introverted comfort zone over and over with nothing but stress to show for it. I beat up on myself constantly for not being able to be normal, or for not having the history I thought I should’ve had. A history even close friends drew attention to, with seemingly little regard for how I might feel about that. I let friends talk to me indiscriminately about these kinds of things, without telling them how it made me feel. I listened to the voice in my head that said people would start to notice me and my overwhelmingly solo behaviors and immediately think I was gay (which would be fine, just horribly inaccurate and an unfair assumption to make), or worse, some kind of weirdo who shouldn’t be left alone around children (what a fucking male/female double standard).

And so we arrive at the present. I’ve said an awful lot here. The fibrous bits of the mango were really entwined with the pit. Perhaps the most interesting thing about all I’ve written is what isn’t mentioned. Sex. Ctrl+F all you want. That one right there is the first instance in this whole story. Ok, I did specifically avoid using that word, but the omission is also entirely accurate. In none of my thoughts in all these situations over the past decade was sex any kind of a factor. Admittedly, in recent times, I’ve tried to force the issue in my own head (you know, for science). I have a female friend with whom I had felt very, very close. Despite looks of befuddlement on all sides, we were 100% just friends. It was a great friendship that I felt was deep and strong. I won’t go into justifying that again here, and honestly, I never really considered it strange, different, odd or anything. The nature of our association seemed totally normal to me. I once posed the hypothetical to myself supposing that we were “more than friends”, and asked myself how I would feel. The answer? Not good. Not good at all. Whereas our friendship as it was felt completely natural to me, “more than friends” felt very unnatural. Even imagining wanting it seemed unnatural.

Remember that scene in Fight Club where Edward Norton’s character realizes that he is Tyler Durden? That was basically my reaction when her own mother asked her if she had slept with me. Here I was, enjoying my time with one of my closest friends, and even tertiary parties like her mother were pondering whether we had slept together? I genuinely had not even gotten near that thought (until posing it as a hypothetical much, much later). Why would I have?

All of these little anecdotes have a very solid pit that’s unchanged in all of them. Did you see it? I sure didn’t. It’s maddeningly hard to see for all the fibrous mango bits (read: expectations of others, society, etc) wrapped around it. It’s only in the past 6 months that I’ve been able to really get it clear. The weak “interest” I seemed to have in these situations? Did you notice how it always abruptly stopped, and always at the same point? I guess maybe I thought it would come. I guess maybe I thought I was just a late bloomer and I’d “get it” eventually.

Well kids, I’m 26. If I haven’t gotten it by now, chances are I never will. I always thought my friend was just fucking with me when he’d say that so-and-so actress was so hot and he’d “bang her without hesitation” if given the opportunity. I thought he was just going along with cultural and “male” expectations when he’d comment on some woman’s “super hot rack”. I couldn’t relate at all when friends would complain that their girlfriends weren’t in the mood, or didn’t want to do things x, y and z. Surely she was willing to hold hands, wouldn’t that be enough? It would’ve been enough for me. I thought my other friend was just busting my chops when I expressed my lack of “boob interest” and she responded that I’d “call [her] after touching boob for the first time to say how awesome it was.” I felt so hurt by that response. But no. They were all being dead serious, completely genuine, and talking about things in a way that most people would find serious and genuine as well. I don’t. I know that now. Those sentiments are foreign to me.

I’m Scott. Friends call me Scooter. I’m 26. I like Subarus, building power generating systems, traveling to isolated local areas just because they’re there, and I’m asexual.