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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.