When I first identified as asexual, I struggled with lots of different things. Suddenly I was looking critically at my feelings without the social contexts in which I’d viewed them in the past. Deep down, it was like a sudden ‘snap’. I knew this was me, but at the surface, there was so much turbulence. One of the things that’s helped to calm some of that turbulence is thinking about how I experience asexuality, rather than asking if I experience asexuality. This was a very useful and helpful shift in my thinking perspective, so I wanted to share it (and specifically my personal experiences and thoughts) so that others might be able to shift their thinking as well.
You can read all the definitions about this stuff (as I did) until the cows come home. You can read other people’s experiences (as I did) until there’s peace on earth. After all that though, you’ll still be left wondering, “am I understanding that definition right?” or, “my experience only matches up to this person’s experience about 86%. Is that enough?” This is all thinking in the mode of do I experience it, rather than how I experience it.
Admittedly, if you’re starting from square zero, you’re going to have to do some of that do mode thinking. By all means, read definitions, read articles, read first-hand experiences, talk to people on forums, etc. That should get you facing in the right direction to figure yourself out. It honestly took me a while to find that one thing that caused my ‘snap’. If you’re curious, it was this (of all things). I don’t know what it will be for you. It might be the first thing, or the hundredth thing. Once I had my ‘snap’ moment, more and more things started to make sense and I started understanding other articles and definitions more clearly.
Even though I had hit that deep down ‘snap’ moment, I still felt unconvinced. Maybe this is just my personality, but I felt like I needed more. This was a HUGE shift in my life. Questioning my sexuality? That wasn’t something I did. I never even thought about it. I never felt like a sexual person (#youmightbeasexualif #oblivious). I guess I wanted to be absolutely sure (pro tip: you can never be absolutely sure about shit like this).
That whole endeavor was a losing proposition. Now, I think about how I experience asexuality. That’s much easier. I experience it every day, all the time, because it’s me. What does it mean?
- For me, it means I don’t feel things in a sexual context. I can objectively recognize them (yup, that girl is what people consider hot, those breasts appear well proportioned, etc), but I don’t feel those things. Feeling here is not arousal, though it could be. I suspect you’d know it if you felt it. Gut instinct perhaps?
- I don’t form (or attempt to form in my case) relationships based on sexual factors. Feeling that someone is “hot” isn’t something that happens for me, so it’s not part of the factors involved in forming that relationship. If I had to place the tag of “sexual attraction” on something it would be this. Feeling in that sexual context about someone and being attracted to them on that basis. Things that are important to me? She looks cute. To me this means “different” (hard to describe). I’ve noticed that anything different will do. Odd hair color, more androgynous. Lots of things like that. Outside of looks, there’s just a hand-wavy kind of mental “connection” where we’re on the same page. This is harder to judge, and I’ve misjudged it horribly in the past.
- As I’ve said many times, as far as the physical act of sex is concerned, I’m curious about it. There are certainly big chunks that are just totally off the table for me, but I’m still curious about the major things. I’d definitely balk at a relationship with another asexual if sex wasn’t going to be involved at all, because I feel like this curiosity has to be satiated. That said, if she were willing to satisfy that curiosity (perhaps on both our parts?), that would probably be approaching my ideal relationship 🙂
- When I was younger, I experienced a number of “punctuated equilibrium” moments where I suddenly became aware of things friends and other people my age were doing that was just so far beyond my experience at that time, I didn’t know what to do with it. I felt pretty horrible about it. Surprisingly, even to this day I still experience those “punctuated equilibrium” moments from time to time.
- “Normal”, “straight” porn does jack shit for me. For the longest time, I saw other asexual people saying things like this, and I didn’t get it. Then I realized that I’d always completely avoided that kind of porn. I don’t even remember the last time I saw it. It’s definitely the bulk of the porn out there though, and apparently what most straight people are going for.
- Kind of a funny one, but I’ve never understood the problem with women going topless. I just don’t get boobs. I’ve never touched a boob, and I don’t really care if I never do. They’re utilitarian, a persistent example of sexual dimorphism, and honestly, they look annoying. I’m glad I don’t have boobs. Apparently, lots of straight guys (and gay women) really dig ’em.
- In college, whenever I saw some girls out sunbathing in the courtyard or on the green, my first thought wasn’t “omg, they are so hot”, my thought was more like, “man, I wish I had the confidence to lie out in the sun like that, it looks comfortable.”
- I have “weird” things that make me interested in people. As I said before, I do have a type of “cute” that can do it for me, but there are other things that would just make a person seem awesome to me (especially from a relationship perspective). One of these things was if I ever saw a young woman driving a Porsche 944. I don’t know what it is, but I see a lot of those around, but it’s always some guy driving them. Why not some young woman? I would so want to meet her and chat! I told my friend about this and she scoffed saying it was “too specific” and had no bearing on a relationship anyway. Well, for me it does, and it would rank far higher than “nice boobs” or a “hot body”.
This isn’t meant to be a list for you to relate to and say, “oh I get all of that, maybe I’m asexual”. I mean if that does happen for you, cool, but if not, it doesn’t really mean anything. These are simply descriptions of how I personally experience asexuality. They’re probably pretty unique and specific (just like my experience of life). My hope is that by making this list, maybe you will start to think about the “how I experience” rather than the “do I experience”. Hopefully, that will allow you to build a better understanding of yourself, and what being asexual (or not) means to you!