Insecure Moments in the Life of an Asexual
I don’t speak for all asexuals, especially when it comes to a blog post like this one. As much as I have found pride in my asexual identity and even solidified that pride with an ace cupcake tattooed on my right hand, sometimes I find myself swept back into this dark pit of guilt about why I can’t be like everyone else.
About a week ago, my husband, Joe, and I were enjoying an old episode of the HBO show, Real Sex. Being asexual by no means indicates that I am not a supporter of open exploration of sexuality or diverse sexual lifestyles. About halfway through the episode, Joe asked me to pause it.
“I want to know your reaction to watching something like this,” he inquired.
The question seemed innocent to me. I shared that my reaction is one of interest in the ways that the people on the program were exploring their sexuality, as well as my own happiness for them.
In the program, the people participated in a kind of sex workshop in which they learned to become comfortable being naked in front of people of the same sex or gender presentation and then would graduate to allowing other people to pleasure them. Joe remarked that a program like that interested him because as an allosexual person, he is interested in enhancing partnered sex.
While the conversation began innocently, it changed with that remark. Suddenly, my heart grew tight, and there was something lurking deep inside my chest that felt the need to jump out and protect me. However, it wasn’t defensiveness.
I proceeded to tell Joe that there was no way that I would ever participate in a workshop focused on partnered sex. Joe continued to repeat his first question about my reaction to the program in which I continued to give him the same answer. Yet, my response just wasn’t sinking into his ears.
I then remembered that on the show, when the people first arrived at the workshop, the guide informed them that there was a good chance that they would have sex before the end. Combining that statement with the exercise in which participants had to allow three attendees to pleasure them triggered an idea. If Joe were to participate in this kind of workshop, he would engage in sexual acts with others. Is that what he wants?
With that realization, the feeling tightening in my chest made itself known to me. It was shame.
Internally, I started questioning myself.
Why don’t I like sex with other people?
Why can’t I just do it and pretend like I enjoy it?
Joe wants to have sex with other people, and I probably deserve it.
At the same time, another part of me berated myself for even having these feelings. My eyes glanced at the purple and black ace cupcake on my right hand. I got the tattoo in May 2021, purposely placed on my right hand because my right hand can touch my heart. It was a symbol of pride, and when I closed my hand to make a fist, it became a symbol of strength. However, in that moment, I stared at it with shame.
What’s worse is that I thought I was beyond these feelings. While Joe and I have had challenges navigating our different sexualities, I never felt shame. Where does this shame come from?
Our society bombards us with sexual imagery. Sex is in songs, movies, and even commercials selling large hamburgers. Sex isn’t everything; nevertheless, with these images permeating my environment, sometimes sex feels like everything. Listening to Joe talk, I struggled to ascertain sex’s level of importance to him, questioning if I am able to meet those needs. Underneath that shame lurks the fear that I will lose Joe because of this difference.
Joe insisted that his comments were not aimed to induce shame or indicate that he would end the relationship. He concluded that his real curiosity concerned wanting to know why I do not feel sexual attraction; however, he realized that there is no way to answer this question. Asking why I don’t feel sexual attraction is the same as asking an allosexual why he/she/they feels sexual attraction. It just is.
I think Joe gets caught up sometimes in feeling like if there is a reason, then it can change. He can do something to morph me into an allosexual. Consequently, I don’t feel accepted, which results in shame that is really disguising the fear of losing him.
When people have an identity that others may reject, some people, like me, may internalize that rejection, questioning if there is something wrong with them. While I convey a strong sense of confidence, I am not immune to these insecure feelings. Sometimes it seems like life would be easier if I were an allosexual, but would it be?
As I stare at the ace cupcake on my hand, I try to recall the strengths that my asexuality provides me. I am a very romantic person. I may not daydream about sexual encounters, but instead, I daydream about long, intimate conversations and all the things that I can do to show my love, such as planning all our adventurous cuisines, our marathon racing schedules, and those special, sentimental Christmas gifts that truly disclose my deeper internal feelings for Joe. While I may not fantasize about Joe sexually, I spend moments savoring the way he cared for me during my surgeries, the way he massages my foot when my tendon is aching, and the way he stares at me with an awe that I’ve never seen in anyone else’s eyes.
I share this humbling experience with you to hopefully help people understand one manifestation of asexuality. Again, I can’t speak for all asexuals; however, perhaps either another asexual person or someone in a relationship with an asexual can relate to these conflicts. I feel that it is imperative to show compassion to both asexuals and allosexuals who love each other and are working hard to navigate this issue in their relationships. I don’t consider my marriage in jeopardy; nevertheless, I experience moments of self-doubt. It’s important to share these moments, as well as moments of triumph. Thanks for reading.