My sexuality has confused me for a great deal of my life. I felt interested in sex prior to experiencing it because it seemed like such a big deal in people’s lives. I grew up watching movies and T.V. shows filled with sexual scenes or sex talk. Thus, when I began high school, I wanted to experience sex; however, I was motivated by curiosity rather than sexually desiring other people.
I enjoyed my sexual experimentation. I kissed many guys and a few girls, and I stayed enticed with the novelty of these experiences, especially when things progressed to more intimate touching and caressing. Nonetheless, I just wasn’t responding to it the way that I expected. When guys fondled my breasts (I presented as a woman at that time) or caressed my genitalia, I felt excitement for the romantic attention, but I didn’t feel much sexual arousal. If anything, I felt like an object that was allowing itself to be used to get the romantic relationships that I desired. Consequently, I think many of my partners could tell that I wasn’t reciprocating interest.
My solution during my teenage years and partly into my early 20s was to fake it. I watched enough television to see how people were supposed to respond to sex, so I decided to emulate it. I moaned during intercourse, even though intercourse has never successfully given me an orgasm. I acted enthusiastic and pretended like I wanted to experiment and be this super sexy, wild person in the bedroom. I assumed the guise of a person who was highly confident with sex because I thought that is what people wanted me to be. After all, it’s hard to admit to others that one just doesn’t find sex with others appealing.
When I met my first husband, I grew tired of the façade and stopped faking arousal, excitement, and orgasms. I figured that if we were to spend our lives together, then I preferred to release myself from this charade. His response wasn’t helpful. He complained about my lack of passion but also didn’t want me to be too risqué in bed since I was his wife (I was presenting as a woman at that time), and he also wanted me to be innocent in sex. I received a great deal of mixed messages from him during this time, but his criticisms for my lack of sexual responsivity significantly contributed to my sexual insecurities. Nevertheless, I didn’t return to my façade.
Sex with other people has always been easier for me in the beginning of relationships. I am a highly romantic person. I have always wanted that one person in my life to build a strong, intimate connection with that differs from a friendship; sex has typically been a way that our society differentiates between friendships and romantic love. Therefore, I felt that by engaging in sex, the romantic bond would grow. For the record, I am not saying that people must engage in sex to have romantic relationships; however, at this time in my life, I felt pressured to have sex to solidify my romantic bonds. I have only dated allosexuals/sexual people; thus, I was willing to engage in sex to bring them happiness and perhaps strengthen their romantic feelings for me. I want to emphasize again that sex is NOT needed for a romantic bond; however, this was my motive for this behavior because I feared rejection if I refused sex.
The pattern always returns, though. A year or so passes into a relationship, and I agree to sex less. I guess I feel that the romantic bond is there, so I do not need to engage in sex as regularly to maintain it, or more importantly, I feel that sex is not needed to maintain it. This stage has historically caused me a great deal of guilt and insecurity. I start wishing that I could want sex the way my partner wants it or that my partner will feel rejected if we don’t have sex. Then it becomes a situation where I feel pressured to have sex and thus, make myself do it and then see how much more time can pass before I need to do it again. This stage has never been a good place to be for me.
In 2020, I watched the documentary, (A)sexual. As I watched the film, I realized that there were other people experiencing the same feelings as myself. There were other people who didn’t feel compelled to have sex with others or who desired romantic relationships without sex. I didn’t adopt the asexual identity right there, but it was the first time that I realized that there isn’t anything wrong with me.
I proceeded to the read the book, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker. This book really opened my eyes to my sexual identity and again, emphasized that there is nothing wrong with me! I am merely a person with a different sexual orientation. Consequently, I started discussing these feelings with my current husband, Joe.
Joe, who has stayed with me through my gender transition (AFAB), struggled with the asexual concept. Like many allosexuals, he worried that he wasn’t good enough as a sexual partner and that if he improved his skills, then perhaps I would share his feelings about sex. He struggled to accept that I do not feel the sexual attraction towards him as he feels towards me; however, I explained that I still find him to be an attractive person, and I still enjoy feelings of closeness with him. Consequently, Joe then proceeded to refrain from asking for sex for long periods because he assumed that any sex may traumatize me. We both developed insecurities.
For my personal asexuality, I would call myself a mixture of sex indifferent and occasionally sex repulsed. The repulsion is usually a result from certain sexual activities that I do not want to do versus sex itself. There are some activities that repulse me. For the most part, I am sex indifferent. I do not mind having sex even though I would likely choose a different activity that is more enjoyable to me. However, I am married to a wonderful person who really loves me and who happens to be an allosexual person. Hence, I experience joy from seeing him happy after sex.
So how do we work it out? Foremost, we both had to accept that I am not going to feel the same way about sex as my husband; however, I can derive other forms of pleasure from it, such as seeing him experience joy and feeling close to him when I see him happy. Joe can accept that there are sexual activities that I will not do and that I am more comfortable engaging in sex within certain parameters. We make it an ongoing discussion, and we make sure to talk to each other if one of us is feeling any insecurities from it.
Ironically, I would say that we have sex more regularly now than we did previously because I no longer feel pressured. When I engage in sex, it feels more like a choice now. I can always refuse sex if I want. Joe is pretty understanding if I do not feel like sex, but I feel insecure sometimes because I worry that he may blame every time I do not feel like sex on my asexuality. There can be many reasons that I may not feel like sex, and they don’t always involve my asexuality. Sometimes I am just tired or not in a good mood just like everyone else. This is another insecurity that I discuss with Joe.
Lastly, asexuality concerns a lack of sexual attraction to others. It is not equivalent to libido. I experience sexual desire and have a healthy libido. I also enjoy a strong, relaxing orgasm. For me, I prefer masturbation over sex with other people to fulfill these needs. Likewise, I have had what I consider good sex with people in which I felt a strong romantic bond; therefore, sex can be enjoyable sometimes. Thus, I am not a non-sexual person. I merely experience sexuality differently.
I am happy to post this blog about my asexuality for Asexual Awareness Week, October 24-30. While I cannot speak for all asexuals, I hope my story can help people understand asexuality more and bring more awareness for others who may be experiencing asexuality but do not know it. I am also happy to announce that I am already drafting a novel centered around an asexual character and the complexities of being an asexual person married to an allosexual. Writing this novel has helped my husband and I process both of our experiences through these characters, and I hope to bring more asexual themed novels to the literary market. Thanks for reading!