Friday, July 20, 2012

Having Sexual Friends

Though I've used this term in the past to refer to a specific type of relationship, I am thinking now of what it is like to have sexual and/or romantic friends.
It's a pretty common statistic that 1% of the population is Asexual.  While that does end up being a lot of people, the majority of people I will interact with in my life will be sexual, and it is likely that they will also be romantic.

These may not be the best friends to have for me.
I am Asexual and Aromantic.
I have thought about this for a while, and I believe that while it truly depends on the individual person, the likelihood of someone being an intimate friend of mine is significantly diminished if they are sexual and/or romantic (especially both).

I need to be able to have conversations with people that deal with things other than sexual relationships, sex, gossip about relationships, gossip about sex, etc.  A separate issue is that I often do not know how to engage others- I tend to ask about relationships and/or sex, because it's something others usually respond well to, or it's all I have in my memory-bank of previous conversation history with said person- I simply don't know what interests them other than other people + sex/romance.

I like being able to be around someone and not have to constantly analyze the situation and my actions, to make sure I'm not accidentally displaying anything that could be taken as sexual or romantic interest in my behavior.  This is because, to many, friendship, politeness, or closeness of some sort is interpreted as romantic and/or sexual interest.
I like being able to spend time with people whose company I enjoy and not worrying about whether or not they have feelings for me, or want to sleep with me.

A lot of the time, becoming friends with someone who is sexual and romantic, I feel like I am constantly lying.  While friendly behavior and/or treating someone else kindly because you are a kind person should not be considered a giant waving flag of consent/ sexual/romantic interest/advances, my behavior is often misunderstood as thus.

As a precaution, I started telling people when they first meet me that I can be a wonderful friend, but that they should never date me.   This initially scared people off of the love-boat, so to speak, but it wasn't completely effective- many thought I was merely playing hard-to-get or that I was some sort of kind but heartless, loveless monster.  In one case, someone who I may have had a wtfromantic relationship with considered me completely unavailable.

Throughout life, I have tended to make friends with intellectual interests or pursuits, categorizing myself as a bibliophile and nerd, and I have made a lot of friends that fit somewhere underneath the LGBT+/Queer umbrella-- usually, these people understand that, regardless of sexual or romantic inclination, others aren't automatically going to like them or want to date them.

I haven't sworn off becoming friends with others who are not queer or creative or intellectual- but it's becoming increasingly clear that I don't have lasting, close friendships with them.  I simply cannot handle being around someone whose values I just don't relate to enough to care about.  If someone focuses on romantic/sexual relationships and is constantly talking about them and working towards them, there's just not much there to engage me.  When I get along very well with the individual person, our contact is usually sparse- while they are imbetween relationships, or on the rare occasions they are comfortable tearing themselves away from their significant other.

I am capable of spending time with couples, but I usually hate it.  Most couples disgust me.  Not because of anything in their relationship, but because of the dynamic they have concerning others while in that relationship.  If  I cannot enjoy my time with people because they are simply horrible to be around while near each other because they ignore everything else around them...well...I probably won't desire to be around them more than once.  If you can treat others the way you normally treat them (alone/one on one) while around your significant other/partner/whatever, that's fine.  And romantic affection around others is fine, to a degree.  The main problem I have with couples is that they tend to act exclusively and treat others like shit simply because they are reveling in their own filth/lovemaking. Maybe it's just the peers I've encountered in most recent years, but perhaps not.  

For the particular friendships/relationships I want, I usually have the best luck with people whose lives aren't dictated or strongly influenced by romantic or sexual pursuits.

I also hate the feeling of being deserted because of a romantic or sexual relationship or opportunity.  I've done something like that to someone in the past and it is one of my greatest regrets.  I also consider it one of the worst things I have ever done, especially because it went against my nature.  I suppose that particular time of life was an opportunity to solidify my preexisting feelings and beliefs and to learn not to do something like that again.
I personally cannot handle being treated lightly.  If I value someone very closely and I feel those feelings are reciprocated, I rely on the friendship for my emotional and psychological needs.  Those are the people I feel have my back, and I theirs.  They are the people I am closest to and who I trust most.  And if one of those people were to suddenly devalue me (or treat me so that I felt devalued), the hurt associated with that is much greater than it would be for someone I was not as close to.

If I am becoming close to someone and beginning to let myself care a lot for someone and they begin to show signs that they are romantic and sexual to the point of letting that destroy or greatly interfere with their existing friendships, I retreat.  I hate it, but I know I don't want to stick around in a relationship in which I feel neglected or unimportant.  Simple as that.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Frequently Blurted Statements

"You can't be Asexual, you're too sexual."

Talking about sex, having sex, enjoying sex, and possessing an urge to have sex are totally different things.  And if you do not have sexual attraction, you are Asexual.  That is the base definition.  It's pretty simple, however, it seems difficult for many to grasp.

"That's so sad!"

There's nothing sad about it.  It's simply a difference.  Really, this attitude is ableist(/sexist?).  If I had been born blind, I would not consider it sad, because I would know nothing else.  I might, however, find it disheartening if the people around me treated me as if I were broken or faulty. If I was born with sight and then lost my vision, I might consider it sad, but I wouldn't try to wallow in my own piteous filth.  It'd be a loss to me because of my perspective, but it wouldn't be the end of the world.  
So, if I was born Asexual, or came to realize I was, or felt most comfortable identifying as such, and I do not feel as though I am missing anything, why should others tell me I am? I am not upset by my sexuality in the least.  
What I do get upset about is people trying to pity me for something that isn't sad at all and trying to 'fix' me when there's nothing wrong. 

"So you never like anyone?"

I like people.  I experience many types of attraction, just not sexual attraction.  I am fully capable of love and affection.  Some Asexuals do not want to have sex at all, since they have no initial desire for it, and some are repulsed by the idea of intercourse.  Some Asexuals masturbate, some have sex, and some enjoy sex.  This is true of people who aren't Asexuals-- so it shouldn't be that hard to imagine.  Those who are celibate choose not to have sex.  The difference between celibacy and Asexuality is that Asexuality is not having sexual attraction, while celibacy is the choice to abstain from sex regardless of sexual attraction.  An Asexual may choose to be celibate.  Get it?  
Now, when you are not interested in romantic relationships whatsoever, you are Aromantic.  But that requires a post of its own.

"Oh, it'll be all right, you'll meet someone."

While well-intended, this is one the most underhanded and disgusting forms of invalidation out there.  I understand that the speaker is merely expressing a wish that I find happiness, and expressing it in a way that they can relate to.  But in doing so, they assume that I do not want to be Asexual.  And they assume also that sexuality is a choice or a temporary state of being.  I think that sexuality is fluid and can change as you change, and that there are always exceptions to the rule, so to speak.  But my being Asexual has nothing to do with the person I am or am not currently dating.  There isn't a cure-all romantic partner or sex position that can 'save me' from the imaginary depths of Asexual despair.  
I like being Asexual.  And if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be able to change it.  I would have to learn to like what I could of it and appreciate it for what it was. 
Also, what are people trying to say exactly here?  It always astounded me.  Do they mean that in the relationships they are in (or, even, all the relationships they have ever had), they are with their soul-mate?  Because that's what many make it sound like.  Like I just haven't met my soul-mate.  And when I do, everything will change and I'll have sexual attraction all of a sudden.  Like 'that person' is out there.  Which would also have to mean that most people in romantic relationships had met their soul mate. Or something.  Anyway, the statement doesn't make logical sense.
It'd be nice to meet someone I liked.  That's always nice.  But I'm still not going to be sexually attracted to them because I just don't do that.  

"How do you know you're Asexual if you've never had sex?"

While some "how do you know if you've never tried it?" scenarios work (I'm thinking of trying new foods), it isn't a blanket statement that always applies.  First of all, Asexuals can and do have sex when they want to.  There are some things that people simply don't want to try.  And that is fine.  If someone hates the idea of dessert and doesn't want to have any, well, hell, more for me.  And I understand wanting to share something you enjoy with others, so that they may also derive pleasure from it.  But if the person just doesn't want to do it, they don't have to.  
And it isn't the job of the rest of the world to tell Asexuals they must have sex to know if they like it or not.  Asexuality defines sexuality- a lack of sexual attraction, not whether or not you find pleasure in having sex.  To say you can't know your sexuality unless you've had intercourse would be the same as saying no one who is a virgin can know who they are attracted to until they've had sex to figure that out.  
You can know something or know about something without directly experiencing it.  

"I thought only plants were Asexual.  Do you asexually reproduce or something?"

I am not aware of plants having a sexuality.  The human body, while containing all the ingredients necessary, is not capable of asexual reproduction.  
Asexual means without sexual attraction, as Heterosexual means sexual attraction to the opposite sex, Homosexual means sexual attraction to the same sex, and Pansexual means sexual attraction to any/all genders.  Asexual reproduction is a phrase that means able to reproduce without fertilization. 

"So you never want to have sex."

I'm not opposed to the idea, just more or less completely disinterested in it.  If I cared for someone and they were interested in sex, I would consider it and evaluate my feelings on the subject.  If I was comfortable with having sex, found the idea agreeable, and desired it in some way, I'd have sex.  
If I did not want to I would not.

"You just haven't had good sex."

I imagine this statement is meant to imply that I have not yet experienced the wondrous throngs of a really good orgasm and that once I do I will no longer be Asexual.  Well, I have.  And I am.  So, no, sexual pleasure has nothing to do with sexuality.  
On a related note, Asexuality has begun to be studied, and Asexuals have the same biological responses to sexual stimuli as those of other sexualities.  So nothing's biologically different with someone who is Asexual.   

"I'm tired of relationships!  I'm just going to be Asexual!"

Sorry, that's not what the word means.  
Asexuality:sexual attraction::Aromantic:romantic interest
Sexual attraction=/=sex
Seuxal attraction=/=romantic interest
Either you are Asexual or you aren't.  It isn't some sort of we're-not-letting-you-in-our-club thing, that's simply not the word to describe what you are trying to say.  And when you say things like that, you perpetuate the idea that sexuality is a phase and a choice of convenience.  So don't do that.  Those are bad things.  
I don't know of a word that would describe the idea of "I want to take a break from relationships for a while." 
"I'm going to take a break from sex for a while" would be abstinent or celibate.
But there isn't a "I'm going to take a break from sexuality for a while" option of any sort.  

"So what do you call yourself?  Straight?  Queer?  Asexual?"

To each their own.  Some people take queer to mean any sort of sexuality deviating from the perpetuated idea of the norm, in which case, it would apply here.  An Asexual person attracted to the same sex might call themselves gay or queer.  An Asexual person attracted to the opposite sex might call themselves straight or queer.  An Asexual person attracted to any gender, all genders, or people rather than gender may call themselves queer, or pansromantic.  The words change specifically to the person-- whatever they feel best describes their sexual identity.  Asexuals are sometimes called Aces or A, and one may call themselves an Ace, or Asexy.  
There's also Grey-A and Demisexuals, but I won't get into that now.  
I will occasionally have intense bouts of Asexy-awareness-mode where I talk about it a lot and explain it to people.  Usually, though, I don't mention it unless it comes up in conversation or someone asks me, and then I say "I'm Asexual-- (that) I don't experience primary sexual attraction.  I still like people sometimes, I'm just not sexually interested in them."