Asexuals (Ace) Aromantics (Aro) Aroaces And Allosexuals
Asexuals (Ace), Aromantics (Aro), Aroaces and Allosexuals
It began as a continuing education event and turned into a personal revelation. I attended a short workshop on asexuality which perked my interest enough to read two books on the subject; The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker and Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen.
Becoming An Asexual
After an adolescence of boy craziness and romantic whimsy, I was sexually active from the age of 20 until the age of 49 when I left my last relationship. It has now been 10 years and in that time, I have not taken a second look at anyone, flirted, or even wondered what it would be like to hit the rack with someone. In a way, it is liberating to be free of the compulsive sexuality, a term from Chen’s book meaning that our society expects everyone to be motivated by sexual opportunity and vilifies people that are not. My time is my own; I am busy with work, friends, and fun. I really don’t miss having a partner. I do masturbate infrequently but with a focus on the sensation rather than running fantasies of other people through my mind. I appreciate the aesthetics of someone’s appearance, but I do not feel the need to get their attention. I have had a significant amount of trauma, most of it sexual that has been addressed in therapy. Asexuality is not a result of trauma. Instead, it is a sexual orientation just like being gay, straight, bi- or pansexual.
When I left my last relationship, it felt like a huge overhead garage door slamming shut. I distinctly remember hearing a wise voice in my head saying, “You’re done.” And I was relieved. It was like that voice gave me permission to live my life rather than trying to fit into someone else’s.
Sex Favorable Asexuals
An asexual (ace) is someone who does not experience sexual attraction to others. Asexuals may or may not have sex with themselves or with a partner. Some asexuals are married. Some asexuals are averse to sex but want romance. Asexuality is not low libido. Asexuality is not an issue that requires therapy. Asexuality is not a place to hide for those who are shy or intimidated by dating. Asexuals form intimate bonds in creative ways outside of physical sex. Even within the ace spectrum, there are a variety of descriptors like gray sexual and aromantic. Check out the glossary of terms on the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) at asexuality.org
Decker’s book dispels the myths about asexuality, most of which are informed by compulsive sexuality. Incredulous phrases like, “How can you not want to have sex?!” are commonly heard when asexuals reveal their identity. The last time I mentioned my disinterest in another relationship, I heard the same banal platitudes, “Give it time. You just haven’t met the right person.” The “right” person, whatever that means, is not going to change my disinterest in sex! I left that exchange not feeling seen or heard.
Chen’s book is a fascinating exploration of how our society thinks about sex and the pressures placed on individuals who are not interested in the sexual game of dating and hooking up. The book challenges the idea of compulsory sexuality and introduces the concept that the broad spectrum of sexual orientation extends into the lack of interest in sex. In the gap between compulsory sexuality and asexuality, communication around consent becomes essential.
I had the opportunity to work with a young couple who had just married; one partner was asexual, the other allosexual (a term used in the asexual community for those who experience sexual attraction). It may surprise you that the reason they came to therapy was not that one person wanted to have sex and the other did not. The problem was actually communication. The asexual partner said that they were willing to have infrequent sex but the allosexual partner would need to initiate the process and communicate what they wanted. The allosexual partner felt that they did not have the right to ask for something the asexual partner did not inherently want. Once they developed transparency and clear communication skills, their sexual differences were no longer an issue.
So, open your mind and educate yourself because you just might meet and/or date someone who identifies as asexual. Ask them what that means to them. Who knows? You might just learn something.
Leave a comment