Am I Asexual?

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 09:37
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I'm 18.5 years old and I've never fallen in love. Moreover, I have never met a person who turned me on.

I have a boyfriend at the moment; he's one year older than me. I'm his first girlfriend and the first girl he's ever kissed, and he's my first experience of a romantic relationship as well. He's very sweet and kind to me, and he doesn't push me to do things I don't want to do. He's not bad looking either.

But despite all the above, I'm not sexually attracted to him. I don't enjoy our kisses because I'm repelled by the saliva, and try to avoid these as much as I can.

I think my behaviour is abnormal, and I even suspect asexuality is my case, but I do get turned on when I hear people talk about sex. I get aroused when sex is described, when I read about it for example. I've never watched porn because genitals put me off as well. In conclusion, I find sex appealing as long as it's not visual. And I understand this is odd; the phrase 'a picture is worth 1000 words' explains why well.

I don't know what to do. I know that most people would say that I should break up with him, but I don't think that I'll find anyone else who'll attract me sexually if he really doesn't (because he's very handsome, and has a great personality too). I do want to have sexual experiences, and I believe it's a very important part of an adult's life. I can't help but feel that if I give up on having romantic relationships, I'll be missing one of the greatest pleasures.

Dear N,

You are not what is termed "asexual" but you are non-sexual. Our interest in sex begins in childhood when we have an urge to touch our genitals. If a small child is punished or harshly admonished, it leaves a serious imprint that may not even be recognized by the individual. If you wish to grow in the direction of becoming sexual, you must start with yourself. That means practicing genital self touching to discover sexual arousal and orgasm. If this prospect seems utterly impossible or repugnant, then living a life of celibacy is a valid choice. Buddhist and Catholic nuns forgo all sexual urges in their religious practices. I suggest you think about what you want and then talk to your boyfriend about all of this. He has a right to know if you plan on overcoming any of your sexual inhibitions before he spends anymore time with you. Depending upon your decision, if you decide to move toward developing a sexlife, all the information you need in on D&R.

Your English is excellent. What part of the world are you from? I'd like to know what you decide so get back to me later on.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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It's also entirely possible

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 22:41
SaraHIA (not verified)

It's also entirely possible that her boyfriend can't kiss, is non or asexual himself, or is even gay and in denial.  Agree that early experiences have probably colored her approach to arousal.  However, just because a handsome person's kisses,especially what sounds like wet, drooling kisses (not a turnon for me either) don't do it for her doesn't mean anything is wrong with her.  I've been on the receiving end of some drooling, passionless kisses myself, and they were a total turnoff.  I used to think it was my problem, but the only problem was staying with the guy.

I don't know what non-sexual

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 13:43
Elin A (not verified)

I don't know what non-sexual means, but it seems to me this person has plenty of sexual feelings. Not falling in love and not feeling attraction towards people doesn't have to come from harsh punishments after touching your genitals - it can just as well be a result of other emotional trauma. And you can feel like this even if you masturbate and orgasm. However, if she doesn't, she needs to start doing that.
To feel attraction and desire towards people makes you vunerable and if you have really low self-esteem and/or are unstable, we can shut that part of ourselves down. Especially if there are some kind of violence or abandonment issues going on. The answer is to work on your issues, yourself and take time. Also, feeling grossed out by genitals is not uncommon in our sex-negative culture. It's when you become comfortable with your own skin that desire flow and you may start seeing them as natural or even beautiful.
She does need to drop the boyfriend, because she's cheating him by not being sexually attracted or in love with him and it's not ok to do that to someone. She doesn't need to worry about never finding someone to be attracted to, becuase it has to do with her personal development and not about her partner being devastatingly handsome or not. Real attraction has very little to do with appearance.
So, as far as I hear, this may very well be a normal young person who is not yet ready to be in an intimate or romantic relationship yet. But I would recommend therapy to look into the baggage she's carrying.

Non-sexual or non-connected to one's sexuality?

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 16:24

It seems to me that being 'non-sexual' means being disconnected somehow from our sexuality. Sexuality is a very strong and natural drive. To have great difficulty engaging with it is unusual and may very well have to do with early experiences. D&R has endless resources for re-connecting.

Dr Betty, I know what you're saying about those who make sincere religious choices to abstain from sex, but many Catholic nuns only forgo or ignore their sexual urges in theory. If you ever make the acquaintance of a former nun, she may have some eye-opening stories to share about life in a convent. Nuns have most definitely been known to engage in masturbation and lesbian sex, for example, which I'm sure will come as no surprise to you. They'll feel terrible about it if they're good, self-punishing Catholics and they'll fear going to Hell, but they may still enjoy themselves once in a while even so. Good for them, too. I"m always cheered up by stories of former nuns who have escaped lifelong imprisonment in the Catholic Church's woman-hating doctrines.

SaraHIA, you suggest that this young woman's boyfriend might be 'gay and in denial'. Wouldn't it be equally possible that she is 'lesbian and in denial'? I don't personally believe either scenario. But for some reason in these cases, the partner said to be in potential denial about their queerness is almost universally the man rather than the woman. Why is this?

Thank you Patrick for your sound thinking.

Betty Dodson's picture
Thu, 06/14/2012 - 16:33

I always appreciate your level headed comments. I actually believe both women and men have the potential for same sex experiences. And if people could be more honest about their sexlives, we have all sucked a pussy or a cock or had it done to us. If not actually, then at least in our fantasy lives. It's far more socially acceptable for a woman to like another woman enough to enjoy some form of sex with her. It's even encouraged with men's desire for a threeway, two women and him. However if a man wants to share a handjob or some hot oral sex with another man, he is often condemned and loses him masculine image. He is now seen as "queer" or a "sissy" or less "manly" in the eyes of other men. Many women (if they can be honest) will tell you they enjoy bi-sexual men because they are nearly always better at sex. We also love to have gay men friends as we have so much more in common.

Patrick, I have to say I

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 16:34
Elin A (not verified)

Patrick,

I have to say I disagree when you say "Sexuality is a very strong and natural drive. To have great difficulty engaging with it is unusual and may very well have to do with early experiences."

Where do you get the idea that this is unusual? There's lots of people who are disconnected from desire, or that do have it and do masturbate and orgasm, but find it too intimidating to be with another person (wether they're conscious of that fear or not). There can be an abundance of reasons and it may have nothing to do with sex. I bet it's much more common than one would think. Sex is strong, but the need to protect oneself can be stronger, whether the threat is real or not.

Thank you Patrick for your sound thinking.

Betty Dodson's picture
Thu, 06/14/2012 - 16:35

I always appreciate your level headed comments. I actually believe both women and men have the potential for same sex experiences. And if people could be more honest about their sexlives, we have all sucked a pussy or a cock or had it done to us. If not actually, then at least in our fantasy lives. It's far more socially acceptable for a woman to like another woman enough to enjoy some form of sex with her. It's even encouraged with men's desire for a threeway, two women and him. However if a man wants to share a handjob or some hot oral sex with another man, he is often condemned and loses some of his masculine image. He is now seen as "queer" or a "sissy" or less "manly" in the eyes of other men. Many women (if they can be honest) will tell you they enjoy bi-sexual men because they are nearly always better at sex. We also love to have gay men friends as we have so much more in common with them.

Same-sex potential

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 17:18

Dr Betty, I agree with you about both sexes having this potential. And it's true about the double standard that allows women to have same-sex experiences with essentially no stigma, yet disparages men for the same behavior. One of the few cases where women in our society have the advantage of more freedom than men!

I've noticed a few signs that the stigma for men is lessening, at least among younger, basically straight men who were raised with a greater acceptance of gayness and may have gay or bi friends. College women pretty often seem to get together for sex without anyone's doubting their femininity or labeling them 'dykes'. I've now heard of this happening with basically straight college-age guys as well. They haven't lost their interest in women---they're just not as afraid as we used to be of the side of themselves that might be curious about same-sex experiences. Why should it only be women who feel free to have fun with one another?

Elin, I don't disagree with you

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 22:30

Elin

Well, the sex drive is one of the strongest inclinations there is. I think that's non-controversial. It's certainly true that many things, such as fear, can interfere with it, but the human race would have become extinct long since if most people were unable to come to some sort of terms with the sexual impulse. That's why I would say that it's relatively unusual to be completely unarousable or unable to bond erotically with another person. But you're certainly right that it happens. In my own case, the Catholic Church threatened me with torture in Hell when I was quite young because I'd discovered masturbation. For 6 or 7 years afterwards, I never did it again. I was too terrified by those sadistic bastards' threats. So I have no trouble believing you when you point out that fear can seriously interfere with erotic feelings and pair-bonding. With any luck, however, that person won't suffer forever from their fears.

Patrick, I think we agree on

Fri, 06/15/2012 - 03:26
Elin A (not verified)

Patrick,

I think we agree on most things. I just felt your comment excluded a vast amount of people who already feel like outsiders because they don't take part in what seems like the endless, fucking feast of the human race. I don't know how common or uncommon it is to be unarousable, but that doesn't apply to the person who wrote this post in particular.
I'm one of the people who don't participate yet, although I'm 28. From what I understand, this kind of celibacy is not uncommon. I'm Scandinavian, non religious, I masturbate and orgasm and have no sexual stigma or violence in my backpack. I can relate to the post because everyone seems to get it on and I always though hthere was something wrong with me. N thinks she might be asexual, I thought I was frigid. Some people just need time. 
For myself, I can feel that the older I get, the more I grow and work on myself, the more open I become to the idea of risking my heart and sharing my body.

Anyway, I've included my original post below, which seems to have gotten lost: 

I don't know what non-sexual means, but it seems to me this person has

plenty of sexual feelings. Not falling in love and not feeling attraction
towards people doesn't have to come from harsh punishments after touching your
genitals - it can just as well be a result of other emotional trauma. And you
can feel like this even if you masturbate and orgasm. However, if she doesn't,
she needs to start doing that.

To feel attraction and desire towards people makes you vulnerable and if
 you have really low self-esteem and/or are unstable, we can shut that part of

ourselves down. Especially if there is some kind of violence or abandonment
issues going on. The answer is to work on your issues, yourself and take time.
Also, feeling grossed out by genitals is not uncommon in our sex-negative
culture. It's when you become comfortable with your own skin that desire flow
and you may start seeing them as natural or even beautiful.

She does need to drop the boyfriend, because she's cheating him by not

being sexually attracted or in love with him and it's not ok to do that to
someone. She doesn't need to worry about never finding someone to be attracted
to, because it has to do with her personal development and not about her
partner being devastatingly handsome or not. Real attraction has very little to
do with appearance.

So, as far as I hear, this may very well be a normal young person who is [= small]not yet ready to be in an intimate relationship. But I would recommend therapy [/][= small]to look into the baggage she's carrying.[/]

 

Elin, thanks for your explanation

Sat, 06/16/2012 - 14:55

Elin,

Thank you, I believe I understand better where you're coming from now. I was a 'late bloomer' in relationships myself. I used to think that other people had a 'magic key' to life that I didn't possess, because dating and many other things seemed so much easier for others than they did for me. As I grew older and learned more about myself, I realized that we all mature at different rates, and there is nothing wrong with a person who takes a different path than the usual one. My ugly Catholic upbringing meant that I took years longer than most people to be comfortable with my sexuality. And there were episodes in my adolescence that made it difficult for me to trust adults, especially women. All of this meant that my first serious relationships happened at a later age than most people's do. So I believe I can very much relate to what you've said.

Everyone is an individual, and we all develop at our own rates. I agree with you about the need for self-examination and perhaps therapy. If we know we have issues about intimacy or sexuality, then the better we understand ourselves, and the more compassion we apply to that understanding, the more progress we will make towards living an open, loving life. As you said, it's when we become more comfortable with ourselves that we will become more comfortable sharing ourselves with someone else. So I appreciate your taking the time to explain your position. I don't think we have much of a disagreement at all.

Patrick

Mon, 06/18/2012 - 16:15

Patrick,

How interesting that we can have such similar experiences though we come from different backgrounds. I too felt that everyone else had some secret key to life that I didn't!
May I ask you how old you were when you felt you could trust a woman and be intimate with her? Or were those two things separate?
Anyway, here's to the late bloomers!

Elin, yes that IS very interesting!

Wed, 06/20/2012 - 18:14

Hello Elin,

Yes, that is quite interesting! In some ways we may be similar people. There are some people who by temperament seem to be especially attuned to the difficulties in the world, and to the complexities involved in relating to other human beings. Hypersensitized, perhaps. I'm often like that myself. I was 24 and still at university when I had my first relationship with a woman. I'd dated a bit before that, but nothing serious. But although we were together for three years, I was still not very knowledgable about myself or about relating to others, and today I'm aware it wasn't a particularly mature or intimate relationship. It was just the best I could do at the time. It wasn't until I was just about your age---in my late twenties---that I began to develop as a person. I began journaling, saw a therapist, and got to know something about myself for the first time in my life. My next significant relationship happened a year or two after this time of self-discovery and it was a much more successful and adult one. In fact, she and I are still together and that was many years ago now.

Regarding trust and intimacy, I really couldn't separate those issues when I was younger. For various reasons my teenaged years were awful. When I was 15 (and socially very young for my age) there was a nurse with whom I came in contact (it was in a boarding-school sort of environment). She was divorced and of course older. Unfortunately she took an interest in me that got out of hand, and she crossed professional boundaries in a way that was very scary for me and affected my ability to be comfortable with women. Being more comfortable with myself was really the key to eventually letting me be more comfortable with intimacy. So these incidents, along with my miserable religious background, delayed my adult relationships by years. But when I realized at age 29 or so that what I needed was compassion and self-knowledge, I decided to stop worrying about the fact that I didn't seem to be on the same schedule as most people. I kept trying to learn whatever I could about life, the world, and myself, and tried to be open to other people and opportunities as they presented themselves. As I learned more about who I really was, I was finally able to be with someone else as an adult and equal partner. And, although my life is no more perfect than anyone else's, it's worked out pretty well. So yes, here's to the late bloomers!

Patrick,Thank you so much

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 05:28

Patrick,

Thank you so much for sharing this. It's nice to hear stories of others who have had similar experiences as yourself or have experienced the same problems - and have overcome them. 
My problems stem from having an at times emotionally abusive father, which kind of killed my self-esteem. Or hindered it to develop properly. But I'm well on my way.
Sometimes, I'm not sure people who throw themselves into relationships in young adulthood or teen years are always that much better off. It feels like I frequently hear of people not dealing with it very well. Also amongst the questioners here on D&R. Perhaps more people should wait until they're older instead of engaging in confusing and hurtful sexual trial and error. At the very least until they've learned to say no.

Thanks Elin

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 14:49

You're welcome, and thank you as well. I understand about having an emotionally abusive father (and mother at times too). Mine was the same way. I understood much later that, while my father often behaved hatefully and even quite cruelly towards me, the person he really hated was himself, because of his own difficult childhood.

I believe we're born happy and loving. But we internalize the negative attitudes and messages of those closest to us as we grow up. Even when our parents are no longer around to disapprove of us directly, we carry their frowns and words of disapproval inside us, often without even being aware of it. Harsh treatment makes us doubt our worth and lovability. It also fills us with doubts about what we can expect from other people---won't they treat us the same way our parents did, and won't it be just as painful when they do? That had a lot to do with my own hesitation to be intimate. So I believe that part of growing up is to unlearn our negative childhood conditioning. We need to realize that our conditioning is not who we really are as people. It's something that was imposed on us from outside. Because we were children, it was understandable that we believed those harsh judgements about us. But they are not true, and never were.

I agree with you about how unhelpful it can be to rush into relationships before we're relatively secure in who we are. It can leave a lot of emotional bruising. It would be better to take our time until we have some self-knowledge and maturity. I'm sure you are well on your way, as you say, and I wish you the best in your journey.

Thank you for your kind

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 16:40

Thank you for your kind words.
I think I've just come to realize that all the shit I believe about myself isn't true. I've known it intellectually for a long time, but it's not really sunk in. So what you write really resonates with me. It's comforting to know there's a good explenation behind one's feelings.
Happy midsummer! It's officially tomorrow but today was the longest day of the year. Tomorrow I'm going to a big party and hope to meet lots of people, men included. :-) 

Thanks for sharing

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 21:31

Elin,

Thanks for sharing your story and your own insights. Learning to care about ourselves is a lifelong process, and it sounds as if you're well on your way! Happy midsummer to you, too---I hope you have a great time at the party. Who knows---maybe you'll meet someone wonderful there. And maybe he'll realize how lucky he is to meet you! : )

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