A post over at Sciatrix’s blog called out for more asexual writing, and specifically mentioned the topic of discussing asexual/sexual relationships. Given that I am in one of these seemingly rare oddities, I feel obliged to expound on this matter.
Actions Do Not Speak Louder than Words
Despite the veil of anonymity I maintain here, I’m still quite shy when it comes to discussing certain private matters. Yet disclosing my sex life is not necessary at all to enlighten you in the dynamics of an asexual/sexual relationship. Think about an asexual/sexual couple that has a lot of sex, or no sex at all. What does that tell you about the couple? Absolutely nothing. Are they happy? Satisfied? Working it out, or fighting? Which partner is happier? We can’t tell, because the actions don’t really mean anything here.
In fact, “the sex” can be problematic in any type of pairing. Think about a man who wants more sex than the woman, or a woman who isn’t pleased by the man’s sex, or a transman who feels de-masculinized during sex, or two gay men who are both tops – these are all sexual/sexual pairings, yet they all have their glitches. So, how do all these couples navigate sex?
The trick, in my view, is to have attitude.
It’s the attitude one has as an individual and as a couple that really matters. My girlfriend and I agree on pretty much everything, and on those points where we don’t, we at least understand each other. By understand I don’t mean tolerate, I mean complete comprehension behind the reasons and emotions for this alternative viewpoint.
So while my girlfriend and I may have differing sexual orientations, our attitudes towards sex are the same. To us, sex is not the ultimate or necessary expression of romantic love. As other expressions of love go, we are very fortunately on the same page. For us, physical intimacy is important. We are compulsive huggers, raging cuddle monsters, addicted spooners, and not above the occasional spork. It is crucial that we have an outlet for our feelings that communicates to both of us equally.
Try to Understand
Now, while my girlfriend claims sex is definitely important to her, this still remains somewhat incomprehensible to me. Yet we both feel it’s not essential for our relationship. It is beyond us how sex can become the deal breaker in an established couple. Some manage to work it out, and some (I know a few) break up over this, even after a long marriage.
But, in a different light, I can begin to understand. To me, hugging and cuddling are essential in expressing my love, in receiving love, and in just regular day to day interactions with my girlfriend. If she had said to me that she is adamantly against any sort of physical intimacy, our relationship could not succeed. (In fact, our relationship would not have even achieved lift-off, but that’s another story.) I cannot imagine how I could make concessions on this issue and maintain the same perfect and healthy relationship that we’re in. Now keep in mind that for the vast majority of the population, substituting “sex” in the last statement would be more than normal, it would be mandatory. Or, if you’re not asexual, do the reverse, and you might also being to understand.
It’s Not For Everyone
Given all this, I don’t see an asexual/sexual pairing as any different from a sexual/sexual pairing with conflicting degrees of sexuality. (And I suspect these are more common than we think, since ironically it is the asexuals who are often the most vocal about sexual matters.) That said, sometimes people are not compatible with each other. Regardless of the reason for this incompatibility, be it a difference in sexual orientation, or political attitudes, or food preferences, sometimes two people are just not a good fit. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to work it out, or try to understand your partner. But in my view, it is impossible to understand the differences if you don’t have plenty of similarities.
11 thoughts on “An Asexual/Sexual Relationship”
My takeaway from this post is that it is not about the labels. It is about the deeper understanding within the relationship. It really doesn’t matter your preferences, as long as love prevails you’ll be able to work things out.
Specially when you are able to take your differences and work them out. Just then they become the spice of your relationship and not the doom.
Interesting post. I want to understand more about this. So… what makes this relationship different on your end from any other friendship? What is it about the relationship that makes you understand it as “romantic involvement”? Do you still have romantic thoughts that just don’t involve a physical reaction? I hope this probing is OK. I am in school to be a therapist and have great interest in working with LGBT community.I hope to understand the driving emotions behind the relationship that allow it to work.
So, let me turn the tables for a moment, and assume you have a romantic partner (or have had one in the past). Do you only have sex with him/her, as in, is sexual activity the only activity you engage in with each other? Is it only sex with this person that attracts you to them? If you could never ever have sex with this person again, for whatever reason, would you still be romantically attracted to this partner? Has there ever been a very attractive person – one you’d potentially be sexually intimate with – that you just weren’t romantically attracted to? Why isn’t everyone else who you’ve had sex with, or who you could have sex with (which is pretty much all humans) – why aren’t all of them your partners, lovers, romantic intimate soulmates?
Ask these questions frankly and you will soon see the complexity that are human relationships.
You see… there are many levels of intimacy, such as acquaintances, roommates, friends, best friends, platonic partners, romantic partners, etc. We often conflate sexual intimacy with emotional intimacy, when in fact those two are very separate: you can have a purely sexual relationship or a purely emotional romantic relationship, or a mixed one, and it doesn’t mean one is better, more legitimate, more real, or deeper than the other. They are just different.
Lastly, I really recommend you take a look at AVEN: asexuality.org. It has very useful information about asexuality, more than I could ever attempt to explain and probably much clearer too.
I work for the Huffington Post’s online show, HuffPost Live, and we are having a discussion on asexuality this Monday, Nov. 26 at 4 pm PST/ 7 pm EST. Because you are (were?) in an asexual/sexual relationship, we are extremely interested in speaking to you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested and would like to know more.
Thank you, and I hope to speak to you soon!
I’m in a sexual/asexual pairing, I also identify as a pansexual, from the get go my girlfriend told me she was asexual and I told her I was pan. She told my to the degree that she was an the sex was not on the table, that it repulsed her, but that physical intimacy of hugging, kissing, cuddling and hand holding was what she was comfortable with. My last relationship when sex was taken out it fell apart because there was anything else holding it together we had no commonalities and no shared views. With my current girlfriend there are commonalities and shared views in the spades. So there being no sex is not a deal breaker. It means we can bond on a deeper level in my opinion, but this sort of pair is not for everyone, it does work for me; we’ve been together a year.
Thank you so much for this article. Currently going through a situation where it was hard to communicate my expectations in a romantic relationship as an Ace partner.