(Standard context: I’m 24-years-old, cis-female, wtfromantic, and 100% asexual.)
When I questioned my “straightness”, feeling pretty much equally obsessively in love with actress Kristen Bell for her personality and everything about her (I could appreciate her beauty, as well) as I felt for my male celebrity obsessions like Milo Ventimiglia… a friend of mine on twitter reassured me. (See these two fanvideos I made years ago: Kristen Bell Tribute – [“Pose” – Daddy Yankee] and Milo Ventimiglia Tribute – Ain’t No Other Man.) As I described my feelings of confusion in brief 140 character snippets, my fandom friend told me, “You’re probably not bi. I thought about that possibility really briefly too. Don’t worry, it happens, but it will pass. You’ll probably feel confident in your straightness again soon.” I didn’t know about asexuality as a real possibility at the time. I had always assumed I was straight. But I think once every two years or so, very rarely but still periodically during my entire adolescence into my young adulthood, I would consider the fact that I might be bi. I knew I experienced some kind of feeling where I could let myself “fall in love with” the male gender, but I wondered if the only reason I didn’t feel this way about the female gender too was because of heteronormativity? And I noticed in the case of Kristen Bell vs. Milo Ventimiglia… my feelings weren’t really all that discernibly different. I wondered if it had been a self-fulfilling prophecy when I had assumed I was straight that I’d just point my feelings in a straight direction. When I tried to think about how I felt about the prospect of sex with… either gender (and I still believed there to be only 2 genders at the time)… I quickly got to the point where I was uncomfortable in my own thoughts and moved on without too much introspection. But I never could completely shake my doubts. People like this twitter friend of mine did make me feel more confident than ever in my hetero-ness, and it took until recently for me to realize my romantic orientation really might not be hetero, if I have one at all. That my doubts were valid, and that she was wrong to try to tell me not to take my considerations seriously.
When I told my freshman roommates in college that despite being 18/19 years old, I had still never dated anyone, never even kissed anyone yet… they told me that was good. That romantic relationships in high school are messy and confusing and immature and it’s probably better to wait to be mature and older before starting to date anyway. That it’s no big deal to be 19 and still completely experience-less when it comes to all this romance stuff. I watched one of these two girls continue a romantic relationship of hers from high school, though, and invite the boy into our dorm room on many occasions, cuddling with him and acting comfortably in love. I had always felt a bit different than my “fellow heterosexual” peers, but for a long time I didn’t realize just how different I was, and I didn’t really care. When I told my college roommates I was insanely inexperienced, I think I was trying to project a non-sexual/non-experienced identity out and not much more. While still actively checking the “heterosexual” box on places like Facebook, my identity has always been “asexual” whether I knew it or not, and I think I wasn’t asking for reassurance in that moment but rather I was trying to prevent people assuming incorrect things about me – like potentially assuming that I was “allosexual”, despite the fact that I was not actually that in touch with the truth at that time.
When I graduated college and decided to try online dating and got to a second date and my very first kissing experience ever, which included multiple “making out” attempts in a row while standing on a city sidewalk… I called up my younger brother on the phone and asked him if your first kiss was supposed to feel this much like “nothing”. I asked him for his perspective, given his kissing experiences, and told him about the complete disappointment and lack of “spark” I felt when I tried kissing this guy. My brother assured me that the first time you kiss is really awkward and it takes a few tries before you really enjoy it.
When I tried kissing a second guy (a guy who ended up becoming my boyfriend), and I felt the same way, and strongly suspected at this point that nothing I had ever experienced in my life could count as sexual attraction toward anyone nor sexual desire… I looked to two different online fandom friends of mine for advice. I actually informed them that I feared I might be asexual and what that meant, albeit I’m sure it was in a not-really-detailed-enough way they didn’t fully understand, and then I told them about my experiences kissing this guy, and both of these women in their late twenties told me that they too did not enjoy kissing guys who they loved at first, and since it was clear I really liked my soon-to-be-boyfriend, my relationship was bound to work out and I’d like kissing him eventually. One of these two women is a Jehovah’s Witness and waited to have sex until she was already married and was open with me about her first sexual experiences at first, and that it took some practice before they found it enjoyable, but that now “mind-blowing” is an understatement for how she experienced their sex. She told me she’d feared they’d never enjoy sex when they had first tried it but by the end of their honeymoon… that was not an issue.
Is it really true that my asexual experiences can line up in these ways with allosexual experiences? That these little things that had me doubting my allosexuality are also very similar experiences to what these allosexuals in my life felt? I find it hard to believe that my brother ever felt this much of a lack of spark when he tried kissing a girl, even for the first time. I find it hard to believe that my Jehovah’s Witness friend could have sex with her husband and not enjoy it at all if she really is able to find it mind-blowingly awesome in the present – she probably felt partially aroused the first time, and felt the excitement of sexual attraction as well! 😛 (I know she is very in love with her husband.)
When I asked for advice from these people, I think what I wanted to hear, deep down, was “What? I can’t relate to that experience at all,” so that I could confirm for myself that I really was, definitely, very different than allosexual people in my life. But instead, people tried to assure me that what I was experiencing was close enough to their experience and I probably was “like them.” And I felt more confused than ever, drawn toward both the possibility of being ace and yet also in the opposite direction toward the possibility of being allo.
I’m not sure what my point is in writing this whole little post. I just felt like sharing. And I wonder… what would have been the best advice for them to have given me, in an ideal world? What would have helped me the most when I turned to the people I trusted to help guide me toward the truth, which was my asexual identity? I don’t really know.