Category: Asexuality

“The Five Love Languages”—Round Up of Posts submitted to the April 2019 Carnival of Aces

Edit: My apologies to SoulRiser and Vesper for leaving out their submissions the first time this was posted and having to edit it in later! (Especially Vesper’s which was even later…)

Thank you to all those who participated in the April 2019 Carnival of Aces! The Call for Submissions was here. The Masterpost for that explains what the Carnival of Aces is can be found here: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/ and it looks like there are no future hosts lined up for this current month of May 2019, or for any future months. Please consider volunteering. Even if the topic has been done before it’s nice to get fresh perspectives. Even if you’ve hosted multiple times before, they welcome repeat hosts! Etc.

Without further ado, here are the submissions from this past month!

  1. Ettina wrote The Science of Five Love Languages, and an excerpt that sums up a lot of what Ettina covered is:

Unfortunately, although Chapman’s initial theory and writings have emphasized love languages in the context of many kinds of relationships, the empirical research overwhelmingly focuses on romantic relationships between heterosexual individuals. I would very much like to see research on the love languages in the contexts of queer relationships and non-romantic relationships, including parent-child relationships.

2. Next, Lib wrote The Languages of Luv, where this aromantic ace explains:

I’ll admit the title is me being just tad facetious because this topic physically pains me. As an aromantic I get major hebee jebees when people start tossing around words with romantic connotations particularly when the required reading for this topic is based on a book called “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” (Thank you Wikipedia), but I’m going to suppress my baser instincts that are screaming at me to run for the hills and try to form a rational, and hopefully relatable, opinion on the “Languages of Honest Affection” (there, I fixed the title in my brain so I can stop freaking out over the L* word, *shudders*).

3. After that Perfect Number contributed What My Marriage Is Actually About (It’s Not Sex And It’s Not Jesus), and she put forth a lot of sweet examples of the love inside her marriage.

It’s about communication. About knowing each other so well, because we’ve lived together for so long, that we’ve both developed all kinds of little habits that complement each other. And actually, none of this is really “what marriage is about”- none of this was caused by us getting a marriage license and having a wedding. Instead, it’s because we’re in a long-term, loving, committed relationship. And as the amount of time we’ve been together increases, we gradually come to know each other more and more.

4. Blue Ice-Tea wrote Why Love Languages Matter, which unpacks a lot including:

As someone with a high need for affection but little interest in sex, I’m glad a language exists to help me articulate that need. True, I would always have said, “I like spending time with my friends”, just as I would always have said, “I’m not much interested in sex”. But having a specific terminology gives me an extra feeling of validation. It’s nice to be able to say, “Quality time is my love-language”, just as it’s nice to be able to say, “I’m on the asexual spectrum.”

For another, love languages are a reminder of the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would be done by.” Not everyone likes to be shown affection in the same way. For me, touch is way up on my list of preferred love languages; gifts are right at the bottom. It’s good for the people close to me to know that presents do little for me but that I’m constantly craving hugs. Conversely, it’s good for me to remember that this may not be true of them. Some people are very touch-averse but love receiving gifts. It’s important that I respect this and express my affection for them in the ways they like to receive it.

5. Controlled Abandon wrote Gift giving: How it does and does not work as a love language for me which is a very personal post with lots of examples, and the post ends with:

I scored lowest for physical touch, which I think reflects my difficulty in figuring out how non-romantic, non-sexual physical touch works more than anything else. I’d really like there to be more physical touch in my life. The few times I’ve managed it (putting my arm around a friend, sitting close together on the couch, etc.) it has felt really good in a “humans are social creatures” sort of way. Most of the time, though, it just makes me antsy, because I can’t quite figure out how to be sure I’m not sending the wrong signals, or even when touch is appropriate or not. Culturally, physical touch (beyond handshakes and brief hugs) between adults who aren’t in a Relationship isn’t something we really do in North America, so it’s difficult. But I’d really like to figure it out.

6. SoulRiser submitted The Five Love Languages, and why I’m grateful for cats, which includes some interesting personal analysis comparing human relationships to the author’s relationship with cats. (I’m glad animal companionship was brought into this discussion.) This is one interesting comparison:

This may be because my parents absolutely lovedoing things for me, and always have. All sorts of things, including things that didn’t need to be done at all. I know it makes them feel good to do things for me, so I kind of allow it, but I’m not really comfortable with it….

…I don’t mind doing things for cats though, I’ll gladly feed them and make sure they’re as healthy as possible, and they’ll happily do all sorts of random weird nonsensical shit to make my life more interesting and make me laugh a lot.

7. Vesper submitted “love languages”?? communication tool., which was a very interesting personal post on how unexpectedly useful having the idea of the love languages turned out to be for their relationship with their partner.

Two excerpts:

i remember scoffing at the concept of “love languages” itself, however. no offense to those who find such things helpful, but the cynic & skeptic in me can’t help but scoff at self-help books in general—even more so when the subject matter is mental health, relationships and / or “love”. whether theory or research-based or not, the notion of there being five (specifically five) love languages and online tests that can help tell you what yours are was little different to me than the trendy, user-made personality quizzes of the early 00’s—which, for the record, is also how i view other theory / research-based tests, such as 16personalities.com, and the MBTI. regardless of my cynicism and skepticism, however, my curiosity did eventually win out. again. and in January 2018 i revisited the idea of ‘love languages’, trepidatiously sending the test link to my partner of but a mere week at the time.

and

during the course of our relationship thus far, we occasionally come back to the topic of these five ‘love languages’ when discussing random things. sometimes it’s just in the form of an offhanded observation or comment during conversations, like Caspian noticing how my busy lifestyle combined with the timezone difference of me being in Japan & them in the US made them hyperaware of just how important Quality Time is to them, for example. sometimes it was just me mentally taking notice of how my inability to help Caspian out with even the most mundane of things when they get home from a hard day at work, my inability to share food with them when they had none, etc etc—and how, for me, i guess so-called Acts of Service really is something that i like to do for loved ones, even though it would have never occurred to me that that was a thing that mattered to me prior to this.

8. demiandproud submitted two posts. First Christian Love, Queerly Considered, which analyzes conceptions of love in interesting ways, and one excerpt is:

Cis/heteronormative: whether queer people are accepted depends on whether they are thought to be loved and accepted by God. If one considers God’s love to be unconditional and people’s deeds less important, then the Christian (community) is likely to be very inclusive. If God is considered harsh; if certain behaviour or identities are considered to constitute a rejection of God, then the Christian (community) will reject those people.

Personally, the love I consider good based on my faith is equal, consensual and with a more communal focus than commonly found in the Western world.

I would be monogamous towards my partner, but mostly because that fits how I love, I’d hesitate to say others should be as well. I have found my love towards friends and family, philia and storge, to be truer reflections of God’s love for humans than what I felt when I dated, a chaste incarnation of eros.

I hate the near-obsession with marriage and ‘family focus’ I find in my current church. I consider churches that exclude queer people wrong because I very much believe God’s love to be unconditional.

After that she wrote Christian Love, Queerly Expressed, which includes moments like this regarding “Physical Affection”:

Adjusting my behaviour has made me aware of how much both affectionate touch and respecting people’s boundaries can be appreciated. Some friends complimented me for becoming a bit more sensitive. I’ve also personally benefited. Since touch is my “native” love language, it’s made it easier to express it, easier to know when I should and should not. Easier, also, to say no to others when they cross my boundaries and I am uncomfortable. It’s been a boon in my desire to show friends and family affection.

And this regarding “Quality Time”:

Communal: I have found quality time to be a powerful weapon when it comes to showing acceptance and rejection. Being asexual around my family has meant an increased acceptance over time, even when it was scary in the beginning. Also, I’ve come to see people suddenly not wishing to spend time as the surest sign something’s up.

In media and society, I’ve also found that seeing how much time and space there is for queer people is the best measure to gage acceptance. For example, some churches say queer people may attend but that they cannot be themselves while in church and won’t have a space in heaven. Disney claims to be an ally but only shows half a second of men dancing with each other in Beauty and the Beast. Marvel didn’t think Valkyrie’s bisexuality deserved screentime. On the flipside, Doctor Who makes Bill, a queer character, a companion for a whole season, has bit parts as well as recurring supporting roles for gay and lesbian people, single as well as married.

Individual: I’ve learned to make time to love my demisexual self. At the start of 2019, I resolved to have at least one ‘queer’ day every month, in which I read an LGBTQ+ book or go to a queer space or engage in an activity that speaks to my demisexual or panromantic identity. Each one feels like a spa day and leaves me refreshed for another month’s worth of heteronormativity. When I come up against queerphobia, my self-care is planning an extra date with myself.

etc!

9. Finally I, luvtheheaven, have also submitted some posts. I wrote 3 parts to mine.

Personal Life Reflections Part 1, and My Takeaways From Reading Some Of The Love Languages Books

Things That Frustrated Me While Reading Some Of The Love Languages Books

Personal Life Reflections Part 2, and Musings On Compatibility, Attraction, and Love Languages

And things I covered were varied but included:

As a thoughtful listener to these audiobooks, I started to hypothesize a bit about what makes a person value certain love languages so highly, however, and thought back a lot especially on my own experiences as a child. I felt deeply loved by my dad. My mother was abusive and I didn’t “feel loved” by her in the way feeling loved is defined in this book. Although I also reject the notion that she “didn’t love me”. (See my Gaslighting and Love blog post.)

and

There was also one part of the marriage book that was horrible with the compulsory sexuality/sex-normativity… I believe it stated that people are almost NEVER sexually incompatible, and everyone loves sex in the same way, they just need to feel loved first, with the love languages used effectively, and otherwise all men are compatible with all women and everything is easy and happy. He implied that sex is obviously important to everyone. And to the woman in what seemed to clearly be an abusive marriage to me, he insisted she initiate sex even when she didn’t want to, with no concept of consent brought up. Just. Make the other person feel loved as much as possible, in as many ways as possible, until it works and they start loving you back. It was… creepy and wrong.

and

For all the original Love Languages books’ faults, and there are a lot (see my previous post), one thing that I think most aces would actually really appreciate is how sex is very clearly not tied to love in the books, even in the marriage-specific book. Author Gary Chapman says problematic stuff about sex, for sure, but he also says if the only Physical Touch you go out of your way to give or receive is sexual, then Physical Touch is clearly not your primary love language. Other touch is kind of given priority in terms of what “counts” as Gary Chapman actually separates out sex and other touch, much like the ace community separated out Sexual Desire/Behavior from Sensual Desire/Behavior, defining “Sensual” as non-sexual touch. It’s an interesting way to look at a lot of this.

So… check out everyone’s posts, and leave them comments! I hope you enjoyed reading what people had to say for this Carnival of Aces topic. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

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Personal Life Reflections Part 2, and Musings On Compatibility, Attraction, and Love Languages

Hi everybody! I hosted the Carnival of Aces in April 2019. This is part 3 of 3 of my submission.


So after I posted the Call for Submissions for this carnival theme on The Five Love Languages, I ended up reading 3 of the books and having so many thoughts that I’m writing 3 blog posts on the subject. This is part 3 of 3. I know it says part 2 in the title but it’s actually part 3 total, just part 2 of the personal life reflections… Sorry if that’s too confusing!

Part 1 was here. Part 2 was here.

This post below has more to do with asexuality and aromanticism than the previous two parts did.
For all the original Love Languages books’ faults, and there are a lot (see my previous post), one thing that I think most aces would actually really appreciate is how sex is very clearly not tied to love in the books, even in the marriage-specific book. Author Gary Chapman says problematic stuff about sex, for sure, but he also says if the only Physical Touch you go out of your way to give or receive is sexual, then Physical Touch is clearly not your primary love language. Other touch is kind of given priority in terms of what “counts” as Gary Chapman actually separates out sex and other touch, much like the ace community separated out Sexual Desire/Behavior from Sensual Desire/Behavior, defining “Sensual” as non-sexual touch.  It’s an interesting way to look at a lot of this.
Also, from the aromanticism side of things, Gary Chapman doesn’t actually say or imply anything is “only true for romance” that isn’t also true for non-romantic dynamics, other than when he tries to explain about the “in love experience” and “infatuation period” based on what the audiobooks only cite as “research” [so I have no clue how sources are cited in the actual book]… But when it came to love, the theorizing was impressively inclusive of the forms of love aromantic people also usually experience and even of the spectrum of human experience from co-workers and college roommates to siblings to adult’s dynamics with parents, love as on a spectrum where even if love stops being a good word for it and maybe “appreciation” is better, it flows seamlessly from love to appreciation in these books and all of it is still important.
There is something oddly validating about the marriage counselor who “invented” the love languages terminology and system having so much to potentially offer in his system even to nonamorous aromantic people?
And the idea of the love languages and these books around them also have so much to offer to sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent asexuals as well! His advice would work well for aces and aros, in spite of his bigotry and what I believe might be a partnership with hate groups like Focus on the Family (or at least I know FotF endorses him based on this image exising). (I know that groups like these have brought about deaths of gay and trans people, I do not say they are a hate group lightly.)
Even if it was unintentional, sometimes I want to take inclusion wherever I can see it. Wherever I can squint and find it!
But enough about that…
Let’s bring this post to the things I said I’d talk about in my title for this post – Compatibility and Attraction.

Continue reading “Personal Life Reflections Part 2, and Musings On Compatibility, Attraction, and Love Languages”

Things That Frustrated Me While Reading Some Of The Love Languages Books

Hi everybody! I hosted the Carnival of Aces in April 2019. This is part 2 of 3 of my submission.


So after I posted the Call for Submissions for this carnival theme on The Five Love Languages, I ended up reading 3 of the books and having so many thoughts that I’m writing 3 blog posts on the subject. This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 was here.

This post is about the reasons to be critical of the books, and the author, and the way the love languages are presented. I think there is a lot of wisdom actually to be found in the pages of those books, and the books promote plenty of things I think are generally positive.

The book also tiptoes around a few other topics and implies things by omission that make me wildly uncomfortable, and a few times even actively state certain things that I flat-out disagree with.

I wish I’d been taking notes while listening to those 3 audiobooks but instead I’m just gonna go from memory and outline some of the major things I remember not liking.

As one reviewer said in 2012,

This book is about 25% heavy-handed religious rhetoric, 25% folksy nonsense, and 25% outright B.S. But the remaining 25% is genuinely insightful, interesting, and helpful. If you’re willing to dig through the muddy presentation, there are some wonderful nuggets of wisdom.

and I’d mainly agree that that.

The religious rhetoric is the easiest to get out of the way first. Throughout the books he uses examples of people who have used his love languages to great success, over and over, and maybe 50%, maybe 25% of the time in the examples he mentions that these are very religious Christian people whose spirituality is important to them, and loving Jesus inspires them to want their marriage to work. Or something really close to that. I don’t know, that’s how it sounded to my atheist ears. There was no diversity or specificity of even different Christian sects, just this “yay don’t you think Christians are the best and relate more to these people the more I tell you I hosted Church Singles events at my home and this guy came to that,” or whatever. As an author he will bring it up too much, to make it clear he only really values Christians as people whose relationships deserve improving by having better love communication. And he’ll start quoting the bible to justify certain advice of his at a few random times throughout the books. As someone who does not believe the bible is true, it’s just a part of the book I’m waiting to be over when I was listening to these audiobooks.

He says at some point in the books when it comes to dating and marriage that people need to be churchgoers to the same degree and equally spiritual to be compatible. He says, if I recall correctly, that beyond the love languages you also need to have core features of compatibility and this is an example. He emphasizes the very religious and what they need, but subtly reinforced the thought that atheists would get along with each other, that other religions should stick together. He seemed to have no concept or thought for interfaith marriages or the thought of different levels of spirituality sometimes working okay.

I clearly don’t agree at all with any of the Christianity he tries to infuse throughout this.

And in less explicit and overt ways, his Christianity clearly influences the rest of what I disagree with so strongly. So let’s move on to all that.

He is extremely amatonormative, heteronormative, and “old fashioned” in ways that make me uncomfortable. He posits Divorce as Always Bad and anything you can do to avoid it as good, including subtly endorsing withstanding abuse and trying to victim-blame and insisting someone act more loving toward someone who is not loving at all to try to “test” his theory. He cites some supposed research that having sex before or outside of marriage is horrible, cites research that cohabitation before or instead of marriage leads to more abuse or other unhappiness, and implies men and women are made to be happy together in a marriage. He even implies arranged marriages and avoiding dating altogether would be better, but settles for the reality of American and Western society where dating is a common thing. It’s jarring to read books where the author feels so confident in these types of conclusions.

He never once acknowledges that anyone might be queer or LGBTQ+ in any way. He talks about men and women dating over and over. I did try again to take the love languages test as a female person who was married and older than I am, just as an experiement, and the language did not assume husband but did say “partner” over and over which was impressively inclusive, but even so. The books over and over show straight couples or straight couples raising kids. It did address that sometimes parents are single parents and tried to help single parents be the best loving parent they can be most of the time, didn’t get too harsh on attitudes towards single parents as far as I can recall. It did say divorced parents often make this, this, or this mistake and fail to communicate love effectively. But it didn’t go as horribly far as it might’ve.

He discusses the “in love experience” in a way I think to some degree even aromantic people would appreciate as an analysis of how those people who experience it end up feeling and behaving for an average of 2 years before those feelings fade and “companionate love” takes over. But he does not acknowledge the thought of an ace or aro spectrum of course, and implies all people are alloromantic allosexual and not just that, but heteromantic heterosexual.

He also explicitly says open marriages are horrible and doesn’t really address polyamory in any other way, but is extremely pro-monogamy to the point of saying research backs up the harm of open marriages, if I recall correctly. He also discusses affairs a little, and the excitement of the “in love experience” and infatuation period but I believe is trying to help save marriages at all costs including in these situations, which I wished would’ve approached it from more angles. It’s okay that marriage is still on the table, but not the “at all costs” approach.

The biggest thing that frustrated me was when he did bring up abuse briefly and then forgot he mentioned it, I think it was in the Singles book as the only place he mentioned parents can be abusive, and one moment in the Children book he mentioned sexual abuse from strangers including pastors etc, but he claimed it was outside the scope of that Children book and wouldn’t be addressed there. In the Singles book he was explaining that children who had been abused by parents might grow into adults… but then proceeded to imply that no matter how bad your relationship as an adult with your parents, you should try to speak more love languages and repair your relationship. As a person who’s gone No Contact with an abusive mother, it was really frustrating to listen to those parts of the audiobooks. I know that what he was suggesting would not always just work. This counselor has SUCH confirmation bias toward his pet theory. It’s ridiculous.

There was also one part of the marriage book that was horrible with the compulsory sexuality/sex-normativity… I believe it stated that people are almost NEVER sexually incompatible, and everyone loves sex in the same way, they just need to feel loved first, with the love languages used effectively, and otherwise all men are compatible with all women and everything is easy and happy. He implied that sex is obviously important to everyone. And to the woman in what seemed to clearly be an abusive marriage to me, he insisted she initiate sex even when she didn’t want to, with no concept of consent brought up. Just. Make the other person feel loved as much as possible, in as many ways as possible, until it works and they start loving you back. It was… creepy and wrong.

Not sure what else I should be criticizing in these books, but this is all I remember at the moment. Sorry if I forgot something big.

 

 

“The Five Love Languages” – the April 2019 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

The “Carnival of Aces” is a blogging carnival where each month people are invited to write about a specific topic that is related to asexuality/the ace spectrum in some way. Or creators can participate in other formats including video, poetry, art etc.

Check out the masterpost for more info:

https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/

It’s now April 2019, and it is the sixth time that I am hosting the carnival. Before, I hosted select months in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. You can find those in the masterpost.

I was surprised to realize that not that much has been written explicitly on asexuality and this concept of “The Five Love Languages”. Wikipedia explains more but the basic takeway is that most people have a way they communicate love and not all humans have the same way. People can feel like someone they care about isn’t ever expressing their love if the two people in that dynamic have mismatched love languages.

The five are:

  • receiving (and giving) gifts
  • quality time
  • words of affirmation
  • acts of service
  • physical touch

Continue reading ““The Five Love Languages” – the April 2019 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions”

Trying To Be Less Invisible (a “Symbols of Identity” Carnival of Aces submission)

This is a late submission for the March 2019 Carinval of Aces on the theme “Symbols of Identity”. The call for submissions was here.


This past June 2018, less than a year ago, I bought off of Zazzle a medium sized silver-plated square ace flag necklace with this artistic “paint splatter” stylization of the ace flag. (Click the link to go to the page white you can buy it.) It looks like this (photo I took of it on my thigh):

And I wear it fairly often. I referenced it in my poem published in The Asexual last fall. I am wearing it in my bio photo too, from my family vacation to Maine last June, only a few weeks after buying it.

I had purchased it just barely in time to wear it for Pride. I took a few selfies and made these selfies with a visible Ace Flag necklace my Facebook profile pictures for many months on end. I love this necklace so much more than I expected to love it. It helps that I get a lot of compliments on it. I’m reassured that I’m not misguided or confused to feel good wearing it, to feel pretty and feminine and adult (not too juvenile) etc in the ways that I wish to. I can’t remember exactly how often I wear it but when I’m going to ace meetups and I remember that I should wear it, then I do. And I go to like 2 to 4 ace meetups every month lately. Half of which I’m hosting myselfl!

I like to wear it generally. When I’m going to queer conferences it feels vital (I went to the Centering the Margins nontheist event this past Saturday and made sure to leave the house wearing it). I wear it when I’m dressed up and feel like jewelry would enhance how dressed up I feel. If it even just kinda sorta possibly matches even a little I want to wear it. If it really clashes though I won’t. I’ve worn it to atheist meetups and to work and to visit my grandma. I’ve worn it plenty of places.

I like it so much more than the thought of wearing an ace ring. I can’t imagine starting to wear a ring regularly. But necklaces are natural for me.

In fact I’ve grown so accustomed to my ace necklace that it’s crazy to think how many years i went about my life without really explicitly ace (it’s an actual ace flag) jewelry.

Sure I’ve worn like silver colored & purple jewelry, like the bracelet in the following photo, since high school and much more often since figuring out I was ace:

(I couldn’t decide which of those two photos of my purse showed my bracelet better. The first it is on my wrist.)

Or a few other earrings/a bracelet etc that happen to be the ace colors five per take. Sometimes I even kinda do the aro greens purposefully with my jewelry.

I love symbols of identity these days. Like I said, that’s my purse! I have bought approximately a million buttons off Zazzle that reflect my gray-aromantic, gray-panromantic, asexual identity as well as a much smaller handful that reflect my identity as an atheist or as a person who cares about suicide prevention and gun violence prevention. I also got from redbeardace of Asexuality Archive two buttons from his donation to the Creating Change conference, so I didn’t spend money on those.

That just happens to be my purse at that one moment after I was getting ready this past weekend for the Centering the Margins summit. I also have the other side of my purse:

And my decked out backpack at the moment:

At any given moment in time my backpack and purse look very different. I carry my backpack to a lot of meetups and to and from my workplace every day. I get my buttons rusty in the rain, snagged on things and broken or lost on the street/in the grocery store/on the metro etc… I have to swap out what’s where pretty frequently. Replace buttons with others I purchased. Etc.

One time I even bought some stickers off Zazzle even though I wasn’t sure what i was going to do with them. Decided to put them on my portable phone battery which was just a solid black, blank surface and a really good spot for some stickers. Sadly the “asexual and proud” one has really seen better days but the “wear and tear” shows character, perhaps?:

I don’t know. It is what it is.

I actually own two ace flags, one six inches long and one a whole foot. I bring them occasionally to help people find me at ace meetups that I host. I bought them at the end of September 2018 at the 5th Annual Northern Virginia Pride Festival. I live in Maryland but drove there and wished there was aro (or pan? Did I look for that?) Flags for sale but was happy to see demisexual and asexual ones at multiple people’s stands, as well as pins and other ace pride items. So happy. It’s really nice to be represented. It’s nice people are aware we exist and choosing happily to include us. I gave out business cards for my at-the-time-still-ace organization (we changed a couple months later to be jointly ace and aro) and kept looking for ace symbols everywhere among this pride festival. Later, in January 2019 I went to an ace meetup where I painted a turtle with the ace, aro, and pan pride flag colors:

Which turned out after the kiln looking like:

All of the colors are there – pink, yellow, light/bright blue for being pan; purple, white, gray, and black for being ace; the latter 3 of those also applying to being aro but also both shades of green. It’s not exactly a work of art but I’m clearly somewhat obsessed with ace/aro/pan symbolism lately.

I have a zip up sweatshirt that has a small, maybe 2 or 3 inches of a striped rainbow on one side of the front. The rainbow is in the 4 colors of the ace flag with the small message under it that says “These are my colors”. I really like it a lot. I even wear it at work sometimes. (My workplace prefers business casual dress but doesn’t complain much about us leaning very casual and stretching those rules, sneakers with dress pants, sweatshirts, etc.)

I have a handful of ill-fitting ace t-shirts and a few that fit fine. I bought some from red bubble, I painted my own designs on other shirts, and for one I got it for free from any ace meetup attendee who didn’t want his shirt once he tried it on and realized how huge it was.

I like the playing card symbolism. I like seeing my ace friends wearing black rings even if I don’t wear one myself. I have mixed feelings about the cake symbolism for a variety of reasons, but that symbol and joke often makes me smile. I can’t help but love lemon cake and chocolate cake and carrot cake (as some examples) – and various types of icing can be delicious. It’s fun and silly and simple enough of the time.

I’m not a tattoo person and didn’t grow up in a family that understands them but more and more I see and understand wanting to make things visible directly on your skin, such as your love or your grief or your survival over really hard stuff when it feels so much a part of you. And yet it’s frustratingly invisible from a mere glance at you. People aren’t seeing all of the “you” that you wish they would see. I am surrounding myself with and carrying a lot of these symbols so much now and it feels like maybe it’s a bit much but it also feels good when a trans guy walking down the street shows me the trans flag on his tablet case he’s carrying in a show of solidarity or a gay guy at a general community building meetup I go to sometimes notices my flags and decides to ask me if I know of any local LGBT scene. It feels good to have something concrete to gesture toward with my hand when I’m causally coming out as ace again and again in my life, to all the new people I meet, when someone asks me my plans for the weekend, etc! It feels exciting when strangers on the sidewalk find the “I’m not straight” pin I used to have so amusing or a fellow passenger on the metro asks for asexuality 101 because of my pins. I love this part of my life.

I think it started with when I went to ClexaCon 3 years ago (wow time flies! That feels like yesterday). That is a fandom convention for LGBTQ women and I wanted people to maybe, possibly be able to see in that crowd of queer women a flag they might recognize. So I painted my nails with ace flags before going and even brought the nail polish with me and reapplied in my hotel room to keep my nails looking good all 3 days of the convention. You can see those photos in this old post of mine, just scroll down:

https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/asexuality-shame-and-the-importance-of-ace-pride/

And while there in March 2016 I saw an ace button aka pin for the first time and bought it and put it on my purse. I… Was starting slowly to see the appeal of all this symbolism being a tool I could use to help me feel as open and out as possible which for some reason is what I wanted, a reminder to myself that I’m proud to be who I am. (Which is super ace. An ace activist. An ace podcaster. An ace meetup organizer and frequent attendee. A person who is reminded of how ace I am constantly by the media. By being surrounded by adults married with children in a life i can’t just have that easily.) And a way to try to fight how frustrating it is to be so invisible, literally using prides flags and pins with words about asexuality and aromanticism and “I’m not straight” etc to make the invisible able to be seen if anyone is bothering to really look.

It feels pretty great. 🖤💜💚🖤

Feeling Fortunate For My Circumstances (Even Without Feeling Fortunate For My Asexuality Itself)

As is typical for me I’m late, I but still decided to write something for The Carnival of Aces. The theme this past month was “Asexuality as a Blessing”. Also note that I’ve written this all on my phone and so some odd errors might show up in this. Feel free to point them out to me and I’ll fix them!


As an atheist, to be quite frank, the entire concept of blessings fundamentally clashes with my worldview. However metaphorically, or in a symbolic way, I still can appreciate certain things in life as reminiscent of the concept of a blessing (or, conversely, a curse).

Greta Christina writes from an atheist perspective often very similar to my own, and she discusses feeling fortunate for all the things that believers in a god might frame as a gift they’d been given. I have plenty of those feelings too for all sorts of things in my life, sure. I appreciate the ways things work out for me in my life circumstances in various venues. In fact, even when I did “earn” or do “deserve” certain things, I acknowledge that not everyone who deserves or earns certain good stuff ends up getting it and I can be appreciative of my situation in many many cases.

Continue reading “Feeling Fortunate For My Circumstances (Even Without Feeling Fortunate For My Asexuality Itself)”

Jumping into the Bigger Picture—with Both My Feet, Radical Vulnerability, and Also a Team: Personally Avoiding Ace and Aro Activist Burnout (So Far)

This is a belated submission for the December 2018 Carnival of Aces on the topic of Burnout.


As the call for submissions for this month’s carnival topic explained, a “frenzied pace of activities”

can… be a major source of stress that can put ace activists at risk of experiencing burnout – the state that results when the continued stress of an activity becomes overwhelming, to the point where individuals may find themselves less and less able to continue with it.

In addition, as the Wikipedia article notes,

[o]ccupational burnout is thought to result from long-term, unresolvable, job stress.

But personally don’t feel that close to burning out. On the contrary, I think I successfully keep adding fresh fuel to my fire. I’m energized, fulfilled, and engaged. Most places consider “engagement” to be the opposite of “burnout”.

Continue reading “Jumping into the Bigger Picture—with Both My Feet, Radical Vulnerability, and Also a Team: Personally Avoiding Ace and Aro Activist Burnout (So Far)”

Learning to See Experiences Related to Asexuality as Potentially “Poetic”

This is my submission for the October 2018 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Poetry”.

I apologize for any autocorrect typos, I wrote this whole thing on my phone. Let me know kindly and I can fix them.


Two years ago, in September 2016, I wrote a prose poem about my asexual experience without really realizing I was writing poetry again. (“Again”, because I hadn’t written any poetry in 4.5 years, since my Creative Writing class my final semester of college ended.) September 2016 was during that blip in time when Imzy existed and I was in the 100 words community, challenged to write exactly 100 words, no more and no less, on a different prompt each week.

The prompt that time was “Clocks” and somehow I ended up writing:

The concept was always framed with a presupposition; there would of course come a point in time when I’d be ready. When that time came, I needed to be armed with knowledge. I must brace for the emotional consequences. Itwas an inevitability.

So I learned. For over a decade of my life, I prepared. I absorbed more information than was really necessary. I planned ahead.

But society was wrong. Maybe all along I’d been a broken clock. I’d felt stuck. I tried to push myself forward.

As it turns out, though, I am the flower doomed to never bloom.

I am still not entirely sure if it counts as a poem. But writing about an asexual experience with metaphors and without ever once using the word asexual seemed poetic somehow to me.

It was a start of something.

A key concept from those hundred words made it into a stanza of my new poem, No “Just” About It that I wrote two years later in September 2018 — just last month (as of the time of me writing this blog post) — and which was published in The Asexual, a literary journal. My second piece of writing to be published in one of the issues of this journal but my first poem.

http://theasexual.com/article/2018/9/28/no-just-about-it

This poem is kinda… Political. It’s also fun. We’re often our own harshest critics but to me it seems apparent that it’s not very impressive from an artistic standpoint. But I’m glad I decided to write it, and I didn’t let the genre of poetry intimidate me away from something relatively simple like this.

If The Asexual didn’t exist as a platform I never would’ve thought to write poetry with asexual themes so I’m very grateful to Michael Paramo and everyone there who keeps it running.

From 2004 through 2008 when I was ages 14 through 18 and in high school, all four years I participated as part of the literary magazine club after school. We accepted fiction but mainly received poetry and a little bit of art. Once a week after school our club would read aloud as a group, discuss the merits of, and also respectfully criticize each submission. They would be typed up to anonymize each submission ahead of the discussion, no author listed and no handwriting to recognize. We were always keeping in mind the possibility that the author could be one of us in the room so we had to be careful not to be unkind in our criticism. (I don’t think the visual art pieces needed to be discussed; I think maybe they automatically got in.)

Continue reading “Learning to See Experiences Related to Asexuality as Potentially “Poetic””

Specifying My Asexuality With Sex-Aversion

This post was originally going to just be a comment on this other blog post, so please read it first:

“We Don’t Know if Asexuals Do or Don’t Want to Have Sex Because They Are All Queer Cats”
https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/we-dont-know-if-asexuals-do-or-dont-want-to-have-sex-because-they-are-all-queer-cats/

I really appreciated this post and your perspective, Talia, a lot overall. I’m finally posting this comment because queenieofaces’s response post went up and kinda reminded me I had an almost complete draft of a comment.

“Asexuality as a hard limit (or: the cat is dead)”
https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/asexuality-as-a-hard-limit-or-the-cat-is-dead/

Talia’s post went up when I had been on vacation with only sporadic internet, but I’d been thinking about this a lot in my spare moments then and started to write this comment while offline since it seemed (and still seems) like a really important post in the ace blogosphere. It also seems related to the two demisexual submissions in the prior month’s (May 2018’s) Carnivals of Aces and all the people who wrote about desiring sex from an ace perspective, and other sentiments I’ve heard here and there recently.

I think Rachel here in the comments unpacked any issues I maybe had with the general framing for this post really well. The way you started it out… As I am myself an ace who doesn’t want sex but would like to find a partner, being reminded that so many people out there could never date the type of asexual who doesn’t have sex, without any validation brought up in the post itself that this is a frustrating situation for us too, was slightly… Idk. It made the post as a whole echo slightly of worse things I’ve seen written around about aces, while this post itself not being that exactly.

This post you wrote indeed made sense and was about another issue entirely, one important about conflating all asexuals as not wanting sex when actually asexuality is extremely varied and we don’t know whether aces do or don’t want sex if all we know about them is that their orientation could be defined with the word “asexual”. Asexual, in this way, is like the word queer in how “broad/vague” it can be. As Sennkestra said in a comment here, people “can have wildly different and even contradictory experiences yet still find shared labels like ‘queer’ useful.” I agree with the statement you made that asexuality is inherently queer, in general, although I think it’s mainly because all experiences of it deviate from expectations and averages of what heterosexual experiences are like. But yes, there’s a clear analogy to draw with the term queer and the term ace in terms of both being such umbrella terms leaving room for people with really varied experiences under the same one label. So I’m… seeing the point you were making with the title of this post. 🙂

When you wrote about the

important difference between “I came to identify as asexual because I don’t want to have sex and asexual people don’t have sex” and “I came to identify as asexual because I don’t want to have sex and that’s a part of the asexual experience.”

I only really understood the difference you were talking about (which I agree is an important difference!) after reading your further explanation. Somehow the statements on their own seemed too similar to me. Or rather, the idea of “that’s a part of the asexual experience” as a statement didn’t seem to be clear enough that it’s only some and not all asexual people who don’t have sex, meanwhile “and asexual people don’t have sex” doesn’t even seem necessarily to be a generalization about the entire definition of asexuality for everyone. I mean… I feel like there is at least one charitable way to read that as meaning closer to “there are enough asexual people who don’t have sex that…” instead of a blanket “exclusive” statement..

So Idk. I guess my point is it’s a really complicated subject and I wanted to tell you I am glad you chose to write about it.

So, as is now being discussed on queenie’s post about asexuality as a hard limit, I did that for years. I treated asexuality as my “good enough” excuse to not want to have sex, forever. I would be like Voodoo in Sirens where asexuality is entirely conflated with not having sex, repeatedly. As an example, see my LGBTQ+ Characters fanvideo collaboration at the 1 min 10 sec mark:

Where I saw what voiceover my vidder friend chose and realized how my friend was endorsing the “I just don’t want sex” message the show gave for what asexuality inherently is, definitely without making it clear that some asexuals are sex-favorable, gray, demi, or otherwise might want sex.

But back in September of 2017, one year ago, i edited my own video using scenes of characters in tv shows I watch which I decided to title a “Tribute to Embracing My Asexuality & Sex-Aversion”:

My first impulse was merely to say it was a tribute to embracing my asexuality – period, full stop. But at this point I’ve been surrounded by the sentiment, the pushback, that asexuality isn’t just “not wanting sex”.

Queenie set up her post with:

In the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of posts in ace communities stating that “asexuality has nothing to do with whether you want or like sex.”

And when I was posting my video I’d also seen plenty of those sentiments, probably already pushed back on Twitter against the sentiment that it has nothing to do with it saying that’s going a little too far even if i get what they’re trying to say.

So no, I didn’t take asexuality out of the title of my vid. My vid showed a tangled journey of figuring out sex wasn’t for me and that asexuality was the orientation that I needed to accept about myself. But I added “sex-aversion” to it. I started identifying as “I’m a sex-averse asexual” in places where i want to make it clear that, in a way that is l tied to my orientation and is a big part of my permanent identity now, i will never be having sex – such as on my online dating profiles! I’m trying to do this so that even if people know some aces do have sex they will see as early on as possible that I’m not one of that category of aces. I’m also hoping it helps sex-favorable aces too by sorta decoupling not wanting sex from being associated with just asexuality, instead linking it to the full phrase “sex-averse asexual” and specifically to sex-aversion.

I think this is a very complicated subject and i was afraid of offending people so I think I delayed posting this comment for months for that reason too. But now that it’s become over a thousand words, I’m posting the comment as a post on my own blog instead of as a comment.

So yeah. Please comment below if anyone reading this has any further thoughts.

An Asexual Virginity (or Lack Thereof?)

Virginity. The state of never in your life having had sex.

It means different things to different people. It means different things in different circles. It has so much baggage and causes harm around the world. Many very sexist views are rooted in ideas about it. Shame can be so intricately tied to both aspects of how and when virginity was lost or to the fact that by a certain point in someone’s life, it wasn’t.

While celibacy has been written about a number of times in the asexual blogosphere, I’m pretty sure virginity hasn’t been written about quite as much.

On celibacy, I mainly agree with all the points outlined on Asexuality Archive here back 6.5 years ago:

Asexuality and Celibacy: What’s the difference, anyway?.

Elsewhere on the internet you can find a lot of other nuance to this topic if you search deeper into other things written on how asexuals who are not sexually active feel about categorizing themselves as celibate, including information from the ace community census on the topic. (Or, you can at least see how they felt at a snapshot in time, a few years ago.) The word “celibate” has a lot of connotations and implications for a lot of us native English speakers.

“Virginity” is even more fraught to try to talk about, given all the cultural context of the concept, which I think is why a lot of asexual bloggers often avoid the subject. Not all of us avoid it, and certainly it comes up occasionally, but often I feel like it’s “talked around” instead of being the focus of a conversation.

I do really like Jo’s post on A Life Unexamined from 2012 on the topic. Also, Sara K. from The Notes Which Do Not Fit has written some good posts about virginity too (in 2012 & 2014).

Notably, I probably bring it up significantly more than most ace bloggers do. Here on my blog, it’s come up in passing in various posts, and most notably it has come up in these posts of mine:

There’s a Reason It’s Called a “Virgin” Cocktail

My Doubts about Not Wanting to Have Sex (and my journey through the depths of Scarleteen’s sex-positive sex-ed website)

and

I was curious, so I chose to have sex! Then, my curiosity was satiated. I decided never to have sex again.


The Carnival of Aces this month, May 2018, is themed around “Nuance & Complexity“.

Elizabeth, the host, says,

This month, I want us to focus on those things that we tend to avoid talking about, for fear of being misunderstood, or anything that we may have felt we can’t quite (openly) articulate.

This is my first but probably not my only submission for the carnival this month, as I have multiple (completely different) ideas that fit this carnival topic! But for now, I want to dive more into the topic of virginity.

Continue reading “An Asexual Virginity (or Lack Thereof?)”