I was just recently revisiting Siggy’s “You don’t need to be a mirror” post on The Asexual Agenda.
He posted it in January 2015, so about 1 year & 2 months ago. It has had a pretty significant impact on my thoughts ever since he first wrote it, and it took me 4 more months before I’d write this and I still wish more people talked about these issues.
epochryphal’s thoughts on paper/stone dynamics have always fascinated me; cos writing had been my introduction to the entire concept and if I’m being honest, really whenever co brings it up is still my only time reading anything about stone/paper stuff, but especially cos comment on this post is important to me, because it helps conceptualize what I went through with my boyfriend at the time when I was experimenting sexually with him, and even at the time prior to that when I was considering it.
I was, at the time, inexplicably less comfortable with touching my boyfriend in sexual ways than I was with being touched by him, although it ALL made me uncomfortable, and it was confounded by the fact that he explicitly had told me his strongest desires and fantasies consisted mainly of what I guess are called “stone” tendencies.
I thought I’d be “indifferent” to sex until I tried it. When I tried it, almost instantly I realized I was “sex-averse”. I had, prior to giving it a try, thought that “of course,” since I wanted to make my boyfriend happy, I would enjoy the experience of being able to be the person to make him happy. (I also hoped maybe, just maybe, I might finally experience arousal, that what had never happened before would happen and I’d actually physically react to a sexual situation.) But I should’ve trusted my own instinctual negative reaction as soon as my boyfriend had admitted he found me sexy weeks prior. (I instead felt confused and torn by my own emotions, and tried to talk myself into feeling flattered.)
Sex is so different than anything else, and analogies only go so far lol. I can be a good person who cares about my boyfriend’s happiness, while still having these kinds of personal boundaries and aversions to sex.
Just like “An asexual’s body is perfectly functional. It reacts to touch just like anyone else’s…” isn’t actually something that helps someone like ME at all when I see it in visibility/education/ace 101 materials, the phrasing Siggy captured in this blog post, “Why would asexuals ever want to have sex? Well, some people like pleasing their partners.” is just as harmful to someone like me. Because no one had ever pointed out, explicitly, to me the logical next step of “More importantly, what does it mean to not like pleasing your partner?”, and I was left with just this confused mess of feelings, of learning that sometimes aces “compromise” and/or “enjoy” sex even when that sex only makes their partner and not themselves happy. But as soon as I tried to do that, fully intending to make my partner happy through sex, the moment it was happening all I could think was “ah I actively dislike this experience, I don’t enjoy making my partner happy in this kind of way at all, I’m not feeling any kind of pleasure from making my partner happy. I really wish I was, but I’m not.”
I do know what it’s like to feel a rush of excitement from, as cinderace mentioned in their comment, giving someone a gift that they really enjoy. I know what it feels like to see someone else be happy and to just be happy FOR them, no real reason other than empathy kind of. There’s a reason why people talk about “infectious” laughter or happiness.
But it’s just not true that sex is that simple. It’s just not true that “Some people enjoy pleasing their partner” (while all the other people, the aces who don’t have sex, just don’t enjoy making their partner happy). And I’m really happy that Siggy brought this up a little over a year ago – that he brought it to the forefront of my mind – because it is so relevant to my life. Because yeah, I wish I could’ve enjoyed pleasing my partner in that way, but it’s really a lot more complicated than that. I ultimately broke up with my boyfriend because I really wanted him to be happy, and I knew, given his stone tendencies, how the only way for him to truly be fully happy was to be in a sexual relationship with a woman who really, intrinsically had those kinds of sexual desires. Someone who wouldn’t be doing stuff just for his sexual benefit, because the only real thing he wanted to be doing was something for my (or her) sexual benefit! Ah what an obstacle course we were having trouble navigating.
I wish I had known what I know now back when I was going through all that.
I wish I’d had more of a road-map.
But even if it was a bit late, it is nice to finally have a way to conceptualize the confusing territory I had navigated without-any-guide before. I love being able to look back on my life and finally have just the right lens to look through. To finally be able to really see it clearly – or at least, more clearly, than I could before.