This past week (Feb 19-25) was Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. Before last week I did not know there was such a thing as a arospec awareness week, but there it was. Twitter seemed to lump aro in with asexual for a sort of aro/ace spec awareness week, and as most of the people I follow are in some way associated with the LGBTQIA community, I saw a large number of posts flooding my Twitter feed related to this topic.
As such, before I even got out of bed on the morning of Sunday, February 19, I had encountered something alarming/exciting. Lying in bed browsing Twitter, I happened across a thread wherein a person described what being aromantic/asexual means to her.
And holy shit.
It was me.
It was exactly how I’ve felt for years.
Dear God, can’t I even get out of bed before having life-altering self-revelations on a Sunday morning?!
This post is gonna get a bit personal, but hey, what else is new? I’ve been spilling my guts here every week for months. I believe in a policy of openness, because there are countless things in the world that many people experience, but few people talk about. I have found great solace from those few people willing to talk about these things, so I’m going to be one, in hopes that my gut-spilling and openness can help someone else someday.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
I must admit, I spent most of Sunday, uh, “in a state,” as they say (“they” here being people in the 1800s). I’ve never thought of myself as asexual or aromantic, but then, I never really knew what ace/aro was. I knew what it meant, but I never knew what it feels like. It’s easy to regurgitate a dictionary definition: “Aromantic – a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction.” Well… I’m married, so at some point I was romantically attracted to someone, so I’m not aromantic… Right? “Asexuality – a lack of sexual feelings or desire.” Well, I have sex, I enjoy sex, so I’m not asexual. Right?
Turns out no, not really.
Ace/aro identity is a very nuanced thing. I’m vaguely afraid to write anything about it here, because I literally just learned about most of it a week ago and it’s all still very uncertain, so I’m not willing to make my own statements about it as a whole. I’m just going to express how I feel, and compare it to what I’ve read about how other people–people identifying as ace/aro–feel.
I’ve always just considered myself as having a low sex drive. I can go weeks without sex and not even notice. In fact, I usually do go weeks without sex. I have to make a pointed effort to remember to occasionally have sex with my husband, because it doesn’t matter to me either way if we do or don’t. I’ve been with the same guy for nearly ten years, though, so that’s natural, right? All those jokes about married couples never having sex, hardy har har, that’s all it is, right? He’s the only guy I’ve ever had a relationship with–I never did any dating or sleeping around or playing the field or any of that nonsense in high school or college. I never really had the opportunity… but, in retrospect, I also never really had the desire. One-night stands, casual sex, the mere idea of all that kind of horrified me. But I also have anxiety and hate to deal with strangers, so that’s probably all that is, right? I like to look at shirtless guys. I get ridiculous crushes on celebrities and silly crushes on random people I see on the bus or in the hall at work. I have sex with my husband and I enjoy it. I’m not devoid of sexual attraction… so I’m not asexual. Right? (I’m not trying to give the impression I’m in denial or that I don’t want to be ace/aro, I just don’t want to wrongfully claim a label)
Then I read this post, and Rachel Sharp’s explanation was exactly how I’ve felt all my life. How I still feel. She wrote: “I do feel romantic attraction. I do get crushes (a lot). But for me, a crush isn’t about sex. It’s a cuddle-crush. I want someone I like to like me back and be affectionate. If sex is involved, okay, that can be fun. But so are roller coasters, and swimming in the ocean, and playing video games together. I feel approximately the same emotional investment and drive for all of these activities.”
THAT. IS. ME.
I get crushes on random people and I want to talk to them about life, or books, or movies, or dogs! I want to go for walks, or plant a garden! I don’t care if we so much as kiss. I have no desire to “jump their bones” or “do naughty things to them,” even if I find them super physically appealing. I’ve always felt it odd that people talk about fantasizing about sex with celebrities or so on. Sure, they’re hot, but I don’t think about having sex with them. When I get crushes on people, I literally just want to talk to them. Even with my husband, I am just as content with cuddling or sitting on the couch together as I am with sex (maybe even more so).
So hey, it seems I fall on the a-spectrum somewhere.Who knew?!
I’m not willing to affix a label to myself yet. There are a lot of labels (ace, aro, gray-aro, demisexual, etc) and I find it very intimidating to try to put myself under one heading. There’s also a degree of feeling like an intruder–I’m headed towards my 30’s. Can I just suddenly affix a new label to my sexuality at this point? I’ve been unwilling to refer to myself as “straight” for years, but the question of what I should call myself has never really come up. It hasn’t really mattered. I’m married to a man and our relationship works regardless of what I call myself. For now, I feel like it’s enough to say I fall on the a-spec somewhere. And it’s kind of nice to realize that I don’t have some medical condition or that my lack of sex drive is not related to my husband or my marriage in any way. This is how I’ve felt all my life and there’s a word for it! There’s a community!
I’m not a weirdo! (at least not in this respect)