A lot of us consistently write reminders, in our posts about asexuality and asexual issues, that asexuality isn’t the same thing as celibacy and that asexuals can still have sex and some of them do and some of them like it. All of that is true. It needs to be said, especially if the audience includes sexual people who have no knowledge of asexuality. I know that sexual people encountering asexuality for the first time are inclined to assume that all asexuals are celibate, just as they often assume we’re all aromantic. Neither thing is true and ought to be corrected. It’s important that these details are clarified. It’s important that the world understand the differences between asexuality, celibacy, and aromanticism. It’s important that everybody in the asexual community have their voice heard.
But I can’t help but feel, occasionally, that when it comes to discourse on intimate relationships or even identity within the asexual community and between the asexual community and the rest of the world, that celibate asexuals are pushed aside for all the same reasons that every other kind of “stereotypical” asexual may be. I know better than to misinterpret peoples’ personal posts about their own social orientation, so I don’t read anything written by other asexuals and think that they’re saying their own willingness to have sex is meant to be applied to the entire community. However, sometimes I feel like parts of the asexual community are so eager to connect to the sexual world, so eager to prove that they can engage in romantic relationships on sexual peoples’ terms, so eager to disprove the stereotypes, that they end up talking in a way that almost dismisses celibate asexuals and the unique issues that apply to us. I don’t think that’s intentional, and I’m not angry about it or even hurt by it. I just need to point it out.
Yeah, some asexuals are willing to have sex. Probably a whole lot more than anyone imagines. But there are those of us who are not willing. In any circumstance. Ever. I won’t say that we’re all “repulsed” because I think there can be other reasons for celibacy in asexuals.
I don’t consider myself repulsed by sex or the idea of engaging in it. I’m repulsed by kissing with tongue—but sex is something that I choose not to ever do for many reasons, only one of those being my asexuality. If someone I wasn’t already emotionally close to tried to come onto me sexually, I would be extremely uncomfortable, but even if it was someone who I was emotionally close to, I would decline, even if I wasn’t strongly disturbed by it. Yet I can think of myself in sexual situations for shits and giggles without being bothered by the image. So I guess I prefer the word “aversive.” There was once a time where, caught up in whirlwind love for someone, I thought I could consent to having sex if we became a couple because I was smart enough to know that sex was my only hope of actually being that person’s “girlfriend” (Jesus, I hate that word). In retrospect, I understand that if actually put to task, I would’ve either refused or consented dubiously and regretted it big time afterward. I’m grateful that relationship never became an official “couple” relationship, and I’m grateful I was never given the chance to make that mistake of having sex just to hang on to ill-fated love. Otherwise, since I started identifying as asexual in March 2006, I’ve always known that I want nonsexual love. I think a part of me knew before that too.
Sometimes, asexuals say, “I would have sex at least on occasion with a partner who I really, really love because I love them,” and that’s fine for them to say and do. But every time I read a statement like that, I can’t help but start inside because…. I could really, really love someone; I could love someone with my whole soul, to my fullest capacity; but I will not have sex. My unwillingness to have sex does not mean that I love that person less than an asexual who is willing to have sex. My unwillingness to have sex doesn’t mean I have a smaller heart than asexuals who consent to sex. My unwillingness to have sex doesn’t make me less capable of romantic or loving behavior than an asexual who is wiling to have sex. I know the asexuals who write those things don’t mean to imply any of that. I’m just saying.
I don’t need to have sex with anyone to prove that I love them. And no amount of love is going to make me change my mind about sex. I don’t need to do anything sexual for the sake of “compromise.” I wouldn’t consider that a compromise but a surrender. That’s another subject for another time, though.
And for any sexual people reading, don’t mistake me: I’m not saying I would ever enter into a romantic, closed relationship with someone sexual, knowing that I refuse to budge on celibacy and expecting the other person to just deal with it. I won’t, ever, do that. I won’t ask any sexual person to become celibate for me. I would never actually trust one to follow through with such a promise anyway. This is one of the many reasons why I’ve disqualified almost all sexual people in my mind as potential life partners. Some asexuals think that it’s possible for celibate, closed romantic relationships with sexual people to “work” and they choose to give it a chance. That’s their choice. I’ve made mine. I want to be with other asexuals. Frankly, they’re the only ones I trust not to burn me. If I wasn’t celibate, if I was willing to have sex, if I was willing to have sex in a long-term romantic relationship, I would feel differently because hey, then the whole world would be my relationship oyster. But I am celibate. I will always be celibate. I don’t care if that means I spend every day of my life alone. I’m not relenting. I don’t care if I had the absolute perfect person for me standing on my doorstep, offering to spend eternity with me, if I would just have sex once in a while. I’d tell them to talk a walk. No, thank you.
I’m putting this out there because if all sexual people ever hear from the asexual community is, “We can have sex too, we can like sex too, we can do it for sexual partners out of love,” then they may forget that there are plenty of other asexuals here who want love but refuse sex. Repulsed and aversive asexuals, hearing that constant mantra from their fellow asexuals, can feel alienated by it. Being able to have sex, as an asexual, puts you at an advantage. A major advantage. It makes life easier. And you should enjoy it. Really. I would, if I were in your position. (Hell, I might actually date.) For those of us who won’t have sex, it takes courage to even admit that openly, in a context that has nothing to do with actual personal relationships. But we need to say it. We need to be recognized too. We need to be loved too. We need to be understood and accepted too.
Yes, I’m asexual. Yes, I’m celibate. Yes, I’m a virgin. Yes, I intend to die that way. Yes, I want to love and be loved and have life partners. I’m physically capable of having sex, but I don’t want to have sex. I’m not apologizing for that. And I know that I am capable of great love. I know I could be a tremendously loyal, caring, tender, attentive partner. I know it because I’ve spent all my life imagining it and writing about it. I know it because I have a history of being quite the good friend to what few people I attached myself to. I know it because I’m a great sister, and I was once a very loving cousin. I still have my moments, even now, where I’m sweet or I’m sentimental, for no reason other than I feel like it. I know it because sex has nothing to do with love, even if the two coexist for a lot of people.
If I were given a partner, I would still be there for them regularly and be kind to them and listen to them and be trustworthy for them and loyal to my dying day. I would still make them tea and take care of them when they’re sick and do their laundry sometimes without being asked and make them something to eat and remember how they order things. I would still tell them I love them every day and hug them and hold their hand and cuddle them and kiss their face. I would still trust them with all of me and come back every time I go somewhere on my own. I would still celebrate their birthdays and forgive them unconditionally and let nasty things said in fights slide. I would still go out of my way to see the best in them, always. I would still tell them whenever they needed to hear it why I think they’re so great, even if they weren’t in the mood to believe it of themselves. I would still want the best for them.
I would do all of that without sex in the picture. And I do believe, no matter what anyone else says, that all of those things amount to the same love that they would if sex was in the picture.