T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 102199
posted 01-22-2013 04:46 PM
So, for my whole life up until this point (20) I've had exactly zero interest in dating or sex.
I thought I was asexual and even participated in the AVEN boards. Now, that's changed, and to put it bluntly...I want to have sex. But now I'm all confused. Even though I want to do it, some part of me feels like I'd be betraying myself and my former asexual identity if I did. I feel like I would change a LOT if I had sex, like I wouldn't even be the same person. That's the best way I can put it. This is all so perplexing. Anyone, got any advice? [ 01-22-2013, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: myu0 ]
Member # 3
posted 01-22-2013 05:02 PM
I think the idea that sex radically changes who people are is one of those things that can seem really true, but rarely is.
Certainly, some sexual experiences or relationships are very watershed for people sometimes, but that's usually about exploring, expanding or celebrating who they are: not becoming someone different. I know that there are ways that what I'm about to say can be problematic in some asexuality frameworks, or when said to asexual people sometimes. At the same time, it's also something real. What that is is that we all do not have the same timeline or life history with our sexuality, or sexual desires, or our sexual development. And it also isn't unusual for someone to find they're just coming into a desire for sex with others in their twenties, and to have not experienced that desire before then. Sometimes that happens when someone is 30. Sometimes 60. And, as you know, sometimes also it doesn't happen. As well, we also have long known, for at least 50 years, that sexuality, including sexual identity and orientation, are often fluid. So, we know that with EVERY possible orientation that is an orientation, there are people who feel like one for a while sometimes, and then either figure out there's another, or have a shift in some way where something, or more than one something, changes for them and the orientation they thought they were just turns out not to fit like it used to. It's true for straight people, gay people and all other queer people, so if we're going to frame asexuality as a framework, we have to know it's true for asexual people, too. On top of that, we know that many people, if not most, are NOT going to have a clear sense of their sexual identity very early in life. More people than not are going to be in a place of questioning in their teens and twenties, even if while in that place, they identify their sexuality with words, frameworks or within certain communities. So, maybe you're not asexual anymore. Who knows. Probably not you yet or right now, but that's okay. You don't have to know, and you'll figure out where you land in time. At the same time, whatever you choose (or don't) with sex, you still get to be you. Your sexuality is, after all, about you: all of ours is. And whatever the places in asexuality and asexual communities have been where you really identified and felt at home? Those might well be things you can still have and value even if you choose to date and/or engage in sex with partners. We actually have a good piece here from someone who was in a similar spot as it sounds you are (and I know is now in a relationship that's going great for her, too) here: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/politics/space_exploration_what_sexual_people_can_learn_from_asexual_communities [ 01-22-2013, 05:10 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]
Member # 101745
posted 01-22-2013 05:37 PM
It's really not unusual for various facets of someone's identity, including their feelings about being sexual, to change over time. It is absolutely true that some people do have a very fixed identity that never changes, but it's very common for folks to have a more fluid understanding of their various identities. I hear you say this is confusing, and that's understandable, but it certainly isn't wrong or weird for your feelings to change like this. They may still continue to change over time.
Can you talk a bit about why you feel like being sexual would be a betrayal of yourself or your identity, and how you feel it would change you? Honestly, I think making choices based on your current identity and feelings vs. holding on to an identity you no longer feel a connection to is pretty much the opposite of a betrayal of self. Exploring the possibility that you aren't asexual doesn't mean you have to reject the idea of asexuality or your asexual experience.
Member # 102199
posted 01-22-2013 06:26 PM
Thank you both for your replies,
To answer your question, Moline, I guess it's just because I've been so adamant about my asexuality as a vital part of my identity, ever since I began to understand what sex really was. I remember sitting in sex ed. class and thinking to myself "Ugh, I'm never going to do THAT stuff!". And then around high school, all my friends started dating, and I just couldn't relate to what they were going through. I was super shy around this time, so I could never quite understand their world. I was a total geek and a bookworm, so guys never approached me, heh. But now I want to do all this stuff I once swore up and down that I'd never do. I worry that if I do, that I won't be "Zoe" anymore, because Ill be sacrificing a part of what makes me unique - my asexual identity. I fear the idea of changing myself and losing "who I am". Sex just has never been a part of my personal universe, and up until now I never wanted it to be. Thank you for listening. [ 01-22-2013, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: myu0 ]
Member # 3
posted 01-22-2013 06:32 PM
Well, it sounds like it HAS been a vital part of your identity. I mean, I can't imagine you'd have felt that way and said that if it hadn't been true for you.
Maybe a comparison that might work is knowing there are people for whom being in a given relationship was a huge part of their identity. Then they aren't in it anymore. But lo, usually, they are still who they are as a person, and the change to their identity doesn't make them any less of who they are. Or, someone who works a job their whole life, then retires. Like someone who was a teacher for 40 years, but then isn't a teacher anymore. Or, someone who was agnostic up until they were 40, then finds or finds they start to deeply connect with Judaism or Buddhism or Catholicism, what have you. Know what I mean? None of those kinds of changes mean those people were not the people they were, or that those things weren't real parts of who they were, even core parts. It just means that people are rarely static, life often changes, and we often shift or change with it. But we're still exactly who we are throughout.
Member # 56822
posted 02-04-2013 07:27 AM
I was atheist up until about a year ago. Now I'm agnostic - spiritual but don't align with any organised religion.
Life is always in motion.
Member # 103197
posted 02-11-2013 01:18 AM
Just so you know, the exact same thing happened to me, only I'm 19, not 20.
Including feeling alienated from my peers in high school, swearing I'll never do that stuff, and feeling like I was betraying a part of my identity when later on I did want to do that stuff. I was also an AVEN lurker. I had just started college at the time, and I wanted to be true to both my current self and my past self, so when conversations about sexuality came up I'd say I was sexual now, but used to be asexual. Though I felt a little awkward saying that, because doesn't everybody start out asexual? Luckily the group of friends I was in was pretty diverse sexuality wise, and one of them later said she was asexual herself. Though some people misunderstood and thought I meant I was still asexual, but I'm not looking to date anyone at the moment so that's not much of a problem for me. I also wanted to be true to my past self by being an ally for asexuals. I got into a conversation with the head of a sex-positive activism group at my school and ended up adding asexuality information to a sex ed event. So that's my experience so far. I figured I'd post this so you know you're not the only one who feels that way. Our identities meant a lot to us at the time, and the fact that we changed doesn't make who we were any less valid.
Jacob at Scarleteen
Member # 66249
posted 02-16-2013 01:21 PM
Thanks for adding that amaryllis!
You made me think about a number of things that I thought might help, especially around identity. I'm thinking that in the sense of 'knowing we want to have sex', true, that's something many people may not necessarily feel until later on in their lives, but as babies can't identify I'm not sure it's fair to say we all start 'asexual'... especially given that by some definitions all our childhood urges can also be described as relating to sexuality. Those theories and definitions however are all part of culture. They're some the tools of language and science which we have for figuring ourselves out and relating to the world. It sounds like asexuality has been a big part of how both of you have been able to do that and defined your experiences, especially the feelings of exclusion from home communities and school situations and affinity with a wider asexual community. It doesn't cease being part of you, it is just being added to by new stuff. Whether the word 'asexual' feels like it doesn't describe you completely any more or not, no-one has any right to discard your experiences or identity just because it hasn't been the same forever. Going into the future is always something new we're never exactly the same person from one moment to the next, your uniqueness is multiplied every moment. Part of the problem of feeling lost, washed away and somehow absorbed by the 'sexual world' and no longer unique must come from just how much of it can suck! We really do lack a decent range of models for how relationships and personal sexuality can work. In youth sexuality it's worse, policy makers will debate for ages on the sore points of whether we're "doing-it" or not, with little care about the vast number of ways both of those things can be true, and between which there is some far more important stuff going on, like desire, consent, identity, self worth, body image etc etc. So staying critical is important, and I think a continuing important part of my sexuality, for example. I don't think I can be me without acknowledging my critique of social moulds of what's supposed to be normal, because those things limit me. So it's not just that it's ok to change, and it's ok to not be asexual any more, it's also not ok that the idea of sexuality can feel so limiting that we fear a loss of our uniqueness, there's a certain injustice there. So I'm thinking that perhaps it might be useful to be reminded that no matter how limiting things can feel, we can re-write the handbook, change the labels on our cans, because it's our minds, our bodies and identities.
Member # 103197
posted 04-30-2013 03:26 AM
I've been thinking about your post some more Jacob. It's not so much that I feel less unique, but more like suddenly something that was previously so excluding to me suddenly wasn't. Media, attitudes, and cultural assumptions that didn't include me now do, and expected lifestyles and roles that previously weren't for me are now an option. I was previously repulsed asexual, and now I don't have to worry so much when I read a book, watch a movie, or even talk with friends that the conversation will turn to something explicit that I can't handle. I don't even have to care about it anymore. It's like I've gained sexual privilege, and I feel kind of uncomfortable with it.
I've also thought more about the reason I felt awkward saying saying I used to be asexual, and I've come to the conclusion that it's because I was worried that since I "grew out of" my asexuality, just like many people expect teenagers to do, it made it less valid somehow, as if everybody starts out asexual and then "grows up" so why was my asexuality important to me? I've come to the conclusion that the worry was ridiculous because a) Just because I did end up "growing out of" my sexuality doesn't mean it wasn't important to me at the time, for all the reasons I outlined above. b) As discussed in this thread and others, not everybody feels like they started out asexual in the first place.