DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I realized I was asexual a while ago but why do I still have a yearning to be in a relationship? I feel a sense of anxiety like I feel like I’m f--king up or I’m a creep around other people.
Don’t Want What I Can’t Have
DEAR DON’T WANT WHAT I CAN’T HAVE: You’re ace, not a robot, DWWICCH. Being asexual – wherever you fall on the asexuality spectrum – just means that your relationship to sex and sexuality is different than most. You may be sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want relationships.
Sex isn’t the same thing as love, after all. Nor is it the same thing as intimacy – whether physical or emotional. In fact, one of the largest and most unmet needs in American society is a need for physical contact with others. We’re a social species, and we have a very real need for physical touch. Infants who get an insufficient amount of physical contact suffer from serious health issues; they generate lower levels of growth hormones, they lose catastrophic amounts of weight and may well die because of the complications from failure to thrive. Adults need a certain amount of physical touch, too; not having it causes a condition known as “skin hunger” and end up suffering from depression and anxiety-like symptoms.
Similarly, we have need for emotional intimacy, with people we care for and who care for us. Emotional isolation and lack of emotional connections with others is just as bad for us as a lack of physical touch.
But part of the problem is that we often conflate those forms of intimacy with sex. And while sex is a form of physical (and often emotional) intimacy, it’s not the only one. Those needs don’t go away just because someone isn’t interested in slamming various bits into other peoples’ bits. Nor do we compartmentalize so much that a lack of sexual desire also equates to not having a sexual orientation (for lack of a better term). Ace people can be heteroromantic, homoromantic or bi/panromantic, even though they may not want to have sexual contact with the people they’re attracted to.
And to be clear: people who have very low sex drives, who are completely asexual with no interest in sex or who find sex repugnant can and do fall in love – romantic love – with other people. They still feel the fluttery nerves of early infatuation or get riled up by the dopamine and oxytocin rush of New Relationship Energy, still want to cuddle with their partners, touch their partners and have the casual physical and emotional connection with them. They just don’t necessarily want to f--k.
(And honestly, even that can vary; some ace people will have sex with their partners. But it often is for their partners, rather than something they desire for themselves or for its own sake.)
You’re not f--king up because you’re an ace person who wants to date or find love, nor is it inherently creepy. It’s just part of how you’re wired – one point on the wild multi-axis graph that is the human experience. You’re in a minority, sure… but being in that minority doesn’t mean anything other than just statistical presence in the population.
Getting more comfortable with your sexuality (or lack thereof) is going to be a good start towards recognizing that being ace doesn’t mean being desireless. Visiting the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network at asexuality.org is a good starting point, especially if you can use it as a launch pad to meet others. It might do you some good to find other people in the asexual community and see that you’re not alone or even all that unusual.
From there? Well, I won’t deny that it will be a challenge to find that relationship. The majority the population tend to be allosexual, after all. It may require some flexibility and a willingness to adopt a non-conventional relationship model… but you’re already living an unconventional life. Why shouldn’t your relationship be as unique and special as you are?
This is why it’s important to remember that “a challenge” is not the same thing as “impossible”. As I’m often saying: nobody said that it would be easy. Just that it is worth it.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com