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Life as an asexual couple
September 9, 2008 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Despite not being physically attracted to other people, Paul Cox, 24, explains how he and his wife found love and happiness as an asexual couple.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (189 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
:)

(Speaking as an asexual here.)
posted by sperose at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2008


Despite? I would think not being physically attracted to other people could only improve your chances of finding love and happiness with your SO.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:24 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


It'll never work. Soon some attractive person will catch they eye of one of them and they'll be not having sex behind their spouse's back. Illicit meetings at seedy motels to play cards. Whispered exchanges of non-sexual pleasantries. When the other spouse finds out, there'll be tears and recriminations. "I thought you said *I* was the only one you weren't having sex with!"
posted by DU at 8:25 AM on September 9, 2008 [42 favorites]


Sounds like he's a fairly normal, stable, decent guy. How boring!
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:28 AM on September 9, 2008


Did that read like an Onion article to anyone else?
posted by Democritus at 8:29 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


My parents are agricultural scientists, so I've lived overseas since around the age of 10. I was in India until I was 16, then Zimbabwe for two years, and then Kuwait. I studied in China and New York, before settling in London. Even at 10, I had a sense that I didn't want to get married and have children.

Traveling abroad = no babies for you?
posted by katillathehun at 8:30 AM on September 9, 2008


This is sweet (meaningful platonic love FTW) but I'm not sure I understand the framing. How does an asexual differ from any other person with a very low sex drive?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:35 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


What are the chances that their friends are setting up a betting pool?
posted by demiurge at 8:36 AM on September 9, 2008


I am confused about his statement that masturbation is just a thing his body "does". Masturbation isn't breathing, it doesn't happen on its own whether you like it or not. It requires active participation. Is it a release? Does he feel good after it? Does he simply not think about anything while doing it--like, he's yanking one while reading the morning newspaper and discussing the weather with his wife?

I can't help but feel a little sorry for him, in the way that I feel bad for people who don't like dogs or the Muppets. I mean, it's the Muppets, man! How can you not like the Muppets?
posted by schroedinger at 8:40 AM on September 9, 2008 [14 favorites]


Did that read like an Onion article to anyone else?

No, but it did make me wonder if there's some autism-spectrum aspect to his professed asexuality.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


When I was in college (and I'm guessing this might be kind of a universal college experience) many of the guys who could never get laid in the dorms would always claim to have a number of women who they regularly had sex with back "at home". Looking back, claiming to have been asexual would have been far more dignified.
posted by The Gooch at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The masturbation thing threw me for a loop, too.

I thought I was asexual for a time, but it turned out I'm just really lazy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:44 AM on September 9, 2008 [31 favorites]


Yes, I would say that dogs or a children's puppet show is probably the ideal analogy for sexuality. Go with that.
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wasn't disgusted or appalled - it was just boring, like looking at wallpaper.

A lot of mainstream porn with mainstream-looking standards of attractiveness is, to be fair.
posted by mippy at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought I was asexual for a time, but after I lost weight I found out I had genitals under there.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:55 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It just sounds like are taking their time, like they have the mentality of a nine year-old when it comes to relationships. You think more about having a crush on someone, holding their hand, maybe kissing them on the cheek then coyly looking away. Like Paul says, wait five years when they'll have the sexual mentality of a fifteen or sixteen year old - it will be all sloppy hickies and dry humping in mall food courts. Aww.

Postscript: Not speaking from experience.
posted by rokabiri at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cox! It's funny 'cause his name is Cox. Also, yes, Onion article.
posted by fixedgear at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2008


schroedinger -- asexuality, at least as I understand it from this article, doesn't mean that his body doesn't have sexual urges--leading to masturbation--it means that those urges are unrelated to any kind of sexual attraction. That makes a certain kind of sense to me, w/r/t the idea of asexuality. And a low sex drive isn't the same thing, as far as I can tell, because a person with a low sex drive (who isn't asexual) feels sexual attraction towards... whomever they are sexually attracted to, but doesn't feel the urge to have sex very strongly.

Interesting stuff.
posted by tzikeh at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Post-postscript: No, no, wait six or seven years. I can count. Really, I can.
posted by rokabiri at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2008


I want to hear about all the sex a couple isn't having about as much as I want to hear about all the sex a couple is having.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:02 AM on September 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


Autism spectrum??

Yeah, 'cause that makes perfect sense: Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, autistic.

Geez, it's just another aspect of the range of human sexuality, as far as I can tell (I checked out asexuality.org from the link in his article); it just hasn't been in the public eye.

But hey, I remember when homosexuality was in the DSM as a mental illness. Glad to see you're willing to go directly to that explanation again when a sexuality you don't understand shows up.
posted by tzikeh at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


If you are only 24 years old, then you are not qualified to opine about whether you have found love or happiness in your marriage.
posted by Slap Factory at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders writes: Despite? I would think not being physically attracted to other people could only improve your chances of finding love and happiness with your SO.

No, I think it would actually be quite difficult to find potential partners who would be interested in a sexless marriage or relationship.

If there's a joke here, I'm missing it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2008


I want to hear about all the sex a couple isn't having about as much as I want to hear about all the sex a couple is having.

At least the story is over faster that way.....OR IS IT? ZZZZZZZNAP!
posted by DU at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2008


If you are only 24 years old, then you are not qualified to opine about whether you have found love or happiness in your marriage.

This is a completely ridiculous statement.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


If you are only 24 years old, then you are not qualified to opine about whether you have found love or happiness in your marriage.

As someone who is getting married at 24: that's a real dick thing to say. Hope your saddle is comfortable on that high horse of yours.
posted by giraffe at 9:14 AM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


I am tired and slightly frumpy. I completely deny that this is in any way a phase, but is rather my enduring, lasting character.

Though I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Damn you, Hammerfall.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2008


I'm having a hard time believing that he has no sexual attraction to anyone when says that his wife being "pretty" was one of the reasons he enjoyed her company. The "kissing and cuddling" means that they have at least a minimal level of physical intimacy, doesn't that imply a sort of attraction?
posted by eastlakestandard at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2008


Sidhevil..he said WITH YOUR S.O., not finding an SO. In other words, not being sexually tempted all the time by hotties in the street makes it far easier to be happy with what you've got at home.
posted by spicynuts at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2008


If you are only 24 years old, then you are not qualified to opine about whether you have found love or happiness in your marriage.

Citation needed.
posted by tzikeh at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many asexual people also do not own televisions.
posted by Damn That Television at 9:21 AM on September 9, 2008 [21 favorites]


Parents kiss and cuddle their kids all the time. It's a sign of affection, not a sexual attraction thing. I'm thinking asexual doesn't necessarily mean adverse to all human contact.

Also, I can definitely identify women as pretty without being attracted to them. And there are definitely women I'm attracted to.
posted by giraffe at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Amanda and I have been happily married for nine months now and we're both still virgins.

I love how people are so quick to profile something early on as a sign that it's going to work forever. I'd be more interested in hearing about an asexual couple that has never had sex, and been married for year or decades.
posted by piratebowling at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


While I understand that humans have a vast range of feelings and interests and experiences and desires, not wanting to have sex, at all, would indicate to me that something has gone very, very wrong. For me, its right up there in the personality-trait-vs-mental-illness debate surrounding voluntary limb amputation.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2008


The "kissing and cuddling" means that they have at least a minimal level of physical intimacy, doesn't that imply a sort of attraction?

One can love and kiss and cuddle one's children, no?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2008


The immediate denial of liking boys stood out to me. I've often wondered if a large percentage of self-professed asexuals were individuals struggling with desires they didn't want to accept and therefore "turned off" that part of their person. I'm not saying you can't be asexual, but my instinct is to always assume that someone is struggling with something, not that someone is missing something.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Bullshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
posted by aerotive at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2008


On our wedding night, my mother-in-law insisted on booking us into a honeymoon suite, so we invited all our friends to an after party. We played Scrabble late into the night and everyone stayed over and slept on the hotel-room floor.

Cute! This article is adorable. (I'm speaking as an asexual here as well. [self link.)
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


One night they will replace the Scrabble board with ecstasy and wake up naked in a puddle of each others bodily fluids. Now THAT will be awkward!
posted by weezy at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Should this be added to the short list of topics that MeFi just doesn't do well?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


Boy, fuck THAT guy....
posted by jscott at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


More power to them and all that. But this part seemed a bit off:

When it comes to the future and to children, we're big advocates of adoption. We're not so fussed about passing on our own genes.

As far as I can tell, nothing about being asexual prevents you from having sex. I assume they are not anti-sexual (i.e., repulsed), just asexual. As we know from the little masturbation tidbit, the equipment works. So assuming they want kids, I don't see the necessary link between asexuality and being proponents of adoption. (Of course, maybe they're just proponents of adoption without regard to their sexuality, which is fine). I also am surprised by the implied link between sexuality and being "fussed about passing on" one's genes.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


While I understand that humans have a vast range of feelings and interests and experiences and desires, not wanting to have sex, at all, would indicate to me that something has gone very, very wrong. For me, its right up there in the personality-trait-vs-mental-illness debate surrounding voluntary limb amputation.

Hmm. No, I don't agree with that categorization. I'd say those who want a healthy limb amputated are mentally ill. But I'm willing to accept that there are physically and mentally healthy people who simply have no interest in sex, though I'd tend to believe they are rare.

Though like some others in this thread I'd be skeptical that these two people will remain asexual all their lives.
posted by orange swan at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2008


I am definitely a very sexual person but I have had a relationship with someone that is closer than any sexual relationship I have had, and was completely satisfied with it and with the other person. We have fallen asleep on top of each other, been piss drunk together, and just never felt the urge to have sex. So I can definitely believe that this could be the normal state of mind for someone and not just some symptom.

One or the other of the couple in the story may get curious enough to try, say, mutual masturbation, but I don't think that will fundamentally change the relationship they have or suddenly make it more real than it was before for them.

Having sex with a woman doesn't turn a gay man straight, and experimenting with sex won't change these people very much, either, I don't think.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:37 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Did anyone else immediately compose a Chuck Palahniuk book in their head about a couple who meets at the NYC asexuality support group? And it turns out that she's just there to meet guys and seduce them as part of a complex personal quest to prove there's no such thing as asexuality? And then she meets this one guy that she can't turn, no matter what? But then we find out that he's not only attending the asexuality support meetings, but also the sex addicts meetings, and he's banging like literally everyone, male, female, neither, both at the sex addicts meetings? And she's practically the only person in town that he hasn't had sex with? And finally they get married, or steal a house, or crash an airliner, or turn out to be separated-at-birth fraternal twins or something?

No?

Me neither.
posted by rusty at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2008 [45 favorites]


You can choose a pet because you think it's pretty, and kiss and cuddle it and have a relationship with it - doesn't mean it's sexual, nor any less real than a human relationship. Look at how devastated people are when pets die.

OK, his wife isn't a chihuahua, but you know...
posted by mippy at 9:50 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn. I don't have sex with all my wife's friends. How. To. Broach. This.
posted by everichon at 10:07 AM on September 9, 2008


Q: Why did Fonzie stop having sex?

A: Because he was ayyyyyyyyysexual!
posted by hifiparasol at 10:12 AM on September 9, 2008 [22 favorites]


It's not the lack of interest that baffles me, it's the lack of curiosity. Here's this thing that is seemingly on the minds of everyone in the world, but, OK, you aren't that interested in it. Then again, you have someone right next to you who you could try it with. You like kissing and cuddling, so you're kind of there. You masturbate, so your body desires it even if your mind doesn't.

Why would you not at least try it once out of curiosity?

I have a hard time believing this couple isn't just trying to make some kind of statement with their virginity. Asexuality in a marriage, I can accept. Virginity in a marriage is just silly.
posted by bchase at 10:13 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


So you're saying -- Paul Cox : sex :: hipsters : pop music?
posted by FuManchu at 10:21 AM on September 9, 2008


bchase -> I was thinking the same thing; for someone who is so resolutely asexual, he sure seemed confused when the urge to bring sandwiches and hold hands came on.

It seems like theres a fair bit of stubborness going on there (I say this as one who is often, often stubborn)
posted by mannequito at 10:21 AM on September 9, 2008


I keep feeling like this is a mystery somehow. The narrative has details that seem mostly non-sequitour but to me they paint a meloncholy picture of a boy always moving somewhere exotic and survived by being detached. Maybe part of me is desperately struggling to find the part where he either had his sexual will stolen or lost as the concept of a desexualized life rather horrifying. It seems a life without it would be difficult: sex communicates a great deal between two people in a very short time in addition to providing recreational opportunities. Grudge/welcome-home-honey scrabble doesn't seem like it would fill the bill.

"B-E-Z-I-Q-U-E, Bezique. That's a hundred and twenty seven points. See if you act like that again!"

Maybe they should wrestle occasionally.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:24 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, his wife isn't a chihuahua, but you know...
Who knows, maybe they're latent zoos.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2008


kittyprecious wrote: Did that read like an Onion article to anyone else?

No, but it did make me wonder if there's some autism-spectrum aspect to his professed asexuality.


On what grounds? That people with autism are, like, a bit weird, and this bloke is, like, a bit weird too, ergo, yeah, he's one of them autistics?

I'm really going to have to amend Mottram's Law one of these days.
posted by jack_mo at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2008


Did that read like an Onion article to anyone else?

No, but it did make me wonder if there's some autism-spectrum aspect to his professed asexuality.


No, it's just the standard personality-free voice that all of these first-person revelatory essays in British newspapers seem to share.
posted by padraigin at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why would you not at least try it once out of curiosity?

Because you're not curious about it. I'd wager there's a bunch of stuff you haven't done that lots of other people totally luuuurve. Have you had straight sex? Gay sex? Had a kid? Started watching Gossip Girl? Been to Burning Man? Gotten a tattoo? Smoked weed? Joined a gym? Bough a pair of Crocs? You can't jumpstart curiosity. Not everyone becomes interested in something based solely on how many other people are interested in it.

I imagine (for no good reasons, really) that there are parallels between cochlear implants in the deaf community and having sex in the asexual community.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


They say they want children, but they're not willing to use their own equipment to get them.

That's not asexuality, that's fear. Of what, I'm not sure, but that's fear.
posted by Malor at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


They say they want children, but they're not willing to use their own equipment to get them.

That's not asexuality, that's fear. Of what, I'm not sure, but that's fear.


A lack of interest in biological children is perfectly ordinary in sexual people, too.
posted by padraigin at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


If sex isn't exciting or interesting to someone, why would he want to do it? If he could just skip right to the end process and adopt a kid (because his interest lay in being a father, not in sexually reproducing), then wouldn't that just be less of a hassle?
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't believe a word in this article, sorry. Something else going on.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2008


Maybe he gets violently horny every 7 years?

On a serious note, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of dismissing asexuality as just delusion. I've never experienced the desire to have sex with another woman. I understand it's a lot of fun. But that doesn't mean I can't comprehend the idea that other women do And I can just as easily imagine having no desire for sex at all. Actually, it makes perfect sense to me that some people just wouldn't have a sex drive. For me - and I can't explain this very well - I've always felt sexual desire to be more of an external force, a strong physical reaction but not something that I feel is central to my identity. And so I can imagine what it would be like to lack that desire and still be a "normal" person.

Just because we can't identify with something doesn't mean it's some sort of pathology or self-delusion. I agree with tzikeh that we run the same risk of classifying asexuality the same way we used to classify homosexuality if we judge sexual normality by what gets us off.
posted by bibliowench at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Have you had straight sex? Gay sex? Had a kid? Started watching Gossip Girl? Been to Burning Man? Gotten a tattoo? Smoked weed? Joined a gym? Bough a pair of Crocs?

In order: Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. You're a pervert to even suggest such a thing.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:52 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


schroedinger: I can't help but feel a little sorry for him, in the way that I feel bad for people who don't like dogs or the Muppets. I mean, it's the Muppets, man! How can you not like the Muppets?

DU: Yes, I would say that dogs or a children's puppet show is probably the ideal analogy for sexuality. Go with that.


I see these sort of confusions all the time, and they drive me batshit insane. Maybe DU was just making a snarky joke, but -- taken literally -- he's confused.

schroedinger wasn't implying that sex is like "The Muppets." He was implying that sex and watching "The Muppet Show" share a common feature (though they may be otherwise dissimilar). That common feature is the fact that many people find both activities fun. schroedinger is making the reasonable statement that if there's something most people find fun, he feels sorry for eccentrics who can't share in the joy.

People's lack of nuance (or feigned lack of nuance) when it comes to analogy and metaphor is annoying.
posted by grumblebee at 10:55 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah! It pisses me off that people aren't having sex with eachother too!
posted by cellphone at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2008


If you've had any number of sexual relationships, then surely you've been with partners who had no desire or even revulsion from what others commonly like to do in bed (e.g. the girl who won't give head or the guy who doesn't like to french kiss).
My point is that sexual inhibitions are hardly rare. This seems only like a more pervasive form of the same tendencies, writ large.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2008


Asexuality is perfect if you want to be a Catholic priest or nun, but otherwise how sad to miss out on one of life's great joys.
posted by caddis at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2008


Should this be added to the short list of topics that MeFi just doesn't do well?

Wait, what is it we do do well again?
posted by Rangeboy at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find the details of asexuality confusing when it's compared to hetero/homo/bisexuality. I wonder if he was equally likely to have formed a sexless marriage with a man. If not, isn't that some sort of orientation? I guess one could argue it's not a sexual orientation, but hetero/homo/bisexual orientations aren't exclusively about the sex either. And really, doesn't "sex" in those terms refer to a partner's physical characteristics, not the sex act?
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


People's lack of nuance (or feigned lack of nuance) when it comes to analogy and metaphor is annoying.

I completely agree; whether it's due to laziness or obtuseness, MetaFilter does metaphor worse than declawing, politics, fatness, or (a)sexuality, and the worseness increases exponentially when it's used in a discussion of those topics. Say what you mean, dammit!

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2008


Tell my wife I said: Hello
posted by Smedleyman at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


Man I hate kissing, although I tolerate it in moderation for the sake of my partner. I hate watching other people kiss, too. If people in a porn kiss, ugh, bye-bye girl boner. No one believes me about this! So I sympathize.

I am also jealous. I mean, the money I've spent on various sexual paraphernalia and batteries could fund some really cool furniture, or maybe a vacation to somewhere on Amtrak with a moderately priced hotel.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2008


While I understand that humans have a vast range of feelings and interests and experiences and desires, not wanting to have sex, at all, would indicate to me that something has gone very, very wrong.

I, for one, commend this young man for keeping his flesh aloof from the rank and festering embraces of another naked carcass.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2008


i was going to post this article on philips' new range of 'intimate massagers for couples', but i thought this was a better thread for it :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2008


No, it's just the standard personality-free voice that all of these first-person revelatory essays in British newspapers seem to share.

Aha, I knew there was something a little off about the perspective.

Dear tzikeh: chill. Seriously.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:27 AM on September 9, 2008


I, for one, commend this young man for keeping his flesh aloof from the rank and festering embraces of another naked carcass

You're supposed to do with people that is alive. Maybe that's what you're doing wrong?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


i thought the article was interesting and i think many of the comments here are ignorant bordering on offensive.

asexuality is real, and to suggest that because a person isn't sexually attracted to someone/anyone means "something has gone wrong" is a bit ridiculous. just because many people enjoy sex doesn't mean everyone does, nor does it mean that everyone yearns to touch their genitals to someone else's.

kissing and cuddling is more about affection than it is about sex. there's chaste/friendly kissing and then there's pre-sex making out. i doubt they're doing the later.

there are many marriages that are sexless. generally you only see the focus on the ones where one of the partners has "dried up" or where work and kids has left no time for it. and those sexless marriages are shown to be BAD. but if both partners have agreed that there are better ways to spend their time together as a couple, what's the harm?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


He is what he is. He is simply describing his experience. He has labeled it as asexuality, which is fine-that's as good a description as any. Perhaps he and his wife may eventually decide to be hetero, perhaps they will continue living platonically.

Years ago I had a male friend in Raleigh who was asexual. I don't remember if he labeled himself that way-he knew he wasn't attracted to women, yet he was fairly certain he wasn't gay (and would have been fine with it if he had been.)

I'd guess there's no one real answer why folks like this exist. In some perhaps fear or detatchment, in others, it may simply just be how they are wired.
posted by konolia at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


On what grounds? That people with autism are, like, a bit weird, and this bloke is, like, a bit weird too, ergo, yeah, he's one of them autistics?

Oh, come on. It's not "a bit weird" that (a) the author's voice has a rather flat affect (addressed above) and (b) he's disinterested in a major facet of interpersonal intimacy. Those don't automatically lead to an ASD, but there is some overlap.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2008


I dunno, that's about a specious as a nerd self-diagnosing his Aspberger's because he always wins at Trivial Pursuit and sucks at small talk.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2008


I'd guess there's no one real answer why folks like this exist ... it may simply just be how they are wired.

Why, that's mighty white gay big of you, Konolia.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:52 AM on September 9, 2008


I'm honestly baffled by some of the voices of disbelief in this thread. Is asexuality so outlandish and far-fetched? A 2004 study showed as many as one in 100 are asexual, and that's if we define asexuality as someone who can say, "I have never felt sexual attraction to anyone at all."

Keep in mind that this survey was conducted among people who reported never having had sex. The flaw I see with this is: how many homosexual males have, at some point in their lives, engaged in heterosexual sex? Anecdotally, most of my gay friends have. Would a survey determining the prevelance of homosexuality restrict itself only to those who have never had heterosexual sex?

I have an asexual friend who has had sex. He did so for the same reason some of my gay friends have had straight sex - a blend of pressure, societal acceptance of the practice, and even some genuine curiosity. That he had sex doesn't make him any less of an asexual, just as having tried straight sex doesn't make a gay man any less gay.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:02 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Alvy: I dunno, that's about a specious as a nerd self-diagnosing his Aspberger's because he always wins at Trivial Pursuit and sucks at small talk.

Nailed it, although I suppose that saying that everyone who is not mainstream has an ASD is more benevolent a fashion than the whole Freudian gimmick.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:05 PM on September 9, 2008


Although it could be worse, we could have the whole left/right brain nonsense show its ugly head.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on September 9, 2008


This thread is amazing. Basically, nearly everyone who doesn't self-identify as asexual is claiming that it's bullshit or a mental illness, and the few who do identify that way seem to think the article made them happy. I'm definitely not asexual, but I definitely think it's not a mental illness, or bullshit. I think most of you who are screaming that this can't exist are a little bit mentalist sexually, though.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2008


And then one day, the Pon Farr will hit him and he'll have to return to his home planet to deal with it.
posted by SPrintF at 12:23 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm calling vive la différence on this asexuality business.
posted by everichon at 12:31 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


From personal ads posted on Asexual Marriage Net, a marriage broker website in China. More than 7,000 people have joined since the website was launched last year.

I'm an elegant, honest, intellectual woman who likes platonic love affairs and wishes for this kind of marriage. We can establish a family that is warm and sexless.
—Feng Yalan, female, twenty-four

I am not beautiful or seductive, but I am honest. Because of a birth defect, I might be unable to have a normal sex life. If two people don't have sex, can there be love? Can an asexual couple have a happy life together? I believe yes.
—Wishing for Love, female, twenty-eight
posted by plexi at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2008


I wish them continued happiness.

(not asexual, and certainly don't think it is anomalous.)
posted by kaibutsu at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have an asexual friend who has had sex. He did so for the same reason some of my gay friends have had straight sex - a blend of pressure, societal acceptance of the practice, and even some genuine curiosity. That he had sex doesn't make him any less of an asexual, just as having tried straight sex doesn't make a gay man any less gay.

When I think back to my late teens/early twenties on the seeming difficulty I had in accomplishing sex with women on any regular basis to satisfy my raging desire, it is extremely disheartening to realize now that even some guy with just a casual curiosity about it can get laid.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Pardon my Mengele-like curiosity (yeah, nobody else has Godwinned this thread yet, so I'm on it, baby!), but I think it would be interesting to get their hormone levels checked and perhaps a quick pass through a PET scanner while viewing various images, including a variety of pornography. See what happens if you get the male half of the couple's total testosterone level around 700 to 800 ng/dl through some injections.

And I say this as someone who is a few months away from getting some HRT himself.
posted by adipocere at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2008


You can not have as much sex as you want. But I don’t want not to not hear about it.
...no, wait.
I need a Ti92

“nearly everyone who doesn't self-identify as asexual is claiming that it's bullshit or a mental illness...”

“A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. On Winter they will not exist. One is respected and judged only as a human being. It is an appalling experience.” - LeGuin (Left Hand of Darkness)

I think it was LeGuin who said if you look at most humans outfitted for winter - they’re pretty asexual. And I have to say, I am fairly asexual for much of the time. I sleep, eat, do (some) work all without the heat of sexual passion.

So that heat being a somewhat transitory state, I get how it can be just sort of ‘off.’
But sexual identity does permeate a lot of what we do. I enjoy my masculinity being noticed and I tend to up the testosterone level in any given room by about 350%.
I don’t know that what people are calling bullshit is the asexuality so much as maybe the perception that it’s lack of sexual identity. (I mean I want my cock regarded with the quiet awe due any major Chthonic fertility deity, but must that sense localized in the gonads?)

I suspect the folks in the piece (and elsewhere) are plugged into certain elemental behaviors that establishes their respective masculinity or femininity - to whatever social norms.
The lack of that I would find truly surprising - whether the dude wants to rule at playing Trivial Pursuit or however his basic maleness comes out.

I think there’s a contrast between asexual with neuter or genderless.
Of course, that’s speculative. I’d leave it to the asexual folks here to illustrate whether such is the case. But I doubt there’s an “It’s Pat!” sort of deal there.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dear kittyprecious,

I'll chill when you agree that making the leap from "this guy doesn't feel sexual attraction, which doesn't make sense to me," to "OMG AUTISM" was a bad move.

For the various Mefites upthread calling "bullshit" or "something else is going on" or whatever other versions of "this is foreign to me and therefore must be bad or a lie!" are on tap today, maybe read up a little more on the subject so you don't pass ill-informed judgments on other people.

Criminy, I can't believe I have to defend something that makes perfect (if boring) sense.
posted by tzikeh at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2008


No need to check hormones. If they're not hurting anyone, whatever, though it is fascinating to read 'bout. Would be interesting to know if they're generally low key individuals.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2008


Smedlyman: As a member of a community that is friendly to asexual and genderqueer people, it does seem that they are two different things. Few genderqueer people identify as asexual and few asexual people identify as genderqueer.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sex is gross. There are fluids and stickiness and sweating and grunting, and the risk of hair pulling and knees in the face (among others). If you're not attracted sexually to someone enough to get over all of that, why would you want to have sex 'just out of curiosity'?

Really. The 'fun' part of sex is the desire, the longing, the need to be part of the other person. If you don't have that...what's the point?
posted by sandraregina at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Should this be added to the short fairly extensive list of topics that MeFi just doesn't do well?

FTFY.
posted by fixedgear at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2008


The 'fun' part of sex is the desire, the longing, the need to be part of the other person. If you don't have that...what's the point?

Cigarettes taste so much better afterwards?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2008


Cigarettes taste so much better afterwards?

ONLY IN MODERATION
posted by lumensimus at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2008


Really. The 'fun' part of sex is the desire, the longing, the need to be part of the other person. If you don't have that...what's the point?

People won't look at you funny from halfway across the internet.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2008


Smedlyman, it's good to see you around these parts again.
posted by caddis at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I don't think the only fun part of sex is the desire. In fact, everything that sandraregina called "gross" are things I happen to find highly enjoyable. Apart from the knees to the face. Which I think only underlines the shocking, earth-shattering revelation that different people have different points of view on sex!

Why try sex out of curiosity, if you have no burning desire? Well, have you ever tried a particular sexual practice/position out of curiosity, the desire to please, whimsy, or intoxication that you really had no burning desire to try?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2008


why would you want to have sex 'just out of curiosity'?

There's an awful lot of talk and imagery of sex. I'd try to find out what all the hullabalo was about since everyone else seems so interested in it. Same deal why some large proportion of smokers start.
posted by Catfry at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2008


I have a friend who identifies as asexual. One day she pointed out to me:

If she came out as gay, none of her friends would bat an eye. None of them would think she was lying, or mentally ill, or was repressing her heterosexual side, or had undergone some terrible trauma.

If she came out as bi, all of her friends would welcome her to the club. If she came out as trans, everyone she knew would be extremely supportive. If she confided to one of us that she had a weird fetish, she would most likely get advice on how to fulfill her needs safely and effectively.

But she came out as asexual, and everyone shook their heads sadly and either believed or told her outright that she was, essentially, mentally ill. Repressed. Lying to herself. Lying to us. Something had gone wrong with her, and everyone was terribly, terribly sad about it.

Think about that.

If you can accept that someone can be attracted to things which hold no interest whatsoever for you, why is it so hard for you to accept that there might be people who simply aren't interested at all? And that they're OK with that? And happy?

That may say more about you than it does about them.
posted by kyrademon at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2008 [20 favorites]


I had thought the point of marriage was to gradually learn to do without sex.He reached that goal from the getgo.
posted by Postroad at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2008


I can say without shame that I have never given or received a knee to the face during sex of any sort. Either I've lived a far more vanilla sex life than I'd previously imagined or some people are mistaking "Sex" with "WWE wrestling".
posted by The Gooch at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


some people are mistaking "Sex" with "WWE wrestling".

Well, there is some overlap. I have often pre-coitus taken the Hulkster's advice to say my prayers and take my vitamins.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I belief that asexual people do exist. Or at least that this man is, or thinks he is, or whatever we've got going on. I don't really care about that.

But what baffles me is what other people have mentioned - the marriage aspect of it. He's pretty vague about describing the whole courting aspect. Are you just really, really good friends with someone, and since they're also asexual decide - hey, let's get married? Is it equally likely that he would have married or shacked up with an asexual male? I mean, I have best friends but I can't imagine spending my life living with them. Marriage requires such a great level of sacrifice and commitment and communication... I can't imagine going through that with someone I have fun playing scrabble with. Is it all just to get over the social more part of it? To stop other people from expecting sexual behavior out of you?

This would be more interesting if it were written by someone who has been married for a lot longer. I'd like to hear how all that worked out. Nine months? Please. You could be married to a poptart and still be happy and wonderful at the nine month mark.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The term Asexual as used here has always irked me. Unless these are some kind of mitotic amoeba-people, they really ought to march under some other, more exclusive prefix.

That said, whatever two consenting adults don't do in the bedroom is nobody's business but theirs.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2008


I mean, I have best friends but I can't imagine spending my life living with them. Marriage requires such a great level of sacrifice and commitment and communication... I can't imagine going through that with someone I have fun playing scrabble with.

C'mon, sex isn't the only thing you find attractive about someone, is it? When you think about the qualities you are looking for in the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, how many of those qualities specifically have to do with sexual attraction? Just because the article mentions scrabble doesn't mean that's the only thing these two people have in common. Does sexual attraction have to be a prerequisite to sacrifice, commitment and communication?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


23skidoo, I'm literally just wondering what exactly they felt they had so much in common. I think that love is a prerequisite to a successful marriage, and the only friends I can say I love are ones I've know for a very, very long time - and even then I don't love them in the same way my parents love one another, you know?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:02 PM on September 9, 2008


"I loved Amanda's attitude to life and enjoyed hanging out with her. And she was pretty. At first I tried to treat it like any other friendship. Then I found myself travelling four miles downtown to deliver sandwiches when she told me she was hungry. Two months in, we were at a gig and it seemed like a good idea to hold her hand. I felt cautious about it but just wanted to. I wondered if I could. Then I found I couldn't let go.

That evening ended with us agreeing that our friendship was an important thing. We wanted to commit for life."
I just struggle to understand this from his perspective. I'd be interested in hearing more about why he couldn't treat this as "any other friendship" - the hand holding aspect, is that sexual attraction or something else? Or I'd be interested in hearing from them in 30 years.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2008


Heh, the irony of this is that it the asexuality of others is such a turn on for the rest of us. It's like a challenge. Oh yeah! I could make him into a tiger!

Rwaar.
posted by Xoebe at 2:20 PM on September 9, 2008


I think that love is a prerequisite to a successful marriage, and the only friends I can say I love are ones I've know for a very, very long time - and even then I don't love them in the same way my parents love one another, you know?

Not really. How do you parents know they love each other? If someone asked each of them separately why they love each other, what would they say?

How would their answers be different from the asexuals in the article?
posted by 23skidoo at 2:20 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, back around 15 years ago Fritz Klein proposed a multidimensional model of sexual orientation to cover those tricky nuances such as gay men coming out of the closet after decades of marriage, lesbians who sometimes have sport-sex with men, and asexual people with long-term romantic but chaste relationships. The basic idea is was that although we assume that sex, sexuality and relationship orientation all line up nicely together, there are plenty of examples where the real story is a bit more complex, and I question the wisdom of holding up Mr. Cox as a representative exemplar of asexuality as an orientation.

And at least when I hear people who identify as asexual kvetch, it's always about the assumption that sex is coupled with romantic and emotional intimacy in our culture.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:29 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's an awful lot of talk and imagery of sex. I'd try to find out what all the hullabalo was about since everyone else seems so interested in it. Same deal why some large proportion of smokers start

Yes, this is what I did. I've had sex, and it was enjoyable to the point that I loved the person I was having sex with. There's an adrenaline rush, and that's pretty fun. But there's nothing intrinsic about sex that I actually find enjoyable. I don't seek it. I enjoy connecting with people emotionally, sometimes physically (in terms of cuddling, being close). But nothing in me shouts "Ooo! I want to have sex with this person!" It just isn't how I'm hardwired.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:30 PM on September 9, 2008


I just struggle to understand this from his perspective. I'd be interested in hearing more about why he couldn't treat this as "any other friendship"

He got to the end of that night and realized there was something more to their relationship than simple camaraderie. It just didn't involve engorgement.

There are so many more dimensions to a relationship than sex -- shared goals, emotional intimacy, a desire for exclusivity, a sense of security, completeness, and comfort...these do not necessarily follow from sexual compatibility, nor do they necessitate sexual desire. Sure, lots of people who are happy with their sex lives happen to get along famously -- more power to 'em -- but just because some committed relationships involve exclusive participation in what can, for some, be a spectacularly pleasurable hobby doesn't mean they all have to.
posted by lumensimus at 2:30 PM on September 9, 2008


some committed relationships

A great many, even.
posted by lumensimus at 2:35 PM on September 9, 2008


“why is it so hard for you to accept that there might be people who simply aren't interested at all?”

Because maybe striking someone with an 8-inch sausage and appliquéing spices to them feels really good.
...what?

“what baffles me is what other people have mentioned - the marriage aspect of it.”

Apparently they like the whole cuddling, closeness sort of thing. I can dig that. My wife and I have lots of sex, and we still can’t keep our hands off each other (we don’t go out much).

But I think I’ve picked it up because, although I’m a kinda physical guy, I’ve been having some pretty deep dreams of late and the physical world has been really irking me.

I have to get up, wash my carcass, get dressed, gather accouterments, drive, park, go in to wo- aw, hell can’t I just ‘be’ there? Stupid flesh.

And sexually, y’know, some kinks - it’s like developing an interest in skiing. You really have to be devoted because beyond money you’re talking time and energy and luggage and rope, and travel and in some cases, guys named ‘Dieter’.

So you need to shop for pleasant things to stick inside each other, and sanitary support for that stuff, and a whole custom leather thing whether it’s a suit or whatnot, plus chains, a harness, then you’ve got to worry about weight if you’re into the whole femdom thing and you’re going to, say, suspend a guy from the ceiling, but even with a girl you’re talking structural support work, or a free standing loft type structure if you’re in an apartment or something...

So I can see saying “Aw, the hell with it” if basic sex is the kind of thing (to an asexual) where you have to do all this outfitting and carpentry just to get into it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:39 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the two individuals we're talking about discovered after 2 months of knowing one another that they felt their friendship was special enough to require the level of sacrifice that marriages sometimes require, then all the best for them.

I'm not trying to condemn their marriage, I just have trouble understanding how they differentiated the friendship they found from their other friendships - he spends less than three paragraphs on the time between meeting her and deciding to marry her. They are at a show and he feels good holding her hand. That night, they decide to commit for life.

If two non-asexual people told me "So we've known each other for 2 months, and our relationship is really special. We're getting married!" I would be equally dubious - and curious about how they made their decision. Re: your question, if you asked my parents (not to get too much into their business - lots of other people would give this response) I think they'd say something about knowing each other for a really long time and feeling a love for one another as well as a sense of friendship - and based on those years of compatibility and caring, deciding to get married. I'm not saying that asexuals can't have a successful marriage, but what is the basis that these two people are building that on?

Some people use "true love!" as an excuse for marrying in such a short amount of time - not that I think this is a good reason, but what's the reason for two people marrying in a short amount of time who share no physical attraction... "true _____?" Maybe they're viewing marriage as a different sort of thing than I am, which is fine by me.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:42 PM on September 9, 2008


I have often pre-coitus taken the Hulkster's advice to say my prayers and take my vitamins.

Me too, but I've never gotten the 24-inch "python" I was promised.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:43 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so, at the end of the day the "two months" thing confuses me way more than the "asexual" thing. I do believe that two asexuals could spend time together and see their friendship as special... but going from "you know, I'd like to hold her hand" to "let's get married" in one night just seems over-the-top.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:45 PM on September 9, 2008


Some people use "true love!" as an excuse for marrying in such a short amount of time - not that I think this is a good reason, but what's the reason for two people marrying in a short amount of time who share no physical attraction... "true _____?"

True love. Physical attraction is lust.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2008


That's what I'm saying. People who marry quickly and use the excuse "true love!" are really talking about lust, in my eyes, because I don't personally think true love is something you can find after two months.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:57 PM on September 9, 2008


But, I guess, some people subscribe to a different theory of "true love." My idea of it: knowing all of someone's faults/messed-up-bits and still wanting to spend all your time with them anyway. I like this idea of it. To me it's something important that takes time to evolve, and not something you feel over the course of a night. Whether that night is hand-holding or sex.

But, like I said, I can accept that different people have different definitions. I assume these two do, and I would have been more interested in this article if less time was spent on "how I realized and dealt with my asexuality" and more on "why we decided to spend our lives together."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2008


Agreed on the two months thing -- I have a feeling it was a more gradual process than he indicates. Maybe over those two months that they had grown close, they (bit by bit) sort of came out to each other as asexuals? Perhaps it had hitherto represented a crippling interpersonal problem for them, who, but for that, might have otherwise been married years before. Given how uncommon their lack of predilections are, perhaps that lit a spark, as it were, in what was already a burgeoning fondness.

That's not to say that I think it's nearly ever a good idea to get married after two months, but I can definitely see how discovering that puzzle piece -- or perhaps some other deep commonality the article doesn't mention -- might move up the timetable. Maybe discovering that sex wasn't an axis of concern for either of them felt like taking off dress shoes they'd been wearing as long as they've been sexually aware. It's a big world, to be sure, but damned if this or that fundamental element of identity can't make humankind seem devoid of opportunity for personal connection.

I can certainly see how it might have been an intense experience, and can imagine all sorts of sexual and non-sexual analogues that might induce a desire to marry, however well- or ill-advised.
posted by lumensimus at 3:12 PM on September 9, 2008


Yeah, I did this a few times too.

Me (certain I have no chance, and wanting to play it cool): Yeah, well, I guess I'm just not all that interested any more. Probably I'm asexual.

Girl (likely drunk, possibly nearsighted): That's a shame, because I was going to say, I'm really attracted to you and was wondering if you might like to come back to mine and we can do hard, violent sexy sex until the mattress goes from a king size to a queen and our legs are numb and it'll be so good that when we're done, the neighbours will be lighting cigarettes.

Me (attempting to retain dignity): Oh, I guess.

The decent thing for this couple to do would be to put all the sex they're forfeiting up on eBay. With a 'Buy It Now!' option.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:13 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, lumensimus, I can understand that. Maybe it was simply such a relief to find a really close friend in another asexual person.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:16 PM on September 9, 2008


I am seriously baffled by people in this thread not understanding why asexual people would want to get married. From Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage:
Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.
None of that is anything to do with sex. Marriage is not simply an extended booty call. as much as I enjoy the sex in my marriage, my partner and I have a very deep bond - a bond of romance, affiliation, and belonging - that exists entirely outside of our physical connection.

It is not at all hard for me to imagine how other people enjoy the very same bond without the sexual component at all. I'm honestly shocked that this seems like such a conceptual leap for some people.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


DarlingBri, I think where they're coming from is the idea that there is more to sexual attraction than sex. I don't think it's unheard of to claim that physical intimacy is an important thing in a relationship - but that's something the asexual couple has (kissing/cuddling) so while I can see where confusion on that is coming from, I agree with your point.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:26 PM on September 9, 2008


Me too, but I've never gotten the 24-inch "python" I was promised.

Neither have I. I did, though, once have to tag someone in.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:31 PM on September 9, 2008


I wonder how many asexual people also do not own televisions.

They all have TV's, they just don't get Cinemax.
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on September 9, 2008


Why is it so hard to imagine people loving one another, wanting to commit to long term companionship and get the personal, legal, and financial advantages of that, and do it all without interpersonal sex? They have obviously found something special in one another. More power to them.
posted by notashroom at 4:56 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


here's an interesting question (and I'm honestly not just being a smartass), if he's asexual, could his significant other/life partner/love just as easily have been a man? or hers a woman? If it's totally non-sexual, gender probably wouldn't matter much, I'd think.
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on September 9, 2008


Aren't lots of marriages basically sexless anyway? Is it that crucial to people's conception of marriage that one or both of the spouses be sexually frustrated or disappointed?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:02 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


jonmc, I would gather there might be as much variation in sexual orientation as there is in non-sexual pair-bonding orientation. I don't think asexual identification necessarily connotes, erm, biasexuality?
posted by lumensimus at 5:12 PM on September 9, 2008


lumenisimus: I was just sort of sying something that occurred to me. I'll admit to being relatively clueless on this subject. I knew asexuals existed and that's about it.
posted by jonmc at 5:14 PM on September 9, 2008


Oh, no biggie! I'm no authority. :)
posted by lumensimus at 5:19 PM on September 9, 2008


I've often wondered if a large percentage of self-professed asexuals were individuals struggling with desires they didn't want to accept and therefore "turned off" that part of their person. I'm not saying you can't be asexual, but my instinct is to always assume that someone is struggling with something, not that someone is missing something.

This is exactly how I see it, because I remember feeling very strong asexual pride -- when I was twelve. I wanted to become a nun and never have anything to do with boys ever again. My diary was full of the epic struggles against thinking about the cute guy in band class. To a lonely nerd, it seemed that sex was all about losing power and becoming a pathetic girly-type female, so I held out against it until the day I ran into a boy who liked me back. And that was the end of that.

I certainly believe that people are capable of enjoying life with much lower sex drives than the media would lead us to believe. But desire, like death, will come for all of us in the end.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:56 PM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The term Asexual as used here has always irked me. Unless these are some kind of mitotic amoeba-people, they really ought to march under some other, more exclusive prefix.

THANK YOU!
posted by aaronetc at 6:03 PM on September 9, 2008


jonmc, I would gather there might be as much variation in sexual orientation as there is in non-sexual pair-bonding orientation. I don't think asexual identification necessarily connotes, erm, biasexuality?

lumensimus! could you talk about this more? 'cause I was thinking the same thing as jonmc... of course asexuality doesn't connote bisexuality - it connotes NO sexuality, in which case wouldn't you default to "no preference" - based upon sex - for people you don't have sex with?
posted by moxiedoll at 6:18 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


does anyone know of an evolutionary aspect to this? They have been married 9 months? Come back and tell us how you are doing in five years, please.

I am really being sincere in my curiosity of this, btw. Thanks for the post.
posted by captainsohler at 6:24 PM on September 9, 2008


johnmc: here's an interesting question (and I'm honestly not just being a smartass), if he's asexual, could his significant other/life partner/love just as easily have been a man? or hers a woman? If it's totally non-sexual, gender probably wouldn't matter much, I'd think.

At least from what I've heard. Many asexual people still have a preference for one or the other, because there are a lot more dimensions to sexual orientation than just what gets your erectile tissue engorged.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:27 PM on September 9, 2008


KJS: I'm sure. My thoughts were more along the lines of moxiedoll's, just the idea that when the component of sexual attraction is removed (and when all is said and done, that's a pretty primal drive for most people, which is why asexuality is kind of difficult to relate to), I'd figure that gender would be less relevant.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 PM on September 9, 2008


there are a lot more dimensions to sexual orientation than just what gets your erectile tissue engorged.

Well, sure. I have plenty of male friends who would make great life partners in the sense that we get along great and that we'd make a great team in the 'us against the world sense,' but I 1)don't want to have sex with them (irrelevant in this case, but relevant to the idea of sexual orientation in general) and 2)I don't find myself having dippy romantic thoughts about them, which I do about my wife (and other women I've been attracted to in the past.)

I guess that's the other question, I realize that my '1)' is irrelevant for asexuals. Is my '2).' I'm honestly curious.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2008


From the asexuality.org General FAQ:
I identify as (straight/gay/bi/something else), but I still fit your definition of asexuality. Am I wrong?

No you're not wrong. Many asexuals with 'romance drives' also have an orientation (they only fall for certain types of people). Some asexuals may decide only to form relationships with a certain type of person for some intellectual reason, or it could be a simple preference like preferring chocolate flavour to strawberry. Other asexuals identify as bisexual because their asexual relationships are not based upon gender (chocolate and strawberry both being very tasty). Asexuals might form unconventional relationships and therefore identify as polyamorous or queer.

There is no reason why you have to identify as just one thing. You could decide to identify as a bi asexual or as polyamorous and asexual or as an asexual polyamorous bi person... or you could make up your own entirely new identity. But remember, whether or not you fit the definition of asexuality, you're welcome in the asexual community.
posted by lumensimus at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2008


Romantic != sexual.

People can feel love, even deeply romantic love, for another person, yet not want to have sex with them. Of course, in modern Western society, romance and sexuality have become so conflated as to appear inseparable, and very few people, as far as I can tell, talk openly about having those feelings with the person they have them for, because what would be "the purpose"? We see romantic love as a road that naturally leads to sex (and often marriage), but romance can and does stand on its own, free of sexual urges. It's just that this concept has been lost to us under all the sexualizing of absolutely everything in our world.

C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves has more on this topic.

<Jobs> Just one more thing </Jobs> -- there are an awful lot of "I don't get" and "what baffles me" comments -- why not read the wikipedia entry on asexuality or browse asexuality.org? There's a lot of information answering a lot of the questions posted here.

Countess Elena: I remember feeling very strong asexual pride -- when I was twelve....until the day I ran into a boy who liked me back. And that was the end of that....desire, like death, will come for all of us in the end.

For values of "all" = people like you. For other people, maybe not.
posted by tzikeh at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you can accept that someone can be attracted to things which hold no interest whatsoever for you, why is it so hard for you to accept that there might be people who simply aren't interested at all?

Given that there have been such ridiculous sweeping statements made, and received, with a straight face such as "everyone is really bi", I'm not surprised. It's just the underlying assumption here, instead of "given sufficient social acceptance, everyone would consider a same-sex (or opposite sex) partner an option", it's "everyone has some form of sexuality going".

But you're right. It's another bias, and another unjustifiable assumption. However, I still don't think this pair makes the best case against it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2008


jonmc -- As one minor data point on the graph, my asexual friend has a platonic SO of the same gender. But lumensimus' linked answer sounds reasonable to me. Some probably do still have an orientation of some sort, and some probably don't.
posted by kyrademon at 7:54 PM on September 9, 2008


Giraffe wrote:

> As someone who is getting married at 24: that's a real dick thing to say. Hope your saddle is comfortable on that high horse of yours.

No high horse required. What is required is the maturity that comes with experience. Obviously you aren't there yet.

Jeez, young'uns get so defensive!
posted by Chasuk at 7:57 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry that people are getting frustrated - but this is a great thread and you'd be surprised how unhelpful the helpful links are. I think people are, for the most part, really making a good-faith effort to understand... it's just interesting and confusing. Like - it's interesting to me that someone would enjoy masturbation, find the idea of sex boring (not gross or repulsive - just uninteresting)... and not want to have intercourse if only because it'd be a "better" (or at least different) way to get off. And how is masturbation not sexual? My questions are sincere - I'm not arguing, I just don't get it.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:59 PM on September 9, 2008


I'd be more interested in finding out whether they're crypto-Christians, reenacting a practice of the early ascetics.

Stop Having Sex (warning: SPB)

for those uncertain, I despise both Christian abstinence freaks (not because of the abstinence -- I'm a touch asexual myself -- but because of the religiosity) and self-published books.
posted by bad grammar at 8:56 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think I'm understanding this better now. I had been working under the assumption that "asexual" meant no sexual attraction to people - and I found it hard to imagine romance, flirting, kissing as fitting into that in a real sense. I'd guess that perhaps asexuals engage in those behaviors just for the fun and less out of any sexual drive?

Some of the responses here suggest that it should rather be viewed simply as having no desire to have sexual intercourse... that is, you can identify as "gay" and "asexual": attracted to men yet not want to have sex with them. Or perhaps that it just varies with the person?

There must be a better label to use than "asexual."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:35 PM on September 9, 2008


I don't understand why people are so confused by asexuals. I mean there are plenty of people with raging sex drives and plenty of people happy to have sex once every 6 weeks. It's only logical that far on the other side of the spectrum that there would be people with such low sex drives that they are literally imperceivable to the person. Perhaps their sexuality is merely expressed in which sex they ultimately feel they can form an emotional intimate bond with.
posted by whoaali at 9:49 PM on September 9, 2008


But she came out as asexual, and everyone shook their heads sadly and either believed or told her outright that she was, essentially, mentally ill. Repressed. Lying to herself. Lying to us. Something had gone wrong with her, and everyone was terribly, terribly sad about it.

Think about that.


Sex is such an incredibly basic part of being human that 'being asexual' is roughly akin to being 'anti-eating'. I'm not, don't start, saying everyone has to like what I like. But experiencing no sexual attraction to anyone or anything is such an extremely outlying outlier that if questions are raised, they are not automatically judgemental.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:17 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I mean there are plenty of people with raging sex drives and plenty of people happy to have sex once every 6 weeks. It's only logical that far on the other side of the spectrum that there would be people with such low sex drives that they are literally imperceivable to the person.

But libido and sexuality are two different things. I'm not less hetero than a woman with a higher sex drive, or more hetero than a woman with a lower one - I just am. And we know those things are divorced because of childhood crushes - most people report knowing from childhood that they liked girls, boys, or both... I didn't have a "sex drive" when I was seven, but I sure did fall in love. It's just hard to imagine never getting twitterpated over anyone, ever. That's fascinating.
posted by moxiedoll at 10:38 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Moxiedoll, these folks seem pretty goofy for each other. Twitterpation doesn't have to be moist to be real.
posted by lumensimus at 10:50 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nor must needs love be messy.
posted by lumensimus at 10:51 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe moxiedoll views "puppy love" as a feeling in a child that, in an adult person, would be sexual attraction. And from that idea doesn't think that someone who can't/doesn't experience sexual attraction would also experience a crush, which is basically that.

Like I said before - I think confusion is over the term "asexual" and an unclear idea of what that entails.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:10 PM on September 9, 2008


I'm not getting this comparison of asexuality to homosexuality. Sexual attraction to one thing versus another thing isn't the same as sexual attraction to nothing.
posted by tehloki at 11:26 PM on September 9, 2008


Moxiedoll, these folks seem pretty goofy for each other.

We didn't hear very much from her, did we? I wonder why you'd write a feature on somebody's relationship, and yet only interview one partner?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:40 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like - it's interesting to me that someone would enjoy masturbation, find the idea of sex boring (not gross or repulsive - just uninteresting)... and not want to have intercourse if only because it'd be a "better" (or at least different) way to get off.

Imagine a lesbian, who has a straight male housemate who really wants to have basically every kind of sex with her. He keeps dropping sly hints about it until she finally has to tell him, "Look, Bill, honestly I'm just not interested. And I'm not some kind of man-hating heterophobe, either. It's not that I find straight sex to be gross or repulsive, I just have no interest in having any. Not with you, not with any man. You keep mentioning that sex with you would be better, or at least different than sex with women, but the fact of the matter is that I am only interested in fucking people that I am sexually attracted to, and I am not sexually attracted to you. Nothing about you makes me desire you."
posted by 23skidoo at 11:47 PM on September 9, 2008


I'm not getting this comparison of asexuality to homosexuality. Sexual attraction to one thing versus another thing isn't the same as sexual attraction to nothing.

Well no ones saying they're identical, just that you can compare them.

Lesbians have something in their brains that does not make them want to fuck men. Why don't they fuck men anyways? Because nothing in their brains makes them think "Gawd, I really want to fuck that man."

Asexuals have something in their brains that does not make them want to fuck people. Why don't they fuck people anyways? Because nothing in their brains makes them think "Gawd, I really want to fuck that person."
posted by 23skidoo at 12:02 AM on September 10, 2008


Lesbians have something in their brains that does not make them want to fuck men. Why don't they fuck men anyways? Because nothing in their brains makes them think "Gawd, I really want to fuck that man."

The same could be said for straight men, too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:30 AM on September 10, 2008


Yep. One can compare asexuality to heterosexuality, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:36 AM on September 10, 2008


There's something in the human psyche that is deeply perturbed by individuals that defy categorization. In the absence of context in which to place someone, it's so much easier to put them in that tidy little category we call "freaks" and go back to thinking about what we're going to have for lunch.

In some leadership courses, trainees are taught to value people as individuals instead of as members of one of those categories. It's the human condition: we strive to be acknowledged for who we are instead of what we represent. No one ever died wishing they had spent more time on their profession or volunteering for their alumni association.

I think the author of this article has earned some of that respect for sticking his neck out and have his individuality be subsumed by his chosen association with the asexual movement. It's a gutsy move and I doubt many of us have the self-respect to make a similarly controversial claim.

That being said, I'm in an 11-year-old relationship in which I can theoretically do whatever I want with whoever I want whenever I want. Despite this, some of the happiest moments I can recall have been totally platonic cuddling with friends I've known for years and years. I can easily rank some of those memories as more pleasing than the wild bachelor/bachelorette parties or trips to Vegas I've done. My partner is a loyal, caring, supportive human being who means the world to me, but I would be very, very sad if some of the other people in my life were to disappear and we couldn't have our regular get-togethers anymore.

Although some of them are very attractive to me, I have zero desire to get them in bed because that's just not the kind of relationship we have. One of them is especially attractive and we see each other a few times a year, but all we do is cuddle and talk. I've shared a bed every now and then but we generally have a few drinks, share a few laughs, and wake up spooning with each other. The thought of having headboard-pounding sex with them is like considering sex with my brother or sister. We know each other far too well to be immediately comfortable with the idea.

I don't think it's such a huge leap from that kind of relationship to what the article is describing. Does that mean I'm a latent asexual? Maybe. But trying to label my fond memories with that tag is like seeing MeFi lumped in the same category as Fark. The experience is wholly different from its description in words.
posted by thalakan at 2:24 AM on September 10, 2008


I am definitely a very sexual person but I have had a relationship with someone that is closer than any sexual relationship I have had, and was completely satisfied with it and with the other person. We have fallen asleep on top of each other, been piss drunk together, and just never felt the urge to have sex. So I can definitely believe that this could be the normal state of mind for someone and not just some symptom.

IAWTS. When you've shared things like being pallbearers for a mutual childhood friend, being the first person called when a gray hair is found, or running away from shady Slavic policemen drunk off your ass at sunrise with a suspicious amount of foreign currency on your persons, banging each other seems to fall behind a bit on the scale of Awesome Life Experiences.

Don't get me wrong; if I won some hypothetical lottery that entitled me to mansion full of yummy servants who weren't too uptight about... well, anything, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat. But I think it'd be a little awkward to watch TV with them, let alone something like introduce them to mom.
posted by thalakan at 2:41 AM on September 10, 2008


Yes, I would say that dogs or a children's puppet show is probably the ideal analogy for sexuality.

Of course, I get kicked out of a lot of places...
posted by Sparx at 4:28 AM on September 10, 2008


So the question I'm left with here is this: Is "asexuality" a biological condition, in the way (I, at least, am convinced) heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality are? Or is it a choice, albeit possibly one driven largely or wholly by a biologically low sex drive?

Or, to cast it in a different way, are we talking about a sexual orientation or just good old fashioned celibacy?

The choice of the word "asexual" strongly indicates to me that those who use it wish it to be thought of as a sexual orientation. But there are, as several people here have pointed out, problems with this. The subject of the article masturbates, which is a sexual behavior, and has married a woman which, although he doesn't really specify this, would seem to indicate a heterosexual form of asexuality.

This idea of "heterosexual asexuality" brings up an almost irresistable analogy, for me, with my own atheism. I am an atheist, but specifically I'm a Christian Protestant atheist. I tell people this, and they don't usually get it right away. The point is that I never really had to consider carefully whether I believed in Kali, or Thor, or Zeus. I just never did. To me, those are clearly myths. But I was born a Protestant. That is, I was born into a Protestant family, and raised in that religious tradition. The default would have been for me to simply be a Protestant. I decided, after quite a bit of thinking about it, that I do not believe in the god I was born with, or any other. But the "any other" is irrelevant, really. They were never a choice.

So, the analogy looks to me like this guy was born heterosexual, and decided, all things considered, to skip it. I mean no judgement of that decision here at all. I also specifically don't mean to belittle it by calling it a decision. My atheism is probably driven in no small part by a questioning and skeptical turn of mind, which itself may be largely biological. Likewise the celibacy of the article's subject might be largely a result of a biologically low desire to have sex. But that wouldn't really make it any less of a decision.

But on the flip side, it is, nevertheless, a decision. That may be what bothers people so much. Firstly that, like devout Christians confronted with my atheism, they wonder nearly to despair how someone could voluntarily forgo what they see as one of life's finest pleasures and comforts. And second, the niggling feeling that forming an "identity class" like asexuality is an attempt to get special treatment for something they chose (unlike, say, being born black in the deep south, or losing your legs in a combine accident). The latter issue is I think entirely based on the word "asexual." If people were calling themselves celibate (the word we already have for this choice) we might still wonder why they would do that, but I don't think anyone would feel like someone was trying to hoodwink them.

There've been a few comments by self-identified asexuals here. I'd be interested to hear whether any of this makes any sense to them. Do you have one gender you specifically don't have sex with, and another it would just never occur to you to? Like how I chose not to worship a protestant god, but never saw Loki as anything but an interesting folk tale? Does the word "celibate" offend you, or is there some reason that doesn't cover what you experience (aside, perhaps, from the overly strong Catholic clergy associations)?
posted by rusty at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2008


How about looking at this from another perspective? Instead of comparing asexuality to heterosexuality or homosexuality or other familiar sexual identities, what about comparing these folks -- at least some of whom have an active libido they express through masturbation -- to people who strongly prefer sex with partners to solo sex and may not engage in masturbation at all or may engage at a significantly lower frequency than the population as a whole? Isn't that a fairer comparison?

Group A has a physical drive they prefer to address without involving their intimate emotional connections with other people -- which they generally are capable of forming and maintaining and may tend to form more often with one gender identity than another.

Group B has a physical drive they prefer to address in the context of involving intimate connections (probably most often intimate emotional connections, but I'm making an assumption there) with other people.

It doesn't mean either group is "broken" and needs "fixing." It means they get their needs met differently from one another.

And, to play devil's advocate, what if some of these people identifying as asexual do struggle with taboo attractions? What if some of them have paedophilic attractions, or feline, or necrophiliac, or some other attraction that makes most of us go, "Ick!"? Does it hurt anyone/anything for them to take this attraction that they find (internally and/or externally) unacceptable, sublimate it, and identify as "asexual"*?


* (Note: I am not suggesting that this counts for the majority of people identifying as asexual, just that this may be a self-management strategy employed by some individuals who find expressing their attractions unacceptable for whatever reason.)
posted by notashroom at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2008


This idea of "heterosexual asexuality" brings up an almost irresistable analogy, for me, with my own atheism. I am an atheist, but specifically I'm a Christian Protestant atheist. I tell people this, and they don't usually get it right away. The point is that I never really had to consider carefully whether I believed in Kali, or Thor, or Zeus. I just never did. To me, those are clearly myths. But I was born a Protestant. That is, I was born into a Protestant family, and raised in that religious tradition. The default would have been for me to simply be a Protestant. I decided, after quite a bit of thinking about it, that I do not believe in the god I was born with, or any other. But the "any other" is irrelevant, really. They were never a choice.

So, the analogy looks to me like this guy was born heterosexual, and decided, all things considered, to skip it. I mean no judgement of that decision here at all. I also specifically don't mean to belittle it by calling it a decision. My atheism is probably driven in no small part by a questioning and skeptical turn of mind, which itself may be largely biological. Likewise the celibacy of the article's subject might be largely a result of a biologically low desire to have sex. But that wouldn't really make it any less of a decision.


I was raised in the Episcopal Church, but I never had to make a decision that I was an atheist. To me, for as long as I can remember, the Christian mythos sounded exactly like stories of Kali or Thor or Zeus. I never made a decision to become an atheist. The idea of religion in general has never resonated with me.

Use my religious upbringing, and we get that the guy in the story always knew that he had no sexual attraction for other people.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:25 AM on September 10, 2008


There's something in the human psyche that is deeply perturbed by individuals that defy categorization. In the absence of context in which to place someone, it's so much easier to put them in that tidy little category we call "freaks" and go back to thinking about what we're going to have for lunch.

I think that's an unfair thing to say at this point - maybe at the beginning of the thread - but it seems like the people in the discussion now are legitimately curious about the situation and are simply asking sincere questions.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2008


it seems like the people in the discussion now are legitimately curious about the situation and are simply asking sincere questions

And those sincere questions are probably going to be responded to by people who don't know the answers to them. Just because some people are reading this thread doesn't mean that the ones who are posting to it are going to be able to answer your questions. Other people have already linked to places that may be better suited for people who are actually interested in coming to some sort of understanding.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2008


Other people have already linked to places that may be better suited for people who are actually interested in coming to some sort of understanding.

So, do you think metafilter is an inappropriate place to ask questions like "Does the word "celibate" offend you, or is there some reason that doesn't cover what you experience (aside, perhaps, from the overly strong Catholic clergy associations)?" I didn't see something linked that answers this, and it (along with other questions) is interesting.

Because personally, my favorite part of metafilter is the ability to discuss things with people who have more experience or a different point of view than me... and considering that there are several self-described asexuals who may or may not be still reading this thread, it doesn't seem like an insincere thing to hope that someone more knowledgeable will reply.

Perhaps you could argue that at this point the thread is dead and no one will reply (but you've been replying with responses to some questions, right?) and I suppose that makes sense, but it seems unfair if you're saying that asking questions we may have is not something we should be doing here if we are "actually interested in coming to some sort of understanding."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:39 AM on September 10, 2008


My "legitimately curious" reply had to do with the quote that I felt was unfairly lumping the curious in with the dismissive as calling asexuals freaks - so when you replied that there are better places for curious people to find information, it seems like you were saying that anyone left making posts is at least not actually sincere and at most has some other purpose in posting.

I think one can ask questions and wonder about something on metafilter without the expectation that it will definitely be answered. I mean, I think just the asking of questions even if no one ever replies is still useful in helping others form their thoughts about a topic of discussion. Though I agree that hopefully curious people will check out some of the links to become more knowledgeable.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2008


Sex is such an incredibly basic part of being human that 'being asexual' is roughly akin to being 'anti-eating'. I'm not, don't start, saying everyone has to like what I like. But experiencing no sexual attraction to anyone or anything is such an extremely outlying outlier that if questions are raised, they are not automatically judgemental.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:17 AM on September 10


Seconded.

There is a difference between being incredulous and being judgemental.

I am simply incredulous.

Someone not liking sex is like someone not liking the base sensation of pleasure, which yes I find hard to believe.

Also, sex has an instinctual aspect in mammals, although I'm not sure where that fits in this discussion, if anywhere.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2008


There is a discussion forum on the asexual.org site linked to above. You might ask questions such as does "celibate" offend you. The sense I got reading through some of the posts is that celibacy is seen as a suppression of sexual desire. IOW a celibate has sexual desires, but chooses to abstain from acting on them. Whereas, the asexual does not have those desires in the first place. I'm wondering if the word they are looking for would be ansexual. Isn't 'an' another way to say without? That way it would be confused with the asexual reproduction of amoebas :)
posted by Librarygeek at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2008


The idea that asexual folk must be equally likely to go for any given gender has come up a couple times in this thread, and been addressed once, but for those of you who missed it: It depends. The term affectional orientation is used as a generalization of sexual orientation. Some asexual people are straight, some are gay, some are other. Another classification used in asexual circles is whether someone is romantically inclined or not, with people identifying as romantic or aromantic (see the statement in the article that the author identified as anti-romantic). This terminology is sometimes extended by analogy to the -sexual set of orientational words: heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, aromantic, etc.
posted by Arturus at 11:55 AM on September 10, 2008


also, regarding the incredulous vs. judgmental thing: being incredulous here is the equivalent of saying, "I don't accept that your experiences are valid; your word in these matters cannot be trusted." Bringing in spurious pathologizing remarks is the same, only further indicating that, as a random stranger on the internet, you are better equipped to understand the experience of a minority sexuality than is the person experiencing it.

That's why people are somewhat touchy when you are incredulous towards who they are and their experience of being human. It's incredibly silencing.
posted by Arturus at 12:09 PM on September 10, 2008


Librarygeek: Tragically, or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), I don't care nearly enough to go off to some dedicated forum and start pestering them.
posted by rusty at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2008


Arturus: incredulity can also express "I have no understanding of your experience of being human and am discovering its very existence for the first time." I mean, we're supposed to all be totally casual and blase at all times, otherwise we're being dismissive and judgey? I don't think so.
posted by rusty at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2008


Asexuals have something in their brains that does not make them want to fuck people.

Precisely. That's what's so odd about this. The sex drive is roughly as primal as the drives to eat and breathe. Whether you like to fuck men, women, animals, or trees, it's a relatively universal component of humanity. Which makes it perfectly reasonable to question what's going on when someone claims a complete lack of sexual attraction to anything.

He masturbates, so clearly the sex drive is still there. Why that sex drive does not manifest in anything external to him is a perfectly valid question. Also, one has to wonder what he is thinking about when he jerks off. Yes, I suppose it's possible to simply do the act until it's over, something like scratching an itch until it goes away. But, again, it's pretty universal that people think about things that turn them on while they're masturbating. I think answering that question would go a long way towards explaining why he is the way he is.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:05 PM on September 10, 2008


Seconding dnab again.

I think that would be a fantastic question, what does this asexual guy think of when he masturbates? It really would be enlightening. And no, I don't consider that too private to ask. I've asked any number of people over my lifetime what they think about when they masturbate. Usually, the answer is something dissimilar from what they experience in their real life. Basically, fantasy of one form or another. I almost exclusively recount previous sexual experiences when I masturbate. But of course I'm a bit of a nostalgic guy anyway.

One person once told me they thought about "going to the bathroom". Which is why I think Freud was onto a few things.

I've avoided this earlier, but the thing about "being 24 so you don't know anything about being happily married" needs some addressing.

I agree with whomever said "you have no idea", because unless you were married at 10, you have no idea what a long-term monogamous relationship is all about. Dating someone for 2, 3, even 5 years holds NO CANDLE to being married for 15. They are completely dissimilar.

And for the person who was 24 and "about" to get married... well then, slick, you truly have no idea what marriage is about, by definition.

As a few others in the thread have mentioned, get back with me in 10-15 years or so.

I guarantee at 35 or 40 you will view your marriage in completely different terms than you do now. Not necessarily negative, just different. Assuming of course you're in the 55% or so that even make it to 15 years.

It's not a dig or trying to be offensive, it's just mathematics. Most people at 24 would be shocked to know what kind of people they are at 40, much less bringing a spouse into it.

I've said for years it should be illegal to get married before you are 30. (I married at 25, still married 12 years later).
posted by Ynoxas at 1:54 PM on September 10, 2008


Ynoxas, the original quote was actually If you are only 24 years old, then you are not qualified to opine about whether you have found love or happiness in your marriage, not being 24 so you don't know anything about being happily married.

I think it's fair to say that at 24, most happily married folks don't have a good handle on the long-term prospects of their marriage (assuming they haven't already been married 10 years and weathered stormy seasons), but the converse certainly isn't true* and it's damn patronizing to say it regardless.

Besides, who says love and happiness are only meaningful if they meet arbitrary standards of minimum duration? Folks can find love and happiness inside or outside of marriage at any age and are generally better off for having found it, no matter how transitory.



* At 24 I was happy to be getting divorced and moving on with the single-mother-of-2-small-children-living-in-poverty stage of life.
posted by notashroom at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2008


Yes, I suppose it's possible to simply do the act until it's over, something like scratching an itch until it goes away. But, again, it's pretty universal that people think about things that turn them on while they're masturbating. I think answering that question would go a long way towards explaining why he is the way he is.

I think a much better question, since most people here are not asexual is: "Why do you think about things when you masturbate?"
posted by 23skidoo at 3:39 PM on September 10, 2008


I think a much better question, since most people here are not asexual is: "Why do you think about things when you masturbate?"

Um, to get aroused? I mean, I don't just go around with a huge hard-on all the time. If you don't think about something, how do you get aroused? I mean, what triggers the masturbation session? Random touching? You do it every time you take a piss?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:34 PM on September 10, 2008


I've started realizing that I'm asexual. I've never been even slightly interested in women. I thought I was gay for a while, but I found that I'm violently offended by homosexuality. I'm approaching 50 and I'm still a virgin because I've never had an urge to have sex with anyone and I still don't. At this point in my life I'd welcome a sexless relationship just so I won't grow old and die alone.
posted by mike3k at 7:40 PM on September 16, 2008


Umm.. being 'violently offended' by homosexuality isn't the same as not being gay. See Mark Foley, for one.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:49 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's something about asexuality that seems perfectly reasonable to me. When I'm stressed, and busy, and not in a relationship, for relatively short lengths of time I pretty much turn down (though, to be honest, not off) the sexual side of my psyche. I'm not remotely asexual - when I have the time and energy to focus on sexual things, I love it. Of course I can't really imagine what it would be like to go through life feeling left out of such a big part of the human experience, but still, I can at least relate to what day-to-day life might be like, it doesn't seem as alien to me as it apparently does to many of you.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:31 PM on September 17, 2008


Yes, but those are temporary, as you say. That's like being not hungry sometimes. Never being hungry? There's something else biological or psychological at work.

I don't think we're saying OMG ASEKSHULS R BROKENED!1!!!1!!!. I think we're saying--or, at least I am--that asexuals are so far outside normal human behaviour that questioning the root cause is neither offensive nor useless.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:59 PM on September 17, 2008


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