Saturday, June 14, 2008

Self-Introduction

I first learned about asexuality last fall when I went to my university's counseling center to try to figure out my sexuality, which had been confusing me for a long time. I would get crushes on people but rarely (for about five years, from 17-22, I hadn't had a crush on anyone.) Whatever attraction I did feel, I knew that it was not connected to visual stimuli--when other guys would talk about who was hot, I couldn't relate. The whole idea seemed bizarre to me. Sometimes they would talk about this person or that or this actress or that and why they were attractive or what features of them made them so, and I would just wait in silence feeling very strange that I didn't feel whatever it was that they felt. In high school I tried to describe this to a few people, but that failed miserably so I gave up trying and knew I was different somehow or other that I simply could not describe.

The fact that I hadn't been attracted to anyone in a long time bothered me because I wanted to get married someday and this lack of attraction wasn't really helpful for that end. In the cultural context in which I live, I, as a male, am expected to initiate things and if there's no one I'm interested in, nothing's going to happen.

So I figured that the people at the counseling center would know something--they have Ph.D.s in psychology after all. It's almost as though I simply wanted a word to describe whatever it was that I was and to be able to hear about the experiences of others like myself. I felt that if I just had that, even just a word, I would feel more connected, less isolated because of this ineffable difference between me and seemingly the rest of humanity. There being over six billion people in the world, I had a suspicion that there were others like myself and knew that it was possible (maybe even likely) that I knew some of them but that they, like me, kept quiet about it.

The therapist I ended up seeing asked me if I had looked into asexuality. I said that I hadn't. I didn't feel that I was not sexual, just not something A few days later I googled it, found AVEN, tried to read (and listen to) everything that I could on the subject including any published academic material on asexuality and a few other papers on sexual orientation and one about Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. After going through the "I think I am" "may I'm not" "maybe I am asexual" phase for a while I eventually fell down on the self-defining as asexual side of things, though I remain somewhat uncomfortable with the term.

3 comments:

willendork said...

I think it's seriously awesome that the person you spoke with at your university had even heard of asexuality; I have a pretty strong suspicion that's not how the conversation would have gone had you spoken with a counselor at my school. That said, I am increasingly a proponent of finding your own words to describe yourself. And I'm curious what you mean when you say that you feel you're not *something* but that the "something" isn't necessarily "sexual." Do you feel sexual? How do you define sexual? I'm... prying, kind of... but just curious. Answer or blow me off at your discretion. :)

Glad to see you writing!

pretzelboy said...

I've had multiple friends who weren't all that interested in dating (or at least didn't) so my not having sex didn't seem strange and I didn't feel strong pressures that I needed to be having sex. I had assumed that some day I'll get married and I'll enjoy sex then ('cause everybody likes sex, don't they?) So I guess that's part of the reason I didn't consider myself not sexual. And now, the more I think about the idea of what it means to be sexual, the less idea I have of what that even means.

Ily said...

Agreed, kudos to your counselor for knowing what asexuality is. And of course, to you too-- questioning can be gnarly, huh?