Because the late-bloomer response is such a common form of asexual dismissal, it has gained its place among the ranks of annoying responses to asexuality, it has earned its spot in the annals of asexohating. As a result, responses arise: people become confident that they are asexual; they are certain that they will never experience sexual attraction.
This is troubling: Not you, nor I, nor anyone knows what the future holds. Sexual and asexual alike should be open to the possibility that in the days and years to come, we may have new experiences, feel new emotions; people should be open to the fact that in the future, they may feel things hitherto unfelt by them.
AVEN's static content reflects this view: The overview of asexuality says the following about asexual identity:
Most people on AVEN have been asexual for our entire lives. Just as people will rarely and unexpectedly go from being straight to gay, asexual people will rarely and unexpectedly become sexual or vice versa. Another small minority will think of themselves as asexual for a brief period of time while exploring and questioning their own sexuality.Likewise, on the general FAQ, we find the following question and answer:
There is no litmus test to determine if someone is asexual. Asexuality is like any other identity- at its core, it’s just a word that people use to help figure themselves out. If at any point someone finds the word asexual useful to describe themselves, we encourage them to use it for as long as it makes sense to do so.
Q: What if it's a phase?
A:What if it is? That doesn't stop you being asexual right now.
It may be tempting to hold back on accepting your asexuality in the hope that eventually you'll 'bloom' into a sexual person. I'm not saying that might not eventually happen, but consider this: do you want to spend your life thinking of yourself as an undeveloped person, living for the dreamed of day when you'll become whole? Might you feel more comfortable accepting who you are now as a whole complete valid person? Maybe one day you will “bloom”, and if and when you do, you won't have lost anything by being comfortable in the mean time.
There's no shame in identifying as one thing and then later identifying as another. Your identity isn't meant to limit you. If you've moved on or changed, then by all means describe yourself differently. If you fear you might be different in the future, that doesn't change which label is most useful to you in the present. There's nothing wrong with change.
Yet, A-pologetics seem inevitable, and views of the "I know that I will always be asexual!" variety are almost certain to arise. The late-bloomer response is predicated on a belief that asexuality doesn't exist and is a way of avoiding having to accept it. For the person hearing this response, they have no idea what they will or will not experience in the future. Not only that, but it is the experiences of asexuals that they read about and feel they can relate to, and in hearing the late-bloomer dismissal, they hear dismissed those they feel a sense of connection to, those they share an identity with.
People are told "You're just a late bloomer." People are told "Wait. Sexuality will emerge" Yet these hearers ask themselves how long must they wait to "know" they're not a late bloomer. Till they're sixteen? Till they're twenty six? Till they're sixty two? Must life be spent in perpetual waiting to eventually "bloom" into being sexual?
In answering the question for myself, "How do I know I'm not just a late-bloomer?", the answer is quite simple. I am a late-bloomer. I first experienced sexual attraction at the age of 22--and then I was attracted to the only person I've ever been sexually attracted to in my life. Beginning a couple years later, I began to develop some vaguely sexual feelings of incredibly low intensity.
I am a late-bloomer, and when I finally blossomed, I "bloomed" myself right into being a "Grey-A". Oh the excitement. Oh the thrill.
So I am a "late-bloomer" and I still consider myself asexual. Also, I have a definite suspicion that people who first experience sexual attraction much later in life than most are probably going to be at the low end on the sexual-desire spectrum.
When AVEN was preparing for a major make-over of its front page in early 2009, there was consideration of updating the FAQ's, and I did some editing and writing for that, though the plan ended up getting put on the back burner. In addition to edits on the main FAQ, I wrote some potential new questions for parents. I did some intensive research (walking over to the living room and asking Mom for some question parents might ask [I happended to be at her house at the time]). She posed the following question, to which I wrote a response.
What can I do to support my child?
Probably the best thing you can do is to be accepting and willing to listen. If your child has told you that they are asexual or that they think they might be asexual, it is because they love you and what you think is important to them. Many asexuals are afraid of coming out to parents because they are afraid they will be dismissive and say something like the following:
“You’re not asexual. You just haven’t met the right person yet.”
“You’re just a late bloomer.”
“Someday when you meet the right person, you’ll be interested in sex, just like everyone else.”
If your child if fairly young, it is entirely possible that one of these is true. If you think this is the case, you may choose to advise your child to be open to the possibility, but it probably isn’t a good idea to assume that this must be the case. Especially if your child is well past puberty, they may find dismissive comments very frustrating. If you’re child has decided to tell you they are asexual, they have probably thought about it a while and are looking for acceptance and support.
Also, it is probably a good idea not to put a lot of pressure on your child to date, to get married or to have children.