Romance Without Sex, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 24 2011 @ 1:34pm


by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

Asexual reader here. With regards to your questions about cheating and monogamy, while I do know more non-monogamous asexuals than sexuals, I haven't noticed a trend in the community at large – at least any more than in any community that would be open to the idea at all. Keeping in mind that this is just me as a romantic asexual and others I know, kissing would be considered cheating by most (I would), but cuddling is largely considered a platonic activity as well as a romantic one, and I doubt there would be much of a fuss.

Of course, this assumes there's even a sensual aspect of a romantic relationship in the first place – I know some couples who don't enjoy hugging/kissing. The most important definer in a romantic relationship is usually the emotional side in addition to enjoying each other's company, a this-is-the-person-I-want-to-spend-most-of-my-time-with sort of thing.

There's also a fair amount of asexuals who are aromantic (don't desire romantic relationships) but do want a long-term platonic partnership. I don't know as much about that, so I won't comment further, but I thought it should be noted.

Another writes:

I'm an asexual and a daily reader of the Dish. Here's how I think of "cheating": it's dishonesty and concealment on topics you find very important – emotionally, romantically or otherwise. For most people, sex is one of those big topics. For me, it's really not. The idea of a romantic partner having sex with someone else doesn't distress me, and though I've never been in the situation, I don't think it would be a deal breaker if we were honest with each other.

There are other forms of dishonesty that I would probably find more distressing. Dishonesty about ethical views, say, or about a partner's emotional life more generally. The bonds of intimacy can break abruptly and painfully. The sense of "cheating" as the cause of this breakage applies to asexuals, but to the extent that the term indicates sexual jealousy, I don't think it applies to me.

Asexuals are as diverse as any group, and I know that others feel differently. Not all would be okay with an "open relationship." But honesty is imperative for all categories of relationship.


I've recently (and sweetly) ended a year-long relationship with someone who perfectly fits your definition of an asexual.  It was the most romantic, thrilling connection I've ever had, conducted mostly by texting, with a man 35 years younger (yes, we had met accidentally and the chemistry was powerful).  He assured me that although he had many friends, he was not sexually involved with anyone – but I failed to ask him if he was *physically* involved with anyone.  It was when things got to the point of his arriving in the middle of the night to cuddle that I put 2+2 together and drew the line – mainly because I could see I was headed for hurt.

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