Asexual Isn’t Anti-Intimacy, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 12 2012 @ 3:57pm

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

Your exploration into asexuality has struck a chord with me. This is something about me that I have only recently been coming to terms (aided your other reader's story). As a young man identifying as gay, it hadn’t occurred to me until late that I could be homosexual and asexual. I had been led to believe asexuality to be something more like an orientation, and as such an asexual person would not be attracted to either sex. I really was just unfamiliar with the concept. Led by what many others seemed to believe, I assumed my sexual disinterest was due to a bad personal experience or just my lack of experience. Losing my virginity was disappointingly lame (and slightly miserable). I figured, having never had a boyfriend, that having a great connection with the right person would be needed in order for me to have a worthwhile sexual experience.

That hope dissolved just this year when my high standards were exceeded by a boy I met last fall.

Despite being entirely enamored with him, I still lacked the inclination to get involved with him sexually, even in the midst of drunken passion in the bedroom. A couple of times I forced myself to let things get further, only to become completely turned off. It felt like a chore just to do oral activities. He was taking it personally. He told me my body language was indicative of a disinterest in him, which hurt him. He later told me that it almost felt as though he was attempting to rape me, which would make him feel awful the next day (though I was always consensual, trying my best to enjoy the acts). We were both suffering, so we mutually decided to end our relationship.

Yet we enjoyed each other’s company far too much to break up. We attempted to keep in touch as friends but that proved difficult; the pull towards intimacy was strong between us. So we had a very personal, open talk. He is a very sexual person, so for him having a boyfriend without the sexual activity was impossible to live with. We came to understand that we could never be boyfriends but we agreed to continue to be close – something like friends with cuddles and kissing benefits, for as long as we both continued to benefit from each other’s company.

He understood my limits and no longer expected to have sex with me. I even encouraged him to have sex with other boys. I would often feel guilty that he couldn't get from me a fully intimate experience. I believed what we were doing was mutually beneficial; I was getting what I wanted from a relationship while he still had someone to be close to in a time he otherwise didn't (he’s bad at hookups). But I couldn't help but feel emotionally invested in him despite our more casual relationship and he clearly wasn’t feeling the same way. I was building stronger feelings for him because of the affection I was getting, perhaps in the same way some people are drawn to another through sex.

With insight from reading your other readers’ asexual experiences, I’ve come to realize that intimacy and a deep connection with another is for me what others may get out of sex. So I have come to hold back on being intimate with him (though we’re still good friends). As I come to terms with my asexuality, I’m discovering what I want out of someone I want to be close with. I’m definitely learning how important it is to be open and honest with others … and to myself. Understanding my asexuality is opening the opportunity to have a more fulfilling relationship with someone else.

Forgive my long diary-esqe confession to the Dish, but the timing on this subject was a helpful spark in my personal life.