Be Advised: this post contains themes of abuse and other heavy topics. Please do not read if this will bother or trigger you.
I've known I was asexual for a while now. I wasn't the fastest to catch on, but somewhere around the end of high school or the beginning of college, I found this word that described me perfectly. Asexual. Finally, I knew why I felt this way, I found online communities and felt like I had a place where I belonged. It was a long journey but to skip ahead to present day, I now know that I identify as a sex-neutral asexual. I am proud of who but that wasn't automatic.
I've got out with guys and told some of them and didn't tell others, I've had guys walk away after hearing it and guys that were wonderfully understanding. But four experiences stand out to me. I count these among the experiences that made me who I am. I wanted to write these down and share them to show others who may just be questioning their sexualities or who are in a bad relationship, that they're not alone. It does get better. Anyway, here's what I remember
After I found out I was asexual, the warm and fuzzy didn't last long though, it was around the same time that I had my first "real" boyfriend and I stressed about whether to tell him. I was young, inexperienced, and this guy was anything but. Looking back, I should have known he would be trouble, a few years older than me, very experienced (if you believe the rumors) and known as a playboy. Not my type at all, but we had been friends for years and when he wanted to take it further, I went along with it.
To begin with, he pressured me to have sex with him, not in big ways, but it was there. After we dated for a month with me telling him I didn't want to, he got more insistent. Of course, this was the place I should have run the other way if I hadn't before, but incontinently I didn't have the sense at the time. I was questioning my sexuality, trying to figure out if I was asexual, and he wanted sex. I agreed. I thought that this way I would know for sure and I would make him happy. (I just want to repeat - this is terrible judgment, please everyone else learn from these mistakes.)
Anyway, I had no idea what I was doing so I followed his lead, all I felt was nervous, then self-conscious, then horribly exposed. I left quickly after that. I went home and played it over in my head, again and again, I hoped to find my identity but instead, I was devastated. I didn't know what it meant but I knew what society had told me, that sex was love. I was so afraid that I would never be able to love, that no one would love me.
I got back on the internet and learned about the difference between romantic and sexual attraction. That made me feel a little better. I went back to talk to the guy, I told him that I thought I was asexual. I barely knew what I was talking about and he didn't seem to care. I remember he asked me if I would still have sex with him, I told him I would. I was sure he would leave if I didn't (another bad move on my part). This continued for a few months before he moved away and we broke up. A blessing in disguise.
This experience left me more confused than ever, and I began to feel ashamed of my identity and broken. I should have taken time, tried to find out who I was without anyone else, but just a couple months later I began dating another guy. Now, that relationship is a story for another day, but to give a quick summary, it was not a good relationship.
Upfront he was understanding of my asexuality but quickly began using it as an excuse to do anything he wanted as if I owed him for not having sex with me. He was very controlling, emotionally abusive, and, at times, physically abusive. Suffice to say, this did not help my identity crisis or any other aspects of my mental health. I won't go into great detail here, but I finally left him and vowed off dating altogether.
A year or two passed from here, and after a lot of self-searching and some therapy, I was feeling a little better. I was on the path to accepting myself and was becoming more open to the world and experiences. I had recently started a new job and when a coworker asked me out, I agreed. He seemed sweet if a little awkward and I always enjoyed talking to him at work, I had been on a few dates since my last relationship but none of them really seemed to go anywhere. I was apprehensive but still optimistic.
We had a great first few dates he was funny, awkwardly charming, and so nice. After dating a while, I decided I would try sex again. I was scared to bring up asexuality, but I knew I wanted to tell him before anything happened. I wanted to make sure we were both on the same page and to gauge his response.
Initially, he was confused, never having heard of asexuality before, and I explained it the best I could I told him that I was open to trying sex again but that I was nervous about it. He seemed to be understanding, he was gentle and made sure I knew that I was safe, that he would stop any time I wanted.
Now at the moment, this was a dream come true, a guy with common decency? It may as well have been a fairytale. I thought he was prince charming and I was happy with him. For a while. We had sex and while I discovered there were certain things that did still trigger me, he was understanding and stayed away from anything like that. I discovered that I really didn't mind having sex, even though I didn't really get anything out of it, I enjoyed pleasing him.
Anyway, I stayed with him for a while but where we used to go on dates, we started prioritizing other things. We saw each other maybe once or twice a week and all we really did was have sex and maybe watch a movie. He had also told me a few times, whenever asexuality came up, that he was fine with it, as long as I would still have sex with him.
At the time he seemed perfect, but I began to realize that really, he was doing the bare minimum, he wasn't engaged in the relationship and that phrase bothered me more and more. "As long as I would still have sex." Eventually, I realized that if the relationship was contingent on sex, it wasn't where I needed to be. He just wanted to have a girlfriend but didn't want to do any of the real work to maintain a relationship.
I left this relationship with a better continuous, I knew I deserved better than that, and I promised myself that I would no longer settle. I was happier without him around and so my choice to end the relationship was freeing.
Finally, this story does have a happy ending. I found the guy that I am with now, another coworker actually but we had been friends for a while and decided that we both wanted more. I was nervous to tell him I was asexual, but by this time I had grown prouder of my identity and I understood that whoever I was with would have to respect it. Otherwise, no relationship could work.
When I told him I was asexual, his first reaction was to tell me that we never had to have sex. He told me he was ok with whatever level of intimacy I was comfortable with and if I didn't ever want to have sex he would respect that and be happy. I continued on to tell him I didn't mind having sex occasionally and explained more about asexuality to him. He was incredibly understanding and kind. We have been together for a while now and he shows his love for me every day, whether we have sex or not.
Our relationship does not hinge on sex, nor is it an extremely important part of it. He has made sure I know this and never fails to make sure that I am comfortable and happy no matter what we are doing. I have grown to enjoy having sex for him, I like being able to pleasure him without feeling like it's expected of me or that it's the only option.
It took a while, but I am proud of who I am and in a healthy, loving relationship. We just moved in together and I couldn't be happier. Asexuality is something I have struggled with, accepting myself, and accepting that my worth is not tied up sex. And I still have days when those memories of past relationships come back but I feel safe talking to my partner about it, he keeps me grounded and reminds me that love has nothing to do with sex. That everyone deserves a happy ending.
I wanted to write all this down in hopes someone going through a bad time would read it and realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone deserves a happy ending and someone to share it with. You are loved, you are valuable, and you deserve the world.