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GeorgeSand

Asexuals: It's like being struck blind

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*a*rteest

#^$%$@#& and I do mean $^#&$^@#$^Q^%^&Q.....I had this long thing written out and hit "back"....dammit.....Well, i am very tired, I'll reply again when I've had some sleep.

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Prairie

To some extent people have somewhat arbitrary buttons that when pressed will give them desirable feelings like safety, warmth, protection, etc. and for many people sex gives this feeling. Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't mean that there's something inherent about sex which objectively provides this, just that it presses one of those buttons for many people. Approaching it like this keeps people honest when one partner doesn't have this button around sex, so doesn't get these deep satisfaction feelings from it. Approaching it as two people trying to eat the same food when only one likes it seems more productive and less-likely to result in one being framed as wrong or shallow.

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GeorgeSand

Yes, it may avoid the issue of blame.

You might be on to something - as, yes, I'm hurt when he doesn't seem to enjoy my food, which is most of the time I cook, though he eats it. He just picks at it and leaves most of it on his plate, though. In the same way he doesn't really seem to enjoy sex if I initiate it.

It's a milder form of the same issue. The lack of compatibility with sex is like, ten times more painful and more important to me. I realize there are some for whom this is a perfect comparison, not a watered down one.

It's been occurring to me that I actually have no idea if it's just the sex. As I said, I've only had three lovers, and he was my second. My third was after years of sexual starvation, so who knows there. I think that my husband may also be aromantic (opinions welcome)... he pulls away after brief physical interaction, such as hugs and kisses, or seems to count the seconds until they're over. He hates being nude in front of me - I can't brush my teeth at the same time he's showering, for instance. But he's fine with walking in on me nude in the bathroom. I don't think he really understands the value of kissing. He hates massages and giving massages. Beyond that, he doesn't compliment me because he doesn't think it's valuable - doesn't tell me I'm beautiful, etc. Doesn't write love letters. Doesn't buy flowers or celebrate our anniversary. Doesn't like to cuddle. We have our own separate couches on which to watch movies. He doesn't tell me he loves me unless provoked by me. His forms of affection are unlike any I'd ever previously come across: Nose or tummy poking, calling me really silly names - not, like, I dunno, Muffin, or Baby, or anything. Like, Scoobwaddle.

Anyway. It has taken me SO LONG to figure out that the lack of the "typical" romantic gestures doesn't mean he doesn't value me. We just don't speak the same language.

We're so totally on opposite ends of the romantic/sexual scale from each other. I'm starting to believe it's totally possible that I could have a romantic relationship with an asexual and feel fine with that - maybe it's actually the mismatch between how I experience romantic love and connection and what he's able to offer.

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Serran

Hm. Does he not do those things (kissing, etc) because he doesn't LIKE to? Or because he's afraid of sparking any sexual interest in you? I know for me, I love cuddling/kissing/hugging/sitting close and I am totally fine being naked in front of partners... except, with my current partner. Pretty much everything kinda makes him sexually frustrated. So, I'm more likely to say, brush my hand against him instead. Or anything LOW contact and small. If sex wasn't an issue, I would be much more affectionate. But, since it is, it's just uncomfortable cause either it's "Oh great, now we have to have sex..." or "Oh great, now I know he wants it and I can't give it...". Neither feels good and totally ruins it. Which, makes me just not want to do it at all. The years of fighting before we learned about asexuality just made me not want to all the more.

As for compliments, etc. Some people just aren't used to such things being needed. I grew up with compliments few and far between. I feel supremely uncomfortable and fake trying to verbally compliment people randomly, it's so ALIEN. Have you seen the five love languages book/website?

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Sally

This is sincerely said; wanted to emphasize that in case it could sound some other way.

The way you describe your lover...it sounds like you and he really connected in many ways besides sex. In fact, from the way it sounds to me, he would be an ideal mate/partner for you. Was there no possibility of that happening?

Again, that's a sincere question. I was simply impressed with what you said and how you said it.

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Corretto

@sexualsadwife

While I've never doubted your sincerity throughout this thread, and I did declare it earlier [#35], I'm beginning to sense a total incompatibility in your current relationship.

Apart from the severe indifference your husband shows regarding the sexualised aspects of your relationship...can he do anything 'right'.

Your last reply [^^^] describes the almost total incongruity between you both in your relationship Sorry but...

a) You're hurt because he doesn't like your food...he picks at it and leaves it on your plate.

b) His poor dining habits are likened to your incompatible sexual orientations.

c) You state your frustration at his failure to take interest or reciprocate in the romantic relationship you desire.

d) He doesn't share your affinity with kissing, hugging, massaging or nakedness.

e) He fails to provide you with simple compliments and gifts etc

...I could go on, based on the information you've provided, but I can take little more without coming to the sincere conclusion, that you should seek a more fulfilling 'partnership' [in the true sense of the word]. Give yourself some credit...I don't think you're 'blind' at all. Good luck. :ph34r:

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GeorgeSand

First of all, I want to apologize. I overreacted in becoming so angry over the "having a choice to leave" issue. It was frustrating to hear over and over again because, well, as we all know, the choice isn't all that easy. All the choices seem bad. Which then make them all seem like they aren't really choices at all. But I lashed out in a way that wasn't helpful or conducive to good conversation. I'll learn, and try to reign in my frustration more in the future.

Serran, I think he really just isn't comfortable with cuddling, etc. Even after he has initiated sex, he doesn't seem to like kissing, etc. I ask for hugs and kisses all the time, I reach out and take his hand, rub his back a little. These things aren't really an automatic sexual trigger for me, either. Also, he doesn't react as though he is uncomfortable 100% of the time... but he also isn't 100% uninterested in sex. Just 95% or so.

I have some knowledge of the love languages. I've been able to start reading into some of the things he does as expressions of love.

Sally, and Ristretto: Thank you. It's right to question. I question. I mean, we certainly have our differences, and it certainly would be easier to give up and find someone with whom I am more compatible. My lover was not an option because he was in an open marriage, and not only that, but had six kids. But here's the thing: my lover and I might be ideal for each other, maybe. But I also felt like while it was really satisfying to have someone who was so similar to me, it was like eating cake. So delicious. Not very nutritious.

My relationship with my husband, while difficult, has required me to grow in so many ways. To learn to control my anger, my emotions in general; to just for the sake of survival really try to consider where the other person is coming from. But maybe these things would have come from any marriage.

In any case, I neglected to discuss all the ways in which we are awesome partners. I will explain that now! We fight/bicker less than any one I know - very rarely, like once every couple of months, and that's usually not very intensely. At least for the last several years. We build things together and have fun doing it - how many partners can climb up in the hot July sun and re-roof a 3200 sq. foot cedar shake house with no idea what they're doing, and have fun doing it together? I'd guess fewer, rather than many. We have fun planning all the furniture we want to build together, and we have exactly the same idea of what we like. We laugh so much together - we find the same things funny. We enjoy exactly the same movies and books. We like to cook together (when he cooks with me, he's fine eating it - maybe he thinks I'm going to poison him?!) We like walking and traveling together. We have incredible conversations about things like black holes and engines and so many other fascinating things. I absolutely love his mind. He's the most intelligent and deep person I know. We are totally politically and religiously aligned (but then, so were me and my lover.)

I don't really understand how to explain the connection we have. It wasn't at all the same connection I had with my lover, which was one of easy understanding. (I felt understood, he seemed to feel understood). It's one of respect, but also deeper than that. I am not religious, I don't believe in the soul or soul mates... but my connection with my husband feels eternal. Like he is literally a part of me. I don't understand it - I didn't believe it was possible. I'm still not sure I believe it's possible. But there it is, despite my belief.

My closest friend likens it to Stockholm syndrome. I don't know how I'll ever be able to unforge that idea in his head; I'm really sorry that the things I have said to him have lead him to believe that about my husband. Because it's not true.

I just hate that this romantic/love connection or lack thereof could be responsible for destroying this other wondrous part of my life with him. I know so many asexuals might be like, "What is wrong with you? All of those things you enjoy together, that other deeper connection matters so much more!" and on an intellectual level, I could agree with them. But in reality, I am still lonely.

Ugh. I was given the chance to leave my husband. I couldn't. I don't know if I'll ever be able to. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

All I can say is, on the two occasions on which I went to bed believing we had decided on divorce, I felt the worst I'd ever felt in my life, and couldn't bear the thought of living life without my husband in it. Maybe Sally has some insight into this, from her experience.

Well, now the storm is a brewin' in my mind. Be ready for all the many thoughts that are going to propel themselves out of it...

So, I feel like, I could be pretty happy with an open marriage. That seems like a reasonable compromise, to me - I could have my emotional needs met, while still being a great wife to him. He is absolutely not open to the idea. He wants a wife who needs him, and only him, he has said.

I can't understand this mindset. The only reason I can see for an atheist person, who doesn't really believe in marriage in the first place, to say something like that is fear that an open marriage would lead to me leaving him. Is there some other reason I'm missing?

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Serran

Well, now the storm is a brewin' in my mind. Be ready for all the many thoughts that are going to propel themselves out of it...

So, I feel like, I could be pretty happy with an open marriage. That seems like a reasonable compromise, to me - I could have my emotional needs met, while still being a great wife to him. He is absolutely not open to the idea. He wants a wife who needs him, and only him, he has said.

I can't understand this mindset. The only reason I can see for an atheist person, who doesn't really believe in marriage in the first place, to say something like that is fear that an open marriage would lead to me leaving him. Is there some other reason I'm missing?

Monogamy has nothing to do with religion. And it's not just about fear of losing someone, or even jealousy. Some people just prefer one-on-one relationships, rather than ones where the other party is seeing other people. It's like asexual vs sexual... some are just monogamous and others are poly or neutral between the two. I'm not religious at all, but I could never do poly / open.

1) I am monoamorous, meaning my romantic feelings simply do not ever develop for other people when I am with someone. Ever. No crushes, no nothing. So, while my partner had multiple relationships, I would be stuck with one. Meaning, I would have to share his time with others, while he'd get all of mine. I know that would become frustrating (especially since I have a small friends circle, so my friends are often not available).

2) The risks involved with open relationships simply do not appeal. Pregnancies, STDs, etc... yes protection lowers the risks, but they still exist. And there is no way I could have sex with someone who was having sex with other people also. I don't LIKE it, so why would I want to risk getting a possibly incurable disease from their other partners?

3) The DRAMA sounds so annoying. A member here made a thread about her relationship transitioning from monogamy to polyamory. She documented it from start to end of the first relationship. And she talked about her husband's breakup and how he said he felt alone, because he lost this great love and said some things that made her feel like he had lost his only love... like she barely even existed. It was just the breakup talking, but still. I don't want to console my romantic partner through breakups. I don't want to deal with the drama of limerence / obsession of a new relationship. I can handle it with friends, but I also don't live with friends, it would be annoying if I had to be around them 24/7 while they were going through all that. I don't want to live through a constant roller coaster of emotions in my partner from happy/obsessed/in love/heart broken then back out again to start it all over.

4) The ONLY reason I can handle having sex at all is because it's something special between me and my partner. If that was removed through him sharing it with others, sex would lose ANY meaning whatsoever and I would NEVER be able to do it without absolutely hating myself and my partner. From personal experience trying to be OK with someone wanting other people, I also know any "romantic" physical contact would become repulsive as well. It pretty much automatically makes anything past "friendship contact" just feel wrong to me and makes my skin crawl.

Logically, I know people who are able to do poly can love multiple people. Logically, I know sharing activities doesn't mean they aren't still special to the person, as each relationship is special in its own way. Logically, I know it makes sense that multiple people can fulfill a person's romantic needs better than one. However, emotionally, I am totally monogamous and no amount of trying to logic myself out of it works. Have tried. Dated a guy who, ultimately, wanted a four person relationship - the husbands could be together, or the wives, or all four together and everyone would be cool with it. And ultimately, that was the biggest reason for our breakup. I just couldn't do it, I tried to be supportive and I tried to be understanding but... no, just no. It felt wrong on every level to my very being and totally removed any and all romantic attraction I had for him. I'm totally cool with open/poly in OTHER people, but it just does NOT work for ME.

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Mangosteen

I can't speak for everyone. Asexuality takes many forms, and each individual you come across may be different from the next. What I can speak for is myself. Your husband and I are not entirely alike, seeing as he married you, which means that he's interested in relationships, but I'll give you a point of view to consider: imagine an artist who likes to paint a variety of things, nature, people, animals, and when he does, he does so because something he witnesses captures his attention so much that he wants to get just close enough to it so that he can admire and capture it; but the artist, no matter how absorbed in his work, will forever maintain a distance between himself and the object of his affection, because that's what artists do (most anyway). That's me. A human being, let's say a man, and an animal such as a horse, are two creatures living on this earth, and I see their unique features for what they are, but I'm never going to want to be intimate with either one of them. That's why the paragraph in which you described what it feels like to be with someone made me feel uncomfortable, because, well, for starters, I don't think that a naked human body is attractive. The truth is that I find most animals more appealing to the sense of sight than humans. Does that make me blind in some way? I don't think so, seeing as everyone has a "taste" and we like what we like. Not being appreciative of the human form in a sexual context is not in any way abnormal. Society makes it so, because sex is just another word for procreation and pleasure. The only advice I can give you, and that is if you haven't done it already, is to tell your husband that you're aware of asexuality and that you'd like to discuss it with him. Hear him out. He can tell you more about himself than we can.

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GeorgeSand

I don't mean blindness in the way that you are somehow a damaged human being. I mean that you cannot experience something that I can, that is, pleasure in sexual intimacy. I don't think you need to be fixed any more than my gay best friend needs to be fixed. But he certainly cant understand what it's like to experience heterosexual love.

The crux here is that many people believe I meant asexuality/blindness means the human is fundamentally "broken". In some ways, this is true of blind people, but I leave that to them to decide whether they are broken and need to be fixed.

The real point of me comparing this to adult-onset blindness is the experience that is taken away by the situation. You, as an asexual, never really experienced sex as a wonderful, pleasurable thing (I assume), so it's not necessarily a loss for you, or it is only a loss so far as your imagination and the hurt in your romantic life goes. I have experienced sex as beautiful, wonderful, but if my husband is asexual, I'm looking at the possibility that I may never get to experience it again. IF I choose to stay with him, of course... which is my preference if at all possible.

Lady Girl shared on another of my posts that she has had similar difficulties discussing this with her husband. Too many years of misunderstanding make this a hard subject to discuss with me anymore. I do try to communicate with him, as carefully and blamelessly as possible. But he may feel that if he shared his true feelings, I wouldn't be able to accept this, and would leave. I dunno. I can only guess at why he won't talk to me. The real reasons remain his own.

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Mangosteen

I hear you. I wasn't actually assuming that you perceived us as broken in some way; I suppose I just wouldn't use the word "blind" myself in this context, because I believe a preference is just that, a preference. But let's leave it at that.

It's painful to read about these situations, because as compatible as two people can be on all levels (excluding sexual intimacy), if one feels that an important aspect of the relationship is missing, then can that relationship last? If you continue repressing your feelings, their magnitude will overwhelm you, and you'll be unhappy, because just as you can't become asexual by choice, your husband can't become sexual by choice. In the end, only the two of you can find a true solution to this.

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GeorgeSand

You're right. But man, this site is a godsend. If we end up having to end it, at least we have a few more tools to use to avoid any more hurt, misunderstanding, and resentment.

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Sally

The real point of me comparing this to adult-onset blindness is the experience that is taken away by the situation. You, as an asexual, never really experienced sex as a wonderful, pleasurable thing (I assume), so it's not necessarily a loss for you, or it is only a loss so far as your imagination and the hurt in your romantic life goes. I have experienced sex as beautiful, wonderful, but if my husband is asexual, I'm looking at the possibility that I may never get to experience it again. IF I choose to stay with him, of course... which is my preference if at all possible.

One trouble with your analogy is that blindness is permanent. If you choose to stay with your husband, you will not experience the sexual pleasure that you want with him. However, if you do not, and ally yourself with another sexual, you will no longer be "blind". That's a huge difference because truly blind people will never have the opportunity to be anything but blind. Another problem is that a number of sexuals have commented on AVEN that they consider being asexual is like being "blind" -- and asexuals have had to explain that we don't feel like we are blind, or disabled.

So using "blind" in any context really doesn't work well.

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GeorgeSand

Sally, that's why I amended my original post to reflect that I can either choose to forego the ability to enjoy sex (stay with my husband), or walk through a hallway of fire (divorce).

Maybe it is true for some that giving up sex is like giving up a favorite food or something of a similar nature. I don't believe it is, for me. It is giving up an essential part of myself and how I experience love and connection.

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Touchofinsight

I think its a good time for you to sit down and objectively look at what value you bring to the relationship and the value your partner brings to the relationship.

That can help put things in perspective.

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GeorgeSand

I think its a good time for you to sit down and objectively look at what value you bring to the relationship and the value your partner brings to the relationship.

That can help put things in perspective.

Mmm, well, yes, but it's awfully hard to be objective!

We're a yin and yang, I think... which really chafed at first but now I find valuable. I'm highly emotional from a highly emotional family; his emotions are very deeply buried, as is the case with his whole family - Stoic Finns, the lot of them. I'm positive and hopeful; he's negative. I'm great at coming up with ideas; he's good at realizing them. I'm good at breaking things, he's good at fixing them. :P He's the breadwinner, I'm the worker.

At one point I would have said everything he is is exactly the opposite of what I wanted, but now I've realized how much he grounds me. I really believe I've escaped the deep mental/emotional disorders my family has because he has not fed into my emotions, but forced me to manage them.

I am, much to my consternation, talented at seeing all sides of an issue, so this kind of thinking just sends me spinning. For every bad trait about him or our relationship, I could list a good one. And if the list grew to be lopsided on the negative side, I would question whether I was being fair, whether I was looking hard enough for the good. That's how I operate. So. Perspective is a slippery little devil.

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Farlie64

I was speaking to an asexual earlier tonight about what it's like to be a sexual and figuring out that the lack of sex isn't just temporary; it's forever. And why it's such a big deal to me and other sexuals.

I had this revelation that it's like being struck blind. You go your whole life seeing marvelous things, knowing your loved ones' faces, seeing the ocean and mountains and art and blue skies and flowers. And then, one day, you wake up blind. This wasn't your choice. You'll never see anything marvelous again. You'll touch, smell, taste, hear... but you won't see.

It wasn't my knowing choice to marry an asexual. He didn't know or understand he just fundamentally didn't have a sex drive before we got married. And I miss sex like I imagine many blind people miss seeing the world. It was beautiful. The ability to connect with another person that way! To be shown such adoration and held so close and made to feel safe! To revel in the beauty of each others' bodies; the wondrous feelings before, during, and after sex. To know I'm making another person feel really, deliciously good! This is all taken away from me.

Does this make any better sense to any asexuals, or resonate with any other sexuals? I'm sure the description of sex makes about as much sense as describing a stained glass window to a person born blind, but hopefully it gets the point across.

EDIT: Okay, so there seems to be resistance to the idea because blindness is a permanent issue, whereas staying with a relationship is not. Let me adjust:

Imagine you entered a house, and a few steps into the room, you begin to lose your eyesight. But the house is full of warm, wonderful smells, silk sheets, beautiful fireplaces, fine things, and what's more, it's totally safe from any disaster known to man. Still, losing one's eyesight is quite alarming. But when you go to leave (which takes quite a bit of fumbling around, blind as you are), the doors are locked. A Voice from somewhere tells you: "You may remain here and blind, or walk through a tunnel of fire and leave. What is your choice?"

Some people seem to be fine choosing living in the beautiful house. Some people find it too much of a sacrifice to be visionless. And, of course, for some it isn't a painful situation at all, while for me, it is.

...

This is the story of my life.. I'm 22, married and I adore my husband, he's my best friend, and I honestly can't imagine living without him. But I'm fairly sure he's asexual, and I'm very sexual. The whole situation kills me! Do I stay in this life which is great except for that giant, gaping hole that makes me feel unattractive, and unsexy and plays on my mind constantly. Or do I leave and potentially have a great sex life, but lose my best friend.

No win situation... I tired the idea of opening our marriage, he's a staunch Christian and said if I really needed that so badly, and he couldn't give it to me then I should leave..

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