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Telecaster68

For asexuals who just haven't been able to take it any more

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Telecaster68

I honestly think it's not that exhausting for most people to read other people.

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Frigid Pink

It sounds like you view anything short of a your partner volunteering a detailed verbal commentary of their state of mind as 'expecting mindreading'. What degree would you expect this to go? For instance, would you need 'I've had shit day at work and don't feel like talking for half an hour but give me time to decompress and I'll be fine' explainig for instance? How about 'my mothers just died and I'm probably going to fall apart for a few weeks'? Or 'being persistently sexually rejected for six months makes me feel unloved'?

I'd expect most people to be able to take a fairly accurate guess at these as potential reasons why their partner was, say, withdrawn and uncommunicative, depending on context. I'm interested in whether you'd be able to figure them out.

No, that's not how I view things. I value open, direct, and honest communication in my relationships, not whether or not someone can figure out my feelings or whether or not I can figure out theirs. I think you're misconstruing the degree of detail and sharing I expect. My words may sound like I require an unreasonable level of detail, when really all I mean is that a quick sentence or two about the person's state of being will suffice, especially if they are upset and need some time to formulate their thoughts and feelings. My point is that a quick verbal communication can say a lot more than having to be an amateur behavioral psychologist.

With that said, it seems like you're asking "How much detail do I need to provide?" Your first example is a good one if you've had a bad day. Can just say "had a bad day and need to decompress." I think the sexually displeased one is one that needs to be brought up sooner (someone may not realize it's causing that much heartburn). And the death in the family is one where most people wouldn't need a verbal cue.

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Telecaster68

Fair enough. That does seem less hardline than the imoression I had before.

I'd agree about the latter two scenarios but the first one could be figured out from context and routine, I'd say, as well of course as body language.

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Serran

It sounds like you view anything short of a your partner volunteering a detailed verbal commentary of their state of mind as 'expecting mindreading'. What degree would you expect this to go? For instance, would you need 'I've had shit day at work and don't feel like talking for half an hour but give me time to decompress and I'll be fine' explainig for instance? How about 'my mothers just died and I'm probably going to fall apart for a few weeks'?

I'd expect most people to be able to take a fairly accurate guess at these as potential reasons why their partner was, say, withdrawn and uncommunicative, depending on context. I'm interested in whether you'd be able to figure them out.

That had me thinking. My partner doesn't understand being upset by death, at all. He has some ... interesting beliefs in which he doesn't care if someone dies anymore than if they say, go on vacation for a while. So, when I am upset because my grandmother is very ill, or my dog died, etc... he just can't get it. I remember when our first dog together had to be put to sleep, he walked in a few weeks later with me holding the dog's bandana and crying. He couldn't figure out at all what was wrong. And he actually got annoyed cause I wouldn't tell him, I didn't wanna talk right then. Even for me, that would have been a really obvious scenario. But, since he doesn't understand why that is important, he didn't even connect the dots that it might be what was upsetting me. I would imagine sometimes if you think something is totally irrelevant, it's hard to figure out it's upsetting someone.

Pink

You seem to be assuming people consciously 'perform' their feelings in order to get a reaction. I'm talking about noticing their behaviour and caring what it might imply about how they feel because you care about them.

And I disagree about cues being too various to read for most people. The basics - happiness, sadness, fear, anger, etc - are understood by very young children.

I've made guesses about how my partner felt before and was way off, and the same for them with me

Urgh, that is honestly the most annoying thing for me. My partner tries to "read" my moods based on how I am acting. He can't tell when I am "annoyed" (in general) or really mad, or upset, or just tired. He can't tell when I am bored, or just content. He can't tell when I am being quiet because I have nothing to say, or because I am biting back an angry response. Yet he KEEPS GUESSING! And he guesses totally wrong about 80% of the time... which then I have to sit and explain how wrong his assumption is when I really am not ready to talk about whatever yet, or just don't find it important enough to need to talk (I woke up cranky today, nothing causing it, I just did... I don't really need to explain this to you, just leave me alone).

And when I was living with my ex, his mom would ask me why I was upset... when I was sitting quietly at the computer trying to figure something out. No, I am not upset. I am concentrating. GO AWAY! :lol:

... actually, now that I think of it, it's a lot more exhausting to explain how wrong people are when they guess how I am feeling than it is to be expected to guess how they are feeling. :P

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Sally

"If we seem to not be aware, maybe it can be postponed (even if the sexual is annoyed)."

Genuine question, not snark.

Can you see how, when this goes on for months, it's incredibly hurtful?

Yeah, but I didn't mean postponing it for months; I meant postponing it for a day or less. "Months" is not postponing; it's just completely opting out. I'd think by then, the sexual and asexual would have had some sort of discussion.

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Telecaster68
I meant postponing it for a day or less.

Fair enough. Everybody has points where discussing sensitive stuff now right this moment just isn't going to fly.

it's just completely opting out. I'd think by then, the sexual and asexual would have had some sort of discussion.

You'd hope. But you can see posts here (and more so on various subreddits) where the avoidance goes on for months, and the sexual refusing to be deflected is viewed as bullying/entitlement/manipulation/whatever. Or, where the asexual in the partnership retreats to excuses about tiredness/illness/stress.

And I'm sure sexuals do the 'nothing' line too, which they shouldn't.

Do you think asexuals notice something's wrong, and really push and niggle away at it over months, trying every tactic they can think of to try and figure things out, even though they know they're heading towards an answer they very possibly won't like?

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Serran

I wouldn't push and niggle away for MONTHS about any topic, regardless. If someone is upset and tells me nothing is wrong, that means they don't wanna talk about it. If they do, they can come to me. Nagging someone that long just sounds... rude. So, no I don't think asexuals do that. I don't think much of anyone does that. Most people I know make 1-2 attempts, then leave it alone.

Also, many times when people are getting the tired etc excuse, it's from a partner that doesn't even know they are asexual and the sexual is putting the label on. Before I knew asexuality was even a thing, I used every excuse I could to get out of sex. Because simply saying "I don't want to" was a huge fight "WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE?!? WHO DO YOU LOVE NOW?!?" ... like if you don't have a "reasonable reason" to not want sex, it's automatically you're cheating or you hate the person. And I was MUCH less willing to do it when it was just I don't, he does with no explanation of the difference. Most people I have read stories from are saying "I think my partner is asexual. Every time I want sex, they just say ___". Most people I have read who do know their partner is asexual (meaning they've talked about it) have discussed it. And, well, if you have discussed it and come to the impasse of "I can't live without sex" and "I can't live with sex" then yeah to keep pushing for sex would just be pressuring. It would be at the point you'd need to come up with some other arrangement or decide to split. If the discussion came to "I'll try", then it would be bring back up negotiations to try to find something that works (which often takes a while, or simply won't happen). But, that would be pushing to talk, rather than pushing for sex.

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shinyostrich

Hello everyone!

This seems pretty complicated, I just wanted to stress the importance I place on using your words. Never assume you know what someone is thinking or feeling unless they have told you explicitly. Some people are horrible at reading emotions (my brother is one of these). So when I can see immediately when my brother walks into a room that he's upset and ask him about it, hes surprised that I noticed. But to me its written all over his face! Where as I can be obviously upset and quiet, and he will never pick up on it unless I tell him (my sisters will get it right away).

So really I find that a lot of relationship strife is reduced by biting the bullet and taking the difficult route and just using words.

I hope that was relevant, and if not, no harm done!

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Telecaster68
I wouldn't push and niggle away for MONTHS about any topic, regardless.

Yeah, sorry, bad phrasing on my part. I meant more that it was niggling in the sexual's mind and this leads to them thinking a lot about what to do, and trying different tacks. This is the kind of pattern I had in mind, in the context of an established, otherwise solid and happy relationship:

Allosexual gets concerned about lack/drop of sex/being desired, so they try to initiate a talk, which gets deflected, or put down to tiredness/illness etc. So they back off for a few weeks, still nothing. So they think, okay what can I do to alleviate the stress/help with illness. The asexual is clearly reluctant to engage with this, and nothing changes with the sex. So the sexual thinks 'it must be me', maybe makes efforts to be more attractive, less morose (if they're getting down about it). Still no change. So another talk, maybe more urgent this time, trying to communicate the depth of the problem. The asexual says they feel pressured, there's more to relationships than sex, can the sexual please back off and maybe they'll feel more like it. So the sexual backs off, does their best to keep positive, doesn't initiate or bring up sex. Still, no change with sex, although the asexual seems happier with this arrangement. At some point the sexual realises their partner is never going to feel more like it. So they switch approach again, and allow the asexual to see the full depth of their misery, and how despite really wanting to make the relationship work, in all honesty, they're not sure they can. The asexual is racked with guilt and something like 'I'm asexual' comes out. Maybe couples counselling is considered, but the asexual really doesn't want to, because it's all too painful and they know underneath that it won't make any difference. And the impasse is reached.

On AVEN, and on other forums, and from my own experience, this seems like a fairly common pattern.

All this would go on over some months, and I'm not for a second minimising the distress the asexual is presumably feeling about this. My point is rather that both partners are in distress, but the sexual seems often to be the one coming at it every which way to find a solution because in the end, they're the ones who need something to change. Meanwhile the asexual is denying and avoiding the issue because in the end, they're okay with the status quo of 'no sex'. I can understand why, and I'm sympathetic, but that does seem to be how it works.

Serran - you're saying just go straight to the full onslaught of misery end-game? Most sexuals understand how much pain that's going to cause, I'd guess, and that's why they don't go straight there, but try to find a way to avoid it. From this thread, maybe that's a counter productive as an approach, as asexuals just wouldn't grasp the situation until it's laid out really, really explicitly. (That also echoes my own situation).

I'm not really trying to persuade anyone of anything here, just illuminate how the situation seems from the sexual side, I guess.

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shinyostrich

Thanks for trying to illuminate that point of view telecaster!

This is for sure a problem in many people's relationships, and I think a lot of it is based in the inability of people to be in anyone's head but their own. I had no idea just HOW MUCH people want sex and how much they think about it until someone sat me down and explained it to me. And I was like how do you have room for anything else?? Its a very frustrating discussion for sure, as to me I hear someone saying "I really want to put a tarantula on your face and its destroying me that you won't let me" and my only response is that I really, honestly, don't understand this, but I would really prefer to keep my face tarantula-less thanks.

SO I'm not sure if that contributed anything but I find this conversation really interesting.

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Telecaster68

Shiny

They're great contributions, and yeah, I think people just not 'getting' how much the other side does/doesn't want sex. Also - since 99% of people (or 92% or whatever, pick your percentage; it's the vast majority anyhow) do want sex, sexuals assume their partner is one of them, particularly if for whatever reason there was sex at the start of the relationship. 99% of the time, they're right in that assumption. Meanwhile for asexuals, sexual desire for another person is pretty much an unknown unknown. Effectively, neither side knows the other's position exists.

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Frigid Pink

I still think direct communication is the best approach. It saves so many headaches, like the "What if I do this? Or are their feelings this? or Maybe they want that" thoughts, when directly communicating about what you and they need would save so much energy because you wouldn't have to make guesses and spend extra energy on things that are unwanted or unnecessary (like changing the way you look and so on).

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Telecaster68

So in fact, we need to be less gentle with our asexual partners, in a way. Rather than 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?', going straight in there with 'we haven't had sex for two months and I feel profoundly rejected, sad and that you no longer love me'?

That's completely against the grain of most advice on communicating in relationships. But, hey, if it works, it works.

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Tarfeather

So in fact, we need to be less gentle with our asexual partners, in a way. Rather than 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?', going straight in there with 'we haven't had sex for two months and I feel profoundly rejected, sad and that you no longer love me'?

That's completely against the grain of most advice on communicating in relationships. But, hey, if it works, it works.

Well, I actually did take your earlier advice of not "shutting up" about my needs, and it's worked for me. So let me expound a bit on how it's working for me.

What seems to work best is to.. well, in a way be yourself. Don't try to be "adult" by hiding your emotions and needs when they crop up. Just plainly express what you feel to your partner. At the same time, balancing your own emotions still is important. In other words, if you constantly feel rejected, unloved, etc. yes do show that, but what you need to do in order to make the relationship work is to genuinely change those emotions (and that requires your own effort!), rather than hiding them.

It seems that for me, just being able to express my emotions and having my partner notice already makes it easier to convert these emotions into something more positive.

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Telecaster68

Glad to have been of help.

From what Pink and a few others have said, what you and I might think was making our feelings clear without being aggressive or bullying, might barely register on their radar, or be so ambiguous they had no idea what it meant, or they might grasp there was some unhappiness implied, and really not want to deal with it if they can see a way to avoid it. To get on that radar, we have to do stuff that we might feel is too aggressive or bullying, and intact, our partners don't think it is.

My nuance on your changing our own feelings idea is that rather than trying to change how we feel by force of will, which I don't think works, we need to understand our partners better, and see how that new understanding changes (or not) how we feel. For example, understanding that my wife not only didn't want sex with me, she wouldn't want it with George Clooney or anyone else, profoundly changed my feelings about our while relationship, in lots of ways.

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Tarfeather

From what Pink and a few others have said, what you and I might think was making our feelings clear without being aggressive or bullying, might barely register on their radar, or be so ambiguous they had no idea what it meant, or they might grasp there was some unhappiness implied, and really not want to deal with it if they can see a way to avoid it. To get on that radar, we have to do stuff that we might feel is too aggressive or bullying, and intact, our partners don't think it is.

As for my partner, it registers on her radar alright. When we weren't as close, she just didn't care very much.. And now that we're very close, she cares a lot, but she can't do much about it.

My nuance on your changing our own feelings idea is that rather than trying to change how we feel by force of will, which I don't think works, we need to understand our partners better, and see how that new understanding changes (or not) how we feel. For example, understanding that my wife not only didn't want sex with me, she wouldn't want it with George Clooney or anyone else, profoundly changed my feelings about our while relationship, in lots of ways.

Yeah, but.. There ought to be other kinds of signals that tell you you're very important to this person. No sex is very different from no intimate physical contact. If I lacked the latter, I couldn't see the relationship working.

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Frigid Pink

So in fact, we need to be less gentle with our asexual partners, in a way. Rather than 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?', going straight in there with 'we haven't had sex for two months and I feel profoundly rejected, sad and that you no longer love me'?

That's completely against the grain of most advice on communicating in relationships. But, hey, if it works, it works.

Glad to have been of help.

From what Pink and a few others have said, what you and I might think was making our feelings clear without being aggressive or bullying, might barely register on their radar, or be so ambiguous they had no idea what it meant, or they might grasp there was some unhappiness implied, and really not want to deal with it if they can see a way to avoid it. To get on that radar, we have to do stuff that we might feel is too aggressive or bullying, and intact, our partners don't think it is.

My nuance on your changing our own feelings idea is that rather than trying to change how we feel by force of will, which I don't think works, we need to understand our partners better, and see how that new understanding changes (or not) how we feel. For example, understanding that my wife not only didn't want sex with me, she wouldn't want it with George Clooney or anyone else, profoundly changed my feelings about our while relationship, in lots of ways.

I don't think you understand what I mean by directness, which isn't being aggressive, bullying, or communicating disrespectfully. By directness, I mean "don't beat around the bush" and I think think your statement right here is a great example (it's direct and without any disrespect): 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?'

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Lucinda

What if the "better" in "making sex" is not having it at all? Would that might be an answer you would expect?

Lucinda

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Telecaster68

"There ought to be other kinds of signals that tell you you're very important to this person. No sex is very different from no intimate physical contact. If I lacked the latter, I couldn't see the relationship working."

Quite, but no sex ever again is still an issue

"I think think your statement right here is a great example (it's direct and without any disrespect): 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?'"

Fair enough. What would your reaction be though? Would you actually grasp that this was more than whining at that point and entertain change?

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Frigid Pink

"There ought to be other kinds of signals that tell you you're very important to this person. No sex is very different from no intimate physical contact. If I lacked the latter, I couldn't see the relationship working."

Quite, but no sex ever again is still an issue

"I think think your statement right here is a great example (it's direct and without any disrespect): 'I'm really missing the intimacy and sex we used to have. How can we make sex better for both of us?'"

Fair enough. What would your reaction be though? Would you actually grasp that this was more than whining at that point and entertain change?

If I was your partner, was invested in our relationship, and cared about your feelings, then I'd most certainly entertain hearing you out and having a direct, open, and honest discussion about what's causing so much emotional duress for you. It doesn't necessarily mean I'd change my behavior because that really depends on what's best for me, too.

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Telecaster68

Yes, you seem like someone who genuinely wants to get stuff out in the open. But there's been a few asexuals in this thread admitting they were actively avoiding that discussion.

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Float On

most of the time people ask for relationship help on this site, they ask aven very well-worded questions and/or express their concerns very appropriately, and should have just taken the time to say/ask the exact same stuff to their partner. I don't really get it tbh lol

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Autumn Season
I wouldn't push and niggle away for MONTHS about any topic, regardless.

Yeah, sorry, bad phrasing on my part. I meant more that it was niggling in the sexual's mind and this leads to them thinking a lot about what to do, and trying different tacks. This is the kind of pattern I had in mind, in the context of an established, otherwise solid and happy relationship:

Allosexual gets concerned about lack/drop of sex/being desired, so they try to initiate a talk, which gets deflected, or put down to tiredness/illness etc. So they back off for a few weeks, still nothing. So they think, okay what can I do to alleviate the stress/help with illness. The asexual is clearly reluctant to engage with this, and nothing changes with the sex. So the sexual thinks 'it must be me', maybe makes efforts to be more attractive, less morose (if they're getting down about it). Still no change. So another talk, maybe more urgent this time, trying to communicate the depth of the problem. The asexual says they feel pressured, there's more to relationships than sex, can the sexual please back off and maybe they'll feel more like it. So the sexual backs off, does their best to keep positive, doesn't initiate or bring up sex. Still, no change with sex, although the asexual seems happier with this arrangement. At some point the sexual realises their partner is never going to feel more like it. So they switch approach again, and allow the asexual to see the full depth of their misery, and how despite really wanting to make the relationship work, in all honesty, they're not sure they can. The asexual is racked with guilt and something like 'I'm asexual' comes out. Maybe couples counselling is considered, but the asexual really doesn't want to, because it's all too painful and they know underneath that it won't make any difference. And the impasse is reached.

On AVEN, and on other forums, and from my own experience, this seems like a fairly common pattern.

All this would go on over some months, and I'm not for a second minimising the distress the asexual is presumably feeling about this. My point is rather that both partners are in distress, but the sexual seems often to be the one coming at it every which way to find a solution because in the end, they're the ones who need something to change. Meanwhile the asexual is denying and avoiding the issue because in the end, they're okay with the status quo of 'no sex'. I can understand why, and I'm sympathetic, but that does seem to be how it works.

Serran - you're saying just go straight to the full onslaught of misery end-game? Most sexuals understand how much pain that's going to cause, I'd guess, and that's why they don't go straight there, but try to find a way to avoid it. From this thread, maybe that's a counter productive as an approach, as asexuals just wouldn't grasp the situation until it's laid out really, really explicitly. (That also echoes my own situation).

I'm not really trying to persuade anyone of anything here, just illuminate how the situation seems from the sexual side, I guess.

Here's another thought:

The sexual might think that the straightest way to success is discuss whatever is wrong with the asexual. And it is a good thing to do. But simply talking about it won't immediately change the ace's behavior and feelings.

The ace will also see a problem and try to overcome it. And overcoming it is something that they need to do by themselves. Just like the sexual person has to overcome their need for sex by themselves. It's a silent effort.

So the sexual is unlikely to see the struggle the asexual goes through for the sake of their partner.

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Tarfeather

[...] whatever is wrong with the asexual.

[...]

The ace will also see a problem and try to overcome it.

.. Since when is not desiring sex "something wrong with the asexual"?

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Autumn Season

[...] whatever is wrong with the asexual.

[...]

The ace will also see a problem and try to overcome it.

.. Since when is not desiring sex "something wrong with the asexual"?

Oh, I didn't write it very well. I read it like this: "discuss whatever is wrong" "with the asexual".

And the problem is the difficulty to find a compromise.

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Float On

Here's another thought:

The sexual might think that the straightest way to success is discuss whatever is wrong with the asexual. And it is a good thing to do. But simply talking about it won't immediately change the ace's behavior and feelings.

The ace will also see a problem and try to overcome it. And overcoming it is something that they need to do by themselves. Just like the sexual person has to overcome their need for sex by themselves. It's a silent effort.

So the sexual is unlikely to see the struggle the asexual goes through for the sake of their partner.

that's something that could be the personal experience, but tbh I don't think there is a general case in this discussion.

I guess, knowing your partner is important. some people will wanna tackle things independently. some people will want open communication. some people will want direct cooperative interaction. and tbh I'm not so sure these three examples are even exclusive xD

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Sally

I keep hearing about "change" regarding discussions between the asexual and the sexual regarding what's "wrong".

Neither can change their orientation, and what's wrong is that their orientations don't mesh together naturally. The sexual wants sex; the asexual wants no sex. Perhaps the asexual can tolerate sex to a certain point, but that's changing behavior, not feeling. Each will feel uncomfortable with changes to their feelings, which come with changes to their behavior (for the sexual, less sex/less meaningful sex; for the sexual, more sex).

But it seems the asexual is usually connected with the effort to "change". That seems unfair; a compromise involves both of them. Of course the asexual is comfortable with no sex; nobody could blame us for that, because we don't want sex. The problem remains, though, that even if the asexual consents to sex, the sexual will often be uncomfortable because the asexual can't be a full partner: we just can't get into it like sexuals do.

So again, the real problem is the mismatch between the partners, and neither can change that.

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Float On

^ that, yeah.

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Telecaster68

"So the sexual is unlikely to see the struggle the asexual goes through for the sake of their partner."

I agree, and it's one of the great mysteries for me. My wife, and other asexuals I've seen partners talk about, have said they're 'working on it' without ever being able to explain what this means, or change their behaviour around sex very much. I'm sure there's something going on and I'd love to hear what it might be.

"But it seems the asexual is usually connected with the effort to "change"."

I understand what you're driving at, and yes, by that stage, the change in behaviour does seem to be all on the asexual.

That's because the sexual has already changed from the behaviour they'd prefer, which is relatively frequent sex. They've already conceded that, because their partner has said no, and rightly, that's what happens: no sex. So at that point, they're the ones having done all the compromising, by having no sex (or maybe,a lot less than they'd like). They've, rightly, had no choice about that. The asexual, at that point, hasn't done any compromising. They're having no sex, or only the amount they're comfortable with. So if the compromise is to involve concessions on both sides, the asexual's concession has to be some sex or more than they'd like, in order to meet halfway.

Ultimately, as you say, the problem is between individuals and I'm sure that's what Autumn meant.

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Sally

If the asexual doesn't want sex but is willing to have it, but less frequently than the sexual wants, they'll both be uncomfortable. Compromise doesn't mean comfortable; it means both of you giving up some of what you want.

That's either doable by the partners, or not worth it. Only they can decide.

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