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Antiopa

For sexuals: Why is sex so important to you?

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Antiopa

As asexual in a mixed relationship I am trying to understand my partner better and his need for sex. There has been written a lot about compromises people make in mixed relationships regarding sex. But a lot of sexuals said that nothing can really substitute sex. So what I am trying to understand is why is sex so vastly different than any other form of intimacy.

There has been many posts explaining why sex is important to sexuals. But to be honest most of the answers are more or less general, vague, like: It is important because of the emotional closeness, bonding it provides. Many people said that it is not really about physical pleasure, orgasms (though it is a bonus). That if it was, masturbation would be enough for them. But it is not.

So what is it with sex that gives you a feeling of emotional closeness (and everything else it provides you) but cuddling for instance doesn't? Do you literally need to be IN someone to feel connected to them? Are hugs, kisses, cuddles not enough? How are they different?

Please, I don't mean to offend or blame anyone, I am genuinely curious why sex is such a big and important part of people's lives.

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Confusion 0

"Many people said that it is not really about physical pleasure, orgasms (though it is a bonus)." Really? Wow. I thought that was what most of it was about...

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.,.

My friend said she really enjoys the intimacy of it, even when it's with people she doesn't know that well.

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OutsideObserver

It produces a level of intimacy and a sense of connection to the other person that is not easily replicated doing something non-sexual. Without that connection, you feel less secure and happy in the relationship.

Someone on here, over the course of the time I've lurked here, once said that not having sex with your romantic partner can make a sexual person feel like the relationship is constantly in a state of "in trouble", or insecure. When sexuals in a relationship stop having sex, that's a red flag in the minds of most sexuals that the relationship is in danger of dissolving. Even if logically there is another reason why there is no sex, you still feel wrong inside, and no combination of other gestures or acts of love ever quite makes that feeling of wrongness go away.

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Skullery Maid

I'd agree with that... if I'm being constantly rejected sexually, I'm going to tip toe around... walk on eggshells... to try to remediate whatever issue there is. Even if there is no issue. Without sex I kind of can't act like myself in a relationship... I start acting like I would around friends, which is a little more guarded, a little more proper and appropriate, and always aware of what I'm saying and doing. That gets exhausting after awhile...

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Telecaster68

It is important because of the emotional closeness, bonding it provides.

On a purely neurological level, orgasm produces a flood of oxytocin in the brain, which makes people feel more bonded to those they're with at the time.

Emotionally, it combines the mental and physical like nothing else - the kind of emotional closeness a lot of asexuals get from cuddling etc., plus the sensual physical pleasure. And there's a kind of spiral of intensity: you're getting enjoyment from your partner's enjoyment, they're getting enjoyment from your enjoyment, and you're getting enjoyment from that enjoyment. That's a very deep pleasure and it amplifies as it bounces back and forth.

Many people said that it is not really about physical pleasure, orgasms (though it is a bonus). That if it was, masturbation would be enough for them. But it is not.

There was also some neuro research I saw that somehow measured that orgasms from sex with a partner were a lot more intense than orgasms from masturbation. It's certainly my experience.

Do you literally need to be IN someone to feel connected to them?

Not always. But physically, you can't actually be closer than that, so for a lot of sexuals, it's the most intense way to feel connected.

Are hugs, kisses, cuddles not enough? How are they different?

There's also the rising sense of urgency, building up to orgasm, and the huge release when it happens. That doesn't happen with cuddles.

And this combination of emotional and physical pleasure is with the person who you most love in the world.

On Observer's point:

The reason lack of sex sends us into a tailspin is that in sexual relationships, its absence is generally an indicator that something deeper is wrong. The only reason most sexuals don't have sex in a relationship generally that one of them is unhappy being in the relationship, or stress. Given that's how nearly 99% of the population behaves, it's very difficult to accept that nothing else is wrong and asexuals just don't want to have sex for their own reasons.

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Tarfeather

I'd agree with that... if I'm being constantly rejected sexually, I'm going to tip toe around... walk on eggshells... to try to remediate whatever issue there is. Even if there is no issue. Without sex I kind of can't act like myself in a relationship... I start acting like I would around friends, which is a little more guarded, a little more proper and appropriate, and always aware of what I'm saying and doing. That gets exhausting after awhile...

Just a thought, but could it be related to other things than lack of sex as well? I personally find that doing certain sensual things helps with the same issue.

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Skullery Maid

No, there's an element of being full accepted that, if I'm not accepted sexually, I think destroys some of that openness. But I dunno... this is the first time I've thought about it, so I'll have to do more reflecting. I think that sensual without sexual makes me feel worse, though, not better.

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Tarfeather

Okay. Guess we're just different in this, then.

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levelskid

I heard someone say that without sex, then the relationship is just a friendship with maybe more hugs and cuddling. Is that in anyway true?

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Tarfeather

If a friendship can be something more significant than a sexual relationship, sure.

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Telecaster68

I heard someone say that without sex, then the relationship is just a friendship with maybe more hugs and cuddling. Is that in anyway true?

It depends on the relationship, it can be committed in other ways, but without sex I'd regard it as defaulting to that, yes.

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sampg91

I don't hug and cuddle friends so that part isn't true for me. I read on here how some couples don't even touch each other because the asexual partner doesn't like being touched. To me thats just a friendship not a relationship.

I love and want sex, but doing sensual things get the job done for me.

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Telecaster68

There's also that without sex, one if the richest, most intense, most pleasurable channels of communication in a relationship is removed, and that impoverishes the whole relationship. Imagine if your partner announced they didn't want to talk, and wouldn't tolerate you talking to anyone else either for as long as you were together. So that's conversation for you, for the rest of your life. It's that important.

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closetPonyfan

I don't know about other mixed relationships, but for me sex isn't really as important as the emotional and physical closeness and intimacy. But my wife being aro and Ace means it's not just the sex that's missing. She's not at all attracted to me. And at times its hard to distinguish that from "she doesn't care about me at all". So, I think for a lot if people a lack of sex is a lack of other forms of intimacy. I guess what I mean is when an Ace says "no sex" it also means "no form of intamacy". Idk, even cudddles/hugs/kisses sometimes just feel cold, hollow, or meaningless. So it's not the lack of sex that is the issue, per say. But that there is no depth to any form of intimacy.

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closetPonyfan

So a compromise could even just be: hold me like you mean it for 5 minutes, please. And usually that's a no too.

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Chupa Cabra

As far as my personal experience goes, sex is a form of communication between people. Sounds super dry when I put it that way, but in its basic level, its the exchange of information. Pheromones start to race around, elevating your body temperature and the pleasure nodes in your brain. It all starts with the brain. THEN everywhere else.

When you're having a good sexual experience, where the people involved are equally into it, its like sharing an electrical current. The ebb and flow wakes up your senses and make you feel primal These primal urges were instilled in the majority of the human race so that we would continue our species. When the urge is ingrained in you, you feel warm and secure and desired. Its almost a form of camaraderie. As I mentioned before, it all starts with the brain.

The brain, however, is not a simple organ. And obviously,not everyone feels the primal calling.

However, with those that experience it, the sexual connection is something beyond logic and rationality. Its instinct. Another instinctual connection example is mothers having a bond with their babies. Not all mothers have that. Not everyone wants to be a parent in the first place. But that bonding helps the whole procreation thing (keeping the baby alive and healthy, because babies that are not held and cuddled do not thrive).

I hope I've made some sense as to OP's original question, as to why sex is so different than other forms of intimacy. With me personally, I've been asexual for two years now, due to depression and other issues. I'm working on my issues, getting healthy. I have a partner who is sexual though. I feel bad because I haven't wanted to have sex, and I know that for many men, they feel unloved as a person if they don't get sex. I love him very much and try to convey that through cuddling and flirting. I just don't have the desire to be sexual.

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Antiopa

So if I understood correctly from your posts, not having sex is not really an issue per se, but other things are that arise from not having it. Like other person thinking something is wrong and not feeling loved?

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Sally

So if I understood correctly from your posts, not having sex is not really an issue per se, but other things are that arise from not having it. Like other person thinking something is wrong and not feeling loved?

I don't think that's what everyone's saying, and it's not what I learned from the two sexuals I had long relationships with. Not having sex definitely would have been a problem for them. What I've heard from sexuals on AVEN is that sex is part of a satisfying relationship, and without it, they really don't feel that the relationship is complete.

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Telecaster68

So if I understood correctly from your posts, not having sex is not really an issue per se, but other things are that arise from not having it. Like other person thinking something is wrong and not feeling loved?

Both are very big issues. But the effect on the rest of the relationship is the reason masturbation and/or having sex with someone else don't fill the gap.

From AVEN posts, it seems to me that not making any connection between sex and emotions is a pretty common factor with asexuals. They might be okay with having sex, have a libido, even enjoy it. But there's no connection for them between the physical and the emotional elements.

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ChillaKilla

It's just an innate... Not need, per se, but something stronger than a want.

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butterflydreams

Wow, this is a very interesting thread with lots of insightful comments from people.

I always say I've learned a lot from sexual people on AVEN. Sometimes it's hard to hear, but it's also stuff I really should know about.

Though reading this thread gives me pause. The consensus always seems to be mixed relationships can work, and we've certainly heard many success stories, but reading what people have said here, it makes me wonder how. I've always said there are lots of intimate things I can do that aren't sex and that such things would surely make a mixed relationship pretty good with the right person. But it sounds like that's maybe not the case? Surely it can't be compromise or go without non-sexual intimacy and love, right?

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Telecaster68

I think all the sexual posters on this thread are skewed towards those of us are who do find sex really important, because of the assumption in the question that it is. There's probably some sexuals the who don't find it as important who didn't respond. But not that many, and you're right, I think AVEN as a community maybe overestimates that proportion - partly because most posters are asexual and can't understand how it works, and partly because there's always a tendency to be cheerleaders for positivity.

The word 'some' gets used a lot on AVEN and it's vague and we all read our own biases into it. I suspect when asexuals read 'some' sexuals aren't very bothered about sex, they might be thinking in the order of say 40%, where sexuals will be thinking in the order of 5%. I've just made up those figures as indicative, but you see the point I'm trying to make I hope.

In the end though it comes down to how how much sex and desire each couple can tolerate. For many sexuals, little or none is a dealbreaker, and for asexuals the reverse applies.

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Tarfeather

Though reading this thread gives me pause. The consensus always seems to be mixed relationships can work, and we've certainly heard many success stories, but reading what people have said here, it makes me wonder how. I've always said there are lots of intimate things I can do that aren't sex and that such things would surely make a mixed relationship pretty good with the right person. But it sounds like that's maybe not the case? Surely it can't be compromise or go without non-sexual intimacy and love, right?

Oh, I'd say mixed relationships wouldn't work in the majority of cases. Mind, I have a feeling the kind of "love" that is the focus of my life, which is neither necessarily romantic nor sexual, is a very rare thing in and of itself. Which is to say, as a sexual, I also would have problems finding a partner, sexual or otherwise, as they wouldn't necessarily live up to my idea of friendship and love.

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butterflydreams

I think all the sexual posters on this thread are skewed towards those of us are who do find sex really important, because of the assumption in the question that it is. There's probably some sexuals the who don't find it as important who didn't respond. But not that many, and you're right, I think AVEN as a community maybe overestimates that proportion - partly because most posters are asexual and can't understand how it works, and partly because there's always a tendency to be cheerleaders for positivity.

The word 'some' gets used a lot on AVEN and it's vague and we all read our own biases into it. I suspect when asexuals read 'some' sexuals aren't very bothered about sex, they might be thinking in the order of say 40%, where sexuals will be thinking in the order of 5%. I've just made up those figures as indicative, but you see the point I'm trying to make I hope.

I can see your point. For better or worse, I'm no cheerleader for positivity, I'm a cheerleader for what's realistic. Which is why I take interest in this kind of discussion. I want to make sure I don't delude myself into believing, "oh, it'll be ok. You can do all these other things and surely that'll be sufficient for most sexual people".

Which leads me to a logical followup question: Sexual people, what is your realistic assessment of what an asexual person ought to be doing in search of romantic love and companionship? And related, what would you want/need from a relationship with an asexual person?

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Tarfeather

Hadley, would you be okay with poly? That seems to me like the situation under which a romantic sexual/asexual mixed relationship could work best.

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Telecaster68
Sexual people, what is your realistic assessment of what an asexual person ought to be doing in search of romantic love and companionship?

'Ought' is going to be whatever they feel able to. I have no idea about how that works during the 'in search of' phase, beyond making clear reasonably early on that the asexual partner isn't into sex, will never be, it's not about timing, or technique, or emotions. They just won't. See how the chips fall after that, and bear in mind that it's fairly common for both sides to try to make it work, and almost as common for one or both to fail, from what I've seen.

And related, what would you want/need from a relationship with an asexual person?

That might mean they can deal with as much sex their partner wants, or none at all. It's unfair to ask what someone can't give, but everyone can give some kind of concerted effort to make a relationship work. The sexual partner will by default be making an effort to make the relationship work with less sex than they'd like - it seems fair to me that the sexual partner should at least make an effort to try it with more than they'd like. And many do.

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Tarfeather

That might mean they can deal with as much sex their partner wants, or none at all. It's unfair to ask what someone can't give, but everyone can give some kind of concerted effort to make a relationship work. The sexual partner will by default be making an effort to make the relationship work with less sex than they'd like - it seems fair to me that the sexual partner should at least make an effort to try it with more than they'd like. And many do.

I disagree. If someone clearly doesn't enjoy sex, they shouldn't have it. Whatever compromise should be something both can enjoy to some extent.

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Telecaster68
If someone clearly doesn't enjoy sex, they shouldn't have it. Whatever compromise should be something both can enjoy to some extent.

But, we are told repeatedly, asexuals can enjoy sex, and I'm talking about the ones who enjoy or at least are neutral about it. Because they feel no innate need, doesn't cross the radar, etc. they sometimes seem to rule out even trying, or rule out anything more than 'very infrequent'. Not all, but it does seem to happen fairly frequently. By the same token, sexuals should be open to having less sex, and desire-free sex. Try it. See if it works out and brings enough to the relationship that - with all the other benefits - things can work out.

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butterflydreams

Hadley, would you be okay with poly? That seems to me like the situation under which a romantic sexual/asexual mixed relationship could work best.

I've certainly thought about it, and I've tried to understand it better. I could be totally off-base with this assessment of poly relationships, and I don't mean to offend anyone, but my entire history has been where people discarded me in favor of someone with whom they were having sex. So a poly relationship triggers all the wrong buttons in me. I'd always be, at best, number 2, because sex is just friggin awesome.

That might mean they can deal with as much sex their partner wants, or none at all. It's unfair to ask what someone can't give, but everyone can give some kind of concerted effort to make a relationship work. The sexual partner will by default be making an effort to make the relationship work with less sex than they'd like - it seems fair to me that the sexual partner should at least make an effort to try it with more than they'd like. And many do.

I disagree. If someone clearly doesn't enjoy sex, they shouldn't have it. Whatever compromise should be something both can enjoy to some extent.

Well, I mean, I understand the sentiment. Personally I'm unsure what, and how much, would be ok for me. But knowing me, I'm sure if someone was showing me genuine love, care, and respect, I'd be willing to bend pretty far. Simply because such a thing has been so absent from my life. I also wouldn't feel right if a partner was going without sex on my behalf. I'm just no ok with that. Or if they were giving up something and I was giving up nothing.

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