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FaerieFate

How to respond to, "How do you know you're asexual?"

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FaerieFate

Man, this question has been a doozy for me for a while now. Ask me questions about asexuality all day, I've done an extensive amount of research on it for my work on AVEN, but the question of, "How do you know you're asexual?" or "What does asexuality mean to you?" has been an impossible question. It starts off with the fact that the asexual community can't really decide on a definition, and ends in the fact that even if you just choose one you still can't get whomever you're talking to to understand what on earth you're talking about.

 

So, as you can guess, I have finally found an answer to this question. Note, this will not negate your need to pull out your asexual bingo cards. You'll still hear all of the typical responses. However, if the person is willing to be understanding or is actually trying to understand, it will help them understand to the best of their ability (I mean you can't make someone else understand what it's like to be asexual any more than you can make a seeing person understand what it's like to be blind).

 

Note: This is only for asexuality specifically, not the rest of the asexual umbrella or aromanticism. I don't feel qualified to write that as I haven't experienced it myself, and a lot of this thread has to do with relating my experiences with that of a sexual person

 

Steps:

  1. Practice having the "The Ace Talk"
  2. Remove common misconceptions.
  3. Ask them how they feel about someone they are sexually attracted to.
  4. Explain how you feel the same.
  5. Explain how you feel different.
  6. Ask them about how they would feel about someone that they aren't sexually attracted to.
  7. Assure them that you can't change your sexuality any more than they can change theirs.

 

If you have an comments, questions, suggestions, advice, or whatever for this thread, you may PM @FaerieFate or create a thread in SC tagging me. I'll be more than happy to help out and/or add to this thread if necessary.

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FaerieFate

Practice having the "The Ace Talk"

These steps are a helpful guide, but ultimately it all depends on you. It all depends how how YOU communicate and how YOU understand the person you're talking to. So, I advise you practice these steps. Practice with someone that is really patient. You can practice with someone that understands asexuality or someone who doesn't. Just note, it might take a few hours to get it down, and it's best advised to have the conversation face-to-face (though whether or not you have it in one conversation or several is up to you).

 

You have to choose who you practice with wisely. It has to be with someone that will be okay with the fact that it's difficult for you to figure out what they're getting hung up on. It has to be someone that will at least understand the confusions that sexuals have about asesxuality (so a sexual). It has to be someone that you can communicate well with so that you don't spend days trying to have this conversation or leave thinking that you've helped them understand if you didn't (The person I did this with is someone where I can literally give them half a sentence and they know what I'm talking about and they can do the same for me).

 

You will have hang-ups. I spent a long time repeating "Compromise doesn't mean sex once a year" because the person I was talking to spent a long time repeating, "Guys don't want to have sex once a year." I didn't understand how I could break through to this person if I didn't know what the hang up was. It took a lot of patience before I realized this person thought I had no libido. So I realized I had to say, "I have a libido. The plumbing all works." THEN they understood me. But, of course, this led to me trying to have to show her (by bringing up her own feelings) what sexual attraction was (because trying to describe sexual attraction is like trying to explain the color red). It's just not possible.

 

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FaerieFate

Remove common misconceptions.

There are a lot of common misconceptions about asexuals. I suggest that you look into some. A good place to start is What doesn't affect your asexuality (as it's based on common misconceptions that people have). You can also look at some asexual bingo cards for help too. If you have a libido, tell them that you have a libido. If the plumbing all works, tell them that. If you'd be willing to have sex if you had a sexual partner, tell them that. If you've had sex before, tell them that. If your hormones are all normal, tell them that (and if possible show the blood test if you've got it).

 

I know it can be hard to decide where to start. You can't really clear up misconceptions if you don't know what misconceptions they have, so listen to them. Ask them what they think asexuality means. Ask them what they think a future relationship with you would look like for someone. Take mental notes of any misconceptions. Do they think you need therapy? Do they think that this means any relationship with you would mean sex is done once a year or never? Do they think you need to see a doctor?

 

Once you know what they're thinking, correct any misconceptions they have. Note, this is not the step for the "Every asexual is different" talk. So if they think something that is true, but may not be true for all asexuals, you're not at the state to try to correct that misconceptions. If you're talking to someone stubborn, then any agreement with them is something that they can sink their teeth into and hold on tight. It'll divert the conversation away from explaining asexuality vs sexuality. If you want to touch on the "Every asexual is different" talk, have that talk after this one.

 

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FaerieFate

Ask them how they feel about someone they are sexually attracted to.

Depending on how comfortable they are with you and their sexuality, this will get TMI real fast. That's okay. It's also okay to have the typical "Ew!" response and say "TMI" or whatever it is you feel the need to say if you must. Just try to get back on the conversation at hand rather than focus on it. The important part is that they KNOW how they feel about [insert person here] sexually. So ask about someone they're dating, how they felt about an ex, someone they have a crush on, ANYONE! If you can't think of anyone off the top of your head, ask them. They'll come up with some names real fast.

 

Then focus on how they feel sexually. Say something along the lines of, "And they turn you on, right?" Feel free to use your word choice (or theirs if they decide to divulge too much). The confirmation is just helpful to get your point across so they can hone in on exactly how they feel. You can be sure to separate the sexual and romantic attraction (make sure you focus on how they feel sexually, not romantically). Make sure that they're thinking about the sexy stuffs, not the, "Oh, I wanna date them, marry them, buy a house with a white picket fence, adopt a dog and two cats, start a family, and live happily ever after." Don't focus on the romantic attraction stuffs (This isn't advice on how to describe aromanticism, I'm not qualified to make THAT thread.)

 

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FaerieFate

Explain how you feel the same.

There will be some similarities somewhere. If you experience romantic attraction you can go into, "I want to date someone, have a serious romantic relationship where we hold nothing back" or however you'd describe that. If you like cuddles, then say you'd like cuddles. The same thing goes for anything, being held, kissing, hugging, that touching thing that couples do (you know the ones I'm talking about, where one wraps their arm around the other or one puts their hand on the other's knee), hand holding, or whatever.

 

Anything that they can relate to is good here. It clears up misconceptions, it helps them see you as more "normal". It sets ups a baseline of understanding because it gives them something about you that they can truly understand.  Most importantly, it doesn't make them see you as completely weird and different from them. Having different sexual attraction actually doesn't make you that different than the other person. They will think, "EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT FOR YOU!" That's not necessarily the case. So you want to be relatable to them on some level so that they don't freak out and think these things. If you wish to go into the "each asexual is different" talk, you may feel free to in this step and the next.

 

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FaerieFate

Explain how you feel different.

This is where you start giving your answer. You've already armed them with all of the knowledge they will need to begin to understand. You've primed them. There's the obvious things that you can bring up here. You don't like kissing? You don't like hand holding? You don't like being overly touchy? That's the more obvious stuff. Again, if you want to go into the "Every asexual is different" talk, it's great to do that when talking about these things. You don't like hand holding, well some sexuals also don't like hand holding. That in itself doesn't make you asexual, but it starts to establish the difference in how you feel compared to how THEY feel.

 

NOW you talk about the less easy to explain stuff (aka the part that's always impossible to answer). The best way to do this is to remember their word choice when you brought up someone they are sexually attracted to. I'd give examples, but these things can get rather... explicit. If they don't use any really... detailed word choice then you can use some simple terms like, "Yeah, no one turns me on." They'll confirm with questions like, "No one? No one famous? No one you know? What about that one person you dated?" Answer their questions as they try to wrap their heads around it. This is a lot for someone to take in as sexuals often think this in a "normal" part of life that every experiences. They think it's a normal right of passage to have that one crush that awoke your sexual desires, your first crush! The one who started it all! So, you just need to be patient. If they WANT to understand, they will at least have a working knowledge by the end of this.

 

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FaerieFate

Ask them about how they would feel about someone that they aren't sexually attracted to.

Now is the fun part. A lot of times when you come out as asexual people will point to random people or show random pictures and say things like, "What about him? I bet he'll turn you on!" And it's insane, but that actually led to a response that got me thinking about this. Basically, point out someone that they aren't sexually attracted to. Since examples are awesome, let's pretend this person that we're talking to isn't sexually attracted to women.

 

So bring up women and ask, "So how do you feel about women?" Assuming this person is open minded you'll get something like, "I know some people like that, but that isn't for me." Then simply say, "That's how I feel, about everyone." This really drives the point home. You've already brought up how they felt about those they're attracted to, and you'd given them a comparison to those that they aren't attracted to. It's weird, but you have to be the one to establish this connection so that they understand, because without you bringing this up they'll fixate on, "Everyone has SOMEONE!" For an asexual, this simply isn't true.

 

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FaerieFate

Assure them that you can't change your sexuality any more than they can change theirs.

Now here's the biggest hangup. Just because they have a basic understanding, even if they don't really get it, it doesn't mean you have to get rid of your asexual bingo cards around them. You'll still probably get all of the typical responses of, "Maybe you should talk to someone." or "Maybe you're just scared?" They know how you feel sexually, but they will still think this is something to be "fixed". So, at this point, you will have to risk getting offended a little bit. Because a lot of people say the most offensive things with the best intentions. If it's someone that you have that relationship with, feel free to point out if they're being offensive.

 

But, the most important part is letting them know that you can't change yourself. This is who you are. You're not just being stubborn. Going to therapy won't help. Trying it won't help. There is no "right person". You can't become sexual any more than they can become sexually attracted to llamas. It just won't happen. This will probably take up a bulk of the conversation, and is the best time to play asexual bingo. Again, just be patient with them. Listen to what they say, explain that you can't change, and once you get your point across then change the conversation (naturally so you don't seem upset, even if you're still a bit hurt and offended). They now have a basic understanding, even if they'll never 100% get what it's like to be asexual. You've gotten your point across. But the hardest part is proving that there's no way to "fix it".

 

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Linda_jj

I always say "i have never experienced sexual attraction towards anyone" and that's enough i guess.that fits in all the asexuality spectrums .it doesn't matter whether you are sex repulsed or into sex , having a high libido or a low one, having a a high,low or zero desire for being in a sexual relationship and blah blah blah .... If you aren't experiencing sexual attraction at all, you are asexual!

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TheRavenAsterisk

You know you're asexual the same way a person knows that they are heterosexual or homosexual. While there may or may not be a clear definition when you realize that you are and you look online or talk to other sexualities, something clicks in your mind and in your heart then you know. Suddenly the world makes sense.

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Goth_Unicorn

Tbh one day my best friend mentioned it and said I could possibly be one and then it clicked to me. After research I found enough info and everything I found applied to me. I kept thinking about it and the more I did the more it started making sense. 

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Shieldmaiden WinterDragon

I've never been sexually attracted to anyone, and never been sexual on any level. When I tell people that I have been told to...... Ya know some pretty dark things. So I avoid such conversations involving romantic topics and sexual topics since I hate them. I've never been aroused by anything or anyone, female or male. 

I told a friend of mine who used to work at a cafe in a library and she said I'm asexual and I looked it up and all these years later here I am on AVEN.

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Sally

Why can't  you simply say, "I don't want to have sex with any other person." 

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Ace of Mind

Step 6 is definitely my favorite as far as getting the point across. Historically it's had a high rate of effectiveness because everyone I've had to explain to has been straight. 
I'm still waiting for the day it backfires because the person is pan and the analogy fizzles 😅

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Sally

Of you could turn it around and ask, "How do you know you're sexual?"

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Serran

My issue with the thats how I feel about everyone thing...

 

Most people are romantic and sexual to a person they are attracted to. This is linked. So how they feel about someone of the wrong gender for their orientation being that would give the wrong idea. Because its totally platonic how they feel. And aces feel everything except the sexual bit. However, understanding such intense romantic feelings without sexual ones being there will be difficult for people. 

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Sally
11 minutes ago, Serran said:

My issue with the thats how I feel about everyone thing...

 

Most people are romantic and sexual to a person they are attracted to. This is linked. So how they feel about someone of the wrong gender for their orientation being that would give the wrong idea. Because its totally platonic how they feel. And aces feel everything except the sexual bit. However, understanding such intense romantic feelings without sexual ones being there will be difficult for people. 

It was certainly difficult for me when I experienced romantic feelings and aesthetic attraction for my partner, and since I didn't know any better, thought that's what being sexual was.  

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Serran
20 minutes ago, Sally said:

It was certainly difficult for me when I experienced romantic feelings and aesthetic attraction for my partner, and since I didn't know any better, thought that's what being sexual was.  

Ha, yeah and you are ace. Imagine someone who has never felt those without also wanting sex being part of it being asked to try to separate it. Its like telling someone imagine you feel hungry, but have no desire to eat, no matter how long you wait while feeling hungry. It will just not make sense to most. 

 

I cant separate my current relationship into what is sexual and not. Because honestly, one of the biggest turn ons is just feeling emotionally close. 

 

But I have felt romantic and close to others without wanting them sexually. So I genuinely get it. 

 

However... experiencing both... I get why people cant understand it. It is just so attached to everything. Their voice, eyes, personality, nice gestures, etc all become sexually attractive at points. Love itself sparks it. It is just so there its hard to imagine things without it. 

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MaeveTheRaven

My favourite metaphor is colorblindness.

You see, there is this thing that apparently comes natural to everybody. They feel it and talk about it like it was part of their everyday life, and for a while you completely misunderstood it. You thought you see it just like them, because you see colors, right? Those pretty orange leaves, for example. And there came that little piece of paper with the dotty picture on it, which didn't look like anything to you. Your friends said there was a number 6 on it, with bright green. Bright green? You don't see anything green on that paper.

After that moment you start to wonder. What else don't you see? You try to explain it to your friends, but they give you weird looks. Everybody sees colors. You're just making it up. You just want to seem special.

And those who actually believe you start to act different. They don't want to go looking at pretty flowers with you, because you can't see their true colors, so you can't enjoy them, right? Some even assume you outright hate flowers because of this.

But you can like flowers. You can like paintings. There is so much more to them than a conventional set of colors. You can like the smell of flowers, or their shape, or simply the fact they are plants. You can accompany your friends to an impressionist gallery, just to be with them and share their excitement. You can find the paintings beautiful with your own color palette.

 

(Note: as far as I know, I'm not color-blind. So sorry if I hurt anybody, I didn't want to. I just thought it was a fitting parallel.)

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FaerieFate
4 hours ago, MaeveTheRaven said:

My favourite metaphor is colorblindness.

You see, there is this thing that apparently comes natural to everybody. They feel it and talk about it like it was part of their everyday life, and for a while you completely misunderstood it. You thought you see it just like them, because you see colors, right? Those pretty orange leaves, for example. And there came that little piece of paper with the dotty picture on it, which didn't look like anything to you. Your friends said there was a number 6 on it, with bright green. Bright green? You don't see anything green on that paper.

After that moment you start to wonder. What else don't you see? You try to explain it to your friends, but they give you weird looks. Everybody sees colors. You're just making it up. You just want to seem special.

And those who actually believe you start to act different. They don't want to go looking at pretty flowers with you, because you can't see their true colors, so you can't enjoy them, right? Some even assume you outright hate flowers because of this.

But you can like flowers. You can like paintings. There is so much more to them than a conventional set of colors. You can like the smell of flowers, or their shape, or simply the fact they are plants. You can accompany your friends to an impressionist gallery, just to be with them and share their excitement. You can find the paintings beautiful with your own color palette.

 

(Note: as far as I know, I'm not color-blind. So sorry if I hurt anybody, I didn't want to. I just thought it was a fitting parallel.)

I'm not color blind either. I just remembered a video I saw on how blind people perceived color (blind not color blind). They see the world through other sensations, so the way we describe color is confusing. The idea of beautiful brown hair confused one of them because the color brown to them meant mud. The idea of red being hot and blue being cold as also confusing. So I imagined for a week trying to explain colors without sight. How would I describe the color red to a blind person? But when I tried to create a metaphor for asexuality comparing it to blindness didn't fit quite right. Colorblindness works because when we think about it, we don't know if what we see is the same as what everyone else sees. Everyone around us assumes we see colors the same as them. They also some everyone is sexual like them. 

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Nowhere Girl
On 5/17/2018 at 1:04 AM, FaerieFate said:

Assure them that you can't change your sexuality any more than they can change theirs.

Now here's the biggest hangup. Just because they have a basic understanding, even if they don't really get it, it doesn't mean you have to get rid of your asexual bingo cards around them. You'll still probably get all of the typical responses of, "Maybe you should talk to someone." or "Maybe you're just scared?" They know how you feel sexually, but they will still think this is something to be "fixed". So, at this point, you will have to risk getting offended a little bit. Because a lot of people say the most offensive things with the best intentions. If it's someone that you have that relationship with, feel free to point out if they're being offensive.

 

But, the most important part is letting them know that you can't change yourself. This is who you are. You're not just being stubborn. Going to therapy won't help. Trying it won't help. There is no "right person". You can't become sexual any more than they can become sexually attracted to llamas. It just won't happen. This will probably take up a bulk of the conversation, and is the best time to play asexual bingo. Again, just be patient with them. Listen to what they say, explain that you can't change, and once you get your point across then change the conversation (naturally so you don't seem upset, even if you're still a bit hurt and offended). They now have a basic understanding, even if they'll never 100% get what it's like to be asexual. You've gotten your point across. But the hardest part is proving that there's no way to "fix it".

 

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For me it's enough to say that I wouldn't like to change my orientation regardless of whether I could. I prefer being asexual!

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BunnyBuns

I came to this forum because I'm very much confused about what is wrong with me or if there is anything wrong with me at all. I suppose I don't have anyone to talk to about this so I assume there is something wrong with me. I know I'm not gay, bi or anything else. I see people without desire. The human body is.... simply scientific and biological in my eyes. I admire traits in others and I lean towards men that are interesting. I enjoy characters, intellect, uniqueness, someone with real substance. 

 

I'm finding that at 32, I've spent most of my life pretending. The feeling is equivalent to being dead inside regarding sex. It doesn't offend me, it doesn't motivate me... I have sex with men that I really like because having sex with men just to experiment wasn't working for me morally. It left me feeling ugly. A part of me wants to say this is depression or I haven't found the right person yet. I wasn't sexually abused and perhaps this could be a hormone imbalance? I relied on alcohol for quite sometime until finally quitting. 

 

I'm completely content in living a life of purpose with someone who shares mutual fondness. I'm fueled and motivated by companionship, purpose and hugs. I'm finding it difficult to keep up with my partners sexual appetite and it's not working out. I suppose I should make great efforts in being content with who I am and the right person will accept me. :) 

 

Very cool to know I'm not alone. 

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MichaelTannock

@BunnyBuns Welcome to AVEN!

In my case, I'm 33 and have never had or desired either sex or a relationship.

Incidentally, it is a tradition here to welcome new members by offering cake,
ZWughhv.jpg

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Sally
On 11/30/2018 at 9:41 PM, Serran said:

Ha, yeah and you are ace. Imagine someone who has never felt those without also wanting sex being part of it being asked to try to separate it. Its like telling someone imagine you feel hungry, but have no desire to eat, no matter how long you wait while feeling hungry. It will just not make sense to most. 

 

I can definitely understand that -- probably because my partner is sexual and for years (while we still had sex) I was used to him feeling sexual whenever a situation was "romantic".  I  experienced the romance; he experienced the romance integrated with sexual feelings.  It's completely logical to  me that a sexual simply could not separate out those "purely" sexual feelings from the whole experience.  

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BunnyBuns

I like cake. :) Thank you for the warm welcome.

 

@Sally  I'm becoming more and more irritated with myself in relationships. I don't like the person I become. I feel like I have nothing to offer or that every man that wants me is wasting his efforts. 

 

I joke about this and say, "I'm going to die alone." At 32 it's becoming more and more of a possibility and I'm growing to like it. Thank you for your response. 

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GoneForGood
On 12/2/2018 at 1:38 PM, MaeveTheRaven said:

(Note: as far as I know, I'm not color-blind. So sorry if I hurt anybody, I didn't want to. I just thought it was a fitting parallel.)

It is actually a pretty good comparison and as someone who is partially colorblind (though not completely) I was not offended.

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MaeveTheRaven
23 hours ago, MakeLoveNotWar said:

It is actually a pretty good comparison and as someone who is partially colorblind (though not completely) I was not offended.

Yey, I'm glad to hear that!

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KENMORT
On 12/29/2018 at 6:39 PM, MichaelTannock said:

@BunnyBuns Welcome to AVEN!

In my case, I'm 33 and have never had or desired either sex or a relationship.

Incidentally, it is a tradition here to welcome new members by offering cake,
ZWughhv.jpg

Thank you for sharing it 

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MichaelTannock

@KENMORT Welcome to AVEN!

 

Incidentally, it is a tradition here to welcome new members by offering cake, and here are some Space Cupcakes,

galaxy-cake-wedding-space-cupcakes-skozo

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FaerieFate
On 12/30/2018 at 8:39 AM, MakeLoveNotWar said:

It is actually a pretty good comparison and as someone who is partially colorblind (though not completely) I was not offended.

And this is the moment when I realize the full color-blind analogy is on my other thread. You should read it and let me know if it's respectful. I hope it's respectful because I really tried to take in the experiences if blind people compiled with years of trying to understand color blind people ever since I heard of the term when I created the analogy. 

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