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touch aversion and asexuality

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Zap

Hi there,

 

I’m new to the concept asexuality but it definitely fits my experience. I am nearly 30 years old and have never been sexually attracted to anyone. A couple of things about me:

Since I was a child, I’ve had a strong aversion to touch. I hated being touched. My family viewed my aversion as a flaw that I need to “get over” and expected me to hug family members etc. My family meant well but I HATED those interactions- I felt disgusted, even if I liked the person I was hugging.

I developed an eating disorder at age 11 that is ongoing. My eating disorder has been fairly severe at times and I’ve developed some chronic health problems as a result.

I bring these points up because my body has largely been a source of pain and disgust for me. It seems unsurprising that I would be disinterested in sex given how much I hate my body. I wonder if I am “truly” asexual or if I’m just put off by the idea of sex because of my experiences.

I know it’s impossible to answer that questions but…. I’m curious if there are other people on this site with similar experiences?

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lowLifeLoner

Asexuality is all about whether you feel sexual attraction. If you don't you are truly asexual. 

Personally I hate touching people and am weirded out by being touched, I'm not sure if its touch repulsion but meh..

I don't have an eating disorder but I have suffered from IBD (irritable bowel disease) since I was 11 (now in my 20s) and my body is a source of constant pain for me also. I certainly hate my body and am quite ashamed by it but I don't think thats why I'm asexual. 

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Muledeer

I don't mind "formal" touching - like hugs or handshakes but that's as far as it goes.  

I don't have any body acceptance or eating disorder issues.

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fuzzipueo

I don't like to be touched much. My family isn't the most touchy-feely bunch to begin with, except my niece, so she gets a pass for cuddling and such. However, I have a very clear idea of when I realized that I was asexual (a term unavailable at the time), and it had nothing to do with my discomfort with touch; just realizing that I had no interest in sex [backed up by years of uninterest]. On the other hand, the idea of letting anyone near me like that sets my teeth on edge.

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KaceyCat

I've pretty much always been weird about touch, and my family knows to abide by this. For the most part, none of them hug me unless I initiate it, and they especially know not to try any surprise physical contact. I did once almost have an incident at a doctor appointment, where the doc came up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder and if I were any less aware of my surroundings it would've triggered my fight or flight response. That doctor has no idea how close I was to either punching him or sprinting out of the room.

 

In addition, I'm physically disabled and in constant pain, especially my hips and knees. I don't see how doing the do could possibly not make the pain worse. The joys of being 22 and facing a hip replacement, and potentially both knees replaced as well.

 

I'm not sure how much of this whole situation is me actually being ace or me just being deeply uncomfortable with my body and physical contact, but tbh I kind of appreciate not really thinking about sex or how attractive I find people. I've got enough to deal with, thanks very much, so the less distractions, the better.

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CBC

I'm mid-30s and had a (sometimes very severe, I've come close to death several times) eating disorder for a couple decades now. Like you, I have resulting chronic health issues, some of which are irreversible at this point and entirely independent of the ED itself. I'm really sorry to hear of your struggles; this isn't anything I'd wish on anyone in a million years.

 

I'm not asexual, although the reason I joined AVEN 15 years ago was because I was questioning if I might be. I can't quite say that I'm touch averse, though -- however I do get overwhelmed by physical sensations and tend to either love or loathe them due to experiencing them so intensely. I think my reasoning for questioning my sexuality was more a matter of social issues and growing up with a massive amount of shame surrounding merely existing, plus at the time I joined I was quite physically ill and severely underweight, and that fucks with hormones in major ways. I don't like random people or those I'm not close to touching me, but that's just a matter of... I don't know, personal preference I guess, it's not really an extreme aversion. And I view sex quite positively when it's with someone I have feelings for and want to be having it with. I wasn't always that way, though; teenage me was utterly horrified by the idea. Something about it seemed violating, however I now put that down to not knowing myself and my preferences very well.

 

So I can't answer your questions definitively, but I can relate to your story in significant ways. I have a very uneasy relationship with my body too, and still struggle a lot. For me, eventually figuring myself out and finding my sexuality to be a positive thing has helped how I feel about my body actually. But yeah, it's entirely possible -- likely, even -- that your experiences are influencing your feelings here. 

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Telecaster68
6 hours ago, fuzzipueo said:

uninterest

I'd say ((())) but in context probably not a good thing...

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Nowhere Girl

I'm a little touch-averse. I generally dislike touching anyone or being touched, when I meet my friends, there is typically no physical contact between us. Not even a handshake - why should I feel obligated to it if I can express welcoming through words? (Generally, language is my absolutely preferred way of interacting with the world. If we include all possible texts which can be read - not only books, but also printed and online media, dialogues in games, texts to translate etc. - then I am certain that I have spent much more time in my life reading than doing anything else.) Still, there is one exception: since childhood I have enjoyed having my back stroked. However, my mom doesn't agree to do it anymore and I would be too embarassed to ask a friend to do it.

I have a difficult relationship with my body. I have suffered from a non-life-threatening chronic illness - allergy - almost all my life. It's enough to really hamper a person's life - I always feel itching, all the time, it obstructs my sleep (and I have an absolute sleeping-pill-phobia, they are very harmful and I will never take any sedatives stronger than teas made of herbs such as lavender, hops, lemon balm). All attempts at treatment - and there have been several - have been unsuccesful, the most I'm able to do is alleviate symptoms. Allergy is always visible on the surface of my skin - the last time I have had unscratched skin was probably about 35 years ago. I have also been overweight most of my life (my height, unchanged since the age of 13: 163 cm, my maximum weight according to my mom: 95 kg. I haven't weighed myself while looking at the scale for many years ;)). Now I have lost quite much weight. I like the fact that I now fit in several pairs of pants which have been too small, I like the fact that my boobs have become smaller (they are now extremely sagging and it's not comfortable. However, I still don't care very much about it: nobody sees them anyway), but still I don't like my new shape. I have become strongly attached to being a Big Woman and I feel strange in a smaller frame, I will have to work out more because I hate the idea of being a "delicate woman". In general - my attitude towards my body shape is strongly related to my effective asexuality: I want to look good, but I openly want to be sexually unattractive. And in fact it works, I encounter milder forms of harassment such as catcalling really seldom, men are mostly uninterested in me.

However, despite all my health problems I wouldn't say that I hate my body. I don't. What I feel towards it isn't hatred or disgust, it's anger - for not being able to live a physically comfortable life. However, I absolutely experience my health problems as very strongly related to my orientation. In my case, I feel very strongly that I'm effectively asexual due to being sex-averse, not the other way around (which some aces describe): I simply can't desire an experience which feels so frightening to me. And my sex aversion is primarily nudity aversion. I don't hate my body, but I absolutely am extremely uncomfortable with nudity. No exceptions, nobody has seen me naked since I was about 7-8 years old. There are other aspects to my sex aversion as well: an intense discomfort at the idea of "someone doing something to my body" (which is probably closely related to touch aversion), disgust wit body fluids... But I experience these aspects as less important - maybe not "surmountable" (because, not intending to have sex, I'm not going to check it out), but simply localised in the background because my nudity aversion forms the first line of defense. It means that I would panic or break down in tears at a very early stage, long before "actual sex". So other aspects of my sex aversion are simply unlikely to be triggered, while even without having attempted to have sex I feel intense discomfort, anxiety, shortness of breath if I try to imagine being naked in someone else's presence.

I don't regret it. I am intelligent enough to realise that my nudity aversion and sex aversion have the characteristics of a vicious circle: I feel such intense discomfort at the idea of personally having sex that even the idea of no longer being sex-averse, even the idea that I could begin to desire sex and could possibly try sex if I wasn't sex-averse, feel violating to me. But still I have a right to my own feelings. I have enough power over them to decide which feelings I accept and which I don't. And I choose to embrace my sex aversion instead of trying to overcome it. Not wanting sex is a valid feeling - for everyone, in fact, not just for people who happen to have heard of asexuality and/or for those who meet the definition of asexuality. People shouldn't have unwanted sex. And it's only up to the subject to decide what is wanted and what isn't: if I don't want to have sex, I don't need any excuses. I don't need people telling me that I would supposedly gain something by losing my sex aversion - because I just don't feel that I need an ability to have sex, I'm more comfortable without it.

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CBC

If I may ask, @Zap... I assume since you've struggled for the length of time that you have and have been significantly unwell, you must have seen various mental health professionals? Have you ever discussed any of this with them? No judgement if you haven't, btw; I almost never brought up anything of the sort until my most recent therapist. In my late 20s I came across a photocopy of a clinical assessment made by a psychiatrist I saw for about six months in 2004 (surprise, the year I joined AVEN). He made me sound like a frigid emotionless bitch with zero insight into myself. Probably because every appointment consisted of him sitting there and looking at me, silently waiting for me to talk, as if 19-year-old girls are just dying to tell 60-year-old men that they're deeply ashamed of even needing basic human necessities, have no self-worth that would allow them to think anyone may actually like and value -- let alone love -- who they are, and actually desperately want human connection. It wasn't until just under a year ago that I actually had honest discussions with a mental health professional about my sexuality -- and even then, it was primarily out of absolute necessity in order for her to be aware my significant current stressors and fears, and to understand my connections to the people in my life. I talk fairly openly about such things here on AVEN, but I'm otherwise quite private about my relationships.

 

Um anyway, that was a bit long-winded haha, and all in aid of wondering if you've ever had the opportunity to talk to anyone about this subject.

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fuzzipueo
5 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:
11 hours ago, fuzzipueo said:

uninterest

I'd say ((())) but in context probably not a good thing...

Mush head - I should've said disinterest.

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Telecaster68
1 hour ago, fuzzipueo said:

Mush head - I should've said disinterest.

No no no no no! 'Uninterest' is the right word. It means 'lack of interest' in the sense of not engaging with something. 'Disinterest' means (or used to mean, it's become pretty much archaic in the last 20 years) 'having no stake in'; that is, no interest in sense that politicians have interests they have to declare.

 

It's like people assume I'm always sarcastic or something. How on earth did that happen? ;)

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Anthracite_Impreza

Disinterest is archaic? 🤨

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Telecaster68

In that no bugger uses it in the proper meaning any more, apparently, and when I raise it as a Thing, people just look baffled that I give a fuck.

 

But then language is plastic and changes. No point in sulking about it pedantically.

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CBC
11 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

No point in sulking about it pedantically.

Mm, I believe we had a discussion about others' pedantry the other day, no? :P 

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, CBC said:

Mm, I believe we had a discussion about others' pedantry the other day, no? :P 

Maybe this is one of the reasons I keep coming back to AVEN: it's one of the few places when I'm less pedantic than the median.

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CBC
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

Maybe this is one of the reasons I keep coming back to AVEN: it's one of the few places when I'm less pedantic than the median.

Ohhh yes, same. Absolutely true. It's almost refreshing. :D 

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fuzzipueo
4 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

No no no no no! 'Uninterest' is the right word. It means 'lack of interest' in the sense of not engaging with something. 'Disinterest' means (or used to mean, it's become pretty much archaic in the last 20 years) 'having no stake in'; that is, no interest in sense that politicians have interests they have to declare.

 

It's like people assume I'm always sarcastic or something. How on earth did that happen? ;)

I didn't think you were sarcastic at all, I was looking at the word and thinking I'd chosen incorrectly. I'm the mush-head here.

 

Interesting that it's a real word - my autocorrect didn't recognize it last night. Thanks @Telecaster68

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MichaelTannock

@Zap Welcome to AVEN!

 

I also experience a similar doubt, but mine stems from trauma rather than an aversion.
I'd say if you don't experience Sexual Attraction, then you're Asexual.

 

Incidentally, it is a tradition here to welcome new members by offering cake, and here's a Zap Cake,

ck-zap-2017-01-28@2x.png

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SarahSomeone

I’ve also disliked touching for as long as I can remember. My mom has told me that as a child I didn’t like hugs. Even now I rarely hug and certainly never initiate it. When it’s with family members I hug them just because I find that it would be a bit of an awkward situation if I were to avoid it, same with new people I meet who do not know I don’t like hugs. I don’t have any eating disorders but I do find my body disgusting, and it would be hard for me to explain why without someone assuming I hate the way I look even though that is not the case... For a long time I denied my asexuality, and even now I have my doubts because I occasionally find people attractive- although I would never want to date them. I even had a crush and found out that they liked me as well. But once we started dating I realized that once I had found out that he liked me as well it was as if someone flipped a switch and said “ok that’s really cool but I’m going to have to stop you here..” The main thing that makes me certain that I am asexual is the fact that I do not want a relationship, sexual or not sexual.

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MichaelTannock

@SarahSomeone A belated welcome to AVEN!

 

You could be an Akoiromantic Asexual.

Asexuality is a lack of Sexual Attraction, which I define as leading to the desire to have sex with someone.
Meaning if what you're feeling doesn't lead to the desire to have sex with the person you're feeling it towards, then it's not Sexual Attraction, even if it is an attraction or arousal.

And Akoiromanticism (used to be called Lithromanticism) is a lack of Romantic Attraction when it is reciprocated, http://aromantic.wikia.com/wiki/Lithromantic
But there are other types of attraction besides Sexual Attraction and Romantic Attraction.
There's Sensual Attraction, which I define as leading to the desire to have intimate non-sexual physical contact with someone, like kissing or cuddling.
There's Aesthetic Attraction, which I define as leading to the desire to appreciate someone's aesthetic beauty.
There's Platonic Attraction, which I define as leading to the desire to have a deep friendship with someone.
And more.

 

Incidentally, it is a tradition here to welcome new members by offering cake, and here's are some Lilac Chocolate Cupcakes,

Lilac-Chocolate-Cupcakes-9.jpg

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SarahSomeone

@MichaelTannock That definition suites me perfectly 😅 I didn’t even know there was a specific term for it but thanks now I know a little more about myself 😁

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Hermit Advocate

I don't generally like people I don't know touching me. For people I do know I don;t mind so much as long as I see it coming or I know they're near by. But when I'm on my period I flip out at people. One time when I was a teenager on my period dad tried to give me a hug and I freaked out on him. He learned very quickly not to touch me when that's going on. I tend to be more jumpy when people just randomly touch me too. At least from what I have noticed compared to others. 

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Mimikyu

I'd also probably classify myself as touch-averse. I tend to tense up or startle badly if anyone tries placing a hand on my shoulder or touching my arm or something, regardless of whether I know them or not. I try my best to control it, but I suspect my reaction is visible enough that the majority of people who try touching me once know not to do it a second time without me having to say anything. (Part of me feels a little guilty about that - hopefully they weren't offended! But it's not something I can change, so...)

 

I've never really considered that it could be related to asexuality, though? It might very well be for all I know! For me personally, I think it's more of a result of me being oversensitive to stimuli in general - I'm much more sensitive to loud noises and flashing lights than the average person, for example. I've been this way even as a very young child, so my parents noticed it a long time ago and are really awesome at warning me ahead of time if something's going to be bright or loud so I can mentally prepare. We were never a very physically affectionate household, so I was lucky to not experience very many issues on that end at home.

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Nowhere Girl
4 hours ago, Mimikyu said:

I've been this way even as a very young child, so my parents noticed it a long time ago and are really awesome at warning me ahead of time if something's going to be bright or loud so I can mentally prepare. We were never a very physically affectionate household, so I was lucky to not experience very many issues on that end at home.

This reminds me of something I have read some time ago: about how to teach children the importance of consent. Does it require talking to very small children about sex and worse? Does it require telling girls what terrifying things are done to a lot of women? Does it require crossing a very real mental barrier and thinking that your sweet little boy could possibly, in the future, commit a horrendous crime? No, none of these are required. It's enough to respect a child's consent in non-sexual situations, at an age when there's still no reason to tell them what some adults do in intimate situation and when one would still dread telling them that evil exists. For example, a parent committed to raising a child to respect consent shouldn't allowed forcible kisses and hugs by aunties. Unfortunately, a lot of parents don't care about such an issue. A lot of them believe that it's rude to dislike hugging and kissing one's family, that enduring it is pretty much a child's obligation, and/or don't even think that it could have anything to do with how the child will view sexual consent in the future. (And anyway... given the existence of rape culture, of course almost any parent would say without hesitation "Rape is a horrible crime!"... but still may not view many forms of sexual violence as rape. This is the core of rape culture: thinking of assault by an armed stranger as "rape rape" and neglecting situations which fall short of this stereotype.)

For me it was somewhere in the middle. My family learned after some time that I'm "one who doesn't kiss" and they mostly respected it, stopped forcing themselves on me. However, my parents considering it having something to do with sexual consent?... No, I don't think so. Sure - my mom realised that some of "The Talk" can be skipped for now in my case, since I early and consistently started expressing an intention not to have sex when I grow up. So, altogether, it was very insightful for me to read how respecting a child's authority about whether they want to be kissed by family members could influence how important and infragible they consider sexual consent once they grow up.

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Sally
On 4/18/2019 at 10:14 AM, fuzzipueo said:

I didn't think you were sarcastic at all, I was looking at the word and thinking I'd chosen incorrectly. I'm the mush-head here.

 

Interesting that it's a real word - my autocorrect didn't recognize it last night. Thanks @Telecaster68

@Telecaster68   Actually, I think t's noninterest, not uninterest.  Oddly enough, it's uninterested, but noninterest.  

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Telecaster68
6 hours ago, Sally said:

@Telecaster68   Actually, I think t's noninterest, not uninterest.  Oddly enough, it's uninterested, but noninterest.  

I think that's a US vs UK thing.

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ryn2

Both uninterest and noninterest are acceptable US English words... uninterest only has the “lack of interest” meaning whereas noninterest’s primary meaning is financial (lack of interest in the non-financial sense is its second meaning).

 

Where I live one hears neither regularly... most people use “disinterest” (also in its second meaning) for “lack of interest” here.  We’re more likely to use neutrality or impartiality to describe “having no interest” in the outcome sense, even though that’s “disinterest’s” first US meaning.

 

Interesting!  XD

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CBC

Huh. I guess today I learnt that 'noninterest' is a word.

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ryn2

Before today you were uninterested!

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Cayllin

I'm not a fan of touch. My husband touches me, and I cringe and try to sidestep it. There are times where I dig my nails into my palm it leaves bruises because he's touching me and it causes me so much anxiety. I've told him no plenty of times I don't like certain kinds of touch, or I've told him I don't like other things (pinches, slaps), and he still does them, so I don't think any amount of talking to him will help me. I've been ok with hugs and handshakes, but any kind of romantic touch, no no no. I don't know why. I've always kind of shied away from touch since I was a kid too. 

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