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Liminal

Hello! I think I'm gray ace but not sure...

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Liminal

Hi! I've found lots of great info on the AVEN site and forum, so thank you to everyone who has shared their insight and stories.

 

I'd like to tell my story and request any thoughts you might have about giving a name to what I'm experiencing. This story does have a little bit of (not particularly sexy) description of sexual activity which is relevant to my journey. I'm putting that in spoiler tags so you can skip it if that's not something you want to read.

 

tl:dr I experience aesthetic and romantic attraction but only rarely, and I'm capable of getting some enjoyment out of sex but it is something I had to learn. I am ambivalent about the idea of being in a relationship but also feel pressure to be in one, and I'm not sure if that if coming from my true self or from society.

 

 

I'm 30F, and not really sure what I am but I think it's some kind of ace. The thing is, there are a lot of factors and that gets me confused. One is lifelong anxiety/depression/low self-esteem which have made the idea of sex and relationships scary or seem like too much to handle at various points in my life. Another is an upbringing that (unintentionally--not blaming my parents) gave me the notion that sex is dirty. And a third is that I have pelvic floor dysfunction which can lead to pain during sex, although that has improved a lot with physical therapy.

 

When I was young, I never had crushes and only experienced what I now know is aesthetic attraction. I could appreciate the cuteness of others' relationships and thought it might be fun to be in one, but didn't feel a strong drive to pursue one. I'm not really, and never have been, interested in romance stories; they tend to bore me.

 

I've been in two relationships, and the first was when I was 25. I wanted to experience a relationship and sexual activity, but it also made me very anxious. I was honest with my partner about what I felt ready for, pushed myself a little but not too much, and sought help in therapy. I got to a point where I could feel aroused and enjoy some sexual activity. I didn't really see the big deal though, and I didn't feel a ton of emotional connection to my partner because of it.  It felt good, but it also felt kind of gross.

 

I wanted to learn how to enjoy sex and

Spoiler

experience orgasm, so I started working on it on my own using toys. This was much easier and more enjoyable for me physically than doing it with my partner because I didn't have to worry about if he was enjoying himself or if I was doing a "good job."  Over time I learned how to orgasm with clitoral stimulation from masturbation, then was able to experience it a few times with my partner.  

 

After that I tried penetration with my partner for the first time and it was...a mixed experience.  Physically, it was fairly uncomfortable but not painful as I'd feared. It didn't feel good either, though. I could see how there was a certain intimacy to it, a kind of closeness with my partner that was different from anything else we'd done before. But it was sort of a "well that's interesting" moment more than a "wow" moment.   I didn't have serious guilt about it afterward and was proud of myself for having given it a try, so that was good. My boyfriend moved across the country shortly after that so while we tried long-distance for a while, I didn't have many opportunities for more sex.

 

My boyfriend and I broke up, partly because he'd moved away and partly because I knew we weren't sexually compatible. He was very respectful and understanding, but he was way at the opposite of the sex drive scale from me.  I was heartbroken for a few months.  After that, I kept

Spoiler

masturbating and became pretty good at making myself orgasm.  I also discovered that I enjoy fantasizing about BDSM. (The sex/gender/sexual identities of the people involved in the fictional BDSM situations doesn't matter, though sometimes my preference for male subs, female subs, heterosexual content, homosexual content, etc. shift based on my mood.) I've found the idea of bondage exciting since I was very young, but only saw a sexual side of it within the past few years. I don't know that I'd ever try anything in this vein in real life. It sounds sort of terrifying.

 

I was single for a while and mostly okay with that.  Then I got into another relationship, which lasted about six months. I was anxious about sex but also wanted to give it a try.  But after a few times I realized the discomfort/pain I was experiencing wasn't normal. I went to a doctor specializing in women's sexual health and was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, meaning my pelvic muscles' base state is tenser and tighter than normal.  (There's no specific cause, but it's very likely my anxiety and upbringing are involved.)  I started doing pelvic floor physical therapy, which involves breathing exercises to relax my pelvis, yoga to stretch and relax it, and manual therapy from a therapist (yes, that is every bit as awkward as it sounds, haha--but you get used to it.  It is not arousing; it actually hurts!) I also worked on stretching my pelvic floor on my own at home with guidance from the therapist. 

Spoiler

Basically, it was masturbating but also doing things that pushed my limits a little, like putting dildos of slowly increasing size inside of me and imitating sex. Slowly, I got to a point where I enjoyed the physical sensation of this quite a bit.

 

 

I ended the relationship with my boyfriend because I didn't feel we had a "spark." I guess the official terminology would be that I was aesthetically attracted to him but not sexually or romantically, and while I enjoyed his company, being in a relationship felt like a ruse. I haven't been in a relationship since doing the pelvic floor physical therapy, so I don't know if my experience of sex with a partner would be better now. I believe it would be less uncomfortable physically, but I have no idea how it would be emotionally.

 

Since then, I go through periods of wanting to date and periods of not wanting to.  I've gone on casual dates with a lot of people, all men, and almost without fail I am the one to break it off because I don't feel a spark. Even when I like the guy platonically, I find myself hoping he won't try to kiss me and worrying that I'm disappointing him by not going home with him. (To which my feminist side says, "Eff that!"--but sadly, the thoughts do come.)  I've thought about trying dating women but haven't found someone to do that with yet. I feel really inexperienced and out of my depth with relationships in general, and with women I'd be a complete newbie at age 30. I don't know that anyone would want to deal with all my anxiety and uncertainty about it!

 

I really don't know if I want a relationship, and if I have one, I don't know if or how much I want it to involve sex. I do know that when everyone seems to be paired up except me, I feel like something is wrong with me. I think some of that is actual loneliness, and some of it is self-consciousness/societal pressure. I often wonder, if we lived in a society where there was no stigma against being single, if I'd ever even think about relationships at all. In some ways I like the idea of them and in some I don't. Maybe the parts of me that want one are because I'm afraid of dying alone, or of looking like no one wants me. Then again, the platonic loving relationships in my life have brought me a lot of joy. Sometimes I think I do want the kind of special bond with someone that a relationship affords. It's very confusing!

 

 

Whew! That was long but it feels good to get it out.  If you read this far, thanks. :) I know no one can tell me my sexuality, but if anyone has any thoughts or ideas based on what I've said, I would love to hear them. I look forward to spending more time on the forums!

 

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Dawning

It sounds like you've never experienced sexual attraction; that is the definition of being asexual. Don't get bogged down by the details of what physical things you've done with yourself or others, because those things have no effect on your orientation; if you've never felt sexual attraction, that means you're asexual. You might be able to manage functioning sexually with a partner, and it sounds like you're doing pretty well functioning with yourself, but if you don't feel sexual attraction, you're still asexual. Hope that helps!

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Sarah-Sylvia

Hi hi ;)

You're in a good place to try to figure it out, just be easy on yourself and know it's ok however you are :)
I think that in this case it's a little hard to tell, because of everything you mentioned and also having more sexual desire than I've seen from asexuals. But it's not exactly easy to say whether you can feel that with attraction to someone, is it. At the very least you'd be gray-sexual, because you don't have a straightforward way of being attracted to someone sexually for sure. Maybe you don't have sexual attraction. But it's kind of open, and you haven't found someone you're very attracted to romantically. If you would find someone you really like, and who's totally understanding and lets you be at your pace (if not that they would be less sexual themselves), it could maybe stir something eventualy, but maybe it's not something you can easily feel, because of how you are or because of everything. Maybe because you're closer to gray-asexuality or asexuality itself and just have no problem exploring some of your sexuality despite little or no attraction.


I'm not sure you've found someone you really connect with, who knows or feels more your pace, who you'd feel good with saying you don't feel like doing something, even maybe kissing, at a certain point, and who would let you feel accepted with any of that, wanting to love you and let the care grow between you and him or her. Maybe you're demiromantic as well and it takes a lot more to connect to someone. That's a possibility too. It can be great to explore, especially if you accept yourself however you are, when you feel like it's ok. We're all different.

I don't have time to go much further for now, but I think that's good enough and I'm curious what you think.  :)

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Liminal

@Dawning and @Sarah-Sylvia, thank you for the responses. I haven't told anyone this in its entirety before and it feels go to say it and get supportive responses.

 

I hope with what I said about experimenting with sexual stuff, I wasn't coming off as saying it's better to be sexual than not. I absolutely do not believe that being asexual is something that requires "fixing." I just felt that for me, sexual activity was something I wanted to try.

 

30 minutes ago, Dawning said:

It sounds like you've never experienced sexual attraction; that is the definition of being asexual. Don't get bogged down by the details of what physical things you've done with yourself or others, because those things have no effect on your orientation; if you've never felt sexual attraction, that means you're asexual. You might be able to manage functioning sexually with a partner, and it sounds like you're doing pretty well functioning with yourself, but if you don't feel sexual attraction, you're still asexual. Hope that helps!

Thank you for the advice! I think I felt some fleeting sexual attraction for my first boyfriend a few times. I'm not 100% positive that's what it was, though. But I think I can be OK with uncertainty. Just being able to identify with being grey-asexual, even if I'm not sure if I'm not sure if I have no sexual attraction or just a little, is a big help and makes me feel less alone.

 

 

27 minutes ago, Sarah-Sylvia said:

Hi hi ;)

You're in a good place to try to figure it out, just be easy on yourself and know it's ok however you are :)
I think that in this case it's a little hard to tell, because of everything you mentioned and also having more sexual desire than I've seen from asexuals. But it's not exactly easy to say whether you can feel that with attraction to someone, is it. At the very least you'd be gray-sexual, because you don't have a straightforward way of being attracted to someone sexually for sure. Maybe you don't have sexual attraction. But it's kind of open, and you haven't found someone you're very attracted to romantically. If you would find someone you really like, and who's totally understanding and lets you be at your pace (if not that they would be less sexual themselves), it could maybe stir something eventualy, but maybe it's not something you can easily feel, because of how you are or because of everything. Maybe because you're closer to gray-asexuality or asexuality itself and just have no problem exploring some of your sexuality despite little or no attraction.


I'm not sure you've found someone you really connect with, who knows or feels more your pace, who you'd feel good with saying you don't feel like doing something, even maybe kissing, at a certain point, and who would let you feel accepted with any of that, wanting to love you and let the care grow between you and him or her. Maybe you're demiromantic as well and it takes a lot more to connect to someone. That's a possibility too. It can be great to explore, especially if you accept yourself however you are, when you feel like it's ok. We're all different.

I don't have time to go much further for now, but I think that's good enough and I'm curious what you think.  :)

 

I really like the demiromantic idea! I haven't thought of that before, and it does seem like it might be a good fit! I also like the idea you present of maybe someday finding someone I am super comfortable with who might help me see some new sides of myself. Sounds like someone who would be really hard to find, though. 😫 Maybe I'm jaded.  Or looking in the wrong places. I'm not great at making new friends either. I wish it was easier for me to connect with people.

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Sarah-Sylvia
6 minutes ago, Liminal said:

@Dawning and @Sarah-Sylvia, thank you for the responses. I haven't told anyone this in its entirety before and it feels go to say it and get supportive responses.

 

[...]

 

I really like the demiromantic idea! I haven't thought of that before, and it does seem like it might be a good fit! I also like the idea you present of maybe someday finding someone I am super comfortable with who might help me see some new sides of myself. Sounds like someone who would be really hard to find, though. 😫 Maybe I'm jaded.  Or looking in the wrong places. I'm not great at making new friends either. I wish it was easier for me to connect with people.

(Just a quick post.)
I'm glad. And hey it's definitely possible to find someone caring. May be tougher to find someone who's near asexuality, just because of how many people are sexual, but there's definitely people like that :)

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Lichley

Welcome! Well the best place to find asexual partners is to go where the asexuals go. There are regular Meetups as well as asexual dating sites like Acebook :) 

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Liminal

Thanks @Lichley!

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