Like most people, I’ll never forget my first kiss.
I was a freshman in college, 18 years old, and had a boy in my dorm room. I was nervous and shy, and it took a few minutes before I finally leaned in, his lips touching mine and I felt…. nothing.
No sparks, no butterflies. Just boredom. How long did I have to keep kissing? When could I pull away? I wanted to go to the gym before it closed.
I thought maybe I just didn’t like him. But several years and a few boys later and I realized kissing did nothing for me. I didn’t understand it. I talked about it with friends, and they told me I was supposed to feel something, something inside, that would lead the kiss into something more.
But I couldn’t figure out what that something was.
Then I heard about asexuality. An asexual person, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is “a person who has no sexual feelings or desires, or who is not sexually attracted to anyone.”
Asexuality, as most sexual orientations, is an umbrella term for multiple different people. Sexuality is fluid, and aces are no exception.
However, I will tell you it was a struggle to come to terms with my identity, and it made dating a heartbreaking experience. I didn’t care for sex, but it felt like so many other people did, and I felt like I was letting them down.
Like I was broken.
At the age of 21, I was in my first relationship, and both me and my boyfriend were virgins. Sure, we did stuff, but never the deed. My boyfriend at the time would get frustrated, asking when I was finally going to be ready. We were seven months into our relationship, and we still hadn’t done it. It was around that mark when I told him I identified as asexual.
“No, you’re not,” he responded. “You’re just figuring it out.”
I would receive the same response from friends and family members.
The constant doubt I kept receiving about my own sexual orientation made it harder for me to come to terms with it. I struggled to fit in with the heterosexual community, and I didn’t understand how I was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I felt rejected from both.
I tried to talk about it with my friends, tell them I was ace, and I was almost always met with the same question: How do you know if you’ve never done it?
Spoiler alert: you don’t need to have sex to identify as ace.
Yes, there are some aces who are uninterested or repulsed by the idea of sex. But that’s not all of us. I am asexual because I don’t experience sexual attraction.
I appreciate attractive people, and I experience romantic feelings, but sex is never involved in those emotions. It’s like seeing a beautiful sunset or painting; I appreciate those things, but I don’t want to have sex with them.
But that doesn’t mean I refuse to engage in the activity, either. Plenty of asexuals will engage in sex for the benefit of their partners, and some even enjoy it.
The journey to understanding whether or not you’re asexual can be a long one, and it took me years of watching YouTube videos, reading articles, and visiting websites to understand my own experiences.
In the end, your feelings are always valid. You know who you are, what you like, and what you don’t like. A label helped me understand who I am, and now I wear that label proudly.