Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

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Olivier
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Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Olivier » 03 Jul 2008, 17:38

If romance is all about boosting levels of attraction (as I mused in this thread) then that would explain why sexuals can feel so threatened by their partner's asexuality. In a sexual/asexual relationship a boost in sexual attraction on the part of the sexual partner can be unwelcome to (or unwelcomed by) the asexual partner, who may have no taste for where that so often leads.

Rejection of increased attraction is an unusual situation in a romantic relationship. Would anyone in such a relationship object to an increase in emotional, intellectual or aesthetic attraction? Or the activities that come with increased emotional or intellectual attraction? Not likely.

So wishing for a less sexual relationship - that is, one with less sexual attraction - may seem like a pushing away: a desire for a relationship with less attraction, and consequently less closeness. Which seems at odds with the "more attraction is better" side of romance.

What's worked well for my wife and I is an understanding (on both our parts) that she welcomes my sexual attraction to her as flattering, without feeling obliged to share or return it, or feel that my expressing it is a call to action :shifty: . So even if we don't go on to have sex, we also don't have any rejection of something that's pretty central to me.

I'm not sure what my point is - I was just musing. Any thoughts?

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inanechild
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby inanechild » 03 Jul 2008, 18:19

(in Stephen Colbert voice) I'll bite!

I think it's only human nature for an individual to wish their significant other to want them the same way that the individual in question wants them. I think that whether you're a highly sexual person, an asexual, or somewhere inbetween, you'll be most happy with a partner who is the same way. This doesn't just go for sex drives, of course, but for all aspects of a relationship, which is why compromise and open communication is so crucial to a lasting partnership. I think the key to a fulfilling relationship is finding someone you have that special chemistry in common with (whatever form it may come in), while simultaneously maturing enough to not expect them to act like a total clone of yourself.

I think most sexuals, if questioned about the possibility of a relationship that is emotionally and intellectually intimate but devoid of sexual intimacy, would reply "That's what friendship is for." I'm inclined to agree with your assessment that asexuality is intrinsically unromantic to sexuals, because the "stages" of increased physical intimacy which culminates in sex is a very crucial and desirable part of romance for sexuals. I'll be upfront in stating that I could not date an asexual for that exact reason: the relationship would lack a certain spark, and even with compromise, I would feel uncomfortable being with someone who did not get out of sex what I was getting from it. However, considering that there have been and are relationships between sexuals and asexuals that work out, it is probably not something I could make a sweeping generalization about.

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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Bunnyk. » 06 Jul 2008, 06:52

I both of you have hit it pretty dead-on, in some ways. Even in my relationship, which is high-drive sexual with low-drive sexual, I sometimes feel like the continued rejection of my advances is a sign that we are not as close as I want to be. I've had to work really hard to understand that my boyfriend is in fact VERY attracted to me, he just doesn't seek expression of it as much as I want.

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Placebo
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Placebo » 07 Jul 2008, 13:25

Interesting topic.

Unfortunately, I don't understand all of it, because of the sexual attraction issue. Despite that, I'm going to blunder along anyway. :)

In my mind, I guess I mentally sort of fuse or equate my own strong physical/aesthetic attraction to my friend with his sexual attraction to me. The thing is that in my mind the line between physical and sexual intimacy blurs a lot, so I am acting on my physical drive to touch him and cuddle him and that eventually becomes a sexual activity on his part (and I guess also on mine, huh?) It doesn't bother me that he feels sexual attraction to me, and that he acts on it, any more than it seems to bother him that I am constantly touching him and admiring him. Actually, I sort of take it as a compliment that he is sexually attracted to me. . . I don't know if that makes sense at all, but even though I don't feel it, it seems like a nice thing to feel towards me.

He did mention once that it would be nice if I were in the mood more often, and he doesn't mean that I refuse him when we're doing sexual activities, it means more that. . . .I don't approach them in the same way, I guess? And unfortunately that's the one thing that I really can't fix, because I don't understand it. But the thing is that I DO get things out of sex, it's fun and enjoyable and generally pleasant. . . but I definitely don't usually get the same things out of it that he does.
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Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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Olivier
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Olivier » 09 Jul 2008, 14:10

Thanks for that reminder Placebo. On reflection it's not really asexuality that the main issue (although there is something a little unromantic on missing out on mad sexual passion, but that's only a small element of most sexual relationships), but the attitude of the asexual partner.

That attitude towards their partner's sexual attraction can range across:

Disgusting / Creepy / Tiresome / Tolerable / Unfathomable / Uninteresting / OK / Flattering / Pretty cool

And that can change on whether it's in small or high doses, and what expectation that desires once expressed should be acted on. And change over time, too - in the last 18 years we've been all over it at some stage or other.

So it's more that an attitude towards the left of that spectrum is unromantic, more than asexuality - after all even sexuals could feel that way about being desired by a particular other person. Once the attitude moves towards the right it's less of an issue (for a romantic like me, anyway ;) ) I'm confident that the average asexual lies to the left of the average sexual, but the outliers on both bell curves will cross over.

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Placebo
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Placebo » 09 Jul 2008, 14:28

Yeah! That's the part that I don't deliver on -- the mad sexual passion! Or, what inanechild mentioned as the spark, perhaps.

Relating to inanechild's mentioning not wanting to date an asexual because of that, how much overlap is there between lack of sexual intimacy and lack of a spark, as far as interest in dating an asexual would go?

I ask because I definitely do get something out of sexual activities, it's just not really the same as what my sexual partner gets out of them. Perhaps I simply have a different spark, or maybe it's more of a different-colored (purple?) glow. Or maybe it's not a spark, more like a noise, like a dull boom. Or maybe I'm completely spark-less, at least as far as sex goes. I don't really know.

And true enough, there ARE some people whose interest is in me would be considered part of the the creepy range, but it's not ubiquitous to all sexuals, or even a sexual-related interest.
"Now it's right for me to be me."

Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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Olivier
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Olivier » 09 Jul 2008, 17:10

Placebo wrote:Relating to inanechild's mentioning not wanting to date an asexual because of that, how much overlap is there between lack of sexual intimacy and lack of a spark, as far as interest in dating an asexual would go?

Well, like all good questions, the answer is "It depends" ;)

In this case it's going to depend on how much connection you have on other levels to make up for it, and on how upfront the asexual partner is about their asexuality, and how able to accept that the sexual partner is. If there's a lack of sexual connection, and asexuality hasn't been brought onto the table to explain it, then I imagine the sexual would go for a more likely explanation like "they're just not that into me". But if everything is out in the open, then either the two people involved will find something that works, or they won't but I'm not sure you can generalise beyond that other than to say it can be tricky finding what works.

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inanechild
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby inanechild » 14 Jul 2008, 10:45

Placebo wrote:Relating to inanechild's mentioning not wanting to date an asexual because of that, how much overlap is there between lack of sexual intimacy and lack of a spark, as far as interest in dating an asexual would go?


Well, I'll try to explain the sexual perspective with a good old fashioned metaphor. Imagine that you were really, really into mountain biking. As often as you can, you like to get up into the trails and go for a nice, long bike ride. One day, you meet someone else who you really hit it off with. You want to go biking with them because it's something you enjoy so much, only to have them either respond that they either never, ever want to mountain bike, or they reluctantly agree to mountain bike because it's something you like so much, but they are clearly bored/upset/disgusted/etc. everytime you take them biking. Obviously, this is going to..."take some air out of your tires." ;) *rimshot*

Sex within the context of a relationship is a lot like this (ignoring of course, that this is just a crappy metaphor and people work around differences in hobbies all the time). It's something that, to sexuals, is not only critical to a healthy romantic relationship, but (if you're a mature adult) is pretty much expected to occur regularly, angst and guilt-free. It's difficult for a sexual person to ignore their natural (and often overpowering!) biological urges, no matter how deeply they wish to respect their partner's wishes. This is why I would personally not date an asexual: I'd rather deal with a partner who enjoys sex as much as I do than worry about upsetting another person unnecessarily.

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Placebo
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Placebo » 14 Jul 2008, 13:34

I get that much, inanechild. . . .but what about if you meet a partner, you introduce them to mountain biking. . . and they don't like mountain biking for the mountain biking, per se. . . I mean, they're not excited about the act of mountain biking, but they DO really like mountain biking because, for instance, it lets them get out into the mountains and see the wildflowers and smell the fresh air. So you love perhaps the physical exercise of mountain biking, but your partner likes different aspects of it. That's what I'm getting at.

Because, see, I don't dislike sex. I don't refuse to have sex. Actually, it's pretty enjoyable. But I'm not so much. . . "sexy" about sex, I'm not as much passionate or whatever, I like different aspects of it and whether or not I orgasm as a result of it doesn't really matter to me--although it matters to my partner a lot. That's sort of more what I was getting at in the question. If it's not about refusal of the act, or even unenjoyment of the act or something--if it's just about HOW the act is enjoyed, how would that influence your decision?
"Now it's right for me to be me."

Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

Cazz333
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Cazz333 » 04 May 2009, 10:45

Good point Placebo. Romantic means something different to asexuals than it does to sexuals.

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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Lemon » 28 Jul 2009, 02:30

Placebo, I'm really pleased to read your comments as I have been pondering this my self recently, I'm a sex-positive asexual and until recently just pretended (both to my boyfriend and my self) that I got the same thing out of sex as a sexual person.

Having recently told my partner how I really feel about sex I am horribly worried that sex isn't sexy with some one who isn't into it. From what sexual people have told me, a major part of the attraction is sharing the mutual

Since my asexuality wasn't addressed until recently I'm sure you can imagine that our sex life hasn't been very fulfilling for either of us with no discussion about the tension between us. Since there is no magic pill to make me sexual I would be interested to know how important that aspect of sex is to a sexual and if I should just go back to pretending to keep my partner happy.

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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby disjointed » 15 Jan 2010, 04:39

my last long term relationship was with a very highly driven sexual woman..and this caused the relationship to fail eventually but not for the obvious ones

she was previously in a long term marriage where the hubby was so highly sexed that she could control him in any way she wanted no matter what she had done or wanted..then she met me

She knew i was not anti sexual but I would rather watch a good rom com than a porn film..she hated a man not being able to be controlled by sex..after a while she gave up trying..for sex and the relationship

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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby KAGU143 » 15 Jan 2010, 08:26

That is unfortunate, disjointed, but maybe for the best in the long term if she really thought that she needed to wield that sort of power over you.
I have always thought that power in any relationship should be shared, and that open, ongoing communication is crucial in determining HOW it is to be shared. In other words, different aspects of ... well, just about everything ... get divided, and whoever is best qualified in each situation pretty much controls it. Customary gender roles be damned!

I sometimes wonder if my ideas are hopelessly outdated or if they are only politically incorrect.

(Of corse, that makes me doubly glad to have finally found someone who shares them!)
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

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Typical P. Pinecone
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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Typical P. Pinecone » 26 Sep 2010, 12:23

In my relationship's my Asexuality is an instant deal breaker. So, to many I'd say yes it is unromantic to the "mainstream" idea of romance.
Flying what now? Sorry you've got the wrong person.

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Re: Is asexuality intrinsically unromantic to sexuals?

Postby Mage » 24 Jan 2011, 01:05

When I first started sharing my zines (about asexuality) and talking to people in my life about asexuality, a surprising number of sexual people revealed that were completely turned-on (sexually and otherwise) by my asexuality. Perhaps it wasn't so much the asexuality that turned them on as much as my honesty, passion about the topic, and maybe the novelty of learning something new. At least I hope that sexual indifference is not a sexual turn-on, because if so that's honestly kind of disturbing.

Though the people whom I've actually wanted to have relationships that might also include a sexual aspect have been confused and it became a dealbreaker. At first I thought maybe this meant they were prejudiced, but it's also possible that I hadn't made my openness clear enough and that they were afraid of getting hurt. They could just think I'm a total weirdo, but I like to believe that since I'm generally interested in radical feminists that they wouldn't be so prejudiced.

I'm actually considering just not identifying as asexual openly anymore because doing so seems to ruin my relationships. Not being open goes against my political ideals, but I need to be able to live my life. It's a dilemma.
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
—Audre Lorde

My blog: http://acefeminisms.blogspot.com


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