Asexuality in the Field

General discussion about relationship issues.
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Asexuality in the Field

Postby Nathan » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:46 pm

Let's see how well I can word this. There's a few different situations where sexual/asexual differences can come up:
(1) People are already in a partnering relationship, and one of them realizes that they're asexual.
(2) People mutually want to date each other, in the traditional way, and one of them knows at the outset that they're asexual.
(3) An asexual person wants to explore forming a close relationship with a particular sexual person, a la Mr. Jay's "3T's" blog posts, or in some other manner.
(4) A sexual person wants to explore forming a close relationship with a particular asexual person, who is not out as asexual.
(5) Probably other situations as well. Anyway,

-I've read numerous posts about (1), and how to make that work with good communication.
-Also (2) seems straightforward; the asexual person clues the other person in about how they feel and both of them communicate well and go from there. Or maybe the asexual person is out, so the sexual person already knows anyhow. Spin+the Fella come to mind.
-DJ wrote about (3), and I think his framework makes a lot of sense. In his posts, however, the relationship-creating seems fairly one-sided, with the asexual person desiring the relationship with the other person and then guiding the growing relationship into the 3T nonsexual intimacy. Bringing me to (4):
-What about when the sexual person has more of a part in creating the relationship?

Two people are getting to know each other, and at some point the (sexual) person wants to explore forming a stronger relationship. So that person gives little signals, touches, excess attention, flirty things, whatever, which are saying, "I like you and I would probably like a stronger relationship with you, which of course for me would include sexual intimacy at some point, if we got to that point," not saying "I want to jump in your pants this instant." Now, the asexual person does like them, and is interested in a stronger relationship. Shooting down or not responding to those signs of interest implies, of course, "Not Interested" and would likely make the sexual person forget about the whole idea. Affirming them, however, would imply that the asexual person feels similarly about the other person. Even though there's nothing objectionable about what's going on at that point in the relationship -- it might even be just what the asexual person wants at that time -- asexual objections might arise in the future, and the sexual person could feel duped. Continuing on that path would likely be bad for both people. Rejecting it would likely put the asexual person in the "just friends" category since the sexual person assumes a closer relationship isn't possible without sexuality; I guess the asexual person could start from there with situation (3), but having to reject the other person's interest and build it up again another way seems rather silly. There must be a good way to navigate (4) directly.

I suppose what I mean is, talking about a/sexuality makes sense once people are already "dating," or are talking about a plan for their future relationship, but talking about it before that happens would be weird. Sure, the obvious solution is to simply talk about it anyway, but really, at a point when people don't have a solid relationship and probably don't know how they feel about the other person in the first place, it would be a bit wacky to say "FYI, I don't want sexuality to be a big part of any relationship we or may not have in the future...if I even end up wanting a stronger relationship in the first place, not that I mean to say that I think you do either...uh...just so you know, y'know, just in case." People (like DJ) can guide a relationship towards non-sexual intimacy without specific verbal communication of sexual expectations or desires -- or really of anything at all until the close relationship already exists. And sexual people can guide a relationship toward sexual intimacy, likewise without verbal communication about the relationship. Looks like a trainwreck for both of those to be going on at once.

What sort of successes, failures, or "learning experiences" have you had attempting to guide your potentially-close relationships towards a structure fulfilling for both people, in an interpersonal world mostly populated by sexual people? What sort of issues or situations come up? What do you do when a presumably-sexual person wants to explore forming a close relationship with you, and you are interested also?

(In case you're curious, this actually is a theoretical situation, but also one that could happen in my own life in the future.)

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Re: Asexuality in the Field

Postby ily » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Obviously this is a thoughtful post that needs some responses, but I'm not quite sure what to say. Probably because I've never been in the "presumably-sexual person wants to explore forming a close relationship with you, and you are interested also" situation. Not saying I've never wanted to be; it just hasn't happened. I'm not sure if the early discussion/mention of asexuality is avoidable in this case. I think it's just as weird n' wacky as you do, but what else can you do? If you're starting to date someone you know pretty well already, maybe they know you're asexual already. If you're dating someone you don't know well, I think there are casual ways to bring it up. Hopefully, it won't seem like a deep dark secret if you don't play it as one.

Sadly, most of my "learning experiences" have involved trying to deter people who I wouldn't want to date. If I'm not REALLY clear upfront about whether something's a date, friendship, or whatever, I end up in really awkward situations. I've had a hard time in the past saying what I want, but it's that way or the highway. Girls are usually trained to be "nice", so it can be oddly difficult to say you're not interested in someone. But in the future, I'm speaking up, even if the words don't come out exactly right.

Sexual relationships also contain non-sexual intimacy. So you may be on the same page on that. Like, you probably both want non-sexual intimacy, but one of you also wants sexual intimacy too. I don't like verbal communication, but it seems like a nessecity here. Either that or some sort of written notes: something clear. I feel like if I ever date someone, they're going to get a lot of written notes. :think: Also, if a sexual person was dating me, they wouldn't be able to "guide a relationship toward sexual intimacy, likewise without verbal communication about the relationship". (Sorry I'm not quoting you in the proper format.) But maybe you're talking about two sexual people there. That's something I've never understood--two people just start kissing or whatever, seemingly out of nowhere. :scratch:

Guess I came up with something to say after all!

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Re: Asexuality in the Field

Postby Placebo » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:19 pm

Well, my "transition" to dating a sexual worked OK. But I didn't start off by saying anything, nor am I out. Nor have I ever dated before. Fortnately, neither had he, so he didn't know how strange I was.

The problem with the non-verbal signals (in my experience) is that there's a tendency for sexuals to assume those little signals are sexual in nature, and of course asexuals tend to assume the signals are asexual in nature. . .or rather, they assume the other person just wants to be friends. Have you ever had the experience of someone saying, "he/she's totally hitting on you!" and you looking blankly at them? I have. I thought they wanted to be friends. And they did. Sort of.

For me, it's difficult to discriminate between 2-4. I know what you're saying, but how often does one person alone define a relationship? Never, of course. It's always a give and take, or at least it always has been for me, whether it's a friendship or a dating relationship or whatever. So you meet someone and they become an acquaintance, and maybe you get together for lunch, and maybe you have a lot in common and enjoy talking or something, and perhaps you start getting together to do things that you both enjoy. So up to that point, I think that the sexual/asexual difference is neglible, and the change in the relationship is a growth in strength or intensity, not in degree. Then you get to the point where a sexual would be interested in adding a sexual component to the the relationship, to deepen it further, and the asexual wants to somehow deepen the relationship in non-sexual ways. That's the point where I think it's important to say something, once it's obvious that you are friends and get along well, once it's obvious that you're both interested in making the relationship stronger, and then the question is, "how?"


Ironically, neither my partner or I wanted a blatantly sexual relationship when we first hit the sexual/asexual divergence point (at the divergence, I had explained my orientation, very carefully)--that didn't come until about 6 months afterwards, and in the meantime we'd played with masturbation as a way of satisfying him, and cuddling to satisfy me. But about 6 months after we hit the a/s divergence, my partner wanted to make the relationship more sexual, and we rediscussed the issue and started adding a more sexual component to the relationship. Right now we've been together for almost 1.5 years, but of course we sort of worked everything out as two people.

I don't know if I've answered your question, but I was sort of thinking out loud, so it was at least helpful to me. :D
"Now it's right for me to be me."

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