Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reconsidering Sexual Attraction

Yes, I'm still asexual. "Reconsidering" in this case doesn't mean that I suddenly stopped being asexual. I didn't magically become the pansexual I assume I would've been in a world where asexuality isn't real, rather than panromantic asexual. If I'd been a pansexual instead of an asexual, I wouldn't even be me--so there! Let's not even roleplay that asexuality isn't real, it's giving me the creeps.

If anything, I now feel considerable doubt that I've ever experienced sexual attraction. This has been going through my head for awhile, so I thought I'd drag it out into the light. If you've read my zine Asexy, or if you've heard me talk about my particular brand of asexuality, you know that I've claimed to have experienced sexual attraction to three different people. Now I am fairly certain that I've never experienced sexual attraction. What I have felt was something far more complicated. Part of the reason I believe the feeling is not sexual attraction is because it can be rationalized into many components.

The components, which I previously thought of as sexual attraction, are:

1) A feeling of being comfortable, and therefore open to exploration
2) Strong aesthetic admiration
3) Anxiety produced by romantic feelings
4) Feeling flattered by the person's overtures
5) Having an endorphin rush when touching the person
6) Being able to imagine myself doing sexual things with the person,
without forcing myself to think that way
7) Having obsessive thoughts about the person (which also happen with people I haven't felt "sexually attracted" to).

Moreover, I don't think my experiences were sexual attraction because I don't have the overwhelming urge that I've witnessed in nonasexual people which makes them act spontaneously. Nor do I have the intuitive sense of being sexually attracted. This intuition makes it impossible (or at least highly difficult) for nonasexual people to describe what sexual attraction is. My understanding is that sexual attraction isn't something that can be rationalized when it happens.

Granted, I think that what I experience is akin to sexual attraction even if it's not the same. The combination of feelings is still strong enough to create an impetus in me to pursue sex (however weakly I may do so).

I think I'm still in a gray area because I have the above feelings which lead me to desire sex. While asexuals can desire sex for a variety of reasons, a lot of what drives (many) people to define themselves as asexual is their sexual behaviors/lack of any desire for sex. Also, I have had fantasies (which I did not force myself to have) about the three people I thought I was "sexually attracted" to, and apparently most asexuals don't have sexual fantasies. So if I say I'm a gray-A, it's kind of more excusable to say I'm an asexual who wants to have sex sometimes.


  1. Hi there, I'm new to your blog and so far i really like it! I'm also more in the gray-area of asexuality - It's hard to explain to people and it's hard for me to understand myself sometimes. I really liked the list you made for sexual attraction - i experience similar feelings but find they differ from what other people would consider "sexual attraction"

    Anyway, can't wait to see the zine! I hope i can have the guts to come out more soon, I'm still feeling slightly insecure and weary of everything, i wish i didn't feel that way though.

  2. I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying my blog, and that you're a fellow gray-A. I'd be interested in reading about your ideas of sexual attraction/the thing that's not quite sa.

    I'm going to check out your blog. Radical feminism is always exciting!!

    Let me know what you think of the zine! I could use some constructive feedback if you think of any. I keep looking (especially at my own article) and thinking, wow, this should be different, and that, and that... Anyway, feedback is helpful or if you think of something you'd like to write for the next issue that would be neato too.


  3. Interesting...I've experienced (what I thought to be) sexual attraction one time, and I couldn't help but analyze the situation a lot, considering it was something I've never felt before, or since. It was someone I didn't know very well, and who I was never alone with, but suddenly I had this urge to, for lack of a better word, glomp him. It was a fantasy, though. Maybe it was a fantasy of being "normal", considering this was before I realized I was asexual. It surely wasn't an overwhelming urge. If he'd said, "Let's go back to my place and have sex", I probably would have been really disturbed. At the time, I thought I wanted to have sex with him. But maybe I only thought that because I was safe from it ever really happening. So maybe that was not sexual attraction after all, at least not how some other people experience it. But then again, I don't have a clue how people who aren't asexual experience it. Actually I'd really like to find that out.

    It's funny because that "endorphin rush" you describe when hugging someone is one of the few ways I can differentiate romantic attraction from a strong feeling towards friends. I still remember hugging this guy I had a crush on, and even though I had no desire to do anything more than hug him, I felt tingly all over my body. I definitely have never felt like that while hugging a friend.

  4. I realize this is old, but I'm a gray-A person, and I experience more or less what you describe here. I call it aesthetic and romantic attraction. I also separate the two, because I was once---confusingly---romantically attracted to a friend that I wasn't aesthetically attracted to in the least. Those feelings passed, but they lasted for many months. That's the only time something like that has happened to me, but I think for the sake of accuracy, we should define aesthetic and romantic attraction as separate phenomenons, even if they usually coincide. After all, sexual people, in all their lovely privilege, have been conditioned to think that aesthetic and romantic attraction are merely secondary components of sexual attraction (which they do not name because they believe they're just a part of the Sexual Attraction Umbrella). When one of us gray-A deviants strolls up to crash the party and insists that they are all separate and that we personally do not experience sexual attraction, but other forms of attraction...they are taken aback. They seemingly don't understand, no matter how much you explain it to them. I don't see what is so hard to understand. I wish I could live in that world where everything sexual is one and intertwined, and there are no nuances. For me, it's a jumbled mess, and sometimes it's confusing to me, too. But *really*, the concepts themselves are not that hard to grasp.