Love But No Sex: What It’s Like Being a 23-Year-Old Asexual Woman
I never understood that if you found someone physically attractive, it was supposed to mean that you wanted to look at and touch a part of them where the ‘sun don’t shine’.
I never understood that if you found someone physically attractive, it was supposed to mean that you wanted to look at and touch a part of them where the ‘sun don’t shine’.(Photo Courtesy: Sneha Shrivastav)

Love But No Sex: What It’s Like Being a 23-Year-Old Asexual Woman

“Hey, wanna come over and watch Twilight with me?” he asked, making an offer my 15-year-old self would never be able to resist. My very first boyfriend and I settled into the couch, popcorn in hand, ready to enter the world of mystical creatures and forbidden love.

His mom was upstairs, but he assured me that if she was coming downstairs, we’d hear the floorboards creak. As I started to wonder why he had just told me that, he made the move. His lips found mine, and his hand found my knee. I had kissed him before, but this time it felt different. It felt wrong.

His lips found mine, and his hand found my knee. I had kissed him before, but this time it felt different. It felt wrong.
His lips found mine, and his hand found my knee. I had kissed him before, but this time it felt different. It felt wrong.
(Illustration: Liju Joseph/The Quint)

I soon realised what was happening. We had been together for quite a few months and he must have thought it’s natural to take it to the next step. He must have considered it natural because isn’t that what the next step after “I love you” is? Isn’t that just the natural progression of a relationship? Then why didn’t it feel natural to me?

I ran out of the house before his hand moved further up my knee, and I rushed home and went under the shower. I felt icky. Over the course of the next five years, I flipped through 12 boyfriends, each time falling in love, each time approaching that next “natural step”, each time running away, and each time ending the relationship with a shower to wash away the icky.
I took a shower to wash away the icky.
I took a shower to wash away the icky.
(Illustration: Liju Joseph/The Quint)

Was I Not Loving Correctly?

I never understood what people meant when they said they wanted someone with a burning desire.

I never understood that if you found someone physically attractive, it was supposed to mean that you wanted to look at and touch a part of them where the ‘sun don’t shine’.

Was I just too young? People would tell me that maybe I just hadn’t fully developed physiologically yet. Was I just too immature? People would tell me maybe I haven’t found the right person yet and that I don’t know what love really is. But I didn’t feel young or immature. I only felt broken.

I began to think I couldn’t love correctly. I began to muse, to no avail, over my past to find even one situation that I could pin as sexual trauma.

I began to experiment with those 12 successive boyfriends, hoping that if I just put on a show for them, I could trick myself into liking it, as if it was just some mental block I could push past.

After every intimate encounter, I begin to look at them differently and withdraw from them.
After every intimate encounter, I begin to look at them differently and withdraw from them.
(Illustration: Liju Joseph/The Quint)

Each one was understanding, patient, and never pushed me to do more than I was willing. But after every encounter, I began to look at each guy differently, as if he was just some sex-crazed being (though I know now that none of them were), and I headed for a shower each time.

Every time I fall for someone, I fall for how good friends we are, and how much fun we have together. I say yes to being their girlfriend because in my mind, that would just mean even more time hanging out with them. I tell them I love them because I love spending my time near them. Sex doesn’t even cross my mind.

But then one day we'll be hanging out and then all of a sudden the guy's got a boner and I feel like I should try to give in to an ‘intimate encounter’ just to see if maybe I'll feel differently this time and maybe I'll start to love them even more after. But that has never been the case. Instead, after every intimate encounter, I begin to look at them differently and withdraw from them.

I’m a Sex-Repulsed Hetero-Romantic Asexual

Asexuality. I first heard the term briefly in a communications class I took in my last year of undergrad. It was simply put across as a person who has little or no sexual attraction towards others.

While I may still feel frustrated with people for not understanding, the one thing I do not feel anymore is broken.
While I may still feel frustrated with people for not understanding, the one thing I do not feel anymore is broken.
(Illustration: Liju Joseph/The Quint)

My mind started racing and I knew I had to run straight home after class to look up the term. For not only the next 7 hours that night, but also the next 3 years to come, I studied the ins and outs of asexuality, I talked to those who have been on the journey towards it, and I read up relationship struggles of different people on web forums.

For 3 years, I scrutinised every detail until I could confidently place myself in the asexuality spectrum as a sex-repulsed hetero-romantic asexual.

Do I Not Have Romantic Feelings?

I’d have to say that the strangest part of this journey has been coming out to people. There have been those who believe it’s just a phase, and those who believe that I still just haven’t met the right person. There have been those who believe I’m incapable of having romantic feelings at all, and those who believe I should just see a therapist.

But I have realised that the majority of people honestly just don’t know what asexuality even is, aside from a reproductive process that plants undergo.

Now, while I may still feel frustrated with people for not understanding, or feel angered by boys who wanted to “fix me”, or feel disappointed in how difficult relationships still are because of it, the one thing I do not feel anymore is broken.

(The author is a 23-year-old Chicago-based working professional. She likes to identify herself as a musician and yogi. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author's own. FIT neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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