Passing as normal

This is a submission for May 2019 Carnival of Aces hosted by Demisexual and Proud. This month’s focus is on various issues relating to asexuality and gender. I already talked about this area in several posts:

  1. Beauty standards for women and how that feels as an Ace Korean-American
  2. Being sexy while Ace

I want to discuss the idea of “passing”.

I’m pretty confident that I pass as a sexual person, unless you know me very intimately. I’ve surprised several people by coming out as an Ace person who knew me casually. They assumed that I was just didn’t want to settle down with anyone. But my family and really close friends knew that my romantic and sexual history were a vast wasteland. They knew I wasn’t sowing my wild oats. It’s been only during the past couple of years where I’ve actively been dating and trying to establish a relationship with someone.

But what does it mean to pass as a sexual person? When I first discovered what asexuality was, I was resistant to attending meetups because I felt like I didn’t fit the stereotype of an asexual person. The stereotype of asexual person that I had in my mind was a pale skinned, clueless nerd who played video games all day in their parents’ basement with no social skills. In contrast, I’m relatively attractive, educated, have a professional job, and can socialize with people when I have to (I’m an introvert who is somehow surrounded by people all the time). I’m also a cisgender woman who presents as female in a very middle of the road, lawyer-ish way. My gender presentation does not indicate at all that I’m asexual. I later learned that Ace people come in all different kinds of flavors, but I didn’t know that back then.

Also, it’s the default to assume that someone has sexual desires and to assume that young women want to get married and have kids. Since I actually do want to get married and have children, it seems like I am perceived to have sexual desires to the outside world.

I feel like there’s a certain privilege to passing as allosexual. I also pass as straight, when I’m actually bisexual, and mentally healthy, when my history with depression will always be there haunting me. I can navigate the world with minimal harassment. I can’t totally escape the racism and sexual harassment or misogyny that exists, but I’ve come to expect it. I also know that I would get more grief if strangers can see all of my intersectionalities.

I think that asexuality is not mainstream enough yet to be accepted in workplaces like LGBT people are (and even they are still struggling in 2019). So I find the ability to pass very valuable in the workplace. I care A LOT if my employer, work colleagues, or clients know that I’m Ace. It’s something that I never discuss in the workplace.

Now that I’m a relationship where I am having regular sex with someone and enjoying it, some of my Ace friends wondered if I’m a regular sexual person now and whether I should drop the Ace label entirely because it’s just easier to live as a sexual person. I’m bothered by that line of thinking and believe that my sexual history can’t be explained unless I am asexual. How did I stay a virgin for so long unless I was Ace? It’s not for the lack of opportunities. I could’ve lost my virginity in my teen years with no problem, but I didn’t. Additionally, I don’t want to give up my identity as an Ace person for convenience or to pass even more than I am. It’ll feel like a betrayal to all the internal work that I’ve done to understand myself and help the community.

These are my initial thoughts on passing and asexuality and gender. I’m curious to know what others have to say on this topic.

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Singledom

My dating life is on pause for the foreseeable future.

I started seeing a new person, Nicholas,* a month ago. We had two dates. I had sex with him on the second date and lost my virginity. I was dumbfounded because I never moved so quickly with someone. I also enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed it enough so that I wanted to do it again.

I decided at one point that I want to stop dating irregardless of how my relationship with Nicholas turns out. I’m tired of dating. It’s never been fun for me, but I feel I’m getting nothing out of it.

I tried diligently to meet up with him again after our night together. But there was always something happening that prevented us from getting together or him being flaky. Two weeks went by with no follow-up date. I know that if I did a “drive by” to his place to hookup, he wouldn’t have complained, but I didn’t want that for myself.

I had enough yesterday and I messaged him saying that I don’t want to see him anymore. I didn’t get a response back, though I was half-wishing that he would argue with me that he’s really serious about the relationship working out and that I should give him another chance. I took a shower before I had to run off to work and felt the thought of me being truly alone and childless hit home and become real. I shed some tears which I didn’t expect. I was probably more stressed about this than the other stuff in my life that I have to handle at the moment.

I’ve been single for a long time, so things won’t change for me. But I’m sad because my desire for children and a life partner seems to be foreclosed. And it’s upsetting to think about whether I can find someone else that I can be attracted enough to be physically intimate with, since it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I deleted my dating apps on my phone a couple of weeks ago. I feel really done with dating.

I was eating lunch my parents today at a Japanese restaurant and my mom said that I should keep an open mind and that maybe I’ll meet someone like a K-drama. I just laughed. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

*All names in this blog is fictional to protect individuals’ privacy.

Going on vacation from dating

I need to take a break from online dating. It feels like I was going out practically every weekend during the past couple of months to see someone. I’ve gradually slowed things down because the level of time and dedication I had to sustain to browse through profiles, talk to people, and schedule dates were tiring. And now I’m not really interested in trying to meet new people because of the holidays and I’m trying to be better with going to work-related events and networking. 

I’ve never been one of those people who loved dating. I always feel a low-level of stress every time I meet someone. First dates are kind of like performance art- you’re trying to present your best self. If that date is successful, the subsequent dates are meant to further the relationship. So, I feel pressure to present my best possible self and try to judge whether I’m compatible with the other person. I don’t think this process is romantic at all. It probably doesn’t help that my analysis of the other person tends to be practical and cold-blooded. 🙂

I think the most important reason why I need to take a break is because I’m tired of thinking about coming out to allosexuals. Since asexuality and demisexuality are not well known, I have to provide asexuality 101 to people who I meet. I have to wield stupid questions or confusion about what makes demisexuality different from allosexuals who are not into hookups. I can say I don’t want to have sex and still be invited to overnight stays from people who’ve I’ve just starting talking to online. 

Feeling stress from discrimination is a well-studied area (toxic stress from discrimination faced by ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people are a THING now in public health circles). I feel like I’m experiencing stress that is kind of like that. I mean, I feel like I have to be cautious when coming out to strangers. I resent being in a position where I’m forced act as a representative of Ace people when I don’t want to.  I resent having men think that they can convert me to a sexual person because they’re so charming, etc. As if my lack of sexual activity isn’t proof enough that I’m not really interested. 

I like dating best when I’m seeing another Ace person. I appreciate that they understand me at a fundamental level. I also feel secure in the knowledge that they won’t pressure me to engage in sexual activity. There’s a sense of freedom from that. But dating Ace people has it’s own challenges- finding an Ace man, let alone someone I’m compatible with, is like finding a needle in the haystack. 

I’m having a very hard time finding The One. Maybe I’ll try next year. It’ll be one of my New Year’s resolutions! 

Love while Ace

As I’m going through the process of online dating, I realized that I never really talked about what my conception of love was on this blog. I talked about what kind of people I’m attracted to, my reasons for wanting a partner, etc. But it didn’t occur to me that I should address love as a topic until recently. 

I probably consumed way too many romance novels, TV shoes and movies because I still believe that everyone has a soul mate or two who they are matched with. This belief is probably naive and unrealistic for many people but there it is. It definitely shows that I have a strong romantic orientation even if I’m asexual. 

I’m not entirely a starry eyed dreamer however. I don’t have any desire to be swept off my feet. I’m more comfortable with the slow build up to attraction and love. I want to get to know the person I’m with before committing myself because my word is my bond. Some people tend to cycle through their relationships pretty quickly, but I can’t imagine doing that for myself. I think once I say, “I love you” to someone, I’ll really mean it and will be in it for life. 

I’ve only said “I love you” to only handful of people in my life- my family and a couple of close friends. I’ve never said it to a potential romantic partner, even in a joking manner. I think the relationship has to be really serious for me to say the words. Even when I was with Tom,* I never told him I loved him because I was unsure if my feelings qualified as love and I was so unclear what the status of our relationship was that I wasn’t going to go there (I put my foot in my mouth in other ways in the relationship). I’m so cautious in saying, “I love you” to people, that “love” is probably used as little as the other four letter word “fuck” in my everyday speech. (As a non sequitur, I’ve managed to shock people when I use curse words because I use them so sparingly.) 

Ultimately, I want to find “my person” or someone who I can go home to. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to feel like the other person truly sees me and is rooting for my success. I want to feel like I can lean on them for support when/if something bad happens. This is my definition of a loving relationship. I don’t want anything really fancy or a whirlwind romance. I just want to live my life knowing that I’m not alone in this world. 

*All names in this blog are fictional to protect individuals’ privacy. 

I am such a Capricorn

I had a first date last Saturday. I was more impressed with the venue, a fancy Mediterranean restaurant located near Grand Central Station in NYC, rather than by the man himself. We had many things in common so we didn’t lack subjects to talk about. However, I did not like how he wasn’t dressed appropriately for the venue (he dressed pretty casually in a semi-formal environment). And his mannerisms were slightly off, for example like he didn’t like giving eye contact. He seemed nice but I was turned off by my first impression of him. However, I’m going to meet him again next weekend to see if anything changes if he gets used to me.

Since I had that date, I was thinking about how much value I place on social status and appearances. Ever since I started trying to date more seriously, I realized that I have criteria that I vaguely was aware of before. I like well-educated and intellectual men who have good jobs.  I want them to be financially stable and have good relationships with their family. I want them to understand social situations and perform appropriately. I obviously think that my partner reflects me in some way and I don’t ever want to be embarrassed by him.

Some may find this very cold, practical and unromantic. I guess I’m fine with that assessment. I want to know that I chose the best person that I can find to be with me. I do place value on personal chemistry since I have to like the person too, even if they satisfy my internal criteria. But I don’t want to be swept off my feet by love or lust in any way. I prefer the slow build-up to love.

I wonder if this kind of attitude scared off a lot of people. Or if I drove off potential suitors because I found them unacceptable. However, I don’t know how much my asexuality also prevented people from approaching me. I’m sure I confused people because of my lack of interest in dating even though I was “normal” in every other way. I’m working on trying to be less reserved (a couple of people told me that I give off positive and maternal vibes, which I found positive).


While I was drafting this blog post, I was listening to Diana Krall’s I’m Not In Love.

Sexual fantasies while Ace

*Please note that this post is NSFW.

Asexuality is a spectrum. There are Aces with varying degrees of openness to sex, touch, intimate relationships. I fall on the more sexual side of the Asexuality spectrum. I feel like I’m pushing the boundaries of how sexual one can be without actually desiring sexual intercourse.

I identify as bisexual. However, I’m more attracted to men than women. My sexual fantasies generally involve me having a sexual encounter with a man, but will involve women maybe 10% of the time. I think that I’ll most likely have a relationship with a man, but I won’t rule out having a long-term relationship with a woman.

One of my longest fantasies that I’ve had was being taken from behind by someone who I’m prevented from seeing. I cannot turn around because I’m leaning forward on a desk. I just have to take what’s happening. I think I liked this fantasy because it wades into BDSM territory without being overtly so. And it allows me to fantasize about doing something with another person that I have very limited experience in. I know enough about sex to know what happens physically. However, it’s different reading about something versus experiencing it real life.

This taken-from-behind fantasy is slightly ruined for me because Amir* tried to recreate it while we were together. It was…anxiety producing. I think if I tried recreating it with someone I trusted, I would’ve felt better about the experience. Despite my unease, I found that I liked some parts of role playing the fantasy. I found that I liked feeling how much Amir desired me as he ground his erection against me. I liked seeing the two of us in the vanity mirror, his dark skin a contrast to my lighter one.

Despite my fantasies, I’m less likely to act on them than the normal person. I’ll accept sexual touch but it takes me long time to get there. I’ve been thinking about what it means to negotiate physical intimacy in a relationship, given how much I enjoy physical touch and affection and yet can’t/won’t do anything without lots of trust and “practice”. I feel a little like I’m enclosed somehow by being an Ace person and having limits on what I can experience through my body. I’m not sad about this exactly. I feel wistful.

* All names in this blog are fictional to protect individuals’ privacy.


While I was drafting this blog post, I was listening to Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do and Aaliyah’s I Refuse, Are You That Somebody, We Need A Resolution (Aaliyah is one of my favorite R&B singers and her songs stand the test the time.)

Musings No. 2

I went on a first date last Friday with another person I met on OkCupid. He seemed like a nice enough guy but I didn’t feel like we had chemistry. He seemed like he was one of those people who played Dungeons and Dragons when he was a teenager and viewed himself as a social outcast…. and never really grew out of it. I feel like my personality would have dominated him and we would both be miserable. I have this image of me constantly criticizing him for not being able to function in society in a way that I find satisfactory. That is obviously not awesome.

I feel like I’m slowly getting into the swing of things in the dating front. I downloaded OkCupid onto my phone maybe a month or two after I moved back to New York and never used it for months afterward. I think I was not ready to start looking seriously. I’m still having crippling anxiety, but I’m much more serious about using the app and I think that I put a pretty good game face when I meet my dates. I’m not really afraid of dating. It’s just that I don’t trust my judgment anymore about relationships and who I can rely on.

I met some Ace folks yesterday for dinner, drinks, and playing games at pinball machines. It was really nice to see people but it was a long day. One of my Ace bffs invited me to a BDSM munch next Friday. I’m excited to go. I haven’t gone to a munch in a long time and it’ll be my first in New York.

I want someone to dominate me. I feel like I’m happiest when I’m serving someone. It definitely affected my career choices since I worked in public service for a long time. I’m like that with my family and friends as well. So, why should my romantic relationships be any different? I definitely don’t want a D/S relationship that looks like a master-slave relationship. But I’m not sure how that kind of relationship would work with someone like me who’s more interested in the power exchange part of BDSM more than the sex.

The friend who invited me to the munch and I get along so well that I wish I felt romantic feelings towards him. But I don’t. But it’s nice to be able to rely on him.


While drafting this blog post, I’ve been listening to Handel’s Messiah.