Love

No, I'm Not Asexual — I Just Don't Like Sex, Period

Photo: Kseniia Perminova | Canva
Woman staring assertively

I have a friend who claims to be asexual. Asexual is a word that, to me, suggests a single-celled organism. Isn’t an asexual a creature who divides in two — or some kind of dual-gendered seahorse who fertilizes and carries his/her offspring to term? So I asked her what she meant by this claim and she said, “Well, I just don’t partake in intimate activity.” It seemed simple enough, yet I still couldn’t quite grasp this seemingly unnatural lack of drive.

“Ah,” I said. “So you’ve taken a vow of celibacy?” “No, it’s not that complicated. I just don’t like it, so I don’t have it.”  I was confused. What on earth would ever make her abstain from glorious, wondrous, ecstatic intimacy? Did it cause her pain? Was it an emotional abstinence? Did something happen to her that made her equate intimacy with negativity? What was wrong with her that she didn’t like doing it? She explained to me that the reason she didn’t involve herself in intimate acts is because she simply didn’t care for it, the foreplay, intimacy, and climax were just never as thrilling to her as they seemed to be for other people. In short: it bored her.

RELATED: 4 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Having Terrible Intimacy

I figured that her reasoning stemmed from the fact that she’d recently gone into menopause and that her loss of interest was due to a hormonal change. I also suggested that she didn’t have to accept this change and that menopause potentially held the promise of an entirely new intimate future — that women no longer stagnate and accept menopause with dread, but that this “change of life” was truly “the new puberty.” She looked at me as if I were crazy.

   

   

She said, “Are you kidding me? I’ve earned my menopause. I haven’t been intimate in years and I love it this way." "Why are people always bugging me about this — as if they know what’s right for me and I don’t? Someone is always telling me that I should be having it, or looking at me like I’m some kind of freak because I don’t want it. There’s nothing wrong with me — I just don’t want intimacy. For some reason, my not wanting to be intimate disturbs people to such a degree that they feel they need to intervene. Well, after all these years of being asexual, I've finally hit the universally known “age of menopause” where I’m supposed to be able to get away with not wanting intimacy. I thought menopause was my “out,” that people would finally shut up or at least stop caring about what I do or don’t do in bed.”

RELATED: Why There's Absolutely Nothing Wrong With Not Wanting To Be Intimate

“But,” I tried, “You don’t have to go without, you know.” “I don’t have to go with, either,” she responded. And then added on, “Have you any idea how much intimacy I’ve had in my life? Trust me, I’ve done it enough for five lifetimes. I’ve done it — it’s great. Now, I’m on to something else. It’s called "Shut up and leave me alone." Suddenly it occurred to me: Maybe we’re not all the same. Maybe intimacy isn’t the goal of every human life. This woman did not appear to be lying, nor did she seem anything less than perfectly content. I did not pick up any vibe that suggested her choice of asexuality was related in any way to rebellion and she certainly wasn’t going to start being intimate again because it worked for me.

It simply bored her. Or perhaps, as she said, she’d simply and realistically had enough of it for a lifetime. When we think about intimacy, gratification, or the idea of an evergreen love life, do we need to insist upon it as well? Maybe not everybody is playing that reel. Maybe asexuality is just as legitimate as any sexuality. It made me realize how we are continuously putting pressure on people to live up to some intimate ideal as if we’re all robots just waiting for higher commands to fulfill.

   

   

RELATED: I Stopped Being Intimate With My Husband And We're Closer Than Ever

On one hand, we’ve made fun of older women for years, calling them dried-up old prunes, labeling them as crones who have ceased to function as intimate beings. On the other hand, we jump to conclusions and assume these women couldn’t possibly be content in this natural state, and so now we push a new message their way, like, “Hey, you old bag — now there’s hope! You can be intimate again if you use our vag moisturizers and hormone things. You too can be a woman again!” As women, we’re either young and hot or old and not. Did anyone even consider that there might be a middle ground; dare I say a happy medium?

As for my friend, she seems pretty happy just to be alive. Who am I to impose my own set of values on her? We are lucky to live in a day and age where one can intend for and maintain longevity. Women are no longer confined to a cut-off date, and menopause is no longer perceived as an ending. What we also have to know and accept is that some individuals march to their drumbeat. I can’t condemn my friend for being different than me. Not only do I want intimacy; I want to be able to have it for the rest of my life. Just because she doesn’t want it does not mean it has to be my goal to convert her to my way of thinking. It takes all kinds to make a world.

RELATED: 3 Emotions That Control Intimacy And Your Ability To Enjoy It

Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily, and The Stir.