The Incredibly Strange Way I Realized I Was Asexual

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woman looking at laptop at night

Dating is hard. 

Dating as an asexual-identifying person? Even harder.

And even more difficult? Dating as a person who doesn’t even realize that they’re asexual.

If you aren’t aware of what asexual means, it’s a person who experiences little to no sexual attraction; often complimented by the feeling of sexual repulsion when encountering sex or anatomy. 

RELATED: 7 'Little Things' That Make People A Lot Happier In Their Relationships

In 2019, I definitely wasn’t aware.

I was 25, and my dating life was in shambles; almost non-existent. I was absolutely terrified.

I was working my way through Tinder, just trying to find a modicum of understanding. (It’s hard to find anyone who wants to take it too slow these days.) After a few exhausting hours of creeps and gym bros, I finally found a decent guy.

We agreed to go on a date after two weeks of talking and verifying that he wasn’t a serial killer.

The date was going fine — until he started getting a little touchy. When he started lightly touching my thigh, I didn’t feel excited. I felt like I had acid reflux. 

He could definitely see that something was up, and the tension became really awkward. "Are you okay?' he asked, which only made me feel worse. I should be okay. I should be fine.

I'm a Scorpio: Sex and sensual touch should be my bread and butter.

This guy was textbook perfect, and yet I felt like I was about to vomit all of my insides up like The Exorcist.

I stuffed all of my weird feelings down, and blamed it on the food; I was in denial.

RELATED: How I Finally Figured Out I'm Demisexual 

We ended up back at his house, just watching movies and having fun — that is until he started getting touchy again. Physical touch had always been one of my love languages, but I wasn't into this and I didn't understand my own repulsion since my date was an attractive guy.

After 20 minutes of awkwardness, I asked him to take me home.

When I got home, I was a complete and utter mess. I felt such guilt that I had made this perfectly nice and attractive man so uncomfortable.

To drown my sorrows, I ended up getting completely wasted and after an hour of dancing to ABBA and Stevie Nicks, I turned to Google.

I typed the query, "Why is sex bad?"

This turned up a few very, very weird results until I stumbled on a Yahoo question-and-answer forum. An anonymous user mentioned that asexuality can be a cause of bad sex. Confused about what asexuality meant, I searched the word and my world was forever changed.

Asexuality makes up 1.7% of the global population and those 1.7 percent either don’t experience sexual attraction at all, very rarely experience sexual attraction or only experience it when they’re familiar or comfortable around their partner or somebody close to them.

Many asexual people still have sex for pleasure or fun, however, they don't experience the urge of sexual attraction.

Learning about the spectrum of asexuality has been extremely validating considering I had gone 25 years of my life feeling like an outcast and a freak.

I hadn’t even realized that sexual attraction and lust were real things.  

RELATED: 20 People Reveal What Being Asexual Is Really Like

The first person I confided my asexuality in told me that I "just hadn’t found the right person yet."

I felt deflated. For months I hid this part of me because I felt alone, broken, and ashamed — and to be dismissed when I decided to be vulnerable about my sexuality felt awful.

And then, like a miracle, I discovered the series Sex Education. The second season introduced a character named Florence, and her experiences paralleled mine. She felt empty and broken because of societal sexual pressures. Never before had I seen a character on television say the word, asexual. If I had, maybe I would have known my own status sooner and saved myself a few years of excruciating torment. 

Unfortunately, beyond Sex Education, there's not too much representation in Hollywood of asexuality. That's why I started to openly share my experience — in the hopes of helping people. 

Fast-forward almost three years and today, I’m working on film sets as an asexual consultant and working on a pitch for a TV series with an asexual-identifying lead. It’s interesting where one bad date can lead you.,

New Netflix shows Heartbreak High and The Imperfects, DC’s 'Spooner' from Legends of Tomorrow, 'Connor Hawke' from Green Arrow, and Marvel’s 'Yelena Belova' from Black Widow all feature asexual representation: it's a wonderful thing to behold and believe I may have held a small part in pushing forward.

Ace Week, formerly Asexual Awareness Week, is an international campaign dedicated to raising awareness and expanding education about asexuality, from October 23-29.

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Caroline Elisabeth Cull is an Australian asexuality activist and filmmaker. They have worked with a multitude of organizations like Buzzfeed, Spotify, the United Nations, and many more to spread awareness of asexual representation.