You seem like someone who would know a lot about the spectrum of sexuality. I identify as a bi-romantic asexual. For those who don’t know what that is, this means I feel romantic attraction to both genders, but no sexual attraction. I don’t lack a sex drive, and find masturbation pleasurable. I just never want to jump under the covers with anyone. But I crave a romantic relationship, and though the valley is open to most orientations, I find it hard to “come out” as an asexual. Which in return makes it hard to find love. Do you think it’s possible to find acceptance as an asexual or, more importantly, a loving partner?
A Lonely Romantic
I’ve been going back and forth with your question for a few weeks and I’ll tell you why. When I first read your email, I wanted to say to you, “Yes, you can find acceptance! Yes you can find love!” My initial reaction was to trace your email back to your IP address, Google Map you, and give you a big ol’ hug. A bit stalker-y, yes, but I got all mama bird on your message and I wanted nothing more than to comfort you. In lieu of that, I’m gonna draw you a map to the land of love and acceptance.
But grrrrrrl, while my urge to be your romantic Sherpa is sincere, I need to be real with you. I’m gonna pop my tuck, take my wig off, and just lay it all out on the table. I need you to understand something about human nature in order for us to move forward: People are assholes – not all of them and not all the time – but say it with me. People are assholes. Human beings have a great capacity for judgment, cruelty, heartbreak, and ridicule. That means the possibility of getting hurt is very real, whether you’re asexual, bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, or a big ol’ drag queen. Getting comfortable with this fact is scary, but it is the first step you must take along the path toward romantic love and acceptance.
The second step I’m going to ask you to take is a bit of a doozie. I know I just told you that people are assholes but… Romantic, my dear, you’re gonna have to let yourself be vulnerable. This means turning on the light and stepping out of your bi-romantic asexual closet so that people can see into your carefully guarded secret. Now, I’m not telling you to tattoo it on your forehead and I’m definitely not telling you to take this step before you’re ready, but if you want people to get to know you and accept you for who you are, you have to let them see who you are.
When you’re meeting someone in a romantic sense who does not identify as asexual, the norm is to expect that it will develop into something sexual along the way. The first few months of a dating or relationship experience can be fraught with a heightened sexual tension and desire. In the “getting to know you” phase, where people give their potential partner little glimpses through smoke and mirrors into who they are, people try to impress each other, talk about their families, where they work, interests, things they have in common – by at least the third date, these kinds of conversations lead to talking about sex and relationships. At that point, Romantic, you need to tell your potential partner about your expectations as a bi-romantic asexual.
You’ll want to ask them how important sex is to their romantic satisfaction and how frequently they want to have sex. Most importantly, you’ll have to be honest about what you’re comfortable with in terms of relationship formation and sexual practice. For some asexual people, participating in sex with their romantic partners is a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Others negotiate relationships in such a way where their partner’s sexual needs can be met without including themselves in a sexual act. These couplings might consist of polyamory, open relationships, or an arrangement of masturbation. The bottom line is this: If you’re not open about being a bi-romantic asexual, you can’t reach the point where you’re creating a healthy, romantic partnership.
Is being honest another scary prospect? Yes. Letting someone in is always risky because of the potential for rejection. Let’s face the hard facts. Not everyone is going to be interested in being in a relationship with you – and this potential for rejection goes for everyone who has ever looked for a relationship – but those aren’t the people you’d want to be in a relationship with anyway. There will be people who totally understand what you’re offering them and I wholeheartedly believe that the possibility for love and acceptance is worth the risk. Maybe I’m a bit of a romantic as well.
In sum, yes, you can find acceptance! Yes, you can find love! But a huge part of building a successful romance is being honest with someone about who you are, what you like, and what you expect out of the relationship. If you start “in the closet”, you’re leaving your potential partner in the dark… and possibly full of moths. Take the risk and let people in, Romantic. You can never know if someone will love and accept you for who you are until you give them a fair chance.
Ms. Hors D’oeuvres is the promoter, producer, and emcee of Bon Appétit Burlesque in Northampton, MA and an advocate for the free expression of woman-friendly, body-positive sexuality. For more pearls of wisdom, you can catch Hors on the second Saturday of every month in Northampton at the Bon Appétit Burlesque show. www.nohoburlesque.com
To send a question to Hors, email firstname.lastname@example.org