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The V-Spot: Will Our Mixed Desire Dating Last?

 

Hi, Yana!

I recently started dating somebody who ticks (nearly) all the right boxes for me. This is the first time since breaking up with my sweetheart of over two years that I’ve felt this way, and it’s really exciting. There’s only one hiccup: he seems to be grey-a and I’m about as allosexual as it gets. He prefers to cuddle; I’d have sex twice a day if I could.

We talked about this shortly after we started seeing each other, and it seems like things are workable, at least for now — he says he’s game for non-monogamy and I have other partners who are excited to have the kind of sex that excites me. He’s my only local partner, though, and I can’t help but wonder if this sort of arrangement is sustainable. I’m really wary of implicitly pressuring him into being more sexual than he’d like, but I also can’t help the fact that I’m super horny basically always.

How common are successful allosexual/asexual relationships? What can we do to make sure that both of our needs are getting met? What can we do to make sure that we don’t hurt each other if/when our sexual desires don’t match up?

-Dating, But Not Mating

Dear Not Mating,

In any romantic and/or sexual dynamic with another person, it’s impossible that our desire will perfectly mirror our partner’s and many couples have extreme desire discrepancies. This particular dynamic with your Grade A, grey-a bae just has a slightly more disparate desire difference to negotiate.

First, let’s nail some terms, courtesy of my former intern Emmett DuPont who wrote a great blog post for my website about just this:

  1. Allosexual: You & the majority of people. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a necessary part of partner relationships.
  2. Grey asexuality. Grey-ace. Grey-A: Your boo. Emmett says: Grey-A is a term that people might use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally”.
  3. Asexual: Emmett says: “Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain, consensual sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner”.

So, how do you deal with such a desire discrepancy (besides consensual non-monogamy which, you’re already doing)?

In a 2014 interview with EverydayFeminism.com, David Jay, founder of Asexuality.org reminds allosexual partners that “It’s important to give asexual people a place to celebrate and talk about all their important relationships, not just sexual ones. Sexual people need to treat those kinds of intimacy as if they are as interesting and exciting as romantic/sexual intimacy because they are!”.

Which is to say, Not Mating, any implicit pressure for your partner to sexually perform at your allosexual level will likely come from inside of you. If you’ve made genuine peace with all that comes with enthusiastically consenting to dating a greysexual person in all of their glory, you will be less likely to inadvertently turn up the heat for more than they have to offer you.

Be clear about what you are truly okay with, too. In a mutually respectful relationship, there is no space for pity or charity. In fact, it may even disempower your partner’s already marginalized sexuality identity even further if you continue to date him because you want to prove to him or yourself that you can do without a certain level of sexual interaction. Especially if you can’t! Each of you are entitled to have, express, and be honored for your unique desire levels and identities.

Finally, avoiding hurt is something we all want in our relationships but may not be able to fulfill, especially in a relationship with inherently conflicting desires built into it. Though I can’t give you a percentage of success here, I can tell you this relationship will take some honest boundary setting, exploring, and work, as all desire discrepancies do!

 

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The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

by: Emmett DuPont

ACE_PIC2

Sexuality, the great human equalizer, that draws towards wild, loving, delicious sex is something we all share… or something we all want to share, right? This might not be as true as most people think.

What does it mean to be asexual, and what does it mean to be allosexual? Sexuality, a person’s capacity or desire for sexual activity or feelings, is a spectrum just like all human experience. Some of us feel sexual desire for complete strangers, I mean, did you see that tinder profile? Some of us don’t feel sexual desire until we know someone intimately well. Yet others have no sexual desire whatsoever. All three of these examples of (a)sexuality have labels to describe them. So let’s break it down, I’ll bust out my funky dance moves while you read.

On one end of the spectrum are people who are allosexual. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society, which is pretty subjective. The majority of people are allosexual. Allosexuals may experience sexual desire for intimate partners as well as dat hottie on the street. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a part of intimate partner relationships, and is often a necessary part of the connection shared with boo.

Somewhere in the middle is gray asexuality. Gray-ace  (ace = asexual), is a term that people might
use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally. The experience of gray asexuality can be widely varied, so if a friend or partner comes out to you as asexual or gray-ace, inquire about their experiences and feelings.

Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Yeah, like, completely zero. Goose egg, as my grandma would say. Some allosexual people might find it hard to imagine being completely asexual, but some asexual people might find it as difficult to imagine allosexual life! Although plenty of aces don’t masturbate, some might find it to be a physical necessity, or a good way to relax, relieve tension, and get some good alone time, many of the same reasons anyone might masturbate. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner. Consent is important in any relationship, and asexuals who are disinterested in sex are capable of giving consent, too!

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Asexuality Myth Busting!

We’ve already busted myths like asexual people don’t masturbate, have sex, or ever experience sexual attraction. But let’s do our ace friends a favor and burst four of the most common stereotypes we didn’t cover earlier!

Asexuality is a phase

Just like any aspect of life, sexuality can, and often will change over a person’s lifetime. Evolution doesn’t mean falseness. I don’t identify as asexual today, but that doesn’t mean my sexuality won’t change in the next decade. Many asexual people will identify as asexual all their lives, whereas others might experience fluctuations.

Asexuality is a symptom of abuse

This is simply not true. Although sexual abuse can change a person’s sex drive, diminished sexual activity or desire because of trauma is completely different than asexuality. Asexuality is not something that necessarily can or should be treated with therapy, and although sexual abuse and asexuality can overlap within a person’s life, never assume that someone’s asexuality is a symptom of a problem.

Asexual people don’t have healthy intimate relationships

Many asexual people date and have intimate relationships, sometimes with other asexual people, but also with allosexual people, too!

Asexual people don’t need community around sexuality

Not so, my hypothetical friend! Asexual people need community to talk about the unique experiences, joys, and struggles of being asexual in a sexual world. Asexual people often must come out to friends and partners and navigate difficult conversations, so it is important to make room for asexual folks to celebrate asexuality!

Want more information and support around asexuality?

AVEN, The Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Find community with Pioneer Valley Aces on Facebook and Meetup!


Emmett DuPont, Sex Educator InternEmmett DuPont (they/them), Sex Educator Intern, is a first-generation college student at Hampshire College and a lifelong unschooler. Emmett lives at intersections of queerness, transness and disability, and is an enthusiastic educator around these and other topics. Read more about Emmett & their internship here.

Ask Emmett!

To ask Emmett a sex, relationship or other relevant advice question for them to answer here on the blog, send us an email with the subject ASK THE INTERN.

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‘A’ is Not Sexuality’s Scarlet Letter

Dear Yana,

I was recently discussing your column with some new friends I met through Pioneer Valley Aces, a local group of individuals who identify as aromantic and/or asexual. I wasn’t the only one of us who appreciated your witty way of reassuring those who write in that their sexuality is OK.

However, as a 39-year-old woman who has never had all that much interest in having romantic relationships or being sexually active, I don’t generally find affirmation of my identity in The V-Spot. To be honest, it can often reinforce my self-consciousness about my asexuality. Could you please offer some advice on how to feel OK about being aromantic/asexual in a highly sexualized society?

You’re so good at advising people on how to communicate about sex – could you offer some advice on how to communicate about one’s asexuality, especially with people whose worldview does not include an awareness of the wide range of “normal” when it comes to sexual desire (or lack of sexual desire)?

— A Pioneer Valley Ace

Hi PVA!

Thanks for writing in and giving me this opportunity to write about asexuality. You’re right— not many people write into a sex column asking me questions that are not sexual in nature!

Asexuality (a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction) isn’t new. Sexual practices and identities rarely are — rather, we find the words to describe them. David Jay

Read this week's Intern Investigation! Asexuality & Allosexuality.

Read this week’s Intern Investigation! Asexuality & Allosexuality.

launched the Asexuality and Visibility Education Network (AVEN) in 2001, which today boasts more than 82,000 members. There are far more than 50 shades of sexuality, and sexual orientation doesn’t dictate one set of feelings and actions. An asexual person may experience zero sexual attraction, or maybe every now and then they do (known sometimes as graysexual). The asexual (and sexual) possibilities are endless.

So how do you exist in a world that is so terrified of difference that it simply cannot resist a good categorizing? Find and create community. You can do this internationally with online resources like AVEN or locally via Pioneer Valley Aces (on Facebook at facebook.com/pvaces).

Find cracks in the norm and widen them. I think about this as a non-monogamous queer person in a heterosexist world who has spent time editing doctor’s forms to change my “husband’s” name to my “spouse’s” name or asking for a “couple’s” massage for more than two people. If the world isn’t designed to handle you in all your authenticity, then tailor it to fit. Make the system uncomfortable with its own assumptions. There’s no need to keep a foundation stable if it doesn’t hold you up.

In my utopian world, there are no assumptions made about sex. The new normal is to co-create your interactions with people from scratch. There are no baseball metaphors, no bases to run, and no relationship escalator to stand on…continue reading…

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Is It Okay to Quit Sex?

I’m a relatively young woman who enjoyed an active, above-average sex life for my entire adult life, even after the birth of my first two children. However, I found that after my last son was born, my desire for sex suddenly vanished to the degree that I can say that I could be completely happy — and even possibly happier — if I never had another sexual encounter with a partner or even alone.

This obviously poses an issue in my marriage. I know that you aren’t a doctor or anything, but I was just hoping to get your thoughts on the issue, as someone who has been involved in open sexual dialogue.

I recently wrote some tips to a new mother whose sex life was floundering in the column “New Mom Needs to Get Some.” My advice focused on finding ways to incorporate sex more creatively into their new routines as parents and to take part in non-sexual activities together to foster a more sexually charged atmosphere between them.

For you, however, MMAS, it sounds like parenting isn’t necessarily getting in the way of your sex life but that you’ve come to realize that sexual activity is no longer a priority, or possibly even a desire, for you.

I want to throw the term “asexuality” out there for you to either pick up and try on for size or to just leave on the floor if it doesn’t fit you. Asexuality is an identifier used to describe oneself as a person who does not experience sexual attraction and/or has a low or absent interest in sexual activity, considered by some as its own sexual orientation.

The research around asexuality is new, but many sex bloggers have been recently speaking to the asexual experience to bring attention to the idea that not everyone wants to have sex — gasp! To say that our culture is sexually charged would be an understatement — sex is used to sell us everything from sandals to soap. We spend truckloads of cash trying to cum and assume that we’re broken when we can’t, and obsess over how long it’s been since we’ve gotten laid. But what happens when we just don’t want to?

It’s possible, MMAS, that you just don’t want to have sex. And that’s your choice. If what you say is your truth — that you feel happier without sex — then follow your bliss. If you feel like there are underlying traumas or triggers that are preventing you from enjoying sex, then that’s something you might consider addressing with a sex-positive counselor.

The challenge here is that your sexuality and sex life are tied to another’s — your spouse’s...continue reading…