The Asexual Handbook Pt. 3: An Ace’s Explanation of Romance
An individual’s lifestyle can sometimes hold great frustrations when involving the field of romance. No matter your inclination, romantic endeavors and all their expectations can be, well, rather complex. This fact holds true for all orientations, for defining exactly how one’s feelings shift into different degrees of affection might sometimes be quite the mystery (I mean, consider the many contributing factors that dictate who you do or don’t love…extensive, right?).
Since asexuality isn’t as commonly spoken of as other orientations are, there are many confusions that come into play while engaging in discussion on the subject. Some individuals who are sex positive or expect sex out of a relationship, both inside and outside of the community, may deem those who are on the ace spectrum with negative viewpoints. There are many reasons why this seems to be the case, such as what society deems as ‘the true method of showing affection’ or ‘providing as a partner’, thus often making those on the ace spectrum feel inadequate, broken, or a lack of belonging.
As noted in my prior entry, I find myself frequently bombarded with questions regarding my romantic preference. Family and friends alike often sate their curiosities by requesting this information, which ends up educating those who have not yet familiarized themselves with asexuality. I encourage a good portion of it; after all, creating positive and enriching conversations on LGBT+ matters is what I live for! However, not everyone is so keen on finding these answers. Sometimes, after revealing oneself as asexual, the concept can spur forth unguided interpretations. The most common misunderstanding among all of these is that those who are asexual possess no desire to maintain relationships of any kind. The assumption seems to portray that we do not want romantic intimacy since we are not interested in sex or sexual attraction.
This leads us to question #1: “Does asexuality equal a lack of romance?” Incorrect. Romantic and sexual orientation notably differ from one another and should not fall into the same categorization.
To those readers who are unfamiliar with this separation, you are likely questioning what I mean when I state this fact. Therefore, allow me to provide you with a brief explanation! The ‘-romantic’ suffix classifies what romantic feelings one experiences, while the ‘-sexual’ suffix denotes sexual attraction. While the two categories have the potential to align in a similar fashion (for instance, someone who classifies themselves as homoromantic and homosexual is all around attracted to those of the same gender), it doesn’t necessarily have to match. Think of it as falling in love one way and being aroused in another (-sexual)!
Aromanticism, named for a lack of romantic attraction, and asexuality are two different terms that share a prefix. Someone can be aromantic and asexual at the same time; however, to believe that all who call themselves aromantic are also asexual (or vice versa) is inaccurate. In my personal case, since I am homoromantic asexual, I find myself able to hold romantic feelings towards same-gendered individuals. I love and express affection (I know how to get my cuddle on!), and the idea of marriage in the distant future is appealing to me. What makes me different is that the ability to experience sexual attraction towards someone or the desire to have sex is NOT attached to my relationships! Does that make a little more sense, my dear reader?
If so, let’s take a look at question #2: “Is it okay to call yourself gay/straight/bi/etc. AND be asexual at the same time?” The answer…is YES!
If you were to mix and match different romantic/sexual orientations, you would still be correct; ‘gay/lesbian/bi/etc. asexual’ and ‘aromantic gay/lesbian/bi/etc.’ are both valid orientations! Who you mentally fall in love with does not have to be the same as who you are physically enamored by, which further broadens the wide array of sexual identities.
Here is my personal advice on this subject: you are allowed to partake in a thriving relationship and not feel sexual attraction, just as you could through engaging in one that’s sex-inclusive without the romance! It would be a good idea to expand your knowledge on the subject; make certain to do your research and test the waters while maintaining healthy boundaries. In the process, be safe and listen to your intuition. Educating yourself while finding your calling is where the true beauty of LGBT+ diversity is found, but it isn’t worth losing yourself or letting someone force you into something you aren’t comfortable with!
Whatever (or whoever) you decide to pursue, remember this: no matter your definition, never forget to love yourself and all your beautiful colours!