My journey to identifying as asexual

Quinoa, female, 20, United States.

When I was in middle school and much of high school, I didn’t really think I was that different. Sure, I didn’t date people, but I thought the people around me were dating and having sex mostly because of peer pressure. I didn’t want any part of dating or romance, and was determined not to succumb to what I thought was peer pressure. I didn’t really notice that other people actually wanted to date and have sex at that age, and that many would even without any peer pressure. Sex was so far removed from my experience that I figured I’d want it once I got old enough and was in a serious relationship. I just assumed everyone was pretty much like me, and I didn’t think about any of this much.

There were, however, a few things I noticed. These are especially apparent in retrospect. I have never understood kissing, and I thought it was really strange when couples kissed. This wasn’t something that was as far removed as sex, so I did think about it sometimes. I also noticed that there was this thing called “liking” or having a crush on someone. My teenage years were filled with me thinking some specific people were interesting people I’d like to get to know better, and immediately wondering if that was what a crush was. When I was around 14, some people my age started coming out, and I was really surprised and wondered how they could possibly know who they were attracted to at such a young age. It also never occurred to me until it was explicitly brought up that people in same-sex relationships had sex. I guess I figured they just wouldn’t bother.

It’s interesting to note my opinion on sex at this point. My opinion until I was around 16 years old was that teenagers should not be having sex. I understood that it was important for contraception to be available for teens, but I did not understand why it was so hard for teens (or generally anyone who didn’t want to get pregnant) to not have sex.

Then, when I was around 17, I had a friend who was starting to be manipulative. He started out by flirting with me, which I didn’t pick up on. Then, he flat-out told me that he had a crush on me, and asked if I had feelings for him. This was all fine, but when I said I wasn’t sure (because I wasn’t), he told me that I wasn’t being nice to him. This happened several times, and when I finally asked him what he meant by that, he told me it was because he wanted me to have feelings for him.

He also mentioned I might be asexual. This was the first time I heard the word in that context, but he made it sound like it was a horrible thing that I should change by trying things. Even then, I didn’t think it would be so bad, but he kept insisting that it was horrible and I would be missing out. He also tried to change me in other ways. This went on for about 9 months before I realized what was going on and decided to cut off the friendship. At this point, I suspected that I was asexual, but decided that whoever I was would be fine, and I should stop worrying about it. And I did. For a whole year.

At this point, my views on sex changed somewhat. I decided that by saying teens shouldn’t be having sex, I was saying they were immature, so I decided I was okay with it. I was still pretty sex-negative, but my opinion had shifted.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college. I started noticing that my friends talked a lot about who they thought was attractive. They talked of checking out shirtless guys and looking at people’s butts, and I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I finally understood how different I was from them. I also heard from someone who was ace. She talked about her experience briefly after a meeting of the LGBT club. I heard people mention it briefly throughout that semester.

Over a break, I finally looked up the word. Reading about it made me realize that I was indeed asexual.

At first, I was extremely happy that I had figured it out. Then, worry and doubts set in. If I was romantic, would I ever find someone? If I was aromantic, how would I create the life I wanted for myself? How was I going to come out to other people? How would I know if I was experiencing sexual attraction if I didn’t even know what it was like?

I went back to school, and the activity of school helped me forget my worries. I created an AVEN account and started talking to people, which helped a lot. I started thinking about coming out to people. At first, I didn’t really think I had to come out to people right away. I just talked to people on AVEN and did a lot of thinking. Then, about two weeks later, a close friend asked me out of the blue if I was straight. I froze and didn’t answer at that point, but it gave me a prod to think about coming out.

There was one friend I knew would know what the word meant, which I thought would help. I decided to start with her. I knew she would be fine with it, but I was still incredibly nervous. Three weeks after I went back to school, I finally had a moment alone with her, and I came out to her. She was, and continues to be, extremely supportive.

Coming out to her was also the point when I fully came out to myself. I had still had a significant amount of doubt, and I was worried about it, but just saying the words “I’m asexual” made me feel like I had finally figured myself out, and I knew I was going to be okay.

Now, I’m out to pretty much all my friends, and I think I’ve fully accepted myself as asexual. I still have some doubt occasionally, but I think doubt is normal. I’m also very sex-positive—when I finally realized that most people really do have an intrinsic desire or need for sex, all of my sex-negativity disappeared. I’m still not completely sure of my romantic orientation, but I’m now focusing on helping other aces out and advancing awareness of asexuality.

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