Lately, I’ve been thinking about ‘ifs’. If I’d known about asexuality when I met my husband, would we have stayed together for so long? Would the relationship have even got off the ground? I’m almost glad I didn’t know; it might have wrecked everything.
Often, I tell myself I wish I’d known I was ace years ago. I spent most of my life believing I was frigid: asexuality simply wasn’t within the vocabulary. I didn’t want sex. I didn’t enjoy sex. I made excuses not to have it and, gradually, sex as in P to V stopped entirely. Perhaps, if we had had the words, we could have found some common ground or ways to compromise. We would at least have had some understanding. But… over the years, our relationship altered, and would have altered regardless of the complications introduced by different sexual agendas: relationships do change. I wouldn’t say that the romantic, fairy-tale, walking-on-air quality of the early years faded, for ‘faded’ seems so negative a word. Rather, it morphed into something less overtly romantic and, instead, more sensual and emotional. Certainly different from how it was originally, when, I now realise, I confused romantic and aesthetic attraction with sexual attraction. Today, there is true friendship, real concern, genuine care. I love my husband to bits. He is my best friend even if, at times, I could gladly strangle him. (Not really.) I have been so lucky to spend my life with him – and I admit that I’m the kind of person who needs to spend my life with someone.
So, I look at the advice that’s so often given on social media platforms and I wonder… You’re asexual. You don’t have to indulge in sexual activities that you don’t want. You should never (strong word) do something you’re uncomfortable with. Establish your boundaries. Tell a potential partner at the outset. Et cetera. In a sense, such advice seems absolutely right to me. Honesty is important. It would be very wrong to lead a partner on with promises you knew you wouldn’t keep. But, what if by following this advice, by being true to yourself, you do yourself out of the chance to develop other aspects of a relationship – the ones that can hold it together despite the problems caused by different agendas. OK, not knowing about asexuality caused my husband and me a helluva lot of heartache, but if I’d had the knowledge, if I’d have set out my boundaries, if he’d have said ‘Sorry, I’m off’… maybe ignorance is bliss after all.
Sometimes, I envy today’s asexuals. There’s AVEN, the Asexual Agenda, podcasts like AOK, YouTube vlogs, WordPress blogs, even books (I include some of my own!)… There are lots of possibilities, in some areas at least, to meet with other aces, dozens of ways to know that there are people like yourself out there and that, no, you’re not a frigid weirdo. Then I think a little more. Perhaps knowledge solves nothing. It simply brings a different set of problems. I just don’t know.