Friday, April 21, 2017

FAQs with an asexual, aromantic, agendered individual.

Two people find themselves talking to each other in a place. The following is their conversation. 

"So, are you seeing anybody?"

"No, I'm not."

"Oh, how come?"

"I'm not really interested in seeing anyone right now."

"Why is that?"

"I don't know, I just don't feel like it."

"Well, you ought to."

"No, I don't “ought to.” I'm just not interested in getting into a relationship. I don't see the point."

"Maybe if you tried to go out with someone, then you'd be able to appreciate it better."

"I actually have. I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't for me. I'd go so far as to say that I feel some guilt for trying it in the first place. Relationships are meant to be emotionally satisfying for both people, and in my quest to find some meaning in this particular social structure, I hurt another person without fully taking their feelings and expectations into consideration. It's not that I didn't try to offer what I believed that the other needed. It's just that I wasn't invested enough to understand what had to be done. Not to mention that the very concept of romance escapes my understanding. It becomes difficult for me to provide comfort on that level."

"But did you get physical?"

"That's a rather inappropriate question."

"Well, maybe if you had, you and your partner would have enjoyed things better!"

"How about no? Thanks for assuming that we didn't get physical."

"Maybe you're gay?"

"Nope, I'm not."

"There's nothing wrong with being gay. You probably just haven't realized that you're gay yet."

"But I am not gay. I know I'm not gay."

"Then I just don't understand what your problem with sex is."

"Maybe I'm just not into the whole business of spit tasting and piss sharing, or exchanging body fluids of any kind, for that matter. Maybe the idea of touching somebody else's skin just unnerves me."

"But it's so much more than that."

"Well, I'm glad you enjoy it."

"You should really get out more often, meet more people and get to know them. You're bound to meet somebody who interests you."

"Well, I'm here, aren't I?"

"Yeah-"

"And didn't we bump into each other last week, too?"

"That's true-"

"And again, sometime before that?"

"That's not-"

"Why didn't you show up at Chris' party?"

"I had to finish some work."

"Sounds like I get out and meet more people than you do."

"That's not what I mean! What I mean is, you just haven't met the right person yet."

"Heh. The right person. Sure, maybe someday I'll meet a person that'd absolutely blow my mind and make me go against every natural instinct of mine. I'm not actively going to seek it out, though. Just as I'm not actively avoiding it. I don't know… Have you found the right person?"

"No, I mean, I don't know, maybe?"

"Exactly. You can never know. Because people change, and you can't expect them to adhere to your idea of the ideal. So the right person today could well become the wrong person tomorrow. That isn't to say you should give up on them. Just do what you want and they want, even as I do what I want!"

"That's a very cold way of thinking."

"Is it? I don't think it is. I'd much rather treat everyone I meet with as much love as I can possibly give them, without either them or me becoming uncomfortable. I don't need to be in a relationship to be a warm person."

"So you're like Sherlock, huh? A sociopath."

"No. Again. I am not a sociopath or a psychopath. I care very deeply for the people around me. I can and do empathize and sympathize with them. The only thing that makes you and me different is the fact that I do not want to get into a relationship, and I do not want to have sex. If I were to term these things, it would make me Aromantic and Asexual."

"So you're like a priest, then? Celibate?"

"No. I'm not celibate. Celibacy is a choice, asexuality isn't!"

"Ohh. Ugh. Now I get it. Asexual people are creepy. There's something unnerving about them…"

"But why? You were perfectly fine with me up until five minutes ago. What changed?"

"I don't know, it's just - do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"Sure."

"Were you abused at any point in your life? Is that why you're afraid to get intimate? You don't have to answer me, but if I'm right, then you should see a counselor."

"I appreciate your advice, but I wasn't abused at any point. There's no correlation between asexuality and abuse. Much like homosexuality, asexuality is just a way some people are born. Nothing causes it to happen. For some people, it sets in late, and everybody experiences it differently."

"But, from what I can understand, asexuality means you never get aroused?"

"It depends on how you define arousal. Some don't experience it in any form. Others do experience a degree of arousal, but aren't interested in sex in spite of that. The physical attributes of arousal may still occur in an individual without them getting mentally stimulated for sex. Some dislike the process of getting there, but enjoy the orgasm. Others have sex to reproduce, and still others, to pleasure their partners, but for the most part, sex is very unpleasant for asexual people."

"So you'd date somebody if they're okay with not having sex with you?"

"I probably wouldn't. I'm also aromantic, which means that I feel no romantic interest. I don't understand the very concept of romance and what it entails. I am open to the idea of understanding it someday, because the movies sure make it look pretty. But right now this is just the way it is. Many people don't know this, but just like sexuality and gender, romantic attraction belongs to a spectrum too. It maps out the extent to which a person desires and exhibits romantic behaviors."

"Interesting. I know you said otherwise, but it sounds an awful lot like sociopathy or psychopathy to me."

"No! Not at all! I have great friends, and I love my family very much. I just don't feel the need to get romantic with anyone."

"Well, at the very least you don't have a fancy pronoun that I have to remember."

"That isn’t a very nice thing to say. I do in fact, have some questions about my gender. I don't feel comfortable with conventional male thinking, but I also don't feel comfortable thinking in a manner that society leads us to believe women think. So while I'm not dysphoric, I dislike identifying as either male or female. In my mind, I prefer to think of myself as genderless or agendered. I'm quite far from understanding this fully, though. I don't really care what pronoun you use for me, but typically agender people prefer 'they'. It's very important that you don't misgender people, as their assigned genders may have caused them to go through a lot of pain that they wouldn't want to be reminded of." 

To any asexual, or aromantic, or agender people reading this (or all of the above). People will call you cold. People will say you're a psychopath. You are neither of those things. People will pressure you to get into relationships and have sex. You do not have to. You're a wholesome, wonderful and unique person, and you have every right to make choices that suit you. 

The above discourse may not fully describe you, but each of these terms (asexual, aromantic and agender) are umbrella terms that cover a very wide variety of experiences, and if you can relate to any part of what I'm saying, you may find the rest of your experience described somewhere under these umbrellas. And even if you don't, it's perfectly alright! You know you best, and you know what makes you feel comfortable and uncomfortable. 

To those survivors of trauma, who've been told that your identity is defined by it, it is not. Asexuality, agender and aromantic identities are NOT symptoms, but identities that are just as natural as heterosexual, cisgender, transgender and romantic. It's just a question of what you're comfortable with. There is no crime, and no judgment is to be made in choosing to be comfortable.  

And it's important to understand that these three terms don't need to exist together. You could be an aromantic, trans lesbian, for instance. You could be an asexual, biromantic cisperson. You are who you feel like you are, and don't let anybody tell you differently. 

Discovering who you are is a long, confusing and sometimes painful journey. But do not give up on it. You will feel a freedom you can't imagine at the end of it all. Even if the world is in conflict with your identity, you won't be. And that in itself makes a huge difference to your state of mind. 

To the rest of the people reading this, I implore you to show some consideration towards the choices that people make. You might not agree with them. But that doesn't make them psychopaths or weirdos or creeps. It just makes them different from you. Please learn to respect that. You cannot imagine the amount of counter programming it requires for a person to understand that they aren't, in fact a psychopath, but just different. It's a fearful feeling. 

We must learn to accept the choices the people make for themselves rather than stigmatize them. We must learn, that there is something very wrong with us when these choices that have no effect on us make us uncomfortable. 


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