The starting point: a TED talk by Helen Fisher on romantic love that is part of my reading up on sexuality.
I perk up five minutes in.
“I began to realize that romantic love is not an emotion. In fact, I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it’s a drive.” (5:27)
My notes, based on what she says –
Three drives – three parts of the process
- Sex drive – to notice – select people to have a relationship with from a crowd
- Romantic drive – to focus – exaggerated attention, behaviour and emotion towards a specific person
- Attachment drive – to remain – a stable bundle of affection, attraction and behaviour towards a person to whom one has committed.
(May trigger in any order – important later)
I hesitate, then make a second list.
- If sex drive not(/rarely) triggered – asexual? – alternative selection process?
- If romantic drive not triggered – aromantic? – alternative method for focusing on specific person(s)?
- Attachment drive – independent from either
In the first flush of ideas of what it could potentially mean, the sweeping click-click-click of possible patterns, I dream big. Research statements for bold, new discoveries.
Attachment drive independent becomes –
The potential succes of relationships that asexual and aromantic people start is entirely independent from their romantic or sexual orientation.
Sex drive / romantic drive not triggered becomes –
Asexual or aromantic people formulate alternative methods to select and court potential partners from (zed/allo)sexual or -romantic people.
Alternative methods perhaps implies –
Asexual or aromantic people use methods to select and focus on partners similar to those they use to select and notice people to form other sorts of relationships with.
As I am writing reality trickles back in.
2018, not 1998.
Not Terra Incognita. Just new to me.
I sigh and go to add questions to my subjects-to-read-up-on list.
Demisexuality means this: sex drive may trigger simultaneously with or after attachment has formed.
This is why I may be dismissed: these drives do not necessarily trigger in order for anyone.
Attachment may come before sexual attraction for anyone. Romantic feelings may come before sexual attraction.
Asexuality: sex drive exists, but is irrelevant.
This is why I dislike being dismissed: I have been sexually attracted, in passing, to only half a dozen people in my lifetime. Other feelings, however, I have felt far more often.
Alternative methods are developed.
If one chooses to try for a relationship. If. Or it happens accidentally.
I am amatonormative, (and heteronormative?).
Aware, but still stuck with these trappings.
Progress. Not answers, but some questions to ask.
- How do I select anyone I wish to know better from among strangers?
- How, from that point, do they become friends or a potential partner?
- What makes that difference for me?
- How do I become territorial or obsessive over people for a time?
- What emotions/attractions/behaviour/thoughts overflow if one person preoccupies me?
- What does attachment look like for me (if I have enough data to say)?
- What are my alternative methods?
- What are others’ alternative methods?
- Do we see a difference in our brain, do we have something that lights up instead of the regular instincts?
I begin and discard several blog entries entitled The Three Drives.
I know too little yet, about brains, about sexuality in brains.
What questions do I elect to answer first?
Also progress, no need to go back and edit impersonal “we” and “you” back into “I”.
I think, therefore I am.
Demisexual. Questioning. Discovering.
Delighting in it.
I told her I was asexual on the getting-to-know-my-patient form.
(Use language they might know.)
It was a test. She passed.
Reward unlocked: basic trust.
She leans forward, in an overstuffed armchair.
I am twisting my fingers, seated on an overstuffed sofa.
“Do you feel like you’re denying yourself anything because of your sexuality?”
I do not feel any less than whole, but…
Non-default sexuality. Limited options.
(There are paths you cannot walk. Choices have consequences even if you’re free to make them.)
“Yes, I do.”
“What, then? What don’t you let yourself have?”
“I don’t know.”
Sex. Love. Relationship. Loneliness. Family. Future. Life. Community. Connection. Status.
I type in mental keywords until I see what’s labeled ‘denied’.
Relief, which ebbs when I realise most results are coloured with doubt (do I want this) and dread (where do I even start) and trepidation (must research alternatives).
“I figure it’ll just be, y’know, harder for me. Or different. Don’t really know how to fit things in my life that I want.”
“I’m not normal.”
“Don’t put yourself down, now.”
“Actually… I like being who I am, a little weird. What it means for my life, though, not a clue. Which kinda brings us back to the whole no-clue-having about my life in general that brought me here.”
What helped, before, upon discovery of my demisexuality, was others who struggled, or didn’t. Their stories.
…must research alternatives…
Find a Let’s Play for asexuality.
My identity: demisexual.
Widen the search parameters, lieutenant.
What I say in my head: not ‘impossible’ but ‘difficult’.
How much have I denied myself, thinking that?
How much, by leaving things undefined, unexplored, chaos.
By choosing nothing, what did I choose?
Lesson from a therapist: a good one will not just accept, but help.
Questioning sexuality included.
Reward unlocked: active trust.
In writing this, I have had to go back and change every ‘we’ and ‘you’ into ‘I’.
False sense of safety in generalities and impersonal language.
How much have I denied myself?
Must research alternatives.
I stick my tongue out at the advertising, after checking the isle is empty.
I buy chocolates.
Quest part the first: Count Your Blessings.
Reward unlocked: family hugs.
I debate whether to post this. Therapy is personal.
It is exactly the sort of story I’m seeking.
I trawl blogs.
I am not alone.
Still comforting, several years in.
*prods the pretty article on sexual development possibly being more gradual than a simple teenage sexual awakening, and starting earlier*
I like this word.
It says that realisation of attraction and orientation, including asexuality, starts at, like, 10. A very, very good reason to be open-minded about it and talk to kids.
I remember there being a lot of ado about boybands in primary school, even before the boyfriends thing started.
Followed link from: http://asexandthecity.tumblr.com/post/134290479956/submitted-by-so-much-depends-upon-a-for
One philosophical point that stares me in the face is the dichotomy between body and soul or mind. Love has become the expression of the soul. Sex of the body. Asexuality says we do not wish for sex and your typical love and relationships with our bodies and minds, as one whole. We need to discuss them as one coherent entity if we are to be accepted.
Traditionally, the sexual drive is seen as lust, a drive of the flesh and therefore worse than the more superior desires of the soul or mind. In modern times, sexual desire is located in the body, the focus of research is on how body is the instrument to both give and receive whatever acts flow from attraction. It is seen as natural, because we’ve all got similar bodies, right? A lack of sexual desire is a physical dysfuntion…. right?
To be asexual is having an experience alien to humans, whether you view it from an old-fashioned or modern perspective about how sex and sexuality works.
Or so we’re told.
But if body and mind are one… if we do not receive signals from others that excite us sexually, and do not put out those signals, if we experience an absence of sexual desire or the absence of a wish to express a sexual drive or even just attraction to any specific partner, or whatever asexuality is, if all of these are seen as coming from the same source, the subject, body and soul, then can it be weird?
Then we can simply be on the asexual spectrum, body and soul, and some signs of that can be perceived through the senses, or through instruments, some expressions of that asexuality occur in our mind, conscious or subconscious, and it’s all part of the same process, no bit invalid, no bit not ours.
After all, by sheer volume, we are a pretty common variety of human beings, not a single anomaly, which means the sexual drive is not an essential feature of the human condition.
4. Have you had any positive experiences with therapy? If so, can you give specific examples of what your provider did right? What things helped you the most?
- Treatments and therapists aren’t ‘one size fits all’. Don’t be afraid to talk with a few until you find one with whom it clicks.
- Treatment, for me, didn’t work until I wanted it to. I think that’s underestimated in many cases. People wait to be helped, not realising help doesn’t work unless they’re open to accept it. People try to help when that person’s not ready for it at all.
- DO NOT underestimate the importance of your religious identity and most deeply held beliefs. Find a therapist that matches yours, or one that is actually open-minded. Treatment strips you to your core, where you can be hurt and twisted very badly. And though especially Christians and atheists match on the surface, both being movements that grew up in the western world, core beliefs can be very different.
- Set a goal, and a deadline. Treatment, in most cases, is meant to help you work towards being a functioning adult. It’s alright to remain different, slightly odd…
3. [cut for length] Is there another intersectional issue that is more important for you to find a therapist […], that you would prioritize that instead of understanding of asexuality? Have you even decided not to bother coming out to your therapist about being ace?
I think it’s good to know that your mental health and physical health impacts your sex drive. Your sexual drive may vary throughout your life. A really busy time at work may shut it down. Graduating from college may fire it up, because you cast off a big burden.
My sexual drive didn’t come online until over a year had passed after I’d seen my last therapist.
What I do think is a shame is that, though we talked around my having a partner, is that after I declared myself single, we rarely touched the issue again. As if being single was sort of a catch-all for “oh, don’t have to talk about sex, then.”
I think the taboo of NOT having sex comes into play there. It’s weird how abstinence is more shameful than sexual activity, in our culture. It’d be so much better if both were accepted.
2. Have you felt unable to access treatment because of asexuality or conflict? Or, was the quality of your treatment reduced? Have you experienced reparative therapy—done with the intent to “cure” or “fix” your asexuality? Even if the treatment you received was not aimed at “fixing” your orientation, was it more difficult because you had to spend too much time educating your provider instead of focusing on things that would help you?
I received treatment, but it didn’t have anything to do with my sexuality, but rather with a mental issue that preceded even puberty and struck during high school and college.
Having gone through several iterations of therapy, I think I can provide a few signs of treatment that will succeed:
- You have chosen to seek treatment. No matter how clueless you are or powerless you feel you are, treatment, any kind, won’t work unless you wish it.
- Your therapist is respectful of your identity, in its entirety.
- The family or friends you choose to depend on during your treatment (and you’ll need a few) are completely respectful of your space, as if you’re a functioning, healthy adult even if you’re not, without enabling you to indulge in whatever bad behaviour you exhibit due to your issues. This, truly, is the type of love you need, and it’s hard to find and keep up. This support becomes easier for people to give if they can share the burden with others.
- Your treatment fits your psyche. You may need to try a few different types before you find one that works.
- Your treatment goes to the roots of the problem you have. If you tackle only the symptoms of a mental health issue, it will return with a few new heads added on. Like a hydra.