They say, I’ve always loved in parts, and it has always confused me. Is it loving in parts if that’s the only way you can love? If “parts” are all you will ever feel and have to offer?
Attraction isn’t one single entity, although most people see it that way. There’s aesthetic, sensual, romantic, and sexual attraction. It has been claimed that about one percent of the population falls on the asexual spectrum, and we only ever feel some of these types of attraction or perhaps none at all. For the rest of the world, it’s all bundled together. If one type of attraction is missing, it’s considered as something lesser.
You don’t love like other people do. You aren’t attracted to other people the same way your peers are. These words rattled around my head for years. It is true. I’ve only ever wanted an intellectual and emotional connection with my potential partners. The fact that they were sexual beings never crossed my mind. It was just something that never occurred to me. It was jarring. Was I supposed to think of them that way? How does one go about thinking of someone sexually, anyway?
The first boy I ever had a crush on was pretty. I liked his high cheekbones, his long lashes, and warm brown eyes. I liked the way he smiled, like he had some mischief at play. And that was it. That was the beginning and the end of my crush on him. He was pretty. I never found out more because I moved away.
I moved to a foreign land, my fourteen-year-old world turned upside down. We spoke the same language, but it didn’t mean the same in our worlds. I grew, more than I could have ever imagined. I learnt new crafts I fell in love with. I soaked up the beauty of the new land and I still think that a part of me lives there.
The second time I liked someone, I fell for his brain. We shared our love for design and art. We traded secret words and secret smiles, only in the way shy teenagers could. Intellectual love was all I could ever offer him. Perhaps it could have grown but that didn’t matter. I moved away again.
I spent the next few years trying to fit into the culture I was born into. It didn’t fit well, like when someone with slightly bigger feet stretches out your shoes. I gave up trying and let me just be me.
I didn’t meet my third love until I was in my late teens. I loved him for his fearless attitude. We had little in common, but our ambitions held us together. We grew closer in the pursuit of our lofty dreams. But it wasn’t enough. He found love in someone else, and suddenly, we weren’t even friends anymore.
I did what was healthy and moved on. I focused my energy on things that gave me joy. I poured my soul into it. I poured it into my craft, my sport, and the people in my life, in hopes that it would wash away the bitter taste, and it worked.
My fourth love was by far the best. I loved him for all that he was. We shared almost everything, our deepest fears to our wildest dreams, and no judgement was ever between us. It was like slipping into your favorite old t-shirt after a long, hard day. Sadly, my love was too slow, and the moment had passed.
Discovering my asexuality was a three-year journey. A slow, three-year journey, littered with small “a-ha” moments. When I come out to people, they always ask, when did you know? The truth is that there was no single specific moment. It was this slow realization that I wasn’t attracted to people in the same way. I thought about potential partners in a different way. Reflection helped understand how I was attracted to other people. My last two misunderstood romances helped me understand how my attraction is perceived.
It takes me time to realize if I’m attracted to somebody. Call it oblivious, call it indecisive, call it whatever you want but I am just not immediately attracted to people. I need more information about the person to actually be attracted to them. Even after that, I’d only seek out an intellectual and emotional connection with them, which can be easily misconstrued as friendly. Now, I realize that I don’t know what it is that indicates crossing that boundary unless I verbalize it. I know what It means to me. I can feel it in my bones. Those feelings are hard to verbalize. It sounds like I’m offering them friendship when it’s much more than that. How do I explain that the “connection” they conceptualize as friendship represents a lot more to me? What does “more” mean to an asexual, anyway? I don’t know. So, for now, I’m stuck between friend and friendlier.
Deepa is a grey-aromantic asexual. Born and raised in India, currently in Philadelphia. She's a UX Designer by day, an amateur wordsmith by night. Instagram: @leapingcows
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