Sometimes people are asexual. Sometimes people think they might be. Sexuality is weird and complicated both with and without an A preceding it, but sometimes labels help.
And sometimes, life can decide to spice things up and add a little something extra to the package, like mental illness. Then one day you’re minding your own business, sitting in the canteen, maybe. Lasagna is pretty good today. Somebody comes up and sits down next to you, and they say: “What, pray tell, is the deal with you? What do you mean you don’t feel sexually attracted to people? How does that even work? What do you even do, like, with your life?”
So you stop minding your own business, sigh deeply, set the fork down and say: “Things are actually a little bit more complex than that and there is a lot more to life than sex or the lack of it, and besides why are you all of a sudden acting like sex is the only thing in life and the alternative to wanting to fuck people is the endless void? First of all, buddy, I’m depressed, and that’s a full-time job. Second, some asexuals have sex and some don’t and that is none of your business either way. But if you really CARE about what being asexual is like, here’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Then you take a piece of paper from your pocket, unfold it, unfold it again, and again, and again (it’s a big piece of paper but you have big pockets and you’ve also had enough). You clear your throat, stand up on your chair and proceed to read loudly, like a medieval town crier, hear ye, hear ye. You wish you had a bell.
Asexual culture is:
· Not knowing where your asexuality ends and your mental illness begins.
· Having no clue how an asexual relationship is even supposed to be like and how it would differ from friendship -since there is zero asexual representation in media that you can use as a reference.
· (Except for literally… one cartoon character, which is good but not good enough).
· Feeling, as a result of this, like a cartoon character yourself, less “real” than the rest.
· Being either infantilized or turned into “a challenge”.
· Feeling like you are incomplete, forever failing at just being human, which is impossible to fail at.
· Never really being 100% sure whether you are asexual or just scared of intimacy.
· Giving up on relationships altogether because you have already assumed nobody will bother, since you have nothing to offer.
· Deliberately presenting yourself as non-sexual so no-one gets the wrong expectations.
· Feeling like even by trying to flirt you are somehow deceiving people, tricking them into thinking they will get laid when they won’t.
· If you eventually find someone who says they don’t mind not having sex:
1) Obsess over the idea that they will expect you to be amazing in every other way to “make up for it”.
2) Feeling that they are secretly lying and they do, in fact, mind A LOT.
3) Living in constant paranoia that they will leave you the second they find somebody who reciprocates their sexual attraction.
· Feeling like you will never be enough.
· Feeling like you don’t deserve to be loved.
· Suspecting that everyone is judging, pitying or mistrusting you 24/7.
· Getting bombarded with the societal expectations of a sex-obsessed world that you don´t identify with and only makes you feel more alienated.
· Literally hearing your co-workers talk about asexuality right next to you and compare it to “being a robot” and to “those people who get brain-damage and can’t feel physical pain”.
· Wondering what you are supposed to say when your mum or your 80-year-old grandma ask you (only once a year if you’re lucky) about your love life without even bothering to hide their disappointment.
· Feeling like, to them, everything else you have accomplished in life suddenly becomes worthless because you haven’t ticked THE MOST IMPORTANT BOX of all.
· Feeling like you owe everyone you meet an explanation, an apology, a justification.
· Never fitting in the group whenever sex is the topic of conversation.
· Thinking you’re broken.
· Thinking other people think you’re broken.
· Giving dating a go to experiment and try to figure it out because MAYBE you’re not asexual, right? Maybe you’re just scared? Inexperienced? Perhaps your mum and your 80-year-old grandma were right all along and you just haven’t found the right person? Online dating seems like a safe and uncompromising enough chance to try your luck. Surely if it doesn’t work out you can just walk away without worrying about the feelings of a random person you just met?
· Feeling petrified because they may be a random person but you’re still tricking someone. You’re still a catfish, a scammer. You’re the worst person to ever walk this earth. How dare you waste people’s time? Nobody has to put up with you! People, NORMAL, REAL PEOPLE want sex and you’re just going to use them as guinea pigs to try and figure yourself out? STOP USING PEOPLE! You’re officially the worst, congratulations. No wonder nobody loves you! Good luck with that!
· Besides, you’re not even pretty enough or special enough in any other way that will make someone want to stick around without sex.
· You’re going to die alone.
You stop reading and sit back down. You’re not looking at the person who asked you, but you know they’re looking at you, confused, sad, scared. They learnt nothing, but they’re slightly relieved they’re not you. You go back to your lunch. Your lasagna is cold.
Alba is still figuring it out. She’s a 25-year-old Spanish translator living in London and has recently started using the labels "asexual" and "heteroromantic" more often, because they are what comes closer to whatever is going on with her. She writes, mostly on the tube, mostly about her never-ending identity crisis, and shares bits of it on Instagram from time to time along with her pictures (@albagram). She tweets in Spanish at @dimitodetodo.