To be perfectly honest, asexual isn’t an orientation I readily embraced when I realized the definition matched my experience.
For about two years, I’d been experimenting and scanning the web for reasons why I was uninterested and sometimes even put off by sex.
Asexuality had crossed my mind, but I’d come up with several reasons why I couldn’t be asexual:
- I hadn’t had enough experience with sex to know for sure
- I do think some people are hot
- I’m not a plant
- I didn’t want to be asexual
That last reason was the key to why I kept myself from exploring the truth about my sexual orientation for quite some time.
I was afraid of being asexual. I worried about how I would make my romantic relationship work. I feared I was missing out on something people always rave about. I was afraid that something was seriously wrong with me. So I continued my quest to find out what that something was.
After experimenting with a few gifts from sex shops, getting to know my body via diagrams and cheesy explanations in women’s health books, and asking my gynecologist if everything looked normal “down there” (because I was certain this was a physical problem), and finding no agreeable results, I finally surrendered to the idea that I was asexual.
Sometimes, this discovery is a relief for aces who finally understand why they are different. This was not my “aha moment.”
My moment came later on, when I learned from other aces online that I am not unlucky or broken. They taught me to be proud that I was different. And they used humor to poke fun at ace stereotypes.
Through self-reflection and community, I came to terms with my asexuality.
But I cannot honestly say that I always feel 100% proud of my asexuality. I don’t always bleed purple, grey, and black. Every now and then, old insecurities creep up and I have to change my perspective.
To do this, I use affirmations.
Because I attend a “new age-y” spiritual community (church) that swears by them, I am no stranger to affirmations.
I use them almost every morning to start my day. They’re helpful when I need to make career moves, when I’m concerned about financial circumstances, or when I’m doubting my ability to succeed on a project I’m working on.
I’ve found that when in doubt, affirmations remind us of the truth about who we are. So applying them to concerns about sexual orientation is a natural fit.
Anyone can use affirmations to help them silence negative self-talk or replace fears with empowering statements that tell the truth.
When ace humor couldn’t get me to crack a smile, affirmations did the job.
Try out these five affirmations if you’re struggling with accepting your asexuality, or need a reminder of truth every now and then.
1. I Am Whole and Okay – Just As I Am
Family, friends, the media, and even in sex education classes often reinforce the idea that sex normal and everyone does it. So when you tell people about asexuality, you might be met with responses like, “have you got your hormones checked,” “have you talked to a therapist about this, and my newest favorite, “your sacral chakra might be closed.”
Our friends and family mean well, but sometimes they don’t understand asexuality enough to provide the support we need.
They don’t understand that our society teaches that sex is normal (though sometimes we learn that it is only okay within a heterosexual marriage).
These false ideas make some asexual people rethink or question their opinions about themselves and worry that something is wrong with them.
However, as sexuality is studied more and more, more people are beginning to understand that sexuality is complex, and that there are several identities and forms of expression. Asexuality is one of the lesser known orientations, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Asexuality is a real experience.
The truth is that asexuality is not a disorder, an illness, a hint that you need to get checked out by a psychotherapist, or something you dreamed up. There is nothing wrong with you. You do not need a cure because you are not broken.
Your experience is valid.
2. I Am Worthy of a Romantic Relationship If I Choose to Have One
When I first learned of my asexuality, I worried about how it would affect my romantic relationship. I struggled to find interest in having sex with my boyfriend. The whole process felt like such a daunting task that I tended to avoid it.
For this reason, I gave my boyfriend several outs, worrying that he was only still with me because he didn’t want to be that “jerk” who dumped someone just because they wouldn’t sleep with him. I sometimes told him that he should find someone he was more sexually compatible with. On almost a monthly basis, I would remind him that I understood if he wanted to break up because I could not have sex with him as often as other partners might be able to.
While I think addressing sexual needs in a relationship is important, I’ve come to realize that I constantly pestered my boyfriend about breaking up because I didn’t feel worthy of being in a romantic relationship.
I felt that because I would not be able to satisfy certain men’s sexual appetites, I was un-dateable, and that anyone who wanted to date me would probably be better off with someone else. (I wasn’t banking on finding an asexual partner, considering that finding someone I’m compatible with in the 1% of the world’s population would be hard to come by).
I came to find that some people, like my boyfriend, and like many of the allosexual partners of other asexual people, are willing to be flexible and compromise because of other factors in the relationship.
Of course, sex isn’t the only reason people stay in or leave a relationship. Personality, life goals, spirituality, overall chemistry, and several other factors play also play a role.
Sure, there might be challenges in relationships with partners of mismatched sexual needs, but there are challenges in every relationship. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
Either way, being asexual doesn’t rule you out as a compatible romantic partner.
3. I Create My Own Ideas About What My Relationship Will Look Like
I have to admit I have one fear that I haven’t fully resolved: the fear that because of my asexuality I will never be any man’s “dream girl.” Yes, I understand that this is a highly problematic, not-so-progressive fear, mostly inspired by the even more problematic and degrading music I listen to. Yes, the feminist in me rolls her eyes every time I think of this fear, and she wants to strike it from the article.
But for the sake of being honest, I have to admit sometimes I think being asexual decreases my date-ability and my chances of having a successful relationship.
Obviously, my ideas about dating and what my relationship should look like should not be inspired by a 2 Chainz song. But those same ideas also shouldn’t conform to the commonly held societal idea that sex is an important and healthy component of a romantic relationship.
That commonly held idea can spark another fear aces sometimes confront: That we can never have “normal,” “healthy” or “successful” romantic relationships.
While some aces are perfectly fine with having sex regularly, or every now and then, some of us prefer to avoid it.
Our relationships may not look like the great relationships we see on our favorite sitcoms (even Big Bang Theory disappointed a lot of aces in the portrayal of the Sheldon, the character many of us took to be aro-ace).
However, our relationships are personal to us. We can define them the way we want to. If we are happy in sexless relationships, we should appreciate that happiness. If open relationships or relationships with multiple partners work for us, that’s great. If we’re okay with having sex every so often, that works too. If we enjoy sex, that’s perfectly fine.
It is more important that we are happy and comfortable in our relationships than struggling to create a “normal” relationship.
Our relationships don’t have to fit into a mold of what is considered normal in order for them to be successful.
4. I’m Still Allowed to Say ‘No’
Thankfully, I’ve never had the experience of a partner trying to pressure me into having sex. But I did feel some internal pressure based on what I thought I should be doing.
I feared that by saying “no,” I wouldn’t have that normal, sex-filled relationship that society projects as healthy and natural. I feared that by saying “no” I jeopardized having a successful relationship.
And though I was never coerced, sex felt compulsory.
I’d bought into the idea that sex was a requirement in a relationship, so I felt guilty saying no.
I felt guilty when I didn’t want to have sex and I criticized myself in the times when I felt put off by sex. I pressured myself.
But the truth is, sex is not compulsory. No one should feel obligated to have sex because our society says that it’s normal.
Eventually, I learned to listen to my own internal feelings. I have sex when I want to, and I turn it down when I don’t. And I don’t beat myself up about it.
Having a sexual orientation that our society deems as unnatural or might not even acknowledge means that we receive a lot of messages that counter our natural way of being.
Sometimes we have to tune out the false truths about sexuality and give ourselves permission to listen to our internal feelings.
We have the right to say no as often as we want.
5. I Am Ace Enough
Whenever I’m on asexual forums or blogs, I see many aces concerned about whether or not they qualify as asexual.
If you identify as asexual, then you are probably asexual. There is no checklist or prerequisites you must meet in order to be a certified ace.
It doesn’t matter if you masturbate, if you have an illness, if you are sexually active, if you like porn, or if you’re not aromantic. It doesn’t matter if another ace said you couldn’t be part of the club because your asexuality didn’t look like theirs.
Asexuality is a spectrum, and there is a lot of diversity in community.
Yes, sometimes people who originally thought they were aces realize for one reason or another that they’re not. That’s fine. Sexuality is not black and white. It is complex, and sometimes fluid. There are a lot of gray areas. And the sooner we embrace these complexities, the sooner we can be more accepting of ourselves and of various identities.
The label “asexual” has power.
When I learned (and accepted) that there was a name for my experience, I was able to better understand what I was going through. I learned that asexuality is an identity, not an indicator of poor health. I learned that there are a bunch of people out there who have experiences similar to my own. They taught me about self-love and ace pride. This awareness helped me become more accepting of my experience.
I’ve used these affirmations to help me in times when insecure feelings pop up.I also have my own personal affirmation: “No matter how I’m feeling today, I am whole, perfect, and complete. My asexuality does not hinder me in any way. It is a gift. I love myself fully and I am grateful for my wonderful life.”
And when I’m not repeating my affirmations, I’m inspired by the amount of asexual pride via jokes on my social media feeds. I’m not really into the “punny” angle ace jokes often take. But recently I came across a joke on Tumblr that made me chuckle:
“Romance and love and sex are a part of human nature.”
Asexuals and Aromantics: *look at each other*
Jokes like these, along with proud aces online, remind me that I am okay just as I am. If you need an inspiring ace feel-good site, check out Affirm-ace-ions on Tumblr.
Sites like these are a helpful reminder that our sexual orientation is valid.
I used to look at asexual people who run ace-positive websites and wonder how they came to be such a proud aces. Then I stumbled upon a post from Affirm-ace-ions that read:
“The day will come when your asexuality doesn’t feel like a hole in your stomach, a rock on your chest, a burden on your shoulders. The world will not always get easier to bear, but you will find people to help you share the load. You will find community. You will find freedom.”
Engaging with asexual communities online reminds us that our journeys to self-acceptance are varied. Sometimes realizing our asexuality is a relief, sometimes it isn’t. It’s okay if someone haven’t embraced or accepted their asexuality.
Sometimes, this process takes time. Sometimes it takes meeting other people like us, reminding ourselves that it’s okay to be asexual, repeating truthful affirmations to replace the harmful information we’ve been taught about sexuality, and learning to celebrate what makes us different.
Self-love and acceptance are powerful tools that free us from feeling of wanting to be anyone other than our true selves. If you’re on a journey for these tools, remember that there are plenty of aces out there rooting for you.
Shae Collins is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She enjoys educating and uplifting by aiming a black feminist lens at pop culture on her blog, awomynsworth.com. She’s been published in Ms. Magazine, For Harriet, and Blavity. Laugh with her on Twitter @awomynsworth.