Column: Asexuality fosters a special kind of love

In Columns, Opinion
Illustration of two human figures that are standing in front of a waving asexual flag.
(Alex Bosserman / Daily Titan)

To be alone on Valentine’s Day is considered a sin by societal standards.

Commercials and advertisements are most successful when selling sex. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, people are pitied for not being in a relationship.

Asexuality is a sexual orientation where an individual feels little to no sexual attraction. It is also an umbrella term encompassing other identities, such as demisexuality, where people don’t feel any sexual attraction until an emotional connection is established, and grey sexuality, where people may occasionally feel sexual attraction but do not always act on it.

Only one percent of the population identifies on the spectrum.

Though sexual attraction isn’t a factor, that doesn’t mean that those of us who are on the asexual spectrum can’t be in relationships. Dating, however, can be challenging.

Without that initial level of physical attraction, it’s difficult to engage in a relationship, especially with society’s fixation on sex.

For those of us who are on the spectrum, it’s a bit jarring to realize that most people get turned on by physical appearance alone.  

It’s like being in a field of flowers without knowing why people are infatuated with the smell, or not desiring chocolate, despite everyone raving about it.

Identifying as asexual or being on the spectrum isn’t just about a significantly low percentage of the world deciding to have high standards or remaining celibate because they haven’t found the right person.

Identifying on the spectrum doesn’t mean people don’t notice how attractive people are. We notice, but in a purely aesthetic way.

Though asexual people may not feel sexual attraction, that doesn’t mean that they don’t crave relationships. It’s just more difficult to go about starting a relationship in a society where sex is revered.

I never really gave much thought to being asexual because I’m a naturally reserved person, so I figured that was why I wasn’t interested in dating.

I stumbled across the term demisexuality when I took a Myers-Briggs test, which told me I am an INFJ personality, which stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. As it turns out, a majority of INFJs identify as demisexual.

Finding that out wasn’t surprising. In hindsight, it made sense. Friends would often obsess over celebrity crushes and squeal over attractive strangers.That’s something I could never understand. How can someone want to marry a celebrity when you don’t know them personally? How can someone get turned on by random strangers?

I guess that should have alerted me that I was on the spectrum, but in high school, I was too naive to truly understand.

Before finding the term “demisexuality,” I wondered if I was asexual. While that would have explained a lot, identifying as asexual never felt completely right.

Only on two occasions have I actually experienced an attraction toward someone. In both  instances, I had developed an emotional connection with them. I knew that while I didn’t experience initial physical or sexual attraction, I was able to develop feelings for someone.

Once I found out about demisexuality, everything clicked. But it never felt like this grand thing where I had to come out because it’s nobody’s business whether I date or not. Just knowing about it was enough for me.

While not being in a relationship never bothered me, it is difficult to describe to people why I haven’t found “love.” Trying to explain that I’m not looking for anyone makes me feel insecure and self-conscious, specially as Valentine’s Day rolls around and conversations naturally veer toward plans for that sacred romantic day with significant others.

Valentine’s Day, regardless of how much it revolves around sex and romance, is a holiday celebrating love. Asexual people may not experience sexual attraction, but we experience love. Whether we’re on the spectrum or not, we all have relationships.

Platonic relationships are deeper than friendships, with a strong attraction to a person in the most non-sexual, non-romantic way. It is enjoying their presence in an emotionally intimate way.

Romantic relationships are a desire to be in a relationship with and date a certain individual. It involves an intimacy, whether that be emotional, physical or both.

Sexual relationships are physical. If a relationship is purely physical, there might not be that emotional connection that is the hallmark of platonic relationships. With society constantly selling sex, it is not uncommon for a lot of relationships to start off as sexual, or for people to seek sexual intimacy without emotional intimacy.

It is completely possible for platonic relationships to blossom into romantic or sexual relationships. It depends on that individual’s comfort levels.

I can’t speak for everyone on the spectrum, but dating feels particularly limited in that sense.

To be alone on Valentine’s Day does not make you unlovable. You are very much whole and very much not alone, no matter who you spend the day with.

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