Asexual. Not Broken.

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Asexual. Not Broken.

Panel 1

[Caption] I’m a gender queer asexual.

Panel 2

[Image] A middle-aged woman, sitting in a chair, hand raised dismissively. Another woman wearing glasses and a nurse’s uniform, looking skeptical.

[Caption] When I was young, my sexuality was dismissed.

Woman: Oh you’ll grow out of it.
Nurse: Self-diagnosis of a mental illness is tricky…

Panel 3

[Caption] I was either “confused” or “mentally ill.”

Panel 4

[Image] A car on the road, buildings behind it.

[Caption] No one took me seriously. But then I left my small rural town.

Panel 5

[Image] A block in a big city.

Panel 6

[Image] A female-presenting person with short brown hair waving at two other people. All are smiling.

[Caption] I met other asexuals for the first time.

Panel 7

[Image] The short-haired woman in closeup, smiling.

[Caption] I began to explore my identity more.

Panel 8

[Image] A heart on a black background.

[Caption] …and my romantic life went from non-existent…to scary.

Panel 9

[Image] The short-haired woman, smiling. Behind her, and looking at her, a smiling man wearing glasses.

Panel 10

[Image] The short-haired woman, turning to face the man, still smiling.

[Caption] My best friend told me he liked me.

Panel 11

[Image] The man, his hand extended. A speech bubble indicates a heart.

Panel 12

[Image] Three nondescript people – one woman and two men, over a banner that reads: “Assumptions about Asexuality!

Non descript Woman: You can’t be in a relationship…do you even care?
Man 1: How can you ever love him, you’re not attracted to him!
Man 2: He’s still sexual. You’re not. How is that going to work?

Panel 13

[Image] The short haired woman and the man with glasses, facing each other and smiling.

Short-haired woman: And I’ll never find you attractive! I’ll always have trouble having sex…I’ll get bored when we kiss…And people will doubt your sexuality if they knew.

Panel 14

[Image] The short-haired woman, still facing the man, looking concerned. The man is shrugging.

Man: …so?

Panel 15

[Image] The man, smiling, holding is hand out to the short-haired woman, who is smiling.

Man: I like you for you.

Panel 16

[Image] The short-haired woman and the man holding hands.

[Caption] And we’ve had a great relationship. I still have trouble getting over my fears, and my feelings of guilt for not being sexually attracted to him. I still get people saying that this relationship isn’t “real”. Or that we’re lying to each other. Society erases my identity as a valid possibility. But it isn’t hard to understand. Isn’t what I have what everyone wants?

Panel 17

[Image] The short-haired woman, eyes closes and smiling. She and the man are hugging.

[Caption] I’m ridiculously in love, and I don’t have to hide.

Panel 18

[Image] The short-haired woman and the man on a park bench, smiling, legs crossed casually.

[SFX] Ha ha ha ha!

[Caption] I make stupid jokes and he listens.

Panel 19

[Image] The short-haired woman reaching up to touch the man’s face. The man is holding her around the waist. They are looking at each other intently and smiling.

[Caption] I am guarded, but with him I can laugh, cry, and know that he won’t use them against me. He’s never pressured me into doing anything I don’t want to. We love each other for who we are. We’re just a couple in love. Is that so hard to understand?

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I’m a gender-queer asexual.

I was 16 when I finally felt comfortable comfortable being asexual. I remember writing an English essay on being different. I was pulled out of class and asked if I wanted to see the school nurse because “Self-diagnosis isn’t always accurate”. My sexuality was treated as a mental illness.

I tried coming out to my mother. She said that I wasn’t that at all and I was just saying that to avoid dating or dealing with my emotions. So I learned to shut up about that. It took me years before I eventually plucked up the courage to tell my dad. I wished I’d had the courage to come out to him sooner.

At 18, I left my small rural town and headed off to university. I went from being one of two people in my school who were out as not straight, to meeting other asexuals for the first time.

And while all this exploration of my identity was happening, my romantic life actually went from non-existent to really scary. In my first week at university my best friend picked up the courage to tell me that he liked me as more than a friend.

I spent ages freaking out about it. I tried to work through all my fears and explained that I would never find him sexually attractive, that I might have trouble with sex and physical intimacy, and that some say that asexual/sexual relationships never work out. His response was along the lines of “Stuff it and go for it”

We started dating and I found myself feeling like I was leading him on – despite him knowing in advance I was asexual. Is it any wonder I feel ridiculously guilty? I’m afraid to be out in front of his friends, in case they doubt his own gender identity and sexuality. I feel like a terrible person when I can’t get in the mood when we’re engaging in sexual behaviour. I feel like I’m failing him by not finding him sexually attractive, by getting bored when we kiss because after a certain amount of time my brain starts saying “This is a stupid social construct”.

Overall everything has been fine and nothing I was really terrified of has ended up happening. It’s just trying to get over the fears and out of feeling guilty that’s difficult.

And at the same time, I get mad. I get mad because people say I can’t be both asexual and in a sexual relationship. They say I can’t love him because I don’t find him hot. I hate the fact that I have to deal with people making assumptions about my sexuality and gender-identity because I just happen to be in love with a straight, cis male. Society erases my identity and as such erases me.

I just so happen to be ridiculously, crazily in love with a cisgender heterosexual man. With him I feel like I don’t have to hide who and what I am*. I can make stupid jokes or explain something that matters to me without worrying about being interrupted. I usually hold my emotions ridiculously close to my chest but with him I can laugh or cry or grin ridiculously and never feel as if he’s going to turn them against me. He has never made me feel pressured into doing anything I wasn’t comfortable with. His identity does not invalidate mine, and likewise, mine does not invalidate his. We are just a couple in love.

How hard is that to understand?

*I identify as a demifemme demiheteroromantic asexual

This week’s illustration is by Julia Naves

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16 responses to “Asexual. Not Broken.”

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  1. Rick says: |
    February 21, 2016 at 1:32 am

    White het male 70 yrs old. one thing I have learned in these 70 years. If you are happy with who you and you are who you want to be, then it’s right. If someone gives you crap about it, you are still right, they are wrong. It’s not hard people, folks is folks.

  2. Miranda says: |
    May 24, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Awesome article, seriously.

  3. debby g says: |
    May 27, 2016 at 3:27 am

    OMG, its such a relief that I’m not the only person that’s asexual. I never even knew this was a type. Unfortunately, my marriage of 35 years dissolved into nothingness, and now i live alone and am afraid to meet any men . I am quite satisfied with myself and not having any sex but it is a lonely life. Many thanks for seeing this post

  4. Lost says: |
    May 27, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    It’s nice seeing asexuality finally having a light shined on it. I’ve been confused about my sexuality for as long as I can remember, I think I’m asexual, but I have no one I can talk to about it so I stay confused. I wish it was represented in the media more, so I could learn more about it myself. This comic however does not help me at all. It gives me no information I can find useful. It even makes what being in a relationship as an asexual is like extremely confusing. I’ve always assumed that I should just avoid being in a relationship because of it, so I have. This comic does not make me feel any better about it, but it is a topic that should be talked about so any representation I thank you for! Maybe one day I’ll figure myself out.

    • Gray Lady says: |
      May 28, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      I’d suggest going to asexuality dot org. There isn’t one type of asexual. Some people are asexual and aromatic. Some people desire a romantic relationship but don’t want any sex. Some don’t like sex, but will have it for their partner. This comic represents one asexual. But I don’t think it is meant to be wholesale representative of all asexuals.

  5. RatherStayAnonymous says: |
    May 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    I am having difficulty getting the tears out of my eyes. It’s been so hard, through the years. Hell, I didn’t even know asexuality existed until I was 25. I spent my whole life just trying to figure out what was wrong with me, why couldn’t I just understand what everyone else thought was obvious. “Sex sells” “Sex is healthy and normal” “Did you guys have sex yet, no, what a prude!” Everyday, in a million different ways sex is just, it’s as natural as eating and sleeping…but not for me.

    I’d fall in love and have romantic feelings and kinship and care and just…never want to sleep with them. I’d see someone super attractive and just, never ever find them attractive to me. Like looking at a painting, you know objectively that this piece of art is beautiful, but it doesn’t speak to you. And nothing spoke to me.

    A million broken hearts I created. Never able to give them what they wanted, even when I tried, god I can’t explain to people what sex is like without desire. I couldn’t blame them when they cheated on me, when they left. One day I just realized that I could never make it work, I tried to figure out why and then, hell, just out of desperation I was like “Maybe other animals have this issue.”

    I typed “asexual” into Google because I remembered it’s definition, but never expected that there were other people like me. Like, sure, I knew there had to be some. But so many? I wasn’t the only person.

    That made it a little easier, but still I can’t seem to ever make relationships work, and yet I want to. I still feel all that romance that others feel, the wonder and soul-wrenching desire to know the truths of another. But, that’s just not enough for so many people.

    Finding out that someone else is making a relationship work, that you are happy. Even if you have to be through the guilt…it’s really hard for me not to cry. I know how hard it is, for me, and I can’t imagine what a gift you have. I really hope I find it someday too, but even if I don’t, thank you to whatever powers that be that it at least exists.

    • AnonymousAlso says: |
      June 5, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      This spoke to me more than the comic. It all went the same until the last few panels. They said they understood and that it was fine. But almost two years later, I’d spent the months feeling guilty, broken or even evil.. Because I can’t provide what they say is just natural. I feel like I’m unnatural and don’t fit into anyone’s plan.
      I put everyone before myself and have only tried three times in 28 years to be there sexually for others and can’t. I’ve seen disappointment and anger directed to me so much that way and it kills me.
      I’m in the process of our separation.. And I want to bawl. But I’m forcing myself to focus on just piecing my life together and moving forwards. That’s all I can do right now. But knowing there are others out there that share this feeling and are how I am… Helps a little bit.
      It sucks to be alone, but even moreso when someone says they want to share a life with you.. but want more than you can physically and emotionally give.. I’m glad to see this page, I am. and I hope things go well for you friend.

      • Leila says: |
        June 27, 2016 at 1:17 am

        And the thing is, an allosexual partner *won’t* always understand. I struggle with this with my husband. He gets his feelings hurt because he feels I don’t love him. He tries to be patient but sometimes it starts arguments. It can be difficult if you’ve realized in the middle of an existing relationship. If you are just starting out, you can head it off from the get-go. Sometimes they will say they are fine with it but grow bored. Sometimes they are really fine with it. It’s a risk you take when dating non-aces. For other asexual people looking to talk, I recommend going to AVEN. You can discuss asexuality with other aces and people with ace partners.

        • Kat says: |
          August 19, 2016 at 7:02 pm

          ^this. I am asexual, but married. He knows I love him and we are great together, but I never want sex. He sometimes feels it’s a reflection of him, when it’s really not.

          I was quite sexually active in high school and college, a time for experimenting – trying to figure out what was so great about sex. Hubby and I got together in college. It might have been different if we got together after I knew about asexuality.

          Relationships and marriages are not impossible, but they do take work from both parties involved – just like all relationships.

  6. Sean says: |
    June 6, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I would categorize myself as a gay-romantic asexual. I’ve struggled with this identity practically all of my life. Thank you for posting this.

  7. Mare says: |
    October 28, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Your boyfriend is Alfred F. Jones? (Lol am I the only one who thought he looked like that character?)

  8. Carmen says: |
    January 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I saw this comic on the upworthy sight and it didn’t include the full situation as it was shortened, however this was my response there.

    This comic does a great job of explaining what an asexual relationship could be like should one know they are asexual before hand. It doesn’t touch on the option of one asexual being in a relationship with another asexual which truly would appear to be the perfect scenario given the circumstances. I have learned that I’m asexual which I didn’t even know was even a thing before the last few years. My ex and I were married for 10 years and although my lack of interest and willingness for sex was clearly obvious by words and actions there was never a discussion about it any more detailed than “How come you don’t want to have sex?” and my “I don’t know, I just don’t” response. I genuinely didn’t know. The difference in my situation and the comic is that I was guilted, pressured and coerced into having sex. Was regularly sexually touched when I clearly didn’t want to be. And eventually after 10 years of marriage, dealing with this, and silently torturing myself by wondering what the hell was wrong with me, I was raped by my husband when he had sex with me after I had take a sleeping pill that had an extremely strong effect on me and was only the second time I had taken this pill. I didn’t know that his actions before raping me were also legally considered sexual assault within the law. I knew something was “wrong” with how I felt and the reactions it caused for me but I thought it was my fault. It wasn’t until the rape that I knew without doubt that he was in the wrong. I was shocked when people in my life and even some professionals didn’t see an issue with what he had done since “he was my husband, it’s not like we hadn’t had sex before, and he made a mistake”.

  9. Gianna says: |
    January 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    This comic and transcription are extremely important. I’m still trying to figure out where I fall on the asexuality spectrum, but reading this and seeing things that I’ve felt echoed here has been so powerful and helpful. I’m also in a relationship with a straight, cis man and initially, I legitimately would think I was broken for not being able to engage in all the stereotypical sex stuff. Our relationship was just fine, and he was (and continues to be) cool with it, but I still felt guilty for not always being able to engage in sexual acts or at how difficult it was to stay/get in the mood. We’re still working things out now, but this comic has also helped him understand a bit of where I’m coming from and helps both of us embrace who I am and who we are as a couple. So thank you for this, thank you so so much.

  10. Lizzie says: |
    December 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    This is such an awesome post! I am finding that I’m asexual as well and can’t figure out a way to tell my family in a way to get them to believe me. Reading your story helps me realize that there are people out there like me. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story.

  11. FlBird says: |
    March 18, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I can’t thank you enough for this comic. I didn’t know the word growing up. I was labeled a “late bloomer” and told just to push myself in that direction until it clicked. It never did and I felt less and less like a person each time. I found an amazing man just like his comic who loved me and supported me to accepting myself. I am so glad asexual is a word people are now aware of and I hope this comicfurthers people’s awareness and accceptance.

  12. AZ Widower says: |
    March 12, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you for this, I just wish I had seen something like it years ago. I was married to an asexual woman. Unfortunately, neither of us understood this. She died several years ago and only after she died was I even aware that asexuality even existed.

    It strained our marriage, to say the least. We were both confused, I was hurt and angry that she never wanted sex and when she did consent to it, it was her letting me do my thing while she waited for it to be over. It is soul crushing to not be wanted by your wife. I had issues for years with being rejected by women (generally because I am Aspergers and have no real idea about picking up cues), and then to be constantly rejected by the woman who is supposed to love and want me above all others made me doubt myself.

    We had horrible fights over this. I was frustrated and rejected and lashed out. During one of our fights I said “I am sexually frustrated all the time and you are the only person on the entire planet who can make it better and you have no desire and it makes me hate you.” I thought if she just tried, things would be better.

    We were both confused. This was something neither of us understood, we just knew something was not right with our relationship. Had we known about asexuality, at least we could have understood what was going on.

    To be honest, though, I do not think I would have married her had I known she was an asexual. I loved, and love, her more than anyone I could imagine. She was the most beautiful woman in the history of the universe and even now I don’t want to be with anyone else. But, a healthy sex life was one of things I wanted and needed from a relationship. I deluded myself into thinking that things would get better, and that hope sustained our relationship until she died.

    Grief has been a hell of a ride. It has made me look at everything I think and feel and believe to find some peace. Understanding why, even if it is too late for her, moved me closer to that peace. So thank you again for this.

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