Romantic Orientation

Romantic orientation is something that is often overlooked and under discussed. I find is so frustrating when people use romantic attraction as a reason for why someone can’t be asexual. There is a difference! I most recently encountered this misunderstanding while reading the book Trans 101. The author, a transgender man, took a moment to mention different aspects of the LGBTQIA community, and I was so happy when he mentioned asexuality. My enthusiasm quickly turned to frustration when he included in his description of asexuality that it was an “orientation in which does not experience sexual or romantic attraction.” Really?! You are writing an educational book about transgenderism, and you bothered to take the time to mention other aspects of the LGBTQIA community and you didn’t take the time to properly research asexuality, when a few clicks into AVEN would have likely cleared everything up? ( insert deeply disgruntled sigh here).

Asexuality is not exclusive to aromanticism, and it is possible to be aromantic without being asexual. Back in 2015, a blog called “The Asexual Agenda” interviewed one such person, and there is a tumblr page dedicated to allo aromantics.                                       Some better known romantic orientations include: Heteroramtic – the definition of which I think can be gathered from the word, homoromantic and biromantic – another two that I don’t think need explanation, and panromantic- which is essentially romantic attraction regardless of gender, e.i.  could include attraction to non-binary people as well as people who identify as male or female. Gray-romantic – feelings that are somewhere in between romantic and platonic, can also describe experiencing romantic attraction very rarely. Demi-romantic – romantic attraction that only forms after an emotional bond has been established.                                                                                                          Now, here are some romantic orientations that aren’t as commonly know:                      Abroromantic – romantic orientation that is constantly in flux.    Aegoromanitc/autochorisromantic – liking the idea of romance, but not wishing to participate in romantic activities.                                                                                          Alterous romantic – describes someone who isn’t comfortable labeling their feelings as wholly platonic or romantic, attraction may be combination.                             Apathromantic – describes someone who is romance indifferent.                        Apresromantic – describes someone who only feels romantic attraction after another type of attraction is felt.                                                                                                Apothiromantic – repulsed by romance.                                                                    Bellusromantic – describes someone who is fine with flirting and the “cute, fluffy” aspects of romance, but does not desire a relationship.                                                          Cupioromantic – describes someone who desire a romantic relationship but does not experience romantic attraction.                                                                                     Frayromantic – describes someone who is only attracted to those they are less familiar with (also called reverese demi).                                                                                           Lithromantic – experiencing romantic attraction and not desiring it to be reciprocated, subset of gray-sexuality.                                                                                                     platoniromantic – having difficulty distinguishing between platonic and romantic attraction.                                                                                                                               polyromantic – attraction to people of multiple, but not all genders.

There are many more terms relating to romance and a few orientations having to do with PTSD/ trauma that I hope to cover in a later post. If you know of any orientations that I didn’t list here, or disagree with the definition of something, please let me know. 🙂

Here is an adorable kitten with a feline goatee to cheer you up if your day isn’t going so smoothly:     cute-cat with goateee

Until next time! Keep on Aceing it!

Danielle

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Ace Awareness Week

Happy asexuality awareness week! I was under the impression that next week was ace awareness week, but was kindly informed otherwise by a friend. I have been looking forward to this week since the beginning of the month; I love that at least one week of the year, this obscure orientation gets a small nod. This is the third year that I have observed asexuality awareness week, and this year I have been reflecting on the “road thus far,” so to speak. Obviously, I was ace long before I had the word to describe what I felt (or, perhaps more accurately, didn’t feel) and finally finding this term, this community, was such an amazing feeling. In the beginning, I reveled in this newfound identity, what felt like this newly discovered aspect of myself, and I wanted to tell everyone relatively close to me. Looking back, I marvel at my fearless enthusiasm. I quickly was met with resistance from my family – I have written a couple posts detailing my mother’s stubborn inability to accept that her daughter wouldn’t be bearing her biological grandchildren – and I realized just how many people knew about asexuality, and how few people would accept the explanations of an 18 year old. My enthusiasm slowly began to dull, though I was still immensely grateful to have a term for this aspect of myself. A couple days ago, whilst I was having my routine philosophical pondering in the shower, a thought occurred to me: if the words for something do not exist, does that thing really exist? If it does exist and is something that a person understands in their mind but lacks the words to articulate, does it also exist for other?                                Words are important. Having accurate terms for description are important. I distinctly remember the day I found out there were more options than girls liking boys and boys liking girls. I was around nine years old, and I was playing with my Barbies in the living room while my mother watched one of her shows. I was pretty absorbed in keeping my red haired Barbie from falling off her plastic horse, but I remember one scene from the show in particular. Two men were seated at a table in a restaurant, one wearing a wig and makeup. The other was gazing at him affectionately and saying, “This could work.” “There is no way he looks like a woman,” my mother muttered. “They’re both boys?” I asked. Hesitantly, my mother replied, “Yep. They are.” She sighed and proceeded by disdainfully saying, “It’s called being gay.” I was raised in a conservative, highly religious household, and while neither of my parents were never outright discriminatory or blatantly hateful, it was made very clear to me growing up that being straight was the only okay way for me to be.                                                                                                Hesitantly, my mother continued, “There’s three ways to be. You can be straight, like the opposite gender, you can be gay – ” so much discomfort in that one word – ” or you can be bi, meaning you like boys and girls, which really gives you a lot of options.” Her discomfort had eased enough for her to joke. “I’m kidding, of course,” she remedied quickly. “It’s a very confusing way to be.” Be gray biromantic, I actually agree with that, somewhat, though of course what she meant was strictly sexual orientations, because she had never heard anyone differentiate sexual orientation from romantic; how much easier my teen years would have been if my mother had known the difference, and if she had known about the option of simply not “liking” anyone at all. This is exactly why I feel so passionate about asexuality awareness week – sooo many people have no idea this is an option, and so many aces share the same narrative of feeling broken and alone before discovering this one simple word that defines this unique part of themselves.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Normally, this would be where I would write, “Keep on aceing it!” but I just wanted to take a moment to explain what that little farewell means. It is, of course, a pun on the phrase “ace it” which is an equivalent to doing really, really well at something; when I type it at the end of these little rants, I’m wishing everyone the ability to do what they want to do in life while being true to themselves. I’m also wishing everyone the ability to love the entirety of themselves, flaws and all, because I know that can at times be challenging.

aces are awesome

 

 

The Sad Ace Bingo Board

The level of hostility and ignorance that surrounds the asexual community continues to astound me. It appears that in the twenty first century, most people can understand a person who is physically attracted to the same sex, people for the most part can understand experiencing attraction to a number of sexes, and yet there are an astounding number of people who can’t fathom someone simply not experiencing sexual attraction. So, here is my two cents and a dollop of research concerning some commonly heard trolling, hope these responses are helpful if you encounter any of this nonsense.

  1. “You just haven’t met the right person yet.” According to a study conducted by Martha McClintock in affiliation with the University of Chicago, the average age first experiences sexual attraction is ten, for both boys and girls, with a three year variance. Astoundingly, I have never met someone who has stayed with a partner they but before age 14. I have known a couple people who have engaged in intercourse with partners at age 13 (this boggles my mind, but okay, the choice was theirs) and I witnessed those relationships end with a special disastrous flair. It can be assumed that sexual attraction does not require a suitable lifelong partner, if children as young as ten experience it. I am forever seeing people who are immensely attracted to each other physically but are wrong for each other in all other areas: they have opposite personalities, are always bickering, have vastly different world views, and yet they still are sexually attracted to each other. Sexual attraction is a mystery to me, but it is very clear that it does not require “the right person.” Yes, I realize there is a portion of the ace community who has at one point in their life experienced sexual attraction, and I am in no way trying to invalidate anyone. Yet another point is that asexuality is a spectrum, and that if you do find this special person who you are attracted to, that doesn’t necessarily knock you off the spectrum; unless you wish it to, and that is completely up to the individual.
  2. “You’ve just never had good sex before.” One study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior analyzed 24,000 heterosexual woman and found that roughly 66% of them did not habitually climax through intercourse with their  male partners. While the 34% who habitually climaxed through intercourse reported being happier in their relationships, the study does not report the other 66% suddenly being attracted to women because of their lack of satisfying intercourse with men.
  3. “You’re traumatized because you’ve been raped.”  In some cases of assault, a victim can experience a temporary lack of sex desire, however, this normaly returns to normal within a year and a half, according to a study done by doctors Gail Stekettee and Edna B. Foa, doctors who also conducted a study on behavioral and cognitive conceptualization of P.T.S.D. Another, less discussed reaction to rape that is surprisingly common is hypersexuality, and this typically dissipates with a year and a half.
  4. You must have a hormone imbalance.” A study was conducted by Dr. Laurie Brotto in 2011, and it found that when an asexual person and an allosexual person were both shown an adult film, and while the asexual person did not say they felt aroused, their bodily functions were the same as the allosexual’s.  

I plan on doing a few more posts like this, and if there are any ignorant comments – or anything pertaining to ace-ness, for that matter – that you’d like me to research, please let me know.

Until next time, know that you are valid and incredible exactly as you are, thank you for reading, hope this was in some way helpful. 🙂

Keep on Aceing It!

Danielle

Heartbreak

“It would be great if you had a boyfriend to do things with,” my mother says as she polishes the counter. Rolling my eyes, I tell her for the thousandth time, “I don’t want or need a boyfriend to do things with. I’m perfectly happy doing things by my self or with my friends.” Sighing, she replies, “It just breaks my heart that you won’t have that joy.” Surprisingly, this conversation was actually a sign of progress. I came out as asexual about two years ago. I have come out to a total of seven people so far, three friends, three family members, and therapist. My friends reactions ranged from confusion to enthusiasm that I had figured out a relatively big piece of myself, my therapist’s reaction was to immediately ask if I had suffered sexual abuse (I haven’t, just for the record, and I could write another post all together about how this conclusion can be easily disproven), and my family’s reactions ranged from casual acceptance, to derogatorily telling me that I was young and had plenty of time to find “the right person” (also another post for another time), and the worst reaction by far was being aggressively told that I wasn’t asexual, and that that meant I wasn’t either male or female. This reaction came from my mother, who obviously does not possess extensive knowledge about sexuality or gender identity. I proceeded to tell her what the word meant in regards to sexuality and she replied with an agitated, “Fine, so you’re asexual now.” Later, her evidence for why I couldn’t be asexual was that I’d had crushes in the past. Considering how nightmarishly she was responding to asexuality, I didn’t want to go to the effort of explaining that the majority of these “crushes” had been squishes, but I did tell her that they were forced attempts to change my nature, which in part was true. A few of the boys had been just that. I went on to explain that realizing my asexuality was a happy thing for me because I know had a word to describe how I felt, which made me feel like I wasn’t some freakish anomaly, and that there would be no more forced attraction and pursuit of relationships that I in truth had no desire for. There would be no more conforming to society’s heteronormative standards, was what I didn’t tell her. Frustratingly, she went on a rant about how she hated labels and how she believed that I had never been attracted to anyone, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t someday. Nevermind the fact that I was eighteen, and even at that point if I had met the mystical “one” I would have identified as gray ace/ gray romantic. I feel the strong desire to rant about how it is outrageously unfair that young people who identify as ace/ aro are not taken seriously, but that is yet another post for another time. The next three months were filled with her constantly slipping innuendos into our conversations, as if her not talking about sex frequently enough had somehow been responsible for my “choice” to be asexual. There was much talk about my future relationships, and even joking that if wanted advice in the bedroom, she was the one to ask. I was disgusted and deeply hurt by her behavior, but not once did I completely loose my temper, which, looking back, astonishes me. Months went by without a mention of my orientation, which I found was the only way to keep the peace. I don’ t recall what exactly had started the argument, but somehow my asexuality was brought up, and my mother said that I was too much of a romantic to be asexual. In her mind, if I enjoyed fictional romance, I couldn’t be asexual. I will admit that I was beyond exasperated at her ludicrous behavior and was a bit aggressive as I explained to a fifty three year old woman that sexual and romantic attraction were not the same thing. This appeared to make sense to her, and her new argument was that I someday may meet a man who I was romantically attracted to and wanted to start a family with. That was always what it came back to, my procreating and giving her grandchildren. “You never know,” was quite the enduring response, and still pops up from time to time, namely when my grandmother brings up my future as a housewife doting on her children. The conversation that broke both of or barriers down came about three months ago. For months before that, there were days where my mother’s “you never know” comments and the conveyed lack of acceptance in them caused me to be so depressed I couldn’t bring myself to go to attend class. I would tell myself over and over again that I didn’t need anyone’s validation, that I knew myself and that was all that mattered. While that is true and I still feel empowerment in knowing this aspect of myself, I wanted, and still want, that acceptance so badly it hurts, and it feels a tad childish and pathetic admitting that, but it’s true. I have been told by my therapist that our relationship is a love hate relationships, and that those are the most toxic kind, but shutting my mom out isn’t that simple. Despite our intense ups and downs, she’s one of my best friends. Discounting my orientation, she the person who understands me the best, the person who I laugh the most with, the first person I want to talk to when I have days in which nothing goes smoothly. Cutting her out of my life would be like cutting off a limb.

The big conversation started with the usual mentioning of my future husband and children. It was approaching Mother’s Day, and I didn’t want to fight. I figured more remarks would come in the future, and I would say something then. I found myself unable to shake my intense sadness and the need to say something to her. After three hours of deliberation, I told her inability to accept my being asexual deeply hurt me and made me feel like she didn’t take me serious, lead me to belief that she thought I was some stupid kid going through a phase. Her tearful response was that she did and had always taken me and my feelings seriously. All the stupid “you never know” comments were for her sake, because the thought of not getting to watch me get married and raise my own children broke her heart. When she heard her friends talking about their sons in laws and grandchildren, knowing that her family would likely always just be her, my dad and I, she would become unbearably sad. Her hurtful comments weren’t meant in malice, but as a small thing to give herself false hope. She said that she wanted me to know the joy that she had found in romantic and physical relations, and in raising a child that was a combination of you and the person you loved. I explained that the thought of marrying a man and having his child was utterly repulsive to me, and that occasionally I felt irrationally guilty because I loved her, knew how badly she wanted biological grandchildren, and knew that I could never happily give her what she so badly desired. She told me not to feel guilty, joked that she’d steal herself a grandchild, then said more seriously that she would love any child I brought into my life, reiterated that she just wanted me to be happy, and confessed that she was worried that I would forever be alone. Her most common responses these days are sadness and pity that my happiness doesn’t fit inside her heteronormative box. It confounds and infuriates me that some people can’t comprehend that happiness is not identical for every single person.

I breaks my hear that I can’t tell her that I think I did indeed find a mystical person who I feel romantic attraction for, the first instance in my entire life where there was not a doubt in my mind that this is the infamous crush I have heard so much about and spent so much of my time and energy trying to replicate. I finally found the girl, a girl who lives on the other side of the world, in a country where same sex relationships are illegal. I have found a girl who possesses no filter and a beautiful heart, a girl does not have an artistic bone in her bone and who is afraid of cats, a girl who likely does not return my feelings and who I have little in common with, but who I find my self infatuated with regardless. I have found a girl who cared enough about me to cry when I left to go back home, a girl who I think about everyday and who I futilely day dream about having a life with. She is my phantom limb, and the thought of never feeling her comforting hand on my shoulder again, never again seeing her smile, thinking about her marrying and forgetting me completely makes something deep inside me hurt. I have entertained the thought of dating, or at least testing the waters and seeing if there’s a girl #2, but my pessimism is loud and says that romantic love is in no way rational, that I will likely never find another girl I care for the way I care for her. It breaks my heart that I can’t tell you any of this, mom. You have made it clear time and time again that you don’t react well to anything that doesn’t fit in your tiny box of approval, and I’m not going to be a masochist. It breaks my heart that if I do find another girl, I will be terrified to introduce her to my parents. It breaks my heart that me finally accepting myself causes you so much pain, that you can’t be happy that your daughter is finally embracing her nature.

I’m sorry if this post was a bit long and tedious, thank you to all who read it in its entirety. I feel much better having written this down, and I hope anyone in a similar situation knows that they’re not alone.

Stay strong, stay true to yourself. Keep on Aceing It.

Danielle

 

 

Letter to My 12 Year Old Self

I just watched the most amazing video by Stef Sanjati, a Youtuber who vlogs about a variety of things, including make-up, trans issues and education, and self acceptance, just to name a few topics. Her latest video was a letter to her 12 year old self, before she realized she was trans and pansexual, when she lived in a small, suffocating, intolerant town and was horribly bullied. I found the video to be very touching and inspiring, and I apologize about this being only loosely related to asexuality, but I find that most aces – most people, actually- at some point have had a hard time accepting themselves, and this is very much related to that. I apologize if this is a bit TMI, but . . . oh well, I hope you can gain something out of reading this, or perhaps writing something similar for your own reflection. 🙂

(feel like I should include a trigger warning, as there are mentions of self harm)

***

Without further ado: 12 year old Danielle, it is okay to be quiet. The world is a beacon of chaos and noise, and your quiet, calm energy will be appreciated by the right people. Don’t stop until you find them. 12 year old Danielle, your metabolism is rather poor right now, but you are not morbidly obese, or what most people would consider fat, even. YOU DO NOT WANT TO STARVE YOURSELF TO BE THIN LIKE THE GIRLS YOU SEE ON T.V. Learn to love your strong, muscular legs. Yes, all the other girls your age are incredibly slender and not as far along in the developmental process as you are, but that doesn’t mean that your body is wrong. That girl who said you were gross for starting your period when you were ten, screw her. That way of thinking is immature and toxic. Everyone develops at their own times, and menstruating is a perfectly natural thing that you had no control over. Look on the bright side and try to be happy you got the hellish first cycles done with early. Start exercising and learn to appreciate yourself, damn it! You should not hate your body because it is curvier than all the other girls your age. Those creepy forty year olds who you sometimes see blatantly checking you out, yeah, give them the stink eye. Or maybe even the finger, depending on the situation. That creepy dude who was twenty seven and told you were sexy, he should not have been saying that to you and you had every right to say, “I’m twelve, I may look fourteen or fifteen, but your comment is still incredibly inappropriate, and you should learn to control your perverted mouth.” Yes, the unwanted attention will always make you uncomfortable, and you will discover the reason why you hate being looked at that way so intensely later on. It is perfectly fine to say no to guys who ask you to do things that you’re uncomfortable with. YOU DO NOT OWE ANYONE ANYTHING, AND TALKING TO A GUY UNACCOMPANIED IS NOT LEADING HIM ON. If he won’t take no for an answer, tell him you have a girlfriend. It won’t always make him go away, but sometimes it will, and the facial expressions that sentence causes will be incredibly entertaining. Oh, that’s another thing. You’re asexual and on the aromantic spectrum, meaning you actually aren’t attracted to anyone sexually, even if you are interested in it scientifically. It is a spectrum, and not all aces are sex repulsed, so keep that in mind when you’re seventeen and beginning to seriously question just what the heck your orientation is. When you’re fifteen, you will force yourself to read erotica in an attempt to force yourself to be straight, and your mother will discover this habit and tell you that she doesn’t know you anymore. This will be the most mortifying experience of your teenage years, but it could have been avoided if you had been more accepting of your true nature and not been so hell bent on being like everyone else. At twelve, you are currently forcing yourself to have a crush on someone whose initials are J. R. You don’t actually have a crush on him, just like you will not actually have crushes M.F., C.S., or L.B. J.R., C.S. and L.B. or something called squishes, meaning you basically have a really, really strong desire to be friends with them. However, you will have feelings for a girl who you meet on a mission trip to an exotic land in the southern hemisphere, and you will be mortified at this because you feel it is inappropriate on many levels. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. You did not choose to have feelings for her, what you feel is very innocent and God does not hate you for it. She is going to make you question many things you thought you had figured out about yourself, and THAT’S OKAY. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT, especially in regards to how you label yourself. Labels can be freeing, but also frustrating and limiting, and you don’t have to identify with one if you don’t feel like anything you’ve encountered properly fits you, or if you simply don’t know exactly how you feel yet. Be unapologetically who you are, that is my number one advice. You are weird, and that is good. Normal is boring. What is normal, anyway? Oh, by the way, KEEP WRITING. You will enter many contests none of which you will win, and this does not mean that you are a bad writer. Art is subjective, but for heaven’s sake, don’t be so defensive when people critic you. They’re trying to help. Listen to people’s advice, but know that the criticism of people who don’t read your genre of writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t just write because you believe it is the only thing that you do well, write because it was your first love, and because you can’t bear not writing for prolonged periods of time. Don’t define yourself by your writing, though, or your grades. You are worth more than a mark on a piece of paper, truly. You will come to find that you are adequate, and you do not need straight A’s to prove that. So,  in the future, you and your mother will disagree on many things, and that is perfectly okay, even good. You love her, but there will come a time when you will be so hurt by her that it will pain you to hug her. Know that she did the best she could when you were battling depression and self harm. She was scared out of her mind, and yes, she was harsh, but she did care. She had no idea what to do, and she will come to realize how badly she hurt you and will be so very sorry. You will be angry at your father for how his meth addiction affected you for about five more years, before your counselor will tell you that you need to forgive him in order to move on. You will think that things can go back to how they were before, but they never will. Once you knew about his addiction, your child’s innocence was gone. You supported your mother when she should have been supporting you , and that made you grow up too quickly. Don’t resent her or your father. It will be like drinking poison and expecting them to die. Your parents are deeply flawed, but they truly do love you, and they do have their attributes. CUTTING IS NOT AN AFFECTIVE WAY TO PROCESS YOUR EMOTIONS. It is okay to cry, and be what others would call “over emotional” or “weak.” You feel how you feel, and the only way to change your negative feelings is to feel them, analyze them, and then address their roots. The people in your life will be awful at emotionally caring for you in your teen years, so you will have to emotionally care for yourself, and that will make you strong.  Just for the record, people are going to give you crap about being asexual, but that does not make your orientation any less valid. You know yourself better than anyone else. Finally, you want what you want, and you are who you are. Be true to yourself, always.

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t.

Danielle, 20 years old.

Ace app 

Howdy! A page that I follow on Facebook posted the following, and I just thought that I’d repost this here. Something I’m interested in, refreshing to see it’s not only for dating, but a safe place to make ace friends as well. 

Hope you enjoy, until next time! Keep on aceing it. 😊♠️

Danielle 

Edit: not yet in existence, coming to App Store June 2017