My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Buy-Me-Lunch Answer About Being Asexual but Loving Sex

[CN: Frank sex talk. Food and eating.]. 

First, imagine you don't get hungry.

Not really ever. Like you can remember six or seven times in your ENTIRE life that you've ever felt like you really needed to eat.

Note 1- There was a TikTok about being asexual that came out not too long ago. I don't have the HTML skills to embed it, but the link will take you to a loop. This framing is absolutely based on that Tiktok, so I want to acknowledge it as inspiration….and even a bit of artistic theft.

Note 2- While this would normally be an article I would put in NOT Writing About Writing, since the "Buy Me Lunch" series (in which I've written about sexuality and gender) started here on Writing About Writing, I'm going to keep it here for now.

To be clear, asexuality is a spectrum. And really it's three spectrums. Libido is the drive—the desire for sexual release. It's like an itch. Sexual desire is what controls wanting to have sex with another person. It's possible to have a high libido and a low sexual desire (and vise versa). And sexual attraction involves finding someone sexually appealing. Each of these three things can be high or low completely independently of each other. 

I can't tell you what all ace people experience or how they feel about sex. It is a broad umbrella that covers a lot of ground. Most people who have typical levels of all three things never unpack and untangle their libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction as separate from each other. It's those of us who feel like we're not experiencing the world in the "right" way who usually break down how all those things are different and have different levels. Some people have low libidos, low desire, and low attraction and kind of conform to the idea that is most thought of as "asexual." But there's a lot more variation. Some have high sexual attraction, but low sexual desire. (They really find people hot, but seldom act on it.) Some may have a low libido but high sexual desire (they aren't really into sex for release, but love having sex for other reasons). Others (like me) have high libidos, reasonable sexual desire, and a very lukewarm sexual attraction. 

If you imagine all three of these things (libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction) as separate axes on a graph, you get a brilliant cube with a dizzying variety of expressions. The back left top corner would look VERY different than the front right bottom corner even though both these people might identify as asexual. There are people who are absolutely sex-repulsed. (I'm not.) There are people who have no libido (I do), or only experience their libido once or twice a month. There are people who have no or low sexual desire (mine is above average). There are people who experience no sexual attraction. (This is where I find I can take it or leave it.) There are people who have attraction but no libido. Libido but no desire. Desire but no attraction. Every expression you can think of.

And it's all under the umbrella of "asexual." And of course, some people identify that way and others—who have exactly the same libido, desire, and attraction—do not. 

I can only tell you what ace means to ME and why I think I'm on that spectrum. There are people like me who enjoy sex and partake in almost as much as they can get as often as they can get it. I feel attraction, but it is usually very aesthetic and appreciative until/unless there is a lot of enthusiasm coming from the person toward me. But when people talk to me about being horny or needing sex or talk about how their desire for sex is starting to short-circuit their rational thinking, or like it is a powerful hunger, I don't experience this feeling. 

I have desire. I enjoy sex, and I have a LOT of it…with several partners. But my reasons for having sex are different than most people’s. The label "demisexual" comes pretty close, and I use it in a pinch, but it's not quite right. 

It helps to think about wanting sex like wanting food. It's not a perfect analogy, but it's good enough to be a load-bearing metaphor. It's not that I don't eat. It's not that I don't enjoy eating. It's not that I don't think good food is delicious. It's just that I don't get hungry.

People eat for lots of reasons. And honestly, a lot of those (possibly even most of those) have nothing to do with hunger. We often eat when we "could eat" based on other factors which is more about no longer being absolutely full from the last time we ate rather than actually being hungry.

  • Because the food tastes good
  • Because we like that KIND of food
  • To try something we don't get to have very often or have never tried before
  • Because it might be a while before there's another chance to eat
  • Because someone made us food and we want to show our appreciation
  • Because a companion is hungry and we want to enjoy the time together
  • Because we want to enjoy the experience of eating with someone
  • To be connected with or bond with other people eating or the cook
  • To help us cope with negative emotions, boredom, or just to generate some good feelings
  • Because it feels good
Similarly we can feel rejected if we're not invited to a dinner party, even if we weren't hungry or are not offered a helping of something when other people are getting it. We can feel envious if someone else is getting food and we are not. We can worry about missing out on the connection, the bonding if we aren't invited to meals. We can feel left out if everyone got a piece of cake but us. 

It doesn't matter if we weren't, strictly speaking, HUNGRY. 

Being on the ace spectrum doesn't mean I don't enjoy sex. It doesn't mean I don't ever want it. It doesn't mean I can't feel rejected. It doesn't mean I can't feel insecure if it feels like no one is attracted to me or seems to want me. It certainly doesn't mean that if someone wants sex with me, I'll say no or I'll usually say no. (In fact, personally, I usually say yes.) It just means that I'm not doing it because I'm HORNY. I can kind of take or leave the actual act. I'm doing it to be with them. To bond with them. To feel connected. Maybe because I haven't had that type of sex before or very often. Because they want it, and I want to make them feel good and desirable. Because sex is fun and feels good.

It does mean I don't really make decisions trying to get laid. It means I tend to initiate less and never pressure. (Which also means that sometimes a partner has to nudge me to do a bit more of instigation so they don't feel undesirable.) It means that I rarely, if ever, experience purely sexual attraction…for anyone. Things like trust and connection are much more important to me. I experience emotional attraction, platonic attraction, aesthetic attraction, and even sensual and physical attraction—and I am perfectly capable of leveraging one or some (or all) of those attractions into good sex—but I rarely, if ever, experience a raw sexual attraction that translates into desire. 

I often say that I don't sleep with someone because I crave sex with them. I sleep with someone because I crave connection and intimacy with them and sex is one of MANY ways to get that—and definitely one of the most fun.

We're all wired differently and have different histories. (Part of my ace-ness is wrapped up in hang ups over consent, enthusiasm, and even performance anxiety. It hangs on being AMAB, socialized male, but aware of how problematic AFABs can find us when we're letting ourselves listen to the cultural narrativew that persistence pays off. It means I just don't have nearly as much fun with someone I'm not connected to with a deep bond of trust. All that has much more to do with my childhood traumas than biology.) Being ace is never as simple as "I don't like sex"(…although for some people, that sums it up nicely). It's a label that is really only the starting point, so folks should be more willing to get the buy-[them]-lunch answer when it comes up.

[If you would like to actually buy me lunch, feel welcome to drop a couple of bucks into the tip jar.]


  1. I'm somewhere on the ace spectrum as well. I feel like explaining my secuality is a whole-ass sentence. Lol

    1. Literally, HOW does my phone think it's secuality and not sexuality? If I try to spell secuality it tries to put security... just HOW did that go through?...