I don’t want to have sex … with you … right now … maybe ever… Surely I’m not the only one who has those sorts of thoughts!
Picture this, you’re on a date or you’ve met someone for the first time. On paper, they’re everything you know you should look for. Things are going well, the conversation is flowing; they seem like a pleasant person. Perhaps you even find them attractive – aesthetically, anyway. I think we all know what happens next.
As a demisexual, this is a situation I’ve found myself in time and time again.
We’re at the point in our date where we should negotiate whose house we continue the evening at. In other words, we should plan to have sex.
There is just one problem … I don’t want to have sex.
This is not a declaration anyone is used to hearing. We live in a world where sex is an easily exchanged commodity. People do it without giving it a second thought.
It’s such an ingrained part of our culture people seem utterly baffled at the thought of someone not craving sex, either with them or in a general sense.
Not wanting to have sex, not being sexually attracted to someone is a fact of life for demisexuals, asexual, graysexuals and anyone else who finds themselves on the asexual spectrum.
It’s one of the hardest things to understand and accept about ourselves, much less try to explain to someone else.
Sexual desire and the asexual spectrum
Here’s the deal. Generally, asexuals don’t experience sexual desire toward other people. Demisexuals, only experience sexual attraction to people they have a strong emotional connection with. Graysexuals experience sexual attraction rarely or not intensely.
Based on the interactions I have had, people have a hard time understanding a lack of desire to have sex.
Not wanting sex differs from deciding not to have sex. We live in a world where people are good at fighting and suppressing their sexual desires. They really want to have sex but don’t for whatever reason, usually something morally or ethically appealing.
Other people feel sexual attraction based on the other person being “their type.” They might be attracted to a certain gender or certain characteristics.
Not that demisexuals don’t have a type – we very well might – it’s just on top of all that we need an emotional connection.
The Problem with Sexual Education
Asexuality as a possibility, much less an entire spectrum is glaringly absent in most sex education curriculum.
The concept of asexuality was entirely absent from my sex education experience. Through conversations with some of my friends who are teachers, it sounds like asexuality is mentioned in passing as a definition but not discussed in any real detail.
This is a tremendous problem.
In a society of one-night stands, casual flings and meaningless sex – being different, not wanting the things our peers seem obsessed with can lead to feeling broken, less than…
Through the course of our lives, we’re taught sex is central to the human condition, and that sexual desire and experiences make us valuable and worthwhile as human beings.
Simply having the knowledge that not wanting to have sex with every good looking person you encounter can be a powerful thing for someone trying to come to terms with their sexuality.
YOU ARE NOT BROKEN!
Not wanting sex is a perfectly valid option. It is not something that requires any sort of explanation or apology.
It’s okay if you only experience sexual attraction on rare occasions or not at all. Sex is not an obligation.
Think is, it’s really easy to feel broken. It’s even easier to give into the urge to act like everyone else: to go on dates, hook up and do what it seems everyone else is doing.
In some ways, it’s embarrassing. It’s difficult to admit to being different, especially when it comes to something as central to our society as sexuality.
There’s a great deal of information assumed and implied by someone’s sexual history and habits. We assume someone who has sex frequently or with many people to be attractive and a lot of fun.
Inversely, someone who does the opposite is described as frigid, a tease, boring, undesirable… these are not qualities we strive to.
This lack of understanding and disparity is a big part of the problem we face in accepting ourselves.
Do I need Medication or Counseling?
First things first, if you need medical or mental health support, get it. There is no shame in seeking support or treatment.
I work in mental health, and I know how important that support can be. I also believe that pretty much everyone could benefit from counseling. If not wanting to have sex is something that makes you feel distressed or you think it’s connected to another health issue, please get help.
The connection between mental health and sexual desire is complicated and often reliant on details and situations unique to each individual.
Can mental health impact libido and sexual desire? Absolutely. Heck, even the treatment of many mental health issues can have an impact.
That’s not even accounting for the impact of things like trauma, shame, and stigma.
Seeking mental health treatment is never a bad idea. The problem is when we’re made to feel like not wanting to have sex with someone is worthy of a mental health diagnosis. On its own, it’s not.
Counseling isn’t always about a diagnosis. If you’re looking for a safe place to figure out your sexuality or a neutral party to help you come to terms with it, counseling is a great option.
A lack of sexual desire on its own isn’t concerning from a mental health perspective. Concerns arise, however, in situations where there is a sudden unexplained change in sexual desire or libido. For example, a person who previously experienced sexual attraction with some regularity or enjoyed hooking up and suddenly stopped.
When you’re young, people suggest you’ll grow up and find your sexual desire – that you’re just not mature enough. It’s dismissive and implies that we don’t know our own mind.
Eventually we grow up and mature enough that people assume we should experience sexual desire. At that point, they suggest medical intervention.
Everyone thinks they’re an expert and assumes they know more than they actually do. They know someone who went through something similar or they saw it on a TV show and you need to get checked for…
I’m not in any way suggesting someone not get necessary medical treatment or tests. I absolutely believe everyone should be able to get medical tests if it will bring them peace.
My problem is that often these medical exams are unnecessary and invasive. A simple blood test is one thing, but often these examinations involve a plethora of terribly personal questions as well as invasive and intimate exams.
While I’m not a medical professional, my understanding is that provided the patient had met developmental milestones, concerns arise with sudden and significant changes.
So, do I need treatment?
It’s never a bad idea to talk to a professional about your concerns. However, a lifelong lack of sexual attraction or desire isn’t clinically significant.
You know yourself better than anyone else. If you’re worried about a medical or mental health condition than you should absolutely seek treatment.
My only advice is to know what you’re hoping for: do you want validation or a fix? Also remember that while you maybe seeing a professional, they are only human and their practice and treatment modalities are not free from biases created through their lived experiences.
Not everyone understands asexuality or the spectrum. The way a clinician responds to your concerns can have a dramatic impact on the way a client views themselves, and not every clinician is going to respond appropriately. It’s not okay, but it is always a risk and something we should be prepared for.
As someone with no desire to have sex with someone I just met, or don’t know well – I don’t always feel valid when talking to medical or mental health professionals. The few times I’ve mentioned it have not gone well.
The problem is with the world, the way we think about sex, love and intimacy, not with us as individuals who experience those things differently.
Demisexuality and Sexual Attraction
Demisexuals feel sexual attraction in certain situations. We have sex and hopefully even enjoy it.
What makes sexual attraction different for a demisexual is that it’s based of an emotional connection not physical appearance. We need to have a bond with that person before we take that step.
It’s about trusting another person with parts of ourselves we don’t share with many. We need to feel safe in the vulnerable position we will find ourselves in if we let things progress. It’s difficult for us to put ourselves in situations where we will feel vulnerable.
So, how does one go about building that trust and those feelings being protected? You share parts of yourself that you don’t share with many others. You let us get to know you – like really know you, not just the superficial stuff.
Fair warning though, an emotional connection does not guarantee sexual attraction. There’s no firm rule for this stuff, but patience and acceptance are great places to start.
Sex and sexual attraction are confusing to begin with. However, a lifelong lack of sexual attraction on its own probably isn’t something worthy of professional intervention.
Remember that you know yourself best and how you feel about your situation is the most important thing. There is no shame in seeking treatment or support for something that causes you distress.
However, being demisexual, asexual or any other label on the spectrum is completely valid and not something that requires intervention on its own merit.
Most likely, there is nothing wrong with you, but there is a lot wrong with the world we live in .