And already I’ve created confusion, just by giving this post a title. I’m not talking about giving confusion a label, but the confusion that can be caused by labelling.
When I first decided I was asexual, it seemed pretty clear cut. My most recent relationship lasted 11 years, and for 10 of those years we didn’t have sex. I was happy with that arrangement. Clearly – for me – being asexual meant I didn’t want sex. Period. (To coin one of those irritatingly American expressions that I can’t resist using sometimes.)
I set up my search parameters on OKCupid so I only saw other asexual people in my results. That meant I would only be shown other people who, like me, didn’t want sex.
Er – no.
To my surprise, my results included some people who described themselves as having a low sex drive, and felt that made them asexual. They included people who only wanted sex in certain circumstances, and felt that made them asexual. There were some people who didn’t want sex, but did want cuddles and other forms of physical affection. And there were other people who didn’t want any physical affection at all.
Clearly, even asexual is a less useful label than I imagined.
Then I got chatting to someone, in a purely platonic way, who suggested that I might find someone – someday – who would change my mind, and I might find that I wanted sex, and I enjoyed it. If she’d been trying to get me into bed, I would have been annoyed by her comments, but since she wasn’t doing that, I took what she had to say seriously, and took some time to think about it.
And then I realised I do have some pretty sexual fantasies. They generally involve fictional characters, in books or movies, and most often characters I’ve created myself. Imagine that! Creating your own perfect fantasy lover, without even realising you’re doing it! (In fact, when I created the character who is currently the object of my heroine’s desires, I really had no idea she was going to fall in love with him.)
In real life, I’ve done some things that most people would consider sexual, but I considered to be merely fun. To be specific without being specific (because I’m going to use another vague label here), I’ve played around on the fringes of BDSM. This should keep you guessing because the top definition of BDSM on Urban Dictionary is:
“An overlapping abbrevation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM). “
There are probably as many definitions of BDSM as there are people into it.
So, am I asexual or not?
Well, I guess it depends how you define it. I certainly don’t need sex. I’ve spent most of my life not “getting any” and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out in any way. On the other hand, with the right partner, and in the right – probably very specific – circumstances, maybe I could enjoy it.
Which, according to how everyone else seems to use it, makes asexual a pretty good choice of label.