Discovering I'm asexual… then telling my partner

February 26 | Guest post by binaryplatypus
We recommend telling your partner before you wear this sweatshirt.
We recommend telling your partner before you wear this sweatshirt.

Up until now, I've always identified as heterosexual. I mean, I'm attracted to guys, and that's what that means right?

Well, that's because I didn't know that sexuality was how you're attracted to some one sexually. I know, it's right there in the name but I didn't realize some things. I am attracted to my future husband, but more so as a person.

I love intimacy in touching and kissing, but sex is something that has never been a big deal for me. I mean, I enjoy the sensation but I don't necessarily look at someone and think that I want to jump them. If I find someone attractive it is really that I think they are super-good-looking, but I don't really want to have sex with them. Most of the time, I find sex to be boring. I can be, and sometimes am, VERY frisky. But this is, I wouldn't say rare, but… not common.

All that being said, I knew of asexuality but I thought that it was cut and dry; I didn't understand it was a spectrum. I thought "well that doesn't apply to me, I want sex sometimes." Then I became made aware that things like Demi Asexual and Grey Asexual were, well, things. Grey Asexual. When I found out what that was, my head started screaming "Yes! That's us! That's what we are!"

I felt incredibly relieved. I was no longer unsure of what my sexuality was, and it explained so much about sex to me and how I experienced it. So, at five in the morning, I sent a text message to my future husband letting him know as much.

I was concerned that he would be upset. Our differences in sex drives is something that concerned him and made him worry. A lot of the time I would become affectionate and he would take it, as understandably you would, as me wanting sex.

Spoilers: I didn't.

After explaining what it was, he said that "yeah, that sounds like you." He was so very supportive and just in general pretty amazing about it all. He also said "I'm cool with exactly who you are. This realization changes absolutely nothing except what we call it." That is what I figured I would have to work on getting across to him, and I didn't even have to!

So the TL;DR of it is: Communicate with your partner. Trust them enough to support you. And hey, who knows, they just may surprise you with how amazing and accepting they can truly be.

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  1. I had a similar experience when my sex drive vanished over the course of several years. Not sure if I am really graysexual or just in a slump, which is obnoxious. I know these things can change, but I honestly don't like it. My partner is very supportive though, which I was really worried about because his sex drive has always been much higher than mine.

    13 agree
  2. Yes!! Wow, this is, like, exactly what I've been going through lately…
    At first, when I read about asexuals and how a lot of the had difficulties in relationships with sexuals partners, I thought I musn't be one, since I'm happily married and my husband doesn't seem to mind that I don't necessarily want to have sex regularly. (You just phrased it so well, thank you!)

    When I told him I thought I was more Gray-a/demi, I was all nervous and everything, but he just looked at me saying… well, exactly what your fiance told you.
    It is nice, though, discovering that we are not weird, just a part of a spectrum where everybody is connected, and knowing there is a lot of people that can be so amazing and supporting of that. ^^

    7 agree
  3. I recently discovered this in my marriage as well. After spending years and years feeling "broken" and wondering why my sex drive was diminished (compared to his) and trying to meet his drive and suffering (which seems extreme, but I felt forced, and had these weird out-of-body experiences just to get through it. How fun. Not.) I finally felt normal and not broken.

    Just having something to CALL it was so important. Labels are important (to me at least) in this aspect. I could look back at all the times my friends called me "prudish" when I just couldn't imagine having a one night stand or lots of sex during a honeymoon period. I'm not prudish, I'm Demisexual. (PanDemi sexual/romantic to be specific)

    Now when these situations come up, I can just admit that I don't know what it's like to see someone and want to have sex with them. So I wouldn't be the person to talk to about your raunchy one night stand. I can listen and think it sounds crazy and cool, but I can't sympathize with the NEED to have sex with someone you just met.

    Also the stickiness (or lack of stickiness) with a gray/a-sexual and a sexual ("normie") is tricky, and there are few resources, but if you use the google-fu, there are a few out there. I've found Tumblr a great resource for this. I'm still blindly maneuvering my way through our unmatched sexual marriage, so there are no foolproof things I can say worked for us.

    But just knowing that this is a thing, that I'm not broken, and that there are others like me out there… did SO MUCH for my self doubt and depression surrounding the sexual part of my relationship. It's been a lifesaver. It doesn't seem like it would matter that much, but it does. So much.

    10 agree
    • This was me, too. For the longest time, I labored under the assumption that my libido was just low, that I just needed to make myself do it for him. What ended up happening was that sex was a chore- one that made him happy, but made me…kind of miserable, actually.

      We're still in the process of figuring out where to go from here, but just knowing it has a name, that I'm not medically impaired, that there are actually a fair few others like me has been a colossal relief.

      3 agree
    • Omg it's like you know me. I've even told hubs sometimes I feel forced. I thought I was just crazy/weird.
      For years I've just been like "idk I'm broken and I don't know what's wrong with me."

      1 agrees
  4. This is amazing. This is coming right at the time when I've decided I need to tell my boyfriend about this aspect of myself (it's either this or HSDD) but I am so scared. It's something you hear about so little–I have literally told NO ONE about this part of myself–so seeing this pop up on my blog feed is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing.

    4 agree
  5. I think about a month and a half before my husband and I got married last year he revealed to me that he was Biromantic Asexual, meaning he is capable of romantic feelings for members of all sexes, but has no sexual desire. It was kind of hard to take in, I wasn't feeling like anything was wrong in our relationship it had just been like 6-7 months since we'd had sex. My sex drive isn't that great either, I am probably more of a Grey-A, in that I want to have sex, but I don't really desire to act on my feelings. I do masturbate, but that is just to help me sleep or if I am feeling particularly frisky, but not wanting to do the deed. We make it work, I am glad he told me, because he felt he could be honest with me which is awesome. I love him so much, and love our cuddles and hugs and kisses, and if we do have sex again, I am sure that will be fine too.

    9 agree
    • I've always described myself as a theoretical bisexal and an actual asexual. I didn't know there was a less clunky term. Thanks!

      4 agree
    • So you could be me. I've been thinking of myself as selfish for preferring to take care of things myself rather than include my husband. Although with a clingy 6 month old baby sex hasn't really been an option anyway recently…

      6 agree
  6. Omfg, you just gave me a complete lightbulb moment!!!! All my life I've thought there was something wrong with me. I have never understood the appeal of casual sex or one night stands (not judging, just not for me) but on the flip side I tend to develop deep sometimes inappropriate crushes on people I admire and respect (hello old boss!). I'm going to have to research this more because this jusy blew my freakin mind!!

    5 agree
    • My whole life I just thought maybe I was weird or my depression was decreasing my libido– I'm in my 20's and so many of my friends constantly tell me that I need to "go and taste the rainbow" but I don't want to. I'm okay with occasional sex with my boyfriend. Maybe 2 times every 2 weeks. And he's wonderfully accepting of that.
      But it is good to know that I'm not just different and that there are other people like me out there. I just don't look at men and go "Oh my god I need him now" like my friends tell me they experience.
      That's okay… right?

      2 agree
  7. I'm so glad you posted this! I always feel bad that I don't want to have sex as much as my husband does. Most of the time, I'm just not interested. It isn't that I don't like sex or him, it is just that I don't feel that strong a desire at all. I will research this a little, because I really want him to understand that my lack of interest (a lot of the time!!) in sex has nothing to do with him, it is just the way I am wired (I even switched from birth control pills to an IUD in hopes that different hormones would change my "desire" levels)

    7 agree
  8. This is pretty much my exact story– I knew something was kinda off in high school, and when I was 18 I learned that people could be asexual, and it clicked. I identify as demi/grey, and have for the past 12 years. It was a weird subject to broach with my husband, but I was pretty upfront about it and although we don't always agree in matters of the bedroom, we work it out 🙂

    3 agree
  9. I think it's great that having a 'label' made the OP feel more comfortable, but I do feel a little bit frustrated with the proliferation of labels in general, insofar as it reflects our intense need to fit people into some kind of neat category. (So to be clear, the labels are not the problem, they're an attempt to fix the thing that is a problem.) I hope one day we will all be comfortable with the idea that human sexuality is a varying and complex thing which changes over time, and comfortable with having honest conversations about how we as individuals feel at any given time. And also happy with the idea that there is nothing 'broken' about not having sexual desire, or about having lots of sexual desire.

    17 agree
    • While I totally respect that some folks really don't like labels, there are some of us who looooove them. To clarify, I don't mean labeling other people… I mean hearing how people self-identify.

      My favorite way to get to know someone is to learning what phrases and identities they use to define themselves. Hearing the words people use to describe who they are can be a fascinating peek into how they relate to the world and to themselves.

      This is all to say, while I'm 100% down with folks rejecting labels completely… for some of us, self-identifying isn't about "fitting people into a neat category," it's about exploring the ways we and the people around us use language to recognize ourselves in the larger context of our cultures and societies.

      15 agree
      • Oh, I totally get that, and I really enjoyed the post. I think I am mostly pinged by the sense that people feel they need a label in order to make certain experiences 'legitimate' (because I think there are so many ways to be, so noone should feel their particular way of being in the world is wrong), but then having a language to describe experience is a big way of opening up the sense of the various possibilities. I guess new terms seem more like labels, and they have to be embraced that way before they shift into common usuage and become just part of the vocabulary for talking about experience (if that makes sense?).

        Sorry if my comment came across as a bit judgey of people who embrace 'labels', which isn't how I feel at all. It just sparked off a thing I've been vaguely grappling with for a while.

        7 agree
        • You hit the nail on the head for me. There seems to be sort of an implication in the post and the comments here that 'normal'sexuals (for lack of a better term) are all having one night stands etc. etc. I just think the range of 'normal' is bigger than what our culture(s) allow for.

          4 agree
    • I once heard that if you don't have a name for something, you don't see it. This is very much the case, in my opinion. Labels not only serve for confining someone into a box, but can also broaden the boundaries about a certain aspect of themselves. I learned a lot about sexuality and romantic relationships in Offbeat Empire, and labels helped me understand and guided me in this new field for me. They can also help people not feel so lonely in things like these, which maybe are not the norm in the society they live in.

      I actually agree with you: I also hope that there will be a day when people can talk openly about their sexuality and feel nothing but understanding, but to reach that day we must know and accept the whole spectrum of options. I mean… maybe my grandmother feels she's being understanding because she accepts my bearded husband (because back in her day husbands had to be perfectly shaved!). If we want to be accepting I feel we should know all the labels. Even if we then forget them!

      3 agree
  10. As the partner who was recently on the receiving end of the same information, how can I start an open dialogue with my partner about me possibly needing to find other outlets for my on-the-high-side-of-average sex drive? Is that selfish of me? I hope to communicate that he is the only person with whom I desire a romantic or emotionally intimate relationship, but that I need more that I'm getting when it comes to sexual activity.

    5 agree
    • You might want to check out captain awkward or dr. nerdlove for some scripts about how to approach this. Both have really great communities and seem favorable to working out this kind of arrangement.

  11. Wow. Thank you so much for this article. I have been struggling for sometime with this issue and it is such a relief to finally figure it out! I always new that sexuality was on a spectrum and it just didn't make the connection that asexuality is also. Thanks again!

  12. Love this! My husband recently realized that he is asexual, which clashed a bit at first with my extra sexual nature. We're both being uber supportive and talking a *lot* and redefining what our marriage means to us through it all. 🙂 Good luck to you and yours and everyone else on this journey!

    1 agrees
  13. Good for you! I'm a panromantic grey and my husband is very sexual in nature. We have had countless discussions on what this means for us (before and after the wedding) and it just strengthens my love for him each time. He struggled to understand why we had so much sex when we first started dating, but I think he's fully grasped that it has nothing to do with my loving him less or him being unattractive. I had trouble explaining it too because I'm a very sexually minded person but I don't get "turned on" except for the very rare occurrences. Took me a while to realize that I was more interested in the concept of sex and how it plays a role in creating a bond between two people – it's the main shift in a relationship in mainstream media, but I didn't need that. My husband knows that, and appreciates that if he's really pent up that I play the role (with open communication if we need to stop) and comes to really appreciate the times when I want it too. We don't have sex very often, but I've never been more in love.

    4 agree
  14. I was a bit disappointed by this article. I am a woman in a hetero relationship with a man who is effectively asexual. I feel like I have to completely suppress my sexuality and essentially presend to be someone I'm not. It has been driving our relationship apart since about 1 yr into it. Here I am 4 years and lots of counseling later with no solution or relief. I feel like I should be free to fulfill these needs elsewhere, but my partner (and society in general) does not support such a choice. I don't want to leave him, but feeling but attracted and unwanted sexually is a completely miserable for someone like me- someone with a healthy sex drive. -depressed

    2 agree
    • I'm hearing you @Maddy I'm in a very similar boat. I've always been a very sexual, sensual person with a fairly high sex drive. But the love of my life is not and I find it hugely frustrating, in every sense of the word. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I am truly scared of how I might feel in the future as am by nature a very loyal committed person. It has definitely given my self esteem a massive knock, and have had to work at rebuilding my idea of how I feel attractive when I'm not getting that sort of response from my partner. We kiss and cuddle a lot and are very tactile with each other, and sometimes go a little further for me, but never for him. I'm learning to be ok with that, and to enjoy the intimacy that we do have. But it is very hard, when I am really wanting more physically. We also want to have a family, admittedly probably me more than him, and that is going to be very hard to do in our current situation. I am trying to be as patient and understanding as I can be, and give him the space he needs. But it really really hurts, and isn't something I feel like I can discuss with anyone

      1 agrees
      • I understand how both of you feel; it's frustrating when your partner has a different set of needs than you do. Your needs and desires are perfectly valid and you shouldn't feel forced to suppress them. Neither should your partners. Just as you deserve to feel safe, loved and understood in your relationship, they deserve that, too. So make the effort to talk to your partners about how you're feeling in your relationship and how you can balance what YOU need with what they need. Because these comments are pretty much my worst nightmare summed up; I spend so much time terrified that my partner is unhappy, and just not telling me. I'd rather we break up than he spend his life miserable wishing I could be something else.

        3 agree
  15. After being with my fiancĂ© for 6 years, I started to wonder if maybe I wasn't straight (thanks to a night of drinking and never-have-I-ever). Whilst still engaged and with the support of my fiancĂ©, I dated a ladyfriend for a bit–just to see. I figured, 'if I don't like boys, I must like girls, right?'

    Wrong. I don't remember how I found AVEN (asexuality.org), but it literally changed my life. I read metaphors and other people's stories, and almost exploded with delight. There are other people like me! In a way I think many people will never understand, there is something truly liberating about knowing you aren't alone. Like being a girl at an all-boys school, it's hard not to feel out of place as an ace person in this society.

    Being ace in a relationship can be easy if you communicate well and often. Remember that your partner(s) probably equated sexual desire with love for most of his/her/their life, and it's really important (in my experience) to let your partner(s) talk openly with you and not take it personally. I think it was hard for my fiancé to come to terms with knowing I love him without being sexually attracted to him, but now we know and regularly joke about it.

    At the end of the day, any form of self-identification is voluntary. Labels we give ourselves help us understand ourselves better, and help us interact socially. Labels are not mandatory, and cannot be forced upon someone else. Asexuality is a valid spectrum of sexuality.

  16. This information is all good and all but coming from a sexual wife with an asexual husband i MUST MUUUUST let you know that you have to let your fiances know that you are asexual BEFORE COMMITING and yes that is a problem to us sexuals… A very big one. It will be considered as betrayal if one is guided to believe that we will be able to have that level of intimacy once you are already stuck in marriage and possible kids. And no one should not "accept" that just because its not a choice. You have no idea how much it hurts and how much it affects your sexual partner. I really wish more research is done on this issue and inform the public of the importance of it all.

    • I agree 1000% that there should be more research and public discussion of asexality. I cannot speak for all asexual people, but I can say HOLD UP. Discovering that you are asexual isn't as easy as realizing you're homosexual. For me, there was the cycle of thinking I was "normal," being confused that I'm "not normal," experimenting, thinking I'm just broken, exploring medical options, then FINALLY discovering this one single word: asexual. Without my fiancĂ© to support me through this, I probably would have given up at being broken. Once my asexuality was out on the table, he would have been completely justified in breaking up with me. That's an "easy out" at any stage of the relationship, as we live in a time where divorce is a legal option.

      Fortunately, my fiancé is amazing and we have worked things out between us, but it bears mentioning that I am the one who began our sexual relationship. I pushed for sex probably two years before he would have, at least. I have sex, and can enjoy it if it's fairly quick (otherwise I get bored). There was no way to let him know before we committed to one another, and while it's nice if you know, it's not like having HIV. For some, being asexual means "ew, don't touch me" and for others it's "let's have sex!" Being asexual just means a lack of feeling sexual attraction. It means I am attracted to you because you are smart, geeky, and look cute in a band uniform, not because I'm imagining you naked and draped over the hood of a DeLorean. My body isn't insisting I need to have sex with anyone. I believe I am more intimate than my partner because I value more than sex in our relationship. That's not to say that's all he values, but sex is superficial. Plenty of people have casual sex, sex outside of marriage, and sex outside of the law. Love makes it intimate, and I am fully capable of love. I love deeply, and the little things we do to show that are much more important to me than lingerie (which I wear because he likes it) and rumpled bedding.

      My sexuality hasn't changed from before I knew to now. Our relationship just has a new level of understanding. If anything is different, it's because of perception. He understands me more when I say "not tonight, please," and doesn't take it personally. And I make more of an effort to wear lingerie for him.

  17. I've felt like this for the last 4 years. I thought it was due to gaining weight, anti-depressants, or stress. Nothing seems to fix it. I told my fiancé I might be asexual. That I just have no desire at all, towards ANYONE. He doesn't believe me, he thinks it's him. I have to reassure it's not him. My issue is he still tries and ask for sex everyday. To the point I get upset because I feel uncomfortable. It's definitely affecting our relationship. I want to go to consueling but he won't.

    How can I make him realize this is a real thing???

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