Asexuality and the Fear of Loneliness

My best friend and I bonded over books. I read a bit, she read a bit more. During our first year of university, she gave me a big three-book-series to keep me entertained while I was ill. It soon became my favourite series, and a week later, we went to the book store together to spend way too much money on books we could share between us.

It's different now. We still both read a lot, but my friend reads a lot of romance novels. And I just ... can't. I still watch 'Pride and Prejudice' when I'm sad, but that's because it is a piece of art and deserves to be watched a lot. But I can't get into romance. It feels wrong to me, that it makes me dream about something I don't even want to happen. I don't want to read about 'spine-tingling kisses' or the amazing morning after, because I don't want to have it.

For some people on the asexual spectrum, this is a normal reaction, and I have come to live with it and accept it as normal for me. (Other asexuals just don't feel the attraction, but still enjoy this sort of thing, so to each their own.)

If I am being honest with myself, there is another reason why I don't read romance novels. Within a romantic relationship, people find a partner. Someone to spend the rest of their lives with, sharing values, experiencing things, and supporting each other in their goals. And all that, just from feeling an attraction, acting on it, and getting attuned to each other in the process.

There is no handy guide to how this works when you're not actually attracted to anyone. It doesn't help either that only a tiny percentage of the population are asexual, so if you actually come across someone that seems interesting to you, the likelihood of them being a good fit for you if you're not into sex is still catastrophical.

I feel blessed with not having the wish for children. I know asexuals who do, and it is even harder for them to accept. Even so, I have recently become interested in doing ancestry research, and it is fascinating to me. But in sad moments, I keep thinking that I should just stop. Why does it matter? I won't have anyone to tell it to anyway.

My family is small as it is, and I can see it becoming ever smaller in the future. My grandparents are old and tired, and both my mum and me didn't have any siblings. Thus I don't have aunts or uncles, siblings, or any other parts that will be here long enough to pass things onto. And when something happens to anyone, my tiny family unit will shrink further, until I am the last one left. If I would be normal, with a partner and children, I could build my own family. But I am not.

There are asexual meetups in bigger cities, and some online forums. I've been to a couple, and I've participated in CSD with other aces as well. But there's one thing I learned: I can't define myself over something I am not. 'Not' feeling something is not an evening-filling topic of conversation, let alone enough for a five-hour parade. It feels weird sharing my asexuality with people, because it's a non-thing. I don't think about it a lot; it doesn't make itself known in any way. If you're gay, you'll notice when looking at an attractive person of the same sex. If you're pan or bi, looking at someone interestung, you'll notice. Even if you're hetero, you'll notice. If you're anything else, you'll notice. But asexuality is not something you notice in itself. Hell, sometimes I even forget about it, and then I just feel sad about being so weird and lonely again, until I remember. In any case, 'not' being something is not something I can build a relationship on. These forums and meetings are created as safe spaces, and it's great they exist, but I personally feel even weirder when I'm there, than when I am out in the real world.

To be honest, for a while I gave up. I didn't really do much, and I didn't want to think about why, and I didn't much care about myself either. It was weird to put on makeup or cool clothes and try to make myself pretty because I didn't want to seem like trying too hard when I didn't want to flirt anyway. It is also very easy to convince yourself of terrible things when you're depressed, like the idea that your loneliness and lack of attraction to others is definitely not caused by your asexuality but instead is just down to yourself being weird and ugly and not a person people ever want to be around, so why bother. (I also didn't want to be 'girly' because I didn't want to think about gender too hard, but that's a topic for another day.)

Moping around obviously did not help, nor did seeing posts of others doing cool things on social media. In my mind, they were always doing these things with their tons of friends and their lovely strings of partners. I hated myself, and my asexuality, and everything else. It took a ridiculously long time for me to figure out how jealous I was, and even longer than that to realise that things like that can actually turn you into a person nobody wants to spend time with.

At first, I had to force myself to go out and do things. I went to the coffee shop or to the cinema a lot, just so I could note 'I did something' in my journal, without having to think a lot about it or having to talk too much to other people. Over time, the cool things done by the movie characters inspired me, and I wanted to do things as well. (I watch arthouse movies, and people do really artsy stuff, often just for the sake of it looking nice on screen, and it makes you want to do it as well).

This sounds a bit stupid, but I challenged myself to do cool things on the weekend, and collected ideas for what to do. I went to museums and art galleries, I visited nice cafés, I painted in the park, I did cycling tours. In time, it went from something I forced myself to do, to just another part of me. I'm a person who does cool things in their free time now. I expect it of myself, and get a bit antsy when I have nothing planned, and others expect it now too, asking me about plans for the weekend ahead, commenting on things I did they are interested in as well, and sometimes asking whether I plan on doing something and if they come too.

It's been tough to work my way back to a person I enjoy being, and someone people like spending time with. It's taken a long time, and there are a lot of areas I had let go that still need a lot of work. Retraining old habits is hard. And I'm also training the new habit of not worrying about being lonely.
I know enough people now who are weird in their own ways - eternal bachelors going from one girl or two to the next ones, heterosexual people waiting for the right one, couples who want children but can't have them and sink all their money into becoming parents another way, couples who have decided to never have children and just live as a twosome, other people with tiny family units.

I still think about it or feel lonely sometimes, but I try to remind myself that there are people who like me. People I talk to almost every day, or people I can hug, or people that say 'I love you'. That's more than I used to have, and I try to be positive that this is all I need if it should stay that way. Some days are worse, and I cry about it, but there's always a cool new thing to plan for, to keep my mind off of it.

Social interaction is still hard for me sometimes, and I freeze and don't know how to act in a lot of situations -  dancing with someone else, long eye contact, being slightly drunk and singing either vulgar or deeply kitschy songs together, when some shares details about their sex life, relationship discussions that last for hours, knowing where to look when there are couples putting on PDA in front of you, ... the list is long. I am worst when someone makes rude advances, or when I meet someone new and asexuality comes up, or is the answer to one of their questions. (I'm better with old people asking about relationship things, because I've accepted that talking to old people about that is always weird, so I've become an expert in slightly awkward conversational shifts in those cases.)

I'm thinking that I might try the forums or meetups again, now that I have a better understanding who I am as a person, but I am still uncertain. I know that I don't want asexuality to define me, and I have learned not to let it define my loneliness. But can I accept it as a helpful tool to sort out potential partners? I don't know about that yet. But hopefully there's still a lot of time left for me to figure it out.


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Aven - resources about asexuality, and a large online forum
-- Forum discussion on the fear of being alone
Asexual Cupid / Asexualitic - dating sites (not tested)
Ace App (googleplay) - forum / networking site, can be used for dating

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