You’re The None For Me
You’ll probably think I’m messing with you, but I swear I’m not. I am a man who has no desire to have sex. I was married, but after my wife got pregnant with our second (planned) child, we never had sex again. I just had — and have — no desire to do anything sexually with another person. I have now been divorced for 11 years and celibate for almost 21. Since my divorce, I have never hooked up or even gone on a date. I don’t want to. Sometimes I have an urge to masturbate, but I have no desire to involve anybody else. I simply don’t get why there is all this kerfuffle about sex. I see no reason to ever have sex again.
— Curious As To Your Reaction
Like many men, you’re looking to emulate something you saw in porn — only it’s the coffee table in the background.
Though you refer to yourself as celibate, celibacy is a behavior a person chooses — a decision to fight off the urges most people have to hop on another person and do the humpus rumpus. What you have is a feeling — a longing for sex on par with the enthusiasm of a guest at a trendy cocktail party being offered a slightly squirming sushi appetizer: “Uh, thanks, but don’t mind if I don’t.”
Assuming you’ve been checked out by a doctor for any possible medical issues, chances are you’re “ace” (as people who are asexual like to call themselves). Asexuality is a sexual orientation — that of a person who, as social psychologist Anthony Bogaert puts it, has “a lack of sexual attraction or desire for others.”
Asexuality is pretty uncommon. According to a survey that Bogaert did in the U.K., maybe 1% of the population has an asexual orientation. (This estimate may be on the low side, as it was done in 2004 — long before the varieties of sexuality and gender began rivaling the choices in the salad bar at Souplantation.)
Asexuality plays out in varied ways. Some asexuals lack any interest in sex, finding it about as appealing as having another person stick a finger up their nose repeatedly (while panting, moaning and shrieking in ecstasy). Others sometimes have urges for sexual release; they just have no desire to expand their dating pool beyond their hand. So, while sexual attraction involves noticing another person and wanting to do all sorts of sex things with them, asexuals might find a person aesthetically pleasing but are generally as sexually interested in them as most of us would be in a potato or an adding machine.
There are those who contend that asexuality is a physical or psychological disorder. And sure, some people probably use asexuality as a cover for unresolved issues, or for shock value — like my (decidedly straight) sister did in coming home from college freshman year and announcing to my conservative Republican mother, “I think I’m a lesbian.” My mother handled this perfectly: “That’s nice; please put out the plates for dinner.”
Clinical psychologist Lori Brotto explains that asexuality doesn’t meet the psychiatric bible’s criteria for an arousal disorder — physiological impairment or distress at the lack of attraction to others. Research by Brotto and others also finds that asexuals, in general, don’t seem any crazier than the rest of us and have normal hormone levels and normal arousability, reflected in erectile function and vaginal lubrication. As one asexual put it: “I did, you know, test the equipment … and everything works fine, pleasurable and all; it’s just not actually attracted to anything.’’
Some asexuals get into relationships with other people because they want a partner and/or a family. (They’re asexual, not aloving.) The problem comes if they don’t disclose that their sexual orientation is “Do you mind if I read while you do that?”
As for your situation, if you don’t feel there’s anything missing from your life, well, yay for you. But consider the “self-expansion” model for romantic relationships, by psychologist Arthur Aron and his colleagues. It confirms what many of us intuitively understand: In addition to the ways a relationship challenges people emotionally, it expands who they are as individuals through exposure to their partner’s ideas, identity, possessions and social circle.
You might be able to have that sort of partnership — with a girlfriend who likes the same hot stuff you probably do in bed (microwaved Chinese food). You can connect with like-minded individuals on the big forum for asexuals — AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (asexuality.org). You might make some friends, and who knows … you might even meet the woman of your dreams — one who can’t wait to go home with you for a long night of meaningless Scrabble.
Got a problem? Write to Amy Alkon at 171 Pier Ave., Ste. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email her at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
Alkon’s latest book is “Good Manners for Nice People who Sometimes Say F*ck.” She blogs at advicegoddess.com and podcasts at blogtalkradio.com.