Monday, December 15, 2008


So, our language around attraction and love is horrendously messed up, as many people who are calling themselves "asexual" would attest to. It seems to conflate all kinds of things that seem non-related to me, into one big soup. When in ordinary language I say that I'm attracted to someone of the opposite sex, and the average Joe hears that, there will be at least an assumption of being sexually attracted, and will bring a glint to his eye and a smirk to the corner of his mouth. If I state I am attracted to someone of the same sex, that automatic assumption will be less likely but still entertained as reasonable doubt which might slightly confuse that same Joe. "Attraction" is burdened with so many connotations and overtones that I do not intend. Yes, I am attracted! I'm attracted all over the place!

I used to think I was sexually attracted to all my friends, and then some people I liked, because I wanted to be physically close to them. That was a scary and embarrassing thought, I felt a bit freaky for having these urges for practically everybody. I preferred not to think about it. Until it recently occurred to me that maybe what most people are calling "sexual attraction" is not exactly the same thing as I'm experiencing. I'm imagining "wanting" somebody, wanting their body... and it just seems... disrespectful. Embarrassing. Like, not really true.

I develop strong feelings and intense attraction to some people. Sometimes more than one person at the same time. I feel urges to touch and be affectionate with people I love. In the past, I have often wondered about the intensity of my attraction, and because of this conflation concluded that it must be sexual. And I have always fantasized about people - but somehow my mind won't stay on the subject of sex. I can go on for a long time in pleasant imagination about how we are spending time together, what we are talking about, how we are looking at each other, touching each other lovingly, holding and cuddling, giving massages, even kissing if I feel very passionate. I've tried to imagine explicit sexual acts - and it feels more like a mental exercise, because I don't relate to the enjoyment that sex means for most people, so my mind strays or goes back to hugging and talking. And consistently, this fantasy happens when I'm away from a loved person - when I'm actually with them, when I can talk to them and touch them, I mostly feel fulfilled already. Doubts whether this is sexual don't cross my mind. I even don't need to touch them as much as in my imagination. And after spending some time with them, I feel kind of silly for having fantasized about such an intense physical relationship. It's like, I want closeness and intimacy with them, and symbolically, that's associated with sexual-related themes. But in reality, it doesn't have to be.

As for language that describes my experience around people: I don't know what "sexual attraction" is really, so I wouldn't use it about myself. Physical attraction is when I want to touch someone in a loving way or as a way to connect with them and communicate. This normally happens for me parallel to the development of emotional attraction, of getting to know a person and coming to care about them. Actually it doesn't work that well to break down the different kinds of attraction, because I do see it as all connected and interdependent, just one continuum. Just that so far I've never gotten to the part with anyone where I feel any strong urge to have sex. Even when I've thought what I wanted was to have sex, "heavy" cuddling has left me satisfied. And I want to challenge the assumption that sexual desire is the necessary endpoint and culmination of intense attraction. That I feel love and attraction any less strongly just because sex is not on my agenda. I doubt that very much.

So what is it that I'm attracted to in a person? I honestly don't think it has much to do with physical appearance: most people's appearance is pleasing to me, and they invariably become more physically attractive the more personally I get to know them. People I love are all beautiful people! I do have some preferences about faces and bodies that are more appealing, but that just doesn't mean very much all by itself. When I evaluate a person's appearance for attraction, it's rather in terms of how are they taking care of their body, what their face and body language tell me about their feelings, and what their external markers of identity display about their personality.

I think what I'm actually attracted to is the potential I sense for resonance, connection and intimacy. Seeing how open and transparent someone is with me, is very exciting and powerfully attractive. It can sweep me away: the feeling that I could be utterly real with another human being has me always coming back for more. That's also why I can be attracted to several people: because obviously more than one person can represent that in my life. I'd love to be able to freely explore physical intimacy as an expression of love and closeness in a context that doesn't spill over into sexuality.


  1. you don't know me, but i wanted to thank you so much for writing this blog. the second paragraph in particular really resonates with me. i spend so much time feeling different, and it's such a relief to finally get to feel the same.

  2. another anonymous here... =)

    just throwing out my appreciation as well. I just came across this blog and others through the AVEN all has been such a relief, like that weight being lifted thing. Thank you for writing and being able to articulate so eloquently. the majority of what you write connects and resonates with me.
    well done, and keep it up for as long as you feel you want to. ;)
    have a good one-