First, a bit of a clarification before we get to the good part of the story: for someone to be asexual means that they do not experience sexual attraction. Many of us — including me — still experience romantic attraction. I do not speak for all asexuals; my experiences are not theirs. Standard boilerplate disclaimer.
Because we live in a world where many people conflate romance and sex (and for other reasons, including my mental health and, honestly the way I look, I abstain from any kind of romantic relationships at all. That’s not true for all aces; there are many in happy romantic relationships.
But that, however, was never my destiny.
Growing up, I always felt a sort of intellectual curiosity when it came to love. Like, how does it happen?
There’s some sort of science to it, or maybe a magic. It’s a blurry line for me, like part of me is stuck in the dark ages, where I can’t be sure if what I’m witnessing is witchcraft, or if it’s a science so advanced that it might as well be.
Is it fate happening? Does the universe casts these people together, either forever or for a preordained amount of time, to love each other, to take care of each other (or, perhaps, to break each other) and to send them each on their merry way?
Or, else, is it science? Something that can be distilled down to magnetism or chemicals, hormones that can be measured and analyzed, a desire for sex, that human urge to procreate, or else a desire for physical intimacy.
Maybe it’s both. Either way, I’ve come to accept that it is beyond my understanding, beyond my capacity to really experience. All I can do is try to wrap my mind around it.
I understand friendship, of course. I’ve had some very good friends in my life, and still have a few. But something about romance is like adding an extra dimension, an extra variable that breaks all the rules. My relationships are all three dimensional, but Eros, that specific kind of love, adds an extra dimension that I just can’t wrap my brain around.
Then again, I was never very good at math.
Every novel idea that I’ve had has contained a romantic story — either as the main plot, or as a subplot. I don’t know why. Part of me wishes that I was a better asexual, in that I didn’t write about these things, that I didn’t perpetuate them so much.
But my highest goal in writing is to be honest about the world, with all of its ugly and imperfect blemishes. And that means, for most characters, that means romance and sex are a part of that story. Even if those things are more confusing to me than hieroglyphs were for Egyptologists before the Rosetta Stone was found.
For me, it’s like writing about generational starships or dinosaurs or dragons or knights or princesses or adventure. It’s fantastical and amazing and world-changing, but it’s not something I’ll ever experience first-hand. It’s something I can try to observe, but I won’t ever try to understand.
It’s like being able to see an extra color of the rainbow. I can try to imagine it. I almost have to try to imagine it.
But I feel like a fraud sometimes, trying to tell those stories. Trying to capture that thing that is beyond me. That spark, that energy, that electricity, that pull.
I see it happen. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. With real people, and in enough fictional stories to kill a team of oxen. I’m trying to reach a little bit further. I want that extra click of understanding. It’s like when you read ahead in a textbook and you start trying to internalize the idea, but you don’t really understand it, it doesn’t really click until you go to class and the teacher teaches the lesson.
Except there’s no teacher and lesson to come, at least in my case. I’ve just got to wing it as best I can. Luckily, I’ve got some really good textbooks. Sometimes, I get caught up in trying to logically understand love, but sometimes, a really great writer can just sweep me away.
(I’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day with Katie McGarry. Her books always manage to sweep me away.)
There’s a part of me that feels like a hot mess whenever I talk about my asexuality, like I’m speaking a language that nobody understands.
It’s always been more of a negative thing — not in the usual sense that we use the word in everyday English; I don’t think that it’s a bad thing. I mean it in the sense that we used the term in my psychology class. My asexuality means that I am missing something, something acute and very rare.
I feel kind of stupid just talking about it. Like I can’t fathom my stars into constellations, to borrow a phrase from John Green.
But it’s Valentine’s day, and well . . . while y’all are off getting wined and dined and laid, I wanted to say something.