Question of the Week: August 22nd, 2017.

How old were you when you realized you were ace and were there signs in retrospect?

I was 32. I had know ace friends since I was 17. It just didn’t click for me because I’m not sex averse and I am extremely touch positive. There are things that make so much more sense to me now though. I’ve always known I was a bit of a relationship weirdo. I’ve always dated poly-adjacent folks, not because I like being poly, but because I just genuinely don’t understand what normal relationship boundaries are. I mean… I do. You don’t kiss or have sex with people that aren’t your partner. Easy! But what about the other things? What about cuddling? What about emotional intimacy? What’s the difference between my partner and my other significant people where all these things are concerned?

When I got old enough to start making deliberate choices about relationships instead of falling into them bc it seemed like a good idea at the time, I start examining how these things made me different to other people, and realized there was this whole other world of attraction and reasons people got into relationships that I just didn’t have! And am honestly grateful for because I think it lets me make much better relationship choices.

Have you always known you were ace or different somehow? What helped you figure it out and does it change how you look at past choices you made?

About astarlia

Astarlia is proud of herself for only having volunteered for..... okay if you have to stop and count it's probably too many things isn't it? She is passionate about nerd culture, disability and mental health, alternative relationships, sexuality, and young adult fiction.
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17 Responses to Question of the Week: August 22nd, 2017.

  1. Sennkestra says:

    I started realizing that I was ace/aro around age 17 or 18 I think – I had always known I was “not interested” (in boys…or girls…) but that was when I started to realize:

    1. That not even being able to detect any preference for boys vs. girls was not really normal
    2. That most people my age actually were interested in dating/romancing/hooking up with other people, and not just faking it or doing it out of “peer pressure”
    3. That asexuality was actually a serious option

    In retrospect, there’s a lot of things that should have at the very least been big bright flags that something was up but at the time I just sort of….assumed that everyone else felt the same.

    One of the big ones that I remember is being part of a parent-teen communication study where I filled out periodic surveys, and on everything single one I remember answering the question about “are you attracted more to boys or girls” with “both equally/unsure” with zero hesitation. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it (my only concerns were what giftcard I would get in exchange for completing the survey) but in retrospect that’s totally not what most (i.e. straight) people would likely answer…

    One of the things I find interesting is that even before I identified as ace, I never really though of myself as straight or gay or anything else – I was just….pending puberty. So I guess props to my family for raising me without heterosexist assumptions?

    Meanwhile, on the topic of more signs that should have been really obvious, there’s also the fact that my friends and I used to make jokes about me being asexual and reproducing via budding. If I only I had known how true that would be…

  2. agigabyte says:

    I’m only fifteen, and realized I was ace about a year and a half ago, soon after my fourteenth birthday. At first it was an idle thought, but then I realized how much the idea of having sex disgusted me, and began reading up further. Back then, I knew nothing of sex-positivity, or indifference, or negativity. I’d heard Demi in passing, but didn’t know what it meant. I was quite happy to discover Asexual Agenda.

  3. Jess says:

    So I didn’t realize until I was in my late 20s (I’m 31 now). In retrospect, it’s beyond obvious. I’ve never even kissed anyone, and have never wanted to, but I grew up THINKING I did, because I’d had exactly one long-term crush on a boy that mostly centered around me wanting to be special/to be paid attention to. I assumed that meant I was straight. I didn’t hear of asexuality until after college, and when I did it was on a news report to the tune of ‘can you believe these freaks exist?’ I didn’t think that applied to me b/c a) I didn’t want to think I was one of the ‘freaks’ and b) I had a libido (one news report from around 2007 didn’t exactly spend time on the distinction between libido and attraction) and liked reading romance/erotic fiction (this was also long before I’d heard of the possibility of being autochorissexual).

    Looking back, it sometimes makes me angry, because I grew up really miserable and isolated; I felt different in ways I had no conceptual understanding of. I couldn’t describe in words or even coherent thoughts what it was that was different about me. I didn’t think that I didn’t want kissing/sex, because I didn’t think that was an actual state of being. I assumed I did, and just lived with the cognitive dissonance that caused me every day.

    When I eventually realized, it didn’t hit me all at once. I met people online (outside of ace-focused spaces, though) who were more accepting and kind. I read a piece by Swankivy that got really good reception and great comments, and I started to think about it more. I first IDed as demi, but it wasn’t too long before I realized I was fully ace/aro. I try not to spend too much time thinking about how it would have been if there was more ace awareness when I was in high school, and what that would have meant for me. I try to look forward and keep untangling the things I always assumed I wanted from the things that I actually want; the things that are right for me.

    TL;DR I wish I’d heard of asexuality earlier, as I think it would have improved my formative years.

    • Rivers says:

      I definitely relate to this paragraph here

      “Looking back, it sometimes makes me angry, because I grew up really miserable and isolated; I felt different in ways I had no conceptual understanding of. I couldn’t describe in words or even coherent thoughts what it was that was different about me. I didn’t think that I didn’t want kissing/sex, because I didn’t think that was an actual state of being. I assumed I did, and just lived with the cognitive dissonance that caused me every day.”

      Even though I started IDing at a much younger age, I still experienced all of this. It made me angry when I was fifteen (when I start to ID), and even with the stuff I went through when I was younger, it made me angry when I was nine (when I realized I didn’t have to be in a relationship). I felt that I had been cheated out of being myself and understanding myself when I was nine. Not everyone has that experience, but some people do. I don’t think we can over exaggerate the importance of letting people know we exist, because it could very well help other people find out that they exist.

    • astarlia says:

      yeah it’s so hard to seperate what you actually want from conditioning ❤

  4. S. says:

    I was nearly 21 when I identified as asexual. Sixteen when I started questioning my sexuality. But looking back, in retrospect, I think I can go as far back as primary school, it was just I went with the flow, the cultural norms, etc. But looking back, sex was always so foreign to me, something I never really got. I mean, when I learnt about sex and stuff, I only took it as something other people did, never me.

    When I first heard about asexuality, I was sixteen. The reason why I didn’t identify with it straight away was because of my lack of knowledge about aromaticism and other romantic orientations. All I read about what hetero – romanticism, which I didn’t get.

  5. Rivers says:

    I came across the term asexual when I was 15 and instantly identified it as something I had always felt but never had explained. However, discovering myself started a lot earlier.

    (Note: I am an aroace and so that will reflect on my personal experiences).

    When I was nine, I figured out that people could be single, and it may have honestly been the greatest revelation of my childhood. The fact that I didn’t have to be in or want a relationship was huge even when I was a kid, because I had never ever heard of anything other than a straight monogamous marriage. I thought EVERYONE had to get/got married and had kids and that there was literally no alternative to this. And even though I was only nine, it was already hurting me. I was pressured to pretend I had romantic crushes as early as first grade. I had platonic squishes in first and second grade with no way to explain them. I grew up thinking that I HAD to get married and that reflected on how I saw my future and made me very depressed even though I had no clue why because I didn’t have any of the framework to possibly describe what I was feeling.

    This broke when I realized that I could be single. I didn’t have to have crushes. I didn’t have to date. I didn’t have to get married. I didn’t have to have kids.

    I didn’t want those things and realizing that freed me in a way I hadn’t been before, and no one could tell me that it wasn’t real. That I would change.

    Of course, a lot of that is a mixture of me being both aro and ace and not wanting certain things. This was, however, the start of how I began to realize myself. I had a long way to go, but it did end up laying an important foundation. It’s why when I first heard the word “asexual”, I knew it was me. It was just a more complete part of the puzzle. It explained all the things I had realized about myself.

    Like I knew I had branches and roots when I was nine, but I hadn’t known I was a tree till I was fifteen.

    And I like being a tree.

  6. luvtheheaven says:

    Wow when you were 17 I was 12 or so (because I am 27 now) and I’m very envious and at the same time continue to find it a bit hard to believe that somewhere, that year when I was 12, people knew about asexuality and were already identifying specifically that way. Theoretically I’m aware that AVEN formed when i was 11 and there is even history before that, but emotionally I’m just stuck knowing that when i was 17 I had no conceptual framework for it at all yet and my life would be different if i had. I didn’t really start looking into asexuality until after college when I was 22 and 23 (finally identifying that way three months before my 24th birthday) because that was the earliest trajectory possible given the circumstances of my life. (Yes I very much relate time that paragraph of Jess’ that Rivers pointed out, too.) Even when I was 22, before I went on my first date that year and had my first kiss, I was so sure I was straight.

    But were there signs in retrospect? Of course. One I haven’t blogged about much (despite having blogged about my experiences a ton) is the fact that I started fantasizing that I wanted to become family with my closest friends NOT by marrying them myself, but by playing the “what if my brother married them?” game. Which was ridiculous since my brother wasn’t interested in them nor vice versa. However, I did this while still extra young, prepubescent. I can’t be sure this isn’t something I would’ve still imagined if I was to later turn out allosexual.

    I have no idea if me loving the idea of raising foster or adopted children and deciding I wanted it for myself around age 13 was influenced by me being asexual or not, but by then I was already freaked out to realize a few kids in my grade were holding hands and “dating”, whatever that meant to 7th or 8th graders in my school, I already felt like i was kinda “deciding” who I had a crush on, I already knew I didn’t understand why a girl would care what the members of a boyband *looked* like but that in fact many did… I already knew that the thought that sex was something that could “happen” between bodies the way my 7th grade sex-ed implied (more like reproduction & puberty ed that year) was uncomfortable as confusing to me probably more than it was “supposed” to be. Etc.

    I imagine if I knew about asexuality as a real option (so yes, not just framed as “for freaks”), I might’ve considered it for myself as soon as puberty was happening, and would’ve likely fully embraced my actual sexual orienation before going to college instead of after 4 years there. The moments when I wondered if I might be bi would have happened earlier or differently. Etc etc.

  7. TreePeony says:

    I think I knew I was not like (almost) everyone else since 16 or so, which is when all the girls around me suddenly started to resent pretty/hot women and stare at guys (real and fictional), while I could only appreciate people’s aesthetic qualities+personality+intelligence, with zero discrimination according to gender or sex. I thought I was bisexual at first because someone online was talking about how they discovered themselves to be bi through an ostensibly similar experience… Until I realised that bisexual still had a ‘sexual’ part to it, which my sex-averse self immediately felt repelled by. I was adrift after that for a while, but had university entrance exams on my mind and no time for self-discovery. The moment I saw a proper description of asexuality (at 20-21), I went this! in my mind. And only a few months after that that, I had an understanding of the split attraction model and realised that my boredom with romance in fiction, complete lack of interest in marriage/romantic partnership and obsession with the lifestyle of the original Sherlock Holmes (lol) pointed firmly to ‘aromantic’ as well.

    I suppose my combination of orientations made it much easier for me to ID as aro ace, since I’m a “classic” example; and to top it all off, I’m pretty touch-averse and emotional-intimacy-averse towards anyone who isn’t immediate family. I do have something vaguely resembling a sex drive, which another early discovery of the definition of ‘autochrissosexuality’ took care of. (This seems to be an obsolete term now, though I don’t know why: it was very useful in dispelling any vestiges of doubt I had) I guess you could say I was very fortunate with my sources, since I didn’t discover the more toxic sides of the community and acephobia/arophobia until I was pretty self-confident in my own identity. But then again, I’m only 26 so plenty of resources were available since before I started to need them.

    That being said, during the ages of 16-22, I got pretty depressed whenever my friends would ‘dump’ me as soon as they got themselves a romantic partner. I’ve come to terms with it now, and the ace/aro community online helped a lot with that.

  8. DasTenna says:

    I didn´t find the label until I was 33. But since my peers started acting “weird and childish” (my words exactly at the time) when I was around 11 or 12, I knew I was different somehow. Never figured out in which way, though, because I never talked to anyone about my feelings. Most of the time I thought everyone else was weird while in puberty. I didn´t really know which sexuality fits me, but since I had romantic feelings for boys and since I didn´t like most of the stuff girls were interested in, I assumed to be heterosexual. But if someone asked me whether I was heterosexual, I couldn´t answer with absolute certainty.
    In relationships I realized again that something was different. I often thought that I was weird and/or mentally ill. But deep inside me, I was pretty sure that it was just the way I was and that there wouldn´t be any use in seeing a doctor because there was nothing to “cure”. There was no need to change myself because I couldn´t be “changed”. But I never talked to someone because I didn´t have the right words. Until last year when I started writing. It was the time I found the label and found out who I was. First, it was kind of a struggle. But exploring my sexuality is like breaking free. It´s amazing.

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