Asexuality Revisited

by Jason Stotts

When I last wrote about asexuality, I think I may have missed one obvious way for people to have become asexual: very bad early sexual experiences.  We, as a culture, hype sex up so much, especially that magical time of “losing your virginity” and “becoming a man (or woman)” that when two virgins finally bumble their way into penetration, they’re frequently not exactly impressed with the experience.  And this is sad.  It’s like telling them that basketball is the best thing in life, only showing them videos of Michael Jordan playing (never practicing, mind you), and then telling them to get to it.  We expect kids to “just know” how to have sex, even though sexual skills are skills like any other and must be learned.

I realized my oversight when someone wrote to me, and said (personal history redacted):

[Then] I finally slept with someone who was actually good for once and it gave me hope that I might not be asexual forever and maybe it’ll just take someone patient and willing to help me figure this shit out.  But the thing is, people who are good at sex are probably going to be people who are into sex, who are not really going to want to take the time to help someone who is terrible at sex.

The person had a very bad first relationship with another virgin and even though they tried to have sex multiple times, they never quite got the hang of it and both of them considered it bad and she frequently found it painful. As a result, she considered herself asexual for several years and is only now reconsidering whether she really is asexual or whether it was simply a result of early bad experiences.  Now she feels at a disadvantage because she doesn’t know much about sex or have sexual skills and she thinks this will be a liability in finding a partner who will want to have a sexual relationship with her and help her learn about her sexuality.

Luckily for her, many men love sexually inexperienced women and would be glad to help her practice.  It would be much worse for her were she a man, as men are expected to just know how to have sex, which is ironic because most men must be bad at it given the responses in surveys of women’s sexual satisfaction.

If you have had bad early sexual experiences and this has caused you to dislike sex or have a lot of anxiety about finding a new partner, the best things to do are to:

1) Learn to masturbate well and learn about your own body.

2) Watch porn and read erotica so you have some idea (however vague) of what things you may be interested in trying.

3) Realize that most people watch porn, read erotica, or fantasize while they masturbate. (This is a common oversight among people new to masturbation or who profess not to enjoy it)

4) Read books on sexual technique (like Tristan Taormino’s The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women), attend a class (like the class I did at ATLOSCon) or many sex toy stores have classes, and many big name sex-experts travel around the country speaking (like Tristan Taormino).

5) Be upfront with your partner that you aren’t very sexually experienced, but that you’re eager to learn.  If someone is turned off by that and doesn’t want to help you grow sexually, they’re not the right partner for you and you should find that out as soon as possible.

5) Get some sexual experience.  Start dating or start a mutually beneficial friends with benefits relationship.  There is no way to learn sexual skills without actually having sex.

Ultimately, sexual skills are not hard to learn, but do require lots of practice and conscious thought about what you are doing and why.  They require an understanding of physiology and human sexual response.  They also require honesty with yourself about your actual skill level and a willingness to learn and grow.  Finally, a word of warning, the sexual things that are exactly right for one partner may be exactly wrong for another, so do remember to take your partner into account and talk to them about what they like and dislike and be aware of their sexual response in the moment.


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1 Response to “Asexuality Revisited”

  1. Anonymous

    I tried to leave a version of this comment on Formspring, but they severely limit the length and it doesn’t seem to work anyway.

    For a small part of the population, asexuality is as normal and natural as sex is for everyone else. Ever since I can remember, I have never connected human beings and sexual feelings. I have no interest in having sex or touching people in a sexual way or being touched or any of that. Period. I don’t see other people in a sexual way, no matter what sex, color, appearance, etc. It gives me no anxiety, and I am not afraid of sex. I’m not a prude and I do think that sex is good and wonderful — for others. It’s just not a desire that I have inside of me.

    I originally wrote to you through Formspring in 2010 and I tried some of your suggestions (which I thank you for taking the time to make). But I am unable to make myself feel a certain way just because it’s philosophically correct. Even without sex in my life, I am psychologically healthy and happy. The only thing I feel bad about is not having an easy way to experience raising children, but I am hopeful that I can someday find someone who will allow a single father to adopt.