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So are you saying I can't be asexual with guys?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by DecentOne, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. DecentOne

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    Hi,
    Kinda confused by a post I just read here in this section (started by Snowysky), where a staff member (Chip) said the AVEN stuff isn't so. I won't hijack that thread, so I said I'd start my own.

    I've considered myself Hetero, but always (since middle school at least) accepted that I've found some guys attractive. Some things were common in the way I perked up around a girl and a boy back then, but guys didn't affect me in the same way as the girls did. My body's reactions to girls when I was in puberty and even later when I was a single adult could be embarrassingly obvious, for example, but I never got that with a guy, even when friends came out to me.

    How to explain? Let me try a real-life example from memory: One time, a year or so after graduating from college, a male friend from college came to visit me at my apartment and in the night came to me and asked me to lay back and tried to put himself inside my mouth. I gently held him off and told him no, and later just sat there and hugged him for a while and said "it's ok, you're ok" and tried to reassure him he hadn't ruined our friendship, I just wasn't interested in that, then I sent him back to where he was sleeping. In the morning I made him pancakes. But looking back now I wonder if he'd asked to crawl into my bed and just cuddle next to me through the night I might have said "umm... maybe..." and been ok with it.

    There are guys I like, and think are kinda cute, and my whole self says "I want to be closer to him, I want to get to know him, I feel like I come alive as we got to know each other, and I could love him and I want him to be my best friend." I've been looking online and I thought that my Kinsey 1 was more gray-ace.

    But then I read what Chip said.

    I would be glad to answer any more questions, hear anyone's experience (or non-experience) and opinions. I thought I had figured myself out, but if I'm wrong, EC seems to be a good place to be open to outside perspectives.
     
  2. Chiroptera

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    I advise you to ignore complicated labels - most of them aren't trustworthy, scientifically speaking.

    Instead, think of orientation like a spectrum.

    Homo-------------------------Hetero
    Bi

    Imagine a bar (a better one than this ugly scheme of mine :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:). In one end, there are people who are exclusively homosexual, and are never interested in the opposite sex. In the other end, there are heterosexual, who are never interested in the same sex.

    Bisexual is everything between these two. You don't necessarily need to be in the middle, having exactly the same amount of attraction to men and women. You can be really, really, really near one extreme, but you are still not "standing on it", and you still find the opposite/same gender sexually interesting some times.

    From what you describe, you can be heterosexual, or you are very near that side of the bar, but not necessarily on the very extreme. Of course, only you can judge that, but that's what it appears based on your story.
     
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  3. Creativemind

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    Asexuality exists as a real orientation, but split orientation can be confusing. We have no idea whether or not it's real, or if someone has internalized homophobia and isn't to the point where they feel romantic or sexual attraction yet (and this isn't just for asexuals, but any split orientation)
     
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  4. DecentOne

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    Thanks. I do think I am "very near that side" but not on the extreme of Heterosexual. I like the spectrum, I'm good with that.
    The part that gets me is I like the stuff I've read online about asexual or gray-scale, because while I'd never fit the extreme, there are at least situations (and genders?) where that really makes sense for me.
     
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  5. DecentOne

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    Thanks for responding with this. I am unfamiliar with "split orientation"? Are you talking about me being able to be attracted to guys, even as I know I am mostly attracted to females (and married one)?

    Internalized homophobia. I definitely grew up in a time when that was external, and even with outright parental permission to accept LGBT (see my other post about my mother bringing me places) I'm sure the dominant societal pressures got to me in the past century. But I've thought I was pretty honest with myself about accepting I could find guys attractive. Would the internalized stuff make me feel it was ok to like a guy, but prevent me from being open to a sexual side? I'll think about this some more today... Thanks.

    I'm not sure I've been highly driven (sexually) in hetero relationships either. I was a late bloomer and then a perfect gentleman (and now monogamous). But I've gone "all the way" with my wife, with pleasure, so I'm not claiming gray-scale there.
     
    #5 DecentOne, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  6. Secrets5

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    If you are sexually attracted to both males and females, and you consider this significant, then you are bisexual.
    If you experience sexual attraction, then you are not asexual. If you haven't experienced sexual attraction but have mental health issues (e.g. depression) or have experienced abuse then this may be a factor, and would have to solve this before looking at sexual attraction.

    (I need a 20pence jar for every time I write this) Only 20% of people (10% either side) are 100% hetero or homo sexual. The rest is some form of bisexuality. Now, someone who is 98% hetero and 2% homo might still call themselves hetero as their homo attraction is so insignificant that they'll never act on it and therefore not convenient for social conversation.
     
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  7. Chip

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    Asexuality is a real orientation, but very small in comparision to others (assuming we're using the widely used definition, and not the crowdsourced, research-free one that AVEN and its supporters use). Someone who is truly asexual has no sexual attraction whatsoever, so it would not be possible to be "heterosexual" and also "asexual." The letter "a" in Latin means "without", as in "atonal = without tone" or "atypical= without typicality" and in the same way "asexual" means "without sexual attraction."


    Yes, yes, 100% yes. The overwhelming number of people who label themselves "asexual" using the AVEN criteria probably are not; they are more likely suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions that cause a lack of interest in sex. AVEN's own poorly designed studies show that 60% of people who self-report asexuality also report depression or anxiety; we cannot accurately look at one without looking at the other causal factors.

    Again, yes. Sexuality is a spectrum, with only a small portion of people totally at one end or the other. We did fine for decades with a handful of labels that accurately described this, based on thousands of studies looking at attraction, orientation, and other factors, and these things don't change over a short period. It has only been since the "self esteem" generation has grown up that suddenly we have the need for 1000000000 labels, none of which have any basis in research or replicability. Generally speaking, simpler is better: Less need to explain, less need to decide which of a bunch of different unrecognized labels someone fits into, and, most of all, easiest to understand within the context of self.
     
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  8. DecentOne

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    That's the crux of this. I have experience being sexually attracted to females, not males. But I am attracted to males, in ways that seem like love deeply and in nearly every way but not sex. It seemed to make sense to me to say I am heterosexual, but with an asexual attraction to some guys.

    It is worth repeating even if you don't get paid :slight_smile:
    I think your final point works for me, except that my non-sexual attraction to guys has not felt insignificant when it happens. And there is something about that attraction that (while not coming up in social conversation) draws me to examine it more fully. Thanks Secrets5
     
  9. Chip

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    So here's a serious question: When you masturbate without porn, have you tried thinking about guys as potential fantasy material, and then comparing the arousal response to thinking about women? That is basically the most accurate way we currently have of evaluating sexual attraction. Guys who are totally straight generally have a totally "Meh" response to attempting to masturbate to fantasies of other guys. Guys who are gay (or bi) are likely to have a strong (sometimes unwanted) response to fantasies about men, and guys who haven't yet accepted this part of themselves are likely to feel guilty and shitty after ejaculation. That's usually pretty consistent, because the sexual arousal is coming from the unconscious, which isn't affected so much by what the conscious wants.

    By (the widely used) definition, "asexual" means, essentially, zero interest whatsoever in sex. So this wouldn't really be an accurate characterization. Perhaps a better one is heterosexual, with an interest in emotionally intimate male friendships (though I admit that's a little long and clunky, at least it's accurate.)
     
  10. DecentOne

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    Chip, Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    Yeah, it is pretty clear I'm not asexual with my wife. But I thought the descriptions worked really well for the ways I'd interacted with male friends. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for me, going forward, to just say it that way: I have signaled my level of attraction to male friends sometimes in the past, but the kind of attraction I feel to them seems more like what is described as not sexual.

    Yes, that works. I, like millions, like the animated short, "In A Heartbeat". I don't see anything sexual when I see it (yes I identify with the yearning, love, attraction, embarrassment, heartbreak). Well, maybe the holding hands at the end. Other than that (or even with that) I'm identifying with the "emotionally intimate" and rooting for them part.

    I don't think we need all the labels either. But I'm glad we're not stuck with the way labels were used in the 1970's.

    I've thought some more about what Creativemind got me thinking about: internalized homophobia. Since it seems my previous attempts to claim I'm on a gray scale (most noticeably with guys) is unsupportable, I need to try the internalized homophobia theory on for size. So then my ability to be non-sexual with guys isn't some innate thing, it is learned, and given my acknowledgement of having been attracted to some friends, I'm not thinking this is insignificant and something to ignore. I don't want that homophobia inside me.

    I'm glad you asked about masturbation as a test. I hadn't seen that idea until I visited here at EC. I just figured fantasy was fantasy. In my younger years I don't recall ever having sex-with-a-guy in mind while masturbating. That isn't true anymore. Which could mean I'm shifting on the scale, or more likely (using what I'm learning from Creativemind's question) letting go of some internalized homophobia. Maybe I'm mentally and emotionally ready for this, and I wasn't before? That seems odd though, as I've been a great ally to others, and know I wouldn't have been rejected. Worth paying attention to this...
     
    #10 DecentOne, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  11. Chip

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    I think both are interrelated. There are an awful lot of people who have gone through this process at EC, where they essentially create an artificial wall in which they say "I'd definitely like a deep friendship with guys but would never have sex with them". And often, that's simply a wall created out of internalized homophobia or, perhaps better stated, a desperate fear of finding something out about themselves they don't want to know. It's entirely possible for this to manifest out of the blue in someone who has never felt these things earlier in life... denial can be incredibly powerful.

    What's interesting is that for those who do figure out later in life that they are same-sex attracted, often once they have become fully comfortable with the idea, they start to remember little experiences or vignettes of situations or experiences -- maybe a TV commercial where they were attracted to the same-sex person rather than the opposite sex one, or a same-sex friend that they felt a level of closeness to that they didn't feel with anyone else.

    That, too, is a common experience for people who come out later in life. They can maintain this dichotomy where they're totally comfortable being supportive to other gay people, but are convinced that they, themselves, aren't gay. Again, the denial process can be pretty amazing in its ability to completely blind us.

    To be clear... I'm not saying this is the case for you. But since you brought it up, it is a pretty common experience.
     
  12. fadedstar

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    As people communicate with body language and not just spoken words I don't think labels are really as important as everyone makes them out to be. Just be yourself, do what you're comfortable doing and don't do anything you're not comfortable doing. Make sure you set clear boundaries with people and that you understand someone else's boundaries before trying anything with them (I think that's where verbal communication is most useful.)
     
  13. DecentOne

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    Thanks for posting NobleShark. I had been told when I was younger that my body signals to a friend included my pupils getting so large he could no longer make out the color of my irises. I know my smiles and energy were good around him. My below the belt reaction / body language was never that way with him though. I fear I am one of those "straight" friends who ends up mixing up signals and leading my close-emotional guy-friends to think it is going to go further. I read on EC of how torturous that can feel to the gay person crushing on the straight friend. Kind of hard to set boundaries up front, if I really do want a guy to be close but not as a lover (but I myself am shifting somehow, and I can't completely say if that is true). Somewhat scary for me to re-enter the pursuit of male friendship (which has lapsed through marriage, moves, and raising kids to adulthood) at this stage of life, if I haven't figured out "I'm just a really really loving straight friend" or if it is something else. I'm fantasizing about guys now, whereas over past decades I had females on my mind. But that is all in my mind, and I've never cheated on my wife, nor would I want to hurt her. You are right the label itself may not matter, but the concept of who I am and what I'm now capable of doing really matters to me.
     
  14. DecentOne

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    I am resurrecting this 3 year old thread. On purpose.

    Six months after this thread closed in Dec. 2017, I changed my EC profile from “Straight” to “Bisexual”. I’m proud of the openness I had to the input of others here, and the quick work I did with a LGBTQ therapist.

    My fantasies in that time period had gone from females to males, pretty much exclusively finally. A part of me rising to my attention? A shift from a weak Kinsey 1, to a Kinsey 2? I remember having a hard time explaining it. I came out to my wife and was ready to be out to everyone, pretty much dispelling any idea that I had “internalized homophobia”. My generic blank avatar got changed to the Shift Key.

    I hear in this thread my yearning for male bonding - what @Chip called an Emotionally Intimate Friendship. I still don’t have that, have not had it since High School and College at least, and society seems fine with that (even if stats say I’m more likely to have a heart attack if I don’t have close friends). Career moves, fear of making it emotionally painful for a guy (what if he wants more than friendship? I’m not in the position to go there.), and my wife’s fears (and resulting control) are in the way, even three years later.

    I’m confused too, as I read a recent (Nov. 2020) thread by @RD Spencer where Chip was now saying Romantic was the same as Emotionally Intimate Friendship. I thought it was something different from previous descriptions.

    So... good to hear myself from three years ago. I’m clearer now about my orientation since then. Glad to still be here on EC. Hoping for clarity on friendships.
     
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  15. Chip

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    Perhaps some of what I wrote was less than crystal clear, but my position on this has never wavered: Nobody's come up with any credible evidence, research, or even good data from professionals in the field that shows any support for the idea of discordant sexual and romantic sexual orientations.

    So what this means is that what is described as "romantic orientation" is simply another word for "emotionally intimate friendship." And, in fact, when you look at what the folks promoting the (unsupported) idea that, in fact, there are separate romantic and sexual orientations, invariably, the description they use for "romantic orientation" is indistinguishable from a deep, meaningful, vulnerable friendship.

    So basically, from my perspective (supported by what I have read and seen) the two are indistinguishable and always have been.
     
  16. DecentOne

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    I was never romantic with my friends. I know what romantic feels like, it was not that. How is “romantic orientation” another word (synonym) for Emotionally Intimate Friendship?
    I’m no longer asking about separate Romantic & Sexual orientations. I’m asking why “romantic” is now the same as a form of friendship.
    Are all friendships romantic in your understanding?
    This is very important to me Chip, as I’m wanting a best friend, and I can’t have that (within my marriage) if you are saying a close friendship is by definition romantic.
     
  17. Chip

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    And this is the whole problem with people trying to separate romantic and sexual orientation. When one is romantic toward someone, it is pretty inherently sexual in nature. That's why the two cannot be separated.

    So it isn't accurate to say that "having a romantic relationship" and "having a deep, emotionally intimate, friendship" are the same thing, because the former, by it's nature, implies a loving, sexual relationship.

    What's going on here is the people who make shit up with no grounding or basis in research or study or facts simply decide something, and promote it as a thing, when it isn't.

    So when someone says they feel "romantic attraction" to someone but have no interest in them sexually, that attraction isn't romantic if we're using the word correctly. A "romantic attraction" to someone where there's no sexual attraction is, indeed, an emotionally intimate friendship.

    Thus, if you want to cultivate a deep, meaningful, emotionally intimate friendship with someone, and you feel no sexual connection to them.... that's a deep, meaningful, emotionally intimate friendship. It isn't "romantic." Neither is the so-called "romantic" attraction to someone that some folks are trying to promote. And that is, indeed, part of why there's no evidence of discordant romantic and sexual orientation.
     
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  18. DecentOne

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    Forget the title of this thread. I am no longer wrestling with that in 2020, compared to 2017.

    On RD Spencer’s thread this month you said the above quote. But what you are quoting to me in this thread (and another older one) is that they _are_ different (not the same thing) because of the sexual aspect of romantic orientation differentiates it from friendship. That’s all I’m pointing out. These two threads have different ways of explaining “Emotionally Intimate Friendship” and it confused me. I think we’re back to what I understood - I had close friendships, they did not include sexual attraction, and they can be labeled “Emotionally Intimate”. (And that is what I miss!)
     
  19. Chip

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    You're splitting gnat hairs. They are the same thing and they are not the same thing. The incorrectly used term "romantic orientation" does not refer to romantic orientation, it refers to emotionally intimate friendship. There's no such thing as "romantic orientation" in terms of a kind of connection to someone that isn't sexual but somehow is "romantic." 'romantic orientation' exists, but is a part of sexual orientation and therefore is intrinsic to, and inseparable from, one's sexual orientation.
     
  20. DecentOne

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    Thanks! Now I get it.