Asexuals Discuss Their Valentine’s Day Plans
Shop windows are currently full of red lacy bras, and a lot of shoppers will be walking around with fluffy handcuffs stuffed in their bags, while adorning fresh Hollywood waxes.
Valentine’s Day is here, bringing a flurry of innuendos and Kama Sutra analysing, because, behind all the fancy dinner plans and cute gestures, there’s a certain wink-wink, nudge-nudge insinuation.
It’s assumed the planet is divided into two distinct groups: those who’ll be at it like enthusiastic rabbits February 14, and those who wish they were.
However, when observing this oyster fuelled, rose petal scented tornado of lust, remember there are plenty of loved-up – and non loved-up – people out there who are absolutely fine without.
For many people, romance is regarded as synonymous with sex. After going on a good date with someone, friends will usually begin to pester, ‘Did you do it? When are you going to do it?’
Sharing a bed with someone is usually viewed by sexual people as an intrinsic part of coupling up, bonding you beyond just being mates or people who snog for a bit at a bar. But this isn’t the way for everyone.
For example, romantic asexuals – who differ from aromantic asexuals in that they experience romantic attraction – for them, the path to true love may have quite different road signs. However, they may still experience intensely close and emotionally fulfilling connections.
Indeed, many asexuals – or ‘aces’ – enjoy full, happy relationships, without the desire or expectation of necessarily taking things to the bedroom.
Asexuality is an under-discussed sexual orientation, so it understandably takes a little more time to get your head around the various complex identities the term encompasses.
Asexuality describes people who don’t experience, or very rarely experience, sexual attraction. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t fall in love. Like in all walks of life, some do, and some don’t.
UNILAD spoke with Karen Pollock, a Counselling Directory member, about common misconceptions surrounding asexuality and romance:
Asexuality is a relatively new word for a concept which has always existed. Often it gets confused with celibacy (choosing not to have sex) or assumptions are made that asexuals are cold and unfeeling.
Not being sexually attracted (or only very rarely under certain circumstances) doesn’t mean you can’t feel anything! Lastly it’s important to point out asexuals can and do have sex! Some asexuals are averse to sex, others are not, both are valid ways of being!
Despite having a different outlook on sex, many asexuals will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, showing their love and commitment in a variety of unique ways.
However, Valentine’s Day can bring challenges for those with asexuality, who risk being shamed for their orientation. Some are even treated as though they somehow ‘need to be fixed’, even by those close to them.
Pollock told UNILAD:
It most certainty can be, sadly sometimes partners of asexuals can shame them, and even demand sex as a right, claiming asexuals are ‘broken’ or using awful words like ‘frigid’.
Occasions like Valentine’s Day can mean increased pressure, especially if the partner is not accepting of their asexual identity.
19-year-old YouTuber and asexual activist, Emi Salida identifies as grey/aromantic, a romantic orientation situated somewhere between aromantic and romantic.
For example, a grey/aromantic person may feel romantic attraction but might not feel it very often, or they may feel romantic attraction but not desire a romantic relationship.
There are a myriad of different romantic identities when it comes to asexuality, but Emi told UNILAD about the difficulties some asexual people might experience on this sex-saturated day:
Personally, I get quite overwhelmed around Valentine’s Day by how much suddenly everything around you is focussed on sex and relationships. Everything from a coupon in a restaurant, to an email from my anti virus company is to do with romance and crushes and it’s just not necessary.
The thing that always gets me is when I see people complaining about how Valentine’s Day makes them feel ‘forever alone’ and ‘no one will ever love them’ just because they aren’t on a date or in a relationship on a specific day of the year.
This upsets me because I look at these people and how wonderful they are and I know that in the future they will have a loving relationship, and a family and it makes me question where I’m going to be in the future.
It seems unlikely to me that I’ll ever be in a relationship because my asexuality makes everything more complicated than it should be, and it makes me feel that I am really ‘forever alone.’
Obviously, I know that’s not actually the case. It’s the media and society that makes everyone feel pressured to be in a relationship or have a date, but I know full well that family and friends, platonic relationships, are just as meaningful.
UNILAD also spoke with 28-year-old London-based American YouTube vlogger Evan Edinger, who identifies as being heterosexual on the asexual spectrum:
Regardless of sexuality, many couples will be celebrating V-day this year. V-day outwardly appears to be more about romantic gestures rather than sexual ones, so there shouldn’t be much of an issue for an asexual couple.
Everyone loves a box of chocolates and cuddles! Couples featuring an aromantic partner might be a different story.
Evan also gave some uplifting advice to those currently wondering about their own sexual or romantic orientation at this traditionally lovey-dovey time:
My best advice would be to try not to dwell on your sexuality too much. It’s part of you, but so are so many other great qualities. At the end of the day, it’s merely one facet in the precious stone of you.
Emi offered similar words of wisdom, urging fellow aces not to fall prey to any Valentine’s Day obligations:
You are not broken, and you are not obligated to try and find a relationship or a date just because it’s Valentine’s Day.
There are so many people who feel the same way you do, so many people’s lives don’t revolve around sex or relationships, and if it’s not for you then that’s okay!
Valentine’s day is very much an over commercialised day anyway, but nothing about this day means you are broken.
Emi and Evan have found a sense of community through YouTube, with both creatives enjoying sizeable platforms which they’ve used to raise awareness of their respective sexualities.
Evan has over 527,000 subscribers, posting new videos every Sunday. His subject matter ranges from pun challenges to getting to grips with Northern slang, and is funny and relatable, particularly when exploring the differences between American and British customs. It’s easy to see why his subscribers warm to him.
He told UNILAD:
By and far the most frequent thing people will say to me when they meet me at a YouTube convention or on the streets of London is that my sexuality video helped them in some way.
I have since talked about the topic lightly a couple times within my videos, and it’s nice to know that for some, the fact that I’m open about my sexuality on the platform I have helps them feel more valid and allows them to feel more normal. In that way, I’ve helped create a more understanding community of people like myself.
I’m happy that by being honest about myself and my sexuality on YouTube I have allowed a larger community of people to also understand themselves a little more, and I hope they’re all getting by on Valentine’s Day just fine.
Emi also has a large social presence, with over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her content is consistently insightful, quirky and thoughtful, and there are plenty of videos which focus on specific issues affecting those within the asexual community.
Reflecting on being part of the YouTube community, Emi told UNILAD:
I have been so lucky to find a wonderful community on YouTube and it’s really helped me become a lot more proud of myself and happy with myself, and I would be a totally different person without it. Maybe I wouldn’t even know I’m asexual? Maybe I would still just be confused and wondering why everyone else feels something that I didn’t.
Having a platform, though it is fairly small, has done so much for me and I know that I have helped other people feel less alone – like other people’s videos helped me.
Asexuality is one of the most underrepresented areas of the LGBTQ+ community, and having a chance to explain what asexuality really is is incredible. If I’ve only ever helped one person understand more about themselves, then I’ll have done more to help asexual visibility more than I could have ever imagined.
Whatever your sexual or romantic orientation may be, I wish you a splendid Valentine’s Day, with plentiful boxes chocs.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, Or email [email protected]
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