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Asexuality in Spades

Welcome to a collection of questions that are near and dear to my queer heart! Asexuality and its fifty shades of grey, how do you figure out whether or not you fall into the valley of asexuality? How do you navigate dating and weirdness if you’re asexual? How does it fit into questions of coming out? And something that, sadly, is a common question: am I asexual or just terrified of sex? Asexuality doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, so pardon me in advance for inevitably rambling on and on.

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Oly’s Back to School Special

It’s September! The leaves are beginning to change color, the air is starting to feel brisker, and school is back in session. This compilation of answers covers a few topics that are more pertinent for the dawn of a new academic era, such as: how do I deal with living in a mixed-gender dorm full of straight cis people? How do I find a good queer-friendly university? And a throwback to last year, how do I meet other queer people if I’m not out? Continue reading


To Flirt or Not To Flirt?

if i like another girl and im not sure she’s gay should i tell her/hit on her? im not really experienced at all

Yeah! Why not. As I’ve addressed before, it’s not super easy to tell if someone’s queer or not. Someone can line up with all of your preconceived notions about what being queer looks like and be straight as an arrow, and vice versa. While there are totally little queer signals you can send out through your appearance, not seeing those doesn’t automatically mean someone ain’t queer. So, you don’t know if she’s gay. If that’s not a conversation you two have had, you don’t know if she’s straight, either.

This is a bit of a side note, but I’m not super into the term “hit on” because it seems like one in hundreds of phrases that treat romance and violence like they’re interchangeable. Also when I hear that someone’s being hit on, I’m tooootally given the mental image of some unsubtle, over-confident ass using a pick up line that lands somewhere between annoying and gross. Flirting, though, I am totally here for. Smile, compliment, show interest, and be genuine about it! Don’t touch without consent, keep their comfort in mind, and be earnest. I’m going to quote myself in that past DQ I just linked you, because I still 1000% agree with it. “Watch body language, listen to what they say, keep your intentions on the table.” I don’t think that hiding the fact that you’re interested in her is a good idea, I’m a huge supporter of honesty and candid conversations. If she is clearly not reciprocating, vocalizes her lack of interest, whatever, step back! Maybe take some time to emotionally move on from the mess of feelings that come with having a crush on someone, and then if you want to, go back and be her friend.

But unless you’re in a situation where you don’t feel safe, flirting is pretty harmless. And even if she isn’t interested, she might be flattered! And you’ll bulk up on your flirting skills. Not really a bad situation in my book. So, go for it. Don’t let not knowing prevent you from doing something that could make you happy!

Good luck!

Oly


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Kissing Complications

I’ve always considered myself asexual and I’ve never kissed someone but I thought that I would want to! Today a guy that I enjoy spending time went to kiss me (as was appropriate I believe for the time in our relationship) and I didn’t want to do it. I have no experience so I don’t know if it’s normal to not want to be physically involved at all at the beginning of a relationship and if that comes or if I might just not like him / like kissing people at all. I’m so confused.

Write the word “normal” on a sheet of paper, crumple it up, and toss it in the trash. Or something else decidedly dramatic. Don’t judge yourself based on the norms of others, create your own norms. Maybe not liking kissing is a norm for you! That’s really not unheard of! Assuming you want to pursue a relationship with him (but seriously, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t), this is going to be a conversation that you need to have with him. Establishing boundaries is hard but it’s really important in building something that’s healthy and supportive and just generally not awful. Is kissing something that you actively don’t want to do? Or are you apathetic to kissing? Does it gross you out? Could you care less? Do you like one way of kissing more than others? I’m going to use myself as an example, only because I think you’ll benefit from it a bit. I don’t always like kissing. As of recently, I really don’t. I’ve only been in one relationship where I actively wanted to kiss/ be kissed/ etc, and in that relationship that made me feel really, really good. Outside of that one case, though, I don’t mind kissing. Nothing about it makes me uncomfortable or unhappy, so I’m almost always game to kiss a partner of mine if I know it’s something that would make them happy. And I like making my partners happy! I feel good knowing that there’s something I can do that will make them feel good, even if it’s something that I could care less about on a personal level.

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It’s not for everyone, seriously.

That’s me, though! You need to assess your own feelings, your own needs, as well as his feelings and his needs in order to sort out a situation that makes you both pretty happy. Put yourself first, but in healthy relationships you absolutely need to think about how your partner’s needs interact with your own. I’m almost positive I’ve linked to this video before, but I really like it and I think it’s something that should be applied to relationships in general, not just sexual ones. There are an infinite number of ways to be intimate with someone. Those ways can be physical, emotional, whatever. But your comfort is more important than trying to force intimacy when you’re not feelin’ it. If you like this guy and want to work out some ways for you all to become romantically (?) closer, that’s an ongoing discussion worth having. Don’t let the question of your comfort leave the table, establish with him what to do if you begin to feel uncomfortable, figure out what makes you feel safe, etc. All of my past partners asked me before they kissed me for the first time, and then proceeded to check in on me throughout the remainder of our relationships. It’s something I will never, ever take for granted and it helped me feel safe and happy in those relationships. Create a tone for that kind of communication. If you do some soul searching and come to the understanding that what you want and what he wants out of this relationship just doesn’t line up, don’t force it. Process and then compromise, or don’t, or whatever, but communication is vital and you could get something really nice for the both of you out of it.

Now that that’s out of the way, there actually is a word within the asexual community for people who find their desires and likes changing after having established an emotional connection. On the romance side of it, people who experience romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection use the term demi-romantic. There’s a parallel in the term demi-sexual, which boils down to people who experience sexual attraction after having established a [romantic] emotional connection. It’s a thing, so don’t stress out. Asexuality is as much of an umbrella term as sexuality is. Your individual experience is your individual experience, and that’s what you want to focus on. I hope you come out of this feeling a little more settled and a lot less like you need to figure out whether you’re “normal” or not. Just focus now on working out what it means for the two of you.

Good luck!

Oly


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How Do I Talk To My Partner About Demisexuality?

For as long as I can remember I’ve thought of myself as being strictly asexual but still seeking romantic relationships. Recently I’ve started to think that maybe I may be fazing out of asexual into more demi-sexual. It feels like such a weird middle place because dating someone strictly asexual feels weird but dating someone who might be uncomfortable with me not wanting to go there hasn’t gone well either. I’m afraid that if I decide to try it and conclude that I never want to do it again I could end up getting hurt. Do you have any advice about how to talk to potential partners about this in a way that helps them understand?

I hope it’s not too forward for me to say that this is something I can actually come at from a very personal place, because everything that you’ve said pretty much mirrors how I’m feeling right now. So, I’m going to talk about this from a personal place and from very personal experience, but I don’t want to make this NOT about you, and I hope I succeed in that. I’ve never dated anyone asexual, but this has never been a problem for me. My asexuality has always been on the table; I’ve had two significant relationships, and both of my partners knew that I was asexual before we starting dating. However, the fact that this was understood from the beginning only really helped us break that initial barrier of talking about it. If we hadn’t continued to talk about it after the fact, these relationships would have been far less healthy than they actually turned out to be. Both of my serious partners read through a lot of stuff on AVEN (two great subsections of the forums that I think you might find useful are the ones on relationships and “the gray area“), which I think really helped them get a more flexible understanding of what it meant that I was asexual, but more than anything, the question of “is this okay?” and “are you comfortable with this?” was always on the table – and not just in regards to me! I mean, that’s a huge part of being in a healthy relationship to begin with. Whether it’s romantic or not, casual or committed, you and your partner should be doin’ whatever you’re doin’ in a way that’s mutually beneficial. I know I keep linking to stuff, but Dr. Doe’s video Sex Is Not Black & White really rings true to me and I think is especially relevant just with the concerns you’re having. Regardless of whether or not a member of a relationship is asexual, everyone’s wants and needs are different. Some differences are smaller and less pressing, but they’re still there and your relationship will be all the better for recognizing that and addressing it.

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Another video (I’M SORRY!) that I think is super vital is Dr. Doe’s How to Get the Sex You Want. Being able to talk about you interests and how they shift and change is totally relevant to this discussion. Dr. Doe is better at talking about sexy things than I am.

My biggest piece of advice would be to set the pace for communication of any potential relationship you have. If you start dating someone you like, take some time to tell them your reservations. I don’t think the word “asexual” even needs to be a part of this conversation, but that’s completely and totally up to you and how you want to talk about it. Honesty is important when it comes to something as potentially uncomfortable as sex, so maybe say something like this: “I have historically not been interested in sex. I think I might be interested in having sex in the future, but it’s something that makes me nervous and I want to be able to talk about it openly and honestly with you. I still don’t know if that’s something that I want, how do you feel about this?” Asking for their response is what will make the communication healthy. You are 100% entitled to have a healthy sexual relationship on your terms, and believe me when I say there are literal boatloads of sexual people who won’t be too bothered about moving at a glacial pace when it comes to sex. That said, there are also sexual people who want something more their speed, as I can infer you have a bit of experience with. It’s okay if a relationship doesn’t take off because of this disconnect. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and wouldn’t you rather come to the mutual understanding of “maybe this isn’t the best idea for us” rather than stumble through a relationship where both parties are uncomfortable and frustrated? Keep a stress of consent (I’m seriously so sorry for all the links, also that one has nudity) on the table where it belongs, because that’s also a huge part of healthy relationships that is criminally overlooked. Be open about the fact that yeah, sex is kind of a big deal for you! That’s okay, dude. It’s a big deal to a lot of people.

I hope this helped some. I know that it wasn’t super asexual focused, but this is a conversation that I think exists in its own right. Starting a conversation about something that can be so serious is very difficult, and it will probably take a bit of pumping yourself up, but it’s so worth it. Both you and your potential partner will be better for it if you work with each other to break down the assumptions you both have about relationships and sex and build up something that is best for you both.

Good luck!

Oly


feb 21 fri

Coffee Shop Crush

So I’m pretty new to the queer community and I’m still adjusting that I could be gay or bisexual. (Still figuring that out!) I go to this coffee shop all the time and there’s a barista that works there and I have the BIGGEST crush on her. I really want to get to know her and maybe even ask her out. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve romanticized her so much, that I’m almost too shy to talk to her. And I’m not a shy person! I’m so scared because what if she’s taken or absolutely not interested in me? I really want to do something with this relationship but I have NO idea where to start. Suggestions?

Man, queer people and coffee shop crushes. There is absolutely no way for me to avoid thinking about Mary Lambert’s video for She Keeps Me Warm.

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Cute. Cute cute cute. Anyway, what I think you need to do before anything else is take a step back and turn down the tint on those rose colored glasses. I have no doubt that this barista is cute as all get out, and I think that once you get out of your own head you guys could hit it off! But. Even you recognize that you’ve romanticized them too much, and I think that’s a dangerous place to be! I once dated someone who had a similar pedestal-y crush on me (and had for like… a year) and it didn’t go well. Their constructed idea of me was way better than the reality, and it lead to disappointment on their part, discomfort on my part, and just not a really fun relationship. It fizzled out within like, a month. I don’t want you to experience that! While I (and really, most people) totally understand having a sticky-sweet, anxiety-inducing, world-encompassing crush, building someone up to such a high place just makes it easier for them to fall. So! Toning that down a little bit will, I think, really help you come back to a place where you can be comfortable and confident around her. You said you’re not shy, yeah? How do you talk to other new people in your life? This is about to sound so new-agey but like… send out vibes. Smile and make eye contact (but don’t like, gawk) and laugh and play with your hair a little bit. Read how she responds to you!

She might not be receptive, she might not be queer! It’s not the end of the world! (This is where de-romanticizing her will be very helpful to your emotional health) But just give her some attention and see how she responds. Nothing major, I’m 100% positive you can do it. I know, at least from my own experience, that it’s really easy to turn into this awkward person with nothing to say when you’re interacting with someone especially cute. So. Just take a deep breath and, as long as she isn’t swamped with work, maybe ask her how she’s doing, or compliment her the way you’d want to be complimented. The first hurdle is, without a doubt, the highest.

Good luck!!


How Do I “Do” Bisexual?

I am a feminine female and recently came to identify as bisexual. I am in an open relationship with my boyfriend, so I have been able to have experiences with women as well. My question is now… I don’t know how to “do” bisexual. I have been raised all my life to flirt with guys, appeal to guys, etc. As a feminine woman, I find it hard to know if other women are interested in me, simply because I’ve been told that I “don’t look bisexual”. I feel like I’m in middle school all over again! Will all this just happen naturally over time? Where’s a good place to start so I can get more comfortable talking/flirting with girls in that way?

I think more than anything this is something that will happen naturally for you, but I think what would be really helpful for you would be to take a step back and think about your history of interacting with men under a sexual context and how it could translate. Outside of societal expectations, I really don’t think there’s that much of a difference. What nonverbal signals did you send out to let a dude know you were interested? Lots of eye contact? Laughter regardless of whether or not they said something funny? Playing with your hair or lips? Subtle physical contact when it’s totally not required? Those are all pretty universal flirting signs, regardless of who it’s coming from. Flirt with someone the way you’d want to be flirted with, if that makes sense. Have confidence and be earnest, I don’t think there’s really a trick to it. I feel weird writing this because I am embarrassingly bad at flirting, but this is definitely what I believe! Also, I think I’ve mentioned this once in an entry before, but I honestly think that like, OKCupid is really effective here? You can list yourself as bisexual, check the box for “I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people,” and just get some practice talking to girls under that context. And as much as you can, ignore the whole “you don’t look bisexual” thing. I think I’ve voiced my thoughts on how I feel about that kind of mindset enough that doing so again would be redundant, but the people who say that are terribly misguided and I just don’t want that to affect your sense of self! This entry might be somewhat useful to you in that regard, though. I hope this helps! Again, I really think that it won’t be a big leap for you, but I wish you all of the luck in the world.


Femme Lesbian

I’m a femme lesbian and I don’t know how to express that I’m gay, and don’t know how to figure out if another girl is gay. I feel like this is a very basic problem and I’m the only one in the entire gay community who has never had a girlfriend because of it. It’s a vicious cycle, you know? Can you give me any tips on how to better present my sexuality or recognize it in another girl?

This is a really hard question for me to answer, because I think there’s a problem in the queer community at large in identifying other queer people only through tropes and stereotypes of queerness and that’s a huge discussion that would completely derail a concise answer to this. However. I don’t know if it’s crossed your mind at all, but I want to scream from the top of a mountain: DON’T TRY TO DE-FEMME YOURSELF. Again, I don’t know if it’s something you’ve considered but I know so many people, myself included, who did things like chop their hair off or completely change their sense in fashion to fit their understanding of queerness and in all cases they wound up being completely dissatisfied and uncomfortable. If being femme makes you happy, stay femme. I just really want that on the table because I think it’s important and a lot of people forget it!!

That said, the only real way to figure out whether someone is interested in girls is to kind of test the waters on that yourself. Try to start conversations with people you’re attracted to, try to exude flirty vibes (it’s a learned skill, but it’s not as hard as it seems!), and read their reactions. Watch body language, listen to what they say, keep your intentions on the table. That’s honestly the only advice on that I can give! On better presenting your own sexuality, look into gay symbolism if you want to stay subtle. There’s rainbow jewelry that isn’t horrifically tacky, you can find pins with signifiers, even something like a sticker on your laptop (I have a ton). I like that kind of stuff because it lets people around you get used to the idea that you’re not straight without you needing to start a conversation about it, and it’s not super over-the top. That said, there’s also a lot of super over-the-top lesbian paraphernalia that you can find on etsy and whatnot. Also, I don’t know how out you are/ are willing to be and I have no interest in pushing you into something you’re uncomfortable doing, but whenever I see “Interested in: Women” on someone’s Facebook info, that sticks with me! Also, queer people are going to be around queer spaces, so I guess refer to the last question I responded to as well because it all applies.

I hope some of this helped, and good luck!

Oly