I saw this thing ages ago and I’m not sure if I wrote about it before or not. But there was Ace Discourse™ on my dash today (another person who had the opposite of my experience with the split attraction model) and it reminded me of this thing from a while ago. I don’t want to rehash the split attraction model post (I say for my own benefit so I won’t keep rehashing it in my mind), what I want to talk about is what’s “gray” about my sexuality, what made me feel like my attraction was not sexual enough to be real attraction, and how I currently conceive of the weirdness of my experience of sexual attraction.
The post I just saw was from someone who formerly ID’d as aro-ace, with a quote from something they wrote in the past. Past-them said that on thinking harder about their experiences of attraction and what they wanted out of a relationship, what they really wanted was a close friend, and their feelings about sex were basically “Meh, I guess my hypothetical partner and I would probably have sex sometimes, because that’s what you do in a relationship, but I don’t care that much about it.” And in their more recent comment they say that interpreting this feeling about sex as a totally normal not-ace attitude toward relationships is much better and makes much more sense to them than interpreting it as them being ace/aro.
And I don’t understand that at all. Because… I’m weird, and I’ve come down pretty firmly on the side of “ID-ing as (gray)ace is meaningful and useful to describe my weirdness,” unlike this person. But I’ve never felt “meh” about sex, not like that. And obviously they can call it whatever they want because it’s their feeling, but if I felt like that, I would call it “way more ace than I feel now.” So it’s really strange to see such a different perspective on it.
Anyway. The post I saw months ago. It was long and mostly about demisexuality, but it included this line:
“People aren’t sexy, sex is sexy.”
The weirdness in sexual attraction for me wasn’t/isn’t a negative reaction to, or lack of interest in, the idea of sex or of having sex myself. I enjoyed sexual content in fiction, had fantasies about sex, masturbated, and felt at least theoretically positive about at some point having sex in real life, myself, with another person. The problem was about the line of connection between sex and a person who isn’t doing anything particularly sex-related. Or, more narrowly, the problem was that I wasn’t sure there was a line of connection between my feelings about sex in general, and the intense but nebulous positive feelings I had about people I liked.
I don’t feel like the way I feel about people-who-are-attractive-to-me is just about aesthetic beauty, but a lot of the time there isn’t anything about it that I can point to as specifically sexual, either. I guess the reason the word “aesthetic” feels wrong is that I associate it with (a) visual beauty rather than other senses, and (b) a distanced sort of sitting-back-and observing feeling, rather than a desire to get up close and personal. The way I feel about people I’m attracted to definitely has a component of wanting to reach out and touch. It just doesn’t segue into imagining a sexual act, or into sexual arousal.
I’m not really interested in finding a word to describe what “type of attraction” I’m feeling. It’s what I feel; I feel it for people who I would like to have sex with: I may as well call it sexual attraction.
To be continued in future posts:
— The specific things-about-a-person that seem attractive to me often aren’t things that would typically be considered attractive. What are some examples of that?
— So when do I think about sex, in the course of my everyday life? That seems like an important bookend to have here.