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Last month’s Carnival of Aces was about ‘Naming It’, or the importance of having words to describe how we view ourselves and the world around us as asexual people. This topic is something I was immediately interested in contributing to. Unfortunately, it was also something that I wasn’t sure how to approach without just repeating myself.

After a lot of thought, I finally decided to talk about the present rather than the past. Specifically, how my approach to friendships and potential relationships has changed since discovering that I’m asexual.

I realized that it’s okay to have what I want, even if others disagree.

Recently, I was approached by someone about having a relationship with them. This was someone that I was interested in and who seemed to be a pretty cool person. They were also a very sexual person and made it clear that they would expect physical intimacy. I liked them enough that I agreed to try and make myself feel comfortable with the idea of having sex. I knew it wouldn’t happen right away, but maybe someday…?
I failed. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to be able to think of anyone that way, not even someone I liked. When I told them this, they were upset and told me that having sex was the only way they would agree to a relationship. They revealed that they weren’t happy even being friends without physical intimacy of some kind.

Before I had a word for who I was, I would have probably gone ahead and slept with them. As it stands today, I didn’t. For the first time, I stood up for my self-worth as a person when it comes to sex and put myself before another person’s needs. Without having the word ‘asexual’, I don’t know if I would have been able to.

I realized that friendships are my ideal relationships.

Through this experience, I was also able to meet a great friend. A friend who has absolutely no interest in me sexually. It felt so freeing to talk to someone who didn’t have ulterior motives. To talk to someone who was actually communicating with me instead of going through a strange ritual to get into my pants.

This is more about the aromantic side of my identity, but it had been bothering me for a long time as to whether or not to pursue a romantic relationship. I worried that I wouldn’t have the same quality of relationship if I didn’t date. I worried that I’d end up alone.

This friendship has shown me that I don’t want a romantic relationship. It’s made me realize that I would love it if I just had close friends for the rest of my life, rather than a romantic partner. If I didn’t have the words for my orientation, both as an asexual and an aromantic, then I wonder if I would be able to have the depth to understand that about myself.

Naming my sexuality means that I don’t have to be someone I’m not.

One of the things that has really amazed me is how often our appearance is decided by who we’re trying to attract. Even our living areas are decorated to appeal to a potential mate, for the most part. Letting go of those things was more healing for me than anything else. It allowed me to cultivate an identity that has nothing to do with who I used to be.

Since discovering that I’m asexual, my sense of fashion has changed. I don’t wear things specifically to ‘flatter my figure’. Instead, I wear things I like. Things like cartoon-based shirts, slacks, or shorts that reveal my hairy legs. I wear silly jewelry and hairclips that are My Little Pony or Steven Universe themed. I wear big clonking boots and brightly covered scarves. Everything I wear is something that I want to wear, even if it’s seen as immature or nonsensical.

The way I interact with people since discovering asexuality is different as well. I’m not afraid to talk about my likes and dislikes for fear that people will quit taking me seriously. I’m not worried about whether or not I’m accidently flirting with someone because I’m open about being an asexual and people know where I stand. Knowing how to explain where I’m coming from and how I feel has made me a more open and friendly person, someone who doesn’t feel as though their feelings don’t matter.

Having a word for who we are is so amazingly important. I’ve been so excited to see asexual characters appearing in books and TV shows in the recent years. I’m so happy that more people are feeling more comfortable in their own skin and not letting others decide who they are. I’m eternally grateful to those who work on asexual outreach and reveal a greater variety of asexual people than I ever thought possible. Most of all, I’m happy that I have the language to express who I am in a meaningful way.