Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Amy Maria Flannigan. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
[amazon_link asins=’B073T26X48′ template=’ProductAdRight’ store=’ourqueerstories-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bc153e3d-8cd9-11e7-9538-9328deaf3150′]I’ve been thinking about writing this for quite a while now, but only now have I decided to do so. It may shed some light on what the life of a sex-repulsed ace is like. I hope it will help people to better understand us. And it may help someone else to find themselves, find that they are not alone, or help in some other way.
But first lets answer what is apothisexuality. An apothisexual is someone under the asexual umbrella who is specifically sex repulsed. The word”apothisexual” stems from the Greek root “apothisan” meaning repulsed. It’s just another word for “sex-repulsed asexual” because that can be a mouthful.
This is the whole definition as it is right now.
Ace(s) – a shortcut for asexuals.
And what is sex-repulsion? No, it is not a stand against sex and/or people who have sex. It is a term used by people, not only asexuals, anyone of any sexuality actually, to indicate that they find sex and/or other sexual things disgusting. Now, this may sound as a stand against sex, but it is a singular feeling of oneself + sex. Sex-repulsed aces usually don’t care what others are doing, as long as it doesn’t concern them.
And now finally to my experience. The thing is I’m one of the more intense types. Reading about sex, seeing it in a movie, talking about it, writing about it, or having other sexual content can make me sick to my stomach. It is a rather unpleasant feeling. Fairly unpleasant, actually. It can be almost crippling sometimes, where I simply have to stop what I’m doing.
It makes my stomach feel heavy and I can feel my throat clench slightly, like I should throw up. But of course, I don’t. It’s just a feeling of nausea without being ill, to the point where I don’t want to eat or drink in that moment and I have to calm myself down.
It’s one thing being asexual, but also being repulsed can be even harder. Being asexual made me feel broken already in the beginning when I found out. I was really fighting with my identity at that time. I felt mostly broken during my relationship. Now, that was not the fault of the other party, he wouldn’t do that. No, this was because I saw the difference between us. I felt like I was failing him at something. It made me feel like I was standing on the sidelines, watching the rest of the world play. I never could give him what he wanted and gave himself. I couldn’t comprehend those moments when I made him feel something sexual either. I could never look back at him the same way he did.
It can be a very isolating feeling seeing sex all around you and knowing you have no connection to it. And it can be even worse if you discover yourself while you’re in a relationship with someone who is sexual as I did. And as I said, it was not his fault. It’s been about seeing how I really was and society telling me what the standards for “normal” are and what I should do and portraying how broken I am. Personally I think telling young people that that’s the norm and stuff is very harmful, but I will make a separate article about that.
Anyway, being different can be quite difficult, but this was not to be all. Months after my first relationship ended, I found out I was sex-repulsed.
During that relationship I’ve been told I look sick when we’ve been talking about sex, which was understandable we would, since he is sexual and feels it is important to him. In the end I wanted to be notified beforehand that we would be talking about sex, so I could prepare myself for it. I also refused to talk in a sexual manner and felt upset if he somehow did more.
But even before that, I was never really into that kind of stuff. I didn’t like reading about it or watching it. It made me uncomfortable and sort of embarrassed, if that makes sense? It has gotten worse since then.
If I remember right I first came upon the term sex-repulsion when I first began exploring my asexuality through AVEN (The Asexual Visibility & Education Network), which is about a year now, but then I still hadn’t connected it with myself. I didn’t pay any attention to it at the time. It wasn’t important, I’d have done anything for him in that relationship.
But anyway, to sum it up, I’m an ace who not only can’t see people in a sexual way, but I also can’t comprehend many things surrounding sexual stuff. I’m also sex-repulsed and don’t want to read about sex, watch it in movies or elsewhere, talk about it, or listen to anyone talk about it. I can also get upset when someone tells me something about it just out of the blue or when I have to talk about it unprepared. For example I’ve been told that the way I’ve acted and talked aroused him, which I didn’t understand, and it upset me.
Now, I know I’ve talked about it on my awareness media, but I have to. There isn’t really a way around it if I want to continue doing this.
Am I glad I have a term for it?
Sure, I can better explain myself when I have to or want to.
Do I like that I’m ace?
Maybe I do like it a little. I sure am proud and hold my head high. But I am in a better place right now for sure.
Is being ace making my life harder?
Not really. I don’t need the attraction to fall in love or to have a meaningful relationship. I’m at peace with this part of my identity. It is not a real obstacle, not anymore. I am human as anyone else, and it doesn’t make me any less of one. Nor does it make me less of a person.
Do I also like that I’m sex-repulsed?
Do you like your allergies? My life could be easier if I weren’t. This way it sets me aside from others.
Do people judge me because of my asexuality?
Some do, but they are not important. You have to remember that there will always be someone who will judge you for the tiniest reasons. I don’t allow those type of people into my life. I choose people very carefully.
What issues in particular does it cause?
Well, I told you about feeling sick to my stomach and uncomfortable. But that is a little vague, isn’t it?
So what does it do to me? Well, I don’t particularly enjoy books/movies with erotic content. I just enjoy the romance (kissing, cuddling, hugging, hand holding) in it and sex simply isn’t part of it, apart of making me feel uncomfortable, sick and also kinda embarrassed. However, finding books with little or no sexual content is quite difficult, usually there is at least some sexual content. But as long as there isn’t much and/or it isn’t too descriptive it can be fine, or I can skip it. Sexual content can often just ruin a book for me, since it simply doesn’t fit for me.
As for talking about it, well, I barely ever do. I try to avoid it and if I have to I do only vaguely, never explicitly. Sadly I have to talk about it, since I’m also trans and for some reason my doctors ask. Otherwise I avoid it as much as I can. I don’t talk about it with friends and never with my family. Thank goodness they don’t ask. As for overhearing something on the street, I just push anything out and concentrate on other things.
Yes, I do write about it sometimes. Like now for example, but merely for purposes of helping. And it makes me sick to my stomach again, like now it does. So I can take breaks or make myself continue.
It always depends on the intensity of that content. Sometimes it can be crippling, as in I feel too sick to continue and have to stop and take a break, or skip something.
Do I have techniques on how to calm myself when exposed to sexual content in any way?
There isn’t really a fool proof way, there never will be, but there are techniques that have been tried out. Personally I hadn’t really made any. I can stop what I’m doing and try to distract myself. I don’t have anything else when I work. As for when I come into contact with it in some other way, well, I can try and force my thoughts into a daydream. I’m a maladaptive daydreamer, so I daydream a lot and it can help sometimes. It depends on the situation.
As for other ways you may try is exposure. You can try and expose yourself to sexual content and see if it will help you get used to it, so you won’t get such reactions. But a word of caution, it may make your issues worse.
Another way many people so freely suggest as if it’s nothing is therapy. Now I know that sounds like you’re saying to those who tell you that you need it that they’re right. However, sometimes the issues can grow into a phobia, which is a lot more serious. And therapy can be very helpful, if you find someone who knows what they are doing and talking about. It can be good to have someone to help you. But you need to make sure that someone has experience with treating repulsion and be LGBT, or ace in particular, friendly. All this you can find out on the web pages of the doctor, from other people’s experiences and by asking.
But it all depends on you, no one can decide for you. Perhaps you’re fine with it and so that’s that. People can live with it.
But could I still compromise on sex, other sexual things and/or some fetish should I find myself in another mixed relationship?
Judging from what I’ve told you thus far, the answer may seem fairly straightforward. But the truth is it’s hard to say what the future will bring. Even when I’m like this it’s hard to tell if I wouldn’t do it for someone I would really love. It’s too easy to dismiss something, but the reality may be different. Like for example it’s difficult for me to say if I will ever look for someone at all, but I’m not dismissing anything. I may be insecure in it, but I’ll just wait and see.
But as for the here and now? No, I wouldn’t do it. Not anymore. And if I’d look now for someone it’d be someone who at least doesn’t need/want sex.
How do others react and respect my repulsion?
There are two levels to this with me. The first one is that I am quite open about it on all my awareness media, but there I am just the superficial being no one knows, so it doesn’t matter. The second is the close people around me. And since I am very careful as whom I’ll let into my circle of acquaintances/friends and even more to whom I’ll open up to, it makes it so few people that I can count them on one hand.
So yes, I tell this either on my awareness media, or to those most closest to me and only if I want to. Otherwise it’s no ones business. It’s one thing to have someone unknown picking at you on the net, than having someone close doing so. And so I chose people around me very carefully.
And you don’t have to tell anyone either, apart from maybe your partner to whom this may be important and important for your relationship. But otherwise you have no obligation to tell your friends, coworkers, or your family. If you decide to do so it’s only you showing good will and trust. You have no obligation whatsoever.
How can relationships work without sex?
Well, how does your relationship work? Some people sometimes ask, “You don’t have sex? So what do you do all day?” as if they had sex all day. No one could ever have it all day long. And I mean all day, no pauses.
And so what do you do? I’d presume you go on walks, holding hands. You eat together, or go out for lunch or dinner. You can watch movies, or plays, whichever you prefer. Some people do prefer the theater to movies. You meet your friends together and have fun. You go other places together, or have holidays together, depending on the status of your relationship. You do silly things on the beach, or in the part and at home. You sleep together (as in sleep, no sex), or take naps. And you cuddle and kiss when you are together. You may go dancing, or take up whole projects on your own. There are many possibilities including some I don’t even know about because I’ve only been in one relationship. A long distance one at that. But you still also talk and have discussions. And there are many more possibilities.
And it’s no different for sexless couples, and I don’t mean just aces. Any couple can be sexless if they want and agree on it. And so they all do these and many more to keep their relationship alive. No relationship can really work if you just sit at home doing nothing. And it’s absolutely no different for aces or any sexless couple.
So this is my experience. And my hopes for this article are that people will read it and understand. Yes, sex can be important to you and it can be good for you, if you want it, but that it’s okay not to be interested. Not everyone has to be doing it and it should be accepted. Sexuality is a spectrum and this falls on the spectrum. We are all just different and have different needs. Some of us just don’t want or need sex, it’s no big deal. I hope that this aticle will show people that it exists, but there is nothing wrong with this. Yes, some of you may see repulsion as a problem from what I described. But ask yourself, is it really? What makes us feel like this? What makes us feel broken? It is the part of society that forces the view that sex is universal to everyone and everyone has to be doing it or there is something wrong with us when it’s not. Sex is just one of the many pleasures of life. You also don’t tap into all of them. You only try out some. And the same is for me, other aces and other sexless people and couples. This one just isn’t for us. And I can be fully okay with my repulsion if I stay away from certain things. And the same goes for many other people. So my great hope is for people to understand this and, more importantly, respect it. And if you want to have a different point of view, well, more sex for you. 😉