I don’t remember not knowing where babies come from. I never had the sex talk with my parents, but I must have learned about it at a pretty early age. I probably read about it somewhere (I always read a lot). So as a kid, I always assumed that someday, I would grow up, get married, and have a family. And once I was old enough to really understand that sex is how you make a baby, I always assumed that someday I would meet the right person, fall in love, get married, have sex, and have a family. In college, I assumed that when I met the right person, I would want to have sex with him. It wasn’t until after I met my husband and we had been dating for a couple of years that I realized I might never actually want to have sex. I still assumed that when we were ready to have kids, sex would be something I could just do for that purpose, and only for that purpose. I still struggle sometimes to fully accept that my reality does not, and probably never will, include sex. Not because it’s something I desire, but because it’s something the idea of which society ingrained into my concept of adulthood, marriage, and motherhood so deeply that I have a hard time letting go of that mindset enough to accept my own reality as an alternative possibility.
In college, I studied psychology, and every study about marriages and relationships somehow included the idea that sex is an integral part of ANY strong marriage. Even though Kinsey knew that asexuality existed even in the 1940s, our population is still excluded from the vast majority of psychology research studies today, and therefore also from inclusion in the results and implications of those studies. The result of being largely ignored by the scientific community is that ideas like the one I began this post with (that sex is a necessary part of a strong and lasting relationship) are widely accepted by society as a whole, and that makes our existence as asexuals even less understood or accepted by the mainstream.
So what is my point in all this? Being asexual DOES NOT exclude you from having a relationship or marriage that is just as strong and long lasting as a sexual relationship! My husband and I have been married for 3 years, and been together as a couple for 8 years. Sex is not a part of our relationship at this time, at all. We build our emotional bond in different ways – through date nights, spending quality time together (without electronics and other distractions), and physical closeness such as hugging, kissing, cuddling, spooning, etc. Some asexuals may also be asensual, and they may have romantic relationships that do not include these sorts of physical expressions of connection. That does not mean that their relationships are any less strong, or will not last as long as a sexual or sensual relationship. The keys to making a relationship strong, and to keeping it going over long years, are trust, openness, and above all, communication. The reason why my husband (who is not asexual) and I do have a strong marriage even though we don’t have sex is because we are able to communicate clearly to each other. He knows that I am asexual, he knows that sex is not an option for us right now, and he knows that cuddling, spooning, etc. are almost always on the table as alternatives for him to physically express his love as he needs to. On the other side, I know that he is sexual, I know that he is okay with us not having sex for now, and I know that he needs to express his love in physical ways more than I do. Because we communicate these needs to each other, we are able to compromise in ways that work for both of us. Sex is off the table for now, as we are focusing our energy on trying to have kids. In the future, after we have kids, we might resume working on trying to have sex, because I know it is something he desires, and I want to be able to give him that. Since he wants kids as much as I do, he is okay with this compromise. I allow him to hold me, cuddle me, and touch me even sometimes when I don’t really feel like it. This is my compromise to his needs, and I am okay with it. Our marriage is strong and lasting without sex because we have trust, openness, and communication.
This is all well and good for us personally, but until the asexual perspective is more included in society’s overall paradigm of what constitutes a relationship, many people will continue to have a hard time accepting the idea that our marriage can be strong (or would, if they knew that we don’t have sex). And many asexuals, myself included, will continue to struggle to reconcile the paradigms that we grew up learning with our own realities.