AA: Wanting and Being Repulsed by Sex

[ CN: this is a post about wanting sex, having sex, motivations for having sex, etc.  It might be a hair more graphic than my usual posts… but that’s not really saying much. ]

Isolde wrote in:

hi coyote! i have a question – have you ever written or thought about sex aversion in relation to wanting to have sex (for whatever reason, eg. social, not necessary out of sexual desire)? i have a lot of trouble accepting my sex aversion, both because it interferes with something i do think i want (sex) and because i find it impossible to become comfortable with what is basically a feeling of intense discomfort.

i can understand if that’s not a thing that you personally experience. it’s just that it’s something i think about a lot and you’ve become sort of my go-to for any info about sex aversion, and you seem very comfortable with your own sex aversion so i wondered if you might have any helpful thoughts.

i wrote a thing on tumblr about this which might help explain what i mean better since this is probably pretty vague. i’ll paste the most important passage, but you can find the rest at(link)if you want to read it.

“i don’t think sex repulsion is a bad thing. i don’t think it’s a thing that should be pathologized or needs to be cured. i can accept sex repulsion as a thing that just is, a part of some peoples’ ways of experiencing sex. but i don’t know how i can accept it for myself, how i can be comfortable with this feeling that is nothing but discomfort and doubt and disgust. i don’t think is should be pathologized or needs to be cured, because i don’t think having sex is a necessity. sex is not a vitamin, as they say – nobody should have sex, or be made to want to have sex, if they don’t want to. but sex repulsion is not a nice thing to have, and it’s a thing i would gladly rid myself of if i could.

and somehow i’ve come back to this thing that i never wanted to talk about, because i feel it discredits the work so many asexual activists have done in trying to get asexuality and sex aversion to be seen as something that isn’t ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or something that should be ‘fixed’, as well as the flibanserin discussion. because honestly, if there was a pill to cure my sex aversion (and there isn’t; flibanserin doens’t work that way, if it even really works at all) i would take it.

and honestly, discrediting ace acitivists is the last thing i want to do. asexuality is a legitmate sexuality, and sex aversion is a legitimate feeling (or identity or sexuality, depending on your personal relation to it). this is not a post that seeks to doubt the legitimacy of identities. this post is just a question, to other ace-spectrum people and people who deal with sex repulsion: how do you become comfortable with sex repulsion when the feeling itself is one of discomfort? how do you deal with wanting to have sex but being sex-repulsed at the same time? how do you even begin to untangle your feelings about sexuality, when you don’t know where your (lack of) sexuality starts and your aversion begins?”

i’m sorry this is such a long question (and maybe confusing, i’m bad at putting my thoughts into words). i hope you’ll be able to answer some of it, but i understand if you can’t or don’t want to.

in any case, thanks for reading
isolde

Hi, Isolde!  Yes, this something I’ve thought about and it’s an issue I relate to, although I haven’t written much about it aside from some brief acknowledgement here and here.

Admittedly, my personal context and relationship to the issue are shaped by the fact that I’m not dating and have never dated, and I’m definitely not inclined to go cruising for casual sex, so I’m not quite in the same position as someone who’s in a romantic relationship or who has a mutually interested partner around.

I’m… honestly surprised that you think I come off as comfortable with my sex aversion, heh.  It’s still wrapped up in a lot of guilt and frustration and other sundry negatives for me.  I did write this post about being uncomfortable saying I’m uncomfortable, after all.  Talking about it more is something I’ve had to work at — by finding a tolerant audience (hi!), creating a comfortable space, and giving myself permission to take the risk.

Anyway, back on topic!  You might be interested in this post by Talia.  It doesn’t present any solutions, but it does discuss the personal experience of wanting sex but being easily turned off.

In your post you mentioned that you’ve never had sex and that you want to know what it’s like, so you might also be interested in this other post — entitled “I was curious, so I chose to have sex! Then, my curiosity was satiated. I decided never to have sex again.”

The questions you’ve brought up have a lot of layers, so I’ll try to address them in parts.

First, I’d say the simplest way to deal with being sex-repulsed is just to avoid all sexual contexts and content.  Easier said than done, will affect even your nonsexual relationships, and also completely conflicts with wanting to try sex.

In general, though, I’d say it helps to control your media diet and social diet in terms of reducing your exposure to compulsory sexuality.  This isn’t the same thing as trying to cut out all exposure to sexual stuff, although sometimes it feels like it might as well be.  Personally, I think my sex aversion is worst when I encounter sex stuff unexpectedly, and I’ve found that when I only watch children’s shows and hang out with aces and respectful non-aces, for example, it’s just easier for me somehow, even when I do choose to, say, attempt to research service topping while knowing that sexual imagery will probably be on the sites that talk about it.  When social expectations aren’t weighing on me as hard, and when I have enough control over the circumstances, I can think “ugh, get that out of here” and look away without as much panic and guilt and ruminating.  But honestly, I’m still in the process of figuring this stuff out, so I’ll just move on to the next set of thoughts before I run out of coherence.

I think, before you can decide how to deal with wanting sex and being repulsed by it at the same time, you have to think about what you mean by wanting to have sex.  For instance —  Is it because you want to have fun and are told this is a way to do it?  Is it because you think it would make you happier?  Is it because you want to prove something to yourself?  Is it because you’re curious?  Is it because you’d view it as an accomplishment?  Is it because you want to be like other people?  Is it because you think it’d bring you peace?  Is it because you think it’d be a more effective way to deal with arousal?  Is it because you think you’d like it?

My point with all those questions is just that there are a lot of reasons and ways to want to have sex, and how you proceed depends on what that phrase means for you.

You might also want to break aspects of the prospect down into pieces and see if you can separate out what draws you and what repulses you.  For example, for someone who’s arcflux but also sees some physical appeal in the idea of sex, maybe some elements — shifting of weight, muscle tension, physical impact, pressure, repetition, patterns — would be fine on their own, but others — gross fluids, highly sensitive areas, weird noises, uncomfortable poses — are a deal-breaker.  You might see what you can discover by analyzing “sex” in unusually nonsexual ways or by removing genitals from the equation.  You might still find all feasible configurations too repulsive.  At the very least, though, you’ll learn something about what to help yourself avoid.

I’m sorry I can’t provide more concrete answers for you, but I hope this was enough to get you thinking.

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