AA: Questioning and Attraction

Anon wrote in:

So I’m really trying to figure this all out for myself (if I’m ace or grey or whatever) I don’t have any ace friends to help me. One of my bi friends says I can’t be ace if I find someone attractive, I mean I’m not going to ‘jump their bones’ but I’m not blind either. I’ve never really seen someone and thought “oh wow I have to have sex with this person” its more “oh wow he’s/ she’s very good looking”. Really sex is on par with folding laundry for me, actually I like laundry more. So really where does this put me? Is my friend right that being able to find people attractive mean I’m not really that ace-y, or am I just not blind to people being attractive?

Hi, anon.  You’re not the first person to wonder about this.  It’s something that trips up a lot of people.

First off: your friend is wrong.  In general, anyone who says, “You can’t be ace if” is usually wrong.  There is no law book anywhere with rules that say when you can or can’t be ace.  If it helps, you may want to learn about the history of defining asexuality in the ace community.

Different people identify with asexuality for different reasons.  For some, it’s because they don’t want sex.  For some, it’s because they don’t find people sexy.  For some, it’s because they don’t have a sex drive.  Or any number or combination of reasons.  A definition you’ll see around a lot is that “an asexual is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction,” but it’s also important to remember our community is more diverse than one simplified definition (and always has been).

Back to the issue you raised, though — I can relate to exactly what you’re saying.  As a side note, not all sighted (non-blind) people experience attraction.  And that said, there are plenty of aces besides me who experience what we sometimes call “aesthetic attraction,” to differentiate it from sexual attraction.  I have an old post about this here.  Long story short, the word “attractive” is pretty vague, in that people who use it may not all be experiencing the exact same set of feelings every time.  People are diverse in their experiences — why would this be any different?

Plus, even if you did find someone attractive in a sexy way, you or someone in your shoes might still have reasons to identify as ace.  It’s all up to you, really, and what works best for you.  By sending this message, I figure you were seeking to confirm or deny whether you’re “disqualified” (you’re not, no one is) from identifying as ace, which sounds like you’ve already got a feeling that this might be the right identity for you.  There’s no rush to settle, but I encourage you and anyone else who’s questioning if they’re ace to read Elizabeth’s post Permission.

I’m sorry to hear that your friend is trying to police you like that, which is especially uncalled for since they’re not even ace themselves.

You know yourself.  You know what you feel.  You’re the only one who can really be the judge.  And if you feel like you’re ace?  Then you’re ace.

(p.s. if you want to meet some ace people in person, there’s a chance this may help.)

7 responses to “AA: Questioning and Attraction

  • queenieofaces

    (Very much a side note, but I find it hilarious that “sex is on par with folding laundry” has now become a thing, because I’m 90% sure I’m the originator of that.)

  • Klaaraa

    Anon, one way to both defend your aceness to that friend, and to start exploring the possibility of greyness for yourself, may be to examine whether you feel the same level of acknowledging-person’s-attractiveness to all conventionally-attractive people, or to some more than others.
    I mean, if whatever greyness you may have turns out to be pan-without-preferences, that will not be useful, and also you may have been raised with a culturally greater emphasis on one gender’s beauty than the other, but still worth a try.

    I have three specific types, meaning three distinct kinds of people, with rather narrow windows of Body Type and presentation for each kind, make me unvoluntarily feel something that is probably a mixture of sexual, romantic and sensual attraction, whereas for all other adults who are pretty, including those with very impressive muscles or boobs or eyelashes or facial symmetry, I only find them pretty in the same way that I find plants or animals or young children or clothes-without-people-in-them pretty.

  • Klaaraa

    Useful, for convincing said bi friend that anon can be ace, and maybe to introduce them to the concept of aesthetic attraction?
    I don’t know, maybe this is not well thought out.
    It is very possible to conceptualize the same experience of finding all (conventionally) pretty people attractive as either completely-ace-without-an-aesthetic-preference, or (grey)pan-with-a-low-sex-drive-and-no-sexual-preference.

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