Yeah the reverse just……. does not cross their minds, does it??
As it turns out the decision to have sex with someone is complex and physical attraction is only one aspect. who knew
I’m bringing this up because I think it’s a huge stumbling point/source of confusion for people in the ace discourse: as an allosexual, “wanting to have sex with someone” is the feeling that I refer to when I use the words “sexual attraction.” Like, I follow you on the choice part, because there are a million reason why I might not act on that feeling (other person is in a monogamous relationship, other person just isn’t interested in me, I’m not in an appropriate situation to even bring it up, maybe I want to have sex with someone but I’m very very tired and I want to rest slightly more, etc. forever.) I don’t want to speak for every allo human being in the world, but I feel like that’s a pretty common definition of sexual attraction among that population! Like, regardless of whether we would actually do it, or why we want to do it, wanting to do it (for whatever reason or in whatever way) is an experience that most of us refer to as sexual attraction.
I understand that this is kind of a reverse-engineered definition, which is shitty, but it’s also relatively fundamental to the way I experience my own sexuality. Like, yes there are different specific details and nuances to each particular attraction I experience, but ultimately I consider whatever feelings or motivations are involved in me wanting to have sex in any given situation to *be* sexual attraction. So wanting to have sex with someone for their sake rather than my own is still something that falls under the umbrella of “wanting to have sex” and is thus included in the overall collection of things that make up the concept of sexual attraction, for me.
(I’m very much not saying this should be the case for everyone, because it certainly doesn’t seem to be, but … maybe some of the comprehension gap is just a semantics problem?)
Also, fwiw, this definition kind of explains my (and maybe some other people’s) horrified kneejerk response to the idea of having sex with someone I’m not attracted to. Like, since “wanting to” is such an integral part of my definition of attraction, and includes basically any possible reason for wanting to, any sex that I have that doesn’t involve some degree or type of attraction, no matter how minimal or unusual, is sex that I don’t really want to be having, which is. not great, obviously.
I’m super interested by this point, because it is….. very different from my experiences as views.
I guess my experience, as someone who’s decided to identify as ace, is that: when I want to have sex with someone, it is never because I think I’ll get any sexual gratification out of it, or because they’ve turned me on, or because I’m physically aroused. I don’t have those reactions to people. I have, maybe 3 times when my hormones were settling, found somebody “hot” – and then never felt that again, for about 9 years now. That’s why I’ve sometimes been using the term “physical attraction” instead of “sexual attraction”. I don’t experience physical attraction to people. I don’t have preferences for specific physical traits, and any emotional attraction I have is romantic.
The clearest way I was able to communicate it to an allo friend before was: if I never had sex again, I wouldn’t miss it at all. I don’t feel at all as though anything is missing if I have a romantic relationship without sex. I don’t want sex, specifically, for its own sake, ever.
I still want to have sex with people for the other reasons I’ve discussed! The fact that I’m not, well, getting anything sexual out of sex doesn’t mean that it’s an unpleasant activity. I like being physically close to my partner, I like giving them pleasure, I think it can be kind of fun and interesting. I’m sure those are all aspects of sex and sexual attraction for everyone! But for me, that’s all there is.
I think as an ace person, I think of sexual attraction as “this person or idea or whatever makes me physically aroused, or makes me want sex specifically.” For me, if I “want” sex, it could as easily be something else – maybe I could cook my partner dinner, or maybe we could cuddle, maybe they could just be affectionate for a while. Or we could have sex! We can both get what we want – just, what we want and why we want it tend to be very different.
(TMI, but – and this isn’t a universal ace experience, but it’s not uncommon, either – I can’t orgasm with a partner and never have, and not for lack of trying or them being an inconsiderate lover. It’s hard to say exactly what’s missing when I’ve never had it, but I think the fact that I’m not really aroused by anybody plays a big role in it.)
Does that make sense? That’s by no means a universal ace experience, but based on discussions I think mine is pretty common. Like, I don’t mean to imply at all that allosexual people only have sex because of physical attraction, or have sex with anyone they’re attracted to. I’m not an idiot; I know many allo people sometimes just aren’t feeling it, but are happy to give their partner an orgasm because they love them and it’s not a problem. It’s not like it’s a totally different experience; it’s just that, as an ace person, that’s all the time. I am never “feeling it”, I’m never going to be “feeling it”, and at some point I just have to decide what I’m going to do about an activity that I feel no specific drive towards.
My Dad is allosexual and we’ve chatted about sexuality quite a bit, and he definitely doesn’t consider being sexually attracted to someone equivalent to wanting to have sex with them. He has said that he only wants to have sex with my Mom, because they’re in a monogamous relationship, but that doesn’t stop him from finding other people attractive. In addition, his morals prevent him from wanting to have sex with anyone more than a couple decades younger than him (he’s in his 50s), even if he wasn’t in a monogamous relationship. And yet, like most people, he finds people in their twenties attractive.
Mom, meanwhile, has talked about celebrity crushes, including Johnny Depp. I seriously doubt she’d have any interest in actually having sex with any of those people.