Writing From Factor X

May 26, 2012

Tongue-Tied

Filed under: Fitting Sideways — Sciatrix @ 9:01 pm
Tags: ,

A few days ago, Siggy bemoaned the death of the asexual blogosphere as a direct result of Tumblr. I agree with everything he said, as it happens. I could whine about Tumblr being a more easy formula–longer posts are much more time-consuming and intimidating to write–but frankly, I’d rather read a longer, well-thought out post, and I suspect I’m not the only one. So I thought I’d try to help revive the blogs a little by updating my own.

Lately, I’ve noticed an issue I’ve had in conversations with people I’m trying to get to know better. The subject of dating will come up, or people will start bonding by discussing attractive people, and I’ll freeze, confused about what to say. It’s not a matter of hiding my asexuality, either; this happens with people who know I’m asexual, too. It’s more a matter of not knowing how to react and feeling that responses along the lines of “good for you!” are perhaps more condescending than I want to be.

I’m not a particularly socially adept person outside of my comfort zone, and I’m not always good at reacting to new things on the fly. When it feels like people are asking me to reciprocate in some way, because the experience of dating/having crushes on other people/admiring attractive people is totally universal, I’m often at a loss to respond. It’s particularly awkward for me because I started identifying as asexual at fourteen, never felt particularly pressured to experiment with dating, and consequently have zero anecdotes or experience with dating to use to keep conversation going. I have experience with relationships in general, sure, but bringing those up in the context of dating feels strange to me.

I usually end up just remaining silent and feeling awkward, especially if everyone else is sharing personal experiences. I’m not exactly sure what to do about that, except… continue to occasionally feel awkward when someone is trying to connect with me. Honestly, this isn’t an issue anyone is at fault for or that I think I can or should expect anyone else to change for. It’s not like my experience is a particularly common one, after all, and bonding over dating experiences and cute people is a terribly common, generic topic of conversation. I even do enjoy those conversations when it’s clear what I can contribute to them, as for instance cheering on a friend’s enthusiasm over a new crush or offering advice on a specific interpersonal situation.

I do find it interesting that spending more time with people who aren’t particularly familiar with asexuality and discussing their expriences makes me feel more unusual and more in need of a word like “asexual” to describe how I experience things differently than spending more time around other people who identify similarly to me. I know Siggy has mentioned a similar experience in the past, too. I’m particularly interested in this effect because I wonder if it might partially underlie the tendency of some people to declare labels like “asexual” are unimportant, or even whether it might play into the strength with which someone feels a particular identity. After all, if everyone around you shares similar experiences to yours, or your experience is easily understood by everyone you come across, does your particular label for that experience even matter? It’s only when differences become more salient that it becomes necessary to find words for your experiences and discuss them.

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