Attraction: Romantic, Sexual, or Aesthetic?

Is there someone you are particularly interested in? Do you feel that strange, warm tickle when your crush walks past? How did you know that you were certainly in love?

These are the kind of questions that an asexual like myself would like to ask people; meaning those who have experienced some form of attraction during their lives. This, of course, is not limited to attraction to the opposite sex, but also to any gender regardless of sexuality. For so long, I was always curious about my kind of attraction, or even whether I experienced any attraction at all. 

Usually, especially parents or older generations respond to such questions without much seriousness (almost always comes together with light-hearted laughter, somewhat a teasing attitude). “Oh, you’ll find out eventually.” “Once you become an adult, you will find someone who loves you and get married.” “Trust me, I was like you in the beginning…” Well, jokes on them because I only became more confused upon reaching adulthood and finally, became aware that I was asexual. Now as an adult, I cannot help but feel cynical towards this advice. Or rather, a realization of how shortsighted or poorly reasoned they were. 

All the health classes that I took in middle and high school, universally dreaded or joked by many students, were of little help when it came to queer sexuality. Reproduction, sex, puberty, etc. – all were important, but they failed to address the queer audience. Not forgetting to mention the absence of discussions on gender dysphoria: an unpleasant state of distress or confusion caused by the clash between the sex identified at birth and gender identity. 

After years of self-searching and importantly, research, I was able to affirm that I was indeed asexual. In addition to information and studies offered online, the verbal content privately exchanged among my queer (particularly likewise asexual) folks were absolutely indispensable. It was through the latter, personal stories and firsthand experiences by people like myself, that solidified my assurance. 

Nevertheless, my curiosity of attraction never really ceased. Even today, I am fascinated by accounts of first loves, crushes, break-ups, marriages, and casual dates. This does not mean I am obsessed like a gossip reporter, nor completely foreign to the concept of attraction where I scrutinize love stories in a clinical manner. Yes, I do understand and empathize with the love experienced by others. After all, I actually enjoy romantic content, such as in comics and animated shorts, as long as the love was healthy and non-heteronormative. One of the biggest reasons why I refused to catch up on popular shows or films that trended within my age groups was the heteronormativity: characters getting forced into heterosexual relationships with little reason or plot, as if there are only two sexual orientations and genders in existence.

To be more specific of my case of asexuality, it is an aesthetic attraction. As the term suggests, I am attracted to people in terms of beauty, personality, and aspects besides sexual desire. A pet peeve of mine is when I discuss someone, either real or fictional, whom I am interested in, I receive the unwanted provocative reactions. While some said things such as, "So you like (person)? You want to date (person)?" others would give me suggestive responses, "Oh, you must really love (person)." At other times, a phenomenon that is often seen at playgrounds occurs; the mocking group that chants and jokes "(someone) is in love! (someone) loves (person of interest)!" much to the annoyance of the victim. It frustrates me that my attraction is immediately perceived as sexual as if I desire to go on romantic dates, have sex, or get married to my person of interest. In my case, it is particularly aggravating as I am repelled by sex - the idea of me having intercourse is disgusting, in my own view. Not that I am immature, or simply unaware of the pleasures of sex yet, I am sincerely not interested. 

Entertainment media, paired with the pervasive heteronormative agenda that plagues everyday life, ingrains the belief that (sexual/romantic) love is unavoidable and that sex must be involved. How many times have we witnessed sex scenes in romantic movies? Even when the genre is not romance, films frequently employ sex scenes or innuendos as though they are must-have components of filmmaking - there is the old saying, "sex sells." Music is also a platform that needs attention. It is near difficult to find works that are not related to love; in pop music, this is a tedious task. Many times, I hope for any works, in music and media in general, that do not focus on love or sex. While queer artists such as Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko are recently gaining the spotlight, which is both a remarkable and grateful movement, there is little that satisfies an audience that craves songs regarding themes other than erotic desire, pining for someone, etc. 

Love, whether it falls upon your path or not, does not need to be a sexual kind. In a relationship, it is important to acknowledge your choice to the partner. And if you wish to remain alone, that is your choice.