This isn’t about celibacy, waiting until marriage, or anything old-fashioned like that. It’s pretty simple actually: my fiancée is asexual and doesn’t experience sexual attraction. It’s not abnormal or unhealthy, and it’s not even a problem even though I’m not asexual. So how does it work for us?
It starts with who we are. Having totally different viewpoints on something generally considered a big part of mature relationships is difficult. A big part of making this work for us wasn’t even about us. We each had to fully accept our own desires and limitations when it came to intimacy in order to be comfortable discussing them with each other.
We know confidence is key. This was a personal battle we both had to fight on our own. For me, it can be difficult being with a partner who doesn’t want me in the way I’m used to. For her, it’s challenging to live with the concern of having a partner who wants something you can’t give. Sometimes this is something we still struggle with, but we’ve learned to support each other when we’re not feeling so confident.
We speak the same language. Now this one might take a little studying if you haven’t heard of it before. When we hit a rough patch, part of how we got out of it was figuring out how we each communicate and receive love, and we did that with Love Languages. If you don’t already know it, learn your partner’s love language and you’ll be amazed what a difference it can make.
We love to love. This can be a little counterintuitive, but our greatest strength in having a somewhat non-traditional relationship is actually our intimacy. For us, it’s all in the small moments. Out at a party, it’ll just be a kiss on the cheek or a touch to the back as we pass by each other. Sometimes at home, I’ll get up and leave the room just to find her, kiss her on the forehead, and go right back to what I was doing. We’ve had several people remark to us that their S.O. doesn’t ever show intimacy in such small ways, especially not in public. Each of these moments is just a fraction of what most people think of when they think of physical intimacy, but the strength of connection in the small stuff is astounding.
We leave room to grow. I didn’t identify as a lesbian when I met my fiancée and she didn’t identify as asexual when we first started dating. People change. We don’t get angry when someone changes their mind about small things like their favorite food, or big things like how and when we want to have kids. Over time, we’ve learned to adapt to the changing boundaries of our relationship because we allow each other to grow as individuals.
We talk to each other every single day. Communication is a pretty big part of any successful relationship, romantic or otherwise, but it can be tough to gauge how well you talk at times. The important part to remember is that communication is a skill and it needs to be practiced daily. Even things as small as telling your partner about your day or shooting off a text that you’re going to be busy and won’t be available for a while are huge and will make talking about the big stuff that much easier.
Honesty really is the best policy. It can be hard to imagine a relationship where you don’t fib to save your partner’s feelings. We don’t. My partner is honest at all times about all things. Even with as sensitive as I am as a person, this is the most important part of our relationship to me. This was a difficult bridge to gap for us, but ultimately we learned that trying to spare feelings does more damage in the long run. Absolute trust built on absolute honesty helps us maintain our relationship because there is no fear of not knowing what the other is thinking.
We make time for regular romance. It might be easy to let romance fall by the wayside when the popular “end goal” is off the table, but let’s be honest, if that’s all your romance is for, you might be lacking something. Not having sex on the table makes our date nights a lot more relaxed and a lot more frequent. We don’t have to worry about making a whole night of it or any of the usual “prep work” before a date because at the end of it, we’re both going to go home, put sweatpants on, and watch Nailed It on Netflix.
We set boundaries and keep them. It blows me away how many people think that consent is less important in long-term relationships. I’ll give you a hint—consent is always important. But it doesn’t have to be a big deal. My partner and I have been together for over three years now and we still ask for consent every. single. day. We have clearly defined boundaries. It isn’t always a verbal question – though it often is. Sometimes it’s just leaning in and waiting for a positive response. Sometimes there isn’t one. So we walk away—no hard feelings. We respect those boundaries for each other without question, simple as that.
We appreciate the little things. At the end of the day, it’s all the little things that make us and our relationship what it is. I enjoy sex but I don’t need it. She doesn’t understand it, but she doesn’t judge me for that desire. All I need is to be able to come home to her every day.
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