Book Review: I Fell In Love With An Asexual
“How had I ended up in such an unusual situation, with someone so amazing, and at the same time incompatible in such an important way? Why couldn’t we live in a culture where people talked more openly about sexuality?” asks Dave Wheitner.
In I Fell In Love With An Asexual: Recover from a Sexless Marriage or Relationship with Someone Who Lacks Sexual Attraction and Reclaim Your Sexuality, Wheitner and co-author Evan Ocean explore what is known as the “invisible orientation” of asexuality. They explore our reticence to talk about it and offer helpful solutions for readers to better understand their own sexuality.
Differences in levels of sexual desire are common in every relationship, and research suggests that at least a third of women experience low sexual desire. An asexual, according to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.”
Wheitner writes that there are a lot of misconceptions about asexuality. It doesn’t always equate to lack of desire for sex, inability to become aroused, or lack of interest in romantic relationships and activities.
“For many people, romantic activities like giving or receiving flowers, going out to a romantic dinner, or watching the sunset together can set the mood for bedroom activities. For other people, such activities do not increase the desire for sex. This romance-desire connection is not necessarily dependent upon whether the couple experiences mutual attraction,” writes Wheitner.
For partners of asexuals, getting their own needs met – both sexual and romantic – can be challenging. Many partners feel as though having a sexually fulfilled life is the outcome of the effort they put into the relationship. For them, living with a person who rarely, if ever, initiates sex and doesn’t seem to enjoy it, can lead to feelings of anger and resentment.
“When it comes to creating a more sexually-fulfilled life, it doesn’t matter how entitled you feel, or how valid your reasons are. You can’t make someone want to have sex with you,” writes Wheitner.
What partners can do, Wheitner suggests, is take control over their own sexual trajectory. Through asking questions like, “How much do I need my partner to have an experience of sex that is similar to mine?” Or “If I can’t get my ‘giving and feeling needed’ needs met through sexual activities, how much can these needs be satisfied with non-sexual activities?”
People in both asexual and sexual relationships may also struggle with their relationship to pleasure.
“A common belief about pleasure often gets in the way: For any pleasure you experience, you must experience an equal amount of work or pain. During a relationship with someone who is asexual, you may have squelched much of your sexual energy to avoid making your partner uncomfortable. This is in addition to ways you may have already divorced sexuality from other parts of yourself, due to social shame,” Wheitner writes.
Much of the work involves rebuilding self-esteem, as many people blame themselves for their partners’ lack of sexual desire. For this, Wheitner suggests many helpful exercises such as writing down peak experiences, making a list of strengths, and broadening our possibilities.
“There are many benefits of expanding both your definition and your sources of physical intimacy, whether you have an asexual or sexual partner, or are single,” writes Wheitner.
Exploring the five love languages, the numerous different ways to give and receive, and the twelve distinct types of intimacy can all help us move from exasperation about not getting our needs met to learning to incorporate a variety of ways to fulfill our own needs, and those of our partners.
Challenges brought on by a relationship with an asexual can also offer the opportunity to improve our own sexual abilities. Learning to speak multiple sensual languages, practice emotional honesty, express more gratitude, become more present and aware of our bodies, focus on the full body and sensual touch spectrum, and become less goal-oriented about sex can all help us become more aware of who we are as sexual beings, and what we need to feel fulfilled.
Through candid personal exploration, well-researched data, and practical advice, I Fell In Love With An Asexual dives into an often underrepresented and misunderstood topic, offering credible and thoughtful insight to anyone in a relationship with an asexual partner.
I Fell In Love With An Asexual: Recover from a Sexless Marriage or Relationship with Someone Who Lacks Sexual Attraction and Reclaim Your Sexuality
Dave Wheitner & Evan Ocean
Divergent Drummer Publications
Softcover, 329 Pages