Asexual Married Couple Reacts to r/DeadBedrooms #2

You all asked for more Dead Bedrooms, so Happy Holidays! You get more Dead Bedrooms.


Courtney: Hello everyone and welcome back. My name is Courtney, I am here with my spouse, Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And today we’ve got a little expedited treat for you all because, whoo boy, last week’s episode was– Uh, I wouldn’t say it was fun, but I assume at least some percentage of you got some amount of, perhaps, catharsis out of it. Perhaps we accidentally had a little bit of catharsis ourselves. But I don’t ever want to be that angry on microphone again, at least not directed at a specific person. I prefer to reserve my anger for systemic issues, for broad injustices, but I don’t ever want to be angry at one dude on microphone to that extent, ever again I’m not promising I never will be, because some dudes deserve it.

Courtney: But what that does mean for us today is that we are delving back into r/DeadBedrooms. So on this channel, once about every six months, we have been doing an r/AmItheAsshole: Asexuality Edition, and you all really, really love those. We know it, we hear it, we get your comments and your praises. But just– just a few weeks ago, we– we decided to jump into Dead Bedrooms for the very first time and you all absolutely loved it, and begged us for more. So here we are. It has not quite been six months, but I think we are gonna start putting Dead Bedrooms in our rotation and you’re getting one a little early. A little– a little holiday treat from us to you. Just don’t expect Reddit episodes to usually come this often. [sighs] So, what– What did we learn from the first time we dove into Dead Bedrooms? What was the takeaway? What was the point?

Royce: The point? I think the first part of that episode was laying out the pattern of a lot of the posts that we were seeing, [Courtney hums] which included–

Courtney: The lingo. [laughs]

Royce: Yes, the terms used, the fact that things like low libido and high libido were mentioned right in, along with gender identity and sexual orientation. And, of course, that the entire subreddit is dealing with relationship issues that revolve around a lack of sex or sexual fulfillment in a relationship.

Courtney: [hums in agreement] And a general pattern we saw was that not very favorable toward asexuality. Some posts were a little better than others, but the– the general vibe is not– not very accommodating of aces. And truly just a lot of ignorance about what asexuality actually is. I recall in our first episode actually prefacing things with, like, we in our community, we at our podcast, we as aces, know that things like asexuality and libido do not always go hand in hand, but it’s clear, by the way some of the folks here are talking about it, that when they say asexual they also mean low libido, they also mean probably sex averse in some way. So we’re going to, again, try to not nitpick language too much, because we have been down that road time and time again. If you’re a regular listener of ours, you know where we stand on that. So we’re gonna try to listen to what they mean as opposed to what they say, [breathy laugh] to the best of our ability.

Courtney: But before we get into some of our posts that we have that actually mention asexuality, there is one abbreviation that has just been bothering me ever since we did that first episode, and that is LL4u, or ‘low libido for you’. And this is something that folks use in this subreddit to say, “Oh, you know, my partner who is no longer having sex with me – and this is a major issue – isn’t low libido, just low libido for me.” I don’t even know how to articulate it, but there’s something about that just being a concept, that this is a shorthand that is known in this subreddit, in this community, that is used so often that just– it feels so wrong! There’s something fundamentally about it that my brain does not want to accept is a thing in the way that they are using it.

Royce: Well, at the very least, libido seems like the wrong word to use to describe what they’re trying to describe.

Courtney: It really does! Like perhaps there’s an amount of attraction here, like maybe– And this could be a thing where they are just across the board, consistently conflating libido with attraction. But if someone is low libido for you it’s like– I don’t think physiologically speaking…? And I don’t know, any– any high libido aces out there feel free to correct me, I am not that. I don’t have one, never have, never want one. I don’t think physiologically that your level of libido actually changes based on prospective sexual partners. At least that’s not the way I understand libido as a concept. Like you might not be attracted to individual people or you might have more attraction for one person versus another, or one gender versus another, like all the things that someone may or may not be attracted to, like there are factors at play here. But, like, chemically speaking, can your libido just plummet upon seeing a specific person? Does that happen that way? Please advise. [laughs]

Royce: That’s not how I define or use the term. Libido can change, it’s particularly one thing that’s cited as changing alongside hormonal changes.

Courtney: Sure.

Royce: But yeah, I see that as a much more chemical or biological thing than attraction. And oftentimes when libido comes up in the ace community, it is mentioned completely as an aside to the concept of attraction.

Courtney: Oh yeah, I know plenty of aces who are like, “I do have a libido, and honestly it’s frustrating because I’m not attracted to anyone. So what do I need this for?” [laughs] Or they’ll say you know, “I have a libido but I just don’t have a desire to sate that libido by involving another person. Like, masturbation is totally an acceptable option to me, 100% of the time.” Like there are aces like that out there, no doubt. But before we get into these posts, I had to google it assuming that I would– the first response would be from the subreddit and it was. But I genuinely just googled, “What is LL4u?” And I did. I found a post from about a year ago from a deleted user called “What is LL4u really?” And I was like, “Maybe this will give me insight.”

Courtney: But here’s what’s so interesting: they use a food metaphor – right? – in the post. The post is: [reading] “Is it really a case of getting sick of eating the same thing everyday. I mean I love Spaghetti Bolognese but if I had to have it every evening meal, it would probably lose some of its luster. Would it help some LL4u people if they had the occasional take out? Just a thought.” And here’s what’s so fascinating to me. We in the ace community, like we are the kings and the queens and the non-binary nobilities of food metaphors. We have taken “Cake is better than sex” and we ran with it. Cake is our biggest community symbol. Out there, the folks that don’t have as much of a sweet tooth have more recently adopted garlic bread. Like we use food so often, and we even use food as metaphors to explain things like sex neutrality. Like, “I don’t crave cake, I don’t want cake, but if someone put it in front of me I probably would even enjoy the cake. I’m just not gonna seek it out because I don’t have that desire, I don’t have that craving.” So we have so many ways that we have used food metaphors in our community. And so I see the food metaphor and I understand where it comes from in that sense.

Courtney: But the fascinating thing is, here, like, I don’t know if this is a cheating situation or if this is an agreed upon open relationship kind of a situation. Obviously one is more ethical than the other. But in my first several posts seeing this LL4u, it usually wasn’t about people who were cheaters or people who were thought to be or known to be cheaters. For the most part, it was just: you want to have sex with your partner and your partner no longer wants to have sex with you, and you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong, like have they lost their libido? Do they have a hormone issue? Are they asexual? And then a bunch of people in the comments would just be, “No, they’re probably just LL4u.” And it’s like, I kept seeing that as the justification for these reasons why a bedroom was now dead. And that LL4u is just grinding on me, because the implication was also that this bedroom hasn’t always been dead.

Courtney: At one point activities were happening. And if there’s some sort of drastic change, I don’t think your libido has only changed for that one person. So I’m struggling with the food metaphor here. But since it was posted, I wanted to see what some of the responses were and if people agreed with it, because I am clearly not a member of the Dead Bedrooms community, so I am trying to learn from those who are, and the first comment says: “That’s not logical thinking at all. I’m low libido because something about this partner relationship is killing my sex drive. So if I go sample a different partner, I’m going to learn that sex doesn’t have to be awful, boring, painful, entitled, and then I’m going back to the bad sex partner? That makes no sense.” So in this case, I still don’t think it’s low libido. I think you’re just not getting what you want, what you need, from this arrangement. But I don’t think that’s changing your libido.

Royce: The awful, boring, painful, entitled part is a whole bunch of red flags that there’s something else going on here.

Courtney: Well, especially the painful, entitled. Like, is this an abusive situation here? And you just haven’t found that word or connected that dot yet? Because from my understanding, sex should be neither of those things. Boring’s one I hear a lot. I don’t know what just awful sex is. I’m sure there are allos out there who could explain to me exactly what awful sex is. But if it’s not painful or entitled or boring like, what generally might make it awful? How’s that a different modifier than the others?

Courtney: Another comment says: “I think most people who are LL4u are in that phase because of other factors within the relationship, e.g. bad sex, loss of respect, poor emotional dynamic, loss of attraction etc.” Which still doesn’t sound like low libido to me, but does make more sense to me. One commenter said: “It’s often said that sex with the same person gets boring after a while and becomes routine. So the recommendation is to spice things up. However, if you have a partner who thinks anything other than plain vanilla is not acceptable, then things can only go downhill. Yes, I speak from experience.” That’s it– That’s another thing that just gets me so much about this subreddit was– Some of the previous posts that we saw and some of the previous comments that we saw there are just so many deeply hurt people here. [tentative laugh] And I don’t want to laugh at their actual hurt, I really do not. But at least some of the juicier, more heated posts definitely seem like just a lot of very sexually frustrated people expressing their frustration at each other.

Royce: Yeah, I definitely see a different vibe going back and forth between different threads. Some are just overtly hurt and angry, others are trying to have a more nuanced discussion. I was about to say I’m surprised at how many people who comment self identify as asexual, but here we are reading this as well, so.

Courtney: Yeah, I mean we had a poster in the last episode who is asexual and was posting for their own concerns. But here’s one that gets so much wilder when we consider what common ace theory is, or a common ace worldview. Because this poster says: “If you ask me, it means that your significant other is actually not romantically in love with you anymore. Plain and simple.” And someone challenged him a little bit, not in a mean way, but in, like, an asking a lot of questions kind of way, saying like, “Is sexual desire and romantic love one to one, synonymous to you?” Because that was my question too.

Courtney: Because we talk very often in the A-spec community about how romantic and sexual attraction are not always the same. They don’t always line up. And I so rarely see allosexual people acknowledge that, or believe that that is a possibility. In fact, there are a lot of allosexual, alloromantic people who have direct animosity at the very notion that they could be different. Especially in instances of, like, aromantic people who are allosexual. Like the stereotype for them is that, oh, they are just players, they are a fuckboy, they don’t respect the people they’re having sex with. And just horrible, awful stereotypes which, as long as everyone’s clear about what the nature of this relationship is and expectations have been set and there’s communication, there’s nothing wrong with that. But just the very possibility that you might have sex with someone you aren’t romantically attracted to is met with so much animosity. And this could be its own three hour episode, so I won’t get into it. We’ll save that for our split attraction model series that I’ve been saying for so long that we need to do, but we need to do it right.

Courtney: But the original commenter here specifies: “To be more specific, I believe someone can be LL – low libido – due to whatever reason, like asexuality, trauma, hormones etc.” I super don’t love that. Those three were the things that were all just, like, put together like that. [resumes reading] “But they can be low libido for any of those reasons and romantically in love with their significant other. But being low libido for you means that someone is sexually interested in general but not in their partner. And yes, to me that clearly proves that they are not romantically in love.” And it ends that thought with: “Because for someone who isn’t low libido in general, romantic love contains being sexually attracted to someone. It’s not synonymous, but one is the subset of the other.” So that’s kind of like saying for the most part, only asexual people have split attraction, or only people who are otherwise, you know, messed up. If you have a medical issue or trauma or you’re ace, then maybe your attraction can be split, but otherwise nah.

Royce: Yeah, the human condition is just more fluid than that. I think that in a lot of relationships, even ones that don’t get to the dead bedroom state, that romance and sexual activity or attraction will often fluctuate just as you go through life changes to some degree. How much content is there on allo relationships who are going through a slump for some period of time?

Courtney: I mean that’s basically the running joke in like every sitcom from the 90s or earlier, right? So yeah, I mean, I don’t know that one was just bothering me so much that I had to try to understand that one more. So I still reject the idea that this is literally about libido. But I at least think I have a little bit of a clear idea of “this is someone who has a libido but does not want to have sex with their partner, and maybe it’s their partner’s fault,” probably on a case to case basis there.

Royce: Okay, so this post is titled: “My fiance just realized he was asexual today.”

Courtney: Just today? Spontaneously?

Royce: I don’t know how spontaneously, but apparently the first thing to do after hearing of that is to make a post to dead bedrooms.

Courtney: Yikes. Yeah, if it was literally just today and you’ve now gone off to make a post here, I feel like…

Royce: We’ll see. I haven’t– I haven’t read this one, so I don’t know how much animosity is going to be in this post, but it is tagged ‘seeking advice’.

Courtney: Okay, I don’t know if this is the best place to get advice. I would strongly advise anybody who has a significant other who comes out as asexual to first have extensive conversations and do what you can to try to support them through that. But then maybe, maybe seek counsel from aces and not a community that is often hostile to them. But we’ll see. I will reserve judgment until we see what the post and responses are.

Royce: [reading] “Hi, I’m new, and I’m sorry if this isn’t coherent- my mind is a spinny blur, and I just feel small, helpless, and isolated. I (37f demisexual, high libido) had a conversation with my fiancé (42m very low libido)–”

Courtney: So this is a demi also. So at least knows some amount of the A-spectrum. Fascinating.

Royce: Most likely yes. [resumes reading] “– today about how sex has just not been working for me lately- and how I’d like to try to work through it together. We’ve been together for nine years, and aside from sexually, we are very happy and committed to each other.” That is a running theme on a lot of these posts: we are happy except for the sex part.

Courtney: And the sex part is emphasized so heavily that I fundamentally cannot understand it.

Royce: [keeps reading] “Own a house together, have shared friends and interests- the sticking point is sex.

Royce: Through the course of things he said “well, I just never have any interest in sex. So I don’t know what to do.” – That part was in quotes – “And I don’t know, the inflection of the way he said it just made me like, have an epiphany? So I asked if he meant never, as in literally never in his life, like an asexual person, or never as in, he’s been stressed and/or not confident in his body? And he gave me a blank face and said he didn’t know. He doesn’t know anything about asexual people. But he’s been waiting for sex to “click” and make sense this whole time.” Which– that is interesting, if they are just having this question and epiphany now, nine years into the relationship.

Courtney: And if she’s demisexual, and he’s saying he doesn’t know anything about asexuality, does he know she’s demi??

Royce: Let’s keep going. Op continues with: [resumes reading] “You guys. I’m communicative as anything. If he’s asexual, that is what it is, and we’ll try to figure out what that means. But like. How did he never make that– How did he never make clear that his low libido was absolute sexual disinterest? He loves cuddling and kissing- but nothing else really- and he’s known this the entire fucking time. I had no idea. Honestly I thought his low libido was caused by the medication he’s on. He’s acted quite convincingly that he enjoyed things. And I feel defrauded, and lied to.”

Royce: [still reading] “Here I was thinking that my life was pretty great- we just needed to get on the same page with our sexual preferences/kinks/desires- and agree on the level of frequency- and we’d be the happiest people we know. We’re going to keep talking about it, so hopefully it’s not actually a relationship ending thing, but my head hurts from crying. I feel rejected and robbed of the life I was led to believe I’d have. I’m confused and can’t talk to any friends about it yet because I don’t want to out him. I’m scared that I’m never going to get to enjoy my body with someone else without imploding my stable, secure, otherwise happy life. We’re supposed to be getting married in six months. Just, any help, please. Therapists or counselors online or in” – the area of the country that they’re in – “articles, other corners of Reddit where this would get guidance, tea and sympathy, anything. Thank you so much.”

Courtney: I gotta say I cringed at the defrauded word.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: Oh I– Ugh. We did our episode on marriage consummation laws, and fraud as a justifiable reason to annul a marriage and the precedence that asexuality could play into that... I don’t love that word. I really, really do not. I also feel like I need more information, because part of that, “I feel defrauded and cheated and lied to,” was like he seemed to be enjoying some of the things and it’s like, maybe he was?

Courtney: I don’t know, maybe he hasn’t been and that was explicitly stated, but maybe it was just because this was posted in such a haze of emotion and maybe it was just done very quickly and sloppily, but there are elements of this here where I’m like, yes, you are a demisexual person, but are you in community with a lot of other aces and demis?

Courtney: Because you, as the poster, seem to be either missing details or missing nuances of the orientation itself. And I don’t know, is it– Is it unfair to be like, how could he not know this? Why did it take him so long to realize this? Like– So, I personally have met people who did not come out as asexual until they were over 70 years old. Because they did not have the language for it. They met me, they saw me talk about asexuality, we developed a friendship, and then they confided in me that they are, in fact, asexual. And the things I was sharing were things they felt their entire life. But they– it was indistinguishable from, you know, heterosexual or homosexual, because they just didn’t know there was a word or an option for something other than those two.

Courtney: And so, like, is it really unfair, to be like, “I’ve been with this person for nine years. How did they not know?!” Because everyone’s on their own timeline, you know?

Royce: And a lot of times you have to get to a point where you see a very direct contradiction or comparison to something that you feel very personally and intimately, and it’s not that difficult to go a long time not – you know – encountering that information or having those conversations. The thing that stood out, in comparison to that, most to me was the OP mentioning how communicative they are. Because, yeah, they may talk a lot, but apparently they haven’t had this conversation, at least in extreme detail, until this point in their relationship, which can happen.

Courtney: It can. It’s– Was there anything in there? Did I just miss it? Was there anything that actually said that he does not want to have sex anymore? Because I feel like I didn’t get that. Did he actually say or imply that at any point? Because the way it’s posted, the way she’s talking, is like, “We were supposed to get married, but now my whole future, I’m grieving for it because it’s not going to be what I thought.” But they seem to, at least on occasion, be having sex now. So is he actually saying he wants to stop doing that? Or is this a situation where OP might actually be grieving the feeling of being desired as opposed to the actual act of sex? Because those are two different things in my experience.

Royce: I think that’s a reasonable impression. One quote from him was, “Well, I just never have any interest in sex, so I don’t know what to do,” which I think it’s reasonable to say that the implication of that is that he is not initiating anything. And she mentions that there have been times when he’s said or at least acted like he’s enjoyed things, and that they just aren’t on the same page about their preferences, kinks and desires, so. And the level of frequency is another one that’s brought up. She self-identifies as having a high libido, compared to his at the very least, which she says is very low, so it could be that the relationship that she wants isn’t one where she is having to initiate things. That’s possible, it’s not explicitly stated.

Courtney: Because that’s something that I know I have had in past relationships and other aces have had in past relationships. Where even if there’s a situation where an asexual person is in a mixed orientation relationship with an allo person, and the allosexual person does want sexual activities, and even if the ace is okay with that, to varying degrees – whether they’re sex favorable, sex neutral, whatever that is – there are some instances where that is still not enough for the allo person. Because I have seen allos react with outright hostility to aces, not because they won’t have sex with them, but because they don’t want sex with them or they don’t want it enough, or they don’t feel attracted, or they don’t feel– they don’t feel attractive, they don’t feel desired. And I really struggle to view that in any way other than some form of potentially insecurity. Potentially we can chalk it up to something else. But I genuinely do not think that if that is a tension in the relationship where sex can be negotiated, it can be enjoyed, but the allo person is upset that the ace isn’t actually attracted to them, the ace is not going to change. That is not something that can be changed.

Courtney: So if that is going to be an issue for the allo person, that is something that they need to work on. And they need to figure out why this is such an issue and why they feel this way, and if this is coming from insecurity, if it’s coming from any of these other things.

Courtney: I was a little caught off guard when OP here was like, “Oh, is it because of your body? Are you insecure?” It’s like– I don’t want to imply that in the situation I’m describing that all allos are, like, insecure in their own bodies, but I know from personal past relationships– I have had previous partners who are like, “Why aren’t you more attracted to me?” And it’s like, “I am literally as attracted to you as I could be to any other human that exists.” And they’re like, “But I want to be uniquely attractive to you!” And it’s like, you are! You’re the one I’m in a relationship with right now. I don’t know what more you want from me.

Royce: Yeah, I read that passage as OP just sort of grasping at straws to come up with a reason for their partner’s – what they describe as – low libido.

Courtney: Which is fascinating, because if OP did not self-identify as demisexual, if a like fully allo person was saying this, I would probably say that’s a little acephobic, like why are you trying to find the reason for this? Some people just are this way.

Royce: And I think that was coming– I think at that point, when she was going through this, she was operating under the assumption that her partner was allo, and this is where it clicked of “Wait, you mean like ever?” Like, this isn’t a temporal thing.

Courtney: Right, right. So yeah, I don’t know, this is interesting. This is why I have said before that I try not to be the advice giving type, especially like unsolicited advice. And clearly OP here is asking for advice. But I never feel comfortable giving advice unless it’s someone I know very well or I know their situation very, very well. And probably if there can be a conversation about it, because look at how many questions I am asking OP that I’m never going to get an answer to. Like, I would need to have a full on conversation with someone if they were seeking my counsel, because I need more information in order to give more information.

Royce: Well, look at how many conversations have come up for the two of them just now that I’ve prompted this post. It sounds like the two of them need to have a much more in depth conversation, but I was holding onto something. Let me go back to one of the last points that you made.

Royce: You were talking about an issue that comes up oftentimes in ace-allo relationships within the– The problem that arises from a need to feel desired or something of that nature. And I don’t think it is off-base in saying that that can often manifest in very significant feelings of insecurity. But I do think that there is also some amount of– If I use the word sexual orientation, I’m kind of stretching that term a little bit. I’m having trouble finding the right word, but the way that a person’s sexuality manifests – which would include their kinks and things like that – if someone is, you know, I guess, more submissively aligned and a big part of what they get out of sex is that feeling of being wanted or desired, that could be a big part of what sex is for them and it could represent an incompatibility of some kind. It’s something that could potentially be talked through, worked around, you could potentially find an angle for. But I could also see some people saying that like this is– this is something I actually need to feel satisfied in that area of my life.

Courtney: But what I want to know is how does one reconcile it with all of these posts? Because we’ve seen the pattern of like, “We are the happiest people in the world except for sex.” And it’s like–

Royce: I mean, I mean my knee jerk reaction is that that is an overstatement.

Courtney: [Thoughtful sound] So you’re just going to say that, huh? You’re just going to say what we’re all thinking, just– just like that. [laughs]

Royce: One of the things we’ve mentioned before is – that we see a lot in relationships – a lot of things get piled on to sex as the one thing that is going to make or break a relationship. And sometimes that is done in a way that I don’t think appropriately, like, summarizes the relationship as a whole. [Courtney agrees] Like, if you have so many things going on in your life that you don’t have time to spend with each other doing, like, meaningful activities, then sex becomes that activity. If you aren’t getting affection in other ways, then sex becomes the way that you’re getting affection. And it’s– A lot gets piled onto it, and that’s how you end up with, you know, entire industries of sex counseling as a form of relationship counseling, [Courtney agrees and laughs] when there might be other avenues to figuring out what’s going on.

Courtney: Yeah, I do think, just because what you were saying with sex sort of being the all-encompassing thing, that could also be a need that could theoretically be met another way. You mentioned affection, like well, if sex is the way you’re receiving that affection – and I know not every couple’s like this, this is definitely just a personal anecdote of mine – but like, I am incredibly romantic for someone who is actually identifying as demiromantic, on the on the aro spectrum. My gestures and gifts– I have always been a very, very romantic person. And I would put a lot of time and thought into– into these acts of romance. And I always wanted to make sure that my partner felt desired. And in fact you’ve made that very difficult for me, Royce, because you don’t like things. [laughs] I was like, “Let me get you gifts!” And you’re like, “No, absolutely not, I refuse.”

Courtney: But like in past relationships, like that was a thing I would do and then to, then, have a partner be like, “But I feel like you just don’t, you don’t desire me enough.” and it’s like– [sighs] I’m sorry it is not in– in the way that you want it, and I am sorry that this is all coming from an incredibly low self-esteem and a poor body image that you have of yourself, but I genuinely– I cannot develop sexual attraction for you. That is not how I am wired. It is not going to happen. So I fully understand that I’m reading this under my own lens there. But yeah, interesting post.

Courtney: But what are some of the comments? I guess also to your point of it being perhaps overstated that sex is our only issue. We’ve absolutely had friends in the past that would claim to have a really good relationship, really healthy, their relationship is almost perfect, but then we’d also get together to hang out and they’d talk about how they had a screaming match earlier in the day. And we were like, “Oh, that’s a thing you do?” [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, they just casually throw out something toxic, as if everyone does it.

Courtney: Yes! This is why we aren’t friends with straight people anymore. [laughs] I don’t think we have a single straight friend anymore. At least not a straight couple. We might have one or two individual straight people that are cool.

Royce: If, instead of saying straight, you say like heteronormative or non-queer.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Like there might be people with gender identities that don’t fit into the binary who might still describe themselves as hetero, just out of habit or because they don’t have a better word.

Courtney: Right. We don’t have any non-queer couple friends anymore. [laughs] Because they do really just be out here throwing out very toxic things and being like, “We have a great marriage, we have a wonderful relationship.” And we’re like, “Mm?”

Royce: So the comments here. This post doesn’t have a ton of them. There are a few back and forth. Some are like: postpone the marriage, figure this out first. There’s one that was like: “Blessing in disguise. Don’t marry into a dead bedroom, go elsewhere.”

Courtney: No! Are you kidding me?!

Royce: There are a couple of posts being like, “You’re looking for other places. Go check out asexuality subreddits and see what you can learn there.”

Courtney: Yeah. Yes, I’m actually glad that that was a bit of advice that was pointed out. I’m pleasantly surprised. Less so with the blessing in disguise. Give me a break! That is what I have come to expect from this subreddit, though.

Royce: And from what I can tell, OP seems to be going through and responding to a lot of posts and just trying to take it all in. She does say at one point, “Someone mentions that it sounds like he genuinely didn’t know and could be just in the questioning phase of understanding himself.”

Courtney: That’s what I was wondering, like, was it mean to be like, “How did he not know?”

Royce: And she does say, “I agree that’s the best outlook to take right now. And yes, he’s been doing a lot of introspection in the last year or so. He’s just not terribly fluent or practiced in doing so yet.”

Courtney: Yeah, like I said before, we’re all on our own timelines. I hope they’re doing okay. We need a– We need a “Where are they now?” for Reddit posts.

Royce: This post was three months ago, by the way.

Courtney: Oh man, so we’re one month to the wedding, unless it got postponed?

Royce: Halfway there, it was six months out.

Courtney: Six months. Okay, I don’t know why I had four in my head.

Courtney: So this one. We gave up on r/AreTheStraightsOkay, because there were so many just like very visual memes that were just not good for a podcast format. But I did find one post on Dead Bedrooms. That was just a meme, but some of the comments just absolutely have me face-palming.

Courtney: It’s entitled, “Sex really isn’t that important in a relationship,” and it’s a picture of a couple – I don’t know what this is from – appears to be a man and a woman. The woman is saying, “Sex really isn’t that important in a relationship, to be honest.” And then a close-up of the man’s face, and the commentary is: “I’ve never seen a bigger cry for help in a man’s eyes.” And we’ll have a link to this in the show notes if you want to actually see what the picture is. But oh, my word. Some of the comments: [exaggerated voice] “But suddenly becomes the most important thing in life the moment that guy sleeps with anyone else!” And the same person said, “Sex is like money. Money is not everything, not having money is. Same with sex. Sex is not everything, not having it is.” As someone who is a no libido, borderline sex-repulsed asexual who has been in severe poverty for large swaths of my life, and no longer is: absolutely fuck that analogy.

Courtney: Then we had a really unfortunate sort of just conversation back and forth in the comments where someone says, “But it’s true… if you are asexual, I guess.” And someone comes in and tries to do the Ace 101 kind of a thing. Saying like, “This is actually a common misconception. There are asexual people who have sexual desires. There are also sexual people without sexual desires. Asexual people find no one hot. If you’re wondering why a person would have sex with someone they don’t find hot, most people who have sex with their hand don’t find their hand hot.” And some– some– some jerk was pulling quotes like, “There are asexual people who have sexual desires,” saying, “By definition not asexual.” Which isn’t true, we know that. But someone comes in and tries to say, “Asexuality is considered to be a sexuality wherein one doesn’t experience sexual attraction. Asexual people can get horny and enjoy sex, but they won’t be sexually attracted to their partners or be turned on by their bodies, pleasing them etc.” And then people just argue about language, because then that poster who came in with the ace spiel says, “I try not to use sexual attraction because so many people think sexual attraction equals want to have sex with.” And a few people are like, “Well, that– that’s less good language, that that is more confusing.” And the final say is that poster saying, “Asexual people do not find people hot. Sexual people do find people hot. It’s not about whether or not they want to have sex.”

Courtney: And I have been getting increasingly more frustrated with that definition and delineation. Just because – for as much as like we’re giving grace even in this episode, saying, you know, for some people, like, this is a manifestation of their sexuality, this is something that is important for those people, I understand that not all aces have the same experience I do, and I give space for that – but not having a libido, not wanting to engage in sexual activity, that actually is a fundamental component of the way my asexuality manifests. And I’m not going to say that people in different areas of the a-spectrum are less ace than me. I’m not going to say they’re not asexual because I don’t believe those things. But there is such a hard line push – especially as of the last, like, six years I think I’ve really, really seen it ramp up – where it’s all about attraction, not action. It’s just attraction, not action. And that’s something I hear and see all the time. Every single day. And a lot of sex favorable aces will say, “Well, we have to use this language because otherwise you’re invalidating my asexuality.” And it’s like you’re kind of now invalidating my asexuality because this is a fundamental way that mine manifests. And if I’m giving space for your area of the spectrum, can you please also give space for my area?

Royce: I think people are just going to have to accept that there isn’t going to be one simple, like, singular sentence definition of asexuality–

Courtney: No.

Royce: That just encompasses the entire A-ace spectrum. Because I’ve been thinking about this and I am not aware of any other orientation that has, for example, the depth of micro labels that asexuality has, and– or, you know, broader a-spec I should say. I use those two terms interchangeably a lot. I know not everyone does that.

Courtney: Well, we’ll talk about this in a future episode. But the fact that ace no longer means ace and aro people is fascinating to me. Because a lot of people, when we originally started using the shorthand for ace, it was like the full ace community, because we didn’t want to just be saying asexual the whole time. So it was like A is being shortened to ace for both ace and aro. And now a lot of people have completely forgotten that that is how a lot of people used to use it. And now people are saying a-spec for the a-spectrum, for ace and aro spectrums, and to me that is so much clunkier than saying ace.

Royce: It is- That’s–

Courtney: So sometimes I’ll still say ace, just because that’s the language that I came up into this community in, to mean both. And now people say, like, “If you’re saying ace but you mean a-spec, that’s erasing aros.” And it’s like my language originally did accommodate aros and we just forgot about that!

Royce: Yeah, in personal life, off the microphone, I never say a-spec. Pretty much I say ace to mean a-spec. Because a-spec is a clumsy, two syllable word that’s harder for me to say.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: But what I was getting to was when I look at all sexual orientations – straight, gay, bi, pan – they’re all very well-defined and have a lot of community and a lot of history. And of course, ace people have been here forever but it’s been so hard to connect, because you have to have a lot of very open, vulnerable, personal conversations. So I feel like the ace community is fairly young because it kind of relied on something like the internet to bring enough people together to have these conversations. But what happened is you found all of these different, varied experiences that aren’t gay, straight, bi, pan, and sometimes they are vastly different experiences.

Courtney: [Agrees]. Yeah, we– You know, in addition to our split attraction model series that we’ve been planning, we want a series of just episodes on language, [laughs] because we’ve got a lot of thoughts on language. Because, at the end of the day, really what I care about the most is that the people I’m communicating with can understand me, and so, to a certain extent, if you’re speaking to an individual person, your language is going to change and there are complicated nuances with that. Sometimes it’s something like code switching. Sometimes in a neurodivergent lens, that’s something like masking. But sometimes it’s genuinely just: we come from two very different places, what is the lowest common denominator for the language that we can use and still understand at least the most important elements of what we’re trying to convey to one another?

Courtney: And so, like, honestly, yeah, with a-spec, the thing is, I have started occasionally using that – either on microphone or sometimes in tweets and things – and that is just because that seems to be the direction that our individual community is saying. But I will only say that word if I’m addressing the community. If I’m trying to address a larger audience, or allo people, or non-a-spec people, I won’t use the phrase a-spec. Because they don’t know it. They do not.

Royce: Okay, I think this will be the last one for today. This one is simply titled “Broke Up With my Asexual Girlfriend.”

Courtney: Oh boy.

Royce: And it reads: “I loved her a lot. I really did. I felt like she was perfect for me in every way.” Going back to that…

Courtney: Except… sex!

Royce: [resumes reading] “Except one. [Courtney laughs] She was asexual. We dated for a little over four months. In that time I fell for her, hard. But two months into the relationship she admitted that she thinks she might be asexual as she finds the idea of sex and kissing to be repulsive. I tried to make it work for the remaining two months but I was slowly starting to resent her more and more, and I knew it would never stop. I really wanted it to work. But I’m a man with needs [Courtney hums disapprovingly] that she wasn’t capable of fulfilling, and I didn’t want to guilt or force her into doing something she didn’t want to do.

Royce: I broke up with her earlier today. I’m pretty sad about the whole thing but I know it was the right thing for both of us. Reading some of the posts here acted as the final nail in the metaphorical coffin for me. I didn’t want to end up like the unfortunate souls on this subreddit.”

Courtney: Oh no!

Royce: [keeps reading] “I thought I could do without sex, but I never really realized how damn important it was to be sexually desired in a relationship until recently.”

Courtney: Mmh… There’s that word again.

Royce: Yep. [continues reading] “It’s so goddamn important. I stopped working out in part because – quote – “what’s the point if the one person that’s allowed to see it doesn’t care?“.”

Courtney: Oh boy.

Royce: [keeps reading] “I did my first day back today and it felt good.” – I assumed that is at the gym – “II’m ready to clean myself back up and jump back into the dating game and put myself out there and find somebody new. I just want to say I don’t resent her for any of this. She was a really kind-hearted person and I wish her the best, we were just fundamentally incompatible at the end of the day and it never would have worked. I wish her the best and hope she finds happiness.”

Royce: So that was a collection of a few things we’ve talked about. One thing I wanted to mention that I’ve just always been aware of, and never really understood, is the “I’m going to exercise or diet purely to date.”

Courtney: Yeah!

Royce: Not for myself.

Courtney: Not for health.

Royce: I’m just going to do that to try to find someone during that dating phase.

Courtney: Yeah. I also– because he’s also saying like, “Man, my first day back at the gym and it felt good.”

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: Like if you like exercising, why did you stop? Liking exercise is a gift. Exercise sucks! [laughs] No, I’m with you on that. I don’t understand that. Just the loaded language in that post, though. Like, “I didn’t want to end up like the unfortunate souls here.” It sounds so melodramatic.

Royce: Yeah. As a post that was just, “Hey, here’s what happened,” and not asking for advice or anything, it’s also interesting that this person made a decision because apparently they were lurking on Dead Bedrooms.

Courtney: I don’t think I like that either. Because, like, it wasn’t that long of a relationship, so it’s not like, you know, there was a level of commitment that’s like years into this relationship, or a marriage, or a betrothment. So like, it was still technically early stages, that’s fine. But I genuinely– Like, you made a decision to break up with someone that you yourself are saying you really care about, because of what you are reading strangers say on the internet? And not out of conversations with that partner? I don’t know, that’s– Just the very concept of that is something I don’t understand.

Royce: Yeah, I don’t know what conversations they had in the relationship. Reading through some comments and seeing OP comment on a couple of things, they didn’t give their ages but they did imply that they were pretty young, and it had only been together for four months. So if they had a conversation and kind of outlined what they want or are looking for in a relationship, it seems perfectly reasonable for them both to be like, “Okay, this isn’t it,” and go on. Kind of a thing.

Courtney: Right. But, man… “The final nail in the coffin was reading about all you poor souls on this subreddit.” [laughs]

Royce: There is a comment that just says, “I’m glad that this graveyard of dead relationships saved one more soul.”

Courtney: No! That’s terrible! [emphatically] Graveyard of dead relationships.

Royce: Yeah, that was an old post. That one was actually– That one was five years ago. But it was very dense in a lot of the language that we’ve been talking about or seeing throughout.

Courtney: Well, I wish the best for his asexual ex-girlfriend. May he remember her fondly as the one who got away. [laughs] She’s probably too good for him. [laughs] I am just headcanoning this asexual girlfriend as, you know, the most gorgeous, beautiful person inside and out. That’s nonsense and I know it.

Courtney: You know, last time we did a Dead Bedrooms episode, we were talking to our friend Satan and they had a brilliant idea about what would be a better Dead Bedrooms concept than people in relationships who don’t have enough sex anymore. The concept they put forth was untouched photographs of the bedroom of people who died, like just how they died. This is what their bedroom looked like when they died. And I think that’s fascinating. I think it is a subversion of amatonormativity. I think it’s provocative, it’s enriching, it’s conceptually brilliant. I want someone to take this on as a project. I want this to be a coffee table book that we can put on our coffee table that is just pages of literal dead bedrooms. And then you can just pour over them for hours, fantasizing and wondering about the lives of these poor deceased souls. [emphatically] Who were they? What kind of life did they live? What will my bedroom look like when I inevitably die?

Royce: How many of them died before getting the chance to clean up their bedrooms before the photos were taken?

Courtney: Exactly! That’s the fascinating part! You can learn so much about a person. Was their bedroom spotless? Was it messy, as if they weren’t expecting visitors? Was it covered in medical supplies because they were aware that the death was imminent? There are so many possibilities. How old were they? How did they decorate? Did they die away from the home? Was their bed made? Did they die in the bed? The possibilities, they are endless. I am so much more intrigued by this concept of a dead bedroom than I am people griping about not having enough sex.

Courtney: So if any brilliant ace photographers out there– I myself am an artist, I am a professional, award-winning artist, if we’re being technical here, but I’m not a photographer. Taking photographs tends to irritate me. At least if it’s for social media. I gave up on Instagram a long time ago because – ugh – “I made a thing, now I have to take a picture of it to put on Instagram.” I hated it! Absolutely hated it. So if there are any already renowned ace photographers out there who are interested in making this dream come to fruition, do reach out. Let’s make it happen. But until then, thank you all so very much for being here. And we will talk to you all next time. Goodbye.