In Spite of Growing Up in a Society Full of Allosexuals, The Allosexual Experience Still Doesn’t Make Sense

Like the vast majority of people, I grew up in a society heavily dominated by non-asexual people. Therefore, I ought to understand non-asexual experiences well, right?

Eh, heh heh heh.

Yeah, I know a heck of a lot about allosexual experiences. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I know more about allosexual experiences than any non-asexual knows about asexual experiences, including non-asexuals who have done extensive research into asexuality.

There are, however, still a lot of things about allosexual experiences which I do not get.

For example, you know that statistic about how people think about sex every seven seconds? I don’t believe that’s true, even for non-asexual people. It simply boggles my mind that people would think about sex that often. Every hour, sure, I could buy that. I do not think about sex even every hour, but accounting for the fact that I am asexual and non-asexuals, obviously, are not, I can buy that the vast majority of adult allosexuals think about sex at least once and hour. But every seven seconds? Seriously?

This conviction that that statistic is not true is not based on any real evidence. If someone presented a robust study which proved that, yes, most allosexuals generally think about sex at least every seven seconds, I would have to admit that to my knowledge. But even if I accepted that on a intellectual level, I do not think it would ever make sense to me on an intuitive level.

There are some things which allosexuals take for granted that everyone is aware of, so it’s not said explicitly, and it happens to be something which asexuals generally are not aware of, and then we don’t get it. Thus, when asexuality is acknowledged, and when people take into consideration that some of the people they may be communicating with may be asexual, I am more likely to understand more about allosexual experiences than if everyone assumed that there were no asexuals around.

On the other hand, with something as personal, private, and intimate as sexuality, there are some things one probably is not going to grok unless one is walking in a similar pair of metaphorical shoes.

So that is what it’s like from my perspective, an asexual who has grown up immersed in a culture of allosexuals. What about the allosexuals who did not grow up in a culture dominated by asexuals?

For them, it’s even harder for them to ‘get’ our asexual experiences. Is that a problem? It depends. In most contexts, I don’t think a deep understanding is necessary. What is most important is respect – things like respecting personal boundaries, respecting self-described identities, respecting non-harmful differences in behavior.

And I try to remember how hard it is for me to understand them when I get frustrated by how they do not understand me.

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23 thoughts on “In Spite of Growing Up in a Society Full of Allosexuals, The Allosexual Experience Still Doesn’t Make Sense

  1. I had to read some of these sentences like four times to get what you were saying, but ultimately… yeah I feel this whole post on a LOT of levels. The point you’re making does make a lot of sense to me. 😉

      • The main part was this paragraph:

        “There are some things which allosexuals take for granted that everyone is aware of, so it’s not said explicitly, and it happens to be something which asexuals generally are not aware of, and then we don’t get it. Thus, when asexuality is acknowledged, and when people take into consideration that some of the people they may be communicating with may be asexual, I am more likely to understand more about allosexual experiences than if everyone assumed that there were no asexuals around.”

        Idk why I was just having trouble following the logic late last night while reading. 😛 I might’ve just been tired. But that first sentence… I think it was the “that everyone is aware of” that I interpreted as a “everyone knows the next thing” instead of as allosexuals TAKE FOR GRANTED (but are, in fact wrong) that everyone is aware of these things. I just didn’t quite get it until re-reading a few times lmao. It does make sense though!!

        There’s also: “What about the allosexuals who did not grow up in a culture dominated by asexuals?” which at first had me thinking you were saying some allosexuals did grow up in a culture dominated by aces, and just what about those who didn’t, which threw me off for a bit until I re-read, remembered the whole title and stuff, and realized the actual sensible point you were making.

      • To explain my confusion another way… “There are some things which allosexuals take for granted that everyone is aware of”

        the first time I read it, I read it as “there are things that allosexuals take for granted” and “everyone knows that allosexuals do that”

        when really you meant “there are things allosexuals assume is in everyone’s awareness, they take for granted that we all know already…” 😄

        Lol I was re-reading this post of yours today, and that phrasing *still* made me do a double take. I’m sorry.

        I just linked to this post of yours in a long comment on Kasey Weird’s blog, Valprehension. I actually think it’s even more fascinating to me now than two weeks ago, this post really is SO TRUE about ME and how despite how hard I have been trying to understand allosexuality for years, despite being surrounded by allosexuals, I still don’t fully understand it, and that in and of itself is such an interesting… observation. The conclusion you draw – that allosexuals not understanding asexuals really does logically follow, even moreso actually – is not really the biggest thing I take-away from this post. The biggest thing I take away from it is Oh. Wow. Yeah, as the title says, “In Spite of Growing Up in a Society Full of Allosexuals, The Allosexual Experience Still Doesn’t Make Sense”. That is true.

      • Yes, thank you. I really do intend to getting around to revising this post for clarity.

        And I am glad that you have found this post insightful 🙂

  2. Yeah… I’ve had someone tell me, after I said something along the lines of “You’re telling me that there is NEVER a time when you don’t want to be having sex?” that NOPE THERE NEVER IS, and if any man tells me otherwise he’s lying. Seriously awful gender stereotyping there, of course, and obviously we know that’s not true of all men as it was framed. But I simply don’t believe that even the man telling me this actually believed that, even if he had only been talking about himself. It came across to me as posturing to appear more masculine.

    And the thinking about sex every 6/7/9/10/12 seconds (it always changes each time I hear it) thing also sounds deeply suspicious to me. I don’t care enough to try to look up the study it came from, but it sounds like BS and I wouldn’t be surprised to find it debunked.

    For me, I just don’t even believe that there IS such a thing as an “allosexual experience.” I have often seen allosexuals (who wouldn’t use that term for themselves, not least because they don’t know it) try to generalize their own experiences to ALL other non-asexual people (of their own gender at least), but I just don’t believe it. There is no way that everyone who isn’t asexual has the same experience. People are different and have different experiences. Not everyone realizes that, but like you said, it’d be easier for me to understand what they’re talking about if they proceeded from the assumption that people who aren’t like them are (or might be) listening, since then they might not take so much of their message for granted, and do more work to explain.

    • I wrote a very long reply which was eaten. I’m an older retired allosexual woman and I could go for months without thinking of sex. Recently however, a new man transferred into our group,and I was instantly attracted to him, to the unwelcome thought of, “I’d do him in a heartbeat.”

      And I can’t explain why! He’s kind and funny and that’s not it. But I found out he’s married and I mostly quit thinking of him. Mostly.
      So then nothing for months, then all the time, enough to be annoying.

      • *ticks a check mark next to ‘some allosexuals ACTUALLY do not think about sex every seven seconds’*

        That sounds similar to a story I heard from a sixty-something year old retired man. EDIT: except he was thinking of applying the label of ‘asexual’ to himself because he thought he might have lost interest in sex for the rest of his life. I don’t know whether or not he ended up applying the word ‘asexual’ to himself or not, because I had no further contact with him.

    • I am certain that there are allosexuals who don’t think about sex every x number of seconds (example: the commenter below), and given human diversity, there has to be someone out there for which that ‘statistic’ is actually true. What I can’t buy is that it’s a statistic which applies to the majority of allosexuals.

      And you bring up a good point about how some of the things people say about their sexuality are culturally conditioned. However, separating cultural conditioning from ‘innate sexuality’ (whatever that is) is not always easy, and IMO, not always worth it.

      And yes, there has to be tons of diversity among allosexual experiences, way more than is generally discussed. After all, there is tons of diversity in asexual experiences, and there are way, way more allos than aces out there. Probably the main reason that aces are aware of our own diversity of experiences is that we can’t make as many assumptions about each other, so we tend to do more explaining.

      • “I am certain that there are allosexuals who don’t think about sex every x number of seconds (example: the commenter below), and given human diversity, there has to be someone out there for which that ‘statistic’ is actually true. What I can’t buy is that it’s a statistic which applies to the majority of allosexuals.”

        Right, yeah, but it’s always (or usually) said that it’s on average, so it already accounts for some amount of diversity. I’m sure there are people who match the statistic at least some of the time, although I don’t think it will match consistently. I suspect that part of the reason it’s so frequent has to do with people being primed to report when they think about sex, and thus thinking about it more often.

        And, like you said, I just don’t believe the average could possibly be that high, at least not for the general population. My guess, without looking it up, would be that a certain subset of the population was way over-represented, which threw off the numbers for the study. You really can’t generalize about all of humanity by studying, say, college-aged males in the United States. And yet far too often, people try.

      • Well, for me, it’s not even so much the question of whether it’s accurate, as the fact that it’s such a widely popular statistic (I’m going to respond in more detail about this in a comment further below).

  3. I tend to try to understand sexual desire (which I don’t experience) as a need/impulse that might feel similar to a desire for food. I have no idea if that’s a good comparison or not, but it’s how I try to empathize and “get it” when non-aces talk about sex (particularly when one is talking about how horrible it is to go long stretches without it). But here’s the thing. I’m someone recovering from a severe eating disorder, and one of the symptoms of my disorder is that I think about/obsess about food pretty much constantly. And it’s horrific and drives me crazy. But I don’t think it’s as frequently as every 7 seconds.

    • I am generally wary of comparisons between food and sex, since food/nutrition is necessary to avoid dying. That is not true of sex, which means the moral imperative to provide people with food is very, very different from the (IMO, non-existent) moral imperative to provide people with sex, and trying to make them seem equivalent can shame people who don’t want to have sex. I don’t think your comparison in this comment is doing that, since you are talking about trying to understand the urges, rather than saying that the urges are actually equivalent, and I don’t think you’ve said anything inappropriate, but I’ve seen enough people make those kinds of comparisons in bad ways that I prefer to stay away.

      You have my sympathy for going through that experience with eating disorders. I hope that things work out for you.

      • I completely see the danger in comparing food to sex for the purpose of this discussion. Which makes me wonder, then, what IS a good comparison that an asexual person could use to understand someone’s drive to have sex? I really want to understand what that feels like, how “needy” it feels, how strong the drive is, etc. Just for empathy sake, and to understand myself better in contrast (since I lack this drive).

        But again, no way is a non-asexual person thinking about sex every 7 seconds. My whole point is that if that were so, that would place it at the level of obsession and addiction!

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  5. But it’s not true that allosexuals think about sex every 7 seconds! Actually, I’ve read it as applying to men, but I’ve also read it debunked – according to real statistic, quite many men don’t “even” think about sex every day. It’s a popular factoid which nevertheless has no basis in reality.

    • It’s not so much whether or not it is actually true (I was always certain that it was not) as the fact that it is a popular factoid. A factoid like “most people in their 30s think about how much ear wax is in their ear canals at least once an hour” is not going to be popular because most people would consider it too ridiculous to be true. The fact that this factoid is so widely cited indicates that there are a lot of people who find it at least plausible, and it’s the fact that so many people find it even plausible which shocks me.

  6. It’s really difficult sometimes to express a lack of understanding because I feel like people view my gut reaction of “But why?!” as almost slut-shaming. I try to not sound too negative, but when you don’t understand why some people would risk their mental and physical well-being for sex, it’s sometimes hard to have a conversation. Especially when it’s your own partner and talking about their past. At some point we both get defensive because we’re operating on two completely different wavelengths.

    • Yeah, I also don’t understand on a gut level why so many people take so many risks just to have sex. I have taken risks for the sake of (non-sexual) pleasure, so I can get taking risk for pleasure. It’s mainly because I can’t imagine PIV sex being SO GOOD as to justify, for example, unwanted pregnancy, or antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea (yes, condoms can reduce the risk of both, but plenty of people have PIV sex without condoms). Since the biological (though not psychological) risks for most kinds of non-PIV sex are lower, that’s actually easier for me to understand on a gut level, but still.

      And yeah, I don’t talk to many people about that as well, for the same reason you do. However, I am not in the same situation as you are in with your partner.

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