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Self conscious and an introvert or asexual

Question:

Dear Trevor,
I’m a 24 year old woman and don’t know whether I am asexual or have a low sex drive due to repression of potential sexual feelings. In high school I did not date or have sex, and jumped right in when I got to college. But in the few sexual experiences I had with men I never enjoyed any of it. I was not, nor have I ever been, forced into any sexual situation by another person, but looking back I would say I forced myself into the situation with the mindset that it was time for me to discover my sexuality. After a few one night stands and hook ups (all with guys) over my first year or so I really withdrew from any sort of sexual situations. I’m a fairly self conscious person and never admitted my lack of sexual drive to my friends or family, I always found a way to put up the illusion that I had some sort of sex life. The few times I dated men and they showed any kind of serious interest in me I immediately pushed them away and found reasons for cutting off communication. I have always had very conflicting feelings around sexuality; on the one hand I long to experience any kind of sexual connection with another person, but on the other hand any time the opportunity presents itself I run in the other direction.
For the first few years I was okay with thinking that I just hadn’t developed as a sexual being, but as I get older I feel more and more ostracized by my lack of interest in sex of any kind.
At times I wonder whether or not I may be a lesbian. I grew up in a large city that is very accepting of sexuality in all its forms and I have had gay, lesbian, and transgender friends all my life. I have marched for marriage equality. Yet when I think of the possibility that I could be gay I get angry, sad, and depressed. Over the past two years I have struggled with anxiety and depression, and few therapists I’ve seen always seem to circle back to sexuality as the so called “hidden emotion” behind these issues. I am so fortunate to have been born into a community that is so accepting and I feel guilty for being able to relate to the feelings and hardships of those who live in communities that are less accepting and even hateful. As someone who is accepting of others it is hard to understand why I struggle to accept myself. I’m a fairly private person and the thought of opening up to any friends or family members would be a nightmare to me, especially since I don’t even know the answer to the question at hand. Part of me wants to go on without trying to force anything, but the other part of me feels like the depression and anxiety will continue to linger as long as I feel unsure of myself and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Thank you for listening, I hope the length of the note isn’t out of the ordinary.

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Thank you so much for writing. It sounds like you are going through a tough time right now, struggling to figure yourself out.  It’s great that you had the courage to write.  Discovering one’s sexuality is something that doesn’t fall under a specific timetable.  In our culture and media, it seems like as soon as you hit puberty, people are only interested in sex. It can make anyone with a lower sex drive feel abnormal. Just like sexual orientation is a continuum from straight to gay, the amount of sexual desire people experience varies widely.  It’s good that you are not forcing yourself into situations where you are not comfortable.

You mention that you wonder if you may be a lesbian. It is possible that the therapists you spoke to are onto something, that not accepting your sexuality could be causing the depression and anxiety issues you experience. Aside from the few experiences you mentioned in the beginning of college, you don’t mention in your letter whether you are attracted to men, women, both or neither. As you’re thinking about your identity, it might help to remember that sexual orientation involves emotional, romantic as well as physical feelings and attraction for people of both genders (bisexual), people of the same gender (lesbian and gay), and people of the opposite gender (heterosexual or straight). It can also help to think about whom you have crushes on and who you fantasize about being with–girls, boys, both or neither. Check out this brochure “I Think I Might Be Lesbian…Now What Do I Do?” which may help you with your questions about your sexuality. http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177

It may also be important to figure out why you run in the other direction when people express interest and why you are not able to open up to friends or family. Being connected to others and sharing yourself emotionally can be a wonderful thing when you are with someone you trust. You might want to join a local community group for others questioning their sexuality. In that situation, you can be in a safe environment with others going through similar things, and perhaps you will be able to share your feelings there.

Since you’re 24, you can join www.trevorspace.org, the Trevor Project’s online social networking site for young people aged 13-24. It’s a safe space and supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re having about your sexuality.   There’s also The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR. We are always here for you!

~Trevor