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Ettina

Libido versus attraction

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On the male sexual desire thread, DeltaV said something I found interesting, but my reaction to it would be derailing that thread. So I'm starting a new thread.

On 2017-5-2 at 7:00 PM, DeltaV said:

What I'm thinking of is the difference between:

  1. How many orgasm can you “produce” per week? How fast do you get grumpy without “physical release” (masturbation).
  2. How strong do you feel sexual attraction? How inelastic is the impulse to have sex? How easy is it to set off? How much problems do you have to tolerate a long time without sex?

It's possible that one scores “high” regarding 1 and just “medium” on 2.

 

The extreme case of an asexual scoring high on 1 and zero on 2 is difficult to imagine for me.

 

I've been trying to figure out the line between those two for awhile. Up until recently, I'd have said I'm completely non-libidoist asexual, and then I realized I have a fetish. And I've been trying to figure out, how much of what I feel regarding my fetish is sexual attraction vs libido or whatever?

 

I really like DeltaV's distinction. If I swap 'sex' for 'fetish stuff' (ie, reading online fics with a particular theme that usually gets me aroused), I'd say that for me:

 

1. As best I can tell, this is basically zero, or at least extremely low. I have never, as best I can tell, orgasmed. (Or if I have, it was an extremely atypical orgasm which wasn't pleasurable in the slightest.) I also never feel a desire to masturbate, certainly not to the point of getting grumpy. Even when aroused, masturbating does nothing for me. I do occasionally feel a desire to go seek out fetish stuff spontaneously. I tend to feel it during my fertile period, when AFAB people's libidos usually increase from what I understand, but not every month, and rarely at times other than my fertile period. Then again, I'm not sure how well this even applies, because many allo AFABs have regular sex without orgasming.

 

2. I don't even know if it counts as sexual attraction, given that it's not person-directed. But assuming it does, I'd say it's low, but still higher than #1 for sure. I don't feel any desire to act on my desire in real life, and it's not really practical or ethical anyway. But if I read, write, or just think too much about my fetish theme, it comes on fairly strong, and I really want to just binge-read online fics on that theme for a bit. (Between that and needing to go to the bathroom to clean up my physical reaction, it's hard to make headway on the story I'm writing that has heavy fetish themes. It can get downright annoying sometimes.)

 

Any thoughts? Do you think I'm understanding this right? Does this distinction resonate for you, too?

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Interesting thoughts, I like that you stated this in a new thread.

 

For me it's like this-

1. Fairly normal as far as I can guess. There have been times in my life where I would masterbate daily, if not several times. There have also been periods I have gone months without even thinking about it. On average I would say I like to 1/2x per week, sometimes more or less. The times when I have done so most often are usually the same times I am into certain erotic fictions, though these can need to be very specific as most make me feel sick :/

2. 0. Seriously, I have done the sex thing and had experiences with both genders and I am so turned off by it all that I might as well be trying to swim in jelly. Its sticky, disgusting and I don't see why anyone would want to try in the first place..

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so I understand the original questions are split as 1. Libido/Desire to masturbate and 2. Sexual Desire/Sexual Attraction, you have split them as 1.Libido/Desire to masturbate and 2. Sexual Fetish Desire/Fetish Attraction?

I resonate with most of what you say for 1 but as for 2 I don't really get it that much. The division you have made intellectually makes sense to me but I don't get it, but I think that it because my desire for external media is very much tied to my hormone/fertile cycles, and it can be all sorts of stuff as I don't have a fetish fixation anymore. If I reviewed the weird stuff I was into a couple of weeks back it would not illicit the same reaction from me. The mere vague memory of one of the things I found titillating has me cringing now.

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Well, my case is rather peculiar. As a teenager, I never had urges at all, nor did I fantasise sexually about anyone. I masturbated for the first time when I was 18 - not because of sexual tension, but out of pure curiosity. The result? I felt like a lump of ice. I experienced sexual attraction at the age of 19, I started fantasising about this boy and I tried masturbating thinking about him - but in order to feel something, I really needed to focus intensely and I could only stay focused for so long as 2 minutes. When I slept with him, however, it was great every time. I felt really good with him - like the best treat to my body. To me, it is like, in all cases, my sex drive is somehow solely dependent on the boy I desire. I only feel turned on because of him. Besides, I've never had an orgasm, nor have I ever felt a need for it. Just being with him in that way, having him do to me things that I enjoy, feeling his body close to mine is amazing and I always enjoy every moment of intimacy. It is like...I don't like sex, but sex WITH HIM. And if I can no longer sleep with him, I don't feel frustrated at all and my body works fantastically. I only still desire him and sometimes long to feel him that close to me, but it all happens within normal limits :-?. Do all these make sense? Is this all because I'm demisexual or is it just the subcategory of those who experience attraction but have no sex drive at all? :-? 

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this is so interesting, this variety of answers.  and I don't think i'd feel as comfortable sharing this anywhere else as I do here.  let's start by acknowledging @Ettina's reference to fanfiction.  I've been reading it on a regular basis for about 3 years.  always gay (m/m), almost always sexual.  I've tried the visual format but I generally prefer reading--even imagination alone will suffice.  yeah, i'm attracted to guys in the sense that I might want sexual relationships with them (i'm virgin but have some experience) but first of all, it's usually more of a feeling than a thought so explicit as 'I want to have sex with him', and second, the majority of guys I am/have been attracted to are band members, fictional characters, you get the idea.  and as I was saying, that's nothing compared to the thought of guys together.  those of you familiar with the term 'fujoshi' are surely applying it to me now, quite accurately.  this has all been about part 2 of the question (sexual attraction); part 1 (libido) is basically a result of it.  I do masturbate, like 5-15 times a month?  I actually started at around 8-10, not that I even knew what it was or whatever.  basically, my sexuality is so separate from anything else; I saw someone on here (can't remember who) list theirs as 'hetero but so aro it doesn't even matter' and I definitely relate to that.  it's just like another...idk, hobby?  relatively minor part of my life?  I hope this makes sense; at least more in the context of aromanticism, as you guys understand split attraction and all that.

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@aro_elise I am just curious about your meaning of 'regular basis'. So there is a sort of fairly constant desire to seek out your particular erotic thing? 

I should clarify for myself that the hormone/fertile cycles which seem to drive me happen maybe 3-4 times a year, for maybe a week or so I seek out 'stuff' (new media could be anything, but I do have a collection of well written fanfics, yaoi and things if I want something familiar) 

 

I definitely understand the fujoshi though. It is not that me and my friends (a group of us helped scanlate some small yaoi oneshots so it was popular conversation for a while) are particular homophiles it is more a case of we are certainly not attracted by other women, and also we literally see boobs all the time and they are not sexy, they are annoying. But again, I basically ignore my m/m back-catalogue all the time. 

oh and the 'hetero but so aro it doesn't even matter' is James, with the Megamind mask profile pic. 

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1 hour ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

@aro_elise I am just curious about your meaning of 'regular basis'. 

I don't remember exactly how it's been all these years but generally I won't go a week without at least reading one fic.  Usually more.  I have a few ships in rotation.  And yaoi is included in the other formats I occasionally choose.  And sure, that's part of it, the not being attracted to women.  My friends and I watched a movie about two girls dating and I couldn't watch much of the sex scenes.  My friend was amused by this, said "you're so straight".  And my straight female friend actually prefers f/f, which I can't figure out.  Anyway, yeah I remember James, that description made me laugh and stuck with me. 

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23 minutes ago, aro_elise said:

my straight female friend actually prefers f/f, which I can't figure out.

I have a friend like this too! she say's she loves f/f because of the emotional aspects, "the love just seems deeper" < direct quote. So I guess she sees the whole thing in a romantic framework because there are no men in the picture to distract her? :rofl: I guess that is the point of my aroness stepping in and saying the whole thing is pointless!

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Honestly, the combination of romantic and sexual is a bit unsettling to me.  Maybe my tenuous understanding of romance is what's off, but like whenever I hear about it it just strikes me as bizarre, and if I find something appealing in a sexual context (like a fic) and suddenly there's romance involved, it's a turn-off.  As I say, I have a hard enough time with romance, throw anything else in there, even if it is familiar to me, and you've lost me.  

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On 10/10/2017 at 9:44 AM, aro_elise said:

it's just like another...idk, hobby?

Lol, that's the right word. Not like a whole “dimension of life” (connected with romance) as it's usually pretended to be.

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On 10/10/2017 at 8:44 AM, aro_elise said:

I saw someone on here (can't remember who) list theirs as 'hetero but so aro it doesn't even matter' and I definitely relate to that.  it's just like another...idk, hobby?  relatively minor part of my life? 

 

That's one interpretation. Another is: "I think I would actually really like sexual relationships, except that romantic expectations typically place too many obstacles in the way of actually having them" (maybe even more so for aro guys, given guys are expected to take on the 'seducer' role as part of heteronormative gender roles?)

 

What do you reckon @James?

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Yes to all of it, @aro_elise and @NullVector. I guess I'm expected to convince female humans to love me before we *cough* do anything. There's no way I'm going to let that happen, so I've effectively placed my sexual orientation on hiatus. Unless a woman in my life stops expecting me to sweep her off her feet first, none of the smexuals can or will happen. 

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but like, ok, when i was with my ex, he respected my aversion to romantic stuff, which was great, but i was very aware he was romantically attracted to me and just that made me uncomfortable at times.  and obviously not having it reciprocated wasn't ideal for him.  if i were to have any sort of relationship with another allo in the future, it would have to be very brief, you catch my drift, otherwise, as i say, it's not a good situation for anyone involved.  throw in the particularity of my "type" and it seems quite unlikely.    

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1 hour ago, aro_elise said:

i was very aware he was romantically attracted to me and just that made me uncomfortable at times

This is basically the key. How the other person feels, or even expects you to feel back, influences your attraction to them. Their romantic attraction can diminish your (< nonspecific, general to aro population) sexual attraction to them. The become a repellent partner because they trigger romantic aversion or repulsion. 

 

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6 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

How the other person feels, or even expects you to feel back, influences your attraction to them

 

@aro_elise Yeah, this. I think, for instance, I would find constant little reminders that my way of showing affection was not 'the right way' extremely emotionally draining! Even if those 'reminders' were (mostly) unintentional and involuntary responses to things I did (or didn't do).

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On 10/12/2017 at 12:02 AM, NullVector said:

That's one interpretation. Another is: "I think I would actually really like sexual relationships, except that romantic expectations typically place too many obstacles in the way of actually having them" (maybe even more so for aro guys, given guys are expected to take on the 'seducer' role as part of heteronormative gender roles?)

Well, it's obviously very possible to have sex without being confronted with romantic expectations1.

 

But being perceived as “libidinous male” (obviously, the message “I want sex!” just has to be transmitted! B|) by total strangers is not something I aspire to. But at least it feels comparatively very natural and made me find somebody who seems to be willing to have sex regularly with me (though “the serious conversation has been procrastinated until now” :eyebrow:).

 

There are even studies that associate the dark triad2 with favorable attitudes towards casual sex. And this association exists in an overgeneralized form also as a prejudice. So it's very easy to experience the preference for casual sex as ego-dystonic3, though it may feel totally natural.

 

1 sure, it can't be guaranteed that a woman isn't grasping straws in her fantasy world.

2 you can take a totally scientific test here :D
3 not in harmony with one's ideal self-image

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14 hours ago, DeltaV said:

So it's very easy to experience the preference for casual sex as ego-dystonic3, though it may feel totally natural.

Yes, I think this was a major issue for me for a long time. All my adult "role models" were in serious, comitted, monogomous, romantic relationships, so I picked up the idea early on that sex ought to happen only in this context - if one was behaving morally, like a decent and responsible adult.

 

It should have been an early clue to my aro-ness that the sex scenes in tv shows and movies that turned me on the most were those where sex happens between friends:arolove:. With ZERO romantic connotations. That seemed very "natural" as you put it. In contrast, sex between romantic partners left me a bit cold and I felt distanced from it. It seemed unnatural, to me (like, surrounded by this slightly sickening "supernatural aura"). But I was aware I was "supposed" to prefer the latter to the former as part of that "ideal self image".

 

But I'll stop there: better not turn this thread into another therapy session :D

 

P.S. I got "shockingly saintly" on your test 😇 (I dislike manipulative behaviours very much)

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5 hours ago, NullVector said:

But I'll stop there: better not turn this thread into another therapy session :D

Yeah, our group therapy session doesn't really belong in this thread, so let's leave it at that! Could go on, though…

 

Just let me end this off-topic excursion with some humor…

5 hours ago, NullVector said:

It seemed unnatural, to me (like, surrounded by this slightly sickening "supernatural aura").

“Supernatural”, exactly! It's otherworldly, but not in the the funny and obviously grotesque way like the content of the Codex Seraphinianus. It's otherworldly like the Voynich manuscript, that has resisted all efforts of cryptographers to make sense of it, including attempts to unmask it as a hoax.

 

Luckily, the Book of Aro Wisdom explains:

 

This sphinx called “romantic love” has always confused the heck out of poor aros. It sometimes seems to make sense, appearing to be a stronger, deeper version of friendship, yes. But as the wings of the Morpho look like the strongest and most brilliant blue – putting any normal blue to shame… it's also like the Morpho's blue (a trick of the light) that it seems suspiciously “not really there” and lacking substance.

 

The reason for it is simple. When the world was created, romantic love was first placed into Meinong's Jungle, a vast and chaotic garden, populated by all those strange non-existent entities and sealed off by impenetrable ontological walls. Deeply frustrated, romantic love sat below an Escherian waterfall driving a perpetuum-mobile-watermill.

 

It constantly protested “I'm far too plausible to end up here!”. Finally, the creative powers gave in and it was released into reality. This tragic event marks the end of the Emerald Age of Aromanticism.

 

So romantic love is something that wasn't really supposed to exist. And so it still feels like this (if one is immune against it)… though some aros tolerate its alien nature pretty well.

5 hours ago, NullVector said:

P.S. I got "shockingly saintly" on your test 😇 (I dislike manipulative behaviours very much)

I'm relieved that I'm not nicer than “infrequently vile” (the second-nicest result)! :evilgrin:

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5 hours ago, DeltaV said:

It's otherworldly, but not in the the funny and obviously grotesque way like the content of the Codex Seraphinianus. It's otherworldly like the Voynich manuscript, that has resisted all efforts of cryptographers to make sense of it, including attempts to unmask it as a hoax.

Haha "voynich manuscript". I'm always learning about interesting new curiosities from your posts ;) And yeah, that's a pretty good analogy to romance! (for aro cryptographers trying to make sense of it!)

 

5 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Luckily, the Book of Aro Wisdom explains:

 

Self-authored? Have you considered an alternative career as a cult leader? xD

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16 hours ago, NullVector said:

I'm always learning about interesting new curiosities from your posts ;)

Yeah, curiosities are my passion. But romantic love is the only curiosity I can't warm to. xD

 

From the 25,000 holy rats of Karni-Mata to the golden rock of the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, from Belphegor primes to medieval textual reports of America, I really like them all… but romantic love? Meh.

16 hours ago, NullVector said:

Self-authored?

Yes, but it's still a work in progress. :D

16 hours ago, NullVector said:

Have you considered an alternative career as a cult leader? xD

I aspire to lead the Order of the Emerald Arrow!

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to respond to the original post @Ettina

 

I'd presume anything to be a part of libido, if it has to do with  arousal, masturbation, kinks of a sexual nature, fantasy of sexual nature, and orgasm. Someone non-libido'd would not find themselves experencing such things. Tho, nonsexual fantasy and nonsexual kink might be experienced by someone non-libido'd.

 

In the asexual communities, it's preferred to make a distinction between libido and sex-drive, where the former is self-sexual only, and the latter is sexual-with-others as part of it. Masturbation may help curb the drive, but sexual contact with others is what's really desired.

 

And technically sex-drive is distinct tho comparable to sexual attraction - even sexual desire for some. Some folk prefer to think of orientation based upon attraction and others prefer distinguishing theirs based on desire. I'd say sexual desire does go hand-in-hand with sex-drive, and in fact, for some individuals they are the same for sure. The difference between desire and drive is, as far as I know, not a big difference. Semantic perhaps, but I don't experience either, so I'm no expert. Sexual attraction is to be drawn towards a person, attracted to them, in a sexual way, with the nature of the attraction open to interpretation. It's an abstract concept, IDK how to best describe what sexual attraction is. For me it is a type of attraction towards others which can lead to feelings of arousal, but the attraction itself isn't the arousal. they are separate functions, one which can stimulate the other.

 

 

---

So if you ask me - what is the difference between libido and attraction? I say - libido is either or both a behavior of arousal over time, or a need for stimulation or even orgasm. Attraction is to feel drawn towards a particular person, or in lack of a particular person, of finding such a person to be attracted to.

 

Libido inherently implies sexuality and for an ace is only self-sexual. Attraction does not necessarily apply sexual aspects to it, and some differentiate between attractions based off of what kind of desire or internal sensation it triggers, while others don't find such differences to be meaningful. for many people sexuality and romanticism are inseparable. Desire can be for some folk something in-between libido and attraction, but for others is also meaningless to separate.

 

 

---

to organise that ramble into informal definitions -

 

libido

  1. the behavior of arousal in the person
  2. the drive for erotic stimulation or orgasm.

sex-drive

  • libido which also includes need for partnered activity, even if curbed by self-sexual behaviors.

sexual desire

  • a wanting or need for sexual activity with a partner - whether that partner feels special or only circumstantial - and whether that wanting is spontaneous or responsive. Can be indistinguishable from sex-drive. Can also be tied into a person's attraction in a way that is inseparable.

sexual attraction

  • being drawn or attracted to a person - in a way which ties into sexuality. Perhaps the "draw" is via feelings of admiration or interest in them, perhaps the draw is desire or fantasy. Perhaps some other experience. Attraction is much more abstract and subjective than desire is.
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will it allow me to post a second post? :o it does! OK - editing in a response to everyone/piggybacking from topics,  for the sake of community :)

 

---

Yeah my libido too has certainly had highs and lows, like a biorhythm. It was much stronger in my teen years, but over the years it weakened. When I had a roomate I'd happily go without masturbating for long periods of time, and often woke up super-aroused at like 1/2 in the morning and go off to the bathroom to do it quick, lol. Since discovering my asexuality, I started to notice the ways in which sex itself would actually fail to interest me - I'd always look at still images of nudity, rather than sex, and I'd also have "romantic fantasies" with the goal of detailing my relationship with the person and sexual encounters, but usually not finish the fantasy - not reach that point of first-encounter, or reach it and then sort of stop. .

 

lately I rarely feel my libido and it ain't so strong, but it comes sometimes. it seems pretty random, but as I do feel sexual attraction, interacting with someone attractive increases it. for me, my libido, when I refer to my libido I refer to the overall rhythm of it throughout the day, week, and month, that some hours I feel a need for arousal and experiencing my arousal very strongly, others it's like a little itch or distraction that is weak but present.  other times it's completely absent, no amount of longing for arousal/fantasy/masturbation.

 

---

heh I've always been more drawn to lesbianism than anything else, and I always just thought, "it's two women! duh it's hotter, there's more women!" and that's a common sorta thing for many straight males, but nowadays I feel more that it's been because I'm trans-feminine, that I was more feeling a part of the imagery/scene xD nowadays I don't bother looking at anything that isn't sapphic, but, well, I rarely consume any porn, fanfiction, or smut anymore. 

 

---

On 10/13/2017 at 5:39 AM, aro_elise said:

but i was very aware he was romantically attracted to me and just that made me uncomfortable at times.

oh I really emphasize with this! I got this in my sexual relationship with my partner. I liked her, but at the time wasn't attracted to her, either romantically or sexually, and while she tried to be subtle.. I could tell and picked up on it. eventually I caved and we became a thing.. but uh, even there I was overwhelmed with the intensity of her desire for sex/ for me, that I could not match.

 

it's actually interesting tho, 'cause generally regardless of how a person was attracted to me, it did encourage my own to slowly grow. I always had only sexual attraction tho . And with that partner in particular, I felt romantically towards her too, eventually. I don't know really, if this is something which could be relied on, tho. I anticipate the possibility that I might become married to a person who I never feel romantic towards :/ naturally they'd know and be OK with it. I wouldn't dislike romantic or sexual interest in me, as long as there is no pressure of needs that I should be fulfilling. I don't mind them wanting certain things of me, but I want the full freedom to not give what (or when) I can't give.

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