Asexuality is complicated the way it is already - allosexual people cannot grasp it, they mix it up with sexual disorders and celibacy. Now, if you are questioning yourself over random instances of genuine attraction, that does not mean you're not asexual. That means the things just got more complicated. Congratulations, you're a grey/gray asexual.
Happy Ace Day 2016! I'm late and I don't like to be a part of things most of the time, so...what's new?
As I attempted to explain in a long, nonsensical rambling a year ago that begs for a rewrite, I'm somewhere on the asexuality spectrum and I have been so all my life. This cannot and won't change overnight and - while I like to keep my options open - I doubt that I'll suddenly become interested in a handsome stranger who will take me away and cure me out of my asexuality.
I was originally freaking about posting this one, too. There is always this underlying fear than I'm nothing but a dysfunctional creep who needs (lots of) counselling and that people just won't tell me how weird I am. But then, a man on Quora said a bunch of things that sounded a lot like my own doubts and therefore, I am going out of my comfort zone - telling others that they are not alone is the kind of a greater good that I don't mind subscribing to.
This article is entirely subjective. This is how I think it works. This is how it works for me. On top of that, this is meant to be light-hearted and humorous.
I am not sure where exactly I stand. It's not like I can pin a place on a map and say "Yes, this is my sexual orientation, r-right there!". I most often identify as a grey asexual, because I'm capable of frighteningly strong attraction of some kind, and sadly that attraction does come with a very mild physical response, proneness to lose myself in space and time, act aggressively towards other people and then freak out over my own behaviour.
Why? Because feeling any attraction is not my modus operandi, I don't know how to deal with it, I have no idea what to do with it and it confuses me. It also comes with extreme bursts of creative energy, sometimes in accordance to my personality and sometimes completely reversing who I am and turning me into a work-hungry and order-loving shadow. Moreover, most of the time it's not much different from loving a pet, a place or something else that I feel strongly about.
Our Default State Is Asexual, NOT Sexual
Though we may be attracted to one or a couple of selected individuals, we don't see the world the way you do. Things and people around us don't scream SEX, YAY. They have a completely different dimension to them most of the time and feeling like an alien in this world has never been more fun. We may or may not involuntarily react to sexual stimuli, because most beings are capable of arousal - at least under some freak circumstances - but many times they are not tied to genuine desire and they're nothing to think about or act on. Things are not serious until attraction comes into play. And it may come on its own or as a result of feeling genuine emotional connection to somebody, the latter often being referred to as demisexuality.
Many years ago, in February 2005, a bisexual friend came for a visit. Before she came along, she pointed out that she was available, which I did not understand at all. I love her deeply, but the idea of dating her was never and will never be on my radar. She, however, implied that I could be bisexual myself, because the man she knew I found attractive was "not masculine enough" - whatever that was supposed to mean. I said that it does not work that way. She was not buying it at first and it took a while until she realised that I was really, really as immune to sexual stimuli as I seemed.
A couple of days into her visit, we were standing in front of a newspaper kiosk, waiting for a bus. And the following conversation took place.
Friend: "You like porn mags?"
Me: "No! Where did that come from?"
Friend: "You're looking at a whole wall of them."
That was the point where I actually paid attention to where I was standing and I saw a bunch of groins and chests staring at me. Hi, boobs! You're fascinating, but you are also dead boring because I have a pair of my own. My mind completely erased them from the view. Naked people with dildos were not relevant to anything and therefore, they didn't exist.
tl;dr: you're not betraying asexuality if you're a shade of grey. You ARE an asexual.
We Don't Have a Switch
Earlier this year, somebody asked me if I can switch between extraversion and introversion, given that most personality tests are percentage-based and they tend to place me somewhere close to the middle. I shrugged and later on, when I discovered cognitive functions as opposed to dichotomies, I was sure that this was not the case. Your introversion is not measured by percentages, you either take the world in or radiate to the world as your primary function.
I thought about this and realised that there is a correlation with some other things in life.
Just like my personality type, my asexuality does not come in percentages. Am I 45% sexual? Do you think I could be...75% horny on one test and 23% on another? I don't think so. I always saw the idea of human sexuality being fluid as our ability to adapt to circumstances, try things and figure ourselves out away from society and peer pressure, but this cannot be measured. It's not controlled with an on/off switch either. I cannot be asexual today and a complete freak tomorrow. Or, well, I can, but it certainly won't be for you! Get it?
tl;dr: Being a grey asexual does not mean that you can be sexual one day and asexual the next, that you can magically turn on and off if the situation requires you to. It's not that simple. We don't come with a switch and we are not chameleons.
No, We Won't "Adjust" Just Because You Are Interested
This is something that took me a long time to understand. Under the influence of the world as it is - and it's made for a heterosexual man whom the rest of us are supposed to submit to - I always thought that returning somebody's affections was a thing to prove one's normality, so I dated somebody who dated five girls at the same time, another person who just used Twitter as some sort of a smart & neurotic pretty girl shop and a highly unhinged person with a serious mental illness. I was attracted to the idea that somebody was attracted, the thing Erich Fromm would refer to as "immature love". Once this stopped, some years ago, I felt more like myself.
And would I "adjust" for, say, a man regarded as universally handsome in 2016 and "give him a chance"? Nope. Here's a story featuring me and a former pal. This friend was calling herself a nympho. She once ranted that nymphos hate sluts because sluts steal their men. To this day, I don't know if that was a joke and what the actual difference is. She also tried to explain me the concept of a fuck buddy and at first, I was petrified. While I understand that people do that now, back then, I could not grasp the idea and it scared me. That was the point when I found out that she was reading me as just your average heterosexual who might be more conceited than most. And this is how it went.
Me: "I'm kind of not attracted to other people. They could walk around in the nude and I would probably not react."
Friend: "So, you wouldn't sleep with Brad Pitt if he was available and interested?"
Friend: "Come on, he's so hot! Every woman would!"
Friend: "Don't be shy."
Me: "Sure he has some nice facial features..."
Friend: "...and the body, just look at his body, rawr!"
Me: "...but since when was that enough for wanting to sleep with somebody? There are many men who look nice out there and I don't care about them."
The next thing I know, when I visited her, she set a double date for the finals of the 2006 World Cup. The guy she had set me up with was hyperactive to a degree I could not put up with - and I am hyperactive myself - and he kept on saying pretty strange things. Nothing happened there, and many other times when people set me up with absolute weirdos.
tl;dr: You don't owe anything to anybody just because it has been "proven" that you are capable of it.
We Are F**king Special, But Not Creeps!
The first time I experienced attraction, I went to a neuropsychiatrist to ask her if I needed to be diagnosed with a disorder often seen in soap operas, tabloids and other shady, dark nooks of the world. She didn't diagnose me with it, just like no other psychiatrist after her ever did. Because I don't have it, end of the story.
But I can totally see how I thought of myself as a dangerous creep, at least when my (a)sexuality is concerned. And so can you.
Media portrayal of anything under the umbrella of grey asexuality has been less than favourable - the mocking Reddit communities claim that, while asexuality definitely is a thing, there is no way that it could be a spectrum. TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory give us the idea of a grey asexual through the portrayal of a nerdy woman with a penchant for dildos whose only purpose appears to be a different variant of a woman who is supposed to confuse a "true" asexual that he is not "broken" or whatever. And then, there's that Single-Target Sexuality TV trope. We are, apparently, wired to be creeps, manic pixies and whatnot. And it's not like that IRL.
Neither are we constantly fantasizing.
My attraction comes and goes. When it comes - and this is not a pun because I don't think this way - it's like "OMG THIS PERSON EXISTS AND THEY'RE WOOOOW SO CUTE RIGHT NOW AND IN GENERAL WOW THIS PERSON AND THEIR BEAUTIFUL INSERT FACIAL FEATURE HERE THE WAY THEY MOVE THEIR HANDS WHEN THEY TALK I AM DEAD RIGHT NOW THE WAY THEY WRITE THIS PARTICULAR KIND OF A SENTENCE IS ATTRACTIVE I WANT TO SEE THIS PERSON DO SOMETHING HOT LIKE SPREAD BUTTER ON A SLICE OF TOASTED CIABATTA SO THE BUTTER MELTS MELTS MELTS OMGCOPTER!!!!" and then, some time latter "yeah, they exist and they're attractive, now let's talk about something else instead".
tl;dr: You most certainly don't spend any more time "obsessing" with people than allosexuals do. If you do, that has nothing to do with your sexuality and therefore, your sexuality does not equal pathology.
After all these incidents, I sat down and started reading about sex. A lot. I browsed Scarleteen, Bish and Go Ask Alice! dead. And this is what I would recommend you to do before you head over to asexual resources such as AVEN. Getting to know the other side so you can explain your own point of view does not mean forcing yourself into something you don't want - it will give you an idea on how other people think.
And remember - you don't necessarily owe others an explanation. The fact that people are probably going to pressure you into giving them one is - sadly - an issue with many friendships nowadays and yeah, we're supposed to be open. But this still does not have to mean that you, yes you, come with a manual.
GOOD LUCK DISCOVERING THE TRUE YOU AND EMBRACING ITS SUPPOSED WEIRDNESS, FELLOW GREY-ACES!