Sexual Orientation is who you prefer to have sex with (if at all).
Romantic/Affectional Orientation is who you like to be in intimate relationships with.
These are very basic definitions and there are many types of sexual and romantic orientations. I suggest learning about them.
(If you’re wondering: pansexual pan-romantic. I’m also polyamorous…well, nominally. Usually both the wife and I are way too freaking busy to add another person or two in the mix.)
Many others have written about these topics extensively and much better than I would, so I would suggest looking them up.
In this post, I want to talk to you about asexuality. Here’s a good overview to get you started. Go ahead and read that first.
Why is this important to me? It important because my wife is asexual. It hasn’t been really long that she’s claimed that orientation, but when she really started talking about it, I could see the sense of peace behind the nervousness of coming out (again). She finally knew and acknowledged that there was a name for what she felt.
But, some people might ask, what about you? You just said you were pansexual! Yes I am. And I love my wife deeply, and we are very affectionate and close with each other. For me, sex is not the goal of a relationship. It is the relationship and intimacy with the person I love that is very important to me.
Sex, love, and intimacy are not necessarily equivalent (although it might be for some people). The fact that we are taught that it absolutely has to be, I think, is part of the reason why a lot of romantic relationships fail. We get taught that if we don’t have a sex life in our romantic relationships, especially when we’re married, that somehow the relationship or your partner is broken. But, there are people who live their lives without sex (for religious, personal, or other reasons) who have very intimate and affectional relationships with others. When I spent a week with a group of Episcopal nuns, their relationships were no less intimate and affectionate than any other married or committed couples who regularly have sex.
In short: My relationship is not broken. My wife is not broken. She is who she is, and I would never force anyone I’m close to to do what they are not willing or able to do. Especially on such intimate a level. There are many ways to be close and loving with someone, and, frankly, sex, in my opinion, is low on the “needed intimacy” scale for me. (Besides, I think it’s a really good idea to get to know ALL the ways to please your partner that don’t involve genitalia.) There’s communication, hugging, handholding, kissing, my wife rubbing my head when it’s shaved, scratching each other’s back, cuddling, geeking out to James Bond movies, sitting quietly together, and many other ways of feeling comforted and loved. These more mundane, day to day things have much more significance for me than sex will ever have.
To be honest, you don’t have to understand someone’s sexuality to accept their truth, and frankly, other people’s sex lives, if you’re not actively messing around with or having a romantic relationship with them, are just none of your damn business (with the given exceptions for a domestic violence/abusive situation).