Not to get into the ~unmentionable~ but whenever people argue over “cishet aces,” there is a major issue I’ve never seen mentioned. (Or maybe it has been. I try to stay away from that noise.)

Let’s take a cis, heteroromantic ace in a “straight” relationship with an allo. Chances are, the outside world doesn’t know the person is ace unless the person says so specifically. So nothing bad happens to the couple when they go out in public. The ace could keep their sexuality a secret from friends and family and no one will ever know. And it’s kinda hard to see any “issues” the heteroromantic ace will face, dating a member of the opposite sex. After all, they’re practically straight.

What the outside world doesn’t see, and what nobody seems to talk about, is what the heteroromantic ace is going through internally.

Maybe this heteroromantic ace has a high sex drive, along with an interest in having sex regularly. They’re just not sexually attracted to their partner. That’s all fine and dandy. But I’m focusing on asexuals who are in the indifferent/repulsed category. Or, hell, even asexuals who are sex-favorable every now and then, but not often enough. (What I’m about to say can also apply to heteroromantic acespecs- I’m including them when I use “ace.”)

There’s a big chance the heteroromantic ace rarely initiates sex, if ever. There’s also a big chance they’re not interested in having sex as much as their partner is. And if the heteroromantic ace is sex-averse/repulsed, sex is off the table.

Keep in mind, society pushes this message that everybody wants sex. All couples have sex. Anyone not having sex is miserable. A relationship with little to no sex is doomed to fail. You hear this shit all over the place. From puberty through the entirety of your life. This gets drilled into your head. Everybody wants sex and people who don’t have sex are miserable. (Whether or not this is true or exaggerated is a mystery to me and every other acespec out there, but I digress.)

So the heteroromantic ace feels like they have to have sex. If they’re not having sex with their partner, they are making their partner miserable. Their relationship is failing because they don’t have sex. If the allo wants sex, and the ace isn’t in the mood, the ace is going to do one of two things:

1. They’ll “suck it up” and do it anyway.

2. They’ll decline, then spend the next hour or so feeling like a bad partner for saying no. Maybe even worry about their partner leaving them over it.

The allo could be the most supportive person in the world. They can take no for an answer. They never push. Hell, maybe they even have a low libido so it’s not that big a deal anyway.

But because of the constant message that “everyone wants sex and anyone not having sex is miserable,” the ace feels like complete and utter shit. Because they are denying a “basic human need” to their allo partner. This shit gets internalized. No matter how many “I don’t minds” the allo partner may say, the ace is still going to feel like shit.

And this is just aces dating an understanding partner. There are aces in toxic relationships who are pushed into having sex. An ace may already feel guilty for turning down sex with a supportive partner. How do you think they feel turning down sex with someone who thinks they are owed it? Who constantly harasses them about it? And then there are aces who have never heard of asexuality who force themselves to have sex with their partner because it’s “what you’re supposed to do.” This can cause trauma. Heteroromantic asexuals may end up with trauma because of their sexuality. Yes, they can hold their partner’s hand in public with no fear of backlash. But nobody sees what’s happening behind closed doors.

And maybe the (lack of) sex becomes a problem for the allo down the road. Maybe they end up in couples therapy. Maybe they end up with a shitty therapist. Given the whole “sex is vital to a healthy relationship” view the entire world has, who do you think the therapist is going to say needs “fixing?”

And the ace who has never heard of asexuality? They’re likely to be diagnosed with some sort of sex-disorder and sent to a doctor for unnecessary tests and prescriptions. Hell, maybe even the ace who knows they’re ace gets pushed into it too. All because they keep turning down sex. And that needs to be fixed.

Their sexuality is seen as something that needs to be fixed

(Sound familiar?)

This circles right back to aces feeling pressured into having sex with their supportive partner. They may fear their supportive partner will eventually become unsupportive if they get one too many no’s. And thus, the heteroromantic ace in a supportive environment may feel the need to “suck it up” every now and then anyway. Because what if their partner that they’ve come to love leaves them over it? Or starts getting pushy because they were fine with it at first but now they’re learning they’re actually not okay with it?

This post isn’t about who has it worse. And all of this can also apply to homoromantic, biromantic, etc. aces as well. The point is, heteroromantic aces have similar struggles to the other letters. They can go through trauma for their sexuality. They may meet people who try to fix their sexuality. They can even go as far as to force themselves into having sex to appear “normal.” There are shared issues here.

Allos dating aces, please be kind if they turn down sex. Don’t push or say anything that will make them feel worse. Trust me- we’re just as disappointed as you are. Probably more, tbh.

(Obligatory wanting sex in a relationship is valid. Obligatory not all aces go through this. Obligatory having sex with an ace is not automatically rape. Obligatory ace/allo relationships can be successful. This is just a scenario I never see brought up and it should be.) 

(Aphobes Do Not Interact.)