April 3, 2019

I’m Asexual, but My Partner’s Not

Hey, Bonita…

Hey Bonita,

My partner and I have been together for five wonderful years, and I love them dearly. Initially, our relationship was understood to be purely romantic, since at the time we got together, we considered ourselves asexual. However, as my partner has become more comfortable with themselves and their body following hormone therapy, they have discovered fairly recently that they actually want to be sexually active.

Knowing that I still very much identify as asexual, they asked if I might be OK with them having sex with strangers or a friend with benefits. I initially said yes, as I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt, but a month or so later, I said no, as the thought of it was making me anxious and upset.

We tried having sex with each other, and it went alright, but it was ultimately clear that our relationship should really just remain romantic. A little while later, we talked about it again, and they admitted to having hooked up with a stranger in the month after I gave them my first “yes.” They’d felt too guilty to tell me before, since I later retracted my initial answer. They were, at that time, acting under the assumption that I was OK with it, so I’m not angry, but I am definitely hurt that they didn’t tell me sooner.

Now, after all this mess, I’ve given them another “yes,” since it’s clear that I’m not going to be able to satisfy them sexually. But if I’m honest with myself, I still feel jealous and miserably sad, and I just don’t know if I’m capable of anything beyond monogamy.

Do I have a right to feel this way, or am I being too possessive? Would it be right to tell them not to have sex with other people? Is that even my call to make, since I’m not interested in sex myself? Should I wait to see if I get over it?

I’m terrified that they’ll resent me horribly if I say no again. I love them so much, and we’ve never had any big problems prior to this, so I just have no idea what to do. Bonita, help!

Asexual in Athens

We all know that relationships require compromise and sacrifice, and after five years, you two have surely learned to listen, consider the other and defer when necessary. But this is way bigger than, say, deciding to do Meatless Mondays. There are lots of things that two people can find common ground about, but I’m not sure that sexual incompatibility is one of them. Because, even though you love your partner deeply, you are not sexually compatible as a couple.

I’m really impressed by the amount of work y’all have already done around this issue, but we can all see the conclusion you’ve come to: You don’t want sex at all, but you’re not comfortable with your boo having intercourse with others. You’re very fortunate to have a boo who respects your asexuality and doesn’t demand sex from you, but you’re leaving a big part of yourself in the lurch by agreeing to an open relationship when you know you don’t want that.

There’s nothing wrong with monogamy, just like there’s nothing wrong with open relationships or polyamory. Some relationship styles work better for others, and you shouldn’t get down on yourself for preferring what is essentially the vanilla ice cream of dating. Boring or not, it’s your truth, just like asexuality, and you should not have to compromise on either.

The truth is, I don’t want to tell you to lie back and think of England, and I also don’t want to encourage you to participate in non-monogamy when you don’t like the way it makes you feel. There is something uncomfortable and unequal to me about your partner getting all the ass they want while you sit at home with chest pains over it, questioning your own identity and motives. This isn’t a fair compromise.

Your partner is living their full truth, and I think you should, too. You’re an asexual monogamist with plenty of partner potential. Where that leaves your current relationship, I don’t know, but you deserve to be yourself without judgment or compromise—just like your partner.

Need advice? Email, use the anonymous form at, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.