Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] My mom is ashamed of my asexuality

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer
[Two Pronged] My mom is ashamed of my asexuality
'This week, she advised me to not tell my partner I was asexual because he may end things prematurely.'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

I am very disappointed with my mom.

I am asexual. My mom did not know what this meant when I first told her. She quickly reassured me I would get over it. She gave me a list of possible dates – sons of her friends from the Zonta club she belongs to. When I told her I wasn’t interested, she could not get over it, called me too proud, and told me heaven only helps those who help themselves. 

This is her typical response. She quotes the Bible when she sees no other remedy in her life.

Last month, I told her I was dating someone. She hugged me and said she was so happy. I’d never seen her look that happy in her life. She said she was happy I wouldn’t be alone when she was gone, also “because living alone since your father left us has not been easy.” After that, she said, “So I am happy you are not going to have the same sad future.

This week, she advised me to not tell my partner I was asexual because he may end things prematurely.

I don’t know what to do with her anymore. Please help. 



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Dear Yna:

Thank you for your message.

The lexicon of sexuality is extensive and increases by the day. Most people are familiar with heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, but the spectrum from allosexuality to asexuality includes greysexuality, demisexuality, and many more. One problem sometimes is that some of these categories seem to have slightly different meanings depending on who you are talking to.

You, Yna, identify as asexual. In principle this suggests that you have little to no interest in sex, but then a distinction has to be drawn between sex and romance. Just as there are romantics, there are aromantics, who experience little to no romantic attraction to anyone. Some examples of orientations on the romantic spectrum are biromantics, heteroromantics, and homoromantics (click here for further information).

As you are dating, Ina, it seems that you are asexual but not necessarily aromantic, on the presumption that you are seeking a romantic relationship of some kind with your date. Most of these categories are not familiar to the average person and so a degree of education is necessary if an asexual wishes their orientation to be understood. Not everybody of course will react positively since some will simply not understand and others will not want to understand, perhaps just preferring to remain in the cocoon of their cultural view of the world, as appears to be the case of your mother.

Ultimately, children everywhere have to decide whether they wish to live their own lives or the life their parents would like them to live. Parents worldwide want their children to be, say, lawyers or doctors, often just like Mommy or Daddy are or wish they had been, whereas the children may have very different ideas. Some children strike out independently, others bow under the weight of parental and/or family expectations.

Given the reaction of your mother so far, it seems unlikely that she will accept that marriage and children do not figure in your future, however much you explain asexuality and yourself to her. Give her education your best shot and then live your life the way you wish.

All the best,
JAF Baer

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Dear Yna:

Thank you very much for your letter. While you did not specifically say that you told your mother what being asexual meant, I presume that you have. Your exasperation with her implies that you have. Otherwise, in my opinion, it would be unfair of you to criticize a woman a generation older than you, growing up at a time when hardly anyone knew that a person could have no sexual desire for anyone and even more, was not only normal, but healthy and happy. So, first step: if you did not share (or try to share) with her what being asexual meant, please will you do so?  

However, if you DID try, then that is another matter. The rest of my letter will presume that you did, okay?

First, do not hope your mother will change. She is who she is. From your letter, who your mother is probably includes accepting the status quo without wondering whether she could change anything unfair or distasteful about it not necessarily for the world, but for herself and for her daughter. Quoting the Bible is her weapon probably because she relies on authority to convince herself (and you) to behave in ways that otherwise would be meaningless (if not downright stupid): like forcing oneself to feel passion/lust for another person when it so clearly is not what one feels.

She also seems self absorbed: relating everything to her own situation, instead of wanting to truly listen to what you are trying to tell her about yourself. That she doesn’t get it is not your fault. Self-absorbed people hardly ever do. But if you can find it in your heart to still love and/or care for her, you would be a far bigger and better person than most of us are.

When she suggested you keep your being asexual from your partner, she was projecting what she would do under similar circumstances. In that respect, you are not like your mother. You will have chosen a partner with whom it would be easy to be honest and forthright, because living alone is a far better choice than having to lie to someone in order to keep him/her/them.

“You don’t know what to do with her (mom) anymore?” It’s probably best to stop trying. Just as she is who she is, you too are just who you are. And isn’t that an absolutely wonderful thing? Especially now that you have found your tribe, people (a person) with whom you can be your confident, happy, asexual self.

May your tribe continue to grow.
MG Holmes


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