Am I asexual if I still want to kiss people? – Alice

Is it normal to want dating without hook-ups? And what if you don’t even know who you want to date?

When you’re on the asexual spectrum with bisexual attractions, it can be confusing to chart desire and create a relationship that works for you. Alice from South Africa talks about having very little sex education and a low sex drive, but still finding her way.

Alice is a 23-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as white, and single. She’s not sure how to define her sexual orientation yet (though it’s probably not straight), and she’s probably monogamous, but clarified “I’m only 23 years old, so who knows?”  She grew up in South Africa and describes her body as thin.

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Am I asexual if I still want to kiss people? – Alice
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In this episode we talk about

  • Asexuality
  • Demi-sexuality
  • Lack of Sex Education
  • Consent
  • Sexual orientation
  • What is “queer enough”?
  • Does virginity matter

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Full episode text

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex! If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. You know that I love to present a wide diversity of perspectives on this show. So today, I’m thrilled to have a guest from South Africa. Alice grew up consuming a lot of television, movies, and other media, which informed her views about what “normal” sexuality and relationships look like. Today, she’s working to untangle a lot of those old beliefs while asking questions like, “Am I queer enough to call myself queer?” Before we get started, I want to note that there is some extraneous noise in this interview. I hope you’ll find the conversation so interesting that you won’t even notice it. So, let’s get to it.

Alice is a 23-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as white and single. She’s not sure how to define her sexual orientation yet, though she says, “It’s probably not straight.” And she’s probably monogamous, but clarified, “I’m only 23 years old, so who knows?” She grew up in South Africa and describes her body as thin. I am so pleased to introduce Alice!

Alice, I’m thrilled to have you here with me today. First of all, I love to get as much as diversity on this podcast as possible and I’ve never spoken to anyone from South Africa, so this is very exciting.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yay! I’m honored to be your first South African guest.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Thank you for being here.

ALICE: Thank you for having me.

LEAH: So, the first question I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual desire?

ALICE: My first memory of sexual desire, there may have been other instances, but this is the only memory that comes to mind. It was when I was 21 and I was with the first person that I had fallen in love with. And before that, for a very long time, I wondered if I was asexual because I had crushes. I looked at people and go, “Wow. You’re so good looking and I would love to date you,” but it definitely wasn’t, “I want to have sex with you.” It was just like, “I would like to be around you and maybe date you and do cute things.”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And so, when I did fall for this person, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m not asexual. I really, really want to sleep with you.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. When you were younger, did you discover masturbation at some point?

ALICE: So, when I was going through puberty, it was definitely a whole point of, “Oh, what’s going on down there? Everything’s changing.” And so, I touched, but it never felt like masturbation because it wasn’t very pleasing. It was just like, “It’s weird and it’s different. Why am I growing hair and why does it all feel different?”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And then, when I was a little bit older in high school, I started a few times, I think I tried to watch porn and I tried to masturbate, but it’s something that I just got bored of really quickly. And once I reached university, it felt like a very sexually liberating space. I was like, “Hmm. Maybe I need to try harder.” I’m like, “Be better at this.”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And to this day, it’s still something that I struggle to do on my own.

LEAH: So, that’s an interesting word to use, you struggle to do it on your own. That sounds to me it impels you think you’re supposed to or you think you should. Is there some feeling of that for you?

ALICE: Definitely not when I was younger, but now that I’m older, I’ve consumed a lot of media. And I’m around people who have been able to. Why rely on someone else when you can please yourself? And I love seeing media. I love watching The Bold Type or other shows where women have their vibrators and they don’t need a man and they can finish themselves off, but it’s completely unrelatable to me. I like watching that content. I think it’s great, but it’s unimaginable to me because it just doesn’t seem to me great for me as it seems to be for them.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yeah, I would like to. I would like to be that person. I think it would be a good step to take.

LEAH: I love The Bold Type. It’s one of my favorite shows and I’m so sad it’s ending.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: I’m busy watching Season 4 now.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So, you mentioned that you thought that you were asexual for a long time and that makes a lot of sense to me. If you weren’t having these hormonal responses to people that were, “I want to sleep with you. I want to touch you” and you’re also not feeling that significant urge to touch your own body, then it makes sense that asexuality would be one of the things you were thinking about. I’m curious how that sat with you.

ALICE: I think I had a very limited idea of what it meant to be asexual for a while. So, I thought that if I’m asexual, I’m not allowed to want to date people and I’m not allowed to want to kiss people. And I did kiss people and I enjoyed it. But I just didn’t have any urge to do more than that. And yeah, it’s definitely something I thought about, but I didn’t know if I fitted in well enough to that specific label.

LEAH: So, if I understand you correctly, there was some question for you that if I enjoy kissing people, then that is not asexual enough to consider myself asexual? Is that correct?

ALICE: Yes. I also only knew what asexual was post-adult like post-18. I only learned about it in university. I didn’t know you could be asexual when I was in high school. And something that I just remember that I forgot about when I spoke about my first sexual experience is that when I was 18, I hooked up with a guy at a festival and he went down on me in his car. And that was actually my first sexual experience and it was pleasing, but I was drunk.

So, I went on a date with him a few weeks later, sober, and I did not enjoy it at all. And he kissed me and I found it really repulsive. But when I was drunk, I enjoyed that experience. So, I think that was partly why asexual is definitely something that went through my head, but it didn’t stick because maybe I had that one sexual experience. And prior to that, I didn’t even know what it was.

LEAH: So, you bring up a great point, which is that a lot of people including people who listen to this podcast may not know what asexuality is. And it is basically the lack of significant desire for sexual encounters, but just like everything else in sexuality exists on a spectrum. So, you may have some desires, but not others. You may enjoy kissing. You may enjoy cuddling. You may even enjoy having someone go down on you, but you’re not interested in penetrative sex or sex that would lead to an orgasm, however that may look for you. It can be all over the map and you get to define for yourself what it is. You don’t have to be a certain thing in order to qualify for the label.

ALICE: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And I think that’s something that I only learned much later because I definitely thought for a long time that I had to fit very neatly into the box to qualify for it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. I get that. We try to put a lot of boxes around a lot of things that don’t need boxes. Yeah.

ALICE: Especially sexualities.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Exactly, yeah. So, what about your childhood home? What did you hear from your parents or in school? You mentioned that you weren’t part of a religious family, but that you were in some religious environments. So, what did you learn in any of those places about sex or female sexuality?

ALICE: Family was my mom, my dad, my nuclear family, and my brother. My parents got divorced when I was 8 years old and I lived between my mom’s house and my dad’s house like 50/50. My mom never really spoke to me about sex. I don’t even think she gave us the sex talk, but I always just knew. I never felt like I was in a space of not understanding what sex was or not understanding how babies came to be. I think if I asked her a question, she would answer me very literally, “This is what happens. This is the process.” But she’d never spoken about things like female pleasure or that sort of thing. But I don’t remember her ever talking about sex, but I just remember knowing.

And I think we had books about the anatomy of human bodies. I remember looking through a book that had lots of pictures of naked people and different shapes and sizes and stuff. She didn’t delve into too much information. She never spoke about her own sex life. My dad, on the other hand, wouldn’t mention any of that because it would just get way too awkward. He didn’t know how to talk about any of that stuff.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: He just assumed we knew and we were fine.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: I’ve never really had a conversation about sex with any of my family members, definitely not my brother. I was always exposed to sex through the media. I saw sex. I knew what was happening when I watched TV. I knew the kissing and going to bed and stuff. I knew that that was sex.

LEAH: Were there specific things that you saw in media that were most interesting to you or that you hooked into more intently?

ALICE: I definitely related very much to the stereotypical most common, especially when I was a child there wasn’t much diversity in types of couples you saw on screen. It was a very attractive white person, two very attractive heterosexual people.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Have some drawn-out maybe conflict or turmoil and then they pursue a relationship together. And I read a lot of young adult novels that followed something similar and it’s probably I think what I internalized my life would look like. I very much thanks to the media thought that I would have a boyfriend and it’ll be this person that would pursue me and I would do nothing to find this person. They would just find me.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And live happily ever after. So, I think it’s really interesting. And I think we’ll see it with the younger kids who see the different perhaps expectations or identities I would have had if I had seen more diversity on screen because that’s what I saw on the screen and it was something I could relate to. I still am attracted to men, so I still thought that that was what was normal and what I would have and what I aspire to.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah, sure. You said your parents divorced when you were about 8. When they were still together, did you see any sort of affection or loving touch between the two of them?

ALICE: I can’t remember.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yeah, I don’t have a lot of very vivid memories of them from before the divorce. I vaguely remember them fighting because obviously the divorce happens because obviously there’s some conflict going on there. And I do remember my dad using a pet name for my mom. And that stopped after the divorce. So, that’s one memory that I have. It was a name that no one else used for her. A very, very vague memory I have is in the mornings, me and my brother and my mom and my dad just all lying in bed together like a Saturday or Sunday morning and we didn’t have to go to school. So, that would be in terms of them being affectionate together.

Them not being affectionate together, my mom used to regularly sleep in a different bed. But that’s also because she had major sleep problems. And I used to when I was very small, I climbed into her bed. Sometimes, I would get scared and go to my parents’ room and try to climb into bed. And when I did that, my mom would get up and leave because she just couldn’t handle sleeping with too many people in the bed.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yeah, but that’s some of the memories that I can bring up.

LEAH: After they divorced, did either of them date? Did you see them with other partners?

ALICE: My mom never dated after that as far as I was aware. I know now she went on one or two blind dates. She didn’t enjoy them. My dad almost immediately got into a relationship with someone else and that lasted about a year, I think. And then, he got into a long-term relationship about a year later with someone who he was with for 10 years.

LEAH: And did you see them being affectionate together?

ALICE: I’m not sure. I think I didn’t like it because I was for a while angry, and then why is this other woman coming into our lives? But yeah, definitely. With his partner who he was with for 10 years, he was crazy about her. So, they definitely were affectionate. They didn’t kiss in front of me. This was a peck like, “Hello,” but there was no making out in front of me. And I think that was just respect for not wanting to make me feel uncomfortable.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: There are definitely appropriate boundaries.

[LAUGHTER]

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality, but you’re not quite sure how to proceed? Are you wondering if your desires are normal? Are you afraid you’ll have to blow up your existing relationship to have the kind of sex you want? Or maybe you’re hearing these conversations every week and thinking, “I understand what she’s talking about. I just don’t know how to do it in my life?” Well, that’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in.

When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality. I promise that your sexuality is not shameful. And together, we’ll help you see yourself, your needs, and your desires without judgment. Now, I’m not going to tell you what you should do or feed you answers. That’s not what coaching is about. Instead, I’m going to walk with you in the process of discovering what’s right for you in a way that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and the pace that’s right for your nervous system because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating and exhausting. The goal is to find the right pace for you.

I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like learning how to talk about your sexual desires with current or future partners, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, questioning if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity and sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM or consensual non-monogamy, exploring sexuality for later in life virgins, recovering from infidelity, and so much more.

I believe this work is deeply important and should be available to every woman regardless of your financial situation. That is why I know offer variable pricing. Whether you’re experiencing financial challenges, or financially stable, or have some extra to pay it forward, there’s an option for you. And I give the same level of care and support to you regardless of the pricing level you choose. For more information and to schedule a discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Did you get any sex education in school? I know you mentioned that you went to Christian schools.

ALICE: So, it was public school, but the public school, it’s technically against the law. The schools shouldn’t be religious because there are people coming in from all kinds of religion, but their hymns were all religious. It was worse in primary school. The primary schools were very religious. In high school, it was just some religious prayers and hymns during assemblies. But it wasn’t infiltrated too much.

So, sex education, my first memory of sex education was in my grade 8, which I was that year 13. We were taught about a bunch of STDs. I remember them giving us a table with photos of terrible STDs, and then all the symptoms listed out. This was what happens. Oh my gosh. Actually, now I’m thinking back, the sex education was so bad. So, we were taught how to put on a condom. We were taught about birth control. She came in with a box of lots of condoms and she had bananas, the teacher, and put the condom to a banana. And then, there was like this was the birth control pill. And then, there also was like I remember a table listening of the birth control pill like the injection. And then, very much taught a lot about different diseases, HIV and AIDs is something that we get taught about a lot, which is important because the cases are very high in South Africa.

But then, I do remember that same year watching a movie about, and this is in the same sex education, it was called life orientation. So, it was a subject where you’re meant to learn about life and that’s where they taught us sex education. And in that class, we watched a movie about an American school where all of these girls got pregnant in high school and there was a daycare at the high school and the cool thing to do was to get pregnant in high school.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Oh my goodness.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And it was meant to, I don’t know, tell us that girls get pregnant for fun. Don’t be one of these girls.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And that Americans are hedonists.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yeah. It was very bad, strange. Yeah, so that’s my memory of sex education.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: It sounds like your sex education was very similar to what we experience here in the States, which is that it’s disease prevention and pregnancy prevention. But really almost nothing about having a healthy sexual experience, having healthy sexual communication, having any kind of communication whatsoever with a partner.

ALICE: None of that. We didn’t know what consent was. I only really learned about what real consent was in university. In my first year at university, there were huge protests against rape culture, and so many people I knew because I was in my first year and a lot of people I knew in first year had this mind-blowing experience, they’re like, “Holy shit. That wasn’t consent. That experience I had a year ago or two years ago or three years ago, whatever, I was taken advantage of.” And we had no idea. We weren’t taught that in school. We didn’t know what real consent was. We didn’t know about communication. Female pleasure was absolutely not on the charts to discuss.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: We did not learn any of that.

LEAH: Yeah. It’s disappointing to hear that that is true not just here in the States. I don’t think that I’ve ever spoken to anyone regardless of country who actually got a real good comprehensive sex education. And that’s really sad because they say, “Oh, here’s the information you have. Now, go out into the world,” but we’re not actually prepared to have any kind of interaction, but we think we are and so that just makes it all the worse.

ALICE: Yeah. It’s crazy. I think there’s so much room for improvement. And I know that the sex education curriculum has been revised since I was in school. I can’t tell you if it’s better or worse, but I know that they started teaching kids at a young age because so many kids are taken advantage of and they need to know that this is sex and shouldn’t be happening to you if you’re an 11-year-old, 10 years old because that’s rape, but yeah.

Anyway, a lot of people were really angry. A lot of parents are really angry that kids are getting taught this at a young age. And I think that if you start teaching people about female pleasure and stuff, they’d be furious. But I do think by just teaching about consent, it would just be such an important thing and communication is something we just weren’t taught. I remember my idea of rape in school was you’re walking down a dark alley and someone pulls you into the bushes and I did not think that you needed to worry about the people around you. Yeah.

LEAH: Right, yeah. A few minutes ago, you mentioned discovering porn. First of all, how did you discover it and what did you think about it when you found it?

ALICE: Okay. So, the first instance of porn was actually it was definitely not sex-oriented and it was more like doing this because we’re not allowed to and it’s like a high-risk activity and it’s like let’s not get caught. And to contextualize, that was with my best friend when I was 12, I think, and we had this one channel that was a normal channel on TV during the day. You watched like the news and the soapies and whatever. And about at midnight, it would play porn. And so, we knew about this, and then one day when I was sleeping in her house, we decided to go look at midnight. We woke up at midnight and went and we looked.

LEAH: Of course.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And I think it just was like, “Whoa. This is so weird.”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: That never really changed. My later exploration of porn was probably in high school. I don’t know what year, but that would have been on my phone looking at some free problematic period like perky boobs and absolutely no body hair and some man jamming a woman. I think it was the same thing like, “Hmm. I don’t know. I didn’t think it was for me.” It was more curiosity than anything else that led me there. Yeah.

LEAH: Yeah. So, I know very little about the culture in South Africa. So, can you talk some about what attitudes are about sex and about female sexuality in South Africa? I don’t know this, so please correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe we should qualify this by saying we’re talking about white South African culture as opposed to black South African culture?

ALICE: Yeah. I will say that I definitely can’t speak to black South African culture. There is so many cultures within South Africa, not just black culture. There’s Indian culture. There’s lots of identities and communities and some are more conservative than others. Within white culture, there are still variants, but mostly I would say that South Africans are more conservative than Americans. And I say this because I work with a lot of Americans. And I’ve been Tinder global and just people seem a lot more liberated in their sexualities than South Africans are.

But going into a university space, the culture there felt very sexually liberal to me in the sense that people were very open about sharing their labels, about being openly trans, about having multiple sexual partners, being polyamorous or whatever. But that is an anomaly that would not speak to South Africa on the whole. Once you leave university, you can feel comfortable-ish being open in your sexuality like that if you are a minority in maybe Joburg, Cape Town and certain parts of Durban. Anywhere else in the country, you would not feel safe telling someone you’re trans. I’m not saying you even feel safe in Cape Town or Joburg. I can’t speak to the trans person. I’m not trans, but there will be communities within the cities where you can find your people and you won’t be able to find communities in smaller towns. So, yeah, sex is had everywhere.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: But I think there’s a lot of shaming towards women who are more sexual in smaller towns especially. So, I grew up in a somewhat small town, but I think very conservative town, and there’s a bar there that I used to go out sometimes when I was home. And generally, there’d be labels for a woman who’s out regularly and had regular sexual partners, they weren’t respected and they were looked down upon and called horrible names. Whereas the men would be there every weekend, sometimes even cheating on partners and they were in a monogamous relationship and there was a huge double standard there. So, yeah. I don’t know. Does that answer your question?

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.

[MUSIC]

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[MUSIC]

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[MUSIC]

LEAH: So, one of the things that you told me before you started recording is that you have had some questions about your sexual orientation. So, can you talk some about that? What are the feelings you have? What are the confusions you’ve had and where have you ended up now?

ALICE: Okay. So, I mentioned earlier that for a while I wondered if I was asexual. I wondered why casual sex wasn’t something I really did for most of my life and my university dates, I was living with two people who were both single and they both regularly had sexual partners. And I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to do it and I felt like I was a prude. Because when you’re in that space and it’s like, “No, thanks. I don’t want to hook up with anyone.” I would sit around and think like, “Why don’t I want to do that?”

I would often go out and I drank when I was a student because that was such a big part of the culture. And I would go out, get drunk, kiss a boy, and then not want to do anything else. And what it led to most people was more than that, and you’d go home with each other and that wasn’t the case for me. So, that’s when I started thinking I’m asexual.

Then, when I was in my 3rd year of university when I was 21, I dated someone for about three months. We’d known each other since I was in my 1st year, but we never really spoke. He worked at the same bar that I worked at. And within a week of us connecting, talking, having long conversations, we were dating and I just felt that was explosive chemistry. It was really weird. I thought about him constantly like 24/7.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: So then, I was like maybe demisexual, but my understanding of demisexual was like it needed to start from a friendship. And I was like, “That wasn’t really a friendship. The chemistry was there instantly.” I didn’t have sex with him because I felt like I needed to communicate more to him about the anxieties I had. And then, towards the end of our very brief period of dating every time we got closer to having sex, we didn’t have a condom and it was a boundary I was absolutely not going to let him cross and it felt like he was trying to push my boundaries. And then, soon after that, we ended. But that experience told me that I wanted to have sex because I did want to have sex with him and I was sure of it.

LEAH: So, let’s talk for a minute about demisexual because the definition you gave I found interesting that you think that you have to be friends first. And demisexual, just like asexual, exists on a spectrum. It’s going to be different for everyone. But my understanding of demisexuality is that there needs to be an emotional connection before there’s a sexual connection and an emotional connection can happen very quickly. It can happen in the space of an hour or an evening or three minutes, if you have that kind of huge chemistry. But unless you have that connection, you’re not going to go further than that. And so, that to me still sounds like demisexuality speaks to you as a potential label that sounds to me like it falls within it.

ALICE: Yeah, so maybe. I definitely had connection with him and connection’s incredibly important to me. I could never see myself wanting to even do anything with someone who I don’t find interesting to talk to. If I don’t like the conversations we’re having and how things are going, then I don’t want to be in your space. I don’t want to be in your house or I don’t want you in my space.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I’m the same way.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: Yeah. So, that was one of them. And then, another thing I wondered if I fell into the bisexual role was because when I was in high school, when I was about 15, I became friends with a girl who occupied a lot of head space for me and, like I said, until I met this guy in my 3rd year, I’d never felt sexual attractions to anyone, except that incident when I was 18 when a guy went down on me.

So, this girl that occupied a lot of my head space. I didn’t think of them in a sexual way, but I thought about her all the time. And she was a friend of mine and I would see her at school and we would laugh and have great conversations and stuff, but when I was at home, I would imagine conversations that I would have with her and I just thought about her all the time. Back then, being 14 or 15, being in a conservative town, being in a school where I did not know anyone who was gay, I was very concerned about this. I did not tell anyone, least of all, her.

But looking at the time I wondered like, “Oh my gosh. Am I gay? What’s going on?” I’ve never had those thoughts about any of my other friends. I’ve had a lot of female friends and they’ve never occupied this much head space. Looking back, maybe I did have a crush on her. It might not have been sexual. Maybe I am asexual, demisexual, I was 15.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: But I definitely loved being around her. And also, something that I feel very strongly about is that I think that friendship and romance can exist very closely together and that’s something that’s underrated by society. But as someone who’s been single for most of their adult life, my friends pay such huge roles in my life to the point where I feel like I’m in love with them, but I don’t want a relationship with them. It’s like, “I love you so much that my heart bursts and I love talking to you so much. It’s so stimulating.” So, it might have been something like that, but I just know that I can feel a lot more love for women than society had told me was normal.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Friends, let’s talk about Patreon. It has been quite an evolution over the last two and a half years. For a long time, I took cuts from the episodes and put them on Patreon for people who financially supported the show. But by mid-2020, that no longer felt right because I was hearing from listeners who said they wanted to hear the Patreon extras because the show was making such a difference in their lives, but they couldn’t afford to donate. It really doesn’t feel appropriate to withhold this material in exchange for monetary support. That’s just not what I’m about.

So, from July 2020 through April 2021, I made all audio extras at Patreon free for everyone and that has worked well. I’ve been pleased to see that my Patreon support didn’t drop when you were supporting the show because you appreciate it rather than paying to get something in exchange. And now, I’m evolving again. Instead of pulling clips out of the show for Patreon and keeping the main episode as close to 50 minutes as possible, I’m letting the conversations play out in full in the main episode.

If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. If you have more than a few dollars, consider donating extra in honor of women who need this material, but aren’t in a position to contribute. And I donate 10% of all Patreon contributions to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are currently being legislated out of existence.

I appreciate every one of you, whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower or a silent listener, I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. You can find out more and become a community member at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. And if your finances are tight, but you still want to support the show, I would love it if you would take a screenshot of this episode on your phone and post it on Instagram. Tag me in your post and I’ll send you a personal thank you. Or send your favorite episode to a friend and invite them to chat about it with you. Use this show as a jumping off point to deepen your conversations around intimacy and sex. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: So far, I’ve heard that a guy went down on you. And then, in university, you had a relationship with a guy that was very intense, but never actually culminated in penis in vagina sex. Have you had intercourse with someone? Because I want to be careful in terms of gender to phrase this properly. Have you had sex with someone, what you would consider to be sex?

ALICE: This is a big gray area in my life and has been an issue of insecurity because I felt like I was a virgin if that’s the word you use because I think sex can mean different things to different people, but I felt like I was a virgin for far too long. So, about seven months before I met the guy who was the first person that I fell in love with, I got drunk at a party. It was a week before the university opened. In South Africa, we call orientation week, and it’s the week where 1st years are introduced to university, but there was a lot of parties. I was in my 3rd year, so I went for that week.

So, I got drunk and I lived about two kilometers off campus and I didn’t have a car and I was drinking anyway. The street and town that we were in didn’t have reliable taxi services, so a lot of people, if you walk in groups, it’s fine or people would drink and drive all the time. So anyway, I went out with this friend of mine and we went to this party. And we were drinking and I connected with someone who I was friendly with and carried on drinking and had hooked up with this guy a year before like I just kissed him.

And so, we started hooking up. And then suddenly, it was very late and I couldn’t find my housemate and I said, “I want to go home.” And he said he’d walk me home. So, he did walk me home, and then it didn’t cross my mind that he would want anything more just because guys never wanted anything more. And I was really drunk and when we got inside, he was suddenly naked. And I was like, “Whoa. I don’t want to have sex. I can’t have sex.” I was like, “I don’t want that.” Nothing had even happened beforehand and he was like, “I’m naked now.”

And then, my memory blacks out. And I have visions of something happening, but I’m not sure if it did or if I dreamt it or not, but I do know that the next day was really awful for me. I could barely move and I remember needing to go get the birth control pill because I didn’t remember what had happened and it didn’t feel like a hangover. It felt like it was the worst day of my life. I just remember that I was lying on my bed and I was like, “I need to go get up and go get the birth control pill.” And I walked to the lounge and my housemates weren’t there. Neither of them were there, and then I fell asleep on the couch for four hours and I just couldn’t get up.

So, I don’t know if vagina penis intercourse happened that night or not. It definitely was not consensual if it did happen. Then last year, so there was that thing. I still felt like a virgin. Am I going to wait to get into a relationship and what if I don’t want that and stuff? So, last year, after our first wave in South Africa, it came in waves, the cases dropped for about four months.

They were pretty low consistently and I went on a few dates with this guy who was ridiculously good looking. He was in the town that I was living and he found me on Facebook and I went on two dates with him. And the second time he came to my house and he went down on me for a really long time, but nothing further happened. And then, that very night, I went out and got drunk and had sex for the first time consensually. And even though I was drunk, it felt consensual. It felt like something I was very much leading on, but looking back, I’m also like, “Maybe that wasn’t the best decision.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, it was something you wanted in the moment even if you looked back at it and you’re like, “Maybe that wasn’t so great?” You chose it. Okay.

ALICE: Yeah. I chose it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah, okay. So, that was your sole experience of consensual penis in vagina sex.

ALICE: Yeah.

LEAH: And to go back to your question about after that night that you blacked out, was I still a virgin? First of all, the whole idea of virginity is so archaic. For exactly this reason, if you are non-consensually penetrated, does that mean you’re no longer a “virgin?” And do women who only have sex with other women never lose the term “virgin” because they’ve never been penetrated by a penis? It’s all so archaic.

So, I don’t think any of that actually matters, but also my feeling is that you “lose” your virginity for lack of a better term when you have a consensual experience that you desire. So, if you are penetrated by somebody non-consensually, that doesn’t mean that you’re no longer a virgin. It means that somebody violated.

ALICE: I just want to say that virginity was not something important to me. It actually felt like a weight on my shoulders. And I do think it’s an archaic term, but the fact is that it felt like it held weight. When people spoke about their experiences and stuff, they would ask me and I was very reluctant to disclose that I hadn’t had many sexual partners because then I would be called a virgin and I didn’t think it was a defining factor about me. I didn’t think it was anything noteworthy or that it wasn’t like I’m saving it for marriage or the one. It was just like I waited, and now I felt like I’d waited too long and I waited for a moment that felt right and no moment ever felt right.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I get that so much because I was 25 the first time I had intercourse and I spent that whole time thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Why is this not happening for me?” And at age 25, I got involved with a guy and, this is so sad to me now, but I didn’t know any better then, the thought in my head was, “I don’t want to be the world’s oldest living virgin.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, I’m going to have sex with him, even though it was a terrible relationship, even though he was not kind to me. I had sex because I just didn’t want to be an anomaly anymore.

ALICE: Yeah. I think that’s partly why I had that experience last year where I slept with a guy when I was drunk. I think it was very much like, “You know what? You’re attractive and enjoying this. I’m tired of being a virgin.” Like you said, what happened to me in 2018, it wasn’t consensual and I didn’t factor it as my first sexual experience, but I wanted something. Yeah.

LEAH: Yeah. So, another thing you said before we started recording was, you were trying to give me an answer to the question, what is your sexual orientation? And you said, “I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out” or “I don’t like labels, but maybe queer except am I queer enough?” And so, I’d love to have you talk about what that means to you.

ALICE: Yeah. Okay. So, my first introduction in this space where I felt like I could even think about being queer was in university because when I was in school, like I said, I was in a very conservative town. I knew one person who identified as lesbian and she had come out of the closet when she was 14, I think, and went back into the closet for the rest of high school and dated men even though she’s very much gay and went on in university to date women. So, it wasn’t an idea I even thought of. I was like, “I’m attracted to men. I’m heterosexual.”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: And then, when I was in university, I always thought of myself as pretty open-minded. So, it was really exciting to be in a space where I was just learning so much. I had no idea about if you could be pansexual and asexual and polyamorous and I met so many people who had such diverse orientations and experiences and perceptions about the world. And so, that was really exciting. But I also felt like I was too straight and narrow in the box to even entertain the idea of being one of them.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: “Here comes Alice pretending like she’s queer. And she went on a date with a guy and never even had sex. How would she even know that she was queer?”

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: That was the idea I got in the university space is that I did not think that I had space in there. I supported friends who identified, but I felt like everyone was really, really sure about their sexual orientation. I was like, “They knew the terminology. They could talk about their experiences. They could talk in great detail about it and I never felt like that.” So, what was your question again?

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: It’s okay. I was interested in the thing you said about, “I think I’m queer, but am I queer enough?” or “I like the label queer, but am I queer enough to use it?”

ALICE: Yeah. So, am I queer enough? It stemmed from that and there is a feeling and there still is of being an impostor and trying to take away from a space of very marginalized people. I didn’t want to come in when I had mostly heterosexual experiences and say, “I’m one of you too.” Because it felt and, in a way, still feels like it’s not being helpful. My post-university experience has been very much unlearning that and seeing that there’s no gatekeeping or criteria you have to meet to be able to be welcomed into queer spaces. And I like thinking of it because it also opens up more opportunity because I think I’m heterosexual because I dated men and therefore, I can’t even entertain that, any other idea. Whereas by saying I’m queer, I think I’d be open to potentially dating anyone.

[LAUGHTER]

ALICE: As someone who’s not highly interested in sex, I think I would much rather be with someone whose personality I really connect with and I don’t think that gender has much to do with that. It’s really the person.

LEAH: Yeah. That sounds very queer to me, not that you need my permission.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, when you think about what an ideal relationship might look like for you, what do you think?

ALICE: I think of someone who is kind, smart, interesting, someone who I can talk to for a long time, someone who I respect, someone who I find interesting. I’ve met a handful of people like that where there’s just that undeniable kind of connection and that is something that I would like to have.

There are other things that are important to make a relationship sustainable. If you meet someone like that, but I’m also career ambitious and maybe if they wanted to live with me and not do anything around the house. As someone who’s dating apps now, I think, “Hmm. I think I would enjoy someone who is also ambitious because I don’t know what we’d talk about if he was playing Xbox or something like that, I’m talking about my dreams.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Do you imagine that sex is a significant part of that relationship or a very minor part?

ALICE: I think it’d be something that I’d want to discover with the person because I don’t know. I’ve never been in the long-term relationship where I’m in love with someone and my best friend who’s someone that I really spoken to in-depth about sexualities and sex and stuff and in a place where it didn’t feel like there were a lot of people I could talk to, she’s had somewhat similar experiences to me.

And for her, she only had her first kiss when she was 21. She also felt like she was asexual for a long time. She had no interest or desire in sex. And when she fell in love with her current boyfriend, now she’s very into sex and they have a lot of sex and she feels like she’s very sexual. So, I don’t know. I’m not saying that that would be the case for me. It might be opposite. It might be somewhere in between, but I can’t speak to it because I think it’s something that I would only know once I’m there.

LEAH: Yeah. That’s really fair. And I think it’s really important to acknowledge that asexual people can and do have very successful long-term relationships if they desire to. The relative importance of sex is not the defining characteristic of any relationship. And so, if you get into a relationship with someone who you’re deeply in love with and you become extremely sexual with them, awesome. If you become deeply in love with somebody and you discover that sex is a very minor or non-existent part of your relationship, awesome. As long as you’re happy, that is the only important factor.

ALICE: Yeah. I agree with that.

LEAH: And the two of you can communicate about it, so that you’re both fulfilled.

ALICE: Yeah.

LEAH: Something that has interested me in my friend group is talking to people who are asexual or demisexual who choose polyamorous partners because their polyamorous partners can then get their sexual needs fulfilled by other partners. But the asexual or demisexual person can have the real deep intense romantic or even if it’s a romantic connected piece of the relationship without having to fulfill that person’s sexual needs, which I think is a really interesting and positive solution for some people.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: And now, it’s time for the Lowdown, the things we’re dying to know, but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: At this point, I would usually go into the Q&A portion, but I think a lot of these questions are not applicable. So, I’m just going to ask you, what belief did you have about sex as a child or teenager that you wish you could go back and correct her on now?

ALICE: That’s a really good question. I think I would tell my teenage self not to worry about it, not to think that it’s an important defining becoming of yourself moment that needs to be thought of. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to try and picture what my teenage self thought about sex.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: To be fair, you’re still pretty close to those years.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: You don’t have a ton of perspective on them yet, so yeah, that’s fair.

ALICE: Especially I can tell my teenage self a lot of things, but a lot of other things in life, but sex is something that I’m not the most educated or experienced.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: All right.

ALICE: What my teenage self knew is not totally different to what I know now. My teenage self was very aware that she wanted to not do anything she wasn’t comfortable with and I wouldn’t go back and change my mind about that.

LEAH: Hell yes.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Excellent. Alice, thank you so much. I really appreciate your openness and your willingness to talk about some things that are not easy. Thank you for being here.

ALICE: Thank you for having me on, it’s great.

LEAH: My pleasure.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: That’s it for today. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.

And I’m incredibly grateful for the financial support from Good Girls Talk About Sex community members at Patreon. If you’d like to support me in telling these stories and answering your questions, head over to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. You can find Show Notes and Show Transcripts at www.goodgirlstalk.com. To ask a question about your sex life, your desires, or anything to do with female sexuality, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.

And before we go, I want to remind you that the things you’ve probably heard about your sexuality are not true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. I work with women just like you to reflect their true sexual nature back to them without the judgment, shame or fear that can get in the way of us seeing it for ourselves. As a coach and PJ party hostess, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. I’m here to help you sink so deeply into your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak up for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

[MUSIC]

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I’ve done this because not everyone has the means to pay for access, and I know this additional material can be deeply important for some listeners. But creating this show isn’t free, so if you’d like to support the work I do, I am grateful for your contributions at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

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I wondered if I was asexual. I had crushes on people I thought were good looking and I wanted to date them, but not to have sex. I just wanted to be around them and do cute things.

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I thought if I’m asexual, I’m not allowed to want to date people. I’m not allowed to want to kiss people. I did want to kiss people, but I didn’t have the urge to do more than that.

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I remember back in school my idea of r*pe was walking down a dark alley and getting pulled into the bushes. I didn’t think you needed to worry about the people around you.

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Virginity was such a weird and archaic concept to me. It felt like a burden. I didn’t think it was a defining factor or anything noteworthy about me.

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I supported friends who identified as queer, but I felt like they were sure about their sexual orientation. I never felt like that. Was I queer enough?

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