I was always the kid who called bullshit on elementary school "dating," but in eighth grade I first noticed that I specifically Didn't Want To Have Sex As Much As Other People. Or, you know, with anyone, at all. Maybe that's true of a lot of 14-year-olds, but I'd always been weirdly disinterested in relationships, and after seeing my friends discover sex, I did not hesitate to slap on a label: asexual. It stuck. (You can read my defense of labels here.)
It was confusing though, because I sort of did like boys. I had crushes and fantasized about romance, though usually not with anyone in particular. Just...I never wanted to act on it or have sex with the guys I liked or touch them at all ever. So when I heard about romantic orientation being separate from sexual, I was like, THIS IS IT, THIS IS WHAT I AM (this being heteromantic asexual). And I firmly stuck to that through the rest of middle and all of high school, which is crazy to me now, because these days it feels like I reconsider my adjectives every few months!
As a disclaimer, I would like to say that while I could still round up to heteroromantic asexual, I'm actually more like...graypanomantic with a preference for men that may or may not be due to internalized heteronormativity, or, to describe my romantic orientation in layman's terms, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But I learned a lot from identifying as a heteromantic ace, or, in layman's terms, "straight with caveats."
Here are some things straight aces specifically experience:
1. The particularly strong fear that no one will ever love you because you won't have sex with them.
This is a thing pretty much all ace spectrum people experience, but I find it's particularly hard for hetero girls because there are so few men who are out as ace. As a straight asexual, I would often complain that my only option for love and partnership was the very rare asexual hetero or biromantic male. Seriously, I've been on ace meetup web sites and like 10% of the people on there were dudes. Hence, until college, every ace guy I ever heard of became an Instant Romantic Possibility.
2. Feeling like you don't have a claim to queer spaces.
One of my good friends used to invite me to LGBT+ events all the time. And I always, always said no, because I wasn't technically LGBT. I was +, and I was also straight, and it just...didn't feel like enough. People still say A is for ally. It's tricky to be defined by the lack of something.
3. Assuming the "right person" would fix you.
After all, a damn lot of the Disney princesses didn't seem interested in sex until they married the prince. I was also used to people using the "you'll change your mind when you meet the right person" argument to invalidate me as asexual, and rather than rushing to my own defense when that happened, I would just kind of...agree with them instead. I'd be like "yeah, you're right, I guess I just have to wait until I find the right guy one day and then I'll understand." (To be fair, I can't say that I won't, but it's no longer an explicit part of my life plan and I'm not counting on it and I definitely don't need it to be happy and it might not be a guy.) Anyway, when you're a straight ace you're still liable to fall for a lot of heteronormative patriarchal bullshit. I just had to believe that I would one day be able to have a "normal relationship," because that's what I was taught and I didn't know of any other way to structure one's personal life.
4. Being attacked on the Internet.
I did not discover asexuality on Tumblr, but it was where I did a lot of my secondary research in high school. There is a lot of hate towards cishet (cisgender heteromantic) aces on Tumblr and it's terrifically disheartening, especially if you feel particularly "other" for being ace, which I did. Actually, when I was finally like "well maybe I'm not totally straight," I felt relieved because it was the first time I believed I was a real/valid part of the LGBTQ community.
5. Wishing you were more or less queer.
I felt stuck in the middle all through middle and high school. On one hand, I was totally capable of fangirling over cute guys and discussing crushes with my straight girlfriends. But as soon as the conversation turned to drooling over Taylor Lautner's abs, I'd have to fake it. (I remember always feeling like such a liar when playing Fuck/Marry/Kill, because I didn't want to fuck anyone. But I wanted to marry and kill a lot of people.) But I also couldn't quite relate to people in the LGBT+ community, because although I understood the feeling of "not being normal/default," I also sort of WAS the normal default.
Many of these experiences are common to ace people regardless of their romantic orientation, but identifying as hetero amplified them. Although I'm honestly kind of glad it turned out that I'm not as straight as I originally assumed, identifying as such seriously impacted my life throughout high school. In a lot of ways, it's much easier being straight even if you are asexual. But there are certain ace-specific hardships that come with a heteromantic identity and I thought they should be shared.