What is Asexuality?
As LGBTQIA visibility increases, you may find yourself without understanding of what all these new (to you) terms mean exactly, and unsure how to go about learning what they mean without accidentally causing offense or picking up misinformation – we’ve got your back with A+ info on what it means to be asexual.
What is Asexuality?
Asexuality, very simply is when a person doesn’t experience sexual attraction – but as The Asexuality Visibility Network so ably explains, it can be a lot more nuanced than you first think.
“An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are. Asexuality does not make our lives any worse or any better, we just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently.”
Attraction, in this case, means everything most sexual people would associate with becoming infatuated with someone – wanting to be around them, learn more about them, butterflies in stomach, etc – without the desire to express it sexually. Arousal is feeling turned on without the desire to find a partner – so yes, some asexual people do masturbate.
Asexuality is only starting to be widely studied and understood, however it is considered a sexual orientation and not a dysfunction.
Asexual People Might…*
- Fall in love
- Experience arousal and orgasm
- Choose to masturbate
- Choose to or not to engage in sexual activity
- Get married and have children
Asexuality Doesn’t Mean….*
- Abstinence because of a bad relationship
- Abstinence for religious reasons
- Loss of libido due to age or circumstance
- Fear of intimacy
- Inability to find a partner
*You can learn more about these here.
So Asexual People Date?
Yes, asexual people can and do have relationships – and not only with other asexual people! As mentioned above, absence of desire to have coupled sex does not necessarily mean that the person is also aromantic (not experiencing romantic attraction) or doesn’t desire other types of physical intimacy and affection. As a person wiser than us put it, ‘if you can have sex without love, why not love without sex?’
In terms of how those relationships ‘work’, that varies just about as much as every other relationship does; some asexual folks are willing to have sex with their partner even if they themselves don’t feel any desire for it, others incorporate a non-monogamous relationship model, and some are sex-less. When it comes to compatibility in any relationship, no two people are alike and open communication about needs and expectations are necessary to make things work.
What if I think I or My Partner Might be Asexual?
Realizing that you’re asexual, or ace, can be a strange process, as so much of society is based on the presumption that everyone is a sexual being. The Asexuality Visibility Network is a great place to start when it comes to answering any questions might have, as well as linking you up with other people to talk to about it!
For Lea, what once was “a European summer abroad” turned into traveling the world and studying sexual cultural differences for the past 6 years. She has a PhD in Gender & Sexuality and has a theory that dating guys in their twenties is an unpaid internship. She’s currently writing from a cafe in New Zealand.