Just like heterosexuality and homosexuality, asexuality is a sexual orientation. It’s where individuals do not experience any form of sexual attraction. In short, that’s really all there is to it! A person is not asexual because they choose to be celibate or abstinent, and not ‘because they haven’t found the right person’. It’s not because they have a hormonal imbalance, or because their parts ‘don’t work’ – a persons’ sexual orientation is not a choice. Males, females and anyone in between can identify as being asexual, and those who are asexual come from all ethnicities, religions, body types and all walks of life!
It’s believed that 1% of the world’s population identifies with being asexual, and with billions of people living around the globe, it’s really not as uncommon as you might think. Asexuals often refer to themselves as ‘Aces’ for short, and have thriving communities online that offer friendship and support, while working to increase asexuality’s visability within the LGBT+ spectrum.
There’s no one way to be an Ace – Asexuality itself is an umbrella term with a broad variety of definitions within it. With so much fluidity, its easy to see why some may get confused or misinformed when it comes to the subject of asexuality. In this article, we’re going to smash two common myths associated with asexuality and talk about what it means to be an asexual individual.
Myth number 1: Asexual’s never have sex
Wrong! Although asexuals don’t experience any type of attraction, it doesn’t mean that they don’t experience intimacy. In fact, some asexuals are married with children of their own. Going on dates, having sex, falling in love and even orgasming are not opponents of asexuality. There are many reasons why an asexual might engage in these things, without any of them requiring sexual attraction to be present. It might be confusing to understand at first, but sexual attraction is not a necessity for pleasing a partner, being in a relationship or even experiencing physical arousal.
The spectrum of asexuality is as varied as that of heterosexuality or homosexuality, with some having intercourse, some masturbating and others that don’t. Some asexuals might use sex toys with their partner (who might not identify as asexual!), others feel the biggest sense of intimacy from sharing a nice cuddle and a slice of cake (cake is an enduring symbol in the asexual community because its ‘better than sex!’). As you can see, it’s a common but big misconception to say that every asexual has never experienced any form of sexual intimacy. ‘Some do, some don’t’ is a key term to remember when learning about asexuality.
Myth number 2: Asexual’s don’t have romantic relationships
Again, this is a massive misconception about asexuals. Many Ace people experience romantic attraction or an affectional orientation to others, and have fantastic relationships with their partners.
Like we mentioned before, because we normally associate romantic attraction with physical attraction, it can be a little difficult for some people to understand how someone can feel romantically attracted to someone without feeling the urge to jump into bed with them – but for many asexuals, this is the case.
Many asexuals also identify with other labels within the asexuality umbrella. These often help define how the individual responds to romantic relationships, and a sexual identity within the orientation of asexuality. Basically – a person can be asexual and still identify as straight (‘heteroromantic’) or gay (‘homoromantic’) or even ‘aromantic’ – this is a lack of romantic attraction towards anyone.
As well as this, people can also identify as ‘gray-A’ – meaning they see themselves as somewhere in the ‘gray area’ between being aromantic and non-aromantic, or between a-sexuality and sexual attraction.
There are a many more definitive terms within the asexuality umbrella. Essentially, a lot of the definition comes down to the individual themselves. It can be as simple or complex as one wants. Some find it important, others do not – all are valid and acceptable.
So, how would you know if you were asexual? As the asexual spectrum is so broad, knowing if this is your sexual orientation can be tricky. Plus – add into the mix that some periods of asexuality can be long-term or transient – this can make it even more difficult to work out!
Here are some of the more common feelings that asexual individuals have to help guide your thoughts:
- Do you feel disinterest in sex most of the time?
- Is your interest in sex more emotional than physical?
- Do you ever feel left out of the conversation when friends are talking about sex and feel you have nothing to contribute?
- If you’ve had sex, did you find the experience boring and not the amazing act it was made out to be?
- Have you ever pretended to be attracted to someone because you thought it was the ‘normal’ thing to do?
- Do you feel inadequate or abnormal because you don’t experience sexual desire while your friends do?
If you’ve answered yes to the questions above, then there’s a chance that you could be asexual and that’s perfectly normal and ok. Know that you’re not alone – try reaching out to an online community where you’ll quickly meet others like yourself. Enjoy that cake!