What Is Asexuality?
You may think it a bit ironic that a sexual wellness brand like Quanna is covering the topic of asexuality, but we stand by our definition of sexual wellness, which is a state of body/mind that enables you to enjoy and explore sex on your own terms and in your own time. According to the Trevor Project, it’s important to remember that asexuality is an umbrella term, and exists on a spectrum. Asexual people – also known as “Ace” or “Aces” – may have little interest in having sex, even though most desire emotionally intimate relationships. Within the ace community, there are many ways for people to identify. When we say “explore sex on your own terms”, those terms include the decision to not want to have sex, because intimacy and love don’t equate to sex.
Who Is Asexual?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone experiences little to no sexual attraction toward others. They might also have little to no desire to have sexual encounters, in general. That said, every asexual person is different in the way they approach sexual intimacy. Just like any other sexual orientation, there’s no one way for an asexual person to look. Asexual people represent all ages, genders, and so much more. In short: There is no asexual “type”. To note some A-List aces you may have heard of, like Tim Gunn from Project Runway, comedian Paula Poundstone, musician Bradford Cox, and activist Yasmin Benoit. While unconfirmed, there has been intense speculation that Sir Isaac Newton, Florence Nightingale, and Salvador Dalí might have been aces.
Asexual people who don’t experience any sexual attraction can still experience other forms of attraction though like:
- Romantic attraction: desiring a romantic relationship with someone
- Aesthetic attraction: being attracted to someone based on how they look
- Sensual or physical attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
- Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with someone
- Emotional attraction: wanting an emotional connection with someone
Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everyone else. Everyone is different, and how individuals fulfill those needs varies widely. Some aces may want romantic relationships. They can feel romantically attracted to other people, which may include the same sex or other sexes. Other aces prefer close friendships to intimate relationships. Some will experience arousal, and some will masturbate while having no interest in having sex with another person. Some asexual people do not want to have sexual contact, while others may feel “sex-neutral.” Other asexual people will engage in sexual contact to gain an emotional connection.
Other common identities which fall into the asexual or aromantic spectrum include:
- Aromantic: Aromantic people experience little or no romantic attraction. They prefer close friendships and other non-romantic relationships.
- Demisexual: People who are demisexual experience sexual or romantic attraction, but only after they have formed a close, emotional connection with someone.
- Graysexual/Grayromantic: is characterized as someone who does experience sexual desire and attraction, but infrequently and/or with low intensity. As the Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) explains, many people recognize graysexuality as a midpoint between sexuality and asexuality.
Asexuality Vs. Temporary Lack of Libido
One of the key differences between asexuality and a general lack of libido (also referred to as a low sex drive) is how long the feelings last with either. Many who identify as asexual have felt the way they do for a long period of time — sometimes as early as their adolescence. Being asexual is not the same as suddenly losing interest in sex or choosing to not have sex while still experiencing sexual attraction.
A libido drop later in life is often not the same as being of asexual orientation. Common causes of low libido include mental health distress such as anxiety, stress, and depression, certain medications and supplements, underlying illness, steroid use, and hormonal changes and imbalances. In some cases, a low sex drive might also be the result of trauma, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, rape, attempted rape, sex shaming, and other negative sexual experiences.This is something to speak about with a therapist or other mental health care professional, who can help you heal from past traumas.
How Do I Know if I’m Asexual?
Although you can’t take a specific test to figure out whether you’re asexual or not, you can ask yourself a few key questions to evaluate your desires and consider whether they align with common asexual characteristics.
Some questions to consider:
These questions don’t have any “right” or “wrong” answers, but they can help you think about your sexuality
Resources for Understanding Asexuality
Having a better understanding of your own sexual orientation, and even putting a soft label on it, can perhaps put you on a path of better understanding yourself. If you’d like to continue learning more about asexuality, we recommend checkout out the following books:
- Understanding Asexuality
- The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality
- Let's Talk About Love
Your capacity for attraction isn’t set in stone. Some people find their attraction to others changes over time. This is completely healthy. Just because an asexual person felt sexual attraction before doesn’t erase their identity now. There is a wide range of identities on the asexual spectrum, from people who experience no sexual or romantic attraction to those who engage in sexual contact under some conditions. Many asexual people form meaningful, lasting relationships, and some get married or have children.
Overall, the world seems to assume that everyone feels a sexual attraction. As a result, asexual people might worry there’s something wrong with them if they don’t feel that same attraction. But asexuality isn’t a medical concern or something that needs to be fixed. It isn’t a phase and the only “right” person you should find…is the relationship with yourself.