Asexuality: Your Questions Answered (here and now, anonymously, so you don’t have to ask an asexual later)
Are you a plant?That’s hilarious. You’re definitely the first person ever to make that joke. While it’s true that “asexual” is a biology term referring to reproduction through cell division, there are some words in English that have two meanings. Like “I am going to the fair” and “That is a fair deal” or “I need to lie down” and “Stop telling lies”.
Use some freaking logic! If someone tells you they are asexual, consider the likelihood that they reproduce by budding or mitosis. Unlikely? They probably mean the other kind of asexual.
So… what is asexuality? Like homosexuality is attraction to people of the same sex and heterosexuality is attraction to people of the opposite sex, asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction at all. Please remember that not being sexually attracted to people is not the same thing as not having sex. The word for that is “celibate” or “abstinent”. Sometimes people of other sexual orientations have sex for reasons other than being attracted to the person. Asexuals can do that too.
How common is it? Asexuals make up about 1% of the population. A lot of people think it’s more common in women. There haven’t been many studies, but people on the asexual chatrooms, message boards and dating communities generally come in the same gender proportions as the rest of the world.
Do you feel love? If you or anyone you know or saw on television has ever had sex with someone you weren’t in love with, then you will know that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are not the same thing. They can be felt together, but they can each be felt separately.
In the asexual community, we often classify ourselves with what we call a “romantic orientation”. I am biromantic, meaning I can be romantically interested in men or women. Anything that can be a sexual orientation can be a romantic one. I know heteromantics, homoromantics, polyromantics and aromantics.
When did you first realise you were Asexual? I can only answer this question for me, of course! I have always known, at the back of my mind, that I was not sexually attracted to the others in the way my friends were. At first I thought I must be gay – because straight and gay were the only options I really knew existed. I came to realise I was asexual about two years ago, and for me, it has been a very liberating experience. I’m sure many people can identify with the feeling that something is wrong or broken. Finding out that asexuality is a genuine and normal sexual orientation was very helpful to me.
Do all asexuals have sex? Do they all masturbate? Just like all people, there are differences in the asexual community. I like to think of it as a scale. There are people who enjoy sex and have a lot of it, but don’t feel sexual attraction. They would be on one end of the scale. In the middle, there would be people who enjoy sex when they do have it, but don’t go out of their way for it. There are those who don’t have sex with other people, but do enjoy the feeling of masturbation. There are those who don’t really like sex, but are willing to have sex for the sake of a partner who does enjoy it. Then there’s people like me, down the very, very far end of the scale. I am what is sometimes called “Sex Repulsed”. I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to think about it. While the Sex Repulsed asexual is a stereotype, it is actually very rare. The majority of asexuals do have sex in some capacity.
Doesn’t being repulsed or bored by sex make it very difficult to have a relationship? Absolutely. There are many different ways we deal with this.
Some asexual people only date other asexuals – that’s tricky because we’re few and far between! We do have our own dating site, though. I’m not a member, but I’ve heard good things.
Some asexuals compromise with their partner and arrange regular sex at a frequency that both can be happy with.
Some find that an open relationship works – they allow their partner to have sex with other people, and this is something that is very personal and requires rules that both parties are happy with. For example, I know a lady who allows her husband to have sex with anyone he likes, provided he uses protection and that she doesn’t know anything about it. But I also know a man who is happy for his wife to have sexual partners, but he wants to meet them and approve them first. It’s an entirely individual thing.
Remember, when you meet an asexual person, how they deal with sex is something between them and their partner. It’s rude to ask anyone about their sex life.
Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on sex? I can’t speak for every asexual person, but I certainly don’t. I don’t enjoy it and I don’t understand why it is important to other people. The idea of it being something I’m “missing out” on is really weird to me. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on brussel sprouts either, because those are available to me, but I choose not to have them because they’re disgusting.
I do feel like sometimes I miss out on potential romantic relationship BECAUSE I don’t have sex.
Do asexual people have a desire to procreate? This is an interesting question, because, in terms of evolution, sexual pleasure is designed to encourage us to procreate. So, I forgive people that ask me what seems like a rude question, because I can see why you would assume that “no sexual attraction” = “no desire to reproduce”. But the two are not related.
I do know a LOT of asexual people who don’t want children. My personal belief (in no way backed by any data) is that not wanting children might be a little more common among asexual people than in the general population. Having said that, I have a very strong desire to have children. I would be equally happy to adopt or have my own. I think that means I have a strong parental instinct, rather than some biologically triggered need to pass on my genetic material.
I think the best answer to this question is that, like all people, all asexual people are different.
Maybe it’s because you haven’t met the right person? This is as offensive to an asexual person as it is to a gay person. Asexuality is a genuine sexual orientation and it is extremely offensive to suggest it isn’t.
Is asexuality caused by child sexual abuse? No. While some asexual people may have experienced sexual abuse in childhood, many, many others have not.
Having said that, many asexual people experience sexual assault in adolescence and later, as people think that this may be a way of “curing” them. It’s important to note that this is abuse that happens BECAUSE they are asexual and not the other way around.
What about when you don’t find people sexually attractive until you know them well? There’s a word for that, too. We call it demisexual. Demisexual people are very welcome in asexual communities, but many don’t see themselves as asexual people, because they do experience sexual attraction – just not to a person’s outward appearance.
What is the best thing about being asexual? I know a lot of my friends complain that they date the wrong people because they are physically attracted to someone who then turns out to be all wrong for them. I don’t ever have that problem, so I think that’s a pretty good thing. I never get taken in by someone’s sexy appearance.
What is the worst thing? Probably the bullying I suffered as a teenager, because I was so disgusted by sex. People thought it was funny to freak me out with sexual stuff. That was pretty shit.
What is the most important thing you can say to people who aren’t asexual? Please respect asexual people and don’t invalidate us or our experiences. Don’t assume you know better than someone else what their sexuality is! And don’t ask rude questions about someone else’s personal life. If you’re curious, you can google it!!!