Sexuality exists on a wide spectrum. Every single person’s relationship to sex and sexuality is unique and can be fluid throughout the span of one’s life. Asexuality is a sexual orientation that is often misunderstood and judged. Exploring the identities of the asexual community can help foster visibility and understanding of asexual identities and experiences.
What Does it Mean to be on the Asexual Spectrum?
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction or sexual desire. Asexuality is an umbrella term for sexual identities and romantic orientations that exist on a spectrum. Asexual people will often refer to themselves as ace or part of the ace community.
Many people assume that asexual people are repulsed by sex and can’t exist within sexual relationships. There are some asexual people who rarely or never experience a sex drive, however, not every asexual person completely avoids participating in sexual contact.
Some asexual people experience romantic attraction and want to be in relationships but may not experience sexual attraction. Some people who identify as asexual will experience sexual desire, but only on occasion or in certain circumstances.
There are also some asexual people that engage in self-pleasure. Asexuality doesn’t mean someone can’t enjoy sexual activity. It simply refers to the ability to experience romantic and sexual attraction to others.
Common Signs Someone Might be Asexual
There are certain common signs someone might experience if they are on the asexual spectrum. This is not an exhaustive list and includes some of the most common signs.
Disinterest in Sex
Sex just isn’t interesting or arousing to you. You may notice never or barely ever wanting to engage in sex, and maybe even tried to engage in sex before and experienced no arousal.
You Do Not Feel Sexually Attracted to Others
Is it difficult to name a person you know or a celebrity you’re sexually attracted to? Some asexual people are able to identify that someone is attractive, but not necessarily be sexually attracted to them.
You Don’t Develop Crushes
You don’t experience crushes the way you might have witnessed your friends’ crushing on someone. If you do experience crushes, it might only be with people who you have established an emotional connection with.
Erotic Content Doesn’t Stimulate You
If you’re watching a steamy sex scene in a movie, you likely will not feel sexually stimulated the way others might. You also likely do not seek out porn during times when you do engage in sexual activity.
Personality is Prioritized Over Looks
Personality is typically important to many when it comes to relationships. For asexual people, personality is often prioritized over everything else. Since many asexual people don’t experience romantic or sexual attraction, there likely won’t be experiences such as love at first sight, or immediate sexual tension.
You Often Feel Left Out From Conversations About Sex and Relationship
Although some media is getting better, there is still a ways to go in terms of asexual representation. Sex and love are often talked about and depicted in a way that excludes asexual people because it is often assumed that sexual and romantic attraction are universal experiences, excluding the real experiences of the asexual community.
Different Dimensions of the Asexual Spectrum
There are many different ways asexuality can present, which is why it’s so important to learn about topics such as sexuality and gender identity as a spectrum. It’s also possible for an asexual person to identify with two or more identities. Below are some of the most common identities on the asexual spectrum.
Someone who is aromantic does not experience romantic attraction. They might still participate in romantic relationships, but the connection likely feels more like a strong friendship than romantic.
Grey asexual refers to someone who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction somewhere in the middle of sexual and asexual. They can experience romantic attraction the middle of aromantic and romanic. They may be sexually or romantically attracted to people on occasion or under specific circumstances.
Demisexuals are people who are unable to experience attraction to others unless they have developed an emotional connection. Once a demisexual person feels emotionally bonded with a partner, they might then experience romantic and sexual attraction.
Reciprosexual is someone who is unable to experience sexual or romantic attraction to another until they know the other person is sexually or romantically attracted to them.
Someone who is aceflux can fluctuate between asexuality and being sexually/romantically attracted to others. They might consistently identify with a specific orientation on the spectrum and others might fall off it and explore different preferences.
The Asexual Spectrum + Relationships
Discovering and exploring an asexual identity can be a complex and sometimes lonely experience. Many people who identify as asexual have felt like something was wrong with them when they realized they don’t experience attraction the similarly to their peers and what is often demonstrated in media.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being asexual, despite some people’s attempts to paint asexuality as abnormal. Many people who are asexual enjoy healthy and fulfilling relationships with romantic partners. A relationship in which one or both partners are asexual might look different than those of other orientations. However, different definitely doesn’t mean defective.
Like most relationships, no matter sexual orientation, communicating about your needs (emotional, physical, sexual, etc.) is an important part of fostering healthy intimacy. It often helps for everyone to be upfront about certain disclosures, such as sexual orientation and important preferences, to ensure everyone is on the same page. Then each member of the potential relationship can make an informed decision around moving forward.