What does it mean to be asexual?
October 05, 2021
You might have heard words like asexual (or even demisexual, aromantic, and grey-aromantic) before, and wondered what they mean. They're all (some of the) terms that people in the Ace community use to describe our different levels of sexual and romantic attraction.
Broadly speaking, sexual attraction refers the level (or lack of) of sexual interest or desire we have for another person. This could mean wanting to cuddle or make out with someone, have sex with them, being aroused by them or not feeling those feelings at all. Someone who doesn’t experience any sexual attraction might identify as asexual.
Romantic attraction refers to the level of romantic interest we have for another person. Things like wanting to date someone, feeling emotional attraction, and wanting to say 'I like you' or 'I love you'. Someone who doesn’t experience any romantic attraction might identify as aromantic.
Your sexual attraction and your romantic attraction don’t always line up, and can be completely different from one another. So you might be romantically attracted to all genders, but only sexually attracted to the same gender.
Or you might not be sexually attracted to anyone, but still live a life filled with beautiful and loving romantic relationships.
Sometimes there are extra conditions on who we are attracted to. So you might only be sexually attracted to someone who you have an emotional or romantic connection with.
The great thing about the word asexual is that it allows us to define our romantic experiences (or lack of!) in a community that can sometimes focus a lot on sexuality.
The Ace community
We use the term 'Ace' as an umbrella term to describe identities where someone doesn’t experience sexual or romantic attraction; experiences attraction rarely; or only experiences it under limited situations. This includes people who are asexual and aromantic.
Remember, though: we’re talking about the attraction someone does or doesn’t experience, not necessarily their actions.
Is Asexuality the same as abstinence?
Asexuality isn’t the same as abstinence. Abstinence when you make the choice not to have sex, regardless of whether you’re sexually attracted to anyone or not. A lot of the time people choose to abstain from sex because they have a lot of desire for it.
Asexuality is a lack of sexual desire or attraction, regardless of whether you have sex or not. Asexual people can have a range of attitudes towards sex. Some don’t want anything to do with sex and others might enjoy it or feel indifferent towards it.
Is it a phase?
Like all identities, someone’s sexual attractions and romantic attractions are fluid and can change over time. That said, a lot of ace people continue to identify this way their whole lives. Regardless of how someone feels in the future, the important thing to note is that they’re feeling this way now – and that’s awesome, valid, and should be embraced.
Why do we talk about it?
We live in a world that places a lot of value on sexual and romantic attraction. If we don’t feel these attraction we can feel different or like there’s something wrong with us.
The awesome thing about the Ace identities is that you know you’re not alone, and you’re perfectly normal. There's a whole community that feels the way that you do!
Some new words
Asexual means not experience any sexual attraction towards other people.
Aromantic means not experiencing any romantic attraction towards other people.
Grey-sexual or Grey-romantic means rarely experiencing sexual or romantic attraction, or only experiencing it under certain conditions.
Demisexual or Demiromantic means only experiencing sexual or romantic attraction towards people when there’s an emotional bond with the other person already.
Aroace is a short, casual way of referring to someone who is both aromantic and asexual.
Ace is a short, casual way of referring to anyone on the asexual spectrum (including asexuals, demisexuals, grey-asexuals, etc), and sometimes also the aromantic spectrum.
Lots of people identify on the Ace spectrum!
"It took a few years for me to realise that I was ace. I didn’t relate to the descriptions of sexual attraction that I heard from other people and, honestly, I found it kind of hard to believe that anyone did. But I’d also never heard anyone talk about sexual attraction as something that some people experienced and others didn’t and, without that knowledge, it was hard to make sense of my own experiences.
For me being ace means that I don't experience sexual attraction. This doesn't mean that I'm discounting the possibility of this changing in the future, or that I'm sex averse. It just means that this is how I identify right now, and right now, that matters." - Krishna
"It can be bit confusing at times. I look at all of my relationships and I often can’t define them as being strictly romantic, or platonic, or something else, but that’s kind of one of the things I’ve loved most. Being this way means that I’ve realised that there is no point in trying to squish my feelings for people in my life into one box or another. Things don’t have to fit society’s idea of what a 'relationship' should be to be fulfilling and beautiful and wonderful so, for the time being at least, I am more than content to not be able to label some of my relationships in that way." - Artemis