What Does Being Asexual Mean? How Asexuality Works In Relationships?

So what is asexual? Let’s find out with Teeanime in this article.

Asexuality, defined

When someone is asexual, they don’t feel much or any sexual attraction.

To be sexually attracted to someone means that you find them sexually attractive and want to have sex with them.

People who are asexual, who might call themselves “ace” or “aces” for short, usually don’t feel sexual attraction to other people or want to have sexual relationships with them.

Still, different people have different ideas about what it means to be asexual.

Some people may only feel sexual attraction in a very small number of situations. For example, someone who is demisexual — which some people say is the same as being asexual — only feels sexual attraction when they have a deep connection with someone.

In other words, they might only feel sexually attracted to people when they are in a loving relationship with them.

Some people might not feel sexually attracted to each other but still want to be in a sexual relationship.

To put it simply, being asexual is different for everyone, and there is no one right way to be asexual.

Some people don’t experience sexual attraction at all

Even though asexual people don’t feel sexual attraction, they can still feel other kinds of attraction.

You can feel more than just sexual attraction:

  • Romantic attraction: wanting a romantic relationship with someone
  • Aesthetic attraction: being attracted to someone based on how they look
  • Physical or sexual attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
  • Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with someone
  • Emotional attraction: wanting to have an emotional connection with someone

Asexual people can experience all of these types of attraction, as well as many others.

Facts about asexuality

Do you know what it means to be asexual? Here are the fundamentals.

Asexual people can have a sex drive and experience sexual desire

There is a distinction to be made between libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction.

  • Libido. Your libido is your desire to have sex and feel sexual pleasure and release. This is also called your “sex drive.” Some people might feel like they want to scratch something.
  • Sexual desire. This means the desire to have sex, whether it’s for fun, for a personal connection, to get pregnant, or for some other reason.
  • Sexual interest. This means wanting to have sex with someone you find sexually appealing.

Many people who aren’t asexual have a low libido and may not want sex. In the same way, many people who aren’t sexual still have a libido and might feel sexual desire.

Even if a person is asexual, they may still masturbate or have sex.

Even if someone is not sexual, that doesn’t mean they don’t like sex. It just means that they don’t feel sexual desire.

An asexual person might want to have sex for plenty of reasons, including:

  • to satisfy their libido
  • to conceive children
  • to make their partner happy
  • to experience the physical pleasure of sex
  • to show and receive affection
  • for the sensual pleasure of sex, including touching and cuddling

Some asexual people don’t have much or any sexual drive or desire, and that’s fine, too, because asexuality means different things to different people.

Many asexual people want and have relationships with other people

Even though a person who is asexual might not feel sexual attraction, they could still feel romantic attraction.

A person who is asexual could be attracted to people of the same gender, people of a different gender, or people of more than one gender.

Many asexual people want and have relationships with other people. They might date other asexual people or people who aren’t asexual.

Asexual people may engage in sexual intimacy with partners

As was already said, some asexual people do have sex, because sexual desire is different from sexual attraction.

In other words, you might not look at someone and instantly want to have sex with them, but you might still want to have sex sometimes.

Everyone who is not gay or straight is different. Some people might not like sex, others might not care, and others might like it.

Sexuality is a spectrum

People often think of sexuality as a range.

Asexuality can also be a spectrum, with some people having no sexual attraction, others having a little sexual attraction, and still others having a lot.

Graysexual people don’t feel sexual attraction very often, or if they do, it’s not very strong. The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) says that graysexuality is a middle ground between being sexual and not being sexual.

Sexual desire and attraction are different from romantic desire and attraction

There is a difference between wanting to have sex with someone and wanting to date them.

In the same way, it’s important to remember that sexual desire is different from romantic desire, just like sexual attraction is different from romantic attraction.

You can want a romantic relationship without also wanting sex, and the same goes for the other way around.

Some people prefer nonromantic relationships

Some people who are asexual don’t want to be in a relationship.

The same way that asexual people don’t feel much or any sexual attraction, aromantic people don’t feel much or any romantic attraction. Some aromantic people are asexual, but not all.

Queerplatonic is a word that came from the asexual and aromantic communities. It is one way to talk about relationships that are not romantic.

AVEN says that a queerplatonic relationship is one that is very close. People in a queerplatonic relationship are just as committed as those in a romantic relationship, even though it doesn’t involve romance.

No matter who you are or how you feel about relationships, you can have a queer-friendly platonic relationship with anyone.

Some find their capacity for attraction or desire shifts over time

Many people think that their identity is not set in stone.

One day, they might feel like they are asexual because they aren’t attracted to anyone sexually or aren’t attracted to anyone at all. After a few weeks or months, they may feel a change and find that they are sexually attracted to people more often.

In the same way, someone might call themselves heterosexual or bisexual before realizing they are asexual.

This doesn’t mean that they were wrong or confused before. It also doesn’t mean that being gay is just a “phase” or something you’ll get over as you get older.

Your capacity for attraction isn’t set in stone

Some people find that the way they feel about someone changes over time. This is very good for you.

Even if an asexual person has felt sexual attraction in the past, that doesn’t change who they are now.

  • If you used to feel sexual attraction but no longer do, you can still call yourself asexual.

The same is true for those who no longer want to be called “asexual.”

  • You could be asexual and find out later that you often feel sexual attraction. This doesn’t mean you were never asexual in the first place. Your point of view could have just shifted over time.

Myths and misconceptions

Now, let’s dispel some fallacies about asexuality.

It means celibacy or abstinence

Many people mistakenly believe that asexuality is synonymous with celibacy or abstinence.

Abstinence is the decision to refrain from having intercourse. This is typically only temporary. Someone may opt to refrain from having sex:

  • until they get married
  • during a difficult period in their life

Celibacy is the decision to refrain from sex and maybe marriage for an extended period of time. Many people choose celibacy as a lifetime vow for religious, cultural, or personal reasons.

One significant distinction is that abstinence and celibacy are both choices. Asexuality does not qualify.

Furthermore, asexual people may not abstain from sex at all — and even those who choose celibacy or abstinence can experience sexual attraction.

It only occurs when a person cannot locate the right mate

Some well-meaning people may believe that asexual persons may experience sexual desire when they meet the “proper” person, but this is not the case. It isn’t about finding love or romance.

Many asexual persons want romantic relationships, and many asexual people have happy, healthy romantic relationships.

Romance does not have to include sex, and sex does not have to include romance.

How asexuality works in relationships

A romantic relationship in which one person is asexual and the other is not can function if there is open and honest communication. Isn’t this just like any other healthy relationship?

If you’re asexual, you should discuss to your partner about the forms of sexual activities you’re receptive to (if any), as well as any other sexual boundaries you have.

Perhaps you and your partner both want a long-term loving connection, but your partner has a much stronger sexual drive. You might consider an open relationship, in which your partner has other sexual partners but is emotionally committed to you.

What matters most is that both partners express their wants honestly and acknowledge that, while sexual attraction can change with time, it may not. As a result, assuming that an asexual partner will suddenly experience sexual attraction is often unhelpful.

Keep in mind that having a high sex drive and wanting to have sex frequently is quite normal (and extremely healthy). Sometimes people are simply incompatible. If your partner is asexual and refuses to have sex but is unwilling to consider an open relationship, you should assess whether the relationship satisfies your requirements (which are entirely valid, too).

Is there an underlying ‘cause’?

There is no underlying “cause” of asexuality, as there is for homosexuality or bisexuality. It’s just the way they are.

Asexuality is not inherited, the outcome of trauma, or the effect of anything else.

Talking to a sympathetic, LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist might help if you are experiencing difficulty as a result of your orientation, or if you are unsure about your orientation or what your lack of sexual desire might signify.

How do I know if I’m asexual?

Although there is no precise test to determine whether you are asexual or not, you can assess your wants and consider whether they correspond with common asexual characteristics.

Consider the following:

  • What does sexual attraction mean to me?
  • Do I experience sexual attraction?
  • How do I feel about the concept of sex?
  • Do I feel like I should have interest in sex only because others expect it?
  • Is sex important to me?
  • Do I see attractive people and feel the need to have sex with them?
  • How do I enjoy showing affection? Does sex factor in?

These questions don’t have any “right” or “wrong” answers, but they can help you think about your sexuality.

Helping your loved ones understand asexuality

If you realize you’re asexual, you might wonder how to explain your orientation to the people in your life, particularly those who may be less familiar with the term.

You can always start by explaining that asexuality is an orientation, just like being gay, queer, or pansexual. Some people have an attraction to people of one gender, others to people of many genders, and some don’t experience sexual attraction at all.

Family or friends might worry asexuality means you’ll never have a loving relationship, so you can also reassure them that you won’t be lonely — you can and do experience the desire for friendship and other close bonds.

It can also help to keep in mind you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone if you don’t want to. Your romantic and sexual desires (or lack thereof) are your business. That said, many people find that being open about their sexuality helps them live more authentically.

Of course, you’ll definitely want to share your orientation with someone you have a romantic interest in.

The bottom line

You can feel a little sexual interest or none at all. It is up to you to define your sexuality, orientation, and identity, and only you can decide what asexual means to you.

Finally, you can always select the identifier(s) that are most comfortable for you. It’s also fine if you choose not to use any labels to define yourself.

Thanks for reading!