Pretty early in life, we're taught about the basic human needs: food, shelter and clothing. It is after we've grown up to be young adults that we are told that sex or sexual activity is also a basic human need. And as we grow up, it gains more and more importance. To the common man, sex sells. Everyone seems to want it. But there are certain people who will agree to disagree with this. There are certain people that have little to no sexual attraction. And while other tangents on sexuality such as bisexuality and pansexuality are being recognised increasingly by the day, asexuality, wherein the person doesn't experience any kind of sexual attraction, is barely being spoken about.
What Is Asexuality, and what does it mean?
Being asexual means different things to different people. Sexual arousal or attraction is about a person having sexual feelings for a specific person and mainly wanting to engage in sexual activity with them. On the other hand, someone who is asexual experiences little to absolutely no sexual attraction. Asexuality is defined as lacking any sexual attraction, and though the actual number is thought to be higher, about one per cent of the world's population identifies as asexual.
Of course, it is important to know that asexuality is not a choice, which sets it apart from abstinence or celibacy. Abstinence is about deciding to not have any sexual contact, which is usually on a temporary basis. For example, an individual may decide to abstain from sex until they get married, or decide to abstain from sex during a difficult period in their life. Celibacy is about deciding to abstain from sex, and possibly marriage. This could be for religious, cultural, or personal reasons. Celibacy is a lifelong commitment to renouncing any sexual contact with another person. Clearly, abstinence and celibacy are choices, while asexuality isn't. In fact, asexual people might not actually abstain from sex at all. Some asexual people do have sex.
On the asexuality spectrum, everyone has a different experience and can mean different things to different people. Some of the basics you should be acquainted with are:-
Is it normal to think about having sex but not actually want to have sex?
Asexual people may experience other forms of attraction
While most asexual people do not experience any sexual attraction at all, it doesn't mean that they can't experience other forms of attraction. Aside from sexual attraction, asexuals can also experience:
1. Romantic attraction: desiring a romantic relationship with others
2. Aesthetic attraction: being attracted to others based on how they look
3. Sensual or physical attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
4. Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with others
5. Emotional attraction: wanting an emotional connection with others
Few may experience sexual attraction in certain limited circumstances
While the majority of asexuals do not feel any sexual attraction, a few might experience it in very limited circumstances. For example, a Demisexual - which is said to fall under the asexual umbrella, experiences sexual attraction only when they have a deep connection or emotional attachment to a person. In simpler terms, they might only feel sexually attracted to someone they have a deep romantic relationship with.
Read more: What it’s Like Being Asexual In India
They can have sexual desire devoid of sexual attraction
Asexuals have a libido or sexual desire, but it's without any sexual attraction. To understand the difference, Healthline very well explains the difference between libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction.
- Libido which is also known as your sex drive, is about wanting to have sex and experience sexual pleasure and sexual release. For some people, it's a little like wanting to scratch an itch. This can be achieved without any sexual contact with another individual.
- Sexual desire, the desire to have sex, whether it is for pleasure, a personal connection, conception, or something else.
- Sexual attraction which mainly involves finding someone sexually appealing and thus developing a desire to have sex with them.
The way plenty of people, apart from asexuals, have low libido or do not desire sex, many asexual people still have a libido and might experience sexual desire. Asexual people might still masturbate or have sex to satisfy this sexual desire. There are many reasons why an asexual person might want to have sex like 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.
Of course, some asexual people have little to no sex drive or sexual desire.
Like sexuality is a spectrum, according to Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, asexuality exists on a spectrum. In other words, asexual people can experience varying levels of sexual attraction and romantic feelings. Demisexuality, a term coined by AVEN, refers to those who fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in terms of experiencing sexual attraction. Those who identify as demisexual (also known as graysexual) are often sexually attracted to people only under very specific circumstances, such as after getting to know them to a certain extent. Asexuality in itself can be a spectrum too, with some people experiencing no sexual attraction, some experiencing a little sexual attraction, and some experiencing a lot of it.
Is asexuality a medical concern?
Many people think there is something "wrong" with asexual people. You as an asexual person may feel like there is something unnatural about you, but that is not true. The world has a history of not accepting the varying sexual orientation or sexuality. People believe that everyone must feel sexual attraction - so asexual people might always worry that there is something wrong with themselves, too. Asexuality isn't a medical concern and not something that needs to be fixed. There's no underlying cause of asexuality; it isn't genetic, the result of trauma, or caused by anything else. It's just the way someone was born and is.
In a resourceful article by Time, a book named The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker, discusses the struggles of the asexual community, a misunderstood and often denounced group by explaining what asexuality really is, and what it isn't, whom it affects and why it doesn't need to be cured as it is not a disorder.
How To Tell If You're Asexual?
There are several people who may be confused about what sexuality they may align with. They may be confused for a long time as there is no correct, straight line of understanding your place on the wide spectrum. To help out with this, Slice suggests signs that might indicate whether you belong to the asexual community or not. They are:-
1. Lack of interest in intimacy: Not having sexual attraction means you aren't interested in having sex of any kind. While there are definitely some aces (asexuals) who enjoy sex, they almost never the ones to initiate it. Lots of them also identify as aromantic - called aroace - which means they don't have romantic feelings either. So an aromantic asexual has furthermore no motivational factor to evoke an interest in any sort of sexual intimacy.
2. It's not about the right person: "You probably just haven't found the right person yet!" comes up frequently when you might explain your lack of sexual attraction. No matter how well-intentioned, it can be super annoying, and if they know your self-identity, then highly inconsiderate. You may find the love of your life, but might have no sexual attraction, and that's valid. The way you are won't be changed if you fall in love with someone.
3. You don't fit under other LGBTQ+ terms well: Bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, etc. What do these orientations have in common? They are all types of sexual attraction. You may realise that you do not really fit into any orientation you hear about until you come across asexuality. Some asexual people might identify themselves as gay or lesbian if they find themselves physically attracted the same gender, but most will keep their ace identity at the forefront.
4. You don't enjoy self-pleasure: Even though masturbation is a healthy type of self-care, some aces are just not into it. Since there is a lack of sexual attraction, this can also mean a lack of anything sexual at all, and masturbation brings no pleasure to you. As a result, you may not have any need or desire to partake in any sensual solo sessions.
5. You're not in a rush to be in a relationship: Everyone deserves to be loved and to have a partner through the journey we call life, but maybe you don't really mind being a lone wolf. Asexuals may not be looking for any sexual encounters at all, which usually come along with relationships. While several aces would like to be in committed relationships, they definitely take things at their own pace.
6. You feel that aesthetic attraction > sexual attraction: Think of it like this - someone who is straight is attracted to the opposite gender. Sure, they might think that someone of the same gender is aesthetically pleasing or good-looking, but they don't want to get intimate with them. Knowing the difference between aesthetic or romantic attraction and sexual attraction is key. Thus, while some ace people might not have any attraction at all, if some have any attraction other than sexual, you're part of the club!
7. You get over crushes quickly: Of course, an ace person can have a crush; it's usually aesthetic and/or romantic. The desire for love is there, but sexual intimacy is where it stops. Perhaps you've been interested in a physically attractive person and wanted to get to know them better, which could also be a squish - a platonic relationship with someone. But because you're not looking to get into bed with anyone, it makes it easier to let go and move on. It's important to think about what kind of relationship you want and decide what makes you happiest.
8. You can go the rest of your life without sex: For allosexuals, this thought could be incomprehensible. But for aces, life wouldn't change all that much. It's kind of like if you took away skydiving; the thrill and excitement exist but you might not care to ever experience that, so taking it away wouldn't mean much to you. There are tons of other ways to enjoy life, with or without a partner, and sex doesn't necessarily have to be one of them. If this applies to you, you're not weird or broken. It's just not your cup of tea.