A brief overview of

Asexuality

 

Asexuality is a sexual orientation and part of the broad spectrum of human experiences.

A closer Look

Asexuality Definition

 

Asexuality is a sexual orientation that includes individuals who do not or rarely experience sexual attraction.  There are many ways to be asexual, but the overarching experience goes against cultural norms and expectations. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy and Aces can and sometimes do participate in sex.

Normal Variation

Asexuality is a natural part of the spectrum of human sexual orientations.

Split Attraction

Aces can experience varrying types of attraction.

Sexual Activity

Some Aces participate in sexual activity while others do not.

Perspectives on Sex

Aces can identify as sex-positive, sex-neutral, or sex-negative.

Beyond the Label

Asexuality Statistics

 

According to the Generation’s Study by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

%

Percentage Identifying as Asexual (that's 5.64 million in the US)

%

Identify as Women

%

Identify as Queer/Non-Binary

%

Between Ages 18 - 27*

%

Assigned Female at Birth

%

Assigned Male at Birth

* Because 91% of people identifying as asexual (also known as Aces) are between the ages of 18 – 27, there may be a lot of Aces, age 30 and up, who don’t know aseuxality is a thing and are not included in the research (which is largely done by examining online spaces)!

A closer Look at the

Split Model of Attraction

 

Asexual people often have a romantic orientation separate from their sexual orientation.

Sexual Attraction

The desire to engange in sexual activity with someone.

Romantic Attraction

An inclination towards romantic involvement.

Asthetic Attraction

An appreciation of physical appearance without romantic or sexual desire.

Sensual Attraction

Desire for physical contact that is not necessarily sexual.

Platonic Attraction

The desire to form close friendships with an emotional bond.

Emotional Attraction

The desire to know someone at a deeper emotional level.

Spiritual Attraction

Shared values, beliefs, and understanding that transcends physical or emotional attraction.

Intelectual Attraction

Being drawn to someone’s intellect or mind.

The Split Model of Attraction describes multiples types of attraction, which can be experienced separately from each other.  Sexual, romantic, aesthetic, sensual, platonic, emotional and intellectual attraction are common types of attraction.

Types of Asexual

Romantic Orientation

 

Asexual people often have a romantic orientation separate from their sexual orientation.

asexual heteromantic

Heteromantic

Romantic attraction to the opposite sex.

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Homoromantic

Romantic attraction to the same sex.

biromantic attraction

Biromantic / Panromantic

Romantic attraction to the opposite (or another sex).

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Aeromantic

No romantic attraction to another person of any sex.

Other types of romantic orientation also exist, including demiromantic, gray-romantic, polyromantic, gynoromantic, skolioromantic, and more.

Aces have varying

Views on Sexual Activity

 

In the asexual community, terms like sex-positive, sex-neutral, and sex-negative are used to describe individuals’ attitudes towards sex, particularly in relation to their own experiences and preferences.

Sex Positive

Sex-positive asexuals hold a positive attitude towards sex and sexuality. They might engage in sexual activities for various reasons, such as to please a partner, out of curiosity, or for other personal reasons. They may also enjoy some aspects of sexuality, like intimacy or physical closeness, without necessarily experiencing sexual attraction.

Sex-Neutral

Sex-neutral asexuals have a neutral or indifferent attitude towards sex. They don’t harbor negative feelings towards it but also don’t find it particularly appealing or important. They participate in sexual activities under certain circumstances, or they might not.

Biromantic / Panromantic

Sex-negative asexuals have a negative view of sex, either in general or just for themselves. This view could stem from personal discomfort, lack of interest, or negative experiences. They may experience discomfort or distress related to the idea or the act of sex.

A closer Look

Spectrum of Asexuality

 

Asexual

Individuals who do not feel sexual attraction (but they may or may not engage in sexual activity).

Gray Asexual

Falling somewhere between allosexual and asexual, Gray Aces, may feel sexual attraction on rare occasions.

Demi-Sexual

Demi-sexuals need an emotional connection before they can feel sexual attraction.

Part of the LGBTQ+ Community

Asexual Symbols

 

ace flag square

Asexual Flag

From top to bottom, the colors are black, representing asexuality; grey, representing grey-asexuality and demisexuality; white, symbolizing non-asexual partners and allies; and purple, which stands for community.

cake

Cake

Cake as a symbol in the asexual community playfully represents the idea that asexual individuals often find more joy and satisfaction in non-sexual pleasures, like enjoying cake, than in sexual activities.

asexual dragon<br />

Dragon

The dragon as a symbol of asexuality originated from a meme indicating that asexual individuals might prioritize other interests, passions, or simple pleasures (like eating cake) over sexual activities or attractions.

black ring

Black Ring

Worn on the middle finger of the right hand, this ring is a subtle way for asexuals to identify themselves. The black ring is not exclusive to asexuality, but it has been adopted by many within the community.

garlic bread

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread, in the asexual community, humorously touches on the idea of not having to worry about the social implications of eating garlic bread, such as bad breath, which might be a bigger concern among allosexual individuals.

ace of spades or hearts

Ace of Spaces or Hearts

The term “ace” is a common shorthand for asexual, and the ace of spades and ace of hearts playing cards are sometimes used as symbols. The ace of spades represents aromantic asexuals, while the ace of hearts can represent romantic asexuals.

Is ASEXUALITY A PATHOLOGY?

Differential Diagnosis

 

How does asexuality differ from DSM 5 TR’s diagnosis related to low desire?

Asexual

Asexuality is a sexual orientation where an individual does not experience sexual attraction to others (or rarely experiences sexual attraction) and typically does not view this as a problem or a source of distress. 

FSIAD

Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (FSIAD) is defined in the DSM-5 as a condition characterized by a significant lack or reduction in sexual interest and arousal. It must cause significant distress or interpersonal difficulties. 

MHSDD

Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (MHSDD) is defined in the DSM-5 as a condition characterized by persistently deficient or absent sexual or erotic thoughts and desire for sexual activity. It must cause significant distress or interpersonal difficulties. 

abstinence, celibacy, or asexuality

How is Asexuality Different?

 

How does asexuality differ from abstenance or celbacy?

R

Asexual

Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a persistent lack of sexual attraction to any gender.  It is not a choice but an intrinsic part of an individual’s identity, similar to other sexual orientations

Abstinence

Abstinence is the decision not to engage in sexual activity. It can be a choice made for various reasons, including personal, religious, or health-related motivations. 

Celibacy

Celibacy is a state of voluntarily abstaining from sexual activity, often for religious reasons.  It can be time-limited or life-long.

Impacts of Asexuality

6 Types of Ace Experiences

 

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Younger (Usually Single)

Younger, usually single Aces are often told they aren’t old enough or just haven’t met the right person.

older aces

Partnered (Often Married)

Previous generations didn’t know Asexuality was a thing and may find themselves in a mixed-orientation relationship.

therapy for minority asexuals

Sexualized Minorities

Minority Aces face extra minority stress when they don’t fit into society’s hyper-sexualized expectation.

asexual men

Men

Being an asexual man can be especially hard given the social pressure of an allosexual society.

partners of asexual people

Partners of Aces

It can be difficult to find a common ground when one partner is allosexual, and the other is asexual.

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Exploring

How do you know if you experience sexual attraction if you don’t experience it?  It’s complicated and takes time to figure out.

The Invisible Orientation

Myths about Asexual People

 

There are several myths and misconceptions about asexuality that can lead to misunderstandings and stigma. It’s important to dispel these myths to foster a better understanding of asexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
Myth: Asexuality is just a phase or a choice

Reality: Asexuality, like other sexual orientations, is not a phase or a choice. It’s a natural orientation where a person genuinely does not experience sexual attraction.

Myth: Asexual people cannot form romantic relationships. Reality:

Reality: Asexual people can and do form romantic relationships. Romantic attraction is separate from sexual attraction, and many asexual people experience romantic feelings.

Myth: Asexuality is the result of a trauma or medical condition.

Reality: Asexuality is not caused by trauma or a medical issue. While such factors can influence sexual desire, asexuality is a legitimate orientation, not a disorder or a result of past experiences.

Myth: Asexual people don't experience any kind of attraction.

Reality: Asexual people may experience romantic, aesthetic, emotional, and other types of attraction. The lack of sexual attraction does not mean a lack of other forms of attraction.

Myth: Asexual people can't enjoy sex or have sexual relationships.

Reality: Some asexual people might choose to have sex for various reasons, such as to please a partner. Enjoying sex doesn’t invalidate asexuality, which is about attraction, not behavior.

Myth: Asexuality can be "cured" or changed.

Reality: Asexuality is a natural orientation and not something that needs to be cured or changed. Attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation is both unethical and harmful.

Myth: Asexuality is rare or abnormal.

Reality: Asexuality is more common than many people think. It’s a normal variation of human sexuality, even though it’s less talked about than other orientations, and therefore research shows only 1.7% of the population identifying as asexual.

Myth: Asexual people are just "late bloomers."

Reality: Being asexual is not about being a late bloomer. Asexual people don’t necessarily “develop” sexual attraction later; they simply experience it differently or not at all.  It’s also okay to connect the dots in one way and then decide later in life to connect them another way.  Sexual orientation can be fluid and it’s okay to try something and see if it fits you.  

Myth: Asexual people are antisocial or have personality disorders.

Reality: Asexuality is not linked to social behavior or personality disorders. Asexual individuals have the same variety of social behaviors and personality traits as anyone else.  

Myth: Asexual people do not get married

Reality:  Asexual people can do and get married.  Sometimes, they marry allosexuals and find themselves in a mixed-orientation marriage.  This happens more often in “older” aces (over 30) who didn’t know about asexuality until after they were married.

Need help finding an Asexual-Affirming therapist?

 

Check out our guide to Finding an Asexual-Affirming Therapist to learn why it is important to find a therapist who knows about asexuality, what they can help with, screening questions to ask, and more!

Not ready to talk to anyone?  These resources might help.

 

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