Asexuality

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around about asexuality. What does it mean? How do you know if you're asexual? Can you still have a relationship? We spoke to Michael at AVEN (The Asexual Visibility & Education Network) to find out.

three friends sitting down chatting

Being asexual doesn't mean you can't have relationships

What is asexuality? 

Someone who identifies as asexual doesn’t experience sexual attraction or doesn’t want to act on attraction with sexual activity. 

For example, a sexual person might see someone they fancy and think: 

“Be still my beating heart, and my beating genitals. God, I want their face on my face and their bits on my bits. Or their face on my bits. Now. In this food court. Outside Primark.”  

Someone who is asexual might see someone they find attractive and think: 

“Damn, they’re pretty. What a pretty person. They look lovely,” but won’t have any sexual desire towards them. 

What about asexuality and relationships? 

Relationships are still on the cards for those who identify as asexual. They may experience a romantic attraction and have a lot of mushy, lovey-dovey feelings, but won’t experience any sexual attraction. Equally, someone who is asexual may not be bothered by having a relationship either. It all depends. 

I think I’m asexual but I still get horny… 

People who are asexual may still experience arousal, and some might even enjoy masturbating. The common thread in asexuality is not wanting to experience sex with other people. 

“What it comes down to is that sexuality is not black and white,” says Michael from The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN). “Some people call themselves grey-asexual or grey-A, meaning they might experience sexual attraction sometimes but not often, or only at low intensity.” 

Can I date someone who ISN’T asexual?! 

Of course, if you want to! Only you get to decide who you date.  

“The key when dating in mixed relationships,” Michael says, “is to be open and honest, and accepting of your partner’s sexuality. Mixed relationships can absolutely work, but they don’t work if one partner thinks they can change the other into something they aren’t.” 

It’s the same with any relationship. Communication is key. Your needs may be different and that should be respected. And you can’t, and should never try, to change your partner into something they’re not. 

I‘m worried my partner will leave me because I’m asexual  

Sex can be an important part of someone’s relationship and identity, but it’s not the be all and end all. Some sexual people might not be that bothered about sex. It’s all about finding that compatibility. If all parties are open and honest about their wants and needs, a healthy relationship can happen. 

I’m bored of people telling me I “just haven’t found the right person” 

There are a lot of misconceptions around asexuality, and it can be super tiring hearing the same myths again and again. 

“To anyone who says asexuality is just a phase, a good answer is to ask how are they sure that their heterosexuality isn’t a phase?” Michael says. “Or whatever other orientation they have.” 

Some people might not understand asexuality, and it’s not your job to educate them. You can try to if you want to, but try to not feel pressured to explain your own identity. It’s not fair.  

If you do want to offer information, you can direct them to the AVEN website where there’s a lot of information and FAQs.  

My friend has come out as asexual but I don’t get it… 

“If a friend identifies as asexual, the most important thing is to accept them,” Michael says. “Even if you don’t really understand asexuality, this is something that’s important to them, and they trust you enough to share it with you.” 

It’s ok to not understand someone else’s sexuality. Sometimes it can be quite complicated – we are all unique, after all! But it’s important to respect their identity and decision to come out. It’s often a huge thing to do.  

Tell your friend that you’re proud of them for coming out, and perhaps ask if they would mind you asking some non-intrusive questions. For example, it can be ok to ask what asexuality means, but probably not ok to ask them if they like masturbating or not. 

Lastly, try to educate yourself. The AVEN website has a lot of great information.

Next Steps

  • AVEN (The Asexual Visibility & Education Network) has the world's largest asexual community. Visit their website for information and support.
  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 30-Jan-2018

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