What is 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.

Want to know more about asexuality? Here's our guide.

Understanding asexuality

Someone who identifies as asexual experiences little to no 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 about wanting to sleep with them. Whereas someone who is asexual might see someone they find attractive and think they look lovely, but won’t have any sexual desire towards them. 

Can asexual people have relationships? 

Yes, you can still enjoy relationships when you identify as asexual. You 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 on the individual. 

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

People who are asexual may still experience arousal, and some might also enjoy masturbating. The common thread in asexuality is not wanting to experience sex with other people. But this doesn’t mean they never will – sexuality is a spectrum and often changes, so an asexual person may have had sex at some point, and may do in the future.

“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.” 

Watch our video with Kyle De’Volle to find out more:

Can I date someone who isn’t asexual?

Of course, if you want to! It’s all about being open with the other person about what you need and want.

“The key when dating in relationships where there are different sexualities,” Michael says, “is to be open and honest, and accepting of your partner’s sexuality. These 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. 

How do I make others understand that I’m asexual?

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 question 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 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 (as this is very personal). 

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

If you think you might be asexual and you need some support, get in touch with our team, who are there to listen and to talk about any issue.

Next Steps

  • AVEN (The Asexual Visibility & Education Network) has the world's largest asexual community. Visit their website for information and support.
  • 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.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 30-Jan-2018