When I tell anyone I’m asexual (which is rare), their initial reaction is either silence or ‘really? What’s that like?’. Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction, or low or no interest in sex, but it’s a lot more complex than that. A lot of people make assumptions regarding asexuality, like that asexuals aren’t interested in having a romantic relationship, or that they’re repulsed by sex.
It’s rare that I fully disclose my sexuality to people.
Unless I’m extremely interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with them because the response to being asexual has rarely been positive. I’ve heard ‘you just haven’t found the right person yet’, and ‘were you sexually abused as a child?’, and ‘I don’t feel comfortable dating an asexual because I would feel like I’m forcing them to do something they don’t want to’. The understanding around asexuality is very limited and it’s just easier to say ‘I’m queer’ than go into the ins and outs of it.
Being asexual doesn’t mean I never want to have sex.
Some asexuals can be sex repulsed, where they never want to have sex and the idea is gross to them. Some asexuals can view sex as the same as doing laundry: it’s okay, it’s not terrible, but it’s a lot of hard work and you’d rather do something more fun. Some asexuals will actively have sex for different reasons, like it feels nice, or it’s nice to connect with your partner in this way.
The key thing which defines being asexual is the lack of sex attraction.
To this day, I have no idea what it’s like to be sexually attracted to someone. When people who are sexual have tried to explain it, it sounds very similar to being romantically attracted to someone, where you can’t stop thinking about someone’s voice or eyes or mouth, where you can’t stop thinking about them in general. I think about someone in a romantic way, what it would be like to wake up next to them, to hug them from behind, to have them care for me, but it’s rare to fantasise about having sex with someone.
I also have never experienced sexual frustration, and, I’ll be honest, sometimes this causes a rift in relationships. Like anyone, I’m not always in the mood to have sex and for me, it takes a while to prepare myself, to get myself in the headspace to have sex. I don’t know if that’s the same for other people, but this causes a barrier where the person I’m dating seems to always be ready and I can feel myself close off to them to avoid the conversation of ‘no, I don’t want to have sex, yes, I will at some point’.
If someone discloses to you that they’re asexual, discuss with them what romantic relationships are like for them, how their attraction works.
Asexuality is rarely the same for each individual so it’s important to fully understand how their attraction works. I have had successful, long-term relationships but in a society which centres around the importance of sex, getting people to understand it is hard. When I first realised I was asexual, I couldn’t stop crying because it made me feel like a freak, an outcast.
It was only really with the support of a good friend, who also was asexual, and the internet that I became comfortable with it and accepted myself for who I am. Unfortunately, a lot of people are misinformed or don’t have a deep and meaningful understanding of what asexuality is, so most of the time, I direct them to AVEN. No, not the cosmetics website, it’s the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, it’s the most straightforward place to find out any questions you may want to ask.
It’s also okay to ask asexuals questions if they come out to you, but for the love of God, think before you ask, because if another person asks me if I’ve sexually assaulted in my lifetime, I will slap them. We’re sick of being asked insensitive questions, it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes a person’s sexual history doesn’t reflect their sexuality.