What Does it Mean to be Asexual?

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Sexual orientation and gender preferences have been in the media’s spotlight, but there’s one sexual preference that doesn’t get much attention: asexuality. More young adults are coming out and identifying with this sexual orientation, but many still don’t understand what it means to be asexual.

What is Asexuality?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, but it differs from being gay, straight or bisexual. With other sexual orientations, people are attracted to and interested in different genders or groups of people. When someone is asexual, or “ace,” they aren’t sexually interested (which differs from romantic interest) in anyone. Simply put, they don’t experience feelings of sexual attraction.

People can still be asexual if they:

  • Find someone good looking
  • Are dating
  • Have fallen in love
  • Kissed someone
  • Had sex
  • Are curious about sex

People of all ethnicities, religions, genders, body types, ages and backgrounds can be asexual.

It’s important to note that asexuality is not an abstinence pledge, nor is it a:

  • Choice
  • Disorder
  • Synonym for celibacy
  • Gender identity
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Fear of sex or relationships

It’s important to note being aroused doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not asexual. Arousal is biology. It’s just your body doing what it’s supposed to do when it’s stimulated. Give a man Viagra, and he’ll get an erection regardless of whether he’s in the “mood.” Those who are asexual may still get an erection, but they may not feel any “urges” or sexual attraction.

Many people who identify as asexual still experience romantic attraction. An AVEN community survey from 2014 found that only 20% of asexual individuals also identified as a romantic, meaning that they did not experience romantic attraction at all.

What are the Signs of Asexuality?

Many people are asexual and don’t realize it. There are many signs or experiences that people of this sexual orientation share. The following list is not meant to “diagnose” asexuality, but rather, help people determine whether they may identify with this sexual orientation.

  • General disinterest in sex
  • Feeling confused or left out when other people talk about sex
  • Interest in sex is more scientific or out of curiosity rather than emotional
  • Having consensual sex because you felt that’s “what you’re supposed to do”
  • You don’t experience sexual feelings like others do
  • You found sex to be dull or boring
  • You’ve pretended to be interested in someone just to fit in

These are just some of the experiences that asexual people have had. Yours may be different. Generally speaking, asexuality is about a lack of sexual attraction. Some people still experience the need for a sexual release, but many do not. Many people who are asexual can go months or years without sex and think nothing of it. Asexuality is not a sign that something is wrong. It is simply a part of who the person is. If you feel that you may identify with asexuality, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. There are many other people out there just like you, even if you haven’t met them yet. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 100 people is asexual, which equates to more than 1.6 million people in the U.S. alone.

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