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What Does It Mean to Be Asexual? 18 Things You Should Know

Someone who’s asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction.

Sexual attraction is about finding a specific person sexually appealing and wanting to have sex with them.

However, everyone has a different experience with being asexual, and asexuality can mean different things to different people.

Here are the basics.

Some asexual people don’t experience any sexual attraction. That doesn’t mean that they can’t experience other forms of attraction, though.

Aside from sexual attraction, you can also experience:

  • Romantic attraction: desiring a romantic relationship with someone
  • Aesthetic attraction: being attracted to someone based on how they look
  • Sensual or physical attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
  • Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with someone
  • Emotional attraction: wanting an emotional connection with someone

It’s possible for asexual people to experience all these forms of attraction.

Some people might only experience sexual attraction in very limited circumstances.

For example, someone who is demisexual — which some say falls under the asexual umbrella — experiences sexual attraction only when they have a deep connection to a person.

In other words, they might only feel sexually attracted to people they have deep romantic relationships with.

There’s a difference between libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction.

  • Libido. Also known as your sex drive, this is about wanting to have sex and experience sexual pleasure and sexual release. For some people, it’s a little like wanting to scratch an itch.
  • Sexual desire. This is the desire to have sex, whether it’s for pleasure, a personal connection, conception, or something else.
  • Sexual attraction. This involves finding someone sexually appealing and wanting to have sex with them.

Plenty of people who aren’t asexual have a low libido, or they might not desire sex.

Similarly, many asexual people still have a libido and might experience sexual desire. So, asexual people might still masturbate or have sex.

Again, asexuality doesn’t always mean someone doesn’t enjoy sex. It just means they don’t experience sexual attraction.

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There are many reasons why an asexual person might want to have sex. For example:

  • to satisfy their libido
  • to conceive children
  • to make their partner happy
  • to experience the physical pleasure of sex
  • to show and receive affection
  • for the sensual pleasure of sex, including touching and cuddling

Of course, some asexual people have little to no sex drive or sexual desire — and that’s also okay! Asexuality means different things to different people.

Many people view sexuality as a spectrum.

Asexuality can be a spectrum too, with some people experiencing no sexual attraction, others experiencing a little sexual attraction, and others experiencing a lot of sexual attraction.

Greysexual people rarely experience sexual attraction, or they experience it with a very low intensity. As the Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) explains, greysexuality is often seen as a midpoint between sexuality and asexuality.

Many people falsely think that asexuality is the same thing as celibacy or abstinence.

Abstinence is about deciding not to have sex. This is usually temporary.

For example, someone may decide to abstain from sex until they get married, or someone might decide to abstain from sex during a difficult period in their life.

Celibacy is about deciding to abstain from sex, and possibly marriage. This could be for religious, cultural, or personal reasons. It’s often a lifelong commitment.

Abstinence and celibacy are choices — asexuality isn’t.

What’s more, asexual people might not actually abstain from sex at all. As mentioned earlier, some asexual people do have sex.

Many people think there is something “wrong” with asexual people.

The world seems to assume that everyone feels sexual attraction — so asexual people might worry that there’s something wrong with themselves, too.

Asexuality isn’t a medical concern. It’s not something that needs to be fixed.

It should go without saying, but being asexual isn’t the same thing as experiencing:

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Anyone can develop one or more of these conditions, regardless of their sexual orientation.

As with homosexuality or bisexuality, there’s no underlying “cause” of asexuality. It’s just the way someone is. Asexuality isn’t genetic, the result of trauma, or caused by anything else.

It’s often assumed that asexual people will feel sexual attraction when they meet the “right” person — this is untrue.

Many asexual people desire romantic relationships — and many asexual people are in happy, healthy romantic relationships.

Wanting to have sex with someone is different from wanting a romantic relationship with them.

Similarly, it’s important to remember that sexual attraction isn’t the same as romantic attraction. Sexual desire is also different from romantic desire.

One is the desire to have sex, while the other is about desiring a romantic relationship.

An asexual person might not experience sexual attraction, but they might still experience romantic attraction.

An asexual person could be romantically attracted to people of the same gender, people of another gender, or people of multiple genders.

Many asexual people want — and have — romantic relationships. These romantic relationships can be with other asexual people, or with people who aren’t asexual.

As mentioned, some asexual people do have sex, because sexual desire is…

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