Asexuality is a sexual orientation in which the person feels little or no sexual attraction though they can still experience other forms of attraction. Asexuality is also a spectrum with a variety of ways in which it is experienced. Here are some key facts about it as well as the debunked myths about being ace.
Myth 1: They feel nothing and have no interest in relationships
Because asexual people experience little to no desire to engage in sexual contact with others, there’s the assumption that they have no emotional needs or desires that other people have. This isn’t the case. Ace people may experience:
- Romantic attraction (desire to be in a romantic relationship)
- Aesthetic attraction (attraction to someone based on how they look)
- Sensual or physical attraction (desire to touch, hold, or cuddle someone)
- Platonic attraction (desire to be friends with someone)
- Emotional attraction (want an emotional connection with someone)
Ace people have healthy romantic relationships with friends and family and even romantic partners. They are wholly capable of giving and experiencing love and affection. They may also experience arousal and have orgasms and desire marriage and/or children.
Myth 2: It’s a new thing
There’s a common myth that asexuality is just some new thing a society that’s going too far has introduced. This view is advanced to invalidate the real experiences of asexual people. Records of asexuality go back as far as the 1800s. In 1972, feminist Lisa Orlando wrote ‘The Asexual Manifesto’ outlining asexuality and how it differs from celibacy.
Myth 3: It’s just celibacy or abstinence and/or a choice
Abstinence is about deciding not to have sex, usually temporarily. Celibacy is about choosing to abstain from sex for a longer period of time. You may be asexual without abstaining from sex. Ace people have sex for a variety of reasons including for emotional intimacy with their partners.
Asexuality is also not a choice. It’s an inherent part of a person’s sexual orientation just like homosexuality or heterosexuality.
Myth 3: Medical condition or traumatic experience
In a sex-obsessed society, not having the desire to engage in sexual contact with others can be viewed as a pathology or illness. It is not. Being asexual is not the same as experiencing:
- Fear of intimacy
- Loss of libido
- Sexual repression
- Sexual aversion
- Sexual dysfunction
Anyone can develop these conditions regardless of sexual orientation.
Asexuality is also not the consequence of a traumatic condition such as in your childhood. It is not something that happens to victims of sexual abuse or sexual trauma.
Myth 4: You’re just sexually immature
There’s a belief that asexual people are just sexually immature and just need to get some sexual experience under their belt to fix it. Asexuality also does not equate to emotional or social maturity.
Myth 5: You just haven’t found the right person or you can change
Well-meaning people assume that asexual people will feel sexual attraction when they meet the ‘right’ person. That’s not how asexuality works. There are asexual people who desire romantic relationships and who engage in sex. Romance doesn’t have to involve sex and sex does not require love and romance.
Another myth that accompanies this one is the underlying belief that you can change if circumstances change. Asexuality is not a problem that can be fixed or changed, and efforts to do so can be harmful and disrespectful to ace people.
Asexuality means different things to different people with it manifesting differently for different people. There are so many self-defined labels under the ace spectrum, just a few include:
- Aromatic asexual: does not experience romantic attraction to others
- Demisexual: experiences sexual attraction only after forming a strong emotional connection with someone
- Graysexual: experiences sexual attraction very rarely or weakly
- Autochorissexual: experiences sexual attraction to fantasies or abstract concepts, but not to people
- Lithsexual: experiences a strong desire to avoid sexual contact
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