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Zealous

More Moderate This Time: A Revision Of Definition

Clarify or Expand The Definition For Asexuality?  

  1. 1.

    • Yes
      18
    • No
      4
    • Other
      4


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Zealous   
Zealous

Alright, it seems to me that the response to my earlier question about restructuring the definition of asexuality was that it was too radical, but that revision and clarification was in order. To that end, I am initiating the discussion on the subject of new, more descriptive language to be appended to the "one who does not experience sexual attraction".

From here on out, this is stream of consciousness, so forgive any incoherence. It's just going to be a jumble of random thoughts.

Asexual (n) :

1) One who experiences little or no sexual attraction. -mandrewliter

-Previous- One who does not experience any sexual attraction. -Previous-

2) One who, if ve experiences a sex drive, does not have a sex drive directed at other people explicitly.

3) One who experiences no sex drive, or otherwise is not motivated to act upon sexual attraction. ~~~ UNDERGOING DISCUSSION: This implies sexual attraction, currently not part of the Asexual definition.

Sexual Attraction (n) :

An attraction based around the appeal of sexual activity with another person. ~~~ UNDERGOING DISCUSSION: This is open to misinterpretation as including asexuals who have sex with their partners (and enjoy it).

Sex Drive (n) :

The physical, or other, urge to act in a sexual way towards others, or on one's own. ~~~ ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTION: The physical urge for sexual release. -Hallucigenia

Aromantic (n) :

One who feels no desire for a romantic relationship with another person.

Romantic Attracion (n) :

An attraction based around the appeal of a romantic relationship with another person.

Romantic Drive (n) :

The emotional, or other, urge to engage in a romantic relationship with others.

Actually, that came out in a pretty nice format... Should we put good, clear-cut definitions somewhere? If so, should these be they? Should these be changed? Am I off my rocker and everyone thinks the current definition is fully adequate?

EDIT: These definitions will be updated accordingly.

EDIT2: The newest definitions can be found near the end of this thread.

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Lord Happy Toast   
Lord Happy Toast

I have some issues with the current definition(s) of asexuality. I have some ideas about it I've been thinking about but haven't gotten around to posting. (I'm not good at saying anything concisely, and it would be a really long post.) Given the concerns that you wrote about in your last post on this subject, I think a lot of the problem could be solved if everyone read the FAQ before posting. Maybe it would be a good idea to make that more prominently displayed (and when people try to register, we could tell them that they should read it and provide a link.)

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vcat   
vcat

I like it.

It makes asexuality easier to understand for people who are not asexual and trying to learn more about this commonly misunderstood sexuality.

It also helps clarify that we do not see sex and romance as mutually dependent.

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emmarainbow   
emmarainbow

Yeah, it looks about right; that's how I understand it anyway.

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Amcan   
Amcan

I would query 3:

3) One who experiences no sex drive, or otherwise is not motivated to act upon sexual attraction.

So they still experience sexual attraction? WOuld that not make them sexual in some way?

As asexuals can have sex drives or not have sex drives surely the same is true of pther orientations?

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Hallucigenia   
Hallucigenia
Sexual Attraction (n) :

An attraction based around the appeal of sexual activity with another person.

I have to say I don't like this at all. I know what you're trying to say' date=' but it's too easy to twist this one to say that people who get romantically attracted and have sex to please their partners and enjoy it a little (among certain other groups) are experiencing sexual attraction.

I wish I had something better to replace it with, I hate being so negative, but sexual attraction is really tricky to define.

Sex Drive (n) :

The physical, or other, urge to act in a sexual way towards others, or on one's own.

"Or other"? What does that mean? I've never heard of a nonphysical sex drive.

I'd prefer if we called sex drive something like "the physical urge for sexual release". Unless you can explain what you meant by "or other".

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Zealous   
Zealous
I would query 3:

3) One who experiences no sex drive, or otherwise is not motivated to act upon sexual attraction.

So they still experience sexual attraction? WOuld that not make them sexual in some way?

As asexuals can have sex drives or not have sex drives surely the same is true of pther orientations?

That one is completely open for debate. I included it only because I realized that if someone experiences sexual attraction, but no sex drive, they might identify with asexuality. That is, it is, by the current definition, a separate phenomenon. The question is, should we include it?

I wish I had something better to replace it with, I hate being so negative, but sexual attraction is really tricky to define.

Fear not, Hallu! I am working on this during breaks from my midterms studying. I will have something come daybreak! (I hope...)

"Or other"? What does that mean? I've never heard of a nonphysical sex drive.

Well, if someone is emotionally dependent on sexual activity, I would, personally speaking, classify that as sex drive. This is, as all of this is, up for debate, of course.

I'm just starting to wonder if we should set up a Definitions part of the FAQ, and turn the header about Asexuality being a lack of sexual attraction into a big fat hyperlink to that page. Or something to that effect. Even if we come up with clear cut definitions that have the flexibility that we're searching for, where do we put them?

But I digress. That should be considered once satisfactory definitions exist. It seems that we have a consensus that these terms should be clarified though, so let's write up the OED of Asexuality.

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Shortass Lady   
Shortass Lady

I don't see what's wrong with the current definition, as per the one at the top of the AVEN screen.

Heterosexual: sexual attraction to opposite sex. Homosexual: sexual attraction to same sex. Bisexual: both. Asexual: none. It works.

Romantic attraction and sex drive are slightly different issues, and so needn't complicate the definition of asexuality which the site already uses. Complicating the issue will just narrow the boundaries won't it?

A broad definition like the one we already have contains plenty of space for individual nuances, so what's the problem?

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Zealous   
Zealous
Romantic attraction and sex drive are slightly different issues, and so needn't complicate the definition of asexuality which the site already uses. Complicating the issue will just narrow the boundaries won't it?

A broad definition like the one we already have contains plenty of space for individual nuances, so what's the problem?

I understand your point. Yes, it probably WILL narrow the boundaries. But the goal is to minimize that sacrifice while increasing clarity. The open space is incredibly nice to have for us as a community, but it makes our position harder to understand.

With our current definition, confounding sex drive with sexual attraction is not only likely, but inevitable. And while a short and sweet definition looks good from our side, saying "We do not experience sexual attraction towards anyone" is oftentimes meaningless to our audience. It begs the questions that I want us to have answers ready for. Those questions include "What is sexual attraction?" "What is sex drive?" and, for romantic asexuals, "What is romantic attraction?"

My proposal is to treat some of the flexibility of the definition as an acceptable loss for the sake of explanation. I agree that in some ways this is a distasteful idea, but it solves problems for the sexual peers we seek to educate.

So far, the general consensus seems to be to revise the definition to be clearer, so that's what I'm doing. Just because your view is, as of now, a minority view doesn't make it any less important. I'm just behaving as seems fitting given my own stance and the level of agreement.

I invite any dissenters to open the floor for a discussion on whether or not this is necessary or even desirable. After all, what's life without a little bit of controversy? (Aside from peaceful and soporifically dull.)

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Shortass Lady   
Shortass Lady

So the change of definition would be for the purpose of making asexuality clearer to others, rather than just changing it to suit ourselves. OK, I see why a more detailed definition might be useful then.

So are we hoping to end up with something along the lines of:

'Asexual: A person who has no instinctive/ innate (?) desire for sex with others, who may or may not neverthless desire intimate romantic relationships with others, and may or may not experience some degree of sexual drive, albeit not directed towards another person'.

I guess that sort of thing might help people grasp the idea of asexuality a bit more easily.

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Eddie7   
Eddie7

I voted no as I don't really see any problem with the way it is now. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality all say exactly what they need to. Asexuality = Without sexuality. Simple.

Granted this all gets thrown out a little given the asexuals that partake in sexual activity and the such, but I don't see how that should change the definition. 'Grey' people will exist in all of the above groups, and trying to fit everyone within a definition just makes things far more convoluted than they need to be.

As for making it clearer to other people, it still seems pretty irrelevant. We should be attempting to let others understand what we are, not changing the definition of what we are to make it simpler. The questions about sex drive and sexual attraction would be just as applicable to other sexualities. Granted, they won't face the same kind of scrutiny at this point, but if we have the explain the concept of sex drive to people, we're probably talking to the wrong people in the first place. Or maybe the right ones.

Not that I'm entirely opposed to any clarification, I just can't see the point of it here. If there was a better reason than "making it clearer to others", I might be more in favour, but as it stands it seems like a pointless exercise.

While we're vaguely on the topic though, is there any need to have the definition blazened across the front page of the forum in huge letters? Is it in case we forget what asexual means or something?

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Lord Happy Toast   
Lord Happy Toast

It seems that the main concern is that a lot of people see the word "asexual" and the definition "a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction" and they ask questions like "how can a person be asexual (or am I asexual) if they/I get crushes on people/want or have romantic relationships/masturbate/have sex/have sexual fantasies etc?" However, as I said before, I think the best way to deal with these issues isn't modifying the definition (I think short definitions are best, if possible) but referring people to the FAQ which deals will all of these things. (Nevertheless, we still get lots of posts from people asking about these things because they evidently haven't bothered to read the FAQ.)

If we were to modify the definition, I prefer "a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction." In measuring sexual orientation with the Kinsey scale both 0 (exclusively heterosexual attraction) and 1 (predominantly heterosexual attraction, incidental homosexual attraction) are considered heterosexual, and both 5 (predominantly homosexual attraction, incidental heterosexual attraction and 6 (exclusively homosexual attraction) are considered homosexual. So I think if we think of sexual orientation as a 2 dimensional scale (you can look this up on the page on the wiki about research dealing with asexuality), rather than asexuality being just the very bottom left point on the scale, we can think of it as the general region near there. So someone who experiences no homosexual attraction and only incidental hetersexual attraction, for example, could also be asexual.

I think this is why it is important to say that no one can tell you who is and who isn't asexual. Looking at it this way makes a fuzzy, gray area between asexual and any of the other three sexual orientations. Thus, which side of the asexual/sexual line to put oneself on (if a choice is made at all) becomes a matter of personal choice for people who could reasonably put themselves on either side.

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Zealous   
Zealous
As for making it clearer to other people' date=' it still seems pretty irrelevant. We should be attempting to let others understand what we are, not changing the definition of what we are to make it simpler. The questions about sex drive and sexual attraction would be just as applicable to other sexualities. Granted, they won't face the same kind of scrutiny at this point, but if we have the explain the concept of sex drive to people, we're probably talking to the wrong people in the first place. Or maybe the right ones.[/quote']

I'm not sure I understand how your view is inconsistent with clarification. We aren't trying to CHANGE the definition. We (or rather, I) are (am?) trying to rewrite the current definition in more descriptive language.

If we should be "attempting to let others understand what we are", doesn't that essentially mandate that we attempt to make "it clearer to other people"? I'm not trying to be rude. I'm simply confused by your point.

And yes, the questions about drive and attraction apply to the other orientations as well, but until you remove attraction or - and this is arguable - drive from the equation, it doesn't become apparent. So we're the ones who are breaching this topic. As such, shouldn't we be explaining what these terms mean?

After all, if someone wanted to argue that people shouldn't engage in "sexual activity" before marriage, but thought that mutual masturbation or somesuch was okay, wouldn't that oblige them to define "sexual activity"? It doesn't matter that the term is already in use because people don't have a clear idea of what it means anyway.

...referring people to the FAQ which deals will all of these things.

The FAQ does indeed answer these questions' date=' but in a format that only helps those willing to read all of the material, even if the question being posed does not apply to them. What that means is that, although Sex Drive is covered in the FAQ, someone who sees the term, but doesn't know what it means, won't know where to look for it.

Ideally speaking we're looking at a small addition to the FAQ titled something along the lines of "Lexicon".

If we were to modify the definition, I prefer "a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction." [Citation of Kinsey Scale, etc.]

Here I agree with you. I'll edit the proposed definition to that now, let's see where it takes us.

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KAGU143   
KAGU143

I think there might be two different kinds of definitions that are struggling against each other here.

(I haven't read all of this because I REALLY need to get off of the computer. If I've missed something, I'm sorry.)

Anyway, A VERBAL definition of the TERM asexual needs to be precise and, much as I hate to say it, somewhat exclusive. Not every member of AVEN will perfectly fit the verbal definition, but that is NOT a bad thing.

I think that, in the attempt to be all-inclusive, our definition of sexual attraction and asexuality has become so vague and watered down as to become virtually meaningless.

I think we should keep in mind that very few people ever perfectly fit ANY definition of sexuality, and that we therefore shouldn't worry about making our definition include every member here.

We know what the TERM "homosexual" means, because it is precise. Homosexual people, however, can vary considerably in how well they fit that definition. Asexuals can also vary in how well they fit the definition of asexuality.

It really isn't a problem - it's just part of being human.

I'll check back when I have more time. I hope this made sense!

-GB

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Lord Happy Toast   
Lord Happy Toast

I'll concede the point that the FAQ is only useful to people if they actually read it. I know that for a lot of people, it is one of the first things that they read, and I think that it should be. (In my opinion, it is the best place on AVEN to start.)

A comment on the definition of sexual attraction. This is a problem that has bothered me for a while, and I'm not sure how to solve it, but I'll give it a try. We can't just say that asexuals lack "desire to have sex" because there are lots of different sorts of desires. It is possible to want to have sex because of curiosity, wanting to please a partner, liking it, etc. that are quite possible for people to feel without sexual attraction. But we can't just say asexuals don't experience "sexual desire to have sex" because it strikes me as being totally unhelpful and a bit tautological. My best guess is that the sort of desire for sex that asexuals don't have is a "felt need to have sex." Like hunger or thirst, there is a sort of desire that, if unmet, is felt as something of a pain or longing. This isn't true (I think) of the other sorts of ways to desire sex. I'm not sure how far this goes in solving the problem, but it's my best attempt.

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Amcan   
Amcan

Greybird - It did to me. But then I was thinking about boxes.

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< retired >   
< retired >

FWIW, as a newbie I liked the short and sweet definition on the home page. Sure, for many folks it may raise questions and even be a bit perplexing, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing - that's what the forums are for.

Also, has anyone considered using standard psychological definitions for some of the terms you're discussing rather than coming up with new definitions? I don't know what the standard defs are, but I'm sure a little research would uncover them.

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KetchupKid   
KetchupKid

I don't care if the definition for asexuality isn't 'inclusive' enough to include me personally. I don't think people like me should be classed as asexual even if I've probably only met one person I might have wanted sex with (if offered it, which I was not). I would still feel like I was 'soiling' asexuality by being included in it, just simply because I don't feel like an asexual, because in my mind I have theories of how I might come to want sex, it's just that at 36 none of these theoretical scenarios has occured, but this might be just down to my limited social experience.

I merely ask that no one assumes that everyone who is not asexual necessarily cares about sex or even wants it particularly.

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Zealous   
Zealous
My best guess is that the sort of desire for sex that asexuals don't have is a "felt need to have sex." Like hunger or thirst, there is a sort of desire that, if unmet, is felt as something of a pain or longing. This isn't true (I think) of the other sorts of ways to desire sex. I'm not sure how far this goes in solving the problem, but it's my best attempt.

My only real worry is that if we begin defining sexual attraction in terms of an urge, its differences from sex drive become too nuanced and hard to follow.

So far all I can think of is talking about it in terms of appeal. I am, of course, searching for a better solution.

In response to the idea that the standard definitions are sufficient, I cite:

"sexual attraction - attractiveness on the basis of sexual desire"

"1. sexual attraction

(attractiveness on the basis of sexual desire)"

These are the most coherent things I turned up after a decent search. They sure sound pretty, but all it's doing is deferring the definition to another term: sexual desire. Then we get into the icky question of "what is sexual desire?"

Well, actually, how about it? What is sexual desire? Most people would probably say it's "the desire for sex". Essentially a recursive definition, but it starts leaning towards Sex Drive. Because Sex Drive is, to my knowledge, undisputed as "the urge for sex". There's a very fine line between "urge" and "desire", and I believe that most here would agree that the one between Sexual Attraction and Drive is a thicker one.

Also, most long definitions of Sexual Attraction actually boil down to Physical Attraction, something experienced by many asexuals.

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Hailtheplatypus   
Hailtheplatypus

I like the definition AVEN already uses. I believe that sexual orentations are defined by ones sexual attraction not the sexual drive of the person.

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Lord Happy Toast   
Lord Happy Toast

ChooseYourBattles, in theory I definitely agree that using the standard psychological definition would be a good idea. The problem is that there isn't a lot of research done yet and in that that has been done, there is considerable diversity in how the term has been used. (For a short explanation of the range, you can read the introduction of this link.

the definition that I like--"little or no sexual attraction--rather than "no sexual attraction" isn't my own phrase. I got it from one of the major papers on asexuality. I think that it will be the definition generally used by people in the future if a 2-dimensional scale (like the one talked about in the wikipedia article on asexuality) is widely adopted for sexual orientation. I think the two most recent studies on the subject just used self-identification as asexual as the requirement. At this point, how psychologists will view or define asexuality is up for debate. (For example, can people with fetishes be asexual? AVEN says yes. The only paper I know of that argues for asexuality as a sexual orientation says no. AVEN will, of course, ignore this, but it could otherwise be influential.)

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nevermoreme36   
nevermoreme36

I don't really like it. I consider myself asexual but I feel sexual attraction towards males but I don't like physical relationships. I think the definitio of asexual should be lots of things. Like... hmm like it's different for everybody

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KetchupKid   
KetchupKid

I now somewhat regret my earlier posting by suggesting that grey folks like me might soil asexuality. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I didn't mean to. You are all entitled to call yourselves what you feel is right.

I think in essence, when push comes to shove, an asexual is someone with a lifelong natural inclination to not have sex. A grey asexual is probably someone with a low natural inclination to the effect that they too could easily never have sex or never have it out of their own inclination (like me).

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emmarainbow   
emmarainbow

But that makes asexuality more behaviour-based, when it should definitely be thought-based...

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KAGU143   
KAGU143
But that makes asexuality more behaviour-based, when it should definitely be thought-based...

This is exactly the conflict that I was talking about.

The primary definition of the WORD "asexual" will have to relate to something that can be seen, measured, and evaluated if it is to be taken seriously. In other words, when it says that asexuals are not sexually attracted to anybody, the implied continuation of that thought is that they won't ever become sexually attracted to anybody.

The definition stops at that point.

The fact that many people, of ALL orientations, are perfectly capable of engaging in sex with people to whom they are NOT attracted should have no bearing at all on the meaning of the term. There can be all sorts of other reasons to engage in sexual activity.

People who insist that asexuals also be celibate in order to be "real" asexuals are missing this critical point.

However, by the same token, a person who IS sexually attracted to other people, even rarely, will NOT precisely fit the primary definition of asexual even if they remain celibate. That doesn't mean that they can't identify as asexual, because they might prefer NOT to act on that sexual attraction for whatever reason. They would, for all practical purposes, be experiencing life as an asexual even if they didn't perfectly fit the definition, and the group of people they would identify with most would probably be other asexuals.

Those who follow up on that sexual attraction and then grow to enjoy and actively seek sexual activity are much farther from the definition of asexual, and should probably be considered sexuals.

A person who is attracted to their own sex 95% of the time would probably feel more at home in the company of homosexuals, especially if seeking a sexual partner, but he/she would technically be considered bisexual, not homosexual.

A word can be understood with a "black and white" kind of clarity, but human behavior and thought cannot.

Words only serve as signposts, pointing out the direction that thought processes should travel in order to reach their ultimate destination of true understanding.

-GB

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KetchupKid   
KetchupKid
But that makes asexuality more behaviour-based, when it should definitely be thought-based...

You misunderstand me.

By "natural inclination" I mean something that you feel clearly inclined to do, unfettered by any external considerations, which will depend entirely on your internal thoughts. If you feel strongly about having sex of your own volition, then I don't see how you could be asexual.

I'm not trying to change the definition anyway, even though I find it problematic.

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Cur1ous   
Cur1ous

How did I miss this thread? :shock:

Ketchup, you're saying what I've been saying in my other one > http://www.asexuality.org/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=28935 - that asexuality can never be taken seriously as an orientation unless (as GBRD said) things become a lot more clear-cut and easier to define.

However, something confuses me - if the asexual community is all about inclusivity, why does there need to be these classifications? I know people want to understand more about themselves, but still - it seems a little counterintuitive.

Anyhoodle, seeing as I've been converted to seeing asexuality as a spectrum (instead of my prior point of arguing that it's going to be difficult to accept it unless we can be more specific about exactly what it is), I've developed an extension of the Kinsey scale that I'd really like more feedback on.

I won't post it in here, because I don't want to derail the discussion overly, but if you go to the thread above and look for my last post, you can find it there.

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Zealous   
Zealous
However, something confuses me - if the asexual community is all about inclusivity, why does there need to be these classifications? I know people want to understand more about themselves, but still - it seems a little counterintuitive.

It probably is a little bit counterintuitive. Basically, we have classifications like "aromantic vs romantic" because as soon as sexual attraction is taken out of the equation, there are fewer things to equalize differences like that. Normally, aromantics and romantics would be able to relate in terms of relationships because they have the common ground of sexual attraction (though it may be towards different people). When there isn't sexual attraction, the already existing dichotomy is emphasized.

I don't really view it as creating more categories so much as putting names to existing ones.

It serves mostly to keep everyone on the same page. If, say, *picks name out of hat* GB starts up a discussion on relationships, we all understand that *picks second name* Amcan (who I'm given to understand is aromantic) won't necessarily have as much to say as some others. In part, this lends more weight to the comments, as they come from a very different perspective on the subject, and in part it ensures that we don't misinterpret Amcan's words as coming from personal experience, etc.

I swear guys, I only picked you because you were the first Romantic and Aromantic to come to mind. Please don't hurt me...

It just makes it easier to understand where different people are coming from.

GBRD, assuming that the definition of asexuality should be cut and dried, and you've convinced me on that point, where should we go about clarifying? Definitions don't get much more black and white than "does not experience sexual attraction".

Of course, we need to define "sexual attraction", and the other common terminology probably should be clarified. But do you think that we should leave the definition of the word Asexual itself untouched?

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Zealous   
Zealous

Okay, I've not been around to maintain this, but here's what I think we have so far.

I have made some minor modifications, as well as one or two major ones. The goals in the most recent changes were disambiguation and brevity.

Asexual (n) :

One who experiences negligible or no sexual attraction.

Sexual Attraction (n) :

An attraction based on the appeal of sexual activity with another person for the sole purpose of personal pleasure.

This is a new suggestion.

Sex Drive (n) :

The physical urge for sexual release.

Aromantic (n) :

One who feels no desire for a romantic relationship with another person.

Romantic Attracion (n) :

An attraction based on the appeal of a romantic relationship with another person.

Romantic Drive (n) :

The urge to engage in a romantic relationship with others.

Please, give me a quick review of these definitions. I want to give them as much clarity as possible.

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