General FAQ

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Contents

Definitions

Am I asexual?

The definition of asexuality is "someone who does not experience sexual attraction." However, only you can decide which label best suits you. Reading this FAQ and the rest of the material on this site may help you decide whether or not you are asexual. If you find that the asexual label best describes you, you may choose to identify as asexual.

I don't find anyone sexually attractive. Does that mean I'm asexual?

By the definition, yes. Again, only you can decide to use asexual as a label for yourself.

I can see that people are attractive but I don't really feel the need to have sex with them. Where do I fit?

Asexuals may regard other people as aesthetically attractive without feeling sexual attraction to them. If you do not experience sexual attraction, you might identify as asexual.

I've only really been attracted to about three people my entire life, but when I was I wanted to have sex with them. Would I be sexual or asexual?

Sexuality can be fluid, and for some people, sexual inclination may change over a period of time or from person to person. Whether you identify as sexual or asexual is ultimately your choice.

I'm only really attracted to people after I get to know them. What does that mean?

There are different forms of attraction. Many sexual people as well as asexual people find that they need to get to know someone in order to feel romantically attracted to them. It is common for asexuals to be intellectually attracted to someone after getting to know them as a friend (although 'love at first conversation' is perfectly possible).

Some things turn me on, but they do not have anything to do with other people. I suppose I'm not asexual, then?

If you have a fetish that doesn't involve attraction to other people you may find it useful to identify as asexual. Note the part about 'other people' in the definition of asexuality.

When deciding to identify as asexual or not, it might be useful to consider if you have the drive to express your sexuality with other people. Regardless of whether your sexuality involves attraction to other people, another person could still assist you in expressing it somehow. If you don't feel the need to involve another then you will probably be comfortable within the asexual community.

For some people expressions of love must involve sex. To them if you are capable of being sexual in any way then you would wish to involve your loving partner in this sexuality. Most asexuals do not make this connection between love and sex. They feel that they can express love and feel intimacy without any sexual activity. Keeping your partner out of your sexual feelings, especially if these have nothing to do with sex or other people, does not mean that you are rejecting them or that you are not expressing your love fully.

People form identities around stuff that they need to figure out. People who identify as asexual tend to be trying to figure out how to live full emotionally complete lives without necessarily having to engage in sexual relationships with other people, how to live in a world that places a high premium on sexuality and sexual relationships. If this is something that you are struggling with in some way then the asexual community is worth investigating.

Asexuals with no sexual feelings at all have a lot in common with those that have sexual feelings that do not involve people in any way. Both groups may feel alienated in a society that expects everyone to be sexually interested in other people.

I used to experience sexual attraction. Does this mean I'm not asexual?

As previously mentioned, sexuality can be fluid, and it can change over a period of time for some people. If you find that you have little or no sexual attraction to other people now, then you can choose to identify as asexual.

Many asexual people were more sexually active during puberty or another period of their lives. However, at this moment they do not experience sexual attraction to others and identify as asexual.

If you experience a sudden decline in sexual interest or attraction, it may be linked to side effects of certain medications or illness. It is advisable to discuss sudden changes with your doctor.

My sexuality comes in phases. Sometimes I'm sexual, other times I'm completely asexual. Do I have a place in your asexual community?

You would certainly have a lot in common with other asexuals. At the times when you are asexual you may choose to identify as asexual, at the times when you are sexual you could still have asexual issues -- such as explaining asexuality to sexual partners -- and therefore could find a place in the asexual community.

I masturbate. What do you make of that?

Most asexuals are physically capable of sex. Some masturbate and some don't. Masturbation produces a pleasurable sensation and as such many asexuals choose to use it to take pleasure from their bodies. Many asexuals can only arouse themselves manually (by applying friction to sexual organs), others can turn themselves on with thought.

The distinction between sexual and asexual people is that, if asexuals think about other people during masturbation (many asexuals don't think about anything specifically sexual) it is only as fantasy. If they actually were given the opportunity to be sexual with that person there would be no attraction, or the drive would be so low as to be completely ignorable.

Some asexuals may be considered autosexual, they have the drive to take pleasure from their own body. Other masturbating asexuals do not have a sexual drive motivating them, they just do it because it's nice. The common factor is that all asexuals, masturbating or not, have little or no sexual attraction to other people.

I have crushes on people. I think I sometimes fall in love. Does this mean I'm not asexual?

A good proportion of asexuals get crushes on others and fall in love. Emotional and romantic attraction are separate from sexual attraction. For some people they go together, but they are not necessarily connected.

Many asexuals talk about having a 'romance drive'. They need to be intimate with another special person, it's just that the intimacy they desire isn't sexual.

I enjoy being sexual with my loving partner but I've never really felt driven to have sex with anyone else. Could I be asexual?

Most asexual people are capable of having sex, as with masturbation some asexuals find the experience of sex pleasurable. If you use sex as an expression of romantic or emotional attraction (love) rather than because you are driven to do so by a sex drive, then that need not contradict an asexual identity.

Just as sexual people can form asexual relationships, asexual people can participate in sexual relationships. If you're comfortable and happy with that then it's cause for celebration rather than a reason to doubt your 'asexual purity'.

There are other reasons why some asexuals choose to participate in sexual activity: The motivation might be curiosity or experimentation (a good proportion of asexuals have tried sex at some point in the past). Certain aspects of sex might be sensual and enjoyable enough to be motivation for some people even without sexual attraction or drive. In a loving relationship, some asexuals may enjoy giving sexual pleasure to their partner without the need for any sexual gratification in return.

Often the sexual relationships asexuals participate in seem far removed from what's considered 'normal'. It is not unusual for the asexual partner to be completely honest about their lack of sexual arousal or pleasure. Sexual acts can seem completely one sided or sexual activity might rely strongly on sensuality with very little emphasis on genital sex. These relationships are often based on extreme honesty. It is unlikely that an asexual would be completely comfortable in a traditional sexual relationship with a partner unaware of their asexuality.

It should be noted that most asexual people feel completely neutral about sex or perhaps tried it and found it very disappointing. Others find the idea of participating in sexual activity absolutely repulsive.

The common factor among asexuals is that they are not driven to have sex with other people. They don't get horny and other people don't 'turn them on'. This doesn't necessarily stop them from finding some pleasure from sex if they so choose.

I don't have crushes on people. I'm perfectly happy just having close friends. That means I'm very asexual, doesn't it?

The idea of being 'very asexual' is questionable. There is no hierarchy of asexuality. Asexuals with romance drives are not 'less asexual' than those without. Asexuals who are in sexual relationships with loving partners have as much value in the community as those who have never had a single sexual experience. This community is not about elitism; it's about people who share the common factor of having very little or absolutely no sexual attraction to other people.

Diversity is a good thing in any community. Everyone in this community has as much value as everyone else. If your experience differs from that which you see others expressing, please feel free to share it.

I find people attractive and I get horny, but I dislike sex and would never do it. Am I asexual?

If you're turned on by other people then you don't fit the definition. Asexuality is about lack of attraction to other people, not about lack of activity. Asexuals do not get horny toward other people, they would feel completely satisfied if they never shared a single sexual experience for the rest of their lives.

If you are a sexual person who chooses not to have sex, this is called 'celibacy' or 'abstinence'. There are many reasons sexual people might choose to be celibate. It may be for religious or moral reasons, they may dislike the experience of sex, they may think that sex must only exist as part of a longterm committed relationship. The distinction between asexuality and celibacy or abstinence is that asexuality is not a choice. Asexual people can choose to have sex and still remain asexual.

You may find you have many things in common with asexuals and could benefit from participation in the asexual community. However, it may be the case that a group specifically catering for celibate people would be more useful for you. Try out our community and see if it works for you.

I'm a sexual person but I'm incapable of having sex. Some people call me asexual. Are they right?

No, they're not. If you identify as a sexual person, then that’s what you are. Asexual people are fine not having sex; if you think that your lack of interest in sex is a problem then you should consult a doctor or therapist. There is no guarantee that they will be able to make you sexual, but there is a good chance. If you can’t decide if you think it’s a problem then you owe it to yourself to gather as much information as possible to figure out what fits you best.

Asexual people may also be impotent, the distinction is that they are unlikely to feel particularly uncomfortable about this as long as they are otherwise healthy. If you want to have sex but can't then this may not be the community for you.

Identity

I identify as (straight/gay/bi/something else), but I still fit your definition of asexuality. Am I wrong?

No you're not wrong. Many asexuals with 'romance drives' also have an orientation (they only fall for certain types of people). Some asexuals may decide only to form relationships with a certain type of person for some intellectual reason, or it could be a simple preference like preferring chocolate flavour to strawberry. Other asexuals identify as bisexual because their asexual relationships are not based upon gender (chocolate and strawberry both being very tasty). Asexuals might form unconventional relationships and therefore identify as polyamorous or queer.

There is no reason why you have to identify as just one thing. You could decide to identify as a bi asexual or as polyamorous and asexual or as an asexual polyamorous bi person... or you could make up your own entirely new identity. But remember, whether or not you fit the definition of asexuality, you're welcome in the asexual community.

I think asexuality is inherently queer. Do you agree?

This has been the subject of much debate and discussion. On the one hand 'queer' is 'anything that differs from the norm', especially the norm of sexuality, and there are asexuals that consider the relationships they form to be completely unconventional and therefore queer. Other asexuals consider their relationships to be entirely conventional and do not identify as queer in any way.

Are asexual people more (sensible/clever/etc.) than sexual people?

Asexuals are just as diverse as sexual people. Some of us may be sensible and intellectual, some of us are less so. You may not have noticed this, but the same is true of sexual people!

The myth is that asexual superiority comes from freedom from the 'distraction' of attraction, sex drive and sexuality. But sexual people are capable of thinking of other things too. Also, some of the greatest pieces of art, music and literature were motivated or inspired by sexual fantasy or activity. Asexuals are not better or worse than sexual people, we're just different.

I'm so glad I found this community. People who have sex are so (annoying/stupid/wrong/evil), aren't they?

Annoying

Living in a society where everyone is assumed to be sexual and where the media, especially soaps and advertising, portray everyone as sexual and constantly tempted by sex, you might justifiably feel marginalized and ignored. You might find it deeply frustrating that the people around you can't conceive of your reality, that people are constantly assuming you have a sexuality. It's understandable that you might want to vent these frustrations by ranting about how much sexual people annoy you. This may not be the most reasonable way to react.

If people are inconsiderate to you because they don't understand your sexuality, then try explaining it to them. As your friends realize the existence of asexuals, perhaps they'll start to be more considerate toward you and those like you. The more people out there who know that they're friends of an asexual, the more visibility we'll have. Eventually we might even be represented in the media.

If you tell someone you're asexual and they still continue to ignore you and assume you're sexual, then you can rant!

Stupid

People who have sex aren't any more or less stupid than anyone else.

Sexuality itself can seem like a somewhat awkward and arbitrary activity, and it may be confusing that sexual people get so worked up over it. It's important to be as accepting of sexual people as you want them to be of you.

Wrong/Evil

There is nothing wrong or evil about sex and people who have sex. Sex is a beautiful pleasurable thing for those consenting adults who enjoy it. If you're looking for asexual people who'll be anti-sexual with you, you'll probably be disappointed. Being asexual doesn't mean you hate sex, it just means that you're not driven to have it. If you grew up asexual in a sexual world you might hold some resentment about sex but, as an asexual, it's just as likely that you wouldn't think about it at all.

Why would asexuals want or need to 'come out' anyway?

For some asexuals it really is the case that their asexuality is a complete non-issue, they never have any reason to mention sex and feel perfectly comfortable interacting with others.

Other asexuals find themselves in situations where they are expected to be sexual. They might feel pressured to fake sexual attractions in order to fit in and have an easy life. Many people find that those around them constantly bring up sexual attraction in conversations, be it sex talk in the office or "look at the legs on her". It might be easier to play along and pretend you have sexual thoughts and feelings, but in doing so you are effectively 'in the closet', whether to avoid shame or simply to make life easier for yourself.

Some asexuals have found it refreshing to come out as having no sexual attraction. They no longer have to fade into the background when sex comes into the conversation or fake sexual interest in order to fit in. They can be completely honest about who they are and what they feel.

Another reason to consider coming out is to increase visibility and acceptance of asexuals in our society. While you may feel perfectly comfortable with who you are, other asexuals feel broken or less than human. As more and more asexuals are visible in our society, the idea of asexuality as a valid part of human experience will become more widespread. Just one more openly asexual person increases the likelihood that other asexuals won't have to grow up feeling broken and ashamed.

Coming out is, of course, your own personal choice and no one will think less of you if you decide that it's not for you.

Why do we need an asexual community?

You might decide that an asexual community has no value to you, but other asexuals receive a great deal from sharing their experiences with each other.

There are many different things you could take from an asexual community. Some members wish to talk to others with similar experiences, some wish to explore the diversity of experience within the community. Some want to talk about finding romance, some enjoy discussing the vast possibilities for asexual relationships. Some people would like to learn how to be more comfortable with their asexuality, others are eager to celebrate what they are. Some want to make things better for future asexuals, some want to spread the word that asexuality exists and it's OK to be that way. Some asexuals want to discuss the theory of asexuality and sexuality, some just want to tell jokes or share poems and stories.

The asexual community might be for you, or it might not. If you think you might benefit from hearing the experiences of people with little or no sexual attraction to other people, then you should give it a try.

Doubts and fears

I really want to have sex with people I love but when I do I feel nothing and it's horrible. What's wrong with me?

If you don't enjoy sex or find it deeply disappointing this might be because you don't actually want sex, you want your idea of what sex is. If you've come to this site, you probably suspect or know that you're asexual, so it's unlikely that a sex drive is motivating you.

Think carefully. What does sex mean to you? What do you expect to get from sex? Do you think you're looking for extreme pleasure? Perhaps you want some amazing shared expression of your love. Maybe you want to make your partner happy and think that you should be satisfied with their pleasure. Could it be that you want to be as intimate and close as is possible to them?

Once you know what you're actually looking for from sex, you can look for other ways to achieve it. The important thing is to talk to your partner, figure out what you want, tell them what you're feeling and discuss each other's needs.

Does being asexual mean I'll always be lonely?

No, not at all! Asexuals can and do form many kinds of relationships, from close friendships to romantic couplings to other kinds of bonds which our society doesn't have words for.

It may be more difficult to find someone who is willing to enter into a conventional relationship with the knowledge that sex will not be involved, but remember, there are other people with low or no sex drive out there and many people who care more about love and companionship than they do about sex.

Don't give up hope!

What if it's a phase?

What if it is? That doesn't stop you being asexual right now.

It may be tempting to hold back on accepting your asexuality in the hope that eventually you'll 'bloom' into a sexual person. I'm not saying that might not eventually happen, but consider this: do you want to spend your life thinking of yourself as an undeveloped person, living for the dreamed of day when you'll become whole? Might you feel more comfortable accepting who you are now as a whole complete valid person? Maybe one day you will “bloom”, and if and when you do, you won't have lost anything by being comfortable in the mean time.

There's no shame in identifying as one thing and then later identifying as another. Your identity isn't meant to limit you. If you've moved on or changed, then by all means describe yourself differently. If you fear you might be different in the future, that doesn't change which label is most useful to you in the present. There's nothing wrong with change.

I can't identify as asexual. What if I find the right person and start being sexual with them?

If you have yet to meet a single person who has aroused you sexually it's pretty safe to say that you have low or no sexual attraction to others. You aren't losing anything by exploring your asexuality and talking to others with similar experiences. If one day you find that special someone, that would be wonderful!

Identifying as asexual isn't committing yourself to abstinence, it's recognizing how you work. You can have relationships and you can be sexual if you so choose.

Something must be terribly wrong with me. I'm broken. I think I can trace my asexuality to something that happened when I was a child. Do you think that's why I'm this way?

We here at AVEN get along just fine without sex. In a world that places a high premium on sexuality it's easy to feel like you need sex to be happy. You don't. Asexuality is not a dysfunction, and there is no need to find a "cause" or a "cure."

That being said, asexual people have the same need for love and intimacy that sexual people do. If you have a difficult time being intimate with people and are unhappy as a result then it is probably a good idea to seek some sort of counseling. The important thing is to find a way to connect with people that works for you- maybe that way will involve sexuality and maybe it won't.

I'm worried that I'm sexually repressed or just using this to distance myself from or hide from the real world. How can I be sure I'm really asexual?

Only you can know if you're asexual or not. Do you experience sexual attraction toward other people? Are you making choices to not act upon urges or do you lack them entirely? If you are genuinely unsure of the answers, then the asexual community may be a good place to explore how you feel.

There are people who, consciously or otherwise, avoid sexuality because they wish to avoid things like intimacy. These people are, of course, welcome in the asexual community, though they generally find that whatever emotional issue they were trying to avoid is present here as well. Many issues cannot be effectively avoided by avoiding sexuality. Asexual people deal with all of the same complex challenges in relationships as everyone else.

I don't like being asexual. I want to be normal like everyone else. What can I do?

I'm afraid that there's no evidence to show that it's possible to change someone's sexuality. You can choose to change the way you act upon your desires or lack of desires, but you can't change what your desires are. It is possible for someone's sexuality to drift and change in orientation and intensity with time but this doesn't happen intentionally and doesn't happen to everyone.

The best solution is to learn to be comfortable with who and what you are. You can't change your sexuality and you didn't choose it, but you can accept it.

I could never tell people about this. They'd think I was a freak or laugh at me!

In a world where sexuality is promoted as the norm, many asexuals grow up thinking that they're somehow sick, broken or deficient. It's natural to internalize these fears and believe that other people will think your asexuality is as big a deal as you always have. In fact, it's really not so terrible.

Most people are pretty accepting of asexuality once they understand it. You may find that coming out often needs to be followed by an explanation of what asexuality is and isn't. Be patient with people. It's likely that you initially had some trouble accepting your own asexuality and understanding what it meant, so it's not surprising that other people have the same problem when they first hear of its existence.

Do you have anything else to add?

Above all, remember that the only person who can know what's right for you is you. By all means listen to what others have to say, but in the end, the best thing you can do is think for yourself.

Labels and categories do not define you, they describe you. They're a shorthand for expressing the complexity of your identity to others and a springboard from which you can explore and understand yourself. If a label isn't working for you then you don't have to use it. If a group is telling you there's only one true way to be your kind of person, you don't have to listen to them!

There are many reasons to embrace an asexual identity or contribute to the asexual community, but if you find it's not right for you or that it's limiting you, don't be scared to speak up and say how you feel, and don't feel that you can't walk away.

You don't have to identify as asexual to find the experiences of asexuals useful to you. If you have issues with low or no sexual attraction to others but do not identify as asexual, you should still feel welcome to contribute your experiences to our community.