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kokokwes

Does "sexual attraction" mean "wanting to have sex"?

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kokokwes

I don’t even know how to phrase this without it sounding stupid. But HERE I GO ANYWAYS.


I’ve identified as asexual for a long while. It took me a while to come to that point because at first I thought other people were exaggerating/lying when they showed sexual interest in other people. Then I realized I was the odd one out, so I looked at a list of sexual orientations and found the term “asexuality.” SO I used the word, because there’s no one I want to have sex with. Whenever I’d doubt the validity of my using this label, I’d ask myself “is there anyone I’d like to have sex with? No? Then I must be asexual.”


But I’m starting to wonder if that’s actually true. People define asexuals as being people who do not experience sexual attraction (I know people express that there’s a spectrum of this, but I’m definitely not demisexual or gray-ace, so we’ll ignore those labels for just a moment please). But what is sexual attraction? Asexuals say that they experience aesthetic attraction, and in the same way they know that a sunset or a horse is beautiful, they can also identify the fact that a man or woman is aesthetically pleasing. But I don’t look at men or women like a sunset. I look at them with this kind of weird longing. This thing I think of as sexual attraction with no desire for sex. Ever. From anyone. I never want to be naked with someone, I think sex is unpleasant, and I have no libido. I feel like a dog chasing a car–I wouldn’t know what to do with it once I caught it. It’s not that I don’t feel that heat or that flush or that tightening in my chest, or that I don’t drool over people. But when I think “and what do I want to do about it?” the options of “date the person” or “have sex with the person” or “make out with the person” or even “hold the person’s hand” feel so personally distasteful as to almost seem absurd. It doesn’t compute that anyone would want to do that. And yet I definitely feel breathless with *some kind* of desire when I see someone I find stunning.


So do I sound like an asexual person, or some odd kind of bisexual? Any insights would be appreciated.


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Imerza

I think that sexual attraction is when you see someone and want to have sex with them. When you say you have some kind of desire towards them you could be having a romantic or a sensual attraction.

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Snao Cone

This sounds like asexuality to me!

There's an ongoing discussion about how misleading the definition at the top of the page here is. If you don't have a desire for partnered sex, and your lack of desire is just an innate part of you that you can't otherwise explain, that's asexuality. If you find people very good looking but don't want to do anything with them, that's still asexual. I can very much enjoy the appearance and charisma of somebody, to an intense degree, but still not want to have sex with them.

Now, there could be cases similar to yours where somebody is sexual, but sex-repulsed, so the thought of having sex elicits a negative reaction but there's still an underlying need being unmet. For an asexual sex-repulsed person there's no sense of that need.

Ultimately it is up to you to determine your orientation. Hopefully all the resources here at AVEN help. :cake:

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kokokwes

I think that sexual attraction is when you see someone and want to have sex with them. When you say you have some kind of desire towards them you could be having a romantic or a sensual attraction.

I think the thing that makes me curious about this issue in the first place is that I am familiar with the concepts of "sexual attraction," "romantic attraction," aesthetic attraction," and even "sensual attraction," and I'm not totally sure I feel any of them (or rather, what combination of them I do feel). I hardly know what romantic attraction would be like, and sensual attraction I *certainly* don't feel, so I'm left with aesthetic and sexual as possibilities, yeah? Except the way those are defined don't resonate with me either, hahaha. Just a big isolated blob.

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Philip027

No. Attraction requires another person to be the object of said attraction. Wanting sex in general does not.

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Imerza

So, how would you describe the desire you have towards people?(It doesnt seem to fit into the previously mentioned four attractions)

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kokokwes

This sounds like asexuality to me!

There's an ongoing discussion about how misleading the definition at the top of the page here is. If you don't have a desire for partnered sex, and your lack of desire is just an innate part of you that you can't otherwise explain, that's asexuality. If you find people very good looking but don't want to do anything with them, that's still asexual. I can very much enjoy the appearance and charisma of somebody, to an intense degree, but still not want to have sex with them.

Now, there could be cases similar to yours where somebody is sexual, but sex-repulsed, so the thought of having sex elicits a negative reaction but there's still an underlying need being unmet. For an asexual sex-repulsed person there's no sense of that need.

Ultimately it is up to you to determine your orientation. Hopefully all the resources here at AVEN help. :cake:

Thanks for your comment. It gives me something to think about, weighing whether biromatic asexuality or sex-repulsed bisexuality seems more like what I feel. I'll think it over.

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kokokwes

So, how would you describe the desire you have towards people?(It doesnt seem to fit into the previously mentioned four attractions)

I'm not really sure, honestly. Sorry, I know that's not helpful. But I've always really struggled to describe it, even when I was very comfortably calling myself asexual.

I guess it took me a really long time to realize I was notably different from my friends because I definitely feel some kind of attraction to people's looks, personality, or a combination of the two. However, when thinking about what KIND of attraction that is, I tried to think about what it made me feel like I wanted to do or have with that person, and the answer is...nothing. Literally nothing. I may not even want to talk to them. No hugging, no hand holding, no cohabitation, no kissing, no sex, no nothing. I don't like touching people or being touched by people, and I have no traumatic history that would cause that. I feel pressured to want those thing but I don't really want any of them at all. So what DO I feel? What does it feel like? I find people stunningly attractive, I guess. My body definitely physically responds. My chest can feel tight, or my heart can race, or TMI but I can be physically turned on. I can feel flushed and bashful and all that good stuff. It can be very, very intense. I used to have an entire wall in my room dedicated to pictures of Johnny Depp, lmao. But what do I want next? Nothing. If ANYTHING, like if I had to act on those feelings in some way, I would want to emulate the person in question. I would take it as a compliment if I reminded people of a guy I found hot. I've gotten haircuts to emulate people I find attractive, or the occasional clothing item, for example.

I'm not sure if this is a helpful description....

No. Attraction requires another person to be the object of said attraction. Wanting sex in general does not.

Sorry, I can't tell who you're replying to.

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Imerza

Wait.. I might get it. Im always confused about this but i think this is the difference between sexual attraction and sexual desire. So you may feel attracted to people but don't have the desire to go through with that attraction. What does everyone else think?

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Snao Cone

I guess it took me a really long time to realize I was notably different from my friends because I definitely feel some kind of attraction to people's looks, personality, or a combination of the two. However, when thinking about what KIND of attraction that is, I tried to think about what it made me feel like I wanted to do or have with that person, and the answer is...nothing. Literally nothing. I may not even want to talk to them. No hugging, no hand holding, no cohabitation, no kissing, no sex, no nothing. I don't like touching people or being touched by people, and I have no traumatic history that would cause that. I feel pressured to want those thing but I don't really want any of them at all. So what DO I feel? What does it feel like? I find people stunningly attractive, I guess. My body definitely physically responds. My chest can feel tight, or my heart can race, or TMI but I can be physically turned on. I can feel flushed and bashful and all that good stuff. It can be very, very intense.

My experience is very similar to this. That's why it took me until I was 30 to consider that I was asexual - many elements of the "attraction" were there. What was absent was an overall desire to engage in partnered sex. Whatever turns me on doesn't make me want to have sex, so that's why I more or less identify as asexual.

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Philip027
Sorry, I can't tell who you're replying to.

I'm answering your topic question.

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kokokwes
Sorry, I can't tell who you're replying to.

I'm answering your topic question.

Haha, okay, thank you.

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kokokwes

Wait.. I might get it. Im always confused about this but i think this is the difference between sexual attraction and sexual desire. So you may feel attracted to people but don't have the desire to go through with that attraction. What does everyone else think?

I think that's a good way of phrasing it, honestly. Definitely less wordy than mine. And I don't disagree with the characterization of it, though like I say it's a weird thing to try to nail down (because no one can tell what other people's feelings feel like, haha)

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kokokwes

I guess it took me a really long time to realize I was notably different from my friends because I definitely feel some kind of attraction to people's looks, personality, or a combination of the two. However, when thinking about what KIND of attraction that is, I tried to think about what it made me feel like I wanted to do or have with that person, and the answer is...nothing. Literally nothing. I may not even want to talk to them. No hugging, no hand holding, no cohabitation, no kissing, no sex, no nothing. I don't like touching people or being touched by people, and I have no traumatic history that would cause that. I feel pressured to want those thing but I don't really want any of them at all. So what DO I feel? What does it feel like? I find people stunningly attractive, I guess. My body definitely physically responds. My chest can feel tight, or my heart can race, or TMI but I can be physically turned on. I can feel flushed and bashful and all that good stuff. It can be very, very intense.

My experience is very similar to this. That's why it took me until I was 30 to consider that I was asexual - many elements of the "attraction" were there. What was absent was an overall desire to engage in partnered sex. Whatever turns me on doesn't make me want to have sex, so that's why I more or less identify as asexual.

Fair enough! Thank you. Perhaps that will be the conclusion I end up returning to. It's just felt like when I read other asexuals' descriptions of their experiences, I can't really relate, which got me questioning.

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black.ace

as a grey ace i am sexually attracted to people but not attracted to the act of sex. so they don't always necessarily mean the same thing.

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Star Bit

People define asexuals as being people who do not experience sexual attraction (I know people express that there’s a spectrum of this, but I’m definitely not demisexual or gray-ace, so we’ll ignore those labels for just a moment please).

By this i assume you mean that demi and gray are types of asexual. They aren't. There is only one type of asexual; not desiring sex. Gray-ace doesn't mean "ace but gray" it means "CLOSE to being asexual", which is why people also split up the term and use the term Gray-sexual when they're closer to being a normal sexual person. Sexual attraction is having the impulse to have sex with a specific person. This breathlessness either sounds like aesthetic attraction, romantic attraction (which isn't always accompanied by romantic desire to pursue a relationship), or emotional attraction.

Romantic attraction - an emotion; so it doesn't translate well into words, but it can be inadequately put as soft/warm/fuzzy feelings with some degree of fixation (at least in comparison to one's normality with others). Some people have a physical reaction to the feeling and others don’t (i.e. butterflies in their stomach, heart rate increase, blushing, etc. [though those are also symptoms of platonic nervousness]). Others may react mentally with a dreamy mindset, anxious euphoria, infatuation, romantic fantasies, etc.

Aesthetic attraction - the pull to look at someone because of their looks and/or mannerisms, which is different from recognizing good looks/what is aesthetically pleasing.

Emotional attraction - the fixation on someone because of their emotions (optimism, stoicness, etc.), and by extent personality. I would compare it to having a favorite character or admirance.

It's just felt like when I read other asexuals' descriptions of their experiences, I can't really relate, which got me questioning.

Everyone within any orientation is different. Everyone with the same orientation isn't the same. The only requirement for being asexual is not desiring sex, nothing more.

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Mysticus Insanus

IMO, it's best simply not to bother thinking about "sexual attraction". It's a bad, meaningless term that's just kept around for political reasons.

You say that you don't desire sex with anyone. That's asexuality. It's as simple as that - all sexual orientations can, and should, be defined in terms of who you desire to have sex with, a.k.a. your sex partner preference. If your preference is not to have partnered sex at all => asexual. Textbook case, in fact.

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dissolved

Wait.. I might get it. Im always confused about this but i think this is the difference between sexual attraction and sexual desire. So you may feel attracted to people but don't have the desire to go through with that attraction. What does everyone else think?

Yup, attraction and desire are different things. Attraction can cause desire, but they're not one and the same.

Re: an earlier post of yours, sexual attraction isn't looking at someone and wanting to have sex with them. Attraction is just being drawn to someone or something, and can result in a physiological response - people often describe it as heart racing, palms sweating, maybe a bit of arousal etc etc, but that's all it is. A reaction.

Some asexual people experience this, but not all sexual folk do, so it's a stupid way to distinguish sexuality. The difference is that asexual people don't get the desire to act on their attraction, whereas sexual people can, or have the general desire for sex without it being directed at anyone in particular.

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butterflydreams

The best way this has been described to me is that for sexual people, sex is part of a natural progression of expressing their feelings for someone. Like, you wouldn't even think to wonder about it. You like someone, you become intimate (in any way), and sex sort of just is a further expression of, or preferred flavor of expressing that intimacy with someone. Not really a big deal.

I like this because it very accurately reflects my experiences, and it leaves spaces. I'm just not comfortable (believe me, I've tried) calling myself sexual. I'd love to, but that natural progression to sex just doesn't seem to be there. Anyone I ended up with would be able to tell something wasn't right, no matter how hard I tried. But I don't discount that I might try. Sure, sex seems interesting, and I'm curious. I'm willing to give it a go at some point to see what's there.

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