By G and C
The word “asexual” is used in many different ways and can mean many things.
If you’re looking for a general definition when it comes to orientation, an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction (according to www.asexuality.org). The intensity of a person’s asexuality can vary heavily. This can cause each asexual person to have different experiences. For example, just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they do not seek romance or a partner. Someone who is asexual can have a romantic orientation (ex. heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, etc.) or be aromantic. Asexuality in itself is a spectrum. There are a variety of ways asexuals may choose to label themselves. They also might not choose a label at all. Asexuality is about attraction, not action. One may still desire sex or engage in other sexual activities and be asexual.
As the authors of this article, we want to share our personal experiences with asexuality. We also share where we feel we are on the spectrum. Asexuality can be a confusing sexuality for people to understand because it is so broad. We hope our experiences will give insight to other people who are curious about the orientation.
Author G –
I was fourteen when I first started to wonder if I might be asexual.
Before then, I thought to be asexual meant you didn’t want to be in a relationship at all. Not, that you didn’t feel any kind of attraction besides platonic. I realized I was wrong when I started telling my friend about how sexual stuff and the thought of sex itself grossed me out. She asked if I had considered that I might be asexual and I thought that couldn’t be true. Then, she gave me the real definition: being asexual doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want a relationship. It also doesn’t mean you can’t feel romantic attraction. It just means you don’t feel attracted to anyone in a sexual way, which actually fit the way I felt.
Sexual stuff had always weirded me out. I thought everyone else felt the same way- until I realized less and less of my friends thought it was gross. I began to think that I might not just be a “late bloomer.” Some of my friends were already trying out things like masturbation and watching porn. Every time they mentioned it, I thought it sounded disgusting. I had no interest in any of it and this became another sign I might be asexual when I really started to consider that I was.
For a while, I avoided giving myself the label because I still thought there might be the possibility I was late to the party.
Technically, there still is a chance I could wake up one day and begin to feel sexual attraction. And that’s not a bad thing. But time went on, and I kept being uninterested in sexual stuff. Eventually, I decided to own the label and let people know I felt this way. I’m still not out to everyone. In a way, I admit I’m embarrassed that I don’t feel sexual attraction. Luckily I’m surrounded by accepting friends and I’ve learned to accept it myself. Not feeling attraction sexually doesn’t mean you’re late. It doesn’t mean you’re innocent. And it doesn’t mean you’re weird. It’s just the way you are and there are other people like you. Don’t be afraid to accept yourself!
Author C –
I have always known how I felt, but I never found a label for myself until the beginning of ninth grade.
I began to notice the sexual experiences and feelings of my friends and peers in middle school. Constantly, I wondered when I would be able to relate to them. My friends enjoyed movies with sex scenes in them and they made out with their partners, things which I just did not feel the same way about. I would google questions like “What age are you supposed to want sex?” and “Is it ok to not like anyone in a sexual way?” It took me a few years to finally discover the word “asexual”, and it sounded like a perfect fit for me. I was worried at first that I might have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, another word I stumbled across on the internet.
However, people with this disorder tended to experience distress, but I was personally content with my lack of sexual attraction or desire.
The only confusion I felt was why I was so different from everyone else and the sexual culture around me. Although I had finally found a label I was happy with, I felt cut off from the world. The website AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network) provided an online community which validated my experiences and helped answer any questions I had.
I had not realized that I knew another person who also identified as asexual until this year.
I have been friends with G for a long time but did not realize she was asexual until recently. It was incredibly validating to find a friend who I could relate to and we decided to write this article for Girlspring readers. “Asexual” is still a widely unknown term, which is part of why the community seems so small right now. My hope is that our article will help other asexuals figure out who they are in a society that may struggle to understand them.
There is a culture surrounding teenagers that demands that they must constantly want sex and that no teenage relationship goes without it.
This is specifically harmful to teenagers that identify as asexual or feel like they might be asexual. Society portrays all teenage relationships as filled with sex. Media says in order to have a healthy relationship, you must have sex regularly. This is scary to asexual people. It makes us feel separated from everyone else. It makes other teenagers think that we are innocent or “lame” for not wanting sex. There is also pressure to feel like we must be willing to have sex to keep our partner happy.
Some asexual people are sex-positive (okay with having sex out of curiosity or for the sake of their partner’s pleasure), so this may not be as much of a problem for them.
For asexual people who are uncomfortable with having sex at all, the culture surrounding sex can make it scary for us to tell a partner that we don’t want to do sexual things for the fear that they might break up with us because of that. It is not right that sex and sexual activities are forced down the throats of teenagers in general. It gives asexual teenagers a much harder experience coming out and trying to seek romance if they fall under a romantic orientation in particular. Asexuals already only making up a small minority of the population. The sex culture in the media can make it worse for us to accept ourselves and get others to accept us. This is part of the reason we wrote this article: to bring more awareness to those on the asexual spectrum and make asexuals feel less out of place.
Do you think you might be asexual? The one similarity between all asexuals is that they do not feel sexual attraction (sexual attraction is the desire for sexual contact with someone). Here are some other possible signs you could be an “ace”:
- Not understanding when other people describe someone as “hot” or “sexy”.
- Feeling uncomfortable when people ask questions about sexual behaviors and preferences.
- Feeling out of place at sleepovers, school, or anywhere that sex may become a topic of conversation or interest of those around you.
- Having trouble defining or differentiating between different types of attraction (romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, platonic, etc.)
- No desire to engage in any kind of sexual activities.
- Not understanding the difficulty some people have with celibacy or abstinence because you would be generally content without engaging in sexual activities.
Do you know someone who identifies as asexual? Here are some good rules of thumb on what is or is not appropriate to do or say to an asexual person:
- Not revealing or pressuring them to reveal their orientation to anyone without their permission.
- Doing research to better understand their identity and to be more respectful
- Being a supportive friend regarding their asexuality
- Asking questions like “Are you a plant?”, “Are you sure you just haven’t found the right person yet?”, or “Isn’t asexuality fake?”
- Labeling them as “innocent”, “odd”, or “prude”
- Making jokes about their orientation, especially in public, that might cause them to feel uncomfortable
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