Significant research on asexuality is barely a decade old, but asexual people are beginning to find their voice as a recognized orientation. Being different is no longer a bad thing in society, which is why understanding asexuality has never been more important than it is today.
You may have learned about asexual plants in middle school science, but human asexuality is a little different. Asexuality simply means that a person doesn’t feel any sexual attraction toward either sex. People aren’t asexual because they believe in celibacy, aren’t sexually mature, find sex gross, or even that they’re afraid of sex; they just aren’t interested in having sexual relations with another person. Though it is rare, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found that roughly one percent of British adults in 2004 identified as asexual. It isn’t a disorder because evidence also suggests that asexual people are not distressed, disabled, or at a health risk because of their orientation. Asexual people can be either sex, be any age, and have any background.
Many people believe that asexual people cannot or do not have relationships, or that they are not capable of loving other people. Actually, asexuals can and do fall in love, and their relationships can take a variety of forms. Some people simply seek friendship, empathy, and understanding from another person, while others fall in love and seek a relationship similar to hetero-, bi-, and homo-sexual relationships, and just have a more intellectual and emotional focus. Often, asexual people will decide whether to engage in sexual activity for their partner’s sake and sometimes are married and have children, too.
At one point and time, sex researchers hypothesized that asexual people didn’t feel sexual attraction to others because they had something physiologically wrong with them, but this theory has been debunked. Research conducted by the University of British Colombia found that asexual people are as able of vaginal lubrication and getting erections as any other sexual orientation, and feel sexual pleasure all the same. In fact, it’s not uncommon for asexual people to masturbate.
Being asexual now doesn’t mean you’ll be asexual in the future, just like not being asexual now doesn’t mean you couldn’t be in the future. As such, asking yourself these questions is a good exercise, even if you aren’t questioning your orientation. Julie Sondra Decker, author of The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, was once a struggling member of the asexual community who wrote her book in the hopes of helping others embrace their sexuality, or lack of it. She developed a series of useful questions to ask yourself about your sexual feelings, and further information can be found in her book. Your answers don’t necessarily mean you are asexual because no question or expert can “diagnose” you; as she writes, “only you can answer this for yourself.”
Questions excerpted from an article by Decker in Time:
Gaining a better understanding of asexuality and the asexual community helps us as a society to be more tolerant. Some people just don’t love sex. And that’s okay.