What Does It Mean to Be on the Asexual Spectrum?

When most people think about sexual orientation, they think about the gender to which people are attracted. Homosexuals are attracted to people of the same gender, and heterosexuals to people of a different gender. Bisexuals and pansexuals are attracted to a range of genders. Queer people vary across that spectrum.

However, a gendered attraction is not the only spectrum of sexual orientation. There is also the spectrum that describes how interested people are in sexual interaction. As with heterosexuality and homosexuality, this sexuality spectrum is an orientation—not a choice. At one end are asexuals who do not experience sexual attraction.

There are demisexuals, those who experience sexual attraction but only in the context of an emotional or romantic connection. Finally, there are sexuals, those who experience sexual attraction without requiring an emotional or romantic relationship.

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Asexual Spectrum

Asexuality is a spectrum. Some asexuals neither experience sexual attraction nor have a sex drive. Some have romantic or emotional attraction, but not a sex drive. Some have a sex drive, but they do not experience an attraction. Finally, some experience both attraction and drive, but do not find that those two things are linked.

What asexuals have in common is a lack of sexual attraction—not necessarily a lack of desire or experience.

What does this mean in practice? Some asexuals are not sexual and will never be sexual. Some asexuals are not interested in sex but will engage sexually with a partner who is interested in sex. Some asexuals are interested in sex with themselves, but not with other people.

Romantic Relationships and Asexuality

Some asexuals are aromantic, meaning that they are not interested in romance. Others are strongly romantically or emotionally attracted to people. Many asexuals have strong romantic relationships with their partners.

After all, even people in heavily sexual relationships do not have sex all the time. Sex is only a small part of a relationship for sexuals.

Sex may be a small part, or no part, of a relationship for asexuals.

Asexuals may or may not have sex with their romantic partners. It depends on a number of factors including whether:

  • Their partners are sexual
  • They are uninterested in sex or averse to sex
  • There are other reasons they might want to have sex, such as to get pregnant

Asexuality and Homosexuality

Just as gender identity and sexual orientation are independent, so are how interested people are in sexuality and the gender of those to whom they are attracted. People can be heterosexual and asexual or queer and sexual. Similarly, people may be romantically attracted to people of one gender and sexually attracted to people of another.

Human sexuality is complex. It is rarely possible to define it with one term alone.

Some people who are asexual are not romantically attracted to either gender. They would likely define solely as asexual and aromantic. Other people are asexual and romantically attracted to people of one gender or the other. They might identify primarily as asexual and also heterosexual or homosexual.

They might also identify primarily as heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, and secondarily as asexual. It will likely depend on which aspect of their sexuality is most important to their lives, or in relation to the context, they're in or the situation in which they are being asked.

A Word From Verywell

What does it mean to be asexual? The standard definition is that it means that someone does not experience sexual attraction. What is it like to be asexual? It will be different for anyone you ask.

If you are friends with someone who is asexual or dating someone who is asexual, they are the only person who can tell you want asexuality means to them. If it's important to your relationship, you can ask. Just remember, it's their choice whether or not they want to answer.

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