- Am I asexual?
- I don't find anyone sexually attractive. Does that mean I'm asexual?
- I can see that people are attractive, but I don't really feel the need to have sex with them. Where do I fit?
- 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?
- I'm only really attracted to people after I get to know them. What does that mean?
- Some things turn me on, but they do not have anything to do with other people. I suppose I'm not asexual, then?
- I used to experience sexual attraction. Does this mean I'm not asexual?
- My sexuality comes in phases. Sometimes I'm sexual, other times I'm completely asexual. Do I have a place in your asexual community?
- I masturbate/have sexual fantasies. Where does that fit in with my sexual orientation?
- I have crushes on people. I think I sometimes fall in love. Does this mean I'm not asexual?
- 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?
- I don't have crushes on people. I'm perfectly happy just having close friends. Does this make me more asexual than others?
- I find people attractive and I get horny, but I dislike sex and would never do it. Am I asexual?
- I'm a sexual person but I'm incapable of having sex. Some people call me asexual. Are they right?
- I like sex as a concept, like in movies or shows or books, but I’m not interested in having any sex myself. Could I be asexual?
- I've seen articles saying asexual people can still have a sex drive. How is that any different from normal sexuality?
- I identify as (straight/gay/bi/something else), but I still fit your definition of asexuality. Am I wrong?
- Are asexual people more (intelligent/responsible/mora/etc.) than sexual people?
- I'm so glad I found this community. People who have sex are so (shallow/annoying/immoral/stupid), aren't they?
- Why would asexuals want or need to 'come out' anyway?
- Why do we need an asexual community?
- I think asexuality is inherently queer. Do you agree?
- 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?
- Does being asexual mean I'll always be lonely?
- Could this just be a phase? How do I know I won’t grow out of it?
- I can't identify as asexual. What if I find the right person and start being sexual with them?
- 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?
- 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?
- I don't like being asexual. I want to be normal like everyone else. What can I do?
- I could never tell people about this. They'd think I was a freak or laugh at me!
Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships (or the adjective describing a person as such).
Demisexual: Someone who can only experience sexual attraction or desire after an emotional bond has been formed (or the adjective describing a person as such). This is different from the choice to abstain from sex until certain criteria are met.
Gray-asexual (gray-a) or gray-sexual: Someone who identifies with the area between asexuality and sexuality (or the adjective describing a person as such). For example, they may experience sexual attraction very rarely, only under specific circumstances, or of an intensity so low that is ignorable and not a necessity in relationships. (Note: the spelling of gray/grey may vary by country.)
Allosexual: Someone who does experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships (or the adjective describing a person as such). This category is also often simply referred to as “sexual”.
Attraction: A mental or emotional force that draws people together. This can be broken down into types, such as sexual, romantic, aesthetic, or sensual. This can be towards specific people, specific types of people, or a general personal feeling. Asexuals do not experience sexual attraction, but some feel other types of attraction.
Aesthetic attraction: Attraction to someone’s appearance without it being romantic or sexual.
Romantic attraction: Desire of being romantically involved with another person, or holding strong romantic feelings towards another person.
Sensual attraction: Desire to have physical contact with someone else, like affectionate touching, cuddling, hugs, or kissing, that is not sexual or does not lead to sex.
Sexual attraction: Desire to have sexual contact with someone else or to share our sexuality with them. (Note: sexual attraction does not need to be based on appearance, and can also develop gradually over time.)
Sexual orientation: An identity or label typically based on the gendered direction of sexual attraction, or the lack thereof. For example, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual are sexual orientations.
Romantic orientation: An identity or label typically based on the gendered direction of romantic attraction. For example, heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, or aromantic are romantic orientations. Some people may have different sexual and romantic orientations (e.g. a biromantic asexual).
Spectrum: A range of intensity of sexuality from asexual to sexual. People may use the term “asexual spectrum” to refer to a range close to the asexual end – levels of sexuality that are so low that they identify more with asexuality than other sexual identities.
Asexual umbrella: Asexuality and identities similar to asexuality, like demisexuality or graysexuality that are closely connected in a broader community.
Ace: An informal label for asexuals or people under the asexual umbrella.
Queerplatonic relationship: A committed relationship that is neither romantic nor sexual in nature but is based on an emotional bond beyond friendship, often between aromantic and/or asexual people.
This is a question that ultimately only you can answer. The definition of an asexual is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships.” 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’re asexual. It is encouraged that you explore this with other people who may be able to provide insight.
By this definition, yes. Again, only you can decide to use asexual as a label for yourself, but we encourage you to explore this orientation to see if it resonates with you and echoes your experiences. There is a growing selection of asexual resources available for information and guidance, including the AVEN forum.
We can understand what others find attractive, or even find people aesthetically attractive, without it being sexual. For example, heterosexual women might think other women are beautiful/sexy/attractive without experiencing sexual attraction towards other women. Sexual orientation ultimately comes down to an intrinsic desire for sex with another person. If you don’t experience that, the attraction to others generally isn’t sexual.
Asexuality and sexuality are not necessarily black and white. There is a broad spectrum between end points of “asexual” and “very sexual” with differing levels of sexuality. Many people identify in a gray area that feels closer to being asexual than what most sexual people are like. They may identify as simply gray, graysexual, gray-asexual, or gray-a. Many people in this gray area still identify as asexual because they find it easier to explain, especially if the few instances in which they felt sexual attraction were brief and fleeting.
Note that an asexual person can want or choose to engage in sex for several reasons. Some asexual people in relationships might choose to have sex with their partner as a way of showing affection, and they might even enjoy it. Others may want to have sex in order to have children, to satisfy curiosity, or for a variety of other reasons – just not the same intrinsic reasons that the majority of people have.
It’s common for people to choose not to have sex with others until they meet certain criteria or reach a certain point in a relationship. However, a small minority of people simply do not feel any general sexual attraction towards anyone until a close bond is formed. An increasing number of people who experience that are identifying as “demisexual.” Demisexual people are often connected to the asexual community due to similar experiences to asexuals, and are typically included under the ace umbrella.
Asexual people can still have libidos or experience arousal, but do not experience any intrinsic attraction or desire to engage in sexual activities with other people. This may include kinks or fetishes – activities or sensations that arouse a person sexually, but have nothing to do with wanting sex with another person. Many people who experience sexual arousal in some form still identify as asexual – they just don’t feel the desire be sexual with someone else. It is up to you to determine if you’re asexual, but kinks, fetishes, or turn-ons don’t rule it out.
Fluidity in sexual orientation is a subject of debate, with varying opinions. Most people go through fluctuations in their sexuality due to age, medical issues, or life changes, but that doesn’t necessarily change their sexual orientation. Some people may experience clear shifts in sexual orientation, and it’s up to them to determine how they identify based on what label works best. This has been known to happen with all orientations, not just asexuality. People have felt attracted to different genders at various points in their lives and may change how they identified based on that, but it doesn’t make their attraction any less valid.
Many sexual people go through dry spells of low sexual attraction or desire. Some people may even fluctuate so drastically that they share similar experiences and perspectives with asexual folks, and might even choose to identify as gray or gray-a. All types of people are welcome in the asexual community to share their experiences and bond with others, as we will all benefit from a greater understanding of asexuality as an orientation, rather than as a dysfunction.
A significant portion of asexual people experience some level of arousal and libido, which can include fantasies and masturbation. Some academics have referred to that as “autochorisexuality” but it’s up to you how you choose to identify..
Some asexuals who masturbate do not have a sex drive motivating them, but they just do it because it feels nice or relieves stress. Other asexuals masturbate because they have a personal libido that they wish to take care of privately. They may experience arousal as a biological response to outside stimuli that they feel a need to relieve themselves of, but without any connection to wanting partnered sex.
Not at all! Many asexual people still experience romantic attraction and have romantic desires – just like sexual people, but without the sex. Most asexual or ace-umbrella people identify using a split attraction model, where they have a romantic orientation and a sexual orientation. It’s entirely valid for asexual people to want to pursue romantic relationships, as romantic bonds can experienced separately from sexual desire or attraction. Romantic orientations can also be directed towards genders. Most people who specify a romantic orientation do so like we do with sexual orientations: hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, or aromantic (people who don’t experience romantic attraction or desires). Just like with a/sexuality, there is a gray area in between romanticism and aromanticism.
Ask yourself this: if your partner never wanted sex again, would you be happy with that? Monogamous sexual attraction is different from asexuality, in that monogamous sexual people still have sexual desires that they need to fulfill through their relationship. You may even be demisexual – only experiencing sexual attraction or desire once a strong bond has been formed – and with a partner who has met the criteria.
Asexual people may enjoy sex with their partner because of the other elements of bonding and physical stimulation that please them, but don’t feel any intrinsic need for sex for themselves. For example, they may enjoy giving sexual pleasure to their partner without the need for any sexual gratification in return. If sex makes their partner feel loved, then some asexuals may wish to take part in consensual sex acts if only because they desire their partner’s happiness.
Asexual people may also want sex as a means to have children. As this pertains to one of the most deeply personal parts of our lives, only you can determine what best describes you.
Asexuality isn’t determined by crushes or romantic relationships – it’s an absence of sexual attraction or intrinsic desire for sexual relationships. If you don’t experiences crushes or desire for romantic relationship, you may be aromantic. While not all asexual people are aromantic and not all aromantic people are asexual, there is significant overlap in our communities.
The idea of being “more asexual than others” is questionable. There is no hierarchy of asexuality. Asexuals with romantic orientations aren’t any less asexual than aromantic asexuals, just as asexual people who are in sexual relationships with loving partners have as much value in the community as those of us who have never had a single sexual experience.
You could be – if the reasons you would never have sex are due to an intrinsic lack of sexual attraction or desire. Disliking sex isn’t a defining point of asexuality, per se. Some people are sex-repulsed, in that they do not feel comfortable with the act of having sex. This can include sexual people and asexual people. Other people may be sex-indifferent (without strong feelings either way) or sex-favorable (willing to have sex with a partner in some conditions). If a lack of sex doesn’t cause you any distress or affect your well-being, chances are you could be asexual – but it’s ultimately up to you to determine that.
If you are a sexual person who chooses not to have sex, this is called “celibacy” or “abstinence”. Sexual people may have many reasons to choose to be celibate – religious or moral reasons, negative experiences, personal discipline, or waiting for a long-term committed relationship. The distinction between asexuality and celibacy/abstinence is that asexuality doesn’t come out of a personal decision – it’s just who we are.
If you feel sexual, you are sexual. Asexuality is a sexual orientation that is intrinsic in nature, and not defined by a lack of sexual activity or ability to engage in sexual activity. Other people can’t determine what your sexual orientation is, especially not based on nothing but your level of sexual activity. It’s up to you to determine what your sexual orientation is. If you feel like a sexual person, you can identify as a sexual person. Other people can’t choose that for you.
You could be asexual, yes. Asexuality as an orientation is about how you experience sexuality. If you don’t feel sexually attracted to people or have an intrinsic desire to have sex with other people, that’s separate from the things you watch or read. There are many things we enjoy seeing in our entertainment that we don’t want in real life. Think of some dramatic moments, like a car driving off a cliff, then falling down rocky terrain, then bursting into flames. I’d be fine never living through that, personally, and you probably would be too.
What most of those articles are referring to is what we simply call "libido" - a sense of sexual arousal that may drive a person to seek sexual stimulation. For asexual people, though, this isn't directed at other people. Most asexual people with a libido take care of it through masturbation or just ignoring it, and there is no underlying desire for partnered sex that goes unmet. Asexual people who are in a relationship with a sexual person may use their libido to coordinate sex with their partner, but it's generally not a necessity to meet their intrinsic needs the same way it is for sexual people.
No, you can certainly still identify as another orientation if you think it applies to you. Because asexual people can still experience romantic attraction, many of them split their orientation into sexual and romantic components. For example, a homoromantic asexual may still call themselves gay. It’s relevant to their identity and the relationships they wish to pursue. People can also combine labels, calling themselves straight/gay/bi/pan/etc aces, if that helps communicate themselves to others.
Sexual orientation does not determine other characteristics. Asexual people are just as diverse in other areas as sexual people are, whether that is in areas of intelligence, morality, athleticism, sociability, or any other type of trait.
AVEN does not agree with anti-sexual viewpoints. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, meaning it’s just who we are and does not reflect a particular set of views about sex, sexuality, or sexual people. Asexuals are just as diverse as other orientations, and not inherently superior. Additionally, AVEN has many sexual members, whether they’re partners of asexual people or identified as asexual at some point, and their perspectives are highly valued in our community.
Additionally, many asexual people have very positive and supportive views of sexuality in general. While sex is something asexuals are not inclined to have, they may be fully supportive of other people expressing their own sexuality. Asexual people may find common ground in the frustrations of living in a sexual world, but there is no standard attitude held by the asexual community towards sex and sexual people.
Some asexual people feel a lot of pressure to form sexual relationships, especially if the people around them don’t realize they’re simply not sexual. Publicly identifying as asexual can help establish a better understanding of what a person feels or desires and remove an assumption or expectation to have sex. Being open about asexuality can also be a breath of fresh air for people who want to show and celebrate their authentic selves. Coming out is, of course, your own personal choice, and no one will think less of you if you decide not to, but many asexuals have felt relief from being open about themselves.
Whether or not you personally feel that being a part of an asexual community has value to you, many asexuals receive a great deal from sharing their experiences with each other. Forming a community is an essential part of visibility and education, as well as providing support and guidance to people with similar experiences. Since forming in 2002, AVEN has become the primary resource on asexuality, including a community forum with over 100,000 members. The asexual population can only continue to benefit from the resources we provide to spread awareness and bring people together.
Other asexual communities can be found all over social media: Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit, and more all have multiple spaces for asexuals to connect with each other. There are a number of reasons people have stated for participating in these communities: to learn about asexuality, to learn about themselves, to connect with similar people, and many more.
Asexuality is a newer concept and the asexual community has a much shorter history than LGBT+ identities and communities. Because asexuality wasn’t an established community at various milestones of early LGBT+ history in Western nations, not all movements or organizations incorporated this branch of gender and sexual diversity in their communities.
Some asexual people may identify as queer, or collaborate with their LGBT+ peers if they find common ground from being in the minority. Other asexual people may not identify with or participate in LGBT+ communities for their own reasons. For example, in some cultures asexual people may not feel marginalized for their sexual orientation. Another example is heteroromantic aces who generally identify as straight.
AVEN as an organization strongly believes in collaboration and support with LGBT+ groups, but it is up to the individual to determine if they identify as “queer” or part of the LGBT+ population.
Doubts and Fears
There might be nothing wrong with you – it might just be how you’re wired. If you don’t enjoy sex or find it deeply disappointing, this might be because you don’t actually want sex – though you may want to be someone who wants sex. Asexual people simply don’t experience the intrinsic desire for sex with other people, even if you love the person and feel deeply attracted to them in romantic or aesthetic ways.
Think carefully. What does sex mean to you? What do you expect to get from sex? Are you expecting the intense pleasure you hear people talk about? Do you want it to be an amazing shared expression of love with your partner? Sex isn’t the same for everyone, and if you don’t enjoy it the way your partner does, you might simply be asexual, and that’s okay.
In fact, many people come to discover they’re asexual after attempting “normal” sexual relationships that don’t pan out. That’s fine! We all discover parts of ourselves in different ways, and the asexual community is here to provide support and guidance based on similar experiences. Some people are okay with sex within relationships in spite of this, some people don’t feel strongly about sex at all, and some people are repulsed by sex – any of these are fine, and found within the asexual community.
Note: if you’re experiencing a lack of sexual desire that is causing personal distress, you may want to consult with a medical professional. While asexuality is a sexual orientation, conditions like Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorders (HSDD) affect people who are sexual but may be facing difficulties with their sex drives.
Not at all! Asexual people can still have fulfilling romantic relationships if they so desire, and many do. You may meet another asexual person you connect with, or you may meet a partner who is sexual with whom you can reach a mutually satisfying compromise. Outside of romantic relationships, there is nothing preventing asexual people from forming close friendships just like everyone else. Don’t give up hope!
Many people of all sexual orientations may go through periods of their lives where they’re questioning their orientations. Why should asexuality be any different? If you identify as asexual now but later on find out that you’re another orientation, that’s not a “phase” – it’s just your path of self-discovery. Not everyone knows exactly who or what they are from an early age. According to the 2015 Asexual Census, over 80% of aces identified as another orientation before identifying as asexual. That doesn’t make other orientations a phase, does it?
On the other hand, what if it’s not a phase? You shouldn’t keep yourself in denial just in case you’re wrong. The asexual community is open to helping people who may be in a stage of questioning their orientation, or just still making sense of themselves. Whatever your case may be, there is no shame in identifying as what best describes you at this point in your life.
If you’re not comfortable identifying as asexual, that’s your choice. Even if you do identify as asexual and later find that person who sparks your sexuality, that’s fine! We learn new things about ourselves all the time, and it’s okay to change how you identify based on that. You aren’t losing anything by exploring your a/sexuality and talking to others with similar experiences, and you aren’t barring yourself from having sex in the future.
Asexuality is a valid orientation – it doesn’t mean you’re broken. Asexuality is not a dysfunction, and there is no need to find a “cause” or a “cure”. Just like with all orientations, there are asexual people who have experienced trauma, and asexual people who haven’t. In fact, according to the 2015 Asexual Census, the vast majority of ace respondents had never experienced sexual violence.
That being said, 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. No matter what our orientation is, we all deserve to take care of ourselves mentally and physically.
Only you can know if you’re asexual or not, but we can give you starting points to examine this. Are you making choices to not act upon urges, or do you lack them entirely? Does your lack of sexuality make you feel like you’re holding yourself back or neglecting some of your needs? If not, you’re likely asexual. If you’re not sure, there are ways to work beyond these types of barriers, and the asexual community may be a good place to explore how you feel. Overall wellness is something we should all strive for regardless of orientation. If you feel like you’re holding yourself back from something, you should practice the necessary self-care to become your best self.
Like other sexual orientations, being asexual isn’t a choice. It isn’t a defect to be fixed, or something we can work to change. You can choose to change the way you act upon your desires or lack of desires, but you can’t simply change what your desires are. It’s simply who we are. If you’re feeling alienated from other people, there are growing asexual communities both in person and online that you can reach out to for support and acceptance. So many of us have gone through the same thing, and we’re happy to impart our wisdom on the people in need of support.
You’re not alone with this worry about acceptance. You aren’t required to “come out” or publicly identify as asexual if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Many asexual people have the same concerns, which is why semi-anonymous online environments like the AVEN forums have helped so many. What matters is what YOU think of yourself, and we’re happy to give you a supportive environment for that.
Asexual people have faced mixed results in coming out, but there are many positive experiences. 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 about it. You’ve hopefully found this FAQ section of the AVEN website useful, so a simple approach may be to direct people here, to the firstname.lastname@example.org email, or to the AVEN forums.
Do you have anything else to add?
The asexual community formed around similarities as well as differences. We are happy to help and provide support to folks from all walks of life who have questions about asexuality or identify under the asexual umbrella. Don’t be afraid to contact us or join our community to ask any more questions you may have.