- Can asexuals have successful romantic relationships with each other?
- Can asexuals have successful romantic relationships with sexual people?
- I just don't see how asexuals can be close to anyone. How can you have a relationship without sex?
- Is it possible to be asexual as well as lesbian, gay, or bi?
- Why do asexuals want romantic relationships, anyway?
- I don't want a sexual or romantic relationship, just friendships. Is that okay?
- I would like to date a certain person, but I'm fairly sure that they're sexual. How can I approach them without giving them the wrong impression?
- If my partner is sexually attracted to me, does this mean that their feelings are shallow and physical and they don't really love me?
- Do I owe my partner sex because of things I've been doing with them, like flirting or kissing or letting them take me to fancy restaurants?
- My partner is pressuring me to do sexual things that I don't want to do. How do I resolve this tension?
- I think my partner might be asexual. What should I do?
- If my partner isn't sexually attracted to me, does this mean that they don't really love me?
- I'm sure my partner is asexual but they won't talk about it with me. What can I do?
- We had great sex at first but now it is totally gone. I don't understand. Is it possible that my partner has suddenly turned asexual?
- My partner masturbates and/or watches pornography, but doesn't want to have sex with me. How is this possible?
- What exactly is it that asexuals will and won't do? Do they enjoy kissing and cuddling? How about second base, or (fill in the name of a quasi-sexual act here)?
- I want to stay with my partner and support them but the lack of mutual sexual feelings is killing me. What can I do?
Yes! Asexual people can have romantic feelings and form romantic relationships around those feelings just like anyone of any orientation can. There may be challenges in finding a compatible asexual partner, as there aren’t many of us and our personalities are as diverse as all orientations. However, there are success stories out there of asexual couples who have found each other, so it’s certainly possible.
They can, and many do. People can feel romantic attraction towards each other without necessarily feeling sexual attraction, and this is especially true for asexual people who don’t feel sexual attraction at all. This presents some additional challenges to mixed relationships, but some couples find ways to make it work. Some asexuals consider success so unlikely that they prefer not to date sexuals, but that’s not the case for everyone.
Fun fact: scientific research suggests that purely sexual attraction and romantic attraction have different effects on brain chemistry and even use different parts of the brain. In his work on asexuality, Anthony Bogaert, one of the top scholars on the subject, explains this as coming from different stages of the evolutionary process. They’re often tied together for obvious reasons – even if they can be felt separately, for many people they’re intertwined needs for a fulfilling relationship. For asexual people, however, they may experience romantic attraction and closeness without having any need for sexual connection with their partner.
Asexual people may still feel physical pleasure from activities that are sensual, but not sexual. This may include things like cuddling, kissing, or other forms of physical contact or embrace that fall short of sex while still fulfilling their needs. Different people have different levels of intimacy they require, and that’s no less true for asexual people – aside from not needing sex.
Yes, as asexual people may still experience romantic attraction or desire that may be homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic and find it useful to identify as such. Labels like lesbian, gay, bi, or pan are often used to express what gender someone is interested in pursuing relationships with, whether sexual, romantic, or both.
Many asexual people still desire deep personal connections through romantic love, and experience romantic attraction to other people. The science suggests that sexual attraction and romantic attraction developed at different times in our evolutionary history, and thus occupy different parts of our brains. This explains why some asexual people still desire romantic relationships, and pursuing them is merely seeking to fulfill their needs like everyone else.
Yes, of course! Like sexual orientation, our romantic orientations can also vary. Romantic orientation can be towards a particular gender (homoromantic or heteroromantic), multiple genders (biromantic or panromantic), or towards no one at all (aromantic). Aromantic folks don't feel the same needs for romantic love or relationships that romantic folks do, and may instead feel fulfilled by platonic relationships. Aromantic folks aren't inherently unemotional or lonely. Some aromantic people might form strong bonds that aren't romantic but go beyond the typical friendship. These are sometimes identified as queerplatonic relationships.
First and foremost, be honest with them – be forthright about what you’re comfortable with and where your boundaries are. The dating process is about exploring compatibility with potential partners. As much as you may like a person, and as romantically interested in them as you may be, incompatibility with a/sexual orientation could be a deal-breaker for them. Many asexual people who have been in mixed relationships have found that being upfront early on can save a lot of time and heartbreak. It’s possible to have a successful relationship with a sexual person, but that requires adhering to the same principles of honesty and communication as other relationships.
Not at all. People can experience both sexual and romantic attraction towards a person, and neither of those is necessarily based on “shallow” or “physical” factors. For many sexual people, sexual intimacy arouses deep feelings of romantic love and personal connectedness. Someone feeling sexual towards you does not diminish the other reasons they’re drawn to you and want to be with you.
While there are some people who enter relationships primarily for sexual activity and not much else, chances are these people would not get far in a relationship with an asexual person.
First of all, to make it clear: no person, sexual or asexual, owes another person sex they don’t want to have, regardless of what they have done.
Secondly, asexual people may enjoy romantic or sensual activities like flirting, kissing, or dating just as much as sexual people do. While it’s fine to engage in those things without the intent of eventually becoming sexually intimate, it could save both sides a lot of grief to be clear about sexual intentions from the beginning. Be clear to your partner to prevent expectations building up. Even if this isn’t made clear, you still have the right to say no. The short-term satisfaction of your partner is not as important as the potential long-term effects this can have on your well-being.
You have no obligation to do things you don’t want to do, even to please your partner. You should make it absolutely clear to your partner that you have boundaries that need to be respected. If you feel willing to compromise to satisfy your partner’s sexual needs, you should ensure everything is clearly laid out and understood. Communicating this clearly can prevent further problems, as is the case for so many other parts of relationships.
If your partner continues to pressure you into things you don’t want to do, you may want to consider other options. This could be the sign of an unhealthy relationship. It may be a good idea to consult a counsellor or relationship expert, or to seek guidance from people with similar experiences on the AVEN forum.
Communication is important in all relationships. If you think your partner might be asexual, you should discuss it with them however you think they will best receive it. Try introducing the topic to them gently. Some closeted asexuals may be afraid to discuss their a/sexuality because they haven’t fully unpacked it themselves. They may thing you are accusing them of being broken or dysfunctional, so the topic may need to be brought up in general before making it specifically about them. If you don’t know where to start, there is a forum in the AVEN community for Sexual Partners, Friends, and Allies where people can provide guidance based on their own experiences on this topic.
In the meantime, there are general relationship rules to go by to avoid unnecessary conflict or tension. Don’t assume what they want based on what you want – ask them and respect their boundaries. Avoid creating an atmosphere where sexual acts seem like a duty or an obligation. If you want to encourage them to have an open mind with you and what you want, then you need to have an open mind with them and what they want (or don’t want). All healthy relationships go by principles of mutual respect, whether they require this kind of compromise or not.
No. If your partner doesn’t experience sexual attraction period, it’s not about you. Your partner may love you on the deepest romantic level they possibly can, but it simply isn’t connected to sex for them. If they lack an intrinsic desire for sex with other people, the sexual part of attraction may not be applicable to them.
Like with any relationship problem, communication is vital. If your partner isn’t comfortable discussing this topic with you, they may not even be comfortable talking through it with themselves. If they’re having a hard time opening up, you may want to direct them to AVEN or other resources where they can learn more about asexuality and the experiences of other asexual people.
If this doesn’t open them up to better communication, further action may be required. It can’t be assumed that one day, if you wait long enough, everything will go over smoothly. Seek couples counselling if you think that will help. Otherwise, you may need to re-evaluate your relationship and consider other alternatives. AVEN has a forum for sexual partners where you may find helpful support or guidance from people who are or have been in similar situations.
Sexual orientation is consistent over a lifetime for the vast majority of people. It’s incredibly rare for somebody to “suddenly turn asexual” without the change from an underlying medical problem or side effect. That being said, some people who are asexual, or overall feel closer to asexual than sexual, may have had a period of curiosity where they were more enthusiastic about trying out sex, but as that curiosity faded there was no underlying sexuality intrinsic to their ongoing needs and desires. Sometimes an asexual person will allow themselves to have sex for a while, but this may change as their tolerance wears down or they build up negative feelings towards it. Another experience some asexual people have is they first have sex because they see no other options, but then cease to do it as they learn more about themselves. It’s really up to your partner to determine the underlying reasons they may have experienced these changes, as it’s a deeply personal and individual experience.
Some asexual people can still experience arousal and have a libido that requires some stimulation to satisfy while also not desiring sex with other people. Some asexual people feel the need to masturbate for a sense of physical release, while also not having any sense of sexual attraction or desire for having sex with another person. It’s not necessarily about masturbation or pornography being preferred over partnered sex to meet the same needs – it’s that the needs are different due to the person having a different sexual orientation.
If your partner is not asexual, this may be a sign of other issues around intimacy. Communicate with your partner and make sure you’re both being honest to each other.
There is wide variation among asexuals on what other activities they’ll do. Some asexual people enjoy some forms of intimate touch, such as kissing, cuddling, or massages. Some asexual people may be happy to compromise on sexual or quasi-sexual activities. This is as personal of a matter as any other discussion about sexual boundaries within a relationship, and it is vital for partners to communicate with each other to find the right compromise. Simply ask your partner – this is important in all relationships, after all.
You can talk through your differences and come to understand each other’s needs and boundaries, but you can’t magically change your or your partner’s a/sexual orientation. Compromise of some kind is necessary to keep mixed relationships like this together. What that compromise may be will be very specific to individual couples. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, a mutually satisfying compromise cannot be reached. Sometimes people stay in such a relationship and put up with mutual frustration for the sake of their love and commitment to each other or their families. Other times, a relationship must end. Do what is most healthy for you. There should be no guilt in leaving a relationship in good faith because, despite all of your efforts, your needs are too different.
There are places where a person in your position can get support. The For Sexual Partners, Friends, & Allies section of the AVEN forums is visited by many sexuals in relationships with asexuals. There are also many unaffiliated support groups for people in sexless relationships that you may find online or in person. You are not alone.