Could You Be Asexual? Here’s How To Know
Your friends are always raving about how they get all hot and bothered “down there” whenever their fave actor (or actress) pops on the screen… but you’re just not feeling it. Could you be asexual?
Like all things on the spectrum of sexuality, asexuality (which, by the way, is the “A” in LGBTQIA) isn’t quite that simple.
How The Heck Do You Know If You’re Asexual?
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, “an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction.”
Sounds simple enough. But asexuality is often confused with having low libido, which is a clinical diagnosis that could be caused by a variety of medical reasons. (Think: depression totally tanking your sex drive for a few months or even years.)
Unlike having a low libido, asexuality is not a medical condition, does not come and go, and is in no way a “disorder” that could or should be treated, says Kristen Lilla, a certified sex therapist and sexuality educator in Nebraska.
Instead, asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like being straight, gay, or bi.
“Typically, it manifests at the same time everyone else begins to realize and acknowledge their sexuality, during early adolescent years,” Lilla explains. “However, people who are asexual often don’t have the language to describe their sexuality until adulthood.” They may try to date other people and be intimate with them, but know something just isn’t clicking.
And when someone realises their asexuality, “There is a huge amount of relief, because they finally understand why they’ve never experienced sexual attraction,” says Lilla.
Yes, Asexual People Date
Sexual attraction and romantic attraction, aren’t necessarily the same thing, says Eric Marlowe Garrison, a clinical sexologist and professor at the College of William and Mary. “There are myths that all asexuals are afraid of relationships or that they’re thrown off hormonally,” he says. But that’s not the case.
Think about it this way: If you were to make a list of all the things that attracted you to your partners, chances are that list wouldn’t begin and end with how they made you feel in your nether regions, right? We are attracted to people for a dozen reasons—their quirky senses of humour, killer intellect, day-making hugs, or not-weird-at-all obsession with Tudor England (do not judge). The same is true for people who identify as asexual.
As such, just like non-asexuals, “people who are asexual may date men, women, and trans people,” says Lilla.
Asexual People Can Still Have Sex… AND Orgasms
Being asexual does not necessarily mean being celibate—though it could. “Someone who is asexual can physically have sex if they choose to,” says Lilla.
The list of reasons for getting it on is long and varied, just like any other orientation. “Someone who identifies as asexual might not experience sexual attraction, but they might still want to be intimate with a partner as a physical release or to be close and intimate with someone physically,” Lilla explains. “Depending on the person, they might not want to be physical but may choose to pleasure their partner even though they don’t want to be pleasured.” In short, it really depends on the individual.
And yes, sex can still be pleasurable if you’re asexual—orientation doesn’t affect anatomy. “Sex is still a physically pleasurable act,” explains Lilla. “Someone who identifies as asexual can have orgasms like anybody else,” adds Garrison.
Someone who is asexual might even masturbate, Garrison says. “I’d say five to seven out of every 10 asexual patients I’ve seen in my practice masturbate,” he says.
Confusing? Yes. But Garrison explains you have to remember there are a lot of good things about having an orgasm aside from the obvious sexual pleasure. They can be a way to let off steam, reduce stress—or even help you get rid of a headache.
Most importantly: Being asexual doesn’t mean there’s anything physically or psychologically askew. “As a therapist, if I can help someone figure out their identity and sexual orientation, they often feel relief,” says Lilla. “It explains why they have felt the way they have for so long.”