Asexual & Aromantic

The Asexual & Aromantic Spectrums

An asexual person is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. They may or may not experience other forms of attraction, but this isn’t always accompanied by a desire to have sex. This is different to celibacy, which is a choice to not have sex; asexuality is a sexual orientation just like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality etc. Some asexuals want relationships, yet others don’t experience romantic attraction and may identify as aromantic.

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Does asexuality have a cause?

No one knows. Many aspecs feel they have always been different from their allosexual peers, whereas some have a more fluid perception of sexuality. What we do know is that there is no evidence that asexuality is linked to sexual repression, abuse, sexual disorders, or a lack of partners.

Do aspec people masturbate?

Some do, some don’t. Ultimately, it’s all up to the person. Just because a person doesn’t experience sexual attraction, it doesn’t mean that they can’t experience sexual arousal. However, this is not a question you should ask an aspec person, as it is highly invasive and overall uncomfortable to ask anyone, asexual or not.

How do aspecs feel about sex?

Some aspecs think sex is a great thing for other people to do; it’s just not something they have any desire for. Some aspecs are indifferent to sex, some find the idea repulsive; some enjoy sex, some find it boring. There is no set way to feel about sex among aspecs, just like there isn’t for allosexuals.

Wait, so some aspecs have sex?

Some do, some don’t. Asexuality is about who you are sexually attracted to, not who you have sex with. Just like gay people who have had sex with people of the opposite sex are no less gay; asexual people who have had sex are no less asexual. There are many reasons why people choose to have sex, and sexual attraction is only one of them. Asexuals can still want to have sex for all sorts of reasons, such as expressing love, physical intimacy or just because they like the way it feels! Being asexual doesn’t stop someone having a sex drive or experiencing arousal; and some asexuals choose to have sex to satisfy these desires, others will not.

Surely you need to try sex before you can decide if you’re asexual or not?

Plenty of people know they are gay, or straight, or bi; before they have sex with anyone. Asexuals are no different. Asexuality is about sexual attraction, not the ability to have or enjoy sex.

What is aromanticism?

An aromantic person is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction. Someone doesn’t have to be asexual or on the asexual spectrum to be aromantic or on the aromantic spectrum – some aromantic people do experience sexual attraction and may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual etc.

Can aromantic people experience love?

Yes! Just because they don’t love in a romantic way, doesn’t mean that they don’t love. There are many different types of love, such as love of family, love of friends, love of hobbies, and more. The lives of aromantic people can be just as fulfilling without romantic relationships as those of people who do experience romantic attraction.

Romantic Orientation

For most people, their sexual and romantic orientations are aligned and so the way in which people think about relationships involves the two, making the concept of romantic orientation less obvious. For asexual people however, it can be quite obvious that they are experiencing one but not the other, although that doesn’t mean that they are at all easy to separate.

Romantic orientation is similar to sexual orientation in that it comes in as many different varieties. Someone who is asexual could also be heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, aromantic, androromantic, gyneromantic, or something else entirely. This also leads to terms such as “gay asexual”, which is someone who experiences romantic attraction, but not sexual attraction, to people of the same gender. It’s a way of expressing who you experience romantic attraction to.

So, asexual people still have relationships?

Yes! Most asexual people experience romantic attraction, which is a desire to be in a romantic relationship with someone. Even aromantic asexuals can still have relationships; some have some very close friends that they value a great deal, whilst others may choose to engage in romantic relationships even though they don’t experience romantic attraction to their partners. This may seem strange at first, but in the same way as an asexual person can be in a sexual relationship, there is no reason that an aromantic person cannot be in a romantic relationship. Aromantic people in romantic relationships may engage in “romantic” behaviours for the benefit of their partner, whilst not having any innate desire to do so. Some aromantic people may be in queerplatonic relationships.

What is a queerplatonic relationship?

This is a difficult question to answer as queerplatonic relationships are different for different people and can be defined in many ways. However, they are essentially something that falls in between society’s categories of “friendship” and “romance”. It’s sometimes described as being more than friendship, but not romantic. It’s important to note that queerplatonic relationships aren’t “lesser” than romantic relationship – they are different, but not any less meaningful. People who aren’t aromantic may also be in queerplatonic relationships.

Is there an aromantic spectrum?

Yes! In the same way that some people experience sexual attraction rarely or under specific circumstances, there is a spectrum to being aromantic. Some people are grey-romantic, meaning that they experience romantic attraction rarely, weakly, or only under certain circumstances. Other people are demiromantic, meaning that they only experience romantic attraction after forming a deep emotion bond with someone.

Asexuality and LGBT

Why are asexuals included in LGBT/Warwick Pride?

Asexuals face many of the same problems as LGBT people in a heterosexist society; such as feeling isolated or ashamed of their sexuality, not learning about their sexuality in school sex education or having it represented in the media, not having visible support groups for people of their sexual orientation, being assumed to be heterosexual by friends and family, and many experience homophobia because they don’t express overt heterosexuality. Also, many asexuals are romantically attracted to people of the same sex (around a third according to some surveys) or are trans; so are naturally part of LGBT.

Surely straight asexuals should be excluded from LGBT?

Straight asexuals face the problems above just as much as other asexuals; and need a safe space just as much as other asexuals. Being, or being able to pass as, straight is no reason to be excluded from LGBT: many trans people are straight, and some bisexual and pansexual people choose to only have relationships with people of the opposite sex.

Why do asexuals want to be part of LGBT? How does it help them?

Asexuals face many of the same problems as LGBT people, and many see working with the LGBT community as a good way to tackle the prejudice and discrimination they all face. Like many people within the LGBT community, many asexuals want to work towards greater sexual freedom: which includes the freedom to not have sex if you don’t want to.

What about aromantic people?

The same is true for aromantic people – they are sometimes labelled as damaged or repressed which is not true and they may struggle with feeling isolated or ashamed. Similarly, straight aromantic people shouldn’t be excluded from our community.

Some places you can find out more: