Everything You Wanted to Know About Asexuality (But were Too Scared to Ask)

Everything You Wanted to Know About Asexuality (But were Too Scared to Ask)

What is asexuality?

Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to other people. Consider the following oversimplified explanation. We all know that someone who’s sexually attracted only to xyr own gender is labeled homosexual, and someone only attracted to the opposite gender is labeled heterosexual. We also know that someone attracted to both mainstream genders is labeled bisexual (with other labels once we consider nonbinary genders. As mentioned above, this is an oversimplified explanation.) This means that the question of sexual attraction to one mainstream gender is independent of sexual attraction to the other. This prompts the question “What if you’re attracted to no one?” That’s asexuality.

How is asexuality different from abstinence?

Abstinence is choosing to avoid sexual activity, despite (typically) having animalistic mating urges and sexual desires. Asexulaity is the absence of those desires in the first place.

Consider the following food-related analogy: Alice likes donuts, especially chocolate glazed donuts, but plays basketball competitively and aspires to have a career in the WNBA. Alice avoids eating donuts because she knows she has self-control issues and is worried about falling out of shape, and possibly jeopardizing her career. Bob, on the other hand, avoids chocolate glazed donuts because the taste of chocolate makes him want to gag. Alice’s avoidance of chocolate glazed donuts is similar to abstinence, while Bob’s is similar to asexuality.

If you’re here to complain about the evils of sex, you probably won’t find much in common with many of the members here. Very few asexuals denigrate allosexuals (people sexually attracted to other people), and doing so actually violates our terms of service.

On the other hand, if you’re here to find a reprieve from an oversexualized society, you will likely find that reprieve here.

What’s this gray-asexuality I keep hearing about?

A lot of people feel sexual attraction occasionally, but so much less than most people that the cultural fixation with sex leaves them feeling left out. A common example is when people only feel sexual attraction once a strong friendship has developed (an example of demisexualty).

What counts as asexuality?

This is one of the most hotly debated questions within asexual circles. Unfortunately, this means that this web page will not be providing a definitive answer. To elaborate further on this non-answer, we’ll highlight two different points of confusion:

What exactly is sexual attraction in the first place?

There are some obvious examples of sexual attraction, such as seeing a cute-looking person at a dance club and wanting to chat with xem in the hopes of inviting xem to your house to have sex that night. Then there are less clear examples. Suppose that you enjoy looking at the aforementioned cute-looking person, and take it as a sign that your mating urges are working, but the moment the prospect of physical contact with your more private areas comes up, you start feeling incredibly uncomfortable and unpleasant. Does this count as sexual attraction? It’s hard to say.

One small legal matter that should be discussed: United States law forbids us from allowing sexual contact (in-person or online) involving our members under age 18. For that context, “sexual contact” is defined as touching the breasts, buttocks, or pubic region, even through the clothes.

If I’ve only ever felt sexual attraction once, can I still call myself asexual?

The short answer is yes, you can. We are not a purity site, you don’t have to prove yourself to other members. As for the distinction between asexuality and gray-asexuality, let’s think a bit about the color example indicated by the names of those labels. Consider the two squares a) and b) below:

If you only saw square a) and were asked to describe its color, you’d probably say “that’s a black square”. It’s only when comparing it to square b) that you realize that it’s slightly lighter, and thus must technically be a very dark gray square. Furthermore, if you were to tell someone to imagine a gray square, xe’d probably imagine a much lighter square than square a), whereas had you said to imagine a black square, xe’d probably imagine a square closer in shade to the actual square.

Similarly, if you’ve only ever felt sexual attraction once or twice ever, you probably have more in common with most asexuals than with most gray-aces, so you’d be justified to identify as asexual.

One final point about identifying as asexual vs. gray-ace: If a member gives a description of an experience and says “I’m asexual”, it’s inappropriate (and a violation of our terms of service) to say “no, you’re not.” That would be saying that your reading a brief description could override and outweigh xyr years of lived experiences. In contrast, if someone gives a description of some life events and asks “am I asexual,” then the answer “No, I don’t think you are,” is appropriate.

Why is it so hard to figure myself out?

There are two main reasons why a lot of people struggle to identify their own (a)sexuality. The first is the aforementioned debate on what sexual attraction is. The other factor is that the question of strength of sexual attraction isn’t widely discussed. There are overall sex-positive communities that assume everyone has strong sexual desires, there are antisexual communities that discourage sexual activity, there are communities that encourage competition for who can have the most sex, but not many communities that discuss having strong/weak/no sexual attraction overall. One of the main goals of Asexual Community Forums is to promote that discussion.

How does romance work?

Often with a great deal of difficulty and frustration, unfortunately. A disturbing number of people think that sexual interest is a necessary component of romance. Some even go so far as to use the term “platonic” as an antonym for “sexual”, rather than an antonym for “romantic”, because they imagine the two as synonymous. When trying to date, many asexuals find themselves rejected by people who are looking for sexual partners. In some circles, even friendly conversation with a person of the opposite gender is considered a prelude to sexual pursuit. Asexual Community Forums is pleased to serve as a forum for asexuals to approach each other for friendship and/or romance. It should be noted that a lot of asexuals are also aromantic (do not feel romantic attraction), and thus avoid that frustration completely.

Can I join if I’m not asexual/don’t know if I’m asexual?

Yes, you can. Asexual Community Forums is a non-exclusive environment. There are some internet spaces that view exclusivity as necessary to be safe spaces. ACF does not have such a policy, as allosexuals are not dangerous to asexuals, thus the safety of the space can be maintained. If you feel threatened by another member, do not hesitate to report that member to the moderating team.