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9 misconceptions about asexuality

Does asexuality mean you can’t love? Or that you are anti-sex? Is it common? Learn the truth about asexuality here.

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Aug 24, 2021 UPDATED

Asexuality is a sexual orientation that refers to people who do not experience sexual attraction towards others. Asexuality is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of asexual identities, including grey-asexual, demisexual, and aceflux. 

Grey-asexuality is a broad term that encompasses the “grey area” between asexual and sexual; for example, individuals identifying as grey-asexual may sometimes feel sexual attraction but have a low sex drive, or only feel sexual attraction in very particular instances. 

Demisexuality recognizes individuals who feel sexual attraction towards someone only after forming an emotional bond with them. 

Aceflux refers to individuals whose sexuality flows and changes along the asexual spectrum, and sometimes even falls outside the spectrum. 

Asexuality, and all the asexual identities within it, is commonly misunderstood—if not deliberately misconstrued. We debunk some myths about asexuality below. 

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1. Asexuality isn’t real

Yes, it is real. Asexuality is a widely recognized sexual orientation, and, though research is hard to come by, it is estimated that 1% of the population is asexual. 

2. Asexuality is the same as celibacy or abstinence

Celibacy and abstinence are choices; asexuality is not. Celibacy is the decision to refrain from marriage or sex (often for religious reasons), and abstinence is the decision to not engage in sex. Asexuality refers to a person’s feelings of sexual attraction, not whether they engage in sex or not.   

3. Asexuality is a sickness or disorder

Asexual people (sometimes referred to as “aces”) are not ill. Many confuse asexuality with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Female Sexual Interest Arousal Disorder, but it is unrelated. Asexuality is part of a person’s identity, and not the result of an illness.  

5. Asexuality means you have no libido

Some aces experience sexual arousal, and others do not. Of those who do, some will masturbate, and some will not. It depends on the individual, but asexuality does not mean an individual cannot get sexually aroused. 

7. Aces have sex-negative attitudes

Just as within any other subset of the general public, there are differing attitudes towards mainstream dialogue about sex within the asexual community. Some aces believe sex and alternative lifestyles should be talked about in mainstream media, and some believe that anything related to sex should be kept behind closed doors. As with all people, not all aces are anti-sex, but not all of them are pro-sex, either. 

6. Aces refuse to have sex

Again, this is entirely up to the individual. Some aces are willing to have sex regularly for the benefit of their partner (even if they are apathetic to the act themselves). Others are willing to have sex once in a while, and others refuse to have sex at all. Many aces choose to partake in sex to form an emotional, not physical, connection.  

8. Aces are just naive people who haven’t had sex (yet)

Asexuality does not mean that someone just hasn’t found the “right” person yet. Aces are generally disinterested in sex and aren’t sexually attracted to anyone of any gender. 

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9. Aces don’t have romantic relationships. 

Many aces have happy, healthy romantic relationships. Romantic orientations are different from sexual orientations, and romantic orientations aren’t specific to certain sexual orientations. Some aces are aromantic, but others can experience romantic attraction. This means that some aces become attracted to others after getting to know them, not right when they see someone. Aces are perfectly capable of feeling love and affection towards others—that love and affection just isn’t dependent on sexual attraction. 

To learn more about asexuality or connect with the asexual community, check out the Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN).

Article originally published Aug 23, 2021. Updated Aug 24, 2021.

Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample. (2021). Retrieved from Journal of Sex Research website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224490409552235

Asexuals and Attitudes Towards Sex | The Asexual Visibility and Education Network | asexuality.org. (2021). Retrieved from Asexuality.org website: https://www.asexuality.org/?q=attitudes.html 

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments. (2021). Retrieved from Njsexualmedicine.com website: https://www.njsexualmedicine.com/contents/female-sexual-issues-fcd/low-sexual-desire-arousal-disorders/female-sexual-arousal-disorder 

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. (2018, October 22). Retrieved from https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/hypoactive-sexual-desire-disorder/

Pasquier, M. (2018, June 25). Explore the spectrum: Guide to finding your ace community. Retrieved from GLAAD website: https://www.glaad.org/amp/ace-guide-finding-your-community 

Romantic Orientations | The Asexual Visibility and Education Network | asexuality.org. (2021). Retrieved from Asexuality.org website: https://www.asexuality.org/?q=romanticorientation 

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