Let’s clear up what asexuality means, right off the bat. Asexuality is a sexual orientation where there is a persistent lack of sexual attraction towards any gender. Some might chalk it up to people having a low libido but that isn’t the case. Asexuals or “aces” have fully functioning reproductive systems and also are not sexually repressed.
Asexual people can often feel misunderstood in our culture that focuses a lot on sex. People can be quick to judge and think you are emotionally cold or sexually frigid if you are not interested in sex. You must prefer to be alone or are just incapable of being close to others. All of these reactions sends the message that asexuality is not real -- you just have a “broken” sex-drive that needs to be fixed.
Here are three common misconceptions about asexuality:
Asexuality is not the same as celibacy. Celibacy is a choice. Asexuality is not a choice. People who identify as asexual may choose to be sexually active with a romantic partner who is not asexual. Making this choice is not based on sexual desire -- it is from a place of wanting to take care of the other person’s sexual needs.
If you are asexual, then you never feel sexual arousal. Asexuality does not mean that you do not have sexual feelings -- it is not a physical condition or a medical problem. How much sexual arousal someone experiences vary from person to person. When asexual people feel turned on, these feelings are not linked to a desire to have sex with someone.
Asexuality is linked to sexual trauma or depression. Something does not happen to you to “make you” asexual. Trauma, medical conditions, feeling depressed, or having low self-esteem can all impact your expression of your sexuality -- whatever your sexual orientation is. But that does not define your sexuality.
Asexuality, like any sexuality, exists on a spectrum and in asexual communities, aces can identify themselves in many different ways. Look at the resources listed below to get more information about asexuality in general and how diverse the experiences of asexual people can be.
Sexuality can be such a fluid, nuanced part of being alive that we sometimes struggle to label it. It can be difficult to define because one person’s experience can be entirely different from another person’s. Like with any other kind of discrimination, don’t assume that people are a certain way, or are wrong because you do not understand them or they are different from you.