Sexuality is more complex than straight, gay and bi — there are also asexual people out there. Understandably, the term “asexuality” leads to a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings, such as the belief that asexual people are celibate. But aces (as some like to be called) lead functional relationships just like the people with more common orientations.
Asexual individuals do not experience sexual attraction to any gender. However, that does not mean that all aces are aromantic or don’t have sex. When aces date, they typically lead entirely romantic relationships without sexual attraction. In the same way, some relationships are both romantic and sexual — and then some are nothing but sexual.
“I’ve actually had to ask a close friend what sexual attraction feels like, and by their description, I really haven’t ever felt that way. It was a really entertaining conversation,” said Julie Gravelle, a Savannah College of Art and Design junior. “And being asexual does not mean no sex. That’s another myth entirely. Many aces still like sex, but sexual attraction is an orientation — simply the lack of sexual attraction — not a behavioral trait.”
It seems like a lot of people don’t understand that sexual orientation is just that, it’s sexual and only applies to that type of attraction. And for romantic love, there is something called affectional orientation. Who knew? Just like with sex orientations, there is aromantic, heteroromantic, homoromantic and even biromantic. Asexual people use these terms more commonly to describe their attractions toward others. Even though the attractions aren’t sexual, there are still there. And I personally think that sounds a little refreshing, don’t you?
“[One of my friends] had difficulty understanding when I told her there were asexuals who had hetero and homoromantic attraction. I feel like part of this comes from people being unaware that people experience many different types of attraction from aesthetic to platonic, sensual to physical,” SCAD sophomore Michelle Pinargote explained.
Because asexuality is so uncommon, it often flies under the radar of most people who think sexuality is a black and white affair. For those who still haven’t heard, sexuality is a spectrum. I don’t know the psychological reasons why — my brother’s the neuroscience major — but everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum of sex drive, romantic attraction and sexual attraction. But when it comes to these feelings, what’s common isn’t necessarily normal. What most people think of as “normal” is the most common and socially acceptable.
“For the longest time, I felt like I would just have to die alone, simply because I didn’t want to sleep with [people]. It made me think I could never love anyone because of that,” added Pinargote. “I’m personally averse to the idea of sleeping with someone, but it ranges on the person, in and out of the asexual community… Sleeping with someone is an intimate activity, but is not the only form of intimacy.”
When aces actually have sex, it’s for almost entirely romantic reasons. Basically they “make love”. So contrary to popular belief, not all asexuals are averse to having sex. Is it really so hard to imagine a relationship without sex or sexual attraction?
“Asexual relationships work just like any other. They’re based on knowing each other’s boundaries, likes and dislikes, and may be sexual, or may be entirely platonic,” added Gravelle. ”As a sex-positive ace, if I were in a romantic relationship and we both felt that sex was an appropriate means of expressing love for one another, then I expect we’d go for it.”
Just like with all relationships, aces work with compromise and attraction toward someone else. Sure some people think a lack of sexual attraction is weird or abnormal. And I am sure being an openly asexual individual is a struggle in its own way. But from where I stand, I can’t help but think relationships where sex is out of the equation are based in something a little more real.
Photos from buzzle.com and goodcleanlove.com