Media including music, movies and written pieces often speak about love, romance and sex. Naturally, not many people can relate to the extravagant representation of these topics – yet we all in one way or another will come across them. Some may relate to the fictitious representations of love, romance and sex around us more than others. Asexual people are more on the scale of not relating to what mainstream media depicts as the norm. Maneuvering through social relationships with definitions of sexuality such as asexuality can help us all to understand one another better. This article will give you the insight you need to become more aware of asexuality.
Did you know that asexuality was formerly seen as a mental illness? Not everybody subscribes to the requirement of sexual interaction as an expression of love. This was not too evident to mental health professionals before 2013. Asexuality was actually classed as a mental disorder called “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder”, and defined as “low sexual desire accompanied by marked distress or interpersonal difficulties.” by the DSM (a book that defines symptoms and experiences of mental illness).
There is no way to be certain of exactly why a lack of sexual desire was considered a mental illness; some influences were likely political, such as the idea of a nuclear household. Religion could have also been another potential contributing factor as to why sexual relations specially to raise families would be encouraged and the contrary be discouraged. The assumption of automatic heterosexuality is one that when left unrecognised, can box us humans into rigid spaces and hold us up to unrealistic expectations. In that same way, it can also create pesky social stigmas.
Figuring out one’s sexuality can be an overwhelming and daunting experience at times, which is why we at Networthpick want to give you some information that could help you understand yourself or your loved ones better. You may identify with some of the points in this article, but you also may not identify with any of them – either way it’s up to you to define your sexuality, or even decide not to. The same applies if you know somebody who identifies as asexual. This is more of a guide than it is a tick list.
The first thing an asexual individual may experience is a lack of sexual attraction. Asexuality refers to the lack of or low level of sexual attraction. Such an individual may experience different forms of attraction such as romantic, platonic and many other forms mentioned later in the article. They may also experience different forms of sexual attraction for example, demisexuals can be sexually attracted to a person after forming a deep connection with them over time. Asexuality exists on a spectrum.
Asexual people can still want relationships, just without the emphasis of engaging in sexual activities. There are many aspects an asexual relationship may include. An asexual person may desire to have a romantic relationship with someone. Holding hands, going to dinner, appreciating one another and more. Romance comes in many forms that are cherished and valued by asexual individuals. Aesthetic attraction is another form, where attraction is based on the way another person looks – though it is important to note that this wouldn’t necessarily lead to the desire to engage with this person sexually.
With sensual and physical attraction, an asexual individual may have the desire to hold, touch or cuddle someone. Oxytocin is a hormone released by the brain when engaging in such activities. It’s associated with empathy, trust and relationship building and does not discriminate! Another form of attraction is platonic; where there is a desire to be friends with a person and a final one is emotional attraction which describes the desire to have an emotional connection with someone. These expressions of love are enjoyed by a wide variety of people, including all of our ACE brothers, sisters and siblings.
Due to what an asexual person values in a relationship, they may put an end to one if the relationship becomes too intimate. In this case, the many different forms of attraction mentioned above would be more important than sexual attraction itself. If this isn’t practical or of the same importance to an asexual individuals partner, it’s likely for the relationship to end and the partners to part ways. Some asexuals may only experience sexual attraction in certain circumstances, as mentioned before, asexuality exists on a wide spectrum. Some may never desire sex and feel fulfilled in relationships without it. Others may engage in sex to fulfil desires of raising children, to connect with a partner physically or to satisfy their libido. This is to say, that if you feel ready to leave a relationship based on the reasons explained above, you may be on the ‘ace’ spectrum.
Being on the asexuality spectrum comes with a whole plethora of language that can be used to support in explaining and clarifying how an asexual person expresses themselves. For example, an aromantic person experiences little or no romantic attraction. An aromantic is still fully capable of being loving and affectionate in their own way but may just not comprehend the actions of those who make romantic gestures toward them. They may also prefer to engage in activities other than dating or activities associated with romance and romantic relationships. Another example is someone who rarely experiences sexual attraction, they could identify as grey sexual and someone who is romantically attracted to people of all genders could use the term panromantic. The list goes on and crosses into different aspects of attraction including genders and types.
There are many different ways a person who is asexual can experience and express love. Regardless of how that is, our ace community exists and is valid. Stigmas around mental health and being asexual demand for a one size fits all experience of sexuality. In most cases involving the dynamic range of humans, one size fits all hardly ever fits anyone. So let’s love in the ways that are true to us, the ways that feel safe and comfortable. Let us appreciate that the collision of love exists in beautiful forms, that we may not understand as our personal experience, but forms that we can respect as the experience that is ideal for others.
Naomi is a digital marketer and content writer who enjoys writing informative and opinion pieces about social topics mainly to do with inclusion and diversity. Her passions lie in coming up with creative campaigns and using digital means to make positively affect change.