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Sex and love are two facets of experience that come in many forms and can exist independently from each other. I speak often about the spectrum of human sexuality, and the fact that sex-positivity doesn’t require you to like the same things as others, but to accept others for their likes even if they are different from your own. 

Don’t yuck someone else’s yum, in other words.

But what if someone doesn’t really have a yum – at least in the context yums are generally understood?

a representation of asexual

Here at Rebel Love, we share real stories. Our authors write about what they know and what they’ve experienced. We value stories from contributors who have lived what they share. 

Sexuality is a broad spectrum of identities, orientations, kinks, fantasies, fetishes, and more! It’s an exciting topic, and we are on a mission to explore as much of it as possible. 

And today we’re talking about the ace of sexual orientations!

Asexuality is a sexual orientation – not a disorder or abstinence practice – and its very definition is dependent on the individual experiencing it. And because Rebel Love is based on real experiences from people all over the world, we reached out to the aces of our community to gain a greater understanding of what it’s like to have little or no romantic or sexual desire. 

What we learned is that the absence of attraction and desire itself is varied. For one thing, aesthetic attraction, romantic feelings, and desire are three very different experiences. For an allosexual individual like myself, I hadn’t recognized the significance in these distinctions, and how they impact people – specifically those on the asexual and aromantic spectrum. But rather than me sharing general terms, let’s have the community speak for itself.

Whether or not you are (or think you could be) aro/ace,  these authentic answers and experiences will help educate all of us on the diverse experiences of human attraction and desire.

Do you identify on the aro or ace spectrum?

Our Ace Respondents

We had twenty-five individuals consent to participating in this questionnaire. Below are the profiles they shared with Rebel Love:

Content Note: Definitions of terms can be found at the end of the article or in the Love, Sex  and Relationship Glossary

a Pinterest pin that says "The Ace of Sexualities: Q&A With Our Asexual Community" on a bright teal background with dotted texture and asexual symbols around. At the center bottom is an asexual flag with different types of people.

Yume | Cis-female | She/Her | Aegosexual, Biromantic, Sex-indifferent

Mike | Trans Maculine | He/Him | Aromantic, Asexual 

Tyger Songbird |He/Him | Aromantic, Asexual 

Pete | Hetero-romantic, Sex-indifferent Ace

Deb | Agender |  Asexual, Demiromantic 

Anon | Cis-male | 22 Years Old | Asexual

Kyle | He/Him | Aro Ace

Rabbit | Non-Binary | They/Them | Sex-neutral

Matthew | Male | 18 Years Old | Heteroromantic, Asexual

Ian | He/Him | Aromantic, Asexual

Laurel | Asexual

M. | Any pronouns | Asexual, Grey Romantic

Jourei | Asexual

R. | Cis-male | Pan-romantic, Asexual

Michelle | She/Her | Aromantic, Asexual, Romance- and Sex-indifferent

Kat | She/Her | Heteroromantic, Sex-averse Asexual

Diego | Asexual

Tank | He/Him | Heteroromantic, Gray-ace

Chair | Asexual (still figuring it out)

K. | AroAce

Stephen | He/Him | Aegosexual

Dž. B. | Biromantic, Asexual

Endy | He/Them | Ace

Asher | They/Them | Grey-romantic, Demisexual, Bisexual

Holden | He/Him | Gay, Asexual

Do you know someone who identifies on the aro or ace spectrum?

How would you describe your experience as an asexual person?

“It is a very positive experience that I value greatly.”

🖤 Kyle

“My asexuallity isn't at the forefront of how I define myself, but I'm very upfront about it. Most of the relationships I've been in have been with allosexuals, and it can be difficult navigating individual desires and needs. I'm largely sex-neutral, meaning that I'm not repulsed by sex, but I also don't particularly desire it. I typically don't mind sexual contact with my partners when it's requested, but I also have a super low libido and don't experience much in the way of physical arousal when I do engage in sexual contact. 

I'm quite comfortable with ethical non-monogamy and am supportive of my partner if they desire sex outside of our relationship. Honesty and open communication are vital in any relationship, and this is no exception. 

While I don't feel sexual attraction, I do feel romantic attraction. I'm they/them non-binary and ammolic (attracted to non-binary individuals and women), and I feel these aspects of myself tend to be better understood and received by people than my asexuality. It can be exhausting explaining different types of attraction and the nuances of my specific experience with attraction, not to mention explaining how some people are asexual and still engage in sexual activities (and even find it physically enjoyable).

Asexuality can be a contentious topic in LGBT+ discourse, and I feel that heteroromantic asexuals tend to get the brunt of the ace-critical arguments. I'm queer, so I'm often given a “pass” by LGBT+ folks who are ace-critical, but still get the occasional quip about asexuallity not being “real”. It's especially uncomfortable to be in the midst of an ace-critical conversation with people who don't know that I'm asexual and hear their unfiltered opinions about the topic. There can be some real hostility towards ace people in the LGBT+ community and I understand why some people don't feel comfortable “coming out”, even to their queer or ally friends.”

🖤 Rabbit

A rainbow frame with portraits of young people, wearing sweaters with their gender pronouns - she, he, them

“The most boring/awesome orientation around; I float through life blissfully free of the drama of relationships or the worry of trying to attract a partner. 10/10 would recommend.”

🖤 Michelle

“For me, I do not experience any sexual attraction to people. I have never seen or thought of anyone and…felt like I would want to have sex with them. I label myself as a heteroromantic sex-averse asexual. Heteroromantic, because I, as a woman, experience romantic attraction to men. Sex-averse, because I can engage with and discuss sexual content without feeling immense disgust/discomfort (I do not hesitate to make dirty jokes, haha!), but I still do not ever want to personally have sex with anyone. And asexual just because I have never experienced sexual attraction to anyone.”

🖤 Kat

“I have two fetishes that I would like to experience, but that desire is not strong enough for me to seek it out. Other than those two fetishes, I am actually a bit repulsed by the idea of having sex… The societal expectations that I am to routinely want sex weighs down on me at times and has contributed to my depression. Being an introvert, I just shut myself indoors all day and remove myself from society. In the last year or so I have been more accepting and open about my sexuality. Joining a few subreddits helped.”

🖤 Tank

“Generally speaking I enjoy sexual content (porn) and I'm interested in the idea of sex, but I'm not interested in being involved myself.”

🖤 Stephen

Before this article, had you ever heard of the aromantic/asexuality spectrum?

When and how did you recognize that you were asexual?

“After some experience with sexual activity.”

🖤 Yume

“When my IUD killed my sex drive and I was happy about it.”

🖤 Mike

Asexual and asexuality or nonsexual relationship as a romance with no interest in sex or sexual and biromantic concept.

“When I was 19 and in college, I made a post on this website…about how I wanted to be a “Virgin for Life,” as I called myself then. I explained how I really wasn’t interested in sex, didn’t find sex important, and was more interested in other concerns. A user told me in a comment that I might be asexual. I would come back to see that comment 7 years later.

At age 26, I would find out that what was wrong with me was nothing at all. I found myself and proverbially righted the ship, in a way. I found it in a saved bookmark from years ago, through a post from the past.”

🖤 Tyger Songbird

“I've always just kinda thought of myself as the least sexual person ever. I've always been confused by allos and mostly just assumed it was part of me being autistic…and I guess I only realized it once my friends went through puberty and started talking about sexual stuff.”

🖤 Pete

“Realized I was a bit different than the advertised norm in my late teens when I noticed that most people were not exaggerating about their sexual and romantic desires. Found out there was a term for it about 6 or 7 years ago.”

🖤 Deb

Content Note: The following statement contains recounts of CSA, trafficking, and rape.

“I experienced a lot of sexual abuse starting from an extremely young age and wound up being trafficked by my abusers. This resulted in both permanent physical damage and some pretty intense trauma. Part of that trauma was the psychological conditioning that the only value or worth that I had was sexual. Once I hit puberty, I was devastated because I believed that was going to be a detrimental blow to my “value,” so I started trying to “prove my worth” through hypersexuality. The entirety of my feelings of self-worth and esteem was directly correlated to the number of people who wanted to have sex with me. It was a hellish experience and I still carry the figurative and literal scars.

However, I got a lot of therapy and worked with professionals that specialized in cases like mine, and I was finally able to re-program my attitude towards sex and how I defined my self-worth. Amongst all of that, I realized that I don't feel sexual desire, and the times I'd had consensual sex, it was more because I felt obligated to do so rather than any actual sexual desire. It's now many years later and I've overcome a ton in that time, but I never developed a desire for sex or sexual attraction towards people. It's only been within the last 10 years that I became aware that asexuallity was even a thing. Since then, I've felt a lot more at ease with being ace and have felt very welcomed and understood in the ace community. I've never been made to feel like I'm not a “true ace” just because I've also experienced sexual trauma.”

🖤 Rabbit

“I've had multiple sexual partners and sexual activity never felt right. I got bored of it very easily and most of the time it felt obligatory. Later I realised this was because I had never actually had sexual desire for anyone.”

🖤 M.

“It was my freshman year in college, and I was having a rough time because I wasn't able to get dates and I was still a virgin, something my friends, while supportive, had an easy time doing. I was texting one when thye asked if I even wanted to have sex, and I just felt something click. I realized that I didn't really want to have sex as much as I was just wanting a partner and to be seen “as a man” by everyone.”

🖤 R.

“When I entered my adolescent/teen years, I noticed most of my peers began to talk about experiencing sexual attraction. I did not experience it at the time, but I thought that perhaps I was just a late bloomer and that I would develop it at some point. I did experience intense crushes/romantic attraction to people, and I often heard/saw romantic attraction strongly associated with sexual attraction (like the euphemism “make love” for example), so I mistook my intense romantic attraction for sexual attraction and thought that I indeed experienced it. 

But over the years, the strong association between romantic attraction and sexual attraction bothered me more and more. I had milder notions of love like holding hands, cuddles, hugs, gentle kisses, going on dates, the emotional and supportive aspects of being life partners, cute shared moments, and things like that. But the thought of sexual activity with my crushes did not naturally occur to me. I kind of had to force myself to think of if I did those things with them (since a lot of people would talk about wanting to have sex with their crushes)…and I was uncomfortable with such notions.

Around my junior/senior year of high school (like around the time I was 18), I noticed that I still hadn't felt sexual attraction towards people (especially my crushes, who I thought I would most likely develop such feelings for) and thought I should have felt such things by now (especially since my peers were being quite vocal about their experiences with sex and sexual attraction by this point). The disconnect between what I thought I wanted (the usual romance, sex and all) and what I actually wanted (just the romance without the sex) bothered me enough for me to start making Google searches about the nature of romantic love, as if I was some sort of alien trying to research certain human emotions/experiences they had never felt. I looked up things like “love without sex” (what I actually wanted), and usually encountered advice articles for sexually frustrated couples. The strange thing was, when I read about such relationships, the lack of sex did not feel like a problem to me at all. It was actually what I wanted with romance. But I still had no satisfactory labels for my experiences, and honestly, it was easy to dismiss my own feelings as just me being an inexperienced late bloomer virgin, so I only really did these searches once every couple of months when the tension got too intense to ignore.

Jaiden Animations’ “Being Not Straight” Video

“I was watching it and I was like, wait a goddamn minute, is that me?”

🖤 Chair

Do you experience sexual or romantic attraction? Can you explain what this looks or feels like for you?

“I don’t experience any sexual attraction at all and am repulsed by all forms of genitalia. I’ve never had a romantic interest in anyone, but I hope that changes one day.”

🖤 Anon

“Neither! And I'm happy. I'm a private person and I enjoy my solitude, having cravings for another person would ruin all that.”

🖤 Jourei

“Sexual attraction towards my romantic interest (my SO) is very different from the romantic attraction, an urge like a hunger rather than emotions.”

🖤 Diego

“I don't experience sexual attraction nor sexual desire. I experience romantic attraction to men and women, but primarily women. I believe I experience romance the same way as anyone else, albeit less frequently and without the sexual component.”

🖤 Dž. B.

“It turns out I do experience romantic attraction. I love being around my partner, spending time with him, and even some physical displays of affection such as cuddling and kissing. However, I feel like my sexuality is a Venn diagram where the circles do not touch: one circle contains all the things that make me feel romantic (meaningful looks, vulnerability, some physical contact), and the other contains all the things that make me sexually aroused (kink). In my mind, arousal and romance have basically nothing to do with each other, and neither of them has much to do with sex. That's just how I am wired.”

🖤 Holden

What assumptions or stigmas surrounding asexuality would you like confronted?

“I want people to stop thinking that aces and aros ‘haven’t found the right person yet.’”

🖤 Matthew

“1. While I myself am on the aromantic spectrum, not all people who are asexual are aromantic. 2. I am not mentally ill, I don't have a “hormone imbalance,” and I'm not an emotionless robot/plant. 3. Not all asexual people are sex-repulsed or virgins. Some ace people are neutral or positive about having sex.”

🖤 Ian

“I am not innocent and inexperienced. I just don't like sex. Also, it’s not the same as celibacy.”

🖤 Endy

“I would like people to not think that asexuality is something that needs to be “corrected” with conversion therapy. That's one. Also, that asexuality is something that is boring and not worth a storyline, case in point: Sherlock Holmes. People who think asexuality is a pitiable existence that means someone will be alone forever are not helpful. The idea that aces will lead miserable and pathetic lives not only holds to the idea that the only relationships that matter is the ones that are either romantic and/or sexual, but it also tries to connote that asexuality is not a joyous experience, which it certainly is in the case of me. Also, since asexuality and aromanticism are often in tandem in discussion, we need to uphold and celebrate friendships instead of amatonormative discussions where romance is seen as everything. Friendships can be really amazing parts of life and quite deep as relationships.”

🖤 Tyger Songbird

“That I'm somehow innocent or a prude for not experiencing attraction. That my lack of attraction makes me less human and means I'm actively missing out on a large part of the human experience. That my friendships mean less than other relationships. That what connections I have to offer to my friends and partner is less valuable.”

🖤 Deb

“The idea that everyone should want sex in some capacity kept me thinking that I was broken. I kept trying to like sex but it made me miserable.”

🖤 M. 

Are you in a relationship or would you like to find a relationship? If so, can you tell us a bit about what that looks like for you specifically, and how it may differ from mainstream “love” stories?

“I am not in a relationship currently, but I am somewhat actively looking for one. I tried dating apps, but it felt like my asexuality was a hurdle, so I switched to posting on an asexual dating subreddit. I've gotten some good conversation out of my post, but this story is still developing! The mainstream idea of dating is so reliant on sex and physical attraction, so being able to skip that allows me to establish a deeper emotional bond with the other person faster.”

🖤 Laurel

“I do not have one and do not desire a relationship, except maybe a QPR at some point in time.”

🖤 K.

“I have been in a relationship for just about six weeks now, I feel it would externally look similar to a mainstream love story. We are very affectionate in public and private, sexually the main aspect has been communication and how my libido and asexuality look in our relationship as I am still figuring it out myself.”

🖤 Asher

“Nope, nope. I am mildly romance repulsed so my “love” story does not include anyone else.”

🖤 Jourei

“I have a girlfriend now. She is omnisexual and I’m okay having sex with her since I love her and want to please her, if she wants to. I don't have a problem with that…”

🖤 Yume

Can you share what dating is like as an asexual person?

“Sometimes it can be annoying because a lot of people, especially around my age (college), just want to have sex… It can be kinda hard to find people who are willing to date someone who only sees sex as a thing to do to please the other person and therefore wants to wait a little bit before doing it… Even after that point, [it] gets annoy[ing] if they constantly ask for it. Using dating apps makes it easier because I can say all of this stuff when they're first considering dating me. It would be a lot easier if everyone was ace or if ace dating apps were more popular in the community because most times on ace dating apps everyone is super far away.”

🖤 Pete

“Nope! Dating sounds terrifying for allo people, I can't imagine attempting it as an ace.”

🖤 Michelle

“Dating as an ace person is difficult, and it's different if you're looking to date another ace person or if you're willing to date someone who is allosexual. Asexuals are a minority so it's difficult to actually find and meet other ace people to date. Gay asexual men are even more rare. I'm almost 30 and I've only ever met one other ace person in real life. If you're not living in a big city, good luck!

Dating allo people significantly expands your options but it does come with other challenges. I'm open about my asexuality on dating apps which has led to some tough commentary: “have you tried therapy?”, “you just haven't had sex with the right person”, “oh but you're so cute, how could you be asexual”, etc.

If you do enter a relationship with an allo person then it's critical to set the right expectations and boundaries regarding sex, and communicate! This is important in any relationship and more so for ace/allo relationships. Make sure you understand what your partner's needs are, help them understand your boundaries, and align on what you're each comfortable with.

I was in a relationship with a hypersexual, allo person. We did occasionally have sex when I was comfortable with it, and we were also open so that he could have sex with other people and have his needs met. Our relationship didn't work out in the end but it was for other reasons.

Figure out what works best for you as a couple. No two relationships are the same and asexuality is tricky (and diverse!) so there is no one-size-fits-all template for ace relationships. 

Be honest with yourself, each other, and communicate.”

🖤 Stephen

“I am in a relationship. My partner was aware of me being ace before we started dating, I don't feel it's particularly different to dating as an allo person, again communication is very important.”

🖤 Asher

“I haven't dated much, but where I live sex is perceived as this top relationshit goal so it usually ends as soon as I tell them I am ace. Half the time they don't even know what that is.”

🖤 Endy

How important is it that you disclose your asexuality to your partner(s), and in what timeframe of that relationship? 

“I do it immediately to set expectations straight.”

🖤 Mike

“I think it would have to be disclosed immediately. It would be unfair to an allo partner to lead them on thinking that the relationship will become sexual when it will not.”

🖤 Anon

“Not in a relationship and not interested in one.”

🖤 Ian

“My asexuality is something I display very obviously before I even go on a date with someone. It's better to get any questions or rejection out of the way as soon as possible.”

🖤 Laurel

“Personally, I feel the need to disclose it as soon as possible so as to remove the expectation of sex. I have read some stories where the partner blames themselves and takes the lack of sex to heart in the form of questions like “Am I not attractive enough?” If that person leaves me over it, then I’d rather it happen early in the relationship than later.”

🖤 Tank

“My asexuality would have to be brought up before the relationship starts.”

🖤 Dž. B.

“I almost don't know how to answer this question, especially because kink is a branch of my sexuality as much as asexuality is. My partner needs to know about these things, but the timeline is a case-by-case situation.”

🖤 Holden

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling in navigating their asexuality, or accepting that part of themselves?

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you and [you] are valid.”

🖤 Kyle

“No matter what you think or what people tell you, you are not “built wrong” or “not human.” You are just as human as everyone else in the world. Also, no matter what people say to you, remember you are loved, even if you don’t see it at that moment, there are still people that love you.”

🖤 Matthew

“It's okay and natural. It can be very hard, and that's completely understandable. There isn't a single person who hasn't been in your shoes. You're not alone; there are tons of people who are asexual, so please find a community of people who'll support you. And please know that you're just as human as everyone else, and we love and are rooting for you.”

🖤 R. 

“Asexuality can be very confusing so be patient with yourself. 

Look for resources and for similar stories wherever you can (probably online). Reading and relating to other people's stories about asexuality really helped me come to terms with my own asexuality. It also helped me not feel alone/broken to see that other people felt the same way I did.

Find the positives in the experience. To me, being an ace is kind of like a superpower. I'm immune to this “sexual attraction” thing that tends to make people do all sorts of crazy and stupid things. I have so much more mental energy and capacity to focus on the infinite number of other things that make life so amazing.”

🖤 Stephen

“…you don't have to try sex. You can if you think it will help you figure things out, but you don’t have to.”

🖤 Endy

How can your allosexual loved ones best support you and make you feel valid in your asexuality?

“Support the things I do with my time not spent on finding or maintaining a relationship.”

🖤 Mike

“Just acknowledging it’s real and valid.”

🖤 Asher

“By doing research on the topic and being tolerant and understanding about my sexuality.”

🖤 Dž. B.

“Recognize that asexuality is real and that it's not a mental illness. Beyond that just treat me with the same love and respect you'd have for anyone else, regardless of sexuality! Oh yeah, and be there for me whenever I need to vent about how tough it is to date as an ace gay man 🥲.”

🖤 Stephen

“All I ever wanted was for my mother to stop badgering me for grandkids. Just listen to people when they tell you things about themselves, believe them, and let them make decisions for themselves, not based on what you think is best for them. It's not the 1970s anymore, people can get through life just fine without marriage and 2.5 kids, let people have pets and plants, and just help them find their own happiness.”

🖤 Michelle

“Know that I can still have a fulfilling and healthy relationship and life, and please don't assume you understand us, even though I don't understand everything and everyone is very different. So if you're confused or want to know more, please just ask.”

🖤 R.

As an aro/ace individual, do you feel supported by your allosexual friends, family, or community?

What else would you like people to know about asexuality?

“That being ace is amazing, it's a beautiful dimension of human sexuality, that sex is not everything, that not everyone wants or needs sex, and that asexuality is diverse and never monolithic.”

🖤 Tyger Songbird

“That my relationships and love is not less important, or less impactful than that of allosexuals.”

🖤 Deb

“Asexuality is not abstinence, and it’s not being an incel. No one chooses to be ace… I can’t speak for other ace people on this, but I personally would give anything to be allo, so that I could fit in and be accepted by the world around me. My biggest hope for allo people moving forward is that they will one day understand this and stop with the infuriating “you’ll get it one day” or “you just haven’t found the right person yet” comments.”

🖤 Anon

“Asexuality is a spectrum; there is all sort of ways people experience asexuality and no two people are going to experience it exactly in the same way.”

🖤 Rabbit

“All asexuals have their own unique feelings about sex and all of them are valid.”

🖤 Mike

“Go go garlic bread rangers! Just enjoy life. We're just a little different, just because we don't feel sexual attraction doesn't mean we can't enjoy the same things and be just as immature. Believe it or not I am able to make sex jokes with my allosexual friends.”

🖤 K.

AroAce Resources

Having a support system that encourages us, and aids in our self-acceptance is critical. We are grateful for these individuals’ candidness and vulnerability in sharing their experiences on the asexual or aromantic spectrum. 

Of course, this round-up wouldn’t be complete without some wonderful resources to further educate allos, and assist people who may still be figuring out their own attractions and desires. Here are our recommendations – if you have more, please drop them in the comments or email us at support@rebellove.com!

🖤 Jaiden Animations: Being Not Straight (Youtube Video)

🖤 O.School : What Does Aromantic Mean? (Blog Article)

🖤 The Trevor Project: Understanding Asexuality (Organization)

🖤 Buzz Feed: Books About Aromantic And Asexual Validation (Book List)

🖤 BetterHelp | Professional Therapy With A Licensed Therapist (Counseling Services)

Until next time, 

Be well, friends!

Quean Mo xx

Glossary

AllosexualA term used to describe anyone who feels sexual attraction towards another person or people.
AmatonormativeSocietal messaging and assumptions that people thrive when in exclusive romantic relationships. 
Asexual (Ace)A sexual orientation and umbrella term for people who experience low levels to the complete absence of sexual desire. 
Aromantic (aro)An umbrella term for people who have low levels of, or do not experience romantic attraction, or do not desire romantic relationships.
Aromantic Spectrum (arospec)The term is used to describe the spectrum of experience of aromantic individuals (i.e., demiromantic or gray-romantic).
DemisexualA term used for people who only experience sexual attraction once a strong emotional bond is formed with another person.
Gray-aceA term used for people who identify between asexual and allosexual.
OmnisexualA term used for people who experience sexual attraction to all gender identities and sexual orientations, but have a preferential lean towards a specific group.
Queerplatonic or Queerplatonic Relationship (QPR)A term used to describe a relationship that walks the line between romantic and non-romantic. These relationships tend to harbor intense emotional connections that go beyond what is considered that of a traditional friendship.
Romance-repulsedA term used to describe feelings of discomfort or disgust towards romance.
Sex-adverseA term used to describe feelings of not wanting to engage in sexual activity.
Sex-indifferent / -neutralA term used to describe people who have no strong or specific feelings towards sex.
Sex-positive (in the context of asexuality)A term used to describe asexuals who don’t feel sexual attraction, but will still participate in sexual activity for pleasure. For example, masturbation or wanting to pleasure their partner(s).
Sex-repulsedA term used to describe feelings of discomfort or disgust towards sex.