What Does It Mean to Be Asexual?

An asexual person

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Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others or low interest or desire for sexual activity. Asexual people—or aces—don’t experience sexual attraction, or may experience very little sexual attraction. However, aces can experience non-sexual attraction by being physically or emotionally drawn to others. 

Because asexuality is still quite rare, there are a lot of misunderstandings about it, making it hard for people who identify as asexual to discuss it with others.

Here’s a look at asexuality and how you can explain your sexual orientation to others. 

What is Sexuality?

Sexuality, also known as sexual orientation, is not just sexual attraction but also your emotional or physical attraction to someone. It can be expressed in your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings toward another person. Heterosexual and homosexual, bisexual, and asexual are some of the main types of sexuality, but you don’t necessarily have to put your sexual orientation into one box.

Types of Attraction Asexual People Experience

Typically, asexuality indicates that you don’t experience any type of sexual attraction. Having sexual attraction is rare amongst aces but isn’t nonexistent. Asexuality is an umbrella term, as there is a broad spectrum in which some aces desire some form of sexual intimacy while others don’t.

Here are three types of attractions aces can experience:


Demisexuality is part of the asexual spectrum. A person who is demisexual only develops a sexual attraction to someone after creating a solid emotional bond. However, it's not for certain that a demisexual will want to engage in sexual activity with the person they’ve formed an emotional connection.

It’s also important to note that some demisexuals develop emotional bonds quite quickly, while others spend years creating a connection. Also, demisexuality doesn't only pertain to romantic relationships, as they can also form emotional bonds in platonic friendships.

Gray-A or Gray-Sexuality

Graysexuals strongly identify with asexuality but don’t feel it’s the best term to describe them. These individuals are typically in the gray area of asexuality as they fall somewhere between sexual and asexual. Gray asexuality can involve various definitions and identities people can label themselves as.

Some of the most common types of gray sexual attractions include:

  • Experiencing infrequent or low sexual attraction to few people or in specific situations.
  • Has feelings of sexual attraction but has no desire to act on those feelings.
  • Is unsure or has unclear feelings about their sexual attraction. 
  • Doesn’t think that sexual attraction has any personal meaning to them.

As mentioned, people identify as graysexual because they believe their sexual attraction, or lack thereof, is a unique experience that can’t be explicitly defined through other asexual types.


Queerplatonic relationships or partnerships (QPRs or QPPs) combine different aspects of platonic, romantic, and sexual relationships. Like gray sexuality, queerplatonic relationships are structured by terms established by those involved in the relationship and can be difficult to define to others outside of it. For example, some people in queerplatonic relationships are part of a long-term commitment or intimacy. 

How Do You Know If You're Asexual?

It can be challenging to discover what your sexuality is, as it’s ultimately up to you to decide what your sexual orientation is. The overall idea of asexuality is low or nonexistent sexual attraction to others. However, as mentioned, there are several types of asexuality that you may or not directly relate with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t identify as asexual.

Here are some ways to determine if you’re asexual:

  • You don’t find anyone sexually attractive.
  • You find people attractive but don’t feel the desire to have sex with them.
  • You’ve only been attracted to a few people, but when you were you wanted to have sex with them.
  • You only become strongly attracted to people after you’ve developed a relationship with them.
  • You don’t have crushes on people and are satisfied with having platonic relationships.
  • You get aroused, but not by other people.
  • You also are straight, bisexual, gay, or another sexual orientation but relate with asexuality.
  • You used to experience sexual attraction but no longer do.

Asexuality can be fluid, which means that you may experience sexual attraction one day, and some days you won’t experience any sexual attraction. So, at some point, you may no longer identify with asexuality and may choose another label for your sexual orientation. Therefore, there’s no one size fits all approach to asexuality. 

There are no amount of boxes you need to check off to label yourself as asexual. But if you’re facing challenges understanding your sexuality, speak with a counselor or reach out to an LGBTQIA+ advocacy group to discuss your feelings.

Myths and Misconceptions

Given how broad the asexuality spectrum is, there’s an abundance of misunderstandings surrounding asexuality. These myths and misconceptions can harm those who identify as asexual and potentially prevent those still discovering their sexuality from coming out as asexual. Therefore, it’s important to discuss these untruths so that people better understand what asexuality truly is.  

Here are the most common myths and misconceptions about asexuality.

  • Asexuality is a form of abstinence: Asexuality is not the same as abstinence. Abstinence is the decision to refrain from sex, although you may have sexual desires. With asexuality, you’re not experiencing—or experiencing little—sexual attraction.
  • Aces don’t get aroused: Although aces may not seek sexual relationships, they can still become aroused. They may masturbate or partake in different kinks and fetishes, but they may not want to have sex with anyone.
  • Being asexual is not natural: Although asexuality is quite rare, with 1.7% of sexual minority adults identifying as asexual, it is a natural sexual orientation. Unfortunately, not desiring sex is considered unnatural, though aces can be emotionally and physically attracted to someone without needing to have sex.
  • Aces cannot experience love: Allow aces may not want to have sex, but they can develop romantic relationships.
  • Asexuality is a choice: You don’t choose to become asexual. Asexuality is a natural part of your identity that develops over time.

How You Can Help People Understand Asexuality

Telling someone you are asexual can be an intimidating experience. Aside from coming out about your sexuality, it can be difficult to understand this sexual orientation because there’s a lot of mystery surrounding it.

To help guide you through this conversation, here’s how you can explain asexuality to your loved ones.

  1. Begin by introducing the topic, such as asking, “Have you ever heard of asexuality?”
  2. Describe asexuality in your own words. 
  3. Discuss the different asexuality attractions. 
  4. Allow them to ask questions. 
  5. Be prepared to clear any myths or misconceptions they may bring up about asexuality.

How To Be An Ally For The Asexual Community

If you know someone who identifies as asexual, here are some tips for supporting them.

  • Don’t question them if they reveal to you that they’re ace. 
  • Do some research on what asexuality is to get informed.
  • Avoid asking invasive questions that might make them uncomfortable.
  • Realize that not everyone desires sexual or romantic relationships.
  • Speak up for aces by addressing acephobia and raising awareness. 

A Quick Review

Asexuality is when people lack sexual attraction. This sexuality is an umbrella term for several subtypes, like demisexuals, graysexuals, and queerplatonic. Because aces don’t pursue sexual relationships, some people may assume they're practicing abstinence or choosing this sexuality. These misconceptions can put a negative light on asexuality. 

Discussing your sexuality with your loved ones can be nerve-wracking, especially when it’s a lesser-known sexual orientation like asexuality. Try to do your best when explaining asexuality, and be prepared to answer some potentially uncomfortable questions.

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12 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Human Rights Campaign. Understanding the asexual community.

  4. Demisexuality Resource Center. What is gray asexuality?

  5. The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project. Aspecs and queer platonic relationships – part one.

  6. The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. Overview.

  7. GLAAD. Asexuality: Shape and size may vary.

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