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Relationships and Asexuality

by @AdventuRin


(Content Warning: This is an informational/educational post about a little-known sexual orientation. As such, sex-related topics will be discussed, inasmuch as they relate to asexuality)

 

Types of Attraction

We’ve already covered that asexuality is the sexual orientation for those who experience little or no sexual attraction, but there are other other types of attraction, as well. This includes:

Aesthetic attraction - appreciating a person for how they look, much like one appreciates a nice painting

Romantic attraction - a pull or allure of wanting to do romantic activities with a specific person

Sensual attraction - a pull or allure of wanting to do sensual activities with a specific person

What activities are romantic versus sensual versus sexual depends on the person. One person may find kissing romantic, while another finds it sensual, and another finds some types of kissing to be romantic and other types sensual or even sexual. It’s entirely individual, and each of these attractions can have a prefix just like any sexual orientation can.

For many, their orientations all line up -- someone who is bisexual is also biromantic -- so the additional forms of attraction are often ignored or disregarded. For those whose attractions do not line up, they’ll generally define their romantic and sexual attractions, and not the others, such as in biromantic homosexual (someone who is romantically attracted to two or more genders, but is sexually attracted to those of the same gender).

Confused? That’s okay. You can think of it like putting together a series of words in a sentence. Most of the time, you put the words together without paying much attention to the parts of speech for each individual word, but they all still have different uses and meanings. And some people combine them in ways you never thought to.

While anyone can specify their romantic attraction in addition to their sexual attraction, aces tend to do so, and have a need to do so, more often. There are even special labels for ace spectrum folks depending on their romantic orientation:

♥​Ace of Hearts = romantic ace

♠Ace of Spades = aromantic ace

♣Ace of Clubs = gray-romantic ace

♦Ace of Diamonds = demi-romantic ace

with the latter two only coming into use over the past year or so.

 

Asexuality in Relationships

Being asexual does not mean you have no interest in being in a relationship, or are functionally unable to be in one. There’s a lot more to relationships than sexual attraction, and the absence of sexual attraction does not equate to an absence of love, or even the absence of sexual relations. In fact, being ace in a relationship (or being in a relationship with someone who is ace) can be complicated in the same ways as any other relationship.

As mentioned before, someone who is on the ace spectrum can still desire sexual pleasure (have a libido) or enjoy sex, because behavior is not orientation.

Let me say that a second time, because it’s really important -- Behavior is not orientation.

Someone who is asexual may still have sex, whether because they enjoy it, want it, want to please their partner, want to have biological children, or any number of other reasons. None of this invalidates their identity as someone on the ace spectrum, because sexual orientations are based on feeling (or not feeling) sexual attraction, not your libido, fantasies, or sexual past, present, or future.

There are many people, ace or not, who do not want a sexual component to their relationships. The majority of ace spectrum folk all into this category. This does not mean they are incapable of feeling or expressing love, nor does it mean they cannot have a healthy relationship. It just means their relationship has a different shape. This is where things like the Want/Will/Won’t list are helpful, as they help define #boundaries in a relationship while still allowing growth.

Another option is the queerplatonic partnership, or QPP. Queer, in this case, has nothing to do with gender and more to do with the unique type of relationship a QPP generally refers to. These relationships function differently for everyone. Maybe it involves adopting a child together, but still dating others. Maybe it involves excessive cuddling, but always fully clothed. Maybe it’s someone you’re so emotionally close with, you can honestly say you love them more than anyone else in the world, but you would never dream of kissing them.

There aren’t the words in the English language to describe in innumerable types of love that exist. We’re often fed one type -- the one consummated through sex -- but to ignore the others is to shut out potential life partners, simply because they don't match some predetermined pattern. All it takes to make any relationship work is communication and a willingness to let the relationship take its own form.

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