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Love Without Sex
The asexual community refer to themselves as "aces." A catch-all definition characterizes an asexual as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy or abstinence, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who you are. Asexuality does not make your life any worse or any better, you just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction and arousal somewhat differently.
"I do have regular sex, and it is pretty nice," one asexual woman says of her relationship. "And I do feel some sexual desire under special circumstances Ö but I enjoy a lot of the sex with my partner only very partially from my own sexual desire, which is minimal. It's really from this secondary sexual desire, this desire to make him happy, that makes it enjoyable. That desire is a powerful force that stems from the head, rather than my libido. I don't hunger for sex the way other people might."
According to researchers, some asexual people are happier on their own or with a group of close friends, while other asexuals have a desire to date and will form more intimate romantic relationships. Asexual relationships are based on the same elements that are also important for many sexual people, like understanding, commitment, trust, emotional intimacy and communication. For some asexuals arousal is a fairly regular occurrence, though it is not associated with a desire to find a sexual partner. Some asexuals will occasionally masturbate, but feel no desire for partnered sexuality. Other asexual people experience little or no arousal.
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Huffington Post: What Do Asexuals Want You to Know?
Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else, and like in the sexual community we vary widely in how we fulfill those needs. Some asexual people are happier on their own, others are happiest with a group of close friends. Other asexual people have a desire to form more intimate romantic relationships, and will date and seek long-term partnerships. Asexual people are just as likely to date sexual people as we are to date each other.
Sexual or nonsexual, all relationships are made up of the same basic stuff. Communication, closeness, fun, humor, excitement and trust all happen just as much in sexual relationships as in nonsexual ones. Unlike sexual people, asexual people are given few expectations about the way that our intimate relationships will work. Figuring out how to flirt, to be intimate, or to be monogamous in nonsexual relationships can be challenging, but free of sexual expectations we can form relationships in ways that are grounded in our individual needs and desires.
Many asexual people experience attraction, but we feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Instead we feel a desire to get to know someone, to get close to them in whatever way works best for us. Asexual people who experience attraction will often be attracted to a particular gender, and will identify as lesbian, gay, bi, or straight.
For some sexual arousal is a fairly regular occurrence, though it is not associated with a desire to find a sexual partner or partners. Some will occasionally masturbate, but feel no desire for partnered sexuality. Other asexual people experience little or no arousal. Because we donít care about sex, asexual people generally do not see a lack of sexual arousal as a problem to be corrected, and focus their energy on enjoying other types of arousal and pleasure.
(From Asexual Visibility & Education Network)
Asexual Visibility & Education Network
Asexuality: What You Should Know
The Ace Spectrum
The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) has devised a useful model which can be helpful in understanding asexuality. This research-based model is called the Asexuality Spectrum. Asexuality can be understood in terms of Romantic Orientation and Sexual Orientation and the interplay between the two. It addresses the causes and effects of primary and secondary forms of sexual attraction and sexual desire.
An asexual person's romantic orientation may be described along a continuum as: heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, or aromantic. (An aromantic person experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in forming romantic relationships.)
An asexual person's sexual orientation may be described along a continuum as: asexual, gray area, demisexual, or sexual.
In between sexuality (persons who experience sexual attraction) and asexuality (persons who do not experience sexual attraction), there is a fluid or gray area that is described by this model.
"Gray Area" or "Gray-A" is a term used to describe a person who is both sexual and asexual. Other terms used are "hyposexual" or "semisexual" or "asexualish" or "sexualish."
"Demisexual" is a term used to describe a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with somebody. It is commonly seen in, but not confined to, romantic relationships. Demisexuality refers to an orientation between sexual and asexual.
Asexual Relationships & the Ace Community
Chart: The Asexual Spectrum
Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama