Asexuality and aromanticism have always existed. However, it wasn’t until quite recently that these terms were pushed to the mainstream, both by online support groups and more people openly identifying as asexual or aromantic.
Despite the terms being slightly more well-known now than in decades past, there’s still a great deal of confusion surrounding them. Keep reading to help clear the misconceptions of asexuality and aromanticism.
What even are asexuality and aromanticism?
In their simplest forms, asexuality and aromanticism are a lack of sexual attraction towards anyone, and a lack of romantic attraction towards anyone, respectively. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, and aromanticism is a romantic orientation.
So does that mean all ace (asexual) and aro (aromantic) people experience zero sexual/romantic attraction?
Nope! Asexuality lies on a spectrum, ranging from zero sexual attraction whatsoever, to occasional sexual attraction in certain circumstances. It’s the same spectrum for aro people, just with romantic attraction instead of sexual. The terms for different areas of the ace and aro spectrums are listed below.
How does someone become ace or aro?
Many people seem to think that those do identify as ace or aro only do so because they are “damaged” in some way, usually by sexual assault or trauma. While many people can experience asexuality and aromanticism as a result of trauma, this is not a universal cause. Some people just naturally don’t feel the same sexual and romantic attractions as others, and that too is perfectly normal.
Do ace and aro people just have low sex drives?
Some do, some don’t! Aromanticism is just about a lack of romantic attraction, so one’s sex drive is completely separate from that. Ace people don’t experience the same amount of sexual attraction towards others as sexual people do, but that doesn’t always mean they lack a sex drive. In fact, some ace people have very high sex drives; they just aren’t usually interested in acting on that drive with other people.
Do ace people masturbate, or ever have sex?
Again, some do, some don’t. Some ace people feel more comfortable acting on their sex drive with themselves than they do with other people.
Also, some ace people are in relationships with non-ace people, and will have sex with their partners as a form of intimacy in their relationship. Ace people are physically able to have sex; they just don’t usually crave it with other people as much as sexual people do, if at all.
Can ace and aro people even be in relationships?
Yes! People who are completely aro and have no romantic attraction to people don’t engage in romantic relationships, but people elsewhere on the aro spectrum are sometimes willing to have relationships that extend beyond platonic. As mentioned above, ace people can engage in relationships too, sometimes even with non-ace people! An aro person’s relationship can be with a non-aro person as well.
I’m ace/aro, but my partner isn’t. What should we do?
First of all, talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. Let them know that you don’t experience sexual and/or romantic attraction the way they do, and explain the versions of attraction you feel. This may confuse your partner, so offer to show them different resources, such as this article or the other websites listed below.
If your partner respects your feelings, talk to them about how you’re going to maintain your relationship. Is polyamory a viable option for the two of you? What about abstaining from sex or cuddles altogether, or only engaging in those activities occasionally? It can be nerve-wracking to talk about these feelings, but it’s incredibly important to be as upfront and honest as possible. This allows you and your partner to know each other’s needs, and will help prevent either of you from getting hurt due to miscommunications.
What do I do if I’m ace and/or aro?
First of all, you’re not alone! If you have a partner, check out the answer above. If not, most of the information still applies when coming out to friends and family. Explain your feelings toward them and offer them resources if they’re confused, but don’t feel pressure to come out, especially if you know it will make those close to you turn hostile. Your comfort is important.
The Ace Spectrum
- Asexual: Zero sexual attraction towards others
- Greysexual (or grey-ace): Occasional sexual attraction towards others
- Demisexual: To only feel sexual attraction towards someone once you fully know them
- Sexual: Not ace; to feel sexual attraction towards others
The Aro Spectrum
- Aromantic: Zero romantic attraction towards others
- Greyromantic: Occasional romantic attraction towards others
- Demiromantic: To only feel romantic attraction towards someone once you fully know them
- Romantic: Not aro; to feel romantic attraction towards others
This article is a great start on knowing more about asexuality and aromanticism. However, it doesn’t cover everything, so if you’re interested, check out the resources below.
- The Asexual Spectrum: Identities in the Ace Community
- Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation
- I Am Asexual (And It’s Awesome!)
- About Asexuality and the Ace and Aro Spectrum
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.