Understanding Asexuality

Mar 29, 2023

Therapist doing online therapy Telehealth

Do you find that being in intimate situations makes you uncomfortable? Do you have to form an emotional connection with a person before you may experience sexual attraction to them? Or do you sense sexual attraction for someone before you get to know them more, but then it vanishes when you do? Does sexuality repulse you in any way?

While there is no “correct” answer to these questions, answering them may help you consider your sexual identity and feelings. If the answer to any or all of these questions is “yes,” it’s possible that your sexual orientation falls somewhere on the Ace spectrum. And just what does that mean, exactly?

What Exactly Is Asexuality?

Asexuality is a sexual identity in which a person has no sexual desire or attraction to other people. Asexuality may be defined as the absence of either of these desires. It can also be put into a more general category that includes a wide range of asexual orientations and identities.

What Does It Mean to Be on the Ace Spectrum?

Asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean you experience no sexual attraction at all. It’s rather about feeling sexual attraction in different ways.

However, because asexuality is an umbrella term, there are many ways to identify within the Ace spectrum (also known as the “asexual spectrum or “a-spec”).

So, suppose your sexual identity is somewhere on the Ace spectrum. In that case, you may see yourself as one of the following asexual subtypes:

  • Asexual

People who identify as asexual, also known as “Aces,” may have little to no interest in having sexual interactions, even though they look for emotionally close relationships. They may choose to engage in sexual activities or not, have a libido and masturbate without being open to sex with other people, or experience sexual arousal and orgasm.

Also, while some asexual people may find the idea of sexual activity repulsive and hence choose not to do it, other aces may engage in sexual activity if they have an emotional connection with a partner.

  • Demisexual

If you are demisexual, you may not feel sexually attracted to someone until you have a strong emotional connection with them.

  • Queerplatonic

If you have non-romantic relationships in which you experience a profound emotional connection that goes beyond a traditional friendship, you may fit into the queerplatonic subtype.

  • Greysexual

Greysexuals or grey-As are people who identify midway between asexual and sexual – they may feel sexual attraction on occasion, have an extremely low sex drive, feel utterly indifferent about sex, or occasionally enjoy sex.

  • Reciprosexual

If you can’t feel sexual attraction to someone unless you know the person is sexually attracted to you, you may be experiencing what’s called reciprosexuality in the Ace community.

  • Akoisexual

This orientation, also known as akinosexual or lithsexual, involves experiencing sexual attraction that diminishes if reciprocated.

  • Aceflux

If you belong to this subtype, your sexual orientation changes between being sexual and being asexual.

People on the Ace-spectrum usually add the prefixes hetero-, bi-, homo-, or pan- to the word “romantic” to describe who they are sexually attracted to.

What Is Asexuality Not?

Being asexual is not the same thing as having a fear of intimacy. Fear of intimacy is a form of social anxiety disorder that entails the fear of creating deep, personal connections with other people.

Furthermore, asexuality does not equal sexual dysfunction, loss of libido due to age, life events, illness, or abstinence because of religious reasons.

In addition, although a person’s sexual identity may be affected or they may acquire aversions to sexual activity as a result of traumatic sexual experiences, asexuality does not always mean abstinence as a result of these negative experiences.

How Does Asexuality Affect Your Mental Health?

Self-searching and reckoning can drain you mentally and emotionally, creating self-doubt, low self-esteem, issues, and various mental health conditions. Additionally, you may feel guilt, shame, insecurity, and self-loathing due to the stigma associated with sexuality.

According to Mental Health America, asexual LGBTQ+ youth may face specific challenges when it comes to mental health.

For example, many Aces experience a unique pressure to fit in and feel like imposters or frauds about their sexuality. Knowing that they are different from their peers may cause a young asexual person to feel anxious, depressed, and unworthy.

Also, a 2020 Trevor Project survey shows that Ace-spectrum people report higher rates of anxiety and depression than other people from the LGBTQ+ community, showing higher rates of anxiety, depression, relational challenges, and suicidality.

How Counseling Can Help Navigate Your Asexuality?

It is normal to be unsure about your sexual identity. It is essential to realize that the answers might lie anywhere on a spectrum of possibilities. However, knowing yourself is wonderful, as it allows you to embrace yourself completely and be your authentic self.

If you still feel stuck wondering, thinking, and self-searching, consider speaking to a clinical sexologist. Sex counseling will be able to help you peel back the layers of your sexuality, identify the options available throughout the spectrum that are most fit for you, and feel more at ease in your skin. Let’s connect soon so we can set up a consultation.

Filippo M. Forni, LMFT is an individual and couples therapist in Los Angeles, CA. His goal is to provide high-quality and effective goal-oriented therapy services to the Los Angeles and Century City community. He has extensive training in sexuality and multiculturalism and serves as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology.