Hookup Help

Is She Asexual? All About Asexuality

Couple Bonding

In this edition of Hookup Help, a reader wonders if his last girlfriend was asexual.

Dear Jamie,

I’m younger and have had a few experiences fooling around, and one girlfriend for a year. I did really love her but it was a strange time. We kind of had sex if you can call it that. I thought she wanted to take her time and be sure and that was fine, but all of it was unsatisfying and felt off. There was no chemistry or sizzle in the kissing or groping and the sex was mechanical and more awkward than I can explain!

I thought we would just have to get used to each other and knew early sex could feel weird. Elaine wasn’t very interested, not even in just necking and never initiated anything. I had to beg her to put my dick in her hand and to try a blowjob. I wanted to eat her out but she didn’t move or say a word, and then she said she didn’t like it. When I asked about her fantasies or what she liked, she said she didn’t really have any.

I wasn’t pushing her or ignoring consent. We had talked all along the way about being boyfriend and girlfriend, sex, etc. She didn’t have previous experience and mine was limited. I tried to be a good boyfriend, to be understanding and patient, and supportive and not just think about sex. But sex is part of having a relationship.

I had to conclude that she just wasn’t that into me. I wondered if she was a lesbian. I thought maybe she had grown up in a sex-repressive home or something because once she’d told me she hadn’t really masturbated much. But I was reading something online the other day and it was about a woman who was “ace” and something clicked—I think my ex was asexual!

I’m planning on experiencing different women and different kinds of hot sex and experimenting with ladies who are into it and into me. I do want to look for another girlfriend after I meet a few casual lovers because I want to have a special person, but I also want her to like having sex!

I’m just wondering what you think. Is Elaine asexual? What can you tell me about asexuality? – Simon

Dear Simon,

Thanks for sharing your story. Only Elaine can say whether she is asexual, of course, but it sounds like a real possibility.

It also sounds like you did your best to be fair and generous, and I hope it was a friendly breakup so that you can both move on to explore your own version of sexuality without hard feelings. You will enjoy meeting different women and playing with them until you find a compatible partner. The desire for, need for, and curiosity about sex is perfectly normal and a very basic aspect of being human.

For most people, that is!

You are right, there are some people who are asexual, or do not share the curiosity and desire that others have about sex.

The Asexuality Spectrum

It can be confusing to BE asexual, because a person who doesn’t experience sexual desire or enjoy sexual contact may think they just need to “meet the right person” or that they have a low libido.

For some asexual people, they do experience sexual desire, but in a very limited way. Some have libido, but find the experiences unpleasant or even “gross” and prefer to only masturbate.

Some experience an emotional, romantic connection, but don’t enjoy sexual contact. They prefer a relationship without sex.

People who identify as asexual often use the term “ace.” You may hear the term “ace umbrella” because there is an asexuality spectrum. A “gray asexual” feels to be in the “gray area” between asexual and sexual. In other words, they may experience sexual attraction or feelings, but very rarely.

Asexual or Low Sex Drive?

Having a very low sex drive or no sex drive is related to asexuality but it is not the same thing.

Someone may have an extremely low sex drive and only masturbate or seek sex a few times a year. Someone may have a medical issue that interferes with hormones. Someone may go through menopause and have a dramatic drop in desire, but she is not asexual.

Someone may be celibate—they choose not to have sex—but they are not asexual. For example, a Buddhist monk or other religious figures may choose to have a life without partners but that doesn’t mean they don’t have sexual feelings. A person may be waiting for the right partner and abstain from sex, but still have desires.

There are also women who feel sexual desire but have never had an orgasm. This is not asexuality.

Asexuality is more like an orientation rather than a fluctuation.

Read: Is Your Sex Drive Normal?

Is Asexuality Common?

The vast majority of people are sexual. For most of us, sex is an intense drive. That said, asexuality is still quite common. Around one percent of the population is asexual. It is a minority, but it also means someone on every bus or someone at every pub or supermarket is asexual. Numerous surveys and studies all show that about one percent of people do not experience sexual desire.

Just as with homosexuality, transgenderism, and kinks, there has been a tendency to want to pathologize or medicalize asexuality. We have assumed “something is wrong” with people who don’t want sex or that there must be a medical explanation. But asexuality is not “treatable” and does not require treatment.

However, being asexual can negatively affect their partners rights and needs. Understanding and accepting asexuality early is the best way aces can avoid confusion and inadvertently hurting a partner.

Read: When Your Sex Drive Is Higher than Hers

While asexuality is not a disorder or medical condition, it is often correlated with autism. But most autistic people are not asexual. It is simply that the averages are higher.

The ace community has many advocacy or cultural groups today where aces can socialize or experience life on their own terms without sexual pressures. Such groups also exist for celibate dating because asexual people may desire companionship or even romance but want to date others who don’t want sex. This way, they find like-minded partners and folks like you or me can enjoy sex while they enjoy not having sex.

We look forward to hearing about your sexy adventures in the near future. Have a blast!

Do you identify as asexual or another asexual spectrum (a-spec) identity? Please share in the comments.

Hookup Help is a Q&A series. If you want advice or a woman’s perspective on hooking up, online dating, relationships, or sex, we want to hear from you. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION, and who knows, you may appear in the next Hookup Land newsletter.

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