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Asexuality & Attraction

There has been so little research into asexuality – a sexual preference that is surrounded by myths, marked by a distinct lack of information and representation in mainstream society. Asexuality, and being part of the ace community (ace being the shortened term for asexual), is traditionally defined as having no sexual desire towards others or self. Like all areas of sexuality, asexuality exists on a spectrum – it is a really individual journey. Here are a couple of examples of the diverse, expansive and deeply human experience of asexuality:

  • Asexuality: Having no sexual desire towards others or self. In this formulation, desire is distinct from attraction – check the difference below.

  • Demi-Sexuality: A demisexual person can only feel sexual attraction after they already feel a close emotional bond to someone.

  • Gray-asexuality: Kate Woods, a representative of Australian A-Sexuals and guest on this week’s episode of In Bed, describes gray sexuality as a term for people who feel like asexuality almost describes them, but isn’t quite right – they fit into the gray area, beyond a definition.

  • Homo-aesthetic: Woods uses this term to describe a strong attraction to one gender that isn’t sexual – it may also be referred to as aesthetic attraction or platonic attraction

Dating as an asexual person comes with its challenges – managing social and cultural expectations as well as how you/others feel. One of the biggest misconceptions is that asexual people are unsociable and don’t want connections.

In our broader discussion of asexuality on this week’s In Bed, I thought it may be useful to distinguish between attraction and desire – a distinction that I think is relevant for all of us to be aware of.

  • Attraction: Something that piques your interest i.e. you see someone and can recognise that you are physically / emotionally / socially / sexually attracted to that person, you find them interesting or compelling to look at or be around.

  • Desire: The urge or wanting to have sex. In the words of Sexologist Kass Mourikis, “desire is like a motivational system. It’s the reason or the meaning behind your draw to sex”.

Can you have one without the other? Desire and attraction can co-exist and they can be separate, depending on the context and people involved. You can want to have sex but not be attracted to a particular person in that moment, or you can be really attracted to someone and not want to have sex with them. Both dynamics are human and normal, and our guests on In Bed this week talk about how this distinction is important within ace communities and how individuals navigate their own experiences with desire and/or attraction.

Learn more about the diverse experience of asexuality on our episode of In Bed.

Lead image via @robwoodcoxphoto

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