Seven questions and answers about asexuality

Image: The Pride flag for asexuality.

What is asexuality?

‘Asexuality is a sexual orientation’, says Paul Enzlin, professor of sexology at the interdisciplinary Department of Family and Sexual Sciences at KU Leuven. ‘Based on the research a PhD student did with me a few years ago, and the literature on it, that was our conclusion. You have heterosexual people who are attracted to the opposite sex. Gay people are attracted to the same sex and bisexuals of both sexes. They are all attracted to someone and are sexually active for the purpose of finding sexual gratification. There are also people who have paraphilic interests and thus are attracted to objects or non-normative actions that others find strange. Asexual people are not sexually attracted to anything or anyone. Being sexually active does not lead to the sexual satisfaction that is often central to them, and they have nothing to do with sexuality. ‘

“It has long been believed in science that there were other possible explanations for asexuality. Isn’t asexuality just a form of having very little sex drive? Can these people have a sexual pleasure disorder? Quite a few people who have been diagnosed within the ASD spectrum are also asexual. Does it have anything to do with it? These were important questions. So there have been attempts to find other explanations, but in general it is true that more and more people are convinced that it is a sexual orientation. ‘

How many people are asexual?

‘A large British survey in 2004 showed that about one percent of the population is asexual’A correct estimate, for other studies also showed about one percent. It could be that if we were to do such a prevalence survey at the moment, more would dare to admit that they are asexual, due to the strong societal debate in which there is more attention to diversity. Then that percentage can still increase, but it’s just a matter of time to look at it. ”

Do asexual people have sex?

‘People often think that asexual people simply do not enter into a relationship and thus do not have to worry about sexuality. It’s not true. Some asexual people have sex to meet their partner’s sexual needs. So they certainly never masturbate, the reasoning often sounds. Yet we see that asexual people masturbate almost as much as people who are sexual. They just give it a different meaning. They do this, for example, to get sleepy or to release tension. There are also asexual people who have sex just to try it. Just to see if it’s something for them. But then they gradually notice that it does not work.

Do asexual people have an aversion to sex?

“That’s almost never the case. What is especially noticeable is that sexuality has no positive significance for them. Many people love because they want sexual gratification and because it is a pleasurable experience for them. Asexual people do not feel like having sex because they do not feel sexual attraction. They have no problems with their sexual function, such as erection problems or vaginismus. They are sexually functional and can also have an orgasm. Many people also love to feel more connected to their partner. It’s something asexual people do not recognize. Loving does not help them to feel closer to their partner. ‘

‘A person who is asexual cannot suddenly become sexual. Just asking the question reveals many people’s prejudices that being sexual is normal and that asexual people can recover. We must accept that it is a sexual orientation and leave it at that. If someone identifies as asexual, that’s okay. Then we have to see how it will affect their lives and how they can deal with it. ‘

What is the difference between asexual and aromatic?

‘One can feel sexually attracted to someone on the one hand, but also romantically on the other. A person who is romantically attracted to someone wants to connect emotionally with that person. In our study, eighty percent of asexual people wanted to connect emotionally with someone. They want a loving, warm relationship like most others. Only then without sex. There are people who are asexual and aromatic, there are people who like to live alone and do not feel the need to enter into a romantic relationship. There are also people who are asexual and romantic, they want to connect emotionally with someone but they have nothing to do with sex. You have sexually aromatic people, they are very interested in the sexual thing but do not want an emotional connection. And you have people who are sexual and romantic, they want sex as well as an emotional connection. “

What is the difference between asexual, demisexual and gray-sexual?

‘We’re talking about the sexual spectrum, where you have people without sexual desire at all, people with reduced sexual desire and people who are hypersexual. Asexual people are so far left in the spectrum that they feel no sexual desire at all. The demisexuals can develop sexual desire over time once they have developed a very deep emotional bond with someone. And the gray-sexed are people who can sometimes feel a little bit of sexual desire, but actually very little. These are the three main forms of asexuality. ‘

Can a relationship between an asexual person and a sexual person work?

‘Ideally, two asexual partners find each other. It is the easiest option. Because that means the two people have nothing to do with sex, but they want to connect emotionally. Then something beautiful can grow there. A relationship between an asexual person and a sexual person will no doubt be difficult. Because you are sailing on a ship, where one is going in a certain direction and the other in the other direction. Many asexual people will not take the step to help because they have reconciled with their asexuality. Often seek asexual help because they are in a relationship with a sexual person. It is important to see what the boundaries are within a relationship and what is and is not possible. Some people feel very emotionally attached to their asexual partner, but they still themselves need more sexuality. They can then take the step to an open relationship. But it really depends on the couple to couple. In any case, the theme must be open to discussion so that people can learn to negotiate the boundaries that exist. ‘

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