There are strangers among us.
Crossing streets. Catching busses. Using Twitter and Facebook. Sleeping. Eating. Even reading this right now. They are unnoticed. They are undetectable. They are not really looking for sex.
That’s right. Despite what every HBO sitcom, Hollywood movie, or “10 Evils of Hookup Culture” listicle has ever told you, not everybody is Barney Stinson-level horny. For many, sexuality and attraction are not urgent, not straightforward, or—for a small but significant asexual population—just plain not there. But, with Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon like a huge, chocolate, condom-covered sunrise, and with the media putting out its best orgasm advice, it’s easy to feel like an alien if your brain’s not a 24/7 fantasy sexfest.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is, you’re not alone. The community of out asexuals is growing, and the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) has a valuable presence creating awareness, support, and discussion. Their website, asexuality.org, is a great resource and hosts a welcoming forum community. For those feeling left out or confused while mainstream culture spews innuendo like a scantily-clad firehose, a sense of community could help. My hope is that you and those around you accept you no matter how a-sexy you are feeling.
Not often talked about, asexuality is sort of the quiet relative living above the LGBTQ’s garage. AVEN’s website defines an asexual as someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction, not referring to who you are attracted to but rather how attracted you are. Consequently, asexual identity is not necessarily the same as LGBTQ identity and many asexuals also identify as gay, straight, bi, pan, or something else. Like homo/heterosexuality, asexuality is often described as a continuum, from full asexuals—“aces”—to those who might experience attraction in certain situations, or experience attraction without desiring sex as a release. Contrary to misconceptions, asexuals are usually anatomically normal, frequently sexually experienced, and in some cases involved in loving relationships with sexual or asexual partners.
The idea of dating without sex can seem counterintuitive as ‘dating’ and ‘sex’ become increasingly synonymous. The key is, I expect, the same as in any other healthy dating scenario: communication and understanding. And, even in a sexual dating scenario it’s totally legitimate to not want sex. If you, or someone you love, are dealing with physical or mental challenges, struggling with sexual or gender identity, or just too busy or tired for a romp, it’s common to experience libido flux. Moreover, I’m betting human sexuality might be more complicated than we expect. Google “How do I know if I’m attracted to someone + plz helppppp” and you will find many diverse individuals expressing their confusion; maybe it’s just a little hard to keep up with this sex-happy society we live in. So this Sexentine’s Day, let’s try to be honest about our feelings, and understanding of others’. And maybe, just maybe, it might be nice to keep it in our pants.