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What Is Asexuality?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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Asexuality is a lack of sexual interest in other people or sexual attraction to others. Although asexuals are not interested in sex, some people who consider themselves to be asexuals do have romantic and sexual relationships. Asexuality is considered by many people to be a type of sexual orientation. Some people disagree with this, but others argue that although asexuals are not interested in sex, this still is a facet of sexuality, so it is valid to classify asexuality as a sexual orientation. Asexuality is not the same as abstinence or celibacy, which are when people choose to refrain from sexual activity even though they might have an interest in it or be sexually attracted to other people.


The concept of asexuality first began to be explored in the 1940s and was recognized in the 1970s. By the 1990s, an asexual community had arisen, creating a network that allowed asexuals to connect with each other. Studies have suggested that about 1 percent of all adults are asexual.


Asexuality doesn't preclude friendships, romance and deep relationships with other people. Although asexuals do not experience sexual attraction toward other people, they can have romantic attraction to others and can be interested interest in pursuing romantic relationships. Some asexuals might identify with another sexual orientation. For example, a woman who feels a romantic attraction toward other women but not sexual attraction might consider herself to be an asexual lesbian.

Not the Same as Celibacy

A lack of interest in sex should not be confused with celibacy or abstinence, which are when someone has decided to eschew sexuality for certain personal reasons. The term "celibacy" usually refers to refraining from sex and sometimes even all romantic relationships on a permanent basis, often for life. "Abstinence" typically refers to avoiding sex until a certain time or on a temporary basis, such as waiting until after one is married. Asexuality, however, refers to the person's natural inclination and feelings rather than the mere avoidance of sexual activities. It is possible for someone to engage in sexual activity without being sexually attracted to other people, and doing so would not preclude someone from being considered asexual.

Challenges Faced by Asexuals

Although many people have become more accepting of a variety of sexual orientations, the idea of being disinterested in sex is puzzling to some. Asexuals might find themselves in awkward discussions in which they are told that they will change their minds at some point or in which their lack of interest in sex is dismissed. It can also be difficult for an asexual person to pursue a romantic relationship with someone who is interested in sex. Many asexuals prefer to date other people who identify as asexuals because of the expectations that can arise in relationships with people who are not asexual.

In conclusion, asexuality is a valid sexual orientation and should be respected as such. It is important to understand that asexuals do not experience sexual attraction to others, but they can still have romantic and emotional connections with others. Asexuality is not the same as abstinence or celibacy, as it is a natural inclination rather than a conscious choice. Despite the growing acceptance of diverse sexual orientations, asexuals may still face challenges and misunderstandings. It is important to remember that everyone's sexuality is unique and it is important to respect and understand what sexuality are you.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon933751 — On Feb 17, 2014

I just found out after being in a long committed relationship that I am asexual. It just dawned on me that I have never found penises or vaginas particularly appealing and that whenever I fantasize about someone, it is never sexual. It is always just romantic like kissing or cuddling.

Every time I have had sex, it has always been because I felt obligated by society and my partner. My partner now is finding it difficult to deal with my coming out and not wanting sex, but he is happy that at least the reason I didn't enjoy sex very much before wasn't because of his skills in bed.

We are trying to compromise with sex every so often to keep him happy, but not too much to where I feel pressured or uncomfortable.

By anon344595 — On Aug 10, 2013

We've been married 45-plus years and since day one, my husband hasn't want sex or any kind of intimacy.

Back in the early 60s, asexuality was rarely heard of. Just a few years ago I first heard of this and my husband falls into this category. It's taken me all these years to finally find out why he's the way he is. For me it has been a horrible life style. I don't know really why I stayed with him. I got nothing from being married to him.

By anon333901 — On May 08, 2013

I'm not sure if I can say I am asexual. I was originally bisexual, but I want to give up on relationships because I have no luck with love, so I'm thinking of just saying I'm asexual.

By anon330312 — On Apr 15, 2013

I'm 27 and I know I am asexual, because I never once been interested in sex. Even throughout high school. Actually, I remember someone asked me how I was able to talk to this good-looking guy without blushing. I looked at them like they're crazy.

As someone said, I also find it to be a bore. Time consuming and just gross. If some miracle happens and I actually end up having sex with someone, it would have to be a pickup at some bar for a one night stand, because then I won't see them again!

By anon318957 — On Feb 09, 2013

I am just learning about asexuality. My 19 year old grand-daughter informed me that she is bi-sexual, but is also asexual. She tends to lean more towards female relationships. Her Papa has had a very tough time with her decision, however she is still the child we raised, and I love her all the same. This article was very informative and enlightening for me personally.

By anon313713 — On Jan 13, 2013

I have always called myself asexual, kind of joking about how I don't like relationships and sex. I don't hate sex. It just bores me and I had always done it primarily because I felt that I had to please my partner. I just want someone I can talk to and cuddle with. I never knew it was an actual orientation and that I wasn't joking. It's actually quite comforting.

By anon311361 — On Dec 31, 2012

I'm 18 and I've been with my boyfriend who is 21 for two years. We couldn't be happier and we're buying a house. The only thing is he works hard and needs sex for release. I, on the other hand, never feel a need to have sex. I like having it every once in a while -- once a month, maybe. We click like soulmates. We have amazing chemistry. The sex is wonderful, but it's not really important to me. I am just as happy without it. I've been interested in guys since grade school and have been sexually active since high school.

I've always been very independent and kind of a loner, so I never felt the need to be around people or have sex. I mostly did it just to do it. Just to say I have and know what its like. It's all right. I can't deny the fact it feels good. I just never felt the need to release tension or find connection in that way. I'm more satisfied just cuddling or being a simple companion.

I don't think I'm truly an asexual because I do get something out of sex. I just don't really think it's necessary for me to be happy and fulfilled.

By anon303804 — On Nov 16, 2012

My dad is asexual and I am surprised I was born. I think if my mom had known she could have left a lot sooner. I think it's perfectly OK to be that way. Just don't expect others to not want sex too. It hurts and confuses them.

I was with a man like that and I had to leave. I was beginning to hate him for withholding sex, but it wasn't his fault. It's just a difference, but you have to own it and not dangle sex as bait.

By anon291489 — On Sep 14, 2012

I'm 19, and I've never had a boyfriend, and I've always thought I was weird because of it. I had my first kiss last year and I'm not sure if it was because of who kissed me or the possibility of asexuality but it did nothing for me.

In high school, I wasn't really interested in dating like my friends were. Sure, I wanted a boyfriend but I was extremely anxious back then. Now, that is under control and I still find the thought of having sex -- I don't know how I feel about it.

I'm just glad to know that there are people who feel the same out there.

By anon242976 — On Jan 25, 2012

I was very surprised to read these comments. My husband is like that. At first I thought it was me, then I thought, what if he is gay. He is sweet and loving and when I try to ask him why he wasn't initiating sex, he says he didn't know why the urge is not there. We've been together six years and married two, so I knew he was like this when I married him.

I am very happy now to finally find that others feel like he does. And I've gotten to the point that it's OK with me not to have sex. A good cuddle is just as good. Sex is overrated anyhow.

This is my second marriage and it's nice to go to bed and not feel like I have to give in, or have someone groping me all the time.

By anon212757 — On Sep 08, 2011

I grew up fancying boys from an early age, but since I gave birth to my son at 17 (ridiculously early, I know) and especially since being married, I just can't be bothered with sex. I rarely get aroused.

The media is constantly bombarding us with sex and apparently we are all supposed to be having orgasms! I have started asking myself why am I missing out on this supposedly amazing thing? Masturbation does absolutely nothing for me. I do have dreams of sexual encounters but when I wake up, I don't care. Is that asexual? I've been like this for years and years.

By anon164877 — On Apr 03, 2011

i was abused at an early age. Now at 30, i have gone from wanting the cuddles and the love to not wanting a relationship at all. I am not depressed anymore; I just feel like i don't need anyone.

I am not afraid of speaking my mind when it comes to men either. Even in polite conversation, i am ready with a sharp tongue, or just let rip for no reason.

I'm so over cuddles and needing anyone to be there for me. Friends yes, but anything else, no. I thought there was something wrong with me. I also thought i wasn't normal.

By anon153211 — On Feb 16, 2011

I'm still 15, so I guess I'm still in the 'confused' part of my life.

I grew up fairly okay. I liked only two guys. One lasted a week and the other slightly longer. So I guess I'm straight, but even then, I never desired anything more than just being friends. Not even a romantic -- whatever people call it. After sixth grade I just stopped liking anyone completely.

I never found girls interesting in that way and I didn't notice guys at all. My friends wondered if there was 'something' wrong with me because of my lack of interest of anything sexual.

I'm starting to believe I am asexual, because I never thought of sex as a good thing from the time I was born until now. I can't imagine loving someone enough to do it and I don't want to go through anything romantic (not a strong believer in love. I don't know if its because of the asexuality thing, but anyway...)

I believe I'm happier single and without a partner

And I also don't want to have sex for kids either. I don't have to do it, no matter what people around me say.

By anon126551 — On Nov 13, 2010

I am a 70 year old woman and have never had sex. By choice and my religious belief.

By anon122613 — On Oct 28, 2010

When I came out to a select group of friends that I was asexual it took them ages to understand it but they all did a bit of research and they all support me. I'm so happy that it's becoming more and more known now. I feel so much more free to tell people.

By anon117979 — On Oct 12, 2010

I am 38 and i believe i am asexual because since my Divorce back in 2005 has left me to believe that by Bible rules we're not aloud to remarry, much less have sex. i read someplace that you do not become asexual by choice but i believe that if i want to some day meet my creator and go to heaven i must be right with God. how could i find a group like me to socialize?

By anon117942 — On Oct 12, 2010

I am 17 and extremely confused. I do not think about sex, dream about it, or want it like my friends do. I am not attracted to men or women, but wouldn't mind an intellectual, romantic relationship with a man someday. I just do not care for sex. I never had it and really do not want it.

I long to look more towards my education and goals of success. I always assumed that is why I am not attracted to either gender sexually. But after learning about what asexuality is I am questioning who I am. Am I asexual?

By anon117536 — On Oct 11, 2010

I am 52 years old and always thought that there was something wrong with me until i met a psychic that told me how i felt about sex and i was asexual. I had never heard of it. I have had two long term sexual relationships, both of which I was pressured into. (Long story).

I have craved a kiss and cuddle relationship with no sex, but never had it. I am on my own now and am happier than I have every been. I also think I'm normal because I now understand about asexuals and know i am not the only one and it is a natural thing that can't be helped.

By anon104818 — On Aug 18, 2010

I'm a 53 year old single female, who, up until four years ago, when i underwent a full hysterectomy, had a high libido. Since my op, i have no interest in sex, though i still crave a loving relationship, with lots of cuddles etc.

Had i known the effect this op would have had on me, then i would rather have had the pains etc. I feel like a totally different person, and not one i particularly like.

Does anyone have any ideas? I've not been in a relationship since my ex and i split up seven years ago. Though i would really like a good relationship. I'm straight, by the way.

By anon104562 — On Aug 17, 2010

Do you think i could be asexual?

I'm 19 and i have been with my-now fiance for about five years. Honestly, i don't care about sex at all.

Thinking maybe i was bisexual, I experimented. i went out with a chick for a while, but no sexual desires either.

i always felt weird because i didn't understand why he liked it so much. i thought something was wrong with me.

do you think maybe I could just be asexual?

By anon103634 — On Aug 13, 2010

I'm 55 and have four grown up children. i have classed sex as a job and I had to do it. Now i am on my own and i love it. i don't have to have sex. I'd love a relationship with cuddles and that sort of thing, but don't want sex. I always thought i was weird until I saw something about people being asexual on jeremy kyle. I thought i was only person that didn't like or want sex.

By anon96339 — On Jul 15, 2010

I understand asexuality. When my husband and I got married 16 years ago, he even saw sex then as "work" or a "chore". Needless to say I didn't know about asexuality then. We have what is a deep caring loving relationship, and have not had sex in over two years. I am not asexual. What am I supposed to? i need intercourse, and I don't mean "objects."

By anon95867 — On Jul 13, 2010

I am 22 and do not enjoy sex and am trying to figure out if I am asexual. I do not enjoy kissing or doing anything with guys. I do not want to be asexual so I am worried. Should I keep trying to be sexual or just give up?

By anon93228 — On Jul 02, 2010

I have never been interested in sex,but always grew up thinking I was heterosexual or 'straight'. I recognize myself as heterosexual now I guess. It's a shame there aren't options on dating sites offering an option to class yourself as asexual. We are still not recognized or thought about. Maybe it would be good to meet others like ourselves without the pressure of having to have sex.

By anon90466 — On Jun 16, 2010

I have always hated having sex. now i'm finally free from doing this disgusting thing!

By anon86993 — On May 27, 2010

i have never cared for sex. I'm married with a grown son and several years ago, i opted out for good sexually. i take prozac and i explained to my husband that it simply takes away any sexual feelings.

That's true, but what i failed to mention is that i never had those feelings in the first place. prozac was my vehicle to finally be free of having sex and pretending to like it. it's wonderful not to have the pressure and worry.

i don't care what others do and i don't think there's anything wrong with having sex, i just don't have any interest. i don't like steak either, but i don't care if others eat it.

i always found sex to be time consuming, smelly, way too much activity (I'm a thinker type) and sweaty. i don't like it when i don't feel and smell fresh out of the shower clean.

I'm happy and that's what counts for me. my husband had a stroke a few years ago and now isn't able to have sex and i have never been happier. i can read, play on the computer and watch tv.

By anon82695 — On May 06, 2010

Definitely think my wife is asexual. After having our second and last child, she has not been interested in sex at all, saying she does not care if she ever has sex again, with me or anyone. She also suffers from depression, and I am told the medication does affect their libido.

Or is it that nature has told her that she has had kids and there is no need to have sex anymore, as women mainly do it to have kids, whereas men do it to get their rocks off!

By anon79382 — On Apr 22, 2010

Sex has always been hard work for me and not a pleasure, I have never met anyone like me to share only a romantic relationship. I have tried to, though.

By anon61555 — On Jan 20, 2010

I haven't been interested in sex and I am in my 20's. I don't think it is going to change, but I can't know this for sure. but, I mean, how many gay people do you know have "changed"? It is what it is and I don't feel as though I am not getting anything from sex.

By anon21911 — On Nov 24, 2008

Could you tell me more about asexuality? I mean, I've always just not been that interested in sex... romantic relationships, yes, but not much else. And I've been researching asexuality and it makes a lot of sense to me. But I wonder, is it possible for my feelings to change? Is it possible that someday I'll be interested in sex? I'm not concerned; just curious. Your thoughts, please.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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