First Things First
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like being straight or gay. When someone is straight, they’re interested in people of a different gender. When someone is gay, they’re into the same gender. But when someone is asexual, or “ace” as it’s called, they’re not really into anyone in that way. They simply don’t experience sexual attraction. Asexuality isn’t something that needs to be “fixed” or “cured”, it’s just a part of who they are.
You’ve probably never heard of asexuality until your child mentioned it to you. You’re probably a little bit confused and a little bit concerned. That’s understandable! This probably wasn’t a conversation you were expecting to have when you woke up this morning. This guide aims to help explain what you need to know about asexuality, and what it means for you and your child.
It’s a good idea to let go of whatever preconceptions you might have about asexuality. When people hear the word “asexual”, it conjures up a lot of images and ideas, and most of those are wrong.
Asexuality is not a problem that you need to solve. It’s not a disease. It’s not a disorder. It’s not an Internet fad. It’s not a cult. It’s not a fancy word for celibacy. It’s not a gender identity. It’s not a choice. It’s not some tree-hugging hippy liberal idea. It’s not some conservative purity movement. It doesn’t involve spores or splitting in two or anything like that. It’s not some excuse to get out of dating. Asexuality is a sexual orientation. That’s all.
Now, you’re probably wondering why, if it’s a real sexual orientation, you’ve never heard of it before. That’s because the word used to describe it is relatively new. Although it’s been around for decades, it really only started picking up popularity in the early 2000s. But the concept is much older. There have been asexual people for as long as there have been people. They just didn’t have a word to describe themselves. The age of a word used to describe a concept does not make that concept invalid. After all, “heterosexual” wasn’t used until 1892, although there were certainly heterosexual people in the Middle Ages and in Ancient Greece and even earlier.
The current best estimate is that at least 1% of people are asexual. This figure comes from Dr. Anthony Bogaert, a scientist who was among the first to explicitly study asexuality. He wasn’t the first to notice it, though. The famous researcher Alfred Kinsey, when he was working on the “Kinsey Scale”, realized that some people simply didn’t fit on his chart, so he labeled them as “Group X”. Many people today believe that this Group X described asexual people.
If at least one out of every hundred people is asexual, this means you probably know someone else who might be asexual. Think about the people in your life. Is there a bachelor uncle or spinster aunt who never showed an interest in anyone else? Is there a friend who always stays out of the sex talk? Is there a cousin who got married a couple of times, but never had any kids? Was there a college roommate who was more interested in books than hookups? Those people might be asexual, too. They might not even know of the word.
What This Means For You
This means that you have a child who is asexual.
No, really, that’s all it means. Nothing in your life or your child’s life has changed. This is simply a revealing of what was already there. It’s one of many things your child will come across as they live their life and discover who they are.
Why Is My Child Asexual?
Like any other sexual orientation, the cause of asexuality is unclear, and for the most part, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your child is asexual. It’s part of who they are.
Your child likely did not start using the word “asexual” lightly. This isn’t something they’re saying on a whim. They thought about it a lot, probably even agonizing over why they weren’t like everyone else. For many people, the discovery of the word “asexual” is actually a liberating moment. Finally, they become aware that they’re not alone, that there are other people like them. They are sure this is who they are.
You didn’t do anything to turn your kid asexual. They didn’t end up asexual because you scared them off of sex or didn’t hug them enough or anything like that. Asexuality is not the result of poor parenting. There is nothing you could have done differently that would have changed anything.
What Should I Do?
- Listen to your child. They know more about this than you do.
- Try to understand. It doesn’t all have to make sense right away, but what’s important is that you make an effort to understand.
- Do research. If you don’t understand something, or have questions you don’t feel comfortable asking your child, or if you simply want to know more, then spend some time and look up what you want to know.
- Treat asexuality with respect. Asexuality is not imaginary, it’s not a “teenage thing”, it’s not a punchline. It’s an integral part of your child’s identity. If you disrespect asexuality, you’re disrespecting your child.
- Accept them. This is important to them, and it’s important for them to know you care.
- And most importantly: Love them.
What Shouldn’t I Do?
- Don’t get angry. There’s nothing to get angry about. Asexuality isn’t a choice, it’s part of who they are. Getting angry over your child being asexual is like getting angry that your child wears size 9 shoes or has brown eyes.
- Don’t try to “fix” it. There’s nothing to “fix”. The APA recognizes asexuality as a valid orientation in the DSM-5. Sending your child to a therapist to “cure” their asexuality would, at best, be a complete waste of money, and, at worst, be a horrifying, traumatic experience.
- Don’t try to convince them that they’re wrong. Trust that your child knows how they feel and what they’re thinking.
- Don’t dismiss it. If your child says that they’re asexual, that means it’s important to them. Brushing it off will tell your child that you don’t care.
- Don’t “forget” about it. If your child has to remind you that they’re asexual at some point down the line, it shows them that you’re not interested in their life. You don’t have to remember all the terminology and all the specific details, but you do have to remember that they are asexual and what that means.
- Don’t tell anyone else without your child’s permission. Your child has trusted you with this information. There may be other people that they do not trust with this information. Don’t betray your child’s trust by telling other people about it.
- Don’t say anything in the “What Not To Say” section below. That section is a collection of hurtful and invalidating statements that should be avoided when talking to your child about asexuality.
What Not To Say
“What about grandchildren?” Many parents are concerned that they will never become grandparents after a child comes out as asexual. First, you need to recognize that your children are under no obligation to produce grandchildren for you. The decision to have or not have children is a personal one, and there was no guarantee that your child would have wanted to have children of their own, even if they were heterosexual. However, nothing about being asexual prevents your child from having kids, if that’s what they want. There are many asexuals who want kids and there are many who have kids. Asexual people can become parents the same way anyone else can: Adoption, surrogacy, artificial insemination, even through natural conception.
“But you dated someone!” Past dating history is not evidence that someone is not asexual. Even current relationship status is not evidence that someone is not asexual. Maybe your child went out with that person because they felt that they had to conform to social expectations. Maybe your child went out with that person because they were experimenting with their own feelings, and that’s what led them to realize that they are asexual. Maybe your child went out with that person because they were in love. Dating someone has no bearing on whether or not a person is asexual.
“I was like that, too. You’ll change!” When someone tells you that they are asexual, they’re not looking for reassurance that someday they’ll be “normal”. They already are normal. They’re looking for acceptance and understanding. They’re looking for recognition of who they are. By saying that you “used to be the same way”, you’re not helping them at all. You’re dismissing them. Asexuality is not some sort of teenage fashion trend that they’ll be over in a week.
“You’re too young to know.” If your child came to you and said “Hey, I’m straight”, would you think that they’re too young to know? If they said “Hey, I’m gay”, would you think that they’re too young to know? If you think they’re old enough to know that they’re gay or straight, then they’re old enough to know that they’re asexual.
“I don’t approve.” You do not get to disapprove of this. You have no say in the matter. When your child tells you that they are asexual, it is a statement of fact. It’s not a matter that is open for debate. You can’t talk them out of it and you can’t convince them to change, because it wasn’t a choice that they made. There is nothing to talk them out of and there is nothing that they can change. They are asexual and that’s that. Your disapproval will only hurt your child.
“I’m fine with it. Just don’t tell anyone about it.” If you want to silence your child, then you’re not actually fine with it. It is not your place to decide who your child tells. Are you embarrassed by it? Are you worried what other people will think? That is not your role as a parent. Your job is to defend your child’s right to be who they are without fear.
“No one will go out with you if you say that.” There are several problems with this sort of statement. First, you’re telling your child to hide who they are for the sake of finding a partner, instead of telling them to value themselves and find someone who will love them for who they are. Second, you’re making the assumption that your child is actually interested in going out with someone. They might not be. A significant number of asexual people are also aromantic or are otherwise not interested in dating. And finally, you’re saying that sex is the only important thing in a relationship.
“Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone someday.” Asexuality is not a synonym for single. It’s not a temporary state that’ll just evaporate the moment the right person comes along. When your child told you that they were asexual, they weren’t complaining about the lack of a suitable partner. They were telling you what their sexual orientation is. Certainly, they may meet someone someday. And if they do, your child will still be asexual.
“I don’t want you to limit yourself.” The word “asexual” is a description, it’s not a self-imposed limitation. Your child is not using it to shut themselves off from experiences they’re afraid of or aren’t ready for. They’re not suppressing some part of their personality to fit this word, they’re using the word because it fits their personality. An asexual person is no more limited by asexuality than a straight person is limited by heterosexuality.
“But I heard that sexuality is fluid. Maybe you’ll change someday!” Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. That’s not the point. They are asexual today, and that’s what matters. When you say something like this, what you’re really saying is that you don’t like the current state of things and wish they were different, and that you won’t accept your child until they change into something more acceptable to you. Besides, this argument can easily be turned around: If sexuality is fluid, maybe you’ll become asexual someday.
“We’ll take you to a doctor to fix this.” Asexuality is not something that can be fixed or cured. You might be thinking that having no interest in sex is a symptom of something like a hormone imbalance or a brain tumor or something else. While it’s true that a lower libido or disinterest in sex can be a symptom of a number of medical conditions, it’s rarely the only sign. It’s natural to be concerned, but unless your child is showing other symptoms or there has been a sudden drop in their sexual interest, there’s likely no reason to involve a doctor. Many asexuals have had their hormone levels checked, and often will find that the levels are within the expected ranges. Some asexuals have even been on hormone therapy for various reasons, and they typically report no changes.
“God doesn’t approve.” Since the people who raise this objection are most often Christian, here are a couple of verses to take a look at: 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 and Matthew 19:10-12. Many other religions have similar statements of acceptance. I am unaware of any religion that specifically condemns asexuality.
“You’re going out with someone now. I knew you weren’t asexual after all!” Dating someone is not proof that your child is not asexual. There are many reasons your child might have for going out with someone, and sexual attraction doesn’t have to be one of them. Saying something like this indicates that you never believed your child in the first place and were always looking for some evidence to “prove” that they were wrong.
“That must be so hard on your partner.” If your child is in a relationship when they tell you that they’re asexual, you might assume asexuality mean there’s no sex, and no sex means that there must be relationship strife. However, neither one of those assumptions is necessarily true. Asexuality doesn’t prevent someone from having sex, it’s just that asexual people generally aren’t very inclined towards it or enthusiastic about it. Some asexual people do have sexual relationships with their partners for various reasons. On the second assumption, being in a sexless relationship does not guarantee relationship troubles any more than being in a sex-filled relationship guarantees eternal happiness. You do not know what is going on in their relationship. You don’t know what arrangements, agreements, or accommodations they have made in their relationship. It’s even possible that their partner is asexual, too! If they are not sharing any of this with you, that is because it is none of your business.
If you’ve said any of these things: You’re probably reading this after your child came out, and if that’s the case, there’s a chance you may have already said some of these things (or something similar). If that’s the case, then talk to your child and apologize. Let them know that you now understand that you may have said something hurtful. You can’t take back what you’ve said, but you can try to undo some of the damage it might have caused.
What Else Should I Know?
A single page cannot tell you everything you might need to know about asexuality, and I encourage you to do further research on your own. The following is a very rough look at a few other topics which may come up when your child talks about asexuality.
The Ace Spectrum: Your child might tell you that they are demisexual or are gray-asexual. These categories fall along what’s called the “Ace Spectrum”, which means they’re somewhere in the middle ground between being asexual and not being asexual. A gray-asexual person rarely feels sexual attraction, isn’t quite sure if what they’ve felt would be considered sexual attraction, or, for some other reason, doesn’t quite feel like the term “asexual” fits them right, even though it’s close. A demisexual person does not experience sexual attraction until after they’ve gotten to know someone very well. (Note that this is not the same thing as being unwilling to sleep with a stranger. This is about never being attracted to someone unless they know them well first. And before you say “Well, that’s just how everyone is”, consider that there are entire industries that revolve around people feeling sexually attracted to strangers.) Both gray-asexuality and demisexuality are real and are perfectly normal ways to be.
Romantic Attraction: Romantic attraction is separate from sexual attraction. Although an asexual person lacks sexual attraction, they may still experience romantic attraction. At the risk of oversimplification, if sexual attraction is about wanting to have sex with someone, then romantic attraction is about wanting to have romance with someone. Romantic attraction, like sexual attraction, can be directed toward a gender or genders. For instance, a man who experiences romantic attraction toward women would be described as “heteroromantic”, while a woman who is romantically interested in men and women would be “biromantic”, and so on. Someone who does not experience romantic attraction would be called “aromantic”. Although sexual orientation and romantic orientation are typically aligned (For instance, a homosexual person is often homoromantic, as well), it’s possible for a person to have any combination of these orientations. That means someone can be an aromantic heterosexual or a panromantic asexual or any other or whatever else.
Gender Identity: Gender identity is the perception of one’s own gender. In other words, it’s how a person sees themselves as a man or a woman (or, in some cases, both or neither, or a combination, etc.). Gender is separate from physical sex. One way to think of it is that gender is in your head, while sex is in your pants. Someone whose gender identity matches their physical sex (for example, a woman who happens to have a vagina) is said to be “cisgender”, while someone whose gender and sex at birth are not the same (for example, a woman who happens to have a penis) are called “transgender”. Often, the concept of “preferred pronouns” will come up in a discussion of gender identity. Preferred pronouns are how someone would like to be addressed. For example, one person might want to be called “he”, someone else might want to be called “she”, and a third person might want the word “they” to be used. It is important to note that asexuality is not a gender identity. Asexuals can be any gender or any sex.
This is handy not only for parents, but those parents who didn’t have this information around when they were younger, thought there was something ‘wrong’ with them, but didn’t know what. I wonder if the many people in the past who have been dismissed as ‘frigid’ have actually been asexual but didn’t realise it. I’m married with three children but a few months ago realised that I was asexual and it was confirmed in my mind when I read your original blogs about this. I think my eldest daughter suspects that she is too because she’s been reading about this over the past few months and is very clued up. When I was younger I used to fancy boys/men, but if there was ever the slightest thought that they also fancied me I’d go off them instantly. I always thought I was weird in that respect, but my daughter tells me I’m not and it’s part of the ace spectrum. Thank goodness I’m not mad!
You are probably hetero-lithrosexual in that case! Hetero- straight, unless you also felt the same about women. Lithro- you feel sexual attraction but the attraction fades once reciprocated, or you do not care if it is reciprocated. And, if you fancied them romantically, then change -sexual to -romantic. I hope this is the term you were looking for!
I’m not sure of the difference between fancying someone romantically or sexually. Sex is not and never has been something which I’ve been interested in. I’ve managed to evade it in my marriage for about 18 months so far! However I’m not romantic either. Thinking back I really should never have got married. We became friends first and everything else followed on, and I suppose I felt that it was ‘normal’ to get married and have children.
This is a very interesting concept. I also fancy guys but i dont want sex or i dont need to be reciprocated. I feel ok with it, but some other people dont. I usually dont tell people i am asexual, so they usually take more attention on me that i would like. i dont like that.
Being openly asexual drag attentions on me and already been in situations where people thought i was lesbian, which im not, or ill in some way and tried to fix. I hate all the attention people pay when they notice i am diferent, i just want people to give me peace and leave me alone…
You’re probably asexual and heteroromantic.
Thanks for writing this! =) I’ve identified as Asexual for a few months now, and have come out to both of my parents, who were more accepting than I could have asked for them to be, and are both willing to talk to me about it. I’m thinking of sending this article to them not because I feel that they need to read it, but because I feel that it is a good article and deserves to be shared, and does have some things in it that I don’t think they knew about. Hopefully, other parents whose kids have come out to them will read this and be as accepting!
Thank you so much. As an asexual teen, this is a rather good article. Thank you for this. I am sending this to my parents immediately.
I don’t know that I’m ready yet, but thank you for writing this, this will definitely be super helpful when I feel more comfortable and confident telling my mom :)
My 12 yr just told me she is asexual . I had no idea what that meant su I had to look it up. I was surprised that she knew what it was.. I read this article first before I responded to the text she sent me telling me she has been that way for two years now. I did say which I read not to say is that she will maybe change in few years she still is young. She asked me not to tell anyone which I won’t she thought that I would be mad but I wasn’t I guess I’m really shocked. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
You’re a good mom for not bashing her. Same,I’ve just entered my teenage years and I’ve been like this for 3 years, we are intelligent.
It’ll be fine,your daughter hasn’t changed,she’s the same person you know.
Also,you should try to find out more about her;
Like her gender identity and so on!
Loved this page! Thoughtful and well laid out. Actually, my very Christan mother is thrilled I’m asexual and not a lesbian, like I’ve identified as for the last few year–even if i still identify as homoromantic. I appreciated the Bible texts especially since they are still applicable. Having Paul explain it that way in Corinthians validates my experience for her and is helpful to have in this guide for parents.
Wow,my mother is Christian and says I’m an abomination
I’d show her the Bible verses but it’s her birthday and I don’t want to ruin her day
I’m planning on making a Prezi for when I come out to my parents, and this will help a lot! Thank you for making this (´∀`)
Sounds like a cool idea! I might have to use that idea too. :)
This page was really helpful. I just told mum about being asexual yesterday and it was frustrating to explain it to her but I sent her the link to this page and now we can talk about it
Well, this is a pretty handy parent’s guide to asexuality. I’m asexual myself (18 years old) but I am sure my parents won’t approve if I come out to them. We are muslims, and my parents are very religious. They had talked to me before about how they want me to provide them with grandchildren. Here you say that they don’t have the right to choose wether I should have kids or not, but they don’t believe in this. They believe that they actually have the right to have grandchildren and that I must not refuse (Im thier only son). As the local customs here state, my parents must choose a bride for me at age 20, and as I am aromantic I don’t want that, especially that the bride that my mother will choose (without my approval of course) will have the same mentality as her, which scares me. There is no law here to condemn force marriage or whatsoever, so I really need advice how could I come out to my parents.
I recently saw a group for Muslim Aces on Tumblr. They might be able to provide some tips.
Its’ unfortunate that many parents don’t realize that each person’s life is their own- if they did there would be far less control issue and abuse. You certainly should be afforded the right not to reproduce.
I wish my parents would read this.
Why not show it to them? They might be more understanding than you think. As I’ve said in a previous post I wish I’d known about this when I was younger because it would have made a lot of sense to me about how I felt and that I wasn’t ‘strange’. You’re so lucky these days having this information readily available.
This morning my eldest daughter told me that another of her male friends had ‘come out’ as gay the other day. I mentioned that I it’s a shame that more people don’t come out as asexual and I told her that I identify as asexual and she told me that she did too. I told her that I’d suspected for a long time that she was once I’d found out what ‘it’ was! Apparently one of her other friends had ‘come out’ as asexual at school at few years ago. Your parents love you so will accept you as you are. It might be difficult to explain what you mean as they might not have heard of it, so why not show them this blog? All the best.
Lol no,I’ll get disowned
Literally. It’s not like this everywhere.
I’m going to message this to my mom, at school tomorrow. But I’m not going to tell my siblings. My brothers like “Everyone gets crushes” so I’d rather not tell him right away. I’ve known I was asexual for at least four months, but I’m still afraid to come out, even though I will get mostly good responses.
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Ahh, I need some subtle way of showing this to my mom. I tried to come out as asexual a while ago- emphasis on ‘tried’. She got extremely worked up over it, telling me pretty much everything you’re NOT supposed to say. Lol. Examples; “I felt that way when I was your age; you’re not SUPPOSED to be sexually attracted to anyone when you’re this young”, “I don’t want you missing out on something because of some silly little post you saw online! You’ve always had an aversion to sex, and I think that this is your intellectual hiding-spot”.
Not to mention that she went on to associate the fact that I’ve never liked the fact that I’m growing up with my asexuality (in actuality, I’m just a transgender boy who is now too scared to come out to his mother. Yay!). In fact, she even got pretty verbally abusive; even though I knew her intentions were nothing but good, what she was saying erased it from meaning.
Anyway, long story short, if she decides to have an open mind, I think your article is going to help me a hell of a lot!!
I know I’m replying five years after you posted this, but your situation sounds difficult and I just wanted to wish you strength and all the best, hope you’re doing okay!
This is an excellent article and i’d love to show it to my parents, but they don’t speak English well enough to understand it to the fullest i think..
Hence the question: would you mind if i translate this article into Russian for my parents as well as for Russian ace community?
Pretty sure my beautiful smart daughter is ACE. I discovered my own asexuality within this site, and eventually recognized the same characteristics in my daughter, a sophomore in college, who at age 20 has never once expressed an interest in sex. Never dated, or seemed interested, never been kissed and absolutely certain she’s still a virgin. How weird is that? Mother and daughter both in the 1% that describe the term asexual.
I’ve talked to her about it, not mentioning my own orientation, and she agrees that this definition describes her. How likely is that? I’m worried that I’m attaching a lable to her that reflects my own orientation rather than hers. I want her to be “normal”
I discovered my own asexuality from this site too, and realised that my daughter, who is now 19, is also more than likely asexual. I mentioned the term to her and told her I was asexual, and she started to research it herself. Recently I mentioned it to her again and she said that after researching she has realised she is also asexual. She has also never had a boyfriend or shown any interest in them. One of her friends came out as asexual whilst still at school. I think realising that there’s nothing ‘odd’ about yourself makes life a lot easier.
Well she’s smart and beautiful and doing well, so I guess I have nothing to worry about.
I’m pretty young (16) And for a while now I’ve been thinking and doing research on sexuality and all of the different things out there. I have mostly come to the conclusion that I am asexual. I have been in one relationship and still am in one. All that it consists of is very loving attention (talking, cuddling, some kissing). My boyfriend is demisexual I believe. He is not currently interested in sex, but says that he might be in the future. Anyway I have kind of known without knowing the name of it for a while that I was what I was. I never wanted kids, or found sex at all interesting. I only crave a relationship for the companionship and closeness. I had never shown interest in dating till my current partner and if we ever break up I probably wont be interested in being in another. To the main point of my comment. My mom doesn’t seem to understand that I just am not interested in sex, and that I probably won’t be in the future. She is quite strict about how and when my boyfriend can hang out together and it is quite frustrating. She feels as though something will happen if we are left alone for a while just cuddling. I think I’ll send this article to her, though I don’t feel as though it will change her view much. She says that it is weird and unnatural for one to not have sexual urges but I just don’t have them.
I’m pretty sure my 19 year old son is asexuall He has never shown any interest in girls or boys and gets really annoyed when I try and talk to him about it. I appreciate he may want to keep this private but I am worried he may not realise asexuallity exists and is stuggling with the fact he is different to his friends. Whenever we are at parties or family gatherings and people ask about who he is dating I can see the sheer panic and embarrissment on his face. He is such a good boy he is so funny and kind, I just want him to know whatever he is feeling or not feeling is Ok that he is not on his own and is still my beautiful boy who I would not change for the world. Should I talk to him about this or just leave him to find his own way and let him confide in me when he is ready?
Why not give him the link to this website? I did that with my daughter. She was also confused but after reading it has said she believes she is asexual. It might be just the answer he’s looking for.
I hope that other people don’t have a hard time coming out to their parents! I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned my sexual orientation to my father, but my mother, step-father, and sisters all just heard me say it and were like “Okay, then. It was pretty obvious, you cutie-pie.” I’ve never been all that interested in boys or girls, even when my friends in high school would start talking about ‘sexy’, ‘half-naked’ actors right next to me. (Meh. If they don’t want to catch a cold, they’d better put on a shirt, already.) My mother did say the “it might just be a phase” and “maybe don’t say it on a first meeting, the boys might not want to date you” but I don’t think she was being cynical about it or anything. And both of those statements seemed to come out of the blue just to never show up again. After I started saying how I’m ace, my 2 older sisters came out individually as pan and bi respectively, so I like to make the joke that the sexual attraction drained out of the family genetics. ;)
Thanks so much for this , it really helps alot i identity as ace and growing up Puerto rican and african American my families views were so compatible with the idea
Needless to say bieng 17 and coming out to my mother ( ironically i havent came out to my more accepting father yet) went alittle like
” Your too young to know -give it until your 25″
“You just havent had the little boys whisper in your ears yet”
“I DONT think your asexual”
“If you are asexual then every 17 year old needs to be ” – implying that asexuality is a choice or form of religious celibacy
Those are just some of the comments
And i couldn’t get angry with her because she honestly didnt know nor understand the concept of asexuality no matter how many bible scriptures i showed her or little visuals or things to help her understand
But i am certain this will clear it up
My mom is a social worker so i guessed i just completely relied on that for her to understand but i shouldve kept that in mind before coming out
Concerning my friends EVERYONE is talking about sex more than ever and it hurts to rven sit in these conversations because i simply cannot relate !
I feel almost left out but i cannot change who i am and it hurts so much
But this has helped at least getting my mother to understand and that was my goal so thank you so much
To all those parents out there who are reading this post, suspecting their child might be ace and wondering whether they should initiate a conversation with them about it: please do so! There must be a reason for you to be suspecting, and reaching out to your child with an open heart and mind might be the biggest favor you do them.
If you are right, there is a chance your kid is already aware about it themselves and struggling with how to come out to you. If they are not aware, however, by sending them this article you might help them to finally discover their true selves and the fact that they are not broken, weird or alone in this world. This is what happened to me last year when my father sent me an article about asexuality. It is not easy being ace (or even realizing you are one) and support from our parents means a lot.
And even if you prove to be wrong and your child tells you this does not apply to them – allowing them to read this article and decide for themselves will not hurt anyone, right?
What will they come with next? Sounds confusing, and scary, and a lot like lack of a decision. Sounds like celibacy by choice. Sounds like being young and inexperienced. Using “they” or ” their” a plural pronoun is incorrect English. Why do you need or want a label? You want to fit in…. Everyone does. So you created your own label. My fear is that you have created a reason to be excluded, not included; not your intended goal. Why not live your life?
It appears that you do not understand asexuality. Would it help if I directed you to a website full of information on the topic? Maybe a page devoted specifically to parents, since you say that you’re a mother of three?
There’s a section on this page up above that reads “What should I do?” I feel compelled to point out that you did not do a single one of those here. You’ve also done several of the things listed in the “What shouldn’t I do?” section. Likewise, you have said several of the “What not to say”s. I would strongly recommend reading the page that you so obviously scrolled past to get down here, as you are likely to find some of it valuable.
Asexuality can be confusing and scary, but it is far more confusing and scary when you don’t have a word for it. When you don’t know what’s going on. When you think you’re alone. When people dismiss and minimize your feelings and criticize you without even listening to what you have to say.
Asexuality is not a “lack of decision”. Did you decide your sexual orientation? “After careful consideration and weighing all the options, I have decided that I will be joining Team Heterosexual for the 2017 season. I have tested out several other possibilities and am confident that this is the right decision for me.” (I hope you got a signing bonus.) That’s ridiculous. It’s not something you “decide”, it’s just something that is. I’m not into women. I’m not into men. What is there for me to “decide” here?
Asexuality is not “celibacy by choice”. I tried the whole sex thing. Wasn’t my deal. Why would I bother with that?
Asexuality is not being “young and inexperienced”. Late thirties. Pretty sure it ain’t gonna change, lady. (Furthermore, that’s one of those “What not to say” thingies up above that perhaps you should have read before commenting.)
I do not give a single damn about what your “fear” is. Before I discovered what asexuality was, I was excluded every day. I was excluded by commercials telling me that I needed to be sexually interested in women or I should take pills. I was excluded by love scenes in movies. I was excluded by coworkers who commented on the attractiveness of the waitress. I was excluded by family who wondered when I was going to find someone. It wasn’t until I found asexuality that I felt included somewhere.
You might not need this word, but I do. If one of your three children sent you to this page, then they need this word, too. I need this label, because before I had the word “asexual”, the word I used was “broken“.
I am not broken anymore.
Normally, I delete comments like this, because I don’t need this kind of ignorant negativity on my website. But you need to hear this.
Beyond all of that…
Wait a sec… You’re trying to say that “they” isn’t plural? I’m assuming you just fumbled your preposterous argument that language strictly follows an unchanging, unambiguous, hard-and-fast set of rules, but if that’s not the case, what plural pronouns do you use?
Anyway, since I’m pretty sure you got things backwards (Or simply don’t know the difference between plural or singular), here’s my response to that:
If thou complaineth about the changing nature of thy language, I shall demand henceforth that thou shalt speakest as if thee liv’d in the age of Shakespeare.
Oh, but wait a second, Shakespeare used a singular “they”.
So I’m sorry, where were you going with that bit about “incorrect English”?
I’m also a mum of 3, but I always felt ‘different’. I always thought there was something wrong wondering what all the hype about sex was. It’s not a choice any more than being hetero- or homosexual is a choice. It’s taken me until I’m in my early 50s to realise that I’m actually normal, and there’s a word to describe my sexuality. I have a daughter who is the same and me, and luckily there was this website I could direct her to so that she didn’t spend her whole life wondering what was ‘wrong’ with her.
When did you know what sexual orientation you were when you were young? The only person who knows someone’s feelings are themselves. I have no idea what your sexual feelings are. I could assume that you’re gay and aromantic, but then you would get all mad at me and say that I’m assuming stuff that I don’t know about. Guess what? If you said that, that would make you a hypocrite. On to celibacy versus asexuality. Celibacy is like really wanting to eat that cookie, but deciding not to because it’s against your diet. Asexuality is saying, “Nah, I’d rather have some of that cake inside the fridge.” See the difference? Next, the ‘basic rules of English’ were created in Britain by snobbish nobles who wanted to be able to distinguish between the upper and lower classes using speech. I notice that thou doth not use properly the original English rules. Our language has changed as we as a society has changed. Therefore, in order to accept everyone as people properly, we are using gender-inclusive pronouns. Have you read any of those older books from before 1960, where every time someone is trying to refer to both genders at once, they’ll either use just ‘he/him’ or ‘he/she’ and ‘him/her’? The terms they/them are much easier to use, and everyone will appreciate you for not assuming someone’s gender. Because that’s rude as f*ck. Are you a psychology major? or enjoy observing people’s behavior in order to interact with them properly? No? Then you have no idea how much happier with themselves and others people become when their identities are acknowledged and not persecuted. I am mad at you right now. Because I am asexual homoromantic, but according to you, I don’t exist. I have ADHD, but as does my dad, and he has sex at least twice a week with mom. So, my one mental condition doesn’t explain my behavior. Additionally, I have had sex both with a male and with a female, both experts in their fields, and yet I experienced no orgasms, no sexual feelings, nothing at all. I kept on blaming myself. Why didn’t I have any interest? Why? Then, I found AVEN. It explained everything that I was feeling. I felt exhilarated, marvelous, satisfied, and truly happy with myself and who I am for the first time in my entire life. Oh, and one parting note: It is not our fault that we are shunned. It is society’s really annoying habit of oppressing those that they find mysterious. The only way that we can feel accepted is if we teach people like you to at least acknowledge our existence, and not injure us because you are confused. It’s like you hurting your child because they are not carbon copies of your expectations of them. They live their lives, and the best thing, as an older sibling whose parents had their latest child when they were 13 (16 almost 17 at the moment), is to be proud when they respect those who deserve respect based upon their own guidelines, not yours. I’m saying to give your chilld advice, but them figure it out- after all, learning by experiencing is technically more effective. Mostly because they not only learn the intended lesson, but they will learn why that lesson is necessary in the first place.
Endnote: I sincerely hope that you will read this, as painful as that may be for you. I have mostly succeeded in life, and I’m hoping that you may help, not hinder, those around you.
J.K. Lilly, an ADD kid in a stable ace-gay relationship with the love of her life.
HI, I’m ace and my parents are okay with that. However, they (who I have a good relationship with and we don’t generally quarrel) think that because I’m ace, I’m more likely to get, as Dad put it, “preyed on by sexual predators” on the Internet. I’m 15 and I’m quite sensitive so that idea scares me.
What should I do? (Don’t say, “tell them”, I did, but Mum just said that I was more likely again)
I’m a bit puzzled why they would think that.
Have you tried to ask them what made them think so? Might turn out they don’t have an explanation, or that their opinion is based on some misconception about asexuality. Or they might just tell you “just because”, but then you can insist they defend their opinion with real arguments. In any case, it might initiate a conversation on the topic :)
Mum faltered a bit. First she thought that it was because I was more likely to dislike sexual conversations, but then she sort of gave up on that belief and sorta stopped believing that.
Dad, however, claims that I am more likely because, due to being ace, I am less likely to pick up sexual meanings and that might lead to what he mentioned. He’s always been a bit protective, kind of like Marlin from Finding Nemo. LOL!
With all due respect to your Dad, that logic sounds quite twisted to me. The fact that we do not want to engage in sexual activities does not mean that we are naive and innocent. We all live in a highly sexualized world and get those impulses constantly, so we are aware of what certain behaviour or signals might lead up to. In fact, I think it’s rather the opposite of what your dad thinks: since we will try to avoid sexual encounters, we are much more alert at all times :) At least that’s how I see it.
Well, it’s a small possibility that you might, but probably not. I mean, if you say you’re ace and people know what it means, surely they wouldn’t even try?
Sorry, I don’t know much about this topic. I recently learned about what being ace is and realized, “that’s me, omi” I’m currently 12 years old and I know that’s a small age to decide your sexuality but I stay far away from that stuff. I recently thought about what I would do if someone asked me on a date and thought I would just say “I’m not ready for dating yet.”
I haven’t told my parents yet because I don’t think they’d care much. They’d probably just accept the fact I’m ace because there’s nothing wrong with it.
I’m asexual and I keep trying to come out to my mum but every time I do she keeps saying stuff like ‘you just haven’t met the right person yet’ or that I should she a doctor because I might have polysistic ovary syndrome. I just really want her to hear me. We have a great relationship which is why I don’t understand why she isn’t understanding what I’m saying.
Asexuals can and many do masturbate. Polysistic ovary syndrome is loss of like, the want to do masturbation according to the definition. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction when you meet someone, so no you don’t have polysistic ovary syndrome. You don’t need to see a doctor either, and you can still meet the right person and feel the exact way as before. I think she doesn’t understand what it means to be asexual, and you should show her this website.
Hi thank you so much for responding this really helped.
If someone who loves you thinks you may have have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, please do not dismiss that concern out of hand without seeing a doctor! The definition of PCOS does NOT include loss of desire to masturbate! I am not aware of ANY evidence suggesting a link between PCOS and the desire to masturbate or sexual attraction in general. Women with PCOS can be anywhere in the range of human sexual desires — it is not a sexual condition. On the contrary, PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects as many as one in ten women worldwide, and many of those women go undiagnosed. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women, and without treatment, PCOS can lead to serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and increased risk of suicide. PLEASE see a doctor. You CAN be asexual AND have PCOS!
My son just came out as being on the ace spectrum, of course, I’ve heard I of asexuality before, but haven’t met anyone who used that term to describe them self. I am happy that I didn’t say anything on the what not to say list, I just hugged him, and said I’m glad that we talked, he went to his fencing group, and I came online to Google the shit out of asexuality. Thanks for this! It’s really well written!
My child recently came out as ACE. I’m proud! I love my child regardless. To other parents… 1. It is NOT a phase. 2. This is their gender. 3. No, they won’t grow out of it. 4. Don’t try to cure them because this is who they are. 5. My love is unconditional from the moment my baby kicked. 6. I’d want my child to come to me for anything. 7. I knew. Moms always know. 8. No, there is nothing wrong with my child. 9. No, this is NOT a fad. 10. No, this is NOT to make them look cool.
I’ll support my child 100%. I hope other children and teens receive comfort, love, and support from their parents. It breaks my heart to read some of these posts! A child, teen, or an adult should never fear who they are. Whatever gender you are, know that you’re loved. At least by me. You’re beautiful just the way you are. Don’t change to meet someone’s agenda. You are perfect. Be yourself always. I love you, kids!
Thanks for this — very well-written! And coincides with my attitude very much.
My smart, beautiful, well-adjusted 23-year-old daughter and I have had an ongoing conversation over the last couple years about her asexuality. I’m 99 percent “meh” and 1 percent “What did I do ‘wrong’?” That’s nonsense, of course. Her sexual identity is not a flaw but a feature.
Many commenters note that they, too, are asexual. In contrast, FWIW, I was quite unusually sexually active from age 14. But my husband admitted 10 years into our marriage he was not as interested in sex as I was (hmm, maybe I’d noticed…).
I don’t recall anyone raising this issue (apologies if I missed it): the false claim that asexuality is a reaction to sexual assault. I did not believe it. But during one of our many conversations about my daughter’s asexuality, I asked gently about sexual abuse. We have discussed it more than once and she said there was none. With a live-in boyfriend at one point, I would have been remiss not to ask.
Hi. I’m a fifteen year old boy, who has ‘tried’ to come out to his parents. Notice ‘tried’… Neither of them approve. I’m grounded, and my mother has said things like “There is no such thing, as being asexual”, “You are NOT asexual” and “You’re too young to make that decision.” Well then. That made me cry in the shower for a good long while. Not like you didn’t hurt me or anything. She came into my room, an hour later, trying to cheer me up, with a silly face. That, is not how it works. I’m really upset, and I have no idea what to do now. They’re sending me to the school counsellor. Now, I feel like a freak. My girlfriend is asexual too. We have a lovely relationship together. We kiss, and hug, and that’s it. She came out to her parents, and they were fine with that. My question is… Why can’t I have that? Why are my parents so in denial? I used all the information on tis website, trying to get my point across, that yes, I am asexual. No, it is not a phase, since I’ve spent hours, every night thinking about it for weeks, and months. My younger brother accepts me. My Mum doesn’t. And neither does my Dad. I need help, please.
Unfortunately, with parents like these, the only thing you can do is wait. And wait. And wait. As long as you show them every day that you are not changing, they will believe you. My parents were ok with me being gay, but don’t believe that I’M asexual. They have some kind of image in their head which portrays me as a sexual person merely based off of some uncomfortable experiences with sex that I had a year ago, when I was still trying to ‘fit in’. They act like they believe me, but they won’t until over a year from now, mostly because in my journey of searching for myself, I gave them lots of labels on the way, and now they think that this is just another phase. Actions speak louder than words, although words should go first. They did not work in your case, and bringing it up over and over again will only piss them off more, unfortunately. Your only feasible option at this point is to wait. I’m sorry that you have to go through this- I have a girlfriend who is also asexual, and my parents still ask me ‘how far we’ve gone’. It’s super annoying. I hope that they’re convinced sooner rather than later!
And again – why would a parent ask their kid “how far they’ve gone” in their relationship? That’s a very intimate topic just between you and your girlfriend! What would their reaction be if you suddenly asked them “Hey Mom, Dad, how often do you have sex? And what’s your favorite position?” It’s simply taboo, they should not ask such questions and wait for you to share that information if YOU want to.
Actually, they aren’t like that, mostly because they both grew up with parents who expected their children to figure everything (including safe sex, proper treatment of partners, etc) themselves, and hated having to learn the hard way. My parents would be a dream come true to anyone who is trying to figure out how to get sex, date, whatever, no matter WHO you want to date. The issue is that they are very sexual people, and can’t understand someone who doesn’t want sex like they do. So, in trying to be ‘good parents’, they ask me sex-related questions to make sure that I’m okay. This is very sweet and all, but as a person who has no sexual attraction, it’s plain bothersome. Thanks for the input though. It’s appreciated!
You are grounded for what, exactly? For NOT wanting to have sex with your girlfriend? Most parents of teenagers are freaking out that their kid might get pregnant/get his girlfriend pregnant, your mom and dad should be happy they are safe :D But jokes apart, in one thing I agree with your parents: you are still very young, not everybody starts having sexual feelings this early, even if they are allosexual. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you are NOT asexual – you may or may not be it, the only thing that really matters is for you to feel comfortable with who you are and to live a happy life. In any case, you are very lucky for being aware of the existence of asexuality at such a young age – this might save you doubts, confusion and worries in the future, especially that you have a girlfriend with whom you share similar feelings :) So my advice to you would be to just relax, treasure what you have with your girlfriend and don’t mention it to your parents again – whether you are having sex with your partner or not is anyways none of their business (as long as you take the necessary safety measures in case you do decide to make love). If their opinion is very important, you may try to explain them how you feel and how much their reaction hurts you, but be prepared that they might not get the point. Last but not least, always keep in mind that you are not alone, and should you need any support or someone to talk to, you can always come here or find other ace communities online where others will be there for you :)
I’ve known I was asexual for a few years now (I’m 16 now). I never had to officially come out to my brother; he figured it out. I came out to my parents tonight and genuinely expected them to be fine with it (my brother came out as bisexual earlier last year), but instead they said I was “too young to know,” “confused,” and “influenced by the media.” Obviously this is frustrating and upsetting because it has taken me years to get the courage to do this. I plan to show this guide to my parents when I feel ready because I feel it really captured my experience as an asexual, as well as my hurt when my parents said they think I don’t know my own feelings.
“Influenced by the media”?
What media are they looking at that’s so full of asexuals all the time?
I previously came out as bisexual to my Mum and friends but have now realised I’m lesbian ace. One of my friends is too and i really like her but I’m not sure how to tell her (or anyone else for that matter). Any ideas??
1 Corinthians 7:25-29 also has that “yay asexuality is actually really cool” spirit, maybe you could mention that also?
This is a great guide; if I could make a suggestion, I think something on the difference between sexual attraction and sex drive could be helpful in the “What Else Should I Know?” section. I told my parents I thought that I might be asexual a while ago, and my mom suggested that I might think that because I’m on antidepressants that cause me to have a low libido. Kinda made me question myself too, tbh.
My child has been talking to me recently about feeling like they are the wrong gender and in the process of exploring this (talking them to buy different clothes, changing hairstyles, and helping them discuss it with their siblings in a way that made them feel safe) I’ve noticed that they seem to be rather confused about sexuality. Having said they neither really have any interest in either boys or girls and are not interested in science and cooking, they’ve simply said they must not be old enough to have those feelings, however; I remember having crushes and bring away of an interest in people romantically at a fairly young age. Could my child be asexual? And if so, should I bring this up as a possibility that they can explore or just wait and see what happens while continuing to support them? I guess I’m just trying not to be overbearing or intrusive but I would like to be able to save then from any further confusion or fear of being “abnormal”… They’ve already been through enough and I’m already overcompensating for being “the only person I can trust”
Your child may be asexual or they may just be young. My personal opinion is that when someone is old enough to say that they’re gay or straight or whatever, then they’re old enough to say they’re ace. I look back at my life, and I probably would’ve started figuring it out by around age 11 and should’ve had a fairly clear idea by around 14, if I’d had the information back then. (Would’ve prevented me from doing stupid teenage things, too…) There’s also a possibility that their feelings about their gender may be taking center stage at the moment, and as they work through that, they may end up getting more in touch with their sexuality or lack thereof.
At this point, I think the best approach is to provide the information that asexuality exists and is normal, but in a way that you’re not attaching the label to them. Like if you ever mention gay or straight people, mention ace people, too. Or learn some pride flag colors and point out the asexual flag if you see it. I would have just needed the word and what it meant and I would’ve had a good shot to figure it out on my own at that age. But for their most part, follow their lead. If they say they’re too young to have those feelings yet (and they’re not like 30 or so), then they’re too young to have those feelings yet. As they get older, they’ll either develop those feelings or they’ll start to realize that maybe they aren’t too young, and maybe there’s something there after all. Now, if they start to show some kind of distress about it, then it might be time for a more direct approach and you can bring up asexuality as a possibility. And again, never tell them that’s what they are, just tell them that it’s a thing they should look into.
There’s also a fairly good chance that they’ll come across the word on their own, if they haven’t already. Surveys have shown that there is a higher percentage of trans or non-binary or gender non-conforming people in the asexual community than among the general population, and one of the theories behind why that might be is that by virtue of exploring their gender identity, they’ll come across other terms and realize, “hey, that’s me, too.”
One thing I would recommend against is bringing up the “When I was your age” stuff in that way. While you may mean it in the benign/helpful sense of “I had these feelings at this age, so you are old enough, and since you don’t have them, maybe that means you’re ace”, it could be taken as “You’re not meeting the benchmark I set in my life, so you’re broken”. Obviously, that would be bad.
My 12 year old son just came out as ACE and I want to support him in all ways. He isn’t very forthcoming with talking to us (his parents) about anything. So besides loving him as I always will, how can I start opening up communication about asexuality with him?
I’m a 40 year old asexual without children. I’m not a parent myself, but may i suggest something? Perhaps if you were willing to read about asexuality with your son. Maybe start researching on your own first & talk to him about what you’ve read. My parent’s have never researched with me, but they try to listen if i have something to say. Even try asking your son questions to let him know you’re open to listening. I can help you get started : I’m aroace. (aro is short for aromantic & ace is short for asexual. ) basically what this means is i don’t desire a romantic life or a sexual life. You can ask your son what his romantic status is. Some asexual people do want romance. Maybe he does, or he may be like me & not desire romance at all either. Good luck!
I’m not a parent, but I’m a 40year old asexual. I bought a winter sweater with the ace colors & a winter coat with the aro colors. I’m wearing them both together now. Last month i read about another term that seems to describe me :fictophilia. Though I’ve never wanted romance with real life people, i have always loved fictional characters. Can i ask, has anyone else here experienced this too?
My daughter is asexual. She sent me a letter. I guess I was worried she would be lonely as an adult. I was telling her grandma made she liked women. I didn’t even understand it back then. This happened 4 years ago.
Fast forward today she sen a letter. We have a good relationship. She was upset I said what I did. I told her I wish I had taken parenting classes. I like who she is and if I said or did something to make her feel otherwise I would of said it differently.
I support her and love her. I can’t wait to see what adventures she goes on and what cool things she like. She got hot wax to seal snail mail when she mails stuff. She loves old dresses from the 1850’s and loves capes and she is so smart.
I don’t know what I could possibly do more to make her feel loved and that not only accept her but love who she is. She has taught me to be brave and not embarrassed to be me.