Things That Are Not Asexuality

Asexuality is a sexual orientation where a person does not experience sexual attraction.  That’s all it is.  However, since asexuality isn’t well known, it’s often confused with similar (and sometimes not even remotely similar) concepts.  Because of this, it’s important to point out these distinctions and differences.  It’s also important to note that most of these concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive with asexuality.  For instance, even though asexuality is not celibacy, it’s possible for someone who is asexual to also be celibate.

Asexuality is not celibacy or abstinence.

Celibacy and abstinence describe behavior, they’re about actions.  A celibate or abstinent person does not have sex.  Asexuality is an orientation, it’s about attraction, not action.  An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction, but they may or may not have sex.

Asexuality is not a lack of sexuality.

Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone can’t have sex.  Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone can’t masturbate.  Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone can’t wear make-up or nice clothes.  Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone can’t be interested in sex.  Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone is infertile or impotent.  Asexuality doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have a libido.  Asexuality means that someone doesn’t experience sexual attraction, and that’s all.

Asexuality is not virginity.

Asexuals do not experience sexual attraction, and won’t suddenly start experiencing sexual attraction by having sex.  Many asexuals have had sex, and yet are still asexual.  In fact, many asexuals don’t even discover that they’re asexual until after they’ve had sex and start to wonder why they’re not all that interested in it.

Asexuality is not a hormone imbalance.

Many asexuals have had their hormones tested and have been found them to be within normal levels.  Some asexuals have undergone hormone therapy for other conditions and have not reported any change in their sexual orientation.  In general, asexual people do not experience any of the other signs of a hormone imbalance (hair loss, erectile dysfunction, depression, hot flashes, etc.), so even when they haven’t been specifically tested, they can be reasonably sure that their hormones are in order.  Also, a loss of sexual interest due to a hormone imbalance is often sudden, while an asexual person typically has never experienced sexual attraction for their entire lives, so it’s not like anything was “lost”, because it was never there.

(If you do have reason to believe that your hormones may not be in order, particularly if you’ve suddenly lost the interest in sex that you used to have, go see a doctor about it.)

Asexuality is not a fear of sex.

Being asexual doesn’t mean someone afraid of sex, just like being heterosexual or homosexual doesn’t mean a person loves sex.  Being asexual doesn’t say anything about a person’s opinion of sex. Some asexuals are afraid of sex.  Some asexuals love sex.  Some asexuals are indifferent to sex.  Many people who do experience sexual attraction are afraid of sex, but that does not make them asexual.

Asexuality is not a purity pledge or a religious act.

Asexuality has nothing to do with adhering to religious beliefs and is not the result of taking a purity pledge.  If one chooses not to have sex because their religion or personal beliefs prohibit it, that’s abstinence, not asexuality.  It is possible for someone who is asexual to refrain from sexual activity for religious reasons, which would make them abstinent and asexual.  On the flip side, there are many asexuals who are not religious and do not appreciate having religious motivations ascribed to them.

Asexuality is not a choice.

Like every other sexual orientation, asexuals were born this way.  We never looked at our lives one day and thought “You know, I’m done with this sex stuff” and decided to become asexual.  You cannot choose to be asexual any more than you can choose to be gay or straight.  Certainly, you can choose who you have sex with or whether or not you have sex at all, but that’s behavior, not who you’re attracted to.  If you experience sexual attraction and choose not to act on it, then you’re not asexual.  Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction.

Asexuality is not a disease.

There’s nothing physically wrong with people who are asexual.  We’re not asexual because of a tumor or a virus or a parasite.  We’re not contagious.  Some people like men, some people like women, some people like both, some people don’t care, and there’s nothing to cure about any of those cases.

Asexuality is not sexual immaturity.

Someone who is asexual isn’t asexual because they’ve never had sex or haven’t had enough sex.  Someone who is asexual isn’t asexual because they haven’t met the right person yet.  Someone who is asexual isn’t asexual because they’re hiding or repressing their sexual desires.  Someone who is asexual isn’t asexual because they’re in some perpetual state of child-like naivete.  Someone who is asexual is asexual because they don’t experience sexual attraction.  No amount of experience or information is going to change that.

Asexuality is not a physical condition.

There are no physical signs of asexuality.  Just like you can’t tell if someone is straight or gay or pan or bi just by looking at them, you can’t tell someone is asexual just by looking at them.  Being asexual doesn’t mean that something downstairs doesn’t work right.  Being asexual doesn’t mean that someone has no genitals.

Asexuality is not a lack of libido.

Libido is also known as a “sex drive”, that is, the desire or impulse to experience sexual satisfaction.  Some asexuals do have a libido, it’s just that it’s essentially aimless.  Their bits downstairs will activate and call out for attention, but that doesn’t make a person feel sexually attracted toward anyone else.

Asexuality is not a gender identity.

Asexuality has nothing to do with someone’s gender.  There are asexual men, asexual women, asexuals who are transgender, and asexuals of no gender.  Asexuality does not mean someone is unhappy or uncomfortable with their gender or the parts they were born with.  Asexuality does not mean that a person is genderless.

Asexuality is not a relationship status.

On places like Tumblr and Twitter, I’ve seen many people say things like “Boys suck, I’m turning asexual now”.  Asexuality is a sexual orientation, it doesn’t mean that you’re avoiding sex because of a bad relationship experience.  If someone is avoiding sex, that’s called celibacy or abstinence, not asexuality.  You can’t be temporarily asexual because of a bad break up, that’s just not how it works.

Asexuality is not a relationship cure-all.

Similar to the “Boys suck, I’m asexual” line, I’ve seen people say things like “I wish I were asexual, then I wouldn’t have any problems.”  Asexuality does not mean that someone does not participate in romantic or sexual relationships.  Many asexuals will end up in relationships, and those relationships can have just as many problems as relationships between non-asexual people.  In fact, if an asexual ends up in a relationship with a non-asexual person, that can lead to all sorts of problems due to mismatched sexual interest.

Asexuality is not a dry spell.

If someone hasn’t had sex for a week, that doesn’t make them asexual.  If someone hasn’t had sex for a month, that doesn’t make them asexual.  If someone hasn’t had sex for a year, that doesn’t make them asexual.  If someone hasn’t had sex for a decade, that doesn’t make them asexual.  There isn’t some span of time that someone has to go without sex before they’re granted the title of asexual, because that’s not what asexuality is.  Asexuality is about not experiencing sexual attraction, not a lack of sex.

“But asexuals can’t masturbate!”

Do asexuals masturbate?


“Maybe” isn’t an answer.

But it’s accurate.

No, really, do they?

No. And yes. It depends on the person.

So some asexuals masturbate?

Correct. And some don’t. It’s perfectly fine either way.

Do you masturbate?

That is an extremely personal question and is quite rude to ask. Just because I’m asexual doesn’t mean that it’s somehow okay to ask me that.

But do you?

Yes. And I’m good at it, too. But if I weren’t writing a post about asexuality and masturbation, that little tidbit would be absolutely none of your damn business.

How can an asexual masturbate?

For the most part, they just kinda rub until-

No, I meant, how can someone who masturbates be considered asexual?

Simple. Masturbation has nothing to do with sexual orientation. A gay person doesn’t engage in some sort of homosexual masturbation. A straight person is still straight even if they don’t touch themselves now and then. It’s no different for asexuality.

But masturbating is a sexual act. You can’t perform sexual acts and still be asexual.

Certainly, masturbation is a sexual activity performed using sexual organs and it produces a sexual response. There’s a misconception that an asexual must be devoid of all sexual properties and sexual responses and cannot experience sexual pleasure. I used to believe that myself, in fact, before I discovered what asexuality really is. I used to think that I couldn’t be asexual because I masturbate. But not the case at all. Asexuality is all about attraction, not action, it’s an orientation, not behavior. Being asexual does not mean one cannot or does not take part in sexual activities. Being asexual means one does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people generally can and sometimes do take part in sexual activity. Masturbation is the most common.

Why would an asexual person bother to masturbate?

  • Sometimes they do it to relax.
  • Sometimes they do it as a stress reliever.
  • Sometimes they do it because they’re bored.
  • For women, it can help with period pain.
  • For men, it can help with embarrassing issues like spontaneous erections or nocturnal emissions.
  • Sometimes they consider it a bodily function.
  • Sometimes they do it because their libido wants them to.
  • Sometimes they do it to prevent prostate cancer.
  • Sometimes they do it because it’s like “scratching an itch”.
  • Sometimes they like to perform a self-test to make sure everything is in working order.
  • Sometimes they just want to.
  • And, oh yeah, going out on a limb here, but could be because orgasms tend to feel good.

In other words, asexuals masturbate for pretty much the same reasons non-asexuals do. (Please note that this is not meant to be a complete list of possible reasons.)

So, it’s okay to be asexual and masturbate. It’s okay to like it, too. It doesn’t cancel out your asexuality, it doesn’t minimize your asexuality, it doesn’t mean you’re faking your asexuality.

How can someone who has an orgasm still claim to be asexual?

Having an orgasm does not, in any way, invalidate someone’s asexuality. An orgasm is a physical response to stimulation. It’s not related to one’s sexual orientation, it doesn’t require sexual attraction to work. To say that someone who has an orgasm can’t be asexual anymore is ridiculous. When a heterosexual has an orgasm, it’s not somehow a function of a heterosexual orientation. When a bisexual has an orgasm, it’s not a “bisexual orgasm”. So why would it be any different for an asexual? Why would the asexual orientation somehow get canceled out by an orgasm? Am I suddenly turned straight or turned gay by an orgasm? How would that happen? I wasn’t attracted to anyone before the orgasm and I’m still not afterward, so if I’m not asexual anymore, what am I?

Do asexuals enjoy orgasms?

In general, yes. I know I do.

How do asexuals masturbate?

Exactly the same way someone who isn’t asexual does, with all the variants that implies. There’s no such thing as “asexual” masturbation. We’ll use the same methods, techniques, and implements as everyone else. We’ll range in frequency from absolutely never to several times a day.

“Implements”? You mean sex toys?

Yes. Like many non-asexual people, some asexuals will use sex toys to help them get off. In fact, I probably have a larger collection of toys than most non-asexual people.

(And for the record, males can and do use sex toys, too.)

But some of these “implements” are anatomically correct. Doesn’t using them mean the person is attracted to the anatomical part it’s a facsimile of?

Absolutely not. Anatomically correct toys are designed that way because that shape is obviously quite effective at achieving the desired stimulation. Using something that works doesn’t somehow make someone less asexual. Or maybe they’re using one because they liked the color or because it was in the $5 bin. It doesn’t matter. Using sex toys of any kind, from a formless bullet vibrator up to a fully anatomically correct RealDoll does not mean someone is not asexual.

So, if you’re not attracted to people, what do you think about while you’re going at it?

Well, this is certainly different for different people, but here’s some things I think about: Furniture. Vacation plans. The weather. The day at work. Things I did with my ex-girlfriend. Politics. Things I did with myself in the past. Some TV show or movie I watched. Video game music from the 80s. However, for the most part, my thoughts are “That feels good” and “That feels even better”.

Wait… “Things I did with my ex-girlfriend”? How can you think about that and consider yourself asexual?

I can think about that because it felt good. I never found her sexually attractive. However, just because I never found her sexually attractive doesn’t mean that I didn’t find her sexually effective. When I was stimulated by her, it was extremely pleasurable and it did lead to orgasm. The memory of that sensation is extremely arousing. It’s not a memory of her body or a longing to have sex with her again. I was sort of bored when I had sex with her, even though it did feel good.

Don’t you ever fantasize?

Personally, I never really fantasize. I’ve tried, but it never works. My mind always focuses on the details and the stage direction and never on the imagining having sex part. Fantasies always seem to end up more distracting than anything. It’s so much effort to get the imaginary naked woman in the right pose and performing the right motions that the slightest stray thought would kick me out of the fantasy and force me to start over. (Not to mention that the thought of the imaginary naked woman in any pose never really did anything for me…) The one that’s come the closest to working is imagining myself demonstrating how I masturbate to someone else, which isn’t really much of a fantasy and usually just leads to me dropping the other person and going back to just thinking “That feels good”.

Some other asexuals will fantasize while masturbating. Often, they’ll describe it as imagining a sexual situation with a placeholder partner. Essentially a faceless, sometimes genderless prop that’s only there to provide an element that would be missing otherwise. For instance, they may imagine a person with a mouth performing oral sex on them. In this case, their thoughts are focused on the act itself and not any kind of attraction to the person performing the act. Sometimes the placeholder will be there to fulfill a fetish that the person finds arousing, in which case the focus is on the object of the fetish, and not the placeholder.

It always used to seem strange to me that so many people would say that you couldn’t masturbate without thinking of someone while doing it. There’s the religious thought that the reason masturbation is considered sinful is that it requires lust in the form of a fantasy, and I never understood that because I never needed lust, so why did anyone else? I would just grab it and go, without thinking about anyone. It was very mechanical. Fun, but mechanical.

How can you get aroused if you’re not thinking of someone sexually?

You don’t have to think of someone sexually in order to get aroused. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to anyone or anything in order to masturbate. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to experience and enjoy an orgasm. All you have to do is touch your sensitive bits in the right way and presto! (And sometimes it doesn’t even take that much…) There’s a reward there that doesn’t require sexual attraction. I understand that, for most people, fantasy and attraction certainly helps the process, and I’m not disputing that. But it’s not a requirement.

Why would an asexual start to masturbate in the first place if they’re not turned on by someone?

Any number of reasons. Sometimes they’re told that it feels good and want to try it out. Other times their libido will kick in and downstairs will start screaming out for attention. And sometimes it’s because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, after all, it seems like everyone else is.

In my case, in fifth grade sex ed (Which was basically nothing more than a vocabulary lesson) introduced me to the terms “masturbation” and “orgasm”. Masturbation was defined as “the self-stimulation of the genitals to orgasm” and orgasm was “an intense pleasurable sensation in the genitals”, and I eventually put the two definitions together and realized that it was something I wanted to try. I eventually managed to work out how it was done some time later.

You mentioned a libido? An asexual person can’t have a libido.

Actually, many asexuals do have a libido or a “sex drive”. They’ll have “urges” and desire sexual stimulation. But while for a non-asexual person, those urges tend to be directed toward another person, for an asexual, they’re often directionless. But that’s a topic for another post entirely…

What about porn?

What about it?

Do asexuals use porn?

You’re just asking that so you can say “Ha, gotcha!” when I answer, aren’t you?

No, not at all. Do they?

Sometimes, yes.

Ha! Gotcha! You can’t be asexual if you use porn!

I knew it…

Anyway, yes, asexuals sometimes will use porn while they masturbate. And no, it does not mean that they’re not asexual.

People who watch porn don’t necessarily find the performers sexually attractive. People who watch porn don’t always want to participate with the performers.

Consider it another way. Watching a cooking show on TV doesn’t necessarily make you want to cook whatever they’re fixing on the show, does it? You might not even like whatever it is. But it’s food, people are eating, and that makes you hungry. So you go get a bag of chips.

With porn, you might not want to do what they’re doing, you might not even like what they’re doing, but you may find it to be arousing simply because they’re aroused. You watch it and think “They seem to be enjoying what they’re doing. I have one of those, too, and I bet that feels good. Now I want to feel good.”

Enjoying porn has no bearing on your sexual orientation. Research has shown that women who are straight will often have a strong arousal response to lesbian scenes. And the very existence of the “money shot” in porn aimed at straight men should put any argument to rest. After all, if straight men didn’t find the shot of another man having an orgasm and ejaculating (Often by his own hand) to be arousing on some level, then why would it be so prevalent? It doesn’t mean that the viewer is secretly gay and repressed. It just means that they don’t necessarily have to feel sexual attraction toward something to be aroused by it.

In my case, I find most porn to be dull, uninteresting, and repetitive. I get more out of the sense that the performers are legitimately having a good time and experiencing pleasure than I do from the way they look or what they’re doing. I am very easily distracted by things in the background, like movies on a shelf or views out the window. And things like poor lighting and poor camera work will absolutely kill a scene. Sometimes I’ll watch porn for educational purposes, to see how other people do things and pick up a few tricks and techniques.

What about asexuals who don’t masturbate or don’t enjoy it?

Then they don’t masturbate or don’t enjoy it. Not every asexual has to masturbate. Not every asexual that does masturbate has to enjoy it. If you don’t masturbate, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If it’s not your thing, don’t worry about it and don’t worry about what other people might think. It’s no one’s business but your own.

Will masturbating make someone not asexual somehow?

Masturbation isn’t suddenly going to make you not asexual anymore, so don’t feel like you have to try it to know for sure that you’re ace. I’m pretty solid evidence that no amount of masturbation is likely to change your orientation. At most, you might discover that you like the way it feels and want to keep doing it.

What about asexuals who are curious about trying it?

If you’re looking for a step-by-step instruction guide, nope, not going there. I do have some other advice, though.

First: Relax.

Second: Don’t turn it into a chore. Presumably you’re doing it because you want it to be fun. It won’t be fun if it’s a chore.

Don’t feel defeated if you don’t get anywhere your first attempt, because you probably won’t. No one does. You’re not a failure and your equipment probably isn’t defective. It’s a learned skill and takes practice. I probably had to try for months before I got anywhere. Of course, those were the days before search engines, so it was all trial and error for me. At any rate, persistence is the key. You need to find out what works for you and not be afraid to try something new. And don’t be afraid of calling in a little bit of artificial assistance. Many people, male, female, or otherwise, will use lubricants or toys to help them get off.

Don’t feel guilty, as if you’re betraying your asexuality. You’re not.

You don’t necessarily need a libido in order to become aroused. It probably helps, but it’s not required. With the right mindset and the right stimulation, you can usually wake things up downstairs. Honestly, I’m not even sure I have a libido. I rarely, if ever, feel “urges” or feel “horny”, or any of the other things people describe as a libido at work. Whenever I masturbate, I usually have to spend a bit of time getting myself ready. However, I have read things which claim that sexual activity itself in some cases may increase libido in a sort of feedback effect. The more you do, the more you want. So you may have a dormant libido that masturbation could potentially awaken.

And most of all, if you don’t like it, stop. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. If you’re not getting anything out of it, don’t do it and don’t worry about it.

Anything more?

I’ll just leave you with this:

If you’re asexual and you masturbate, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate to porn, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate to porn, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate using sex toys, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate using sex toys, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate and you like it, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate and you don’t like it, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you want to masturbate, but haven’t, then you’re still asexual.

(Please also see the companion post I wrote for Asexual Awareness Week, which elaborates more on my personal views on the topic, and where I stole a number of lines from: )

AAW Day 6: Masturbation

One of the most common question asked of asexuals is “Do you masturbate?”.

The answer:  Yes.  I do.

(Not all of us do.  Some of us do, some of us don’t, and some of us can’t.)

(BTW, it’s NOYDB.  So stop asking.  Anyway…)

It generally confuses people when we do, though…  (It even confuses us sometimes.)

It’s not just “scratching an itch” for me.  It’s not “just a biological function.”  It’s not “cleaning the pipes.”   It’s not a way to calm an undirected libido or prevent nighttime accidents.  It’s not some bothersome vestigial leftover of the sexuality I’m supposed to have.  It’s none of that for me.

I do it because I like it.  It feels good.  It’s fun.

And it does not invalidate my asexuality to feel this way.

Asexuality means that I’m not sexually attracted to anyone, it does not mean that my equipment doesn’t function.  It functions, and how.

You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to become aroused.  You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to experience and enjoy an orgasm.  All you have to do is touch your sensitive bits in the right way and presto!

I never understood the old religious claim that “Masturbation isn’t necessarily a sin, but lust is, and you have to have lust in your heart in order to masturbate, because you’re fantasizing while you do it.”  It just didn’t make sense to me. I never had lust.  I never fantasized.  When I first heard it, I was young and had only recently started masturbating.  At the time, I just figured that I was new and I hadn’t figured out quite what I was supposed to be doing, and that when I got older, something would kick in and I’d start fantasizing and feeling lust and have to confront the moral question then. (And all this even though I was never actually religious…)  But all that happened was I got older.  The lusting and fantasizing never began.

I don’t fantasize.  I just can’t.  I’ve tried, though.  I tried to picture naked people doing naked people things.  I tried to imagine erotic scenarios.  It never worked for me.  I tried because it was supposed to help.  It was supposed to turn on the sexual overdrive and make everything ten times more exciting.  All it did was distract me.  I had to concentrate so hard on the mental stage direction that I lost focus on what I was doing.  It was so much effort to get the imaginary naked woman in the right pose and performing the right motions that the slightest stray thought would kick me out of the fantasy and force me to start over.

If you start to plan out the script of your sexual fantasy because your brain doesn’t do improv in that genre, that’s a pretty good sign that something is up.

That bothered me for a long time.  Everyone else fantasized while they masturbated and I just couldn’t.  That bothered me more than my lack of interest in dating ever did.  Not wanting to ask a girl out could conveniently be explained away by shyness or social anxiety.  But not being able to include her in a sexual fantasy that would have stayed in my mind and been free of awkward conversations and fear of rejection?  That made me feel broken.

I eventually overcame that, well before I discovered asexuality.  I realized that it didn’t do anything for me, I just didn’t think in that way, and it wasn’t actually a problem for me.  I enjoyed masturbating adn I wasn’t going to let something like that stand in the way.

So, that brings up what is probably the second most common question asked of asexuals:  “If you’re not attracted to anyone, what do you think about when you masturbate?”

(Again, NOYDB.)

What do I think about?  Furniture.  (No, really.  I have planned out how to decorate a room while involved.)  My day.  The plot of some TV show.  Video games.  Politics.  Music from the 80’s.  The next vacation I’m going to take.  The weather.  But most of all, I think about two specific things:

“That feels good.”


“That feels even better.”

An Asexual on Sex

A quick note before I begin: To all the asexuals out there: It’s okay to be a virgin and it’s fine to not be a virgin. It’s okay to be curious about sex and it’s fine to not be interested in it at all. It’s okay to enjoy sex and it’s fine to dislike it. It’s okay to not want to experience sexual pleasure and it’s fine if you want to orgasm by yourself or with someone else. It’s okay to have sex and it’s fine to not have sex. Your experience may be different than mine, and it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or your broken. It just means that you’re not me, and we’re each walking the path of our own lives.

All asexuals are virgins, right?

No, we’re not all virgins. Some of us are virgins. Some of us have had sex a few times (I’m in this group). And some of us have had a regular sexual relationship with a partner (or multiple partners).

How can you be asexual and have had sex?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Sexual orientations are not defined by who you’ve had sex with throughout your lifetime, they’re defined by who you’re sexually attracted to. Think of it this way: A heterosexual male is heterosexual because he’s sexually attracted to women, even if he’s still a virgin and hasn’t had sex with any women. And if there’s that one night in college where he was young and confused and really really drunk and he went a little bit too far with that guy from the party because it seemed like a good idea at the time, that doesn’t make him gay or bi, because his sexual orientation is defined by his attraction, not his youthful indiscretions.

An asexual who has had sex simply isn’t sexually attracted to the person they’ve had sex with.

But, um, how can you be asexual and have had sex? I mean, physically?

Physically, there is no inherent difference between an asexual person and someone who is not asexual. We’ve got the same parts and pieces in the same arrangement and angles as everyone else, and they’ll work the same way, too. The only difference is emotional: Who we feel an urge to use those parts and pieces with. A heterosexual person wants to use them with someone with different parts and pieces, a homosexual wants to use them with someone with matching parts and pieces, a bisexual or pansexual doesn’t really care, and an asexual doesn’t really feel an urge to use them with anyone else.

Asexual males can get erect and ejaculate, and the sperm is normal human male sperm, it’s not some sort of magic sperm that can grow into a clone of the father on its own under the right conditions.

Asexual females can get wet and engorged and can get pregnant, and a pregnancy requires a male contrubution, they’re not capable of parthenogenesis.

Asexuals of any sex are capable of orgasm.

So, uh, asexual women having sex, that I get. “Lie back and think of England” and all that. They don’t have to do anything. But asexual men… How does that work?

Blood fills the spongy tissue of the penis, causing an erection, and the erect penis is-

I know how it works, but how does that happen?

You mean, how can an asexual man get an erection without being sexually attracted to the person they’re with?

Yeah, what’s the deal with that?

Obviously, the ability to achieve erection and not be sexually attracted to the person the erection will be used with is not an isolated feature unique to asexuals. There are plenty of examples of gay men who have fathered children through natural insemination. There are also plenty of examples of men (gay, straight, or otherwise) who’ve left the bar at last call with whoever was willing to join them. A man clearly does not have to be sexually attracted to someone to be able to have sex with them.

I can only speak for myself here, as I’ve never run a survey of non-virgin asexual males regarding erectile capacity during intercourse, but here goes. Even though I’m not sexually attracted to anyone, my body can and does respond to sexual situations. It’s like downstairs says “Oh, hey, SEX! I know what that is. I’ll go get ready in case you need me.” It’ll react that way to some sex scenes in movies, or to porn, or to knowing that you and your girlfriend had planned on having sex for about a month and now she’s getting into bed with you. It may be a Pavlovian response, where I know that the situation may have the reward of sexual pleasure, so my body gets prepared. Additionally, an erection can be caused by physical stimulation, regardless of the source of that stimulation. Many men have gotten erections from tight underwear, loose underwear, driving on bumpy roads or getting a physical at the doctor, and none of those things are generally targets of sexual attraction. When I had sex, there was a decent period of touching and caressing prior to starting intercourse, all of which was arousing. In fact, immediately after putting on the condom, I required a bit of direct stimulation to make the erection usable.

Some people confuse an getting an erection with sexual attraction. It is very important to note that they are not the same thing. Certainly, an erection can be the result of sexual attraction, but there are many other ways to get one (Like the physical stimulation mentioned above), and most of those other ways will work the same way on an asexual’s penis as on a non-asexual’s penis. Hell, when I was in the 7th grade, I used to get an erection every day in math class. Now, I like math and all, but I don’t like it that much. Sometimes erections just happen and there’s no reason for it.

Oh, and, don’t forget: Despite what President Clinton may have claimed, sex doesn’t necessarily require a penis to be placed within a vagina. So it doesn’t require a functional penis to be involved. It doesn’t even require a penis at all. Hands, mouths, and various devices and implements that may or may not be battery-operated can all be used during sexual activity.

Why bother? I mean, if you hate sex, what’s the point?

As I noted in an earlier post, views on sex vary widely among asexuals. Many asexuals do not hate sex. There are many reasons that an asexual person might have sex. These reasons include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • To please their partner.
  • Because they’ve been told, “Try it, you’ll like it”.
  • To satisfy their libido.
  • Because they’re bored.
  • To find out what its like.
  • Because they want children.
  • To “fit in” with other people.
  • Because it feels good.
  • Because they want to.

I had sex because my girlfriend at the time wanted to have sex with me. She knew that I wasn’t all that interested in sex, but we figured that it was worth a shot because maybe I’d become more interested in it if I experienced it. Of course, I did want to know what it was like, since sex is supposed to be this super-amazing, mind-blowing, life-altering thing that everyone else seems to be relentlessly chasing. Something like that’s gotta be good, right? But most importantly, I did it because I wanted to do it. No amount of begging and pleading would’ve gotten me to do anything if I didn’t want to do it (Anyone who’s tried to get me to eat Thai food knows that). In the end, I wasn’t terribly impressed. It was okay, I guess, but nothing to get all worked up over. It just wasn’t my bag.

What do you do when you have sex?

You know all the different things non-asexuals might do that they’d consider to be sex? Yeah, asexuals might do any of those. It’s not like there’s some ace code of conduct that says asexual women must lie passively and asexual men must thrust in the missionary position and any deviations from these standards are punishable by no cake for a month. During sex, asexual people, regardless of gender, can be as active or as passive as they want to be, and engage in activities ranging from dull to kinky.

But can you feel anything?

We can. Nothing about asexuality prevents an asexual person from experiencing physical sexual pleasure, whether that pleasure comes from a kiss on the cheek or genital stimulation. An orgasm in an asexual is no different than an orgasm in someone who isn’t. Sexual response will vary from individual to individual, just like among non-asexual people. Many asexuals who have had sex have never experienced an orgasm or may experience pain during intercourse (particularly women), however, you’ll find the same issues among non-asexual people, as well.

As for me, do I feel anything? Hoo-boy howdy yeah! Um, I mean, yes, I found the act of intercourse to be quite pleasurable physically.

None of this makes any sense to me. Asexuals having sex. “Asexual” means “not sexual”, so it’s not possible for an asexual to do sexual things. Are you sure you’re ace?

I don’t like the description of asexuality as “non-sexual” or “not sexual”, as I feel those terms carry the implication that an asexual person has no sexual ability or is incapable of doing anything of a sexual nature or is impotent. That’s simply not the case. Asexuality alone has no bearing on physical and physiological attributes and functions. I’ve got a penis and a pair of testicles. I can get erections. I can masturbate, lubricate and ejaculate. I can experience the intense physical pleasure of an orgasm. I can father a child. All the parts down below are present and functional, just like in any other healthy factory-original male. The only difference is that I don’t have any burning interest in using those parts with anyone else, because I’m asexual. Not having any interest doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of doing so.

What was sex like, from your point of view?

Somewhat analytical and disconnected. I was far more into trying to figure out what actions I was supposed to be taking at the various points in the process. Am I supposed to kiss the breast or caress it now? Is the clitoral stimulation too fast or too slow? I distinctly remember being bored at one point, wishing that my orgasm would arrive so that I could stop. It wasn’t the epitome of all life experiences, as I’d been led to believe. But at the same time, it felt good, both physically and emotionally. The whole process felt different and in some ways better than masturbation, the warmth and the varying pressure being notable examples. And I very much enjoyed sharing the experience with the woman that I loved at the time.

Interestingly enough, I have a record of some emails I sent to my partner on the subject in the days following our get togethers. They’re a monument to aceness. Instead of things like “Oh baby, you were so hot last night” and “I just got hard again thinking about what we did”, these mails are full of more practical issues, like the application of lubricant, discussion of technique, and talking about how I wasn’t expecting to be thirsty after sex. Anyway, here’s some quotes from those mails:

“Anyway, yes, I did enjoy it. It was different than I had imagined. It took a lot longer than I was expecting (Must’ve gotten caught up in the rhythm and forgotten to orgasm…). And it felt different, too. The way people always talk, I was expecting more of an electric explosion type of ‘WowWowWOWOW!’ sort of feeling the entire time. Sure, it was nice, but I don’t see why it gets people acting stupid and ruining their lives and such.”

“At the beginning, it wasn’t that much different from masturbation and was fairly dull and repetitive, almost ‘Is that all there is?’ “

“Touching there, kissing here, rubbing there… It doesn’t make much difference. It all feels pretty much the same to me. Stroking your breast does about as much for me as stroking your shoulder.”

“Anyway, I will be willing to do it again sometime. It meets with my approval.”

Your honor, I would like to submit these letters as Exhibit A for the proof of the existence of asexuality…

Um… Yeah. Wow. So, uh… What should I know if I, as a non-asexual person, want to have sex with an asexual?

As I wrote above, asexual people can have sex and still be asexual. There’s nothing physically preventing most of us from doing so. However, just because someone can physically have sex doesn’t mean they will want to. Many aces do not want to have sex. They may be repulsed, they may not be with the right person, it might not be the right time for them, or they may simply not want to. Even those who are willing to have sex are generally less into it and won’t do it as frequently as a non-asexual partner might prefer. Trying to coerce or pressure or guilt an asexual into having sex with you is an officially uncool thing to do. “No” means NO.

Sometimes aces will be willing to work out a compromise situation when they’re in a relationship with a non-asexual person, but it’s important that such a compromise come from a place of respect and that the compromise be honored by both parties. The single most important thing to remember when dealing with a sexual relationship with an asexual person is that you need to talk to them. Communication. Tell them your wants and needs and listen to their wants and needs. And talk. Don’t accuse and don’t demand. Also, not all asexual people will be willing to compromise.

Understand that an asexual person probably sees sex in a very different way than you do. You might see it as the supreme expression of love, joining of two souls into a single blissful passion. They may see it as the rubbing of genitals against each other for a half hour or so. They may not find you sexually attractive, but that’s not a personal rejection of you and there’s nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t mean they think you’re fat or ugly or horrible to be around or they don’t love you anymore. Their minds just don’t work that way. You will need to learn to accept that.

One thing I’ve seen happen again and again is that the asexual person will gradually become less and less willing to have sex. There can be many reasons for this, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re falling out of love. They may have come to the realization that they can’t overcome their repulsion. They may have started feeling guilty that you’re clearly attracted to them and they can’t return the favor. They may be growing less and less comfortable in sexual situations. The novelty might be wearing off. Or they may simply not be as willing to do it anymore. You will never know what the reason is if you don’t talk to them about it.

And again, no means no. If someone doesn’t want to have sex with you, then they don’t want to have sex with you. It doesn’t matter that they’re asexual. It doesn’t matter if they’ve had sex before, even if that sex was with you. No means no.