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What is sex?
I don’t know, something about birds and bees and flowers and trees? I’m not exactly sure how the moon up above is supposed to be involved, but there are some things I’m probably better off not knowing.
Um… Let’s try that again. What is sex?
There are a lot of possible definitions and gray areas and legal decisions about what sex is and is not, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to go with this definition:
Sex is an activity that involves more than one person and a deliberate involvement of the genitals of at least one of them, with an intent to arouse and/or cause pleasure/orgasm.
What are some of the types of sex?
There are many activities that can be considered “sex”. Here’s a few of the more common ones. These aren’t presented in any particular order, and although it’s common for a session of sex to include more than one of these items, it doesn’t have to. I strongly recommend that you become familiar with the health risks of any activity before you take part in it.
- Foreplay: Not exactly a type of sex, this encompasses any activity used to “warm up” or get ready for the main event (whatever the main event is), so that participants are sufficiently physically aroused or “in the mood” enough to proceed. It can involve hugging or kissing or stripping or touching your partner. It can even involve activities such as manual or oral sex, if they’re a prelude to something else.
- Manual Sex/Mutual Masturbation: This involves using your hands or a toy to stimulate your partner’s genitals. This is also known as a hand job or fingering.
- Dry Humping/Frottage: This involves rubbing your genitals against your partner’s body. This can be done through clothing, so there is no direct skin to skin contact (hence the “dry”).
- Oral Sex: This involves using your mouth and tongue to stimulate the genitals of your partner. This is also known as a blow job, cunnilingus or eating out, depending on the equipment involved.
- Vaginal Sex: This involves penetration of the vagina, typically (but not always) by a penis.
- Anal Sex: This involves penetration of the anus (butt), typically (but not always) by a penis.
What if I don’t want to do it?
You don’t have to have sex. Ever. If you’re not interested, if you’re not into the concept, if the thought of it makes you ill, even if you just plain don’t want to, whatever the reason is, you don’t have to have sex. No matter what your friends say or what the TV says or what “society” says, you do not have to have sex if you do not want to have sex. You don’t even have to justify why not. If you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to get anyone else’s approval. No means no, and if anyone else has a problem with that, that’s their problem to deal with.
What if I want to do it?
Then go for it. You’re allowed to have sex, even if you’re asexual.
If you decide to have sex, make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. Basically, the right reason is “I want to do this”, regardless of why, specifically. There are countless reasons why you might want to. You might want to see what it’s like. You might want to give someone pleasure. You might want pleasure yourself. You might want to conceive a child. You might be doing research. You might just be thinking “It’s Tuesday, I’m bored, why not?” And so on. There’s no universal list of acceptable and unacceptable reasons for an asexual to have sex. It’s about whatever is right for you.
If you force yourself into having sex when you don’t really want to, it’s almost certainly going to be a miserable experience. If you feel that it is not the right thing to do or is not the right time or right situation, then don’t do it.
You shouldn’t feel compelled to have sex to “prove” that you’re asexual or to try to “cure” your asexuality. Sex isn’t likely to change your mind. Most aces that have had sex report that they’re still just as asexual afterward. I’m unaware of anyone who’s said “Oh, hey, I was wrong about myself this whole time!” Most people who offer to sleep with you in order to help “cure” you probably just want in your pants, and have very little interest in anything else.
How do I get aroused if I’m not attracted to my partner?
Some people think that sexual attraction is required for sexual arousal, but that’s not the case. Many times, the thought of having sex or the actions involved in preparing for sex will get you physically aroused. If that doesn’t work, then physical stimulation of the genitals will often lead to arousal. This is one of the primary intents of foreplay, even for non-asexual people. If you are able to become aroused for masturbation, then the same techniques will likely work in a partnered scenario, as well.
If you’re still unable to become aroused, there are artificial ways of helping. Wearing a cock ring on a penis will constrict blood flow and often lead to an erection, and there are prescription medications which might also help. Personal lubricants can replace or enhance natural vaginal lubrication.
And if none of those work, either, then there are still ways to have sex that do not require arousal on your part. You can perform oral or manual sex on your partner, or use a sex toy on them.
What is “Protection”?
“Protection” is a blanket term for something used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy.
Learn about it. Use it. Use it correctly.
Protection is important regardless of genital configuration. Most people just think of protection being used to prevent a pregnancy in a situation that involves a penis and vagina, but several types of protection will offer disease prevention benefits in any situation, even in the cases of oral sex or sharing toys.
The following is a very limited list of forms of protection. You should not use this list as your only source of information, only as a starting point for further research.
- Condoms will help prevent both pregnancy and disease transmission. Condoms are typically placed on a penis or a toy and should not be reused, and they should be changed between partners if sharing a toy.
- Dental dams will help prevent disease transmission, but are not used to prevent pregnancy. Dental dams are typically used to cover the vulva or anus during anal sex. You can make a dental dam out of a condom, but you should not try to use a dental dam as a condom.
- Gloves can be used during manual stimulation to prevent disease transmission.
- Birth control pills, IUDs, diaphragms, and spermicides may help prevent pregnancy, but will not prevent disease transmission.
You should never use anything made out of latex with anything made out of oil. You should only use water-based or latex compatible lubricants with latex condoms, dams, or other items. Oil will break down the latex and render it useless. Things like hand lotion, Vaseline, mineral oil, or cooking oil may seem like a good lubricant, but they should never be used on latex.
And finally, if you want to use protection, for any reason, and your partner does not, say no. That decision is yours and yours alone. Don’t let any talk about “raincoats” or “it feels better without it” or “the test I took ten years ago said I was clean” or any amount of other whining convince you otherwise. Remember, the words “Don’t worry, I’ll be careful” have never prevented a pregnancy or STD transmission.
Am I still asexual if I’ve had sex?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation. Sexual behavior does not change that. Remember, it’s about attraction, not action.
Will it be as good as I’ve heard?
“Sex is the best thing ever! It’ll rock your world and blow your mind!”
Despite what people say, this generally isn’t actually the case. Sex is probably not the best thing ever, it’s probably not going to rock your world or blow your mind.
In particular, your first time is likely to be awkward and confusing and potentially even painful. And you should know that’s a possibility going in. Don’t expect to wake up the next morning to a new understanding of the universe. Don’t even necessarily expect to have an orgasm.
Additionally, for asexual people, sex tends to be underwhelming. It’s not uncommon for aces to feel disconnected, out of place, or even bored while having sex.
How fast should I go?
If you’re jumping straight to the “Let’s have sex now” step, you might want to slow down and get there in stages. Heading straight to sex without working up to it can be a little daunting. Smaller steps will help you find your footing and be more comfortable with what you’re doing. Have a set goal in mind for a given day and don’t worry about trying to do too much, too fast. ”Today, we’ll kiss”, ”Today, we’ll strip to our underwear and cuddle”, “Today, we’ll get naked and become familiar with each other’s body”, “Today, I’ll watch as you masturbate”, “Today, let’s have sex”. Something like that, although not necessarily those specific tasks. That way, when you get to the sex, everything won’t be so overwhelming.
Then again, if you feel comfortable going straight to the “Let’s have sex now” step and skipping the rest, go right ahead. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Be comfortable with your partner.
It’s very important to be comfortable with your partner. You will probably want to discuss the situation beforehand. If you’re not sure you want to have sex, but are thinking about trying it out, talk to them in a non-sexual situation about any concerns you might have and about what you might be willing to do. Having a partner who is patient, understanding, and willing to guide you if you want can be a huge help. Having a partner who is part of the process will also help ensure that they know what your goals are, and they won’t pressure you for more or be frustrated or overly disappointed if you back out.
Speaking of which…
It’s okay to back out.
At any time, for any reason, it is absolutely okay to back out. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay to turn your yes into a no. It is your body and yours alone. You are allowed to say no at any point in the process.
You are allowed to say no and stop when the subject of sex is first brought up.
You are allowed to say no and stop after agreeing to have sex.
You are allowed to say no and stop on the way to the bedroom.
You are allowed to say no and stop during a pre-sex make-out session.
You are allowed to say no and stop when they reach for a zipper.
You are allowed to say no and stop during foreplay.
You are even allowed to say no and stop during sex itself.
Sure, your partner may be frustrated or upset by this, but that’s their problem. No matter how frustrated or upset they are, it does not give them a right to do something to you that you do not want done.
Is there a “right way” to have sex? Do I have to perform a checklist of things for it to be any good?
Porn often gives the impression that sex has to be a complicated series of different actions in a certain order, as if there’s rules that say: “You must perform at least three activities from list A, in at least four positions from list B. You must not remain in any combination of activity and position for any longer than 90 seconds.”
Porn is like that because there probably are those rules for film production. By changing things up and showing a number of different things, it gives the viewer something they like to see and keeps them interested. But it’s just another way that porn is unrealistic.
When you have sex, you don’t have to work off a checklist. You don’t have to change what you’re doing based off a timer. Do what works for you for as long as it works for you. If that means two minutes of missionary and then you call it a night, that’s the right way to have sex for you. If that means more moves than the Olympic gymnastics competition, that’s the right way to have sex for you.
Changing up activities and positions can lead to different sensations and the excitement of variety, but it is in no way required.
How much sex should I have?
Some people never have sex. Some people have it twice a day. Some people have it once a week or once a decade. Those are all perfectly fine amounts of sex. There’s a misconception that you must have at least so much sex in order to be in a happy relationship. The reality is that if you’re in a happy relationship, then you’re in a happy relationship, regardless of how much sex you’re having. And if you’re in an unhappy relationship, it probably won’t matter how much sex you’re having.
What about fluids?
One of the biggest concerns people have about sex are the fluids involved. Yes, there are fluids. Several types, in fact. Various forms of sex often involve one body part moving across another, and many of these fluids help to lubricate and decrease the friction present in that motion. It can be uncomfortable to have sex without adequate lubrication.
If you dislike the thought of fluids but want to try sex anyway, there are three things to keep in mind:
- The volume of the fluids is probably less than you expect. Usually, just a few milliliters.
- Urine is typically not one of the fluids.
- Most forms of protection will block or contain fluids, because that’s precisely what they’re designed to do.
Here are the more common fluids you may encounter:
- Saliva: Found in the mouth. Also known as spit. Usually encountered during kissing or oral sex.
- Sweat: Sex can be a form of exercise, and with all forms of exercise, participants may break a sweat.
- Blood: At “that time of the month”, there may be blood present within the vagina. (However, blood appearing anywhere else or at some other time is probably a sign that something is not right.)
- Vaginal lubrication: The walls of the vagina will often release a lubricating fluid when aroused. This fluid is somewhat slippery and can aid in penetration.
- Precum/Pre-ejaculate: After a period of arousal, the penis may begin to produce a small amount of a clear, slippery fluid from the urethra.
- Personal lubricant: This is artificial lubricant, for cases when the natural lubricant is insufficient. This can be bought at most drugstores or the pharmacy aisle of a supermarket.
- Semen: Usually during orgasm, semen will be expelled from the penis. It is usually a somewhat thick, whitish substance, but it will vary in color and consistency. Semen contains sperm. For people who find fluids disgusting, this one is usually viewed as the worst. There are several things to note: The owner of the penis can usually sense when it’s about to happen and can therefore direct where it goes (to some degree). Also, the ejaculation will be entirely contained within a properly worn, intact condom, since that’s what they’re for.
There are also activities that will limit the presence of or contact with fluids. Frottage or “Dry Humping” is an activity where one partner rubs against another while remaining fully clothed. There is no direct genital contact and all fluids remain within the clothing.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and say no to what you don’t want.
Even though you’re asexual, it’s perfectly fine to have preferences about what you want to do or don’t want to do when having sex. If there’s something you like to do or want to do or like to have done to you, tell your partner. And if there’s something you absolutely loathe, tell your partner. Many people have a misconception that there shouldn’t be any talking during sex, and that all communication will be non verbal and clearly understood. That’s complete nonsense.
Is it okay to dislike or not want sex?
No one expects everyone to like roller coasters. No one expects everyone to like sushi. No one expects everyone to like hiking. No one expects everyone to like reality TV. No one expects everyone to like cute, fluffy puppies. There is absolutely nothing that everyone likes. So no one should expect everyone to like sex.
It’s okay to not like sex. It’s okay to not want sex. You’re not broken, you’re not missing some fundamental part of the human experience. You’re just not a fan of a recreational activity. Big deal.
Is it okay to like sex or want it, even if I’m asexual?
Asexuality is not “I hate sex”.
Asexuality is not “I don’t want sex”.
Asexuality is not “I can’t have sex”.
You’re allowed to like sex and want to have sex, even if you’re asexual. Your orientation is about attraction, not action. What you do doesn’t matter.
Do I have to compromise?
Many people seem to think that “compromise” is a dirty word when it comes to sex and asexuals. The reality is that sex is pretty much always a compromise, no matter who is involved. Compromise isn’t limited to asexuals.
Often, one partner will want sex more often than the other.
Often, one partner will like certain things more than the other.
Often, one partner will want it to last longer than the other.
Often, one partner will want their partner to do things their partner isn’t interested in doing.
And so on.
That’s where compromise comes in. You say “I’ll do that, if you do this”. You say “Not tonight, but maybe later”. You say “I’m not a fan of that, but I’ll try this”. Compromise should be fairly balanced, it’s not about one person getting their way entirely.
And compromise should never involve you feeling forced to do things you absolutely refuse to do. If you do not, under any circumstances, want to do a certain thing, then do not do it. And if your “do not, under any circumstances” thing happens to be having sex at all, then don’t have sex.
As with any negotiations, there may be deal breakers that cause the parties involved to walk away. If you do not want to have sex at all, or do not want to have sex in the way that your partner desires, and that’s a major issue for your partner, then you may have a fundamentally incompatible relationship, and everyone involve might be better off with a break up. You shouldn’t have sex just to save a relationship, because relationships that need sex to “save” them usually can’t be saved.
Do I have to know what to do?
Despite the myths, no one is born instinctually knowing how to have amazing sex. Even non-asexual people are generally clueless about exactly what to do when they first try it. Your partner probably won’t mind your inexperience. You should feel free to ask them for guidance or have them tell you what things they like. You’re allowed to need to figure things out.
You’re also allowed to do research ahead of time. There are a number of trustworthy websites that provide information and advice on sex. You don’t have to memorize the Kama Sutra and the collected works of Dr. Ruth, just get familiar with some of the basics. You can also talk about what to expect with your partner.
Which brings me to…
It’s okay to plan ahead of time.
Sex does not have to be some completely spontaneous, unplanned event. Some people find that they’re more comfortable with what’s going on if they have some idea of where it is leading and what will happen next. You are allowed to plan as much or as little as you want. You can pick the date and time. You can pick the location. You can decide what you’re interested in doing. You can decide the sequence of events. You can involve your partner in this planning, or keep it to yourself, if you’d rather. And you’re allowed to change your plans after you get started.
Will I have to make noise when I have sex?
Porn and pop culture often make sex out to be a noisy scream-fest, with all sorts of moaning and exclamations going on. It doesn’t have to be like that. Sex can be as quiet or as loud as you want it to be. If you’re uncomfortable with moaning, screaming, or “talking dirty”, you don’t have to do any of that. Sounds can be used as a way for communicate with your partner, but a simple, quiet “yes” or “mmm” is often enough to get the point across.
Is it okay to give myself a “helping hand”?
When having sex, you are allowed to stimulate yourself if you want to. In some cases, the actions of your partner may not be getting the job done, or you might want to be stimulated in a certain place in a certain way. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. It does not mean that your partner is inadequate or that your asexuality prevents you from feeling something. Many non-asexual people will also stimulate themselves during sex.
Is it okay to have an orgasm during sex, even if I’m asexual?
There’s a strange misconception that if an asexual person is having sex, that they can’t get anything out of it themselves. Like if they have an orgasm, it means they’re not asexual. As a result, an asexual having sex is supposed to simply lie there and do whatever their partner wants and not feel any pleasure from it.
If you want to have an orgasm while having sex, then it’s okay to have an orgasm during sex. Have two or three or fourteen if that’s what you want. Orgasm is an experience of physical pleasure that has nothing to do with your orientation.
But do I have to have an orgasm?
On the other hand, if orgasm isn’t your thing or you don’t want one at the moment, you don’t have to have one. There’s another misconception that sex is a failure unless everyone has an orgasm, but that is not the case. Sex can be satisfying and successful even if you don’t get off. If you don’t want one, clearly communicate to your partner how you feel, and let them know that it’s okay if you don’t have one and that you’d rather not have them try.
Do I have to try it to know for sure that I’m asexual?
If you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to try it in order to “prove” that you really don’t want to. You know you don’t want to, and that’s enough. Think of it this way. You don’t have to go rock climbing to know you’re not interested in rock climbing. You don’t have to stick your hand in a vat full of spiders and millipedes to know you’d find that unpleasant. It’s possible to know that you don’t want to do something without doing it.
For the most part, having sex won’t change you. It won’t make you taller, it won’t make you stronger, it won’t make you smarter, it won’t make you smell like honeysuckle, it won’t give you the ability to fly or see through walls or turn invisible. You’ll get a few experience points, but that’s it. You’ll still be you and you’ll still be asexual.
I’m not aware of anyone who has had sex and suddenly decided that they’re not actually asexual after all. They may decide that they enjoyed it. They might be willing to do it again. But it’s unlikely that it will fundamentally change you and make you not ace anymore.
If I try it once, to I have to keep doing it?
If you have sex once, it doesn’t permanently flip a switch inside that makes you obligated to have sex over and over again. If you try it and realize that you’re not a fan, you don’t have to do it again. If that upsets your partner, that’s their problem to deal with. Having sex with someone once does not guarantee a repeat in the future.
Will my partner understand that I’m asexual?
Your partner will probably want sex more than you.
Your partner may not understand why you’re not interested in sex.
Your partner may decide that a lack of sex is a relationship deal-breaker.
Your partner may want to do things you’re uncomfortable with.
Your partner may wish you felt differently about sex.
Your partner may feel that you don’t love them because you won’t sleep with them or because you don’t find them attractive.
Here’s the thing: All of those issues can happen in any relationship, not just one where one of the partners is asexual.
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I love this this is amazing. It’s a perfect description of what to know before having sex. My favorite part about it is you could take this for any orientation. This is how sex-Ed should be taught.
Wow. What a clearly written basic guide.
Thanks from this sex-positive ace.
I was recently introduced to the concept of asexuality by a very good friend of mine when I confided in them abiut my sexuak experiences and feelings about sex and reading this has helped me understand it alot better and even answered just about all of the questions I had about asexuality, thank you! :)
Hi, thank you so much for this. I just understand what it’s happening with me, and I’m very grateful for your words. Really, thank you!
Useful. Not a bad start. Unfortunate there’s next to nothing online that serves as an actual guide for aces to engage in sexual relationship.
I think I’d like more, though; I think I’d like to find aspects, techniques, and approaches that go beyond the basic ‘sex tips for your first time’ with an asexual leaning.
Are there such books? If not, I suppose I’m going to be writing one.
Outside of maybe some blog or forum posts, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. However, I really haven’t gone looking for anything like this since I was writing this.
I had considered writing a few more specific how-to sections, but I decided that I would do a terrible job of it, so those pages never happened.
I definitely like the “Well, this doesn’t exist, so I guess I’ll write it” approach. That’s where this site came from!
Sexplanarions is a great sex positive YouTube channel that would be a good place to start. She is very informative as a sexologist and is inclusive of all orientations.
Thanks for this guide! It really helped me as an asexual in understanding what to expect when having sex with my partner for the first time.
Thank you thank you thank youuuuu so much for this :'(
Thank you so much! This really has taught me something. Very well written. As an ace person, I love stuff like this. 8)
I wish this was taught in sex Ed I’m almost 24 and have spent 6 years having sex because I wanted to feel like everyone else. At first I thought I must be a lesbian because I had no interest in men then realized I have no interest in women either. I’ve been to some pretty dark places trying to force myself to feel something. I was so confused and angry because everyone else is talking about how so and so is so hot and they just want to jump their bones. I didn’t know that other people didn’t find anyone attractive and that I was broken, I’ve tried forcing myself time and time again to feel anything. I’m married and I have a child, and even so sex with my husband feels like a chore. I had a random stranger tell me he was a-sexual when I was helping him checkout. When I got home I googled it and I started crying because I didn’t feel confused anymore and I could stop being mad and frustrated with myself.
My brother asked me one time if I was asexual. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but a few years later, I read a magazine article about people who called themselves asexual. And then I knew, trust me, I’m ace. I’m 39 years old now & am still a virgin. I have no plans to change that, I was really just reading this out of curiosity.
Does anyone have any resources on what to do if you’ve become asexual after getting married? I understand that my husband married into something very different than what he’s getting now and I would love some advice, support, or feedback, but my Google searches aren’t very productive. Thanks.
I’m in the same boat. Also, I hate penetration. I’m not attracted to penises at all . I’m attracted to everything about him . Except that . How do I fix it ?
I’m an asexual lesbian and this helped me a lot I don’t like oral and anal sex but I will have sex in different ways. btw am I the only one who HATES stuff with saliva besides kissing.
I guess I’m just recently pondering over asexuality and I was wondering is it possible to get aroused by the thought of sex and/or the fact that people want to have sex with you and still be asexual? I get turned on/wet a lot but I’m not really interested in sex. I don’t want it and I do sometimes think about people sexually but it’s always sort of detached as if I’m not actually getting turn on by them more by the action of sex. I have not clue what that is or if it’s possible I might be asexual if you can answer any of my questions and help me figure whatever the hell is going on please help.
I think you’re very likely to fall under the term ‘asexual’. You see, being aroused doesn’t effectively mean you want sex. It’s just basic biology, humans just do that, in spite of their sexual orientation. Besides, there are certain time periods when you are more likely to get turned on even for no reason at all, simply because your biological clock is ticking. I actually found the arousal section of this series here to be quite helpful on this, if you haven’t read it, I recommend you do that :)
It might be worthwhile to look into the label “autochorrisexual” which is sexual arousal felt when viewing or thinking of sexual materials while feeling detached from the actual activities. It’s often described as feeling sexually aroused by the idea of sex, but without putting yourself into the situation you are imagining/viewing/reading. Hope this helps!
Considering this article, I think that asexuality is a possibility for myself. I have never climaxed or have gotten close to climaxing in the presence of a partner; the whole idea of having/enjoying sex myself makes me uncomfortable/I don’t think that it is possible. I have trouble staying lubricated with a partner. Whenever I do have sex I am more interested in my partner’s needs as opposed to my own. At times I may get emotional (not in a good way) during sex when there is more intimacy involved. When I masturbate I don’t imagine myself having sex; I’ll often read erotica or watch porn. I can go without sex for large expanses of time without missing it a whole lot.
I guess my concern is, and a friend of mine has mentioned the same, that I could have mental blocks instead of being asexual. I like the idea of sex and I have been attracted to others, but when the sex comes into play, it just falls flat. I guess I would like to hear if anyone has felt the same way or even similar. I could really use the feedback!
I’m kind of new to this and am questioning, but I wanted to know, if I get turned on reading a sex scene, does this mean that I’m not asexual because it’s imagination?
So helpful! Thank you!
Aww man, I didn’t know dry humping was considered sex. I know that is stupid. I’ve considered myself proudly celibate for 10 years, and have made it clear in all my relationships that it’s a deal breaker if sex is involved (largely speaking about vaginal sex, but also any contact with genitals). In my last relationship there was some dry humping involved on his part, but I didn’t really say anything because I felt too embarrassed to talk about it so I just ignored it. That was the closest I’d gotten to a penis and it was gross. And it’s upsetting to think my celibacy track has been broken and I didn’t even want it/like it/find it sexy. I know I need to get better at enforcing boundaries, but I’m tired of being called a prude, stubborn, etc. And made to feel guilty. And I hate the whole narrative of “what do you expect, I’m a guy.”
Also, thank you from an ace who chooses never to have sex and is proud to be uncompromising about issues touching sex and nudity aversion. I appreciate how it reminds that sex is never obligatory and that people should do it exclusively if they are sure about it.