People on the asexuality spectrum often refer to themselves as “ace”. Aces come in many forms, which is why GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, now just GLAAD for inclusivity) distributes detailed information to help us better understand them. The more well-known identities that can be found along the asexual spectrum are Asexual and Aromantic.
An Asexual person in very general terms is a person who does not experience sexual attraction towards anyone. But attraction and action are not always the same. Some aces may be disgusted by sexual contact and won’t engage in it, but others may be sex-neutral or sex-positive and therefore open to sex.
Basically, while sex-positive aces do not experience sexual attraction, they may enjoy sex or sexual acts and even seek out sexual relationships. In a nutshell, you may not make their loins stir, but you can make them feel good.
There are a wide range of asexuals and some are still being classified but a few are: Apothisexual - repulsed by sex entirely; Demisexual- sexual attraction only after a bond has been formed; Fraysexual- sexual attraction fades after initially meeting a person; and Graysexual - having sexual attraction in very limited/specific circumstances
An Aromantic is a person who does not experience romantic attraction to anyone. Just like with asexuality this looks different for every ace. An aromantic person can refuse to engage in a romantic relationship or enter into a 'queer platonic partnership'. This type of partnership will have the same level of commitment as a romantic relationship without the romantic base.
There are different types of Aromanticism e.g. panromantic, heteroromantic, homoromantic, demiromantic etc. Before I lose you, an easy way to figure the types out is by focusing on the first part e.g. ‘hetero’-romantic is romantically attracted to the opposite gender.
According to GLAAD, the Split Attraction Model (or SAM) was first coined by Asexuals and Aromantics as a way to better describe and explain their identities to both themselves and others. What SAM does is split sexual and romantic attraction into two separate things. This means that for every sexual orientation, there is a romantic orientation counterpart.
Here is where it gets a little tricky. These identities can also intermingle to form an individual orientation for every ace. For example, a person can be Pansexual and Homoromantic which means they are sexually attracted to people regardless of gender, but only romantically attracted to people of their same gender.
But I think you get the gist - Asexuality is varied, and every ace can be their own specific type of unicorn.
Truth: Some people choose not to have sex, but people don't choose to not want sex. Asexuality is not a choice, but an orientation.
Truth: Asexual people respond physically to sexual stimuli just like people of other orientations.
Truth: Sexual desire exists on a spectrum. Some people experience high levels of sexual attraction and some experience none at all, but many lie somewhere in the middle.
Truth: Whether Aces have close romantic and or sexual relationships or abstain from them entirely are personal and valid experiences, not psychological disconnects.
Truth: This is no truer with asexuals than it is with people of any other sexual orientation.
Have you always known who you are or are not sexually attracted to?