Words by Yqin
Translation by Hiba Moustafa
Design by Lina A

This article aims to tackle some of the most important questions related to asexuality, giving brief and simple answers, in an attempt to address most of the myths and misconceptions surrounding asexuality and those who identify as asexuals.

Does everyone experience sexual attraction?

With their varied sexual orientations, not all people feel sexually attracted to others. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or experiencing it on rare occasions or under very specific circumstances. Some asexual people may feel sexually attracted to someone if they form a strong emotional bond with them.

What is the difference between sexual attraction, sexual desire, and libido? 

Some people mix these three concepts. The difference, however, lies in engaging in a certain sexual act based on one’s attraction to another person. 

Sexual desire refers to wanting to have sex for pleasure, emotional connection, procreation, or any other reason without necessarily feeling sexually attracted. Libido (lust), also known as sex drive, is one’s desire to have sex, feel sexual pleasure, and relieve sexual tension. What many don’t know about asexual people is that they may enjoy masturbation, various sexual acts, and discovering their own bodies, whether on their own or with a partner(s). Sexual attraction refers to one’s desire to have sexual contact with another person(s).

Asexual people feel lust and have sexual desires; asexuality doesn’t always mean not enjoying sex, but rather a lack of sexual attraction. Asexuality takes different forms of attraction other than sexual one: romantic, aesthetic, emotional, platonic, and physical attraction. 

What is the difference between romantic, aesthetic, emotional, platonic, and physical attraction?

People perceive and express attraction differently. Some feel attracted to other(s) romantically and emotionally, while others feel attracted to people’s beauty, whatever their definition of it is. Platonic attraction, on the other hand, is a philosophical notion wherein love takes precedence over physical attraction, reaching a level of spiritual attraction. Below are some different kinds of attraction, one or all of which asexual people may experience. 

  • Romantic attraction: one’s desire to have a romantic relationship with another. 
  • Aesthetic attraction: appreciating the appearance or beauty of another person(s).
  • Physical or sensual attraction: the desire to touch, embrace and hug another person or persons. 
  • Platonic attraction: the desire to have a close friendship with someone.
  • Emotional attraction: the desire to be emotionally connected to someone. 

Does a person’s lack of sexual desire mean that they are asexual? 

No. Some people’s sexual desire or libido is low, but they do not see themselves as asexual. Asexuality doesn’t mean not engaging in sexual acts, but rather not or rarely feeling sexually attracted to others, or only feeling this way under specific circumstances.

Sexual orientations – including asexuality – are neither fixed nor limited. They have no clear or definite feature and can be the result of a complex range of interactions with our environment, childhood, and experiences. 

Asexuality: is it a mental illness or traumatic response?

Some people think asexuality is an illness that requires treatment. But asexuality is not caused by genophobia (a fear of sex or sexual intimacy), low sex drive, or impotence. It needs no justification or explanation, for some of the above conditions may develop in people regardless of their sexual orientation. Asexuality, just like homosexuality or bisexuality, has no inherent reason. It’s just part of one’s nature; it isn’t caused by a genetic disorder, trauma, or anything else. 

What do asexuality, celibacy, and monasticism have in common? 

Though some people think that monasticism and asexuality are two sides of the same coin, the truth is something else. Monasticism and celibacy are states of abstinence from sexual activity for religious or cultural reasons, despite sexual attraction. This includes when someone chooses to abstain from premarital sex. Asexual people, on the other hand, don’t necessarily abstain from having sex; they do it with their partner(s) or others without sexual attraction being a factor. To enjoy sex, one doesn’t always need to feel sexual attraction.