Asexual people do not feel sexual attraction. To anyone. No, not even you. Some of them might feel romantic attraction, but you shouldn’t assume that any ace person you know is going to be romantically inclined, or, for that matter, that any allosexual person is. It’s important – for ace people especially – to differentiate between romantic and sexual attraction as being able to exist independently of each other or not at all, as well as to acknowledge that ace and aro people are perfectly capable of having meaningful relationships with friends, family, romantic partners, sexual partners, and every other kind of partner.
In addition to the usual forms of relationships, platonic or otherwise, that people can form, the ace/aro community has devised ways of articulating relationships that don’t fit into the labels set up and accepted by social norms. These include queerplatonic relationships, which are intense relationships that cannot be defined as either platonic friendships or romantic/sexual relationships. These can sometimes even be lifelong relationships which from the outside look like a “normal marriage”, but without the romantic/sexual basis such relationships are assumed to contain.
Though consent and boundaries are important in all kinds of relationships, they sometimes get forgotten when talking about ace people. In an effort to reassure allosexual people that aces are still “normal”, the attitude is often expressed that, even if they don’t feel sexual attraction, asexual-identifying people are still physically capable of having and enjoying sex and sexual relationships. Though this can be true, it’s a problematic attitude that encourages coercion and “corrective” rape, and leads plenty of ace people to believe that this is the only option available to them. In reality, a good portion – even a majority – of ace-identifying people are either sex-indifferent or sex-repulsed, and, even when in a relationship with an allosexual person, the assumption should never automatically be that the ace person will compromise in favour of the allosexual person’s “needs”. Sex-indifference is too often taken as implicit availability, and people who are sex-repulsed, sex-indifferent, or even sex-strongly-in-favour-of should never be pressured into, or assumed to be available for, sex.
In addition to the usual awful things that queer people often hear from well-meaning-but-ignorant cisgender/heterosexual people, there are a few phrases that are especially directed towards ace/aro people which should never actually be said. These include:
– Being accused of being frigid, prudish, broken, heartless, a tease, or leading someone on
– The attitude that “I can fix that!”, or that they just haven’t met the right person, or had “proper” sex
– Asking about their sexual/masturbation/pornography-consuming habits
– Encouragements to see a doctor or get their hormones checked
Being a good ally is a worthy goal, and it’s important for asexual and aromantic people to know that they have support both in and out of ace/aro communities! Ace/aro people face plenty of the same struggles as other queer-identifying people, their communities certainly have their own problems, and there’s still the ongoing difficulty of mainstream invisibility. But it’s important to remember and support ace/aro people in all communities and walks of life, and especially to remember: the A in LGBTQIA+ is not for Allies!
Ace: short for “asexual”
Aro: short for “aromantic”
Allosexual: someone who feels sexual attraction to others.
Grey-asexual/Grace: someone who identifies as being on the asexual spectrum, but feels capable of sexual attraction to others.
Demisexual: someone who identifies as being on the asexual spectrum, but feels capable of sexual attraction to others only after the establishment of an intense emotional attachment or relationship.
Squish: a platonic crush, or intense desire for a friendship with someone.
Zucchini: a word sometimes used to describe a queerplatonic partner.