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What is Asexuality/Sexual Attraction?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by Bisurprise, Oct 27, 2021.

  1. Bisurprise

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    I really want to open up a discussion, because in my own independent research I find myself confused with how asexuality is categorized -- and I want to see if it's me or what.
    Asexuality is defined as having low or no interest in sexual activity, and asexual people can be sex-repulsed, non-chalant or even enjoy sex. Yet, Healthline marked a difference between different types of attraction, and I'd really like to see how you guys define them.
    What is sexual attraction? I heard it being described as seeing people that are attractive and having sexual fantasies/thoughts, but even then I still don't get it. Is this what it is, and it is normal to see people and almost immediately play the Karma Sutra in their heads orrrrr?

    And what is a libido?! I'm legitimately scratching my head, the way its been described to me by my parents is that once you have sex, you get this compulsive urge to have it routinely. It's already a weird thing to imagine, because I hardly think becoming sexually active is like getting a routine oil check or tuneup, but how do you describe it? I'm losing my mind. Do you guys feel like you changed after becoming sexually active, desire-wise?

    What is the main difference between aesthetic and sexual attraction? I try to think back and I'm not sure if my crushes were actually aesthetic, romantic or what. I do know that I had a pattern of "falling" (I'm still not sure if I have been choosing people to be obsessed with lol) for people that I am well aware that I have no chance with, because I like the inner theatrics that I would go through from pain of being "rejected." Yet, if any of them actually turned around and said they liked me back and wanted a chance with me, I feel repulsed and numb at the idea, and dare I say fearful? Have any of you felt something similar?

    Also to get a bit TMI -- how about what all of the above means when it comes to masturbation? I distinctly remember even when I started, sometimes I wouldn't even think about porn or any particular person, and I just went into it "blind," but I felt the same regardless if I think about something or not. I wouldn't like to label it a compulsion, but I don't know how else to say it. Did anyone else do this, or do you have to think about something to become aroused (this sounds so dumb typing it but it makes sense to me lol)?
    It's ok if I am an alien and nobody gets me lol, I just haven't seen a thread about this and I'm really curious about what people mean when they're attracted to someone.
    --
    To be a bit more open, I have a partner and I am absolutely wild for them; I want to be there for the rest of their life and all the romantic semantics. We haven't had sex for one reason or another (being busy, being the pillar of support in our separate families, strict traditional rules, lack of hiding places lmao) but I kindof notice a different in their desire and mine. Don't get me wrong, the few times we were together I felt all the warm and fuzzy feelings you're supposed to (I guess), and I don't particularly feel uncomfortable with having sex with them, it's actually kind of exciting. Yet, I don't exactly want to stop being a virgin either, it's a weird feeling because I don't care for those traditional ideals that prize virginity. It's just, if I had the option, I'm not sure if I would even take it, even if we were waiting a long time.
    I ask all of these questions in this long convoluted rant because I'm just. confused. I feel like this light aversion would stay even after we become active (and we enjoy it), I don't know. If you stuck around to the end, kudos because that's more dedication than my brain cells had when I was writing this.

    (P.S. I really don't want to identify as asexual because I had trauma in the past, and I don't want to add to the stigma that it's caused by external factors.)
     
  2. Lemony

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    Demisexuality is valid and part of the ace spectrum. If anyone here tells you otherwise ignore them. If you have felt, in better words never felt horny for someone(sorry needed a different phrase) completely but then with your partner or friend get a strong bond, you might start to experience sexual attraction. That may explain in the past why you have felt like this that you never felt it. You may of needed a bond to open up those feelings. Like being locked but your body found the key.
    So have you ever experienced sexual attraction? The tingling feeling in your genitals, the desire to be with them and their body. It is ok to not want to have sex. It’s ok. You dont have to label yourself at all if you dont want
     
  3. Lemony

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    Many people decide to be celibate and that is valid!
     
  4. Chip

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    Demisexuality is a label a bunch of people use, but it is not a sexual orientation, any more than "blondosexual" which would be being only attracted to blond people or some other variant like that. If it were an actual orientation, then it would actually apply to a large portion of the population. There are many, many people who don't feel particular attraction to someone until they get to know them. There's nothing special about that and certainly nothing that would define that behavior as being a separate sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the evidence-free crowd has popularized this and a bunch of other concepts that serve no purpose other than to confuse people.

    It's nice to say "if anyone else here tells you otherwise then ignore them" but that's terrible advice. One of the values that ECCS (the nonprofit that owns EC) ascribes to is the accuracy of the information we present. There is zero credible evidence, research, clinical data to support the idea of demisexuality as a sexual orientation. Unless and until someone can present credible clinical data showing otherwise, the person you should ignore is the one pulling stuff out of his or her ass without any data to support it. If we don't rely on factual information and data to inform our understanding, then we're living in a completely alternate reality.

    Asexuality, on the other hand, does exist, is well documented in the research on sexuality, and has been for decades. But the actual definition, again, has been hijacked by the evidence-free crowd. Asexuality is a word that draws from Latin roots, where the "a" at the beginning of the word signifies without: "asymptomatic" means "without symptoms." "amoral" means "without morals." So 'asexuality" means "without sexuality." In other words, people who are asexual, according to the widely accepted definition that has been used for decades, are those who simply have no sexual attraction whatsoever. The idea that there are different categories is simply not supported by the credible research, and unfortunately confounds a hardwired sexual orientation with a bunch of different mental health conditions.

    The idea that asexual people enjoy sex makes about as much sense as saying asymptomatic people have symptoms. It makes no sense and goes against the meaning of the word (not to mention decades of research on the topic.) This isn't to say there isn't some hardwired pleasure that comes from orgasm, as that has to do with the necessity of orgasm to stimulate release of certain brain hormones. But again, this has nothing to do with asexuality as the term has been understood for decades.

    People who have a strong aversion to sex are not born that way, and thus it is not hardwired. If I've been raped or otherwise sexually abused, it's pretty likely that I'm going to have traumatic feelings associated with sex. This doesn't make me asexual, any more than being repeatedly bullied in school makes me incapable of learning at school. In the case of sex and rape, what the result of that experience can mean is that I have a learned aversion to sex, which is a completely different thing. Traumas cause us to form perceptions and beliefs. But those beliefs are not hardwired, and can be changed with therapy. Asexuality, as the word is properly used, is hardwired is permanent and unchanging. And there's no stigma to the idea that trauma suppresses sexual attraction; it's simple fact, documented thousands of times in the research on sexual arousal and attraction.

    Here's another example: If I have a bad case of the flu, and have a fever of 103, the last thing I want to think about is having sex. That's hardwired because our brain knows that reproduction is not what we need at that moment; we need to put our energy toward getting well. But I'm not asexual, because I have the flu; I'm sick. If an individual has depression, anxiety, or various other mood disorders, those disorders impact our ability to feel sexual attraction in the exact same way that having the flu does. It has nothing to do with our sexual orientation; it's a mental health condition that is suppressing our desires for sexual interaction. If we have spent our lives in settings where our parents were unable to give us the healthy, supportive upbringing we needed, then it's entirely possible that we've had a low-level mood disorder (persistent depressive disorder is a common one) for years, and have never felt sexual attraction. But when we solve the PDD, the underlying condition contributing to the loss of sexual arousal goes away, and normal sexual attraction returns.

    Also, keep in mind, whatever trauma you experienced, especially if it was intimate/sexual trauma, can significantly impact how you experience your body, and how your unconscious feels about allowing someone in your "bubble." So it's entirely possible that you would, on the one hand, feel an excitement, tingling, desire to engage, and at the same time, be detached, scared, or dissociated from the feelings or ability to be in the present in that moment. Again, this is something that can very effectively be addressed in therapy.

    Bisurprise, it's likely from what you are describing that there are underlying mental health issues that are getting in the way of being able to feel strong sexual attraction. And people who have those sorts of mental health issues are more likely to attract others who have similar issues, so it's quite possible that both you and your partner have similar issues, though they may arise from completely different childhood experiences. This would be consistent with masturbating without having particularly strong sexual imagery; the need and desire for orgasm is somewhat hardwired, in that there are neurochemical processes in the brain that occur only during orgasm, and our bodies are smart enough to realize that we have need for these neurochemical processes.

    I hope that's helpful.
     
    #4 Chip, Oct 27, 2021
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  5. SilentM

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    I know one woman who claims to be asexual. She describes this as "lacking need and understanding of need to have sex". I'm OK with that.

    I think that experiencing sex drive is something that is perceived as part of growing up: teenagers struggle with it, the more so if society tells them to repress it until adulthood or marriage. Aces might feel detached from their peers not sharing this experience.
     
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  6. Obliteratrix47

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    To answer your first question, asexuality means you don't experience sexual attraction to anyone. Some asexuals can have a low libido or a high libido. There are some asexuals who experience romantic attractions to the opposite sex (heteroromantic), same sex (homoromantic), both sexes (biromantic), or none (aromantic).

    Answer to your second question: libido (sex drive) means experiencing desire to have sex with anyone, regardless of what your sexuality is. Heterosexual people can have sex with the same gender, homosexual people can have sex with the opposite gender, asexual people can have sex with any gender. I'm a heterosexual female. I get horny when I think about men/guys. They turn me on. I like their penises. Their six packs are so hot that I wish I could just lay on them and feel them. That's super straight of me. That's how you experience sexual attractions.

    Answer to your third question: Aesthetic attraction means you find someone attractive in a non-sexual way, but you admire them. It doesn't mean that a gay person can find the opposite sex attractive is bisexual. People are able to find anyone attractive. That is the main difference between sexual and aesthetic attractions.
     
  7. Chip

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    There is no credible evidence to support the idea of discordant sexual and romantic orientation. Therefore, the whole idea of "homoromantic" or "aromantic" or "biromantic" is, again, something dreamed up by the evidence-free crowd with nothing whatsoever to support it.

    Again, this is another unsupported term brought to you by the evidence-free crowd (mostly folks found on Tumblr and similar evidence-free sources.) Admiration has nothing to do with sexual attraction. Anyone, of any sexual identity, can find another person physically attractive. Again, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation.[/QUOTE]
     
    #7 Chip, Oct 28, 2021
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  8. Obliteratrix47

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    [/QUOTE]
    If you're saying what is true, then come some asexuals claim to experience romantic attractions to a gender they prefer? Also, I didn't say anything that admiration determines sexuality.
     
  9. Chip

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    Most likely because they aren't actually asexual, as the word is widely used.

    That's the entire problem. The evidence-free crowd have taken words that at one point were clear and unambiguous, rooted in research and study, with widespread agreement among researchers, mental health professionals, scholars, and completely hijacked the meaning and so diluted it that the words are essentially meaningless.

    Anyone can call themselves anything they want. I can say I'm "unicornsexual" if I want to. People use the "demisexual" label despite the fact it has no correlation whatsoever with any validated research, and those who self-describe that way often confound that self-description with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions that are likely causing the experiences they ascribe to a sexual orientation. I can say I'm an elephant, but that doesn't actually make it so.

    But the purpose of language is to communicate. And descriptive terms and labels, if they are to be of any value, need to be rooted in some level of common understanding if communication is to be effective. This is where research and consensus among professionals comes in.

    And again, there's no credible evidence of a discordant separation between romantic and sexual orientation, so someone who is asexual (if we're using the widely recognized definition) isn't going to have 'romantic attractions'. What is commonly described as "romantic attraction' is, in reality, nothing more than emotionally intimate friendship, something we've understood and has been studied for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, again, the evidence-free crowd wants to make up words and definitions that serve no other purpose but to make them feel special and to confuse others.
     
    #9 Chip, Oct 28, 2021
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  10. PatrickUK

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    It's a sad truth that many people hide behind the banner of asexuality (or what they consider as asexual) in order to avoid confronting deeper emotional issues connected to sex and sexuality. In so doing, they are harming themselves, but in many cases they are harming others too as they seek to persuade, cajole and bring more people on board within the supposed 'spectrum'. This isn't mere speculation, but something I know to be true.

    In saying all of this I am not seeking to deny the validity of asexuality. For a very small number of people it's accurate to say that sexual attraction is entirely absent from their lives. It always has been and it always will be. These people deserve recognition and respect. For too long they have seen their real identity hijacked by people who make increasingly spurious claims about what it means to be asexual.
     
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  11. Obliteratrix47

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    Asexuality and aromantisicm are two different things. Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, while aromanticism is a lack of romantic attraction. If a person doesn't experience sexual nor romantic attractions, then they're aromantic asexual. It's simple. There are gay people who are sexually attracted to the same sex, but they experience romantic attractions to both genders, they're biromantic homosexual. It's how many people explained their feelings. Both sexual orientation and romantic orientation are different.
     
  12. Chip

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    They are indeed different things. One exists and has been well documented in the literature for decades; the other is an evidence-free creation of folks based on crowdsourced groupthink without any basis whatsoever in science, research, or even consensus among the majority of mental health professionals.

    Well, no. Given that, as I've now stated at least several times in this thread, there is no credible evidence anywhere within the credible scientific or psychological literature for discordant sexual and romantic orientations, there can be no romantic attraction separate from sexual orientation. Also, as I've already stated above, what is mischaracterized as "romantic orientation" -- a deep caring about someone, with a desire to spend time with them and be close with them, but with zero interest in any sort of sexual activity -- is more accurately described, very simply, as an emotionally intimate friendship.

    Most of the people in the world -- at least, those who are emotionally healthy and functional, and understand and can engage in vulnerable, emotionally close connections with others -- have emotionally intimate friendships with men and women. They aren't "biromantic." They're simply ordinary human beings that care about and connect with one another. No evidence-free special label required.

    Somebody has no capacity to form emotionally intimate bonds with others is not someone with a sexual orientation, but someone who has likely suffered severe trauma of one form or another and is incapable of connection. That's a very sad situation for which everyone should have access to help with, because we are fundamentally hardwired for connection. An inability to cultivate and maintain it would be a pretty miserable existence.


    No, they are asexual. Again, there's no evidence to support discordant sexual and romantic orientation. Either provide evidence from credible, peer-reviewed scientific, psychological, or sociological journals, or stop spouting nonsense. Yes, I'm aware that a small but vocal bunch of folks have propagated this, but it simply isn't true. And again, as previously stated (it gets tiring repeating myself, but apparently some folks don't get it the first 10000000 times) ECCS, the parent nonprofit behind Empty Closets, has as one of its values a reliance on credible, evidence-based data for the information that we share. Our team is united on this. It's only controversial for the same reason there are folks who believe that Covid vaccines have 5G chips in them: because folks cannot be bothered to actually read the credible scientific data.
     
    #12 Chip, Oct 29, 2021
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  13. jjusa

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    I think you can experience romantic feelings towards one gender and sexual feelings towards another, and not put a label on it as well. That's just how the person feels at the time and I don't think it's okay to invalidate their feelings. I think society prioritizes sex over romance. It's okay if you just have sexual feelings for someone, but it's not okay if you just have romantic feelings for someone.
     
  14. out2019

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    I think there are people who genuinely believed they had 'romantic' attraction to the opposite sex, that couple with the idea few people are "100%" gay could cause some self confusion.

    For years I held onto this idea that I wasn't gay because I had romantic 'crushes' on some women. Looking back I realize they were completely non-sexual and they weren't even about the person, it was about an 'idea' that I wanted this rom-com / fairy tale 'romance' and also that would also make my gay fantasies go away. Often these women represented a world I was interested in and looking back I was more interested in how they dressed than them.

    From what I have seen on this forum, users letting this idea go is one of the early steps to accepting that they were gay.

    This is only my experience and I realize people here genuinely believe they have them.
     
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  15. Chip

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    This exactly. Somehow, this business about a separation between romantic and sexual orientation started showing up somewhere in the early 2010s, and it coincided with people switching to that term instead of using the term "bisexual" as a bridge identity when acknowledging same sex attraction. (Before the daggers start, no, I'm in no way saying that bisexuality isn't a thing, only that many folks, when first coming to terms with being gay, identify as "bi" as a bridge identity while going through self-acceptance.)

    And yes, it does tend to confuse and delay people's ability to accept themselves, which is why it tends to be an issue. It's unfortunate that it has the effect of invalidating people's identity, but when said identity has no basis in any scientific study or even consensus among professionals, it's hard to argue that the label being used has credibility or validity.
     
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  16. Chip

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    The thing is, "romantic feelings" are indiscernable from "emotionally intimate friendship." That's the problem. "Romance", as the term is generally understood, means "to court or play up to," which clearly implies seeking connection. If the "romance" has absolutely no sexual attraction to it, then it is really hard to argue it is in any way different from emotionally intimate friendship. And as previously stated (which you seem to agree with), people can have emotionally intimate friendships with people of both genders.
     
  17. PatrickUK

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    I think it's important to say that we have a genuine desire to help members and visitors who wish to explore the underlying barrier issues that make sex and sexuality such difficult propositions, but we do this without subscribing to the idea that lots of people are asexual or on a supposed asexual spectrum. We begin by looking at things like (but not limited to) shame, trauma, mental health issues, all of which may be significant. Yes, it is hard work and when things get raked up it can be painful, but it serves no good purpose to ignore what's going on and bury it beneath a label that stretches the definition of asexuality beyond all credibility or proposes a huge disconnect between the emotional and physical, with little real evidence to back it up.

    When people are confused and vulnerable it does a huge disservice to introduce them to myriad labels and ideas that may lock them in a life limiting cycle of repression and apathy.
     
  18. out2019

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    Yes exactly! - "I like the [idea] of a heterosexual relationship with this beautiful woman (even though I am not sexually aroused) so I can't be gay.

    I was stuck in this cycle for a long long time but the problem is that it's difficult to realize it when you're in it. For years I just thought I was apathetic about dating (women) but when I finally allowed myself to accept the idea of dating and being romantic with men, I wasn't so apathetic anymore ! :slight_smile:
     
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  19. Chip

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    One of the interesting patterns that I've seen emerge here over the years (more so with men than with women, but that may just be sampling error or something) is that guys who are in the process of coming out or on the fence often say they can't see themselves with a guy, can't see being romantic and lovey-dovey with a guy... that sort of thing. And yet, as they begin to accept themselves, many report that something changes, like a dam bursts, and suddenly they are able to experience that... and as they do that, often the attraction toward men grows dramatically and whatever attraction toward women starts to fade away.

    I've seen that particular description of events enough to believe that it's likely a fairly consistent pattern. And likely, this has to do with unconscious merging into conscious, and our conscious internalized homophobia giving way to self-acceptance.

    The denial process, and our ability to break out of it, is definitely interesting. And I think if people understood that, they'd be less resistant to understanding why all this nonsense really just boils down, to the overwhelming majority of folks, to breaking out of the stages of loss.
     
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  20. Mihael

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    Imo, it isn't like you put effort to push something out, it's more like the romantic feelings develop if and only if you feel comfortable and at ease, and even if something just doesn't fit our presupposition about who we are (the culture is heteronormative) it's enough to not feel at ease, becasue of the surprise. It's a life changer, it's easy to have doubts and be afraid. And those stop the feelings of comfort and safety that are needed for something like those "lovey dovey" feelings to develop. At least this is my take at it... I went through that as well.