The word asexuality is usually used to mean experiencing little or no sexual attraction. There are many factors for how interested (or uninterested) somebody is in intimate relationships – and which things they do or don’t want to share with a partner in those relationships. Attraction isn’t the only factor but it’s the one that the asexual and aromantic labels are about for most people who use them. There are different kinds of attraction, and whether you feel all, some, or none of them, there’s nothing wrong with you for that. If somebody tells you they are asexual, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re aromantic too.
Attraction is all about where your brain goes when thinking about somebody you can imagine being (or already are) in a relationship with. If the experience of attraction includes spontaneous fantasies of sex with that person and makes you want to do the same thing with them in reality, that’s sexual attraction. If your imagination comes up with date nights and romantically coded things, romantic attraction is the kind of thing we’re talking about. Attraction can be focused on other shared activities too.
Libido isn’t the same thing as attraction, and also not everyone who has libido wants to satisfy it through partnered sex. While aversion and indifference to sex are a lot more common among asexual people (“aces”) than the general population, some aces like sex and some hate it. Some are happy to do it for partners’ pleasure and some aren’t. Some are willing to do it to make a baby; others not. Someone who identifies as asexual is much less likely to be into doing those things.
In asexual communities, the most popular word for people who do feel sexual attraction is allosexual.
The flag above was chosen by a vote in online asexual groups in 2010 and the colours represent:
- Black: asexuality
- Grey: grey asexuality, the grey area between sexual and asexual
- White: sexuality
- Purple: community
Demisexual is a way of saying that you don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone who is new to you, or who you don’t know well. It means sexual attraction is possible, but only after you develop emotional (maybe also, romantic) closeness with that person over time.