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What does it mean to be asexual? A psychologist explains

Published on:24 September 2020, 14:29pm IST
Asexuality is a sexual orientation which is marked by a lack of sexual attraction towards any gender. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Shreya Gupta
A person is more than just their sexual orientation. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Thanks to the verdict of section 377, the discussion and awareness around homosexuality has increased. At a social level, we can hope that this legislation will greatly contribute to normalising it. However, people still don’t know much about sexuality as a concept.

We live in a society where anything related to sex is too much of a stigma to talk about. In such an environment, people who are asexual face a lot of trouble.

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So, what is asexuality?
To understand what asexuality entails, we talked to Kamna Chibber, a clinical psychologist and head of the Department of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute. 

She explains, “Sexual orientation is not something which is fixed. Variability is a natural element when it comes to sexual orientation. Asexuality is characterised by no sexual desire towards any of the genders at all.”

It is a type of sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality and homosexuality. Asexual people lack sexual desire but they might experience romantic orientation. This means that they might not have sexual feelings but some of them do want to seek out love. People have only recently become more open about being asexual which also means that knowledge about it is still in the process of expansion.

Also, read: This is how you can become a true ally to your LGBTQ+ friends

How is being asexual ‘different’?
When it comes to sexual orientation, different people feel different things. This stands true also for asexuality. Broadly speaking, asexual spectrum has two orientations:

i) Sexual orientation
ii) Emotional orientation

Just like other human beings, asexual people need emotional support. However, how they choose to fulfil those needs may vary. Some may want a romantic relationship while others may need close intimate friendships. Some may also have a libido but not sexual desire to act on it. So, it isn’t something that is fixed. It is natural and different for different people.

They need our support, not judgment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What can’t be termed as asexuality?
Due to a lack of knowledge, people tend to confuse asexuality with various other things and experiences. 

One of the things that people often misconstrue is that asexuality is the same as celibacy or abstinence. Celibacy and abstinence is a conscious decision to not get involved in any sexual act in spite of having the desire. In the case of asexuality, it is natural and not a choice, to not want to have sex. Moreover, asexuality is not the loss of libido or fear of intimacy. Asexual people are just as ‘normal’ as people with sexual desires. 

Chibber points out, “There can be some confusion within the person because of the social situation that we live in. They might start to think that there’s something wrong with them if they lack sexual desire, which is expected in a typically heteronormative society. So, it is always better to listen to what your inner self is trying to say and act on that.”

Also, read: 5 ways to support a friend who is planning to come out of the closet

How do you know if you are asexual?
While there aren’t any definite signs that can point towards asexuality, it is always your mind and body that indicate what you want. Chibber says, “If you are not experiencing any evident sexual orientation and the desire to get involved sexually with any of the genders, there’s definitely a chance that you are asexual.”

“We need to start treating sex and sexuality as a normal part of life. There’s a lot of hesitation in talking about these topics. People feel so uncomfortable about it that they’d rather not speak about sexual orientations. If you are facing any issue or problem that is impacting your relations, talking to the right people and experts always helps,” suggests Chibber.

Asexuality, just like all other sexual orientations, is absolutely normal!

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Shreya Gupta Shreya Gupta

Finding nirvana in good food, Shreya also loves reading books and is a die-hard Potterhead. Confident and motivated she's fun to be with. Plus food. Always.