The Fourth Orientation

This week (22nd – 28th October) is Asexual Awareness week, to help raise awareness a member of staff tells us about asexuality…

We can all name three sexual orientations – heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality – but you may not be aware of a fourth: asexuality. Asexuals are people who typically do not experience sexual attraction, and although only making up around 1% of the population, asexuality remains little discussed and understood.

It may surprise you that there are people who do not feel sexual attraction to anyone, and it may even seem strange. But we simply don’t have that layer to ourselves, and we’re fine with that. We don’t consider ourselves to be “missing out”, because you can’t miss what doesn’t appeal to you.

Asexuals may be attracted to people in other ways. Plenty of us fall in love (“romantic asexuals”) while others don’t (“aromantic asexuals”). Some of us pursue relationships – including with nonasexuals – while others don’t feel the need. Like anyone else, we’re drawn to traits like personality, and have the same ability to connect emotionally and show affection to that special someone. We may or may not be virgins, depending on what point in life we realised our sexuality and whether we felt the need to have a sexual experience to be sure.

Asexuality is a spectrum. Some of us do experience sexual attraction mildly, occasionally or briefly, but what we feel isn’t enough to want to act on, so in this case people may describe themselves as “gray asexuals”. Many asexuals are perfectly capable of recognising a person as physically attractive and blue jokes won’t necessarily ‘bomb’. With asexuality being only recently known about, lack of awareness can be problematic – our big grouse is other people assuming we must be unhappy, or even ill, and trying to convince them we’re neither! Living in such a sexualised world has its challenges – many asexuals describe having felt conflicted or “broken” before they learned about asexuality, perhaps misguidedly forcing themselves into unwanted dating.

Information and Resources:

There’s a vibrant online community of asexuals sharing experiences, advice and laughs, such as at www.asexuality.org, which is an excellent source of information if you’re curious. Alternatively, I’m happy to answer your questions, in confidence, at fourthorientation@gmail.com






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