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Sex + Relationships

Ace Week 2021: Navigating Relationships as an Asexual Person

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Last week was Ace Week 2021! From October 24 to October 30, people who identify under the asexual umbrella get to celebrate what it means to be part of this somewhat underrepresented sexuality. But what does it mean to identify as part of the aromantic/asexual (aroace) spectrum, and what’s it like to be in relationships as an asexual individual in such a sexually focused world?

Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to others. Within this basic definition, though, aroace is a broad spectrum, and there are many ways that people can identify as asexual. Let’s look at some of the basic terminology necessary to understand the aroace spectrum:

  • Asexual (ace): lacking sexual attraction towards other people
  • Aromantic (aro): lacking romantic feelings toward other people
  • Demisexual/romantic: only having sexual/romantic feelings for someone after establishing a deep connection
  • Greysexual/romantic: rarely experiencing sexual/romantic attraction, sometimes only under specific circumstances, and/or not having a desire to act on it

All these sexual orientations fall under the asexual spectrum, making it a complicated facet of the LGBTQIA+ community. A person might identify as asexual but not aromantic, or both, or some combination of the more specific sexualities that fall along this spectrum – there are a ton, and this website has a really good explanation!

With all these different types of asexuality, it can be pretty confusing to figure out exactly what you identify as, let alone to figure out how to navigate relationships as someone on the aroace spectrum. The idea that asexual or aromantic people can’t be in a relationship is a myth. If they want to be, a person on the ace spectrum can be in healthy, short-or-long lasting relationships. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t be in relationships if you don’t want sex or don’t want romance in the traditional sense, but you absolutely can be. Here are some things to consider if you want to be in a relationship as an aroace person.

Consider dating someone who identifies sexually like how you identify.

Dating someone who also identifies as asexual may help you establish and keep boundaries regarding sex and romance. It can keep you both on the same page and make for a thriving, happy relationship!

Be upfront with partners about your comfort levels.

If you’re dating someone who isn’t asexual, it can be difficult to navigate conversations about sex such that you both stay happy and fulfilled in a relationship. That’s why it’s important to be clear with partners about your sexual needs and desires (or lack thereof). As much as it can suck, a partner who isn’t on the aroace spectrum might need more sexual engagement to stay fulfilled in a relationship, and if you and your partner’s desires don’t overlap, that relationship might not be sustainable. But first and foremost, be upfront with your partner about what you’re comfortable with and hear what they have to say in response. Don’t get me wrong, these relationships absolutely can work, but communication is key!

It can be difficult, sometimes painful, to feel accepted in the world of relationships as someone who identifies as asexual, aromantic, or both. Things like dating apps and even just simple phrases we use in conversation perpetuate the idea that sex is an integral part of relationships, when this simply isn’t always true. It’s absolutely possible to be in beautiful, thriving partner relationships as an aroace person. So, this Ace Week 2021, remember that love is love, no matter how it manifests, and you are valid no matter what.

Additional Resources:

The Trevor Project

AUREA

Emily Bost

Denison '25

Emily Bost is a first-year student at Denison University who is double majoring in biology and English literature on the pre-med track. When she's not studying, she loves to read classic novels, get involved in theater, volunteer for the Camp Kesem organization, and play the piano. You can often find her spending time at animal shelters to volunteer or with her friends on the weekends. She's passionate about environmental sustainability, awareness about underrepresented intellectual groups such as women in STEM, and breaking down the stigma of mental health on college campuses.
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