Since April 6th, 2021 was the first-ever International Asexuality Day, I thought it was about time we discussed some important things about asexuality; specifically, what it means to come out to your friends as asexual. When I realized I was asexual, I didn’t know if that means I should come out to family and friends. As someone who is straight-passing, it felt like I shouldn’t indulge myself in the attention. However, there isn’t one perfect way to come out as asexual. Some people are comfortable never telling people about it, and that’s cool, but it is totally within your right to let people know that you’re asexual. It’s LGBTQIA+ for a reason – the “a” stands for asexual – so asexual people have just as much right as anyone else to come out. I think what really matters is doing what you feel comfortable with. You might identify as asexual but not see yourself as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and that’s okay too. I’m asked a lot of questions about asexuality, and while I can’t speak for the entire community, I thought it was time to clarify a few things. Here are just a few things that you should avoid if a friend comes out to you as asexual:
Don’t say, “This is just a phase!”
In all likelihood, the person coming out to you as asexual has thought long and hard about their identity. Choosing to confide in you wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s important to remember that this moment is about you encouraging them and showing support. Don’t allow your own doubts and prejudices to get in the way of their important moment. Instead of saying, “This is just a phase!” try instead “Wow! I’m so honored that you decided to tell me.”
Don’t say, “You just haven’t found the right person yet!”
A common misconception about asexuality is that asexual individuals never date. It all depends on what each person is comfortable with. Sexual orientation and romantic attraction are two separate things; the fact that our society has made sex feel like a necessary part of all romantic relationships has really limited the freedom of asexual people. Also, not being able to find a committed partner doesn’t cause a person to transform overnight into identifying as asexual. Being asexual isn’t a choice, so instead of saying, “You just haven’t found the right person yet!” try asking, “Can I also ask if you identify as aromantic?”
Don’t say, “Asexuality doesn’t exist.”
I’ve noticed that the people who believe this statement are usually a part of the scientific community and only choose to interpret asexuality through a logical and analytical perspective. Yes, we know more about asexual reproduction in the animal kingdom, but focusing just on this narrow definition ignores the historical importance of this word to people who use it as an identifier. Personally, when I first heard of asexuality I was doubtful, but once I realized that the word meant there were other people who felt the way I did, it was such a relief! Instead of saying, “Asexuality doesn’t exist,” try asking, “What is asexuality?” Even if you think you already know the answer, the answer you get will tell you a lot about what that person’s asexual identity means to them.
Don’t say, “Isn’t asexuality just the same as being celibate?”
Asexuality and celibacy are two entirely different things. Celibacy is a choice that people usually identify with joining a religious service. However, when someone is born asexual, that’s what they’ll always be; just like if someone is straight, you don’t assume that will change. Instead of asking, “Isn’t asexuality just the same as being celibate?” try asking, “Is there anything else you feel comfortable telling me?”
Don’t say, “So you have no sex drive?”
Asking more personal questions about someone who identifies as asexual shouldn’t be the first thing you do. If you start bombarding your friend with questions right away, this will feel very overwhelming. Your first reaction should be focused on showing support, then later it may be more appropriate to ask questions. It’s important to remember that an asexual person doesn’t have any responsibility to explain their sexual preferences to you, or lack thereof. An asexual person may say that they are “sex averse,” which basically means that they have no interest in a sexual relationship at all. Also, this may be their subtle way of telling you that they don’t want to talk about sex ever. For example, I’m not an asexual person who is sex averse, so I don’t mind talking with my friends about relationships. Instead of saying, “So you have no sex drive?” try asking, “What are you comfortable hearing about?”
Don’t say, “I have the perfect guy/girl for you!”
This goes without saying, but don’t try to set up your asexual friends unless they ask you to do so. It may be fun for you to talk about your own romantic relationships, but someone who identifies as asexual will likely feel otherwise. If your asexual friend happens to say that they do experience romantic attraction, this isn’t a green light for them to start dating. I know sometimes I talk to my friends about feelings that I don’t want to act on, but I just wanted to vent about them. Something that other people may not understand is that when you suggest to an asexual person that you have a person in mind for them to date, it suggests that you want to “change” them. Pressuring an asexual person to date insinuates that you don’t accept the person for who they are. Additionally, out of the women, men, and nonbinary people who identify as asexual, I notice that women are most often pressured to date. Implying that an asexual woman needs to be in a relationship to ensure her happiness is annoying and sexist. Instead of saying, “I have the perfect guy/girl for you!” try asking, “Do you want my help with this?”
At the end of the day, I may be biased in saying this, but having an asexual friend is pretty awesome! If they are comfortable with you asking them questions, then please do because we want people to be educated. If your friend isn’t comfortable speaking for the entire asexual community, do your own research! Personally, I’ve found a lot of amazing members of the asexual community on TikTok. The most important thing to ask yourself is before you say something to a friend who identifies as asexual, would you want someone to say it to you?