It’s been said that men think about sex every seven seconds, and that while women don’t think about it as much, we aren’t too far off.
Much as this might sound like a gross exaggeration (a study by Ohio University found that men think about sex 19 times a day, and women, about half of that), there’s little doubt that sex is a big part of our lives. But there are some people who never experience sexual attraction to anyone.
Asexuality is a thing, albeit rare
The lack of sexual attraction is known as asexuality, and it’s very rare. Dr Martha Tara Lee, a clinical sexologist and relationship coach at Eros Coaching, notes that according to several medical journals, only one percent of the world’s population fall into this category. It doesn’t help that the condition can be tricky to identify.
“If you’re trying to figure out if you’re asexual, there are a few signs too look out for: you don’t think about sex, you don’t feel any urge to have sex regardless of who it is, and you don’t understand why people give so much importance to sex,” she says.
She stresses that all three signs have to be present for someone to qualify as asexual. Everyone’s sex drives are different, so you shouldn’t assume that you’re asexual just because you, say, don’t find sex important.
“Usually, once I explain its definition, most people [who think they might be asexual] realise that they’re actually not.”
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a “problem”
A common misconception is that asexuality is a health problem.
“It’s not a disorder or disease,” says Dr Lee. She emphasises that low sex drive is not the same as asexuality, so as long as you’ve felt sexual desire before, been sexually attracted to someone, or fantasised about sex, you’re not asexual even if you no longer experience those things. If you’re suddenly confused about your sexuality, it might be because you recently went through a difficult time in their life, like a breakup, death in the family or even moving out.
And while several online articles state that there are different asexual types, and that asexuals can have asexual sub-identities, Dr Lee says, “They can identify themselves as anything they want, but these are unofficial terms.”
Asexuals can still form intimate relationships
Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they are not able to have sex (which can happen if they want to please their partners) or tend to shy away from romantic relationships.
“They just don’t feel like having sex, not once in a while or ever. But they may be attracted to a person emotionally or mentally,” says Dr Lee.
This is supported by the Asexual Visbility & Education Network, the world’s largest online asexual community, which points out that asexuals have the same emotional needs as everybody else and that they’re just as capable of forming intimate relationships. In fact, a quick trawl through relevant online forums suggests that there are plenty of asexuals in happy relationships with partners with “normal” sex drives.
If you think you might be asexual and have some concerns, Dr Lee recommends making an appointment with a trained sexologist or therapist. But what’s most important is you accept yourself for who you are.