I believe I’m asexual. I’m a heterosexual woman in my thirties and while I enjoy being in a relationship, sex has never been the main focus for me. It’s not how I show or feel intimacy. I fear telling people this because our culture places so much emphasis on sex and I’m afraid I’ll be seen as abnormal. I also don’t know how to explain to people that just because I may be asexual, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to date or have a partner. Is it okay to be asexual, or does it mean I have a sexual dysfunction? Should I just avoid relationships?
Your libido is not necessarily an absolute. Sexuality and desire are fluid. Just because you’re not feeling sexual attraction in your relationships lately does not mean this is permanent. Similarly, those with a robust sexual appetite may find themselves in stretches with little or no desire. We all need to accept that sexual desire can ebb and flow during different stages in life.
It can feel isolating and lonely to think you’re the only one experiencing an absence of sexual desire. And while it’s true that our culture places an emphasis on sex, this does not mean the majority of people are having satisfying sex. As they say, “it’s complicated.” You are not dysfunctional or abnormal, and nor are those who consistently crave physicality in relationships.
Ask yourself: over the course of my life, has sexual desire varied from person to person or from one developmental stage to the next? If you have never felt sexual desire of any kind toward someone, the label of asexual may fit. However, you state sex is not the main focus, suggesting that the flame of desire has existed, albeit a dim flicker in the background on occasion. That would be the experience of someone with low sex drive versus being asexual.
There are other ways to build and maintain connection in relationships; intimacy can come in many forms. Look at the ways you can feel close to someone — in conversation, shared activities, values, emotional support and overall companionship to name a few. There are people looking for these very qualities in a relationship.
Keep looking for the right mate … but don’t forget to first look within. Dive deeper into the reasons you are cut off from such intrinsic and potent energy.
Your relationship with your own body is a big factor. Poor body image can be a strong precursor to low desire. Lack of connection to your physical self, your senses, and your intuition can make anyone feel cut off from their sexuality.
Do you allow yourself to feel raw or vulnerable in other areas of your life? Do you allow yourself to feel pleasure? If not, start assigning yourself healthy pleasures in small doses. Exercise, meditation, music, creativity, cooking or being outdoors are just some ways to tap into your sensual self.
Sexual arousal can be a reflection of our physical vitality. Depression, chronic pain, obesity, and any compromising health conditions can dampen or eliminate libido. Prescription medications and certain drugs, particularly when overused, can certainly distort desire as well. Investigate if there are any physical health conditions that impact your hormones or vascular system.
Your feelings are also a reflection of childhood influences. Simply being a female of your generation means there were gendered stereotypes with double standards about sex that you internalized. If you grew up with religious doctrines prohibiting sex or were raised with messages that sex was immoral unless under particular conditions (such as between a man and woman married to each other) then you may need to practice dropping these old voices in your head.
Let’s not reduce relationships down to a single physical act. Avoiding all relationships that could lead to sex is cowardly and will only add to your feelings of shame and isolation. Do not deprive yourself the opportunity to be adored and exchange emotional and energetic connection with someone. You will be able to find satisfying companionship if you remain open to emotional intimacy. Remember that companionate love is also powerful and fulfilling.