Gender & Identity,Sex, Relationships & Love

Asexuality, Simply a Lack of Sexual Attraction? Nah.:  Attractions & relationships (Part II)

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On Nov 3, 2022

In Part I of this series (which you can find it here) we listed all the identities that folx within the ace community can have (and there were a lot so go and check it out. In this piece we shall be outlining the ways that folx within the ace community relate to each other in terms of living, lovin’ and yes, even sexing.

Here are the attractions and relationships that make up the ace spectrum. 

Aesthetic attraction: An appreciation for or attraction to someone’s looks, but which does not necessarily accompany a desire for any kind of reciprocation. Also experiencing aesthetic attraction towards someone does not automatically lead to a desire for a romantic or sexual relationship with that person.

Alterous attraction: A type of attraction that is neither entirely platonic nor entirely romantic, best described as desiring an emotional closeness with somebody.

Aromate: A term to refer to a partner in an aromantic relationship.

Asexy: A term used playfully by some members of the ace community as a positive describing word, often in relation to things or people they are attracted to, but not sexually.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD): A disorder characterised by lack of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity which causes a person significant distress. 

Note: This is sometimes used to attempt to pathologise asexuality, though an asexual person who experiences no distress because of their identity is excluded from this diagnosis. Asexuality itself is not a disorder ͢– it’s a legitimate orientation, and there’s nothing wrong with being ace!

Libido: A person’s sex drive, or the frequency with which they desire sexual contact, regardless of their experiences (or lack thereof) of attraction. Someone’s libido or sex drive is not the same as their attraction; someone might be asexual and have a high sex drive, or they could have none at all.

Limerence: Any strong feelings of attraction, such as “butterflies”, nervousness, obsessive thoughts, or desire for approval.

Nonlibidoist: Someone who does not have a libido, or has a very low libido.

Primary attraction: Any attraction experienced upon first meeting someone.

Platonic attraction: A type of attraction that is not romantic, but more of an intense desire to be close to somebody emotionally, possibly more intense than a typical desire for friendship.

Platonic partner/qp: A term to refer to someone’s partner in a non-romantic relationship.

Queer-Platonic Relationship/Quasi-Platonic Relationship (QPR): A platonic relationship that transcends a person’s usual boundaries for friendships, or an incredibly strong non-romantic partnership. “Quasi-platonic” came about as an alternative to “queer-platonic” for people who didn’t feel comfortable using a reclaimed slur (the historical slur being “queer”). 

Romantic attraction: A romantic pull towards someone, which usually results in a desire for a romantic relationship with that person.

Secondary attraction: Any attraction that develops over time. Within the ace community, most often experienced by demi individuals.

Sensual attraction: A type of attraction based on the senses, especially touch, which typically results in a desire for some physical contact with another person, such as holding hands, hugging, or kissing. 

Note: Sensual attraction does not have to be accompanied by romantic or sexual feelings.

Sexual attraction: A sexual draw towards someone, typically resulting in a desire for a sexual partnership with that person.

Squish: A term used by some ace/aro people to describe a platonic crush. Some criticise the term believing it is infantilising.

Zucchini: A term of endearment used by some aro/ace people to describe their queer-platonic or quasi-platonic partner. Usage is much more prevalent in the USA, and there are a number of criticisms of it.

Now we must slide over to some concepts within the ace community (and also a few celebration dates you should know). 

Celibacy: The choice to abstain from all sexual activity, regardless of attraction. Celibacy is not the same as asexuality. Celibacy is a behaviour and a choice, not an orientation.

Sex favourability: Someone who may engage in sexual activity even if they do not have any desire for sexual activity, for example to please a partner.

Sex indifference: Someone who is neutral towards engaging in sexual activity.

Sex repulsion: A personal aversion towards engaging in sexual activity. Someone who is sex repulsed is not necessarily sex negative.

Sex negativity: A moral aversion towards sexual activity as a whole, regardless of one’s own participation or abstinence from sexual activity.

Sex positivity: Harbouring positive attitudes towards sex, regardless of one’s own desire or lack of desire for sexual activity.

Touch aversion: A desire not to be touched by people, or to touch others, and/or a repulsion to touch. This is often relating to sexual touch, but can be any kind of touch.

Ace/aro erasure: The denial that asexuality and/or aromanticism is real, and the invisibility and lack of representation of asexuality and aromanticism. Examples of ace erasure include: dismissing, ignoring, or trying to explain away asexuality/aromanticism. Also includes trying to find a way to constantly “fix” it.

Acephobia/arophobia/aphobia: any negative attitude towards asexuality, aromanticism, and asexual or aromantic people, including prejudice, hate, bullying, and erasure.

Amatonormativity: The assumption or insistence that romantic relationships are the norm and should be the ultimate goal in life for everyone, and that these relationships are more intrinsically valuable than other relationships.

AVEN: the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, the largest online ace community with lots of forums and information.

Compulsory sexuality: The assumption that everyone experiences sexual attraction, and that everyone should desire sex and partake in it. Compulsory sexuality puts (usually heterosexual) relationships at the centre of the ideal human experience. It also includes the idea that romantic relationships must include sexual activity.

Note: It’s closely related to amatonormativity.

Heteronormativity: The assumption that heterosexuality and heteroromanticism are the norm.

Playing cards: Some asexual people have taken up the abbreviation ‘ace’ and matched different playing cards to various ace identities, and use these playing cards to describe themselves in a kind of slang. 

The ace of hearts represents romantic asexuals, the ace of spades represents aromantic asexuals, the ace of diamonds represents demi and grey asexuals, and the ace of clubs represents questioning people on the ace/aro spectrum. This has been criticised by some as not inclusive of people whose identities do not fit into these four categories.

Ace Day: Since 2015, Ace Visibility Day has been taken up by the ace community as a day for posting photos and graphics of their ace playing cards on social media to spread visibility. It has been criticised by some as being too close to Trans Day of Visibility and Blackout. It has since been moved to 26 November.

Asexual Awareness Week: an annual event, usually occurring in late October, which celebrates the ace spectrum and aims to promote visibility and understanding of the community.

Aromantic Awareness Week: a similar event which falls in February (intentionally around Valentine’s Day!) and aims to highlight the aromantic spectrum.

Check out the Basically…Life Podcast (on all platforms) and our YouTube series We Are F**kin Here for other vibes that show how queers are living, lovin’ and f*ckin.

For more info about all things gender and sexuality download our Touch Manual which has a bunch of info about dating, sexuality, gender, sex and much more!

Also visit our Instagram page and Twitter account for even more great content!

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