The ABC's of Asexuality

October 24 - 30 is Asexual Spectrum Awareness week 2022, so to celebrate, here's an explanation of some of the keywords that people on the asexual spectrum want you to know.

The ABC's of Asexuality

Disclaimer: Although I have endeavoured to make these definitions as inclusive as possible, I am only one aspec human. The Asexual Spectrum is a diverse bunch, so please do not assume this is how everyone defines these terms. Although this article is about asexuality, there is an inclusion of some other terms from the aromantic spectrum for clarity.

Asexual (ace): a sexual orientation (like bisexual or heterosexual). Someone who is asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction towards any gender. They may or may not experience romantic attraction as well. 

Asexual Spectrum: a collective term for thesexual orientations that fall under the asexual umbrella and fall in the “grey area.”

Allosexual (Allo): a sexual orientation defined by frequently experiencing sexual attraction. It is often combined with another sexual orientation label (such as heterosexual, pansexual, or bisexual) to indicate which genders it is directed towards. 

Aromantic (aro): a romantic orientation (like biromantic or heteroromantic). An aromantic person experiences little to no romantic attraction towards any gender.

Alloromantic (Allo): a romantic orientation defined by frequently experiencing romantic attraction. Often combined with another romantic orientation label (such as heteroromantic, panromantic, or biromantic) to indicate which genders that romantic attraction is directed towards. 

Split Attraction Model (SAM): a system of modelling attraction based on the idea that sexual orientation and romantic orientation are two different concepts and experiences, that do not necessarily “line up”, and may at times be in opposition to each other.

Amatonormativity: the widespread cultural assumption that everyone should be desiring and seeking an exclusive, romantic, long-term relationship, and that such relationships should be prioritised above all other relationship types. 

QPR (Queerplatonic/Quasiplatonic relationship): a platonic relationship that is more committed and intimate than the culturally accepted norm for a friendship. QPRs can sometimes include elements that are traditionally considered romantic or sexual, however, the intent behind them is platonic. People of all orientations can be in QPRs.

Sex Drive/libido: the intensity and frequency of the desire to have sex. It is a distinct experience from sexual attraction.

Sexual attraction: the desire to have a sexual interaction with the person the attraction is directed towards.

Romantic Attraction: the desire to have a romantic interaction with the person the attraction is directed towards.

Platonic Attraction: the desire to be in a platonic relationship or interact platonically with the person the attraction is directed towards.

Aesthetic Attraction: appreciation for how a person looks or their sense of style. It can either be a desire to look at that person, or a desire to emulate their style. 

Emotional Attraction: the desire to be emotionally close and vulnerable with the person the attraction is directed towards.

Intellectual Attraction: the desire to engage intellectually with the person this attraction is directed towards. It may involve conversation based on ideas, or solving a problem together.

Sensual Attraction: the desire to have non-sexual physical contact with the person this attraction is directed towards. This might include hugging, hand-holding, and high-fiving; or it might just be that that person always wears really cuddly sweaters that make you feel really comfortable and at home with them.

Primary Attraction: attractions that in themselves do not involve the desire to be in a particular relationship type. Primary attractions include aesthetic attraction, emotional attraction, sensory attraction, and emotional attraction. Like secondary attractions, they can be understood using orientations, for example, bi-aesthetic. Primary attractions are often a component of secondary attractions. 

Secondary Attraction: a type of attraction that involves a desire for a specific type of relationship. It is often made up of several primary attractions: the primary attractions involved do not indicate the type of secondary attraction experienced. Secondary attractions include platonic attraction, sexual attraction, and romantic attraction.

Sex Positive: a belief that everyone, regardless of orientation, has the right to explore and be educated on their sexuality without judgement, shame, or stigma. It includes the positive promotion of all consensual sexual activity.

Sex Negative: a belief that sex is inherently deviant, wrong and shameful.

Sex Favourable: someone who enjoys participating in sexual activity themselves. They can be sex-positive or sex negative. 

Sex Neutral/Indifferent: someone who is sex neutral/indifferent has no strong feelings either way regarding engaging in sex themselves. This is separate from whether they are sex-positive or negative.

Sex Repulsed: someone who doesn’t like to engage in sexual activity themselves and may even be repulsed by it. They can be sex-positive or negative.

Demisexual: an orientation on the Asexual Spectrum that also comes under the umbrella of greysexuality. Someone who is demisexual doesn’t feel sexual attraction towards anyone until an emotional bond has been formed. However, an emotional bond doesn’t guarantee sexual attraction. 

Greysexual: an intentionally vague term to describe people whose sexual orientation lies in the “grey area” between asexuality and allosexuality.

AroAce: someone who is both asexual and aromantic, or who is on both spectrums.

If you would like to find out more, you can visit the Aven website, or check out my article on  'The Best Ace Instagram Accounts'.

Header Image Credit: Katie Rainbow

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Mystaya Brémaud

Mystaya Brémaud Contributor

A college student studying English Literature and Natural Sciences.
Passionate about all kinds of music, books, visual arts and dance: from punk rock to indie folk, popular science to sci-fi, film festivals to contemporary dance.

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