In this article, in addition to defining asexuality, I will focus on its forms, on some of the most common prejudices about asexual people and, finally, I will try to outline under what conditions the advice of a sexologist can be useful for asexual people.
There is still a lot of ignorance around asexuality both on the part of ordinary people and, alas, on the part of mental health professionals. In fact, we can identify it, without running the risk of being denied, as one of the identities that suffer most from invisibility among those included in the acronym LGBTQIA +.
This lack of information or knowledge is even more inexplicable in light of the fact that asexual people have been known since the days of Kinsey and his 1948 report on the sexual behavior of men and women. We are talking about a discovery that dates back to the dawn of scientific sexology!
Let’s start from the start: What is asexuality?
In the first place, clarification is essential: we say asexual and not asexual!
By asexuality, we mean the absence of sexual attraction for other people, regardless of their gender. It is a stable, dispositional trait analogous to any other sexual orientation.
Asexuality can therefore be defined, very simply, as the fourth sexual orientation, together with heterosexual, homosexual (gay and lesbian people), and bisexual (Brotto et al., 2010). It is understood, but it should be specified, that since it is in all respects a sexual orientation, asexuality is a completely normal condition.
How many asexual people are there?
This is a question that is not very easy to answer unambiguously because the various research available is based on different criteria for evaluating sexual orientation.
However, it must be borne in mind that there is great variability within the asexual population. If we imagine a hypothetical spectrum that goes from sexuality to asexuality, we can think that people can be placed on any point of this continuum.
We will therefore have, for example, gray-sexual people (who occupy the “gray area” between asexuality and sexuality) and demisexual people (that is, who experience sexual attraction only in the presence of emotional involvement).
Prejudices on asexuality
This little information is already enough to dispel many prejudices about asexual people:
It is not true that asexual people reject sexuality out of fear, past trauma, or repulsion for sex, nor that they do not have a sex life;
Another frequent misunderstanding derives from confusing sexual attraction with sexual desire.
It is wrong to think that asexual people do not have sexual imagery or do not feel sexual desire; what is true is that the way in which they experience them simply does not foresee that they are directed at another person.
Another very frequent misunderstanding is that which assimilates sexual orientation and romantic orientation: asexual people actually teach us that sexual orientation (that is, the people to whom I am attracted on an erotic level) and the romantic one (that is, the people with whom I want to establish a love affair) are two completely independent dimensions.
Why can asexual people ask for a psychological consultation?
Of course, this can happen for reasons that have nothing to do with their sexual orientation! However, given the stigma and discrimination to which asexual people are subjected (as well as the constant pressures of a hypersexualized society), the help of a professional may sometimes be necessary.
In particular, some possible areas on which the contribution of a professional, such as a sexologist (as long as properly trained!) Can be valuable, are the following:
Self-exploration; Unfortunately the asexual reality is still little known and has little visibility in the mass media. Contacting a professional can help you better understand your own experiences and explore them in a neutral and non-judgmental environment;
Coming-out; Pathologization and stigma: the lack of knowledge on the subject, unfortunately, is often accompanied by pathologization. A little-known phenomenon runs the risk of being interpreted as pathological. Pathologizing messages have heavy repercussions on the psychological well-being of asexual people;
Feeling “different”; Couple therapy or counseling for couples with a “discordant” orientation, for example for partners of a couple (including one sexual member and one asexual member) who want to explore new ways of experiencing sexuality in a way that is satisfactory for both.