You’ve had a lot of time to reflect on you, yourself, and you over the past year or so — and some of that introspection may have included thinking about your sexuality. Maybe you want to text your latest Bumble match 24/7, but don’t feel the same urgency towards jumping their bones — and in fact, you’re realizing that sex has never been a high priority with a new datefriend. If you’re navigating a new relationship with someone that you love and also don’t want to have sex with, it can help to explore the difference between asexuality and allosexuality — and how these identities can impact the ways you move in the world.
“I’ve never had sex, and I really it that way,” says Ali, 35. “I’ve had a long-term allosexual partner, with whom I’ve had very lovely make-out sessions. My partner right now is also ace, like me. For us, intimacy is so much more varied and creative than a lot of allosexual [not ace] people seem to think it is.” Contrary to you might think about the climax of a romantic evening, Ali tells Bustle that being in relationships with other asexual folks has taught her that there’s nothing less intimate about not having sex.
What Does It Mean To Be Asexual?
As with pretty much every label, “asexual” means something different for everyone who identifies with it. In general, though, being on the asexual, or ace, spectrum means that someone may have little or no interest in having sex. “This does not mean that ace people never desire romantic relationships,” says Brooklyn-based mental health counselor intern Bernie Crowl, MHC-I. It just means that sex isn’t often on the to-do list.
Although some asexual people do have sex, Crowl explains that sex is not a required part of intimacy. But the stigma against being asexual can stir up a lot of shame, largely because people just don’t see positive media representations of asexuality. “We see sexuality being pushed upon society in magazines, television, and movies,” Crowl says. “Rarely do we hear about people who are asexual or even have characters in movies or shows who are asexual.”
What Does It Mean To Be Allosexual?
If, in a nutshell, asexuality is about not feeling or emphasizing sexual attraction in relationships, then allosexuality is the other way around — experiencing and/or placing an emphasis on sexual attraction in relationships. “Allosexual describes a person who does experience feelings of intimacy with sexuality,” Crowl says. “There is no specific sexual orientation when one is allosexual; rather, it defines someone who experiences sexual attraction.”
Asexual Vs. Allosexual Meaning
Just because asexual and allosexual mean roughly opposite things, doesn’t mean that ace and allo folks can’t be together romantically. “I’m a super sexual person, and my partner is ace,” says Gray, 33. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about sex throughout our eight years together, and the bottom line is that I love him and I follow his lead about what he’s excited about and when.”
When their partner isn’t feeling sexual, then Gray doesn’t mind taking matters into their own hands. “He finds it passively cute when I’m hot and bothered and need to sort myself out,” Gray explains. “Ultimately, everyone has a different relationship with sex, whether they’re allo or ace. So when you’re in a relationship, there’s no formula,” they say. “Whatever works for you and your partner or partners is what’s best.”
Bernie Crowl, MHC-I, Brooklyn-based mental health counselor intern