The concept of asexuality first came to my attention a few months ago when I began to see a young woman who was struggling with the fact that she felt no desire to be sexual. As a teenager she felt ostracized from having no interest in sex of any kind. Her girlfriends were all talking about hook-ups and sex while she had very little interest in boys. Even when she had experiences with them, she felt it was boring. As we began to work together it became clear that she had spent a great deal of time both worrying about her lack of desire and researching it.
She spoke at length about a web site called AVEN. AVEN defines itself as, “the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. AVEN strives to create open, honest discussion about asexuality among sexual and asexual people alike.” AVEN is a great resource for individuals struggling with asexuality.
An asexual, as defined by AVEN is, “someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are. Asexuality does not make our lives any worse or any better, we just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Asexuality is just beginning to be the subject of scientific research.”
AVEN seems to have been a starting point for several women I treat, yet it leaves many questions unanswered. It is limited in getting to the deeper issues around desire. In my practice at the Center we view desire as a multi-faceted condition; we do a thorough evaluation to uncover what might be causing a lack of desire. It is obviously different in each person. We do start from the assumption that most individuals want to have desire and that we can work through a process to help them discover or reclaim it, but if one feels that they have no desire and would rather embrace it, that is a fine choice too.
As a sexuality counselor, this idea of asexuality poses a unique set of questions. I see women all the time who have low libido or non-existent libido. What makes one person asexual and another person an individual struggling with a lack of desire? Ultimately it is personal decision and I hope that each person finds what they are seeking. If you have no interest in sex or sexuality or in having a sexual relationship, perhaps the term asexual is a good one. If you are someone who is struggling with a lack of desire and you would like to feel differently than you do, I would probably not use the term asexual. Either way, you can always reach out for help to gain tools and support for what you are struggling with. Struggling alone is what concerns me the most; with help you can come to a place of greater comfort with yourself and whatever choices you decide to make.