When prompted to share their “asexual fantasy," for instance, one user posted that “I want to eat whatever I want without getting fat”—which, fair, is a pretty universal desire. Another responder let their introvert flag fly, describing their ultimate fantasy as: “Living out the rest of my days in complete solitude on a self-sustainable farm hidden deep in the wilderness. Any neighbours I have would hopefully consist of some other loner that may be a serial killer but is chill with me existing or a weird hippy commune.”
Elsewhere in the thread, asexual Redditors opened up about their ideal relationships. “Cuddling with the one I love!” said one commenter. “Feeling their warmth, not feeling alone, feeling safe.” Another user replied: “Same here man I don't wanna fuck I just wanna hug someone dammit." Others on the thread simply wanted to “be able to be nice to people and not have them think I’m interested in dating or having sex with them.”
Asexuality is still largely misunderstood as an identity. In fact, as many as three out of four people can’t actually define what the term means, according to a poll published in the United Kingdom this month in February this year. “It shows there is still a lack of understanding of the diversity that exists when it comes to sexuality,” clinical psychologist and sexual health expert Dr Michael Yates told the Independent. "We're getting better but our society is highly sexualised and the messages we get around sex are pretty constant. Asexual people have often felt pressured into conforming to what is expected by society, just like LGBT people have historically. This leads to shame, distress and discomfort for people who feel they should be doing something that they are just not biologically driven to do.“
“The term ‘asexual’ is one that different people use in somewhat different ways—even scientists don’t define it consistently. Most commonly, however, you tend to see it characterised as a lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or as having low to no sexual desire,” says Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. “Regardless of the definition used, asexual persons tend to be uninterested in partnered sexual activity. Research has determined that asexuality is not a sexual dysfunction, meaning there is no impairment in genital functioning, and a growing number of scientists look at asexuality as a type of sexual orientation.”
The most commonly accepted statistic suggests that around 1 per cent of people are asexual; a figure stated by Professor Anthony Bogaert in his book Understanding Asexuality. However, that number may well be higher, as there are almost certainly people who meet the description but don’t necessarily self-identify as asexual.
While an asexual person might still be interested in a romantic relationship minus the sex, conversely, somebody who is aromantic (or “aro”) may enjoy having sex, but not want to pursue a relationship.
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“The term ‘aromantic’ tends to be defined relatively consistently as a lack of romantic attraction,” says Lehmiller. “Someone who is aromantic is generally uninterested in developing and maintaining long-term romances; however, they often still have friends or other non-romantic relationships, though which they meet their emotional needs. Asexual and aromantic should not be used synonymously—these terms refer to very different things… Someone can be asexual, aromantic, both, or neither.”
What the Reddit thread makes abundantly clear is that ace and aro people still value intimacy and connection, especially when it stems from mutual respect and is on their terms—or as one commenter put it, “Netflix and chill, with actual chilling!”
This article originally appeared on Men's Health