I’ve Never Felt Sexual Desire

Asexual pride

Asexual pride

By Courtney Nahmens

I’m asexual with no desire for sex.

I’m also aromantic, feeling no desire for romance.

I do understand what is considered sexy, sexual innuendo, and words surrounding sexuality like whore, tease, sensual, etc. I understand the language and actions surrounding sex.

I just don’t feel aroused or any differently in the presence of sexual content. 

And I’ve been irked by the desires of partners or people who have had crushes on me.

I hate talking about sex, relationships, or anything to do with romance, whether it’s with my friends or in my college classes.

I see no merit in these things. Food, shelter, and sleep seem like better things to concern myself with.

Yet it seems like everything involves romance or sex. Romance is paraded as the ultimate success: No one can be fulfilled unless they marry and conceive children. So why am I okay without sex and romance?

Asexuality: Biology or social construction?

Are my feelings due to biology? Or is it a social construction?

I grew up around people who were open about sex, never hid it, and were always following hot new trends on how to be sexy. I could act sexy but I still wouldn’t feel any desire.

Asexuality, defined

Asexuality, defined

I’ve definitely been bombarded with sexuality and romance from a young age. But it makes me cringe or roll my eyes. The barrage of sexual media did make me think about marriage and children, though.

In high school everyone paired up and I felt out of place not dating. Being surrounded by sexual and romantic people without ever feeling “that way” (or how they described it, anyway) felt strange, too.

But junior year of high school I did start dating someone who I seemed to feel something for. And I finally felt normal.

Everyone congratulated me and praised me. But then it became all about sex.

Yet I didn’t feel anything sexually for him. And whenever I admitted this, my friends felt disappointed and questioned my affection for him.

After a while I began to see that the butterflies in my stomach did not flit from love so much as from anxiety. He made me uneasy — in combination with with my long-standing anxiety disorder, which started showing signs.

Anxiety. Not the nervousness of love.

As an asexual aromantic, I ask myself if I am denying instinct, or simply not as affected by societal pressures when it comes to sex and romance?

I don’t believe that asexuality is a social construct. While society can diminish or expand the craving for sexual behavior, if you have no instinct for desire in the first place, such things become useless.

BroadBlogs thoughts on Courtney’s question

Is sexuality biology or a social construct?

Answer: both.

Hormones and genes affect desire and anatomy affects what we can do. But questions of sexual interest, who you have sex with, how you can, where you can, and what’s sexy — etc. — vary from place to place. And person to person.

We are a mix of three things:

Our natural personalities + our social interactions + our culture

This mix varies among people. Some asexuals seem to have always been that way. Others develop a loss of interest because of cultural sexual repression or bad experiences. Sounds like Courtney’s asexuality is more biologically-based.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 14, 2015, in LGBT+, psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. I think there’s a huge difference between a person who has trained themselves, for whatever reason, to deny their sexual and romantic instincts, and a person whose sexual and romantic instincts are fuzzy or non-existent. Social construction can influence a lot about the nature of attraction, but I don’t believe it controls the switches between allosexual/alloromantic and asexual/aromantic.

    • That’s an odd way of putting it: training yourself. Only because it sounds like it’s a conscious thing, but it’s not conscious. Have you read this? “Sexual repression: not what you think it is” https://broadblogs.com/2014/10/27/repression-not-what-you-think-it-is/

      I’ve unfortunately had a lot of experience with the social construction side of it. Cultural sexual repression led me to be less interested in sexuality at age 25 than at age 10. And currently, nearly half of US women feel low or no sexual desire. Do you think that is all natural, and biologically-based? I will be writing more about this in the future. I suspect that it’s hard for someone who hasn’t experienced it to be able to relate.

      • I have no right or wish to police labels, and I understand that there are people suffering from repression and trauma who experience little or no sexual desire, and I believe some identify as asexual/aromantic.

        In my opinion, however, and really I’m trying hard to understand all this, is that an allosexual/alloromantic with repressed or suppressed sexual/romantic desire experiences lack of attraction differently from how an asexual/aromantic does.

        During the past couple of years I have been suffering from a minor medical condition that has affected me in a number of ways. For much of this period, my levels of sexual desire have been very low, sometimes almost non-existent. It was bad enough to make me wonder if my sexual orientation had changed.

        At one point, for a few days, it affected me even more severely. Not only did I have no desire for sex, and no attraction to anyone at all, the whole concept of sex and sexual attraction seemed suddenly alien. It’s a huge shift in perception. Suddenly the world is inhabited by people who think in a very different way from you, and it’s scary.

        (Training: I wasn’t thinking it had to be conscious, but it can be. We are able to critically analyse our own thoughts, though how many people bother to do so I don’t know.)

      • I do appreciate your comments and questions. I’m sure that a lot of people have the same kinds of questions. All I can say is that if a person experiences no sexual desire, then they are asexual, even if the cause isn’t biological. In terms of labeling, I think people need to label themselves based on what makes the most sense to them.

  2. You’ve answered Courtney’s questions very wisely. Sexual consciousness and sexuality definitely depend on both biological factors and social construction…

  3. I feel bad for people who are asexual even though they might be happy. I can’t imaging not having lust or yearning for sex and love, and therefore, not having it or being able to enjoy it.

    • I know from talking to a number of people who have been asexual their whole lives, and even some who have been on both sides of the issue, that many of them do not want people to feel sorry for them. They are very good with where they are.

      That said, I have been on both sides of the issue and I am pretty pissed off about what I have gone through in losing desire. And about how our culture causes so many women to lose desire — several studies come up with very similar results: nearly half of US women (43-44%) experiencing low or no desire.

      And it can be pretty hard on couples, too.

    • Asexuality would make you much happier , life is far simpler without all those burdensome yearnings.

  4. It’s because they don’t know what they are missing out on or feeling. Some of them probably always had no desire or very little since young like in this article. You get used to it if you don;t know what you missed. But if you say had sex drive and lost it over time, then it would suck, because you would know what you had and what is lost.

    nearly half of US women (43-44%) experiencing low or no desire.”

    I do think many of the women like that not from being asexual and having no desire that can’t comeback or isn’t there, but diminished from a long term relationship. You see those same women who might lust or yearn for the new handsome guy at work who pays attention to them and is attracted to the married woman. It boosts her esteem and while not having desire from her husband who she doesn’t feel special or uniquely attractive to her husband anymore. She gets that rush and excitement of being wanted from the new hunk she comes in meeting from.

    And she fantasizes or has sex with him or after divorcing husband, she meets a new guy and some reason that supposed gone desire or asexual desire is not exactly assexual and she’s back. It’s amazing how its gone until they meet someone new. An actual asexaul person has mostly always been gone or very low and a new partner doesn’t make it come back as there’s nothing for to come back and asexual people have little interest in sex in the first place. For these women they had a libido, especially during their single times, but the long term relationship and maybe redundancy waned their libido.

    • There’s also a difference between finding a man attractive and wanting to have sex with him. For an asexual person those two things don’t necessarily go together. But also women with low desire — not necessarily asexual– need a lot to get them going. And some of the things you talk about are enough to get them going, But often not enough to sustain interest over time. Which is why men are less likely to lose interest in sex in a long-term relationship than women are. This isn’t good for couples — to have that mismatch.

      I should add that some people who have been on both sides welcome asexuality for the way that it has brought relief. I’ll be posting from someone who talks about that in the next few months.

  5. This is why I’m a strong advocate of a male libido killer , with no adverse side effects…BOTH genders will be happy !!

  6. I do agree it is both; or at least, for different people, it can be both, with one perhaps taking precedence.
    I think we should also consider that sexual attraction can also exist on a spectrum (as well as differentiating between sexual and romantic). There are, for examples, grey-sexual or demisexual, which fall somewhere in between, and may also result from a combination of cultural and biological influences. I believe demi-sexuals only feel sexual attractions after forming emotional bonds.

    I’ve met people who are very asexual and will have sex with their partner and even enjoy it, but don’t seem to have that drive that makes them yearn sex. Some do it and don’t enjoy it. I’ve met sexual abuse victims whose desire for sex disappeared (and others whose drive was more or less intact). In the end, whatever the cause of asexuality, either from any unpleasant experience with sex or just a naturally low sex drive and desire for sex, I believe both are very valid form of identities and orientations. I say this because it can really hurt a person to deny the identity (for example, i’ve seen people say one isn’t ace when its a result of trauma which would be an environmental factor) and normalization. There are a lot of people who think people who have low sex drive or asexual are “wrong” or weird or somehow broken, and it helps to confirm that this is just another very valid form of sexuality (or lack thereof).

    • Good points. And you’re right that it’s both disempowering and alienating to have other people tell you that you’re wrong and how you should properly label yourself. (Especially when they don’t know you and haven’t lived your experience.)

  7. This post really opened my eyes to the different types of people out there on this planet. I never really understood what asexual meant until reading this post, and for me that is surprising that asexual people do not yearn for sex. I agree with the point in which asexuality is a biological influence. A person knows themselves better than anybody else especially toward their sexuality. At the biological level, whatever they feel just feels right. I also feel that asexuality is NOT a social construct due to peoples personal likes and dislikes. It is a terrible for people who go through this on a daily basis. To not have a drive for the opposite sex and to not feel anything at all is surprising.

    • Hmmmmm, I guess you don’t understand what the social construction sexuality means then.

      When a society constantly represses women’s sexuality, Women often repressed their sexual desire. And after well it just goes away. That phenomenon doesn’t happen for a purely biological reasons. Society is having an effect. In the US nearly half of American women have little or no desire. Do you think that that is truly biological? Society has nothing to do with it?

  8. I think it is very confusing that nowadays, people tend to acknowledge a lot of aspects of sexuality. First, there are straight people, which is heterosexuality. Then there is homosexuality which refers to gays and lesbians. After reading this article, I have been informed about another issue, which is asexuality. To be honest, I do not know how people came up with this because I think that sexual desire is innate and it is biologically normal for humans to feel sexually aroused, even if they are straight or not. According to scientific facts, sex brings good health and form healthy relationships within couples. If a person did not have a desire for sex, I think it might be the reason that they have not met the right person or have true feelings with them so that they do not have merits in these things. Perhaps, it is because the social environment in which they grow up like their friends are not open to those talks about sex or their parents do not educate them about sex at all. In my opinion, asexuality is prone to social interactions or culture. For instance, according to my experience, I was born and raised in the Eastern culture. During my whole puberty, neither my parents nor schools teach me about sex education. Sometimes I have that feeling of being asexual because I am not really interested in it. For the first time arriving to California for studying abroad, people here (native Americans) are open to sex talks and I feel it very uncomfortable when they mention about it. However, as I hang out with them and socialize more frequently, I gradually acknowledge that sex is such a usual thing to talk about, especially during this young-adult age. With that being said, I think this issue is prone to social interactions. The more we adapt in such an environment, the more we get influenced with its social concepts.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • “To be honest, I do not know how people came up with this because I think that sexual desire is innate and it is biologically normal for humans to feel sexually aroused, even if they are straight or not. According to scientific facts, sex brings good health and form healthy relationships within couples.”

      I define “asexuality” as “no innate desire for partnered sex.” Basically, an “asexual” person isn’t drawn towards sexual interaction with others. Beyond that, it varies from person to person, regardless of sexual orientation.

      I’ll share a quote:
      “Many people say that a sexless relationship is unhealthy and that there are problems; but this is a judgment and not fact. The act of sex does not guarantee a happy relationship, just as the absence of sex does not automatically doom one.”

      I embrace any attitude that helps people love and accept themselves for who they are with whatever preferences they have and whatever lifestyle brings them happiness (as long as it’s “Safe, Sane, and Consensual,” of course).

      With that said, it’s really nice to see a post about asexuality on here.

      • Thanks for chiming in on this.

        Dictionary definition:

        1. a person who has no sexual feelings or desires.

        That may be innate or created through culture, soc interaction,

  9. I thought this was really interesting to read and a great insight to how an asexual person really feels. I feel often times people don’t truly understand the meaning of asexuality (as well as the meaning of being aromantic) and assume the person just refrains from sex or sexual feelings purely by choice or because they are a “prude”, and Courtney’s post/question is, in my opinion, thought provoking and insightful. It’s interesting to know that asexuality is a combination of biology as well as social construction, that much I can say I did not know. Reading some of the other responses to the post, I disagree with the statement that “it is terrible for who go through this on a daily basis.” I don’t think it’s terrible for someone to not feel the way “the rest of us” do. Sexuality is such a broad term that encompasses so many things, including asexuality, and it’s important for us to at least try and understand what they mean before we jump to conclusions or judge one another based on ill-informed preconceived notions.

  10. Really appreciate Courtney’s share on her experience and what it feels like to be asexual.

  11. Thank you for telling this one male what he did not know. “I know that I don’t know.”

  12. Hey Courtney,

    I have a very close friend who is asexual biologically. She has been with her partner for about 6 years now and cringes at the thought of sexual advances. It does not stem from a bad experience, she simply doesn’t desire that kind of attention. I have seen both her and her partner struggle with this over the years and have gone to bat for her over her lack of interest. I fully believe some people are simply wired differently.

    I think media does us a disservice by constantly pairing love with sexuality. I find often times love is more about how well you work together as a unit. My friend knows she loves her partner, but feels the need for sex is simply one way society thinks you need to prove how much you love someone. Instead she has a house, pets, friends and adventures with her loved one because they both mutual enjoy the experience. It isn’t about proving how much they love each other, it’s simply that they partner well together.

  13. I find this really interesting because I consider myself to be somewhere in the asexual spectrum. I don’t like being touched (sexually), the thought makes me very uncomfortable. But yet, if I’m not on the receiving end, I don’t mind sex. I don’t need pleasure. If my partner is pleasured (from me or him/her – I am monogamous), then I am happy and satisfied.

    I don’t particularly mind how much “sex sells” and how it’s everywhere in society and media, my main concern is if my new partner wants sex and is disappointed in the way I am. Personally, I think it’s a mixture of my biology and unconsciousness. I simply realized, later on in one of my relationships, that I don’t need to be pleasured. I thought it to be a waste of time to try.

  14. This is a great article about asexuality, however I see that many allosexual people have brought it upon themselves to give their opinion on what asexuality is. They feel the need to to basically invalidate the feelings of people on the asexual spectrum, such as myself. I would like to let them know that their opinion doesn’t matter. They have no say in the matter. They aren’t asexual, they don’t have any credibility, and whether someone identifies themselves as somewhere on the asexual spectrum or not is none of their business. So please keep those thoughts to yourself because they can be very hurtful.

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