How to Have Sex With an Asexual Person

[Content Note: This post mentions non-consensual situations mostly in a theoretical way, without going into detail. It is frank, but not very graphic. However, there are links to posts that are more graphic, so click through with caution. This is meant to be an in-depth guide for how to safely approach sex with an asexual person, including both casual sex and sex in the context of a romantic relationship. As such it doesn't focus on physical techniques, but more on setting up a good frame for such interactions to go as smoothly as possible. Please note that "relationship" here refers to both platonic and romantic relationships, unless otherwise specified. This is also written to be gender-neutral and inclusive of transgender people. There is a TL;DR summary at the end.

Edit: Also, since apparently it wasn't clear enough, this way to approach sex is NOT SPECIFIC TO ASEXUAL PEOPLE. It is not "special treatment" because we are asexual. It's common courtesy. This is how you should approach sex with EVERYONE. There are simply more things to be cautious about with asexual people.]

So there’s this hot asexual that you really want to have sex with. Or maybe you’re already in a relationship with someone who is asexual, and you’re grappling with the idea of having sex with them. You wonder if it’s even possible, so you do a little Googling, and you find yourself here. I’m here to tell you that yes, in some cases, it is possible. Some asexuals are open to having sex (key word = SOME). Not only that, but it is possible to have really great, mutually enjoyable sex with an asexual person. But it is also possible to fuck it up so bad that the asexual person has nightmares about you five years later. You don’t want to do that. There’s a right way to do it, and I’m going to tell you what you should do, and what you should avoid.

Please note: This post is not about seduction. You can’t seduce an asexual, and framing it as seduction is dangerous for us, because it encourages people to follow a sexual script that is coercive and manipulative instead of listening to us. Get that model of sexual interaction out of your head right now. You need to start fresh. Trust me, it’s the only way this is going to be any good.

Step One: DO YOU HAVE PERMISSION?

I don’t mean the “well, they didn’t stop me” kind of permission. I don’t mean the “they didn’t say no” kind of permission. I don’t mean the “they said ‘I don’t know’ or they kind of sort of wanted to” kind of permission. I don’t mean the “they said they wanted to at some point a while ago, so I assume that means they want to right now” kind of permission. I mean the “I explicitly asked them if they want to have sex right now, and received an unambiguously affirmative verbal response” kind of permission. (That doesn’t mean you have to say it exactly in that way, of course, but there does need to be at least some verbal communication in the moment about whether it’s (still) okay or not.)

Any kind of sex you have without obtaining that kind of permission? At worst, you’ve just raped someone (who may not have been able to move or speak because they experienced the freeze part of the stress response cycle). Most likely, there was some serious coercion/pressure involved, even though it may not have been intentional on your part, just because sexual people are not typically aware of the concerns that asexual people have. We are embedded in a culture that tells us we should have sex, that we owe it to others and that others expect it from us. And also, crucially, that we don’t exist. If you wordlessly initiate a sexual encounter with an asexual person without ever having any discussions where you pull apart those cultural expectations beforehand, the weight of them will still be pressuring that encounter. Even if it turns out to be consensual (and since you didn’t ask, you don’t know—don’t pretend you’re psychic, because you’re not, and because of the existence of tonic immobility, the onus is on you to ask permission, not on them to say no if you start touching without asking first), if you didn’t actually ask permission you certainly haven’t negotiated any boundaries about it, so the sex isn’t going to be good. At best it’s going to be mediocre, somewhat uncomfortable. Probably quite detached. It doesn’t have to be that way just because someone is asexual. Popular conceptions of asexuals having sex include descriptors like “passionless” or “frigid,” but it IS possible for asexuals to give good, informed, affirmative, even enthusiastic consent (although using enthusiasm as the only indicator of good consent is problematic for asexuals), and “passionless” or “frigid” are certainly not descriptors my partner would apply to me. I’ve read erotica scenes similar to some of the sex we’ve had, although frankly, I think ours was better.

Plus, if you won’t talk about sex before you have it, and you won’t ask permission and make sure everything’s okay for fear of not getting to have sex after all? That just REEKS of desperation. Is it really THAT important that you get to have sex with this particular person? Even if it’s really bad sex that is damaging and traumatic for them?

While you might be able to make a case for the benefits of non-verbal communication about consent with other people, if you’re trying to have sex with an asexual person, that script just doesn’t work. It puts us in a very dangerous position, because we don’t know how you’re going to act or how you’ll expect us to act—or worse, we do know how you’ll act and expect us to act, and we know that your expectations don’t take our feelings into consideration at all. We need to be sure you understand that “spooning leads to forking,” as the popular saying goes, is NOT necessarily true (and likely for us more often false). We need you to understand that wanting to cuddle or make out does not mean wanting to have sex. We need to be assured that you will not start telling us that being aroused means that we are not asexual, despite the fact that arousal is an automatic physiological response not tied to sexual attraction (and can happen during rape* [TW]). So set aside your loaded assumptions and baseball metaphors, and try to rescript sex.

You need to respect what the asexual person wants. Some of us ARE NOT interested in having sex, period. As soon as you find that out, that should be the end of the story. Ask the person you’re interested in if they’d ever consider having sex once, preferably in a friendly way and not in a creepy way, and if the answer is no, don’t ask again.

If you haven’t bothered to get to know the asexual person well enough first, you will almost invariably come off as creepy and pushy, so you should really not do it unless you’ve at least established a friendship. Take interest in who they are as a person. Don’t introduce the idea of sex too soon. When you do introduce it, it would probably be best to ask if they’d ever consider it in a general way, and not specifically with you… unless of course you’re already in a romantic relationship or headed in that direction.

Realize that just by asking this question, you are probing for some very private information, and not every asexual person is okay with talking about it. However, you are at least demonstrating that you know that asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which may give you a little bit of credibility, depending on how you broach the topic. Establishing credibility as someone who actually goes out and looks up asexuality on the internet (as you’re doing now) to find out what it is will really help the asexual person feel more comfortable with you, and will also make the giant hurdle of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t know anything about asexuality a lot less steep. You should read as much about asexuality as you can. Realize that as a still very obscure minority, we are put in the position of constantly having to educate everyone around us, and that’s a huge burden. Doing everything you can to lighten that burden is a good way to start gaining our trust. AVEN has several FAQs. I also have one here, and you can read  all the questions that people have asked me here (or ask your own).

So read up on asexuality, talk about what you read, and once you’ve established a good friendship and shown that you’re someone who is interested in learning about asexuality, then ask the person you’re interested in if they’d ever consider having sex.

If the answer is, “I might one day,” then it might be reasonable for you to ask the asexual person if they’d be interested in having sex with you specifically, IF their answer was NOT followed by a conditional that conclusively rules you out as a possibility. If they say, “I might have sex one day, if the person I’m in a relationship with really wants it, so that I can please them,” and you’re not in a romantic relationship with them, drop it unless that situation changes.

If they say they might want to one day without any conditional or other explanation, you can (politely!) ask them if they have an idea of what circumstances they might want to have sex, or if it’s just a way of staying open to possibilities. Don’t press them if they don’t want to answer that. However, if they do answer and seem okay with discussing it with you, and if their answers do not exclude the possibility of experimenting with you, you can then express your own interest in having sex with them. Make it clear, however, that you do not expect them to be interested in having sex with you.

It’s important not to put pressure on the asexual person to have sex with you. You want them to feel comfortable with you. Your actions need to match your words. You need to make good on your promise not to put any pressure on them, and do your best to actually listen to their concerns. Try to understand where they’re coming from. And above all, let them know that if they don’t want to have sex with you, that’s perfectly okay, through your actions as well as your words.

Step Two: What are your expectations, hopes, and fears?

So now you’ve talked about sex with the asexual person you desire, and they’ve expressed an interest in trying sex with you. So far, so good. But before you actually do anything, for your own benefit as well as your partner’s, you should step back and think about what you expect to happen when you actually have sex.

  • Are you secretly harboring a desire that by having sex with you, this person will realize that they’re not actually asexual?
  • Does the asexual person seem to be trying to “fix” their asexuality or “prove” to themselves that they are actually asexual? If so, have you talked about this with them to make sure it is something they genuinely want to do, not something they feel they should?
  • Have you heard other people telling the asexual person that they “can’t know if they haven’t tried it” or similar? How did each of you react to that?
  • What kind of relationship do you have with this person, and how do you want it to keep evolving?
  • How much do you value this relationship, outside of sex? What are you doing to show that you value it to your asexual partner?
  • Do you expect romantic feelings to develop or deepen on either side, and is this something that you hope for or fear?
  • If you are in a romantic relationship, to what degree do YOU feel that your partner owes you sex? To what degree does YOUR PARTNER feel that they owe you sex?
  • Do you expect this to go well, or do you expect it to go badly? Why?
  • What do you fear will go wrong?
  • What do you hope for or fantasize about?
  • Are you aware of any power differentials that might affect how well your sexual experiences go? Do either of you feel pressured to have sex?
  • Has your partner ever made any hints or have you seen any red flags (asexuality itself doesn’t count) that they might have been sexually coerced or abused in the past? What have you done to reassure your partner that you won’t do that?
  • What kinds of sex acts have you considered? Are you thinking of sex in terms of having penile-vaginal intercourse (in the missionary position) or does your idea of “sex” also include oral or digital stimulation? What is your partner’s idea of what counts as “sex”? Have you considered other ways that both of you might be satisfied without resorting to intercourse?

Many of the above are potential warning signs, and you should discuss them if you notice any of them. This post has another list of warning signs that you should also consider, which is more focused on obtaining good consent specifically. You should at least be aware of your expectations and have thought about them a little before having sex, and you should probably discuss them a little bit with your partner, and find out what they expect as well. You may want to discuss your hopes and fears as well, if you and the asexual person are in the kind of relationship where you do that, and if not, you may want to discuss them with another friend.

If you are in any way hoping to “fix” your partner’s asexuality, stop yourself and take some time to think about it and learn more about what asexuality is before proceeding. Asexuality is not some kind of dysfunction, disability, or “condition” that can be “cured,” it is a sexual orientation. It means that we don’t experience sexual attraction. That’s all. There is no known cause, and no “cure.” If you are holding out hope that sex with you will change us, then you are in for some serious disappointment… and so is your partner.

Step Three: Care is Not Love

At this point, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, especially if you are not in a romantic relationship with the asexual person you desire, and neither of you intend to be. I want to take the time to remind you that all of this is caring, not loving. This is just part of having safer sex. You already know (or should know!) that you shouldn’t have sex without protection, because you could catch STIs or (if you’re having that kind of sex) be at risk of pregnancy. You should be having caring sex with everybody you have sex with, even if it’s only casual sex, but asexuals are a particularly vulnerable population and we do have extra concerns to worry about that you should be aware of.

You do not have to have any kind of romantic feelings to have caring sex with an asexual person, and they don’t have to have such feelings for you, although it’s important that both of you know where you stand with regard to such feelings.

Romantic feelings do sometimes have a way of developing unbidden, but if they do, you should know that there is perhaps nothing more obnoxious you can do than blaming it on the sex. While hormones like oxytocin can play a part in it, sex typically happens in the context of some sort of relationship, and if you’re reading this post, you are at least aware that the person you want is asexual, and from that I can infer that you do have some sort of relationship with them, even if it’s only an acquaintance. If the asexual person does fall for you because of your sexual interactions, more often it will be because of the way that you handled those interactions than because of the sex itself. Sometimes romantic feelings can even develop despite really bad sex where there was no orgasm and no being “turned on” at all, or despite coercion, pressure, or general bad behavior, just because of the strength of someone’s personality.

Dealing with it if unwanted romantic feelings do end up developing for either of you is a little beyond the scope of this post, but if that does happen, try to deal with it without being insulting, about asexuality or otherwise. Don’t treat the development of romantic feelings as either a failing or an inevitability. Some asexuals may insist that they will only have sex in the context of some sort of romantic relationship, and that’s a totally reasonable thing to do, but it’s not a requirement for all of us. Showing a basic level of care for your asexual partner, however, is the very least you can do. So do it.

Step Four: Negotiating Boundaries

Okay, now that you’ve gotten permission in general and thought about what you’re doing a little, it’s time to get down to specifics.

Find out what your partner’s limits are. What does he or she not want you to do, at all ever? Are there places on either of your bodies where you don’t want to be touched, or to touch? Are there things that are not necessarily completely off-limits, but do require caution? What acts are either of you particularly nervous about?

It may help to think about this separately and write them down, and then share them with your partner. Some people prefer to do this by email so that each person has a written record of what was said that they can refer to later. It’s an important conversation to have and remember, so don’t do it at a time when you’re likely to forget what you talked about, like after you’ve been drinking or when you’re too tired to think clearly.

Also, you may want to consider a safe word and/or non-verbal signal for the asexual partner to use to show you that they’re not feeling okay. A commonly used system in the BDSM community is to say “Red” (meaning things are NOT OKAY AND MUST STOP RIGHT NOW), “yellow” (meaning things are a little uncertain, so proceed very cautiously and slowly), or “green” (things are going well and can continue, or even speed up). A non-verbal signal can be useful in cases where the asexual partner can’t speak, and one example would be dropping keys on the floor.

Discuss and decide on all of this beforehand. If the asexual person hasn’t had much or any sexual experience, they may not know what their limits actually are, or even if they can go through with sex at all, and that’s okay. In that case, just proceed with extra caution, and reassure them that you won’t push them if they tell you to stop. Follow through on that promise. Always be aware that consenting to sexual activity is a process of continual negotiation, and anything they tell you they think will be fine can change. You need to respect that and be ready to stop. If they tell you that you can do something that wasn’t previously negotiated when it comes time to actually get physical, then as long as it’s not a bombshell that needs a lot of discussion, just ask them, “Are you sure?” first. If it’s something that you find YOU are uncomfortable with, of course you can refuse too!

Step Five: Getting Physical

Don’t forget: you need to warm up first! You should take extra care to make sure that the asexual person is actually aroused if your partner has a vagina and you are planning to have some form of penetrative sex (even with just your fingers—and be gentle with your fingers, because scraping fingernails hurt!). Don’t rely on wetness as your sole measure of arousal, actually ask how things are feeling and whether your partner is ready for penetration yet when you are getting close to moving on to that step. Sometimes it’s useful to try to give your partner an orgasm before penetration, to lessen the pain, so you may want to see if that’s something they want to try.

Whether your partner is male or female, you should still check in to see what they like and what they don’t like. You can tell much more easily whether people with penises are aroused or not, but you still can’t tell what they’re thinking unless you ask. They may feel frustrated that their bodies are physiologically responding to something they doesn’t actually like, so be sure to check in with them.

I won’t spend time here discussing different techniques, as there are plenty of places you can find those elsewhere on the internet. Just try different things out, and see what your partner likes. Ask them if they’re ready to try sex yet (but don’t ask too frequently), and when they say they’re ready, then you can move on. Most likely, you will at some point (perhaps even before you start engaging in what you would typically call foreplay) encounter some sort of resistance before you get to the point where your partner is ready to have sex. This can happen after sex has already started as well, so the order of the steps here is more to keep this coherent than to strictly reflect reality. YMMV.

Step Six: Encountering Resistance

Most of the time, when you start getting physical with an asexual person, especially for the first time, you will encounter resistance. Something won’t feel right to them, and they may pull away, either physically or mentally. You should stay as attentive as possible during any physical encounter, and frequently check in to make sure they’re still okay. You may feel like you’re being annoying by checking in so frequently, but it’s better to be annoying than to proceed without realizing that your partner is feeling extremely uncomfortable (or worse). If you see your partner flinch, or if they seem very distant, hollow, or “not there,” these are signs you need to check in with them.  With enough time, you may come to recognize their particular warning signs, and be able to distinguish actual discomfort from simple quietness.

You can encounter resistance at any time, and you should be prepared to stop at any time. You may find that your partner is uncomfortable with even non-sexual forms of physical intimacy, like just touching and cuddling. Some people are particularly sensitive to touch, in ways that make it not always pleasant for them, and that’s something to be aware of if it’s something your partner experiences. Often, asexual people will become afraid of touching in non-sexual ways because they’re afraid that any kind of affection will lead to you wanting—or worse, expecting—to have sex. Reassure them that that’s not the case, and if this situation does come up, demonstrate that you’re okay with cuddling, making out, or just lying in bed together without having sex. Words mean nothing without actions verifying that they are true. You need to actually be okay with it. Don’t call them “a tease,” even as a joke. This is likely to be something they are sensitive about, and even a joke can rekindle their anxiety about it.

You also need to heed non-verbal signals as well as verbal ones. If your partner removes your hand from any part of their body, DO NOT PUT IT BACK. You are not playing a game, and you need to take any form of resistance seriously, unless you have previously negotiated that this is okay. Instead, ask your partner, “Oh, I’m sorry, do you not want me to touch you there?” This gives them the chance to explain to you whether they don’t want you to touch them there at all ever, whether it’s off-limits for today only, or whether they just aren’t ready for that right now. If it happens to be that they’re not ready yet, then either wait for them to show you that they’re ready by taking your hand and putting it there, or ask once a significant amount of time has passed if it would be okay. Don’t bug them about it, though. Only ask if you feel the situation has genuinely changed enough between the time when they removed your hand and now. You’re not on a road trip asking your parents “Are we there yet?” and you’re not waiting for a stoplight to change. There is no guarantee that a “Red” (in the context of a BDSM safeword as described above) will become a “Green” or even a “Yellow.” If you suspect that your partner is in “Yellow” territory, DO NOT push ahead hoping to keep going before they actually tell you to stop. Many men in particular are conditioned to “just go for it” and “don’t take no for an answer,” but that is exactly the WRONG attitude to have in this situation. You should always be respectful of your partner’s boundaries, even when those boundaries have changed from what you discussed before. If it gets to a point where you’re not sure what’s going on, ask, even if that means you need to “break the moment.” If you’re honestly not sure if things are okay, then there’s no moment to break.

This is important: if your partner wants to stop sexual activity, DON’T FREEZE THEM OUT. Stop, but don’t withdraw your affection. Don’t start ignoring them and doing something else. Don’t refuse to touch them in any way. If you’re not sure if or how they want to be touched, ask. Holding their hand, or perhaps rubbing their shoulder or back, can be a way to gently reaffirm that you’re not angry or upset that they don’t want to have sex right now. Ask them if they want to get some ice cream (or some other food you both enjoy) and talk about something else for a while. Let them know that if they want to, you can have a conversation about what they’re feeling right now, but they don’t have to talk about it now if they don’t want to. Find something else that you both can focus on together if they don’t want to talk, like perhaps a TV show or movie. You can take a walk if it’s nice out and you’d both be comfortable with it.

The important thing is that you find some way to defuse the situation, while still reassuring your partner that you’re not upset with them. This will make them, much, MUCH more comfortable with you later. You are trying to establish trust and good feelings. If you do this now, you will have a much better chance of your partner actually feeling comfortable enough with you to have sex another time—and the sex you have later, when your partner is actually comfortable and ready, will be a lot better than the sex you would have had if you pushed them to keep going after they expressed discomfort.

On the other hand, if you DON’T bother to reassure them or show any affection for them after they refuse sex, you will be establishing an environment where your partner feels pressured to have sex. That will only lead to them being more shut-down about sex, or pushing themself past their own comfort level to appease you, neither of which is something that will lead to enjoyable sex. Your affection should never be given out only when you want to have sex. It should never, ever become an exchange of affection for sex. Even if you are not in a romantic relationship, you should realize that asexuals typically value friendship much more highly than most people do, and they may be sensitive to any withdrawal of even non-romantic affection. So do what you can to re-establish that you care about your partner on whatever level is appropriate for your relationship.

You may need to be extra cautious about the signals you are sending out in this situation, because you can come off as sulking when you don’t intend to. In the event that you actually are bothered or frustrated that your partner wanted to stop, acknowledge that. In this situation, disappointment can be very difficult to avoid, and although you may have tried to prepare yourself well for it, you may still feel it. It’s important to be honest about it. Let your partner know gently that you do feel a bit disappointed, but that it’s more important that you never do something that they don’t want to do. Tell them that it’s your own issue, and they don’t need to make up for it. Tell them that you don’t want them to ever push themself into something they’re not ready for.

Step Seven: Sex

Before you do this for the first time, ask your partner if they’re sure they still want to do it. If the answer is yes, proceed. If the answer is no or “I don’t know,” go back to step six. “I don’t know” isn’t good enough.

Always use protection! Unless your goal is to have a baby, I suppose, although I expect the majority of people who read this post won’t be doing this for that reason. Seriously, be as safe as you can. Use condoms or dental dams, etc.

And use lube! It may not be necessary, but keep it on hand just in case. Don’t use oil-based lube with condoms. Some people prefer silicone-based lube because it is silkier and lasts longer (my partner prefers I.D. brand, so that is what we have used), while others prefer water-based lube (my partner uses Pink Water brand for water-based, although we don’t use it together so I don’t have experience with it myself). Water-based is better for use with toys made of silicone. It is extremely easy to wash off, since it dissolves in running water.

Be an attentive lover. You should really be as attentive as possible with all your sex partners, but when you’re having sex with an asexual person, especially a sexually inexperienced asexual person, you need to be extra attentive and cautious. For that reason, it’s probably best to pick a position where you can see their face when you first start having sex, and don’t do it in the dark. Watch for signs of distress, and if you see any or if your partner starts to seem particularly detached, like their mind is somewhere else, check in with them to make sure they’re still okay. If they aren’t, stop immediately.

It’s possible to become so nervous about hurting your partner that you have trouble performing yourself, too, and that’s something you should be aware of. You need to trust your partner when they say they’re okay, but if things really don’t feel right to you, you shouldn’t go through with it. Don’t force yourself if you feel too nervous to do it. You can always talk things over more and try again when you feel more sure of the situation.

Things may not go as you planned, but since you have planned well, it might end up going much better than you thought it might. It also gets much better with time, as you each learn about each other, and learn what works and what doesn’t. Have fun!

Step Eight: Aftercare

What, did you think that was the end?

What you do directly after sex will depend a great deal on what kind of relationship you have with your partner. But no matter what kind of relationship you have with them, you should make yourself available in case any problems arise. There’s always some risk involved with sex, and since you’re having sex with an asexual person, it’s probably quite a bit more risky for them than it would be for a non-asexual person. They are likely pushing themselves far outside their normal comfort zone by doing this. They may want to talk to you about it at some point afterward, and you should be ready for that conversation.

If you’re planning on having a continued sexual relationship, then talk about what was good about the sex you just had, and what you both didn’t like about it, if there was anything either of you were uneasy with. You don’t have to do this directly afterwards unless you both feel up for it, and in fact it may be a good idea to give each other some space to think about it for a while.

If, on the other hand, the asexual person doesn’t want to have sex again, don’t assume that means that they don’t want any kind of relationship with you! If you’re not sure whether they’re okay with talking to you, ask. They may want some space, but still want to be friends.

You should reassure the asexual person that you value them for more than just sex. Don’t just ditch them immediately afterwards. If you don’t make an active effort to hang out with them somewhat soon after, it can seem as if you are now avoiding them. If you need some space after what happened, don’t just avoid them; let them know that you want some space to think about things. If you decide for whatever reason that you don’t want to continue the relationship, you should let them know what your reasons are. This can be scary, but try to put yourself in the position of the asexual person. It can start to feel like your entire relationship, whether it was a friendship or something romantic, was a lie. They may start to feel like they were manipulated and used, and like you never genuinely cared about their well-being. Don’t be dismissive. If you’re worried about either of you becoming too attached, say so.

Even if you really are very busy, try to still set aside at least a half an hour if your partner wants to talk. Make an effort to let them know that you do care, and you really aren’t trying to avoid them. When they talk to you, try to truly listen. Don’t be checking your email or trying to study at the same time. Try to truly understand their point of view, without attempting to reframe what they are saying as an attempt to “rationalize” what happened. Give them as much respect after sex as you did before. Be especially careful to do so if having sex again is now off the table. Keep in mind the points from step three—this is just a part of having safer sex.

TL;DR Notes

Since this has been a very long, in-depth guide, here are some of the main ideas boiled down to bullet points. Hopefully, you’ve actually read this—if you haven’t yet, I greatly encourage you to come back to it when you have the time.

  1. DO YOU HAVE PERMISSION?
    • Read up on asexuality on your own. This builds credibility and trust, and can greatly reduce communication barriers you may encounter.
    • Broach the topic of sex carefully, in a non-creepy way. Become a friend first. Show that you are interested in the asexual person for more than just sex.
    • If they’re not interested, DROP IT. Not all asexuals are open to having sex. Don’t pressure. Is it really THAT important that this particular person has sex with you? Even if it’s something they don’t really want? If it is, ask yourself, how desperate are you?
    • Once the asexual person has decided that they would like to try having sex with you (at some point), you should take time to discuss and plan.
    • NEVER rely solely on non-verbal communication. This creates an environment of pressure for asexual people, because we are then forced to rely on mainstream sexual scripts which don’t take us into account at all, and end up being coercive. Direct communication is incredibly important.
  2. What are your hopes, fears, & expectations?
    • Take a while to think about your expectations, hopes, & fears. Try to identify any warning signs. How do you want this to go? What is your relationship like and where do you want to take it?
    • Are either of you hoping to “fix” the asexual person’s asexuality?
    • Is there any way the relationship is unbalanced such that it might cause the asexual person to feel more pressured? (for example, a mentor/student type relationship, a significant age difference, a dynamic where you “take charge” of everything, etc.)
    • What kinds of sex acts are you considering? Are you thinking in terms of penis-in-vagina sex or have you considered alternatives that might make you both happy?
  3. Care is Not Love
    • Remember that care is not love, and that all of this is just part of having safer sex.
    • You can do all of this without having romantic feelings for each other, however…
    • Be aware of whether you want romantic feelings to develop or not, and if they happen to, don’t blame it on the sex. Don’t treat it as either inevitable or a failure.
  4. Negotiating Boundaries
    • Discuss boundaries, find out if there are things that are off-limits or things that make your partner especially nervous. Some people prefer to do this by email to keep a record of it to refer to later.
    • Boundaries can of course change once things actually start happening, but it’s good to have ideas of each of your preferences in mind.
    • Discuss safewords like “Red” (THINGS ARE NOT OKAY AND MUST STOP RIGHT NOW), “Yellow” (things are uncertain, proceed with caution/gentleness), and “Green” (things are okay and can continue or even speed up) and non-verbal signals that things aren’t okay in case issues with speaking arise.
  5. Getting Physical
    • When you start getting physical, check in often to make sure that your partner is still okay. Be ready to stop at any point.
    • Consent is a process of continual negotiation, not something that is given once and for all and can never be retracted. You should expect boundaries to change. Even non-asexual people sometimes have moments where some parts of their bodies hurt, so things that are normally okay aren’t today. Asexual people are more likely to have extra emotional/psychological issues with sex, because they are probably going far outside their normal boundaries already, so you should expect things to change.
    • Try different things, and see what they like and don’t like.
    • For partner with a vagina that you’re planning to have penetrative sex with, don’t rely on wetness as your sole measure of arousal. Check in. See if your partner is interested in trying to have an orgasm before penetration, to lessen any potential pain.
    • Always ask if your partner is ready before moving on.
  6. Encountering Resistance
    • Be attentive to non-verbal signals. If your partner flinches away or seems mentally distant or “not there,” those are warning signs, so check in.
    • If your partner physically removes your hand from somewhere, DO NOT PUT IT BACK. Ask, “Oh, I’m sorry, do you not want me to touch you there?” Then your partner can explain whether it’s off-limits forever, for today, or just for the moment.
    • If your partner wants to stop at any point, stop immediately and reassure them that it’s okay.
    • DO NOT withdraw affection (even non-romantic affection) if your partner wants to stop. Show them that you still care in whatever way is appropriate for the relationship. Find something fun to do, like eat ice cream together or go for a walk, that gives you a chance to de-stress and talk about what happened if your partner wants to.
    • If you are disappointed, be honest about it. Try not to sulk. Let them know that even though you are disappointed, it’s your own issue and you’d much rather deal with disappointment than do something your partner isn’t comfortable with.
  7. Sex
    • Before you actually start having sex, ask “Are you sure?”
    • You don’t have to ask in any one particular way, but ALWAYS be sure to ask permission in some fashion.
    • When you finally do have sex, be safe. Use condoms/dental dams, etc. Use lube.
    • Remember that it gets better with time, as you both learn what works and what doesn’t, and your bodies get used to it.
  8. Aftercare
    • After sex, make yourself available for any conversation your partner wants to have about it. Even if you are busy, make sure to set time aside for it.
    • Don’t just stop hanging out with your asexual partner after you’ve had sex with them, especially if you’ve now decided that sex is off the table. If you need time, say so, don’t just start avoiding them.
    • If your partner wants to talk at any time during this process, give them your FULL attention. Don’t be checking email or trying to study while talking to them, and don’t blow them off or try to reframe their concerns as “rationalizing” what happened. Always treat them with respect.

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and by all means feel free to link it to anyone who might find it useful. If you are interested in republishing it on your own website, please get in contact with me. I consider it basic sexual education, much of which could be helpful even in cases where neither partner is asexual, so I’d love to see it reach a wider audience. However, it might need some contextualizing if it’s posted somewhere that doesn’t just deal with asexuality.

———

* Please note that this article mistakenly says “you can choose to be asexual” instead of “you can choose to be celibate.” Otherwise, it is a good article.

NOTICE:

Please DO NOT repost the full text of this article without getting permission from me first. You’re free to repost this, but only AS A LINK. If you have noticed someone doing this or done it yourself, please REMOVE THE TEXT. You can quote, but you cannot include the full text.

The thing is, this is still something I will periodically come back to for refining and editing. When you post the full text, I lose full control over my own content, which I have worked hard on. I want to put the best representation of my work forward. Please don’t compromise my ability to do so.

76 thoughts on “How to Have Sex With an Asexual Person

  1. Regarding using lube, if the asexual person is turned off by bodily fluids, they may find lube unpleasant too. It’s a good idea to have some on hand, but it may not be necessary.

    I’d also emphasize that after the experience, if the asexual person decides that they don’t want to do it again, the other person shouldn’t interpret that as meaning that they don’t want the friendship or relationship to continue.

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  2. Firstly, I think that this is overall well-written. But I have a cocern that jarred me while I was reading. In the section that discusses making sure to check that the asexual person is actually aroused “if she is a woman,” the “woman” and repeated “she/her”s erase trans* people. As a trans* person, this really stuck out to me. A gender-neutral pronoun like the singular they could fix it, and something like “if your partner has a vulva” rather than “if she is a woman,” since not all women have vulvas and not all people with vulvas are women. Thanks.

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    • You’re right, I should change that. Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I was thinking too much of a mainstream audience when I was writing it or something? I don’t know how it could have slipped my mind, honestly.

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      • hi, just want to second that the gendered-bodied language was kind of jarring for me, too, even as a cisfemale. I know you’re probably super busy and stuff, but it would be super appreciated to switch those phrases up.

        apart from that, I found this really interesting and potentially useful, as an asexual person who’s not having sex… yet. thank you!

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        • Are there still parts where it’s not gender-neutral? I edited the post a while ago, and I thought I got all of them changed. If you wouldn’t mind pointing out where it’s still too gendered, I’d appreciate it.

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          • There’s one instance where you say, “if your partner has female genitals” which implies that a vagina/vulva are female genitalia. I find it useful to refer to organs specifically (e.g. “If your partner has a vagina”, “people who have vaginas”, “people who have penises”) when talking about sex.

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            • Vaginas and vulvas are female genitalia, though. Biologically female implies having those reproductive organs. “Female” refers to one’s sex, not their gender.

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          • So, in Part 5: Getting Physical it references”female” and “male genitals”, and also in the TL/DR Part 5 section it mentions “female genitals” re: wetness as a measure of arousal. I just ctrlF’d it and searched for male/female, but I think that’s all of them!

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            • Oh, it looks like WordPress didn’t actually save/update the changes that I tried to make to it, then. How frustrating. I’ll go back and change it again. Thanks!

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  3. I just wanted to say that I’m in a sexual relationship, and my partner can initiate sex without asking me first (and vice versa, because I try to initiate as well). I think in the context of an established relationship where communication is not really an issue, this can work fine. Neither of us feel pressured to continue and if we’re not feeling up to it, we can just say so. It works for us, and I’m sure it works for other people. A lot of times we don’t rely on verbal communication at all. Obviously, that’s not to say that this should work for everyone and I think Step One is great advice for many/most people.

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    • Yeah, of course implicit/non-verbal communication can work, and over the course of a relationship it will become much more common to not have to ask before touching (it has in my own long-term relationship as well, and it even worked out well once with M, who basically did everything wrong). But in the context of creating a new(ly) sexual relationship, you really have to get to know your partner’s boundaries before you can safely initiate without asking. Not everybody does feel safe enough to just say that they’re not feeling up to it, so it’s important to create an environment where there is no pressure first, so that they can get to the point where they will start to feel safe enough to say so.

      This guide isn’t really written for people in long-standing sexual relationships though, it’s pretty much just focused on people who are just starting. In that case, it’s much better not to make assumptions about what’s okay and what isn’t. The risk is jut too high.

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  4. Incredibly informative and insightful. I especially like what you wrote about the importance of *not* creating a dynamic in which one partner feels that they are entitled to sex. I see that type of horrendous, harmful attitude perpetuated in more average “mainstream” scenarios and it’s always bothered me! The tired trope of a woman “owing” a man sex because he bought her roses or lobster comes to mind.

    I have never had an asexual friend or potential partner, but if I ever do I will definitely refer back to this post! Come to think of it, I think that anyone who is entering a new potential sexual relationship, whether with an asexual person or not, should read this as well.

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  5. This seems like a good essay for all sex where there’s a significant experience differential, not just regarding aces!

    One thing to keep in mind, which is outside the scope of this, is that some aces who are willing to have sex may also be willing or desirous of being very active/dominant/the leader, insofar as such a dynamic may be present in that particular sexual encounter.

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  6. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this. <3 Seriously…this is everything I've been trying to tell my partners for years but could never put it into words.

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  7. this post is bullshit.
    I think it’s impossible, even for a romantic one. He/She will do bcuz you showed intentions, and he/she will do, bcuz they feel they must. The romantic conection will be broken in short time.
    And if you do it, feel some kind of pleasure, or you even initiate the act, please get out of this site, ur not assexual.

    Like

    • So kind of you to show up to incoherently rant at me that I’m not really asexual. Too bad my experiences directly contradict you. Don’t tell me to get off my own site. Take your idiocy somewhere else.

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    • Of course the author isn’t assexual. Nobody is assexual. The author described themself as asexual.

      (Which, btw, only has to do with lack of sexual attraction to others. Having sex, enjoying it or even generally wanting it with nobody in particular ultimately doesn’t negate asexuality)

      Like

  8. Pingback: The Passionless Asexual « Shades of Gray

  9. Hey, just googled asexual and AVEN linked me here out of pure curiosity. I was confused by the current storyline on my fav webcomic, girls with slingshots where one of the characters is asexual. I’ve never encountered this before and I must say that your article was very informative so I want to thank you for helping me understand. Great Job.

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  10. Pingback: On post titles, re: tumblr comments « Shades of Gray

  11. This was very informative. Thank you!

    I have a question about – “sometimes it’s useful to try to give your partner an orgasm before penetration, to lessen the pain…” – this seemed sort of jarring, wouldn’t we be aiming for no pain? (unless you’re into that sort of thing, of course.)

    I guess it bothers me because I’ve read things where it’s assumed that pain during penetration is normal/to be expected/you should just grit your teeth and bear it. (Though I imagine that’s not what you meant).

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    • For me personally, I’ve always had some degree of pain with initial penetration. Typically it is very mild, but it always helps to have already had an orgasm first. It usually goes away within the first minute, after which things get enjoyable again.

      However, when I first started having sex? It hurt a lot more than that. The guy was not particularly careful, and certainly didn’t bother to get me aroused enough or ask me whether I was actually ready for penetration. Forget orgasms, that wasn’t even a consideration at all.

      Anyway, because of the way my body has always been, I just expect a mild amount of pain with penetration. It tends to be more severe when I haven’t had that kind of sex in a while—I tighten up again. Dilation can help with this for people who have problems with it, but for me it’s never been severe enough to warrant it.

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  12. Get over your self importance is the first step and stop being overly sensitive wallflower and learn to enjoy yourself. Everything you post suggest you over think versus just relax and be. Open yourself up including your legs and scream amen new York! I bet your a psych student, they are usually the ones that fill their heads with the most nonsense. Enjoy your life.

    Like

    • I am not, but nice try. And everything you post suggests you have no idea what you’re talking about (see my reply here). You have absolutely no understanding of what it’s like to be asexual, that’s for damn sure. I’d suggest you shut up and listen, but you’re clearly not going to anyway, so whatever, I guess. I’m not going to worry about what some random jackass thinks. Hopefully you’ve decided you can never have sex with an asexual person!

      (If anyone else wants to take a stab at this, feel free!)

      Like

      • Why do people accuse others of overthinking things when what they mean is “I don’t like the things you’re thinking”? It’s very cowardly.

        Like

    • In situations where a great deal of harm can be done to a person because of a lack of communication or consideration (which really extends to a lot of, if not all or most, sexual situations), it is far better to overthink things than to underthink them. The harm that can be caused by not thinking enough far outweighs the slight detraction of pleasure that might come from giving a situation an appropriate amount of thought.

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  13. Thank you for the article. I found it really informative. The only thing I didn’t get was why you expect most people wouldn’t be interested in procreative sex.

    Like

    • Most sex that people have is recreational, and most sexual people are interested primarily in recreational sex with their asexual partners. It seems to me that if you haven’t reached the point where you’ve got that part of your sex life figured out, the sexual partner will most likely be hesitant to commit to having a kid. So I think it’s a fair assumption to make to think that probably, people who are reading a guide on how to START having sex with an asexual partner will proooobably not be ready to have a kid with that partner yet.

      Like

      • This was a wonderful article; thank you. Actually, my husband and I are both asexual and are now contemplating trying sex for the first time, for the purpose of procreation… (and perhaps, to see whether we can enjoy any aspects of it, as although we’re fine without it there is just a little bit of curiosity). As we are both inexperienced and nervous this article will be a great help for each of us to read, as we will doubtless each face different challenges, which we will have to help each other through. So far I have found a serious lack of material out there for asexual couples who want to have kids (I haven’t been searching that long and I’m sure there are such folks out there, but many people posting seem not to want kids) … I can’t even imagine what a fertility clinic would say if a healthy, married, cis-hetero(ace)sexual couple like us came in asking for help just because they didn’t want to have penetrative sex. My doctor already does a double-take every time I remind her that I’m over 30 and haven’t had sex. Sigh… Anyway, your article rang so true, especially the part about ‘scripts’ which I had not thought about before but was very helpful.

        Like

  14. thank you for posting this guide. this is the first time i have ever heard someone so precisely describe the way i want to be treated by a potential romantic/sexual partner.

    i don’t really know how to describe my sexual orientation. i’m a man who is attracted to women, but i feel mainly like what self-identified asexuals describe. i’m sure it’s not actually complicated enough to require three sentences but that’s the best i can do right now.

    being really passive and not motivated by sex it’s super difficult for me to find a partner. and then when i am fortunate enough to meet a woman who initiates things, i always seem to feel like just when i am starting to get comfortable being close with her, she suddenly does something way invasive and scary to me without even saying anything. i guess a lot of other guys must be okay with that.

    i especially appreciate that you advise people not to withdraw affection. that really hurts, and i wish i knew what it was like for a woman to hug me and say that it’s okay. that sounds like it would be pretty cool.

    Like

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with women like that. :( Freeze-outs are awful. In my experience, it’s been a lot more difficult to deal with freeze-outs than with physical abuse. What’s worse is when someone does it but doesn’t even realize what they’re doing.

      Unfortunately, there are a lot of assumptions about how men are “always horny” and up for sex anytime, which translates to an assumption that men have no boundaries, and “can’t be raped”—which is of course totally untrue. This blog deals with issues like that a lot, I’d recommend it if you’re interested in unpacking those issues.

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    • It’s interesting how much of that advice could be replaced with “you should not WANT sex or touch that the other party grudgingly tolerates or flat out suffers through. You should be MOTIVATED to apply your true full mental effort to minimizing the problem of pressured consent, expectations, misunderstanding, etc.”

      Sometimes this stuff feels a bit like trying to instruct a non-cooperating genie. (“I want immense wealth NOT dropped on my head, at a temperature I can survive, non-radioactive, not infested with spiders, not stolen from somebody who’ll carry a grudge…”)

      Like

  15. Pingback: Tuesday Teasers: Stuff I’ve Been Reading [#7] - The Pursuit of Harpyness

  16. This article is brillant thanks so much! You put into words exactly how us aces feel! I have not had sex yet but privately have a curiosity about it…I might be willing to explore a bit with the right guy but I am a little leery of dating a sexual person because of the pressure…even unintentional…to have sex…The quickest way to get an ace to not want to have sex with you ever is to pressure them! And I really don’t think I want want anything penetrative as I know it would be painful at least a bit…I think I have similar issues as you do in that area Elizabeth for example I cant masturbate anymore because it sorta hurts…it always did a bit even when I did it all the time when I was younger but now I am older and my libidio faded out I haven’t done it for awhile and now I simply can’t…to painful!

    I would really like to meet someone I can explore various forms of touching with though and not feel bad because I have no desire to “get them off” Because I have little interest in someone stimulating my private parts and I have NO INTEREST whatsoever in stimulating anyone elses!…I prefer to ignore those areas exist in both parties lol!~ But I might try it like I said out of curiousity of if I maybe loved someone to feel closer to them…because I love being close to someone I care about I want to “intertwine” myself with them…just don’t want certain body parts connected!

    But anyway I another one of those that becomes non-verbal in sexual situations…My “friend” I am experimenting with does know what I am in no way ok with certain things such as I mentioned above…we have discussed this many many times as I plan to with any future partner…He is also very slow and patient and gives me time to react and process things as he knows how awkward I am and unsure about those kind of things…He is also knows me well and is usually pretty good about picking up on when I am feeling unsure or uncomfortable about something…usually…Though reading about the “safe words” and all I may incorperate some of that if not with him then perhaps with any future partners…But the main problem is he is VERY VERY sexual so there is only so much he can take before he gets really aroused and has to leave :( This of course makes me feel bad like I said because I cannot help in that area and really have no desire too…But he continues to be affectionate with me and talk with me because above everything else we are good FRIENDS..

    .Although it be nice to meet someone that DID NOT become that aroused because I have found that I like being caressed and nibbled on and could go on for HOURS lol and even I can get aroused but unlike a sexual I don’t need to “finish it off”…It may sound odd but I don’t find orgasms that mindblowing…I find the sensations leading up to it somewhat pleasant but the actual finish is really not all that! Wonder if you have heard anyone else either ace or not with that same issue?

    Anyway my friend and I are also OPEN AND HONEST with each-other and COMMUNICATE…Its mind boggling to me how much regular sexual couples have issues with it…I don’t know how anyone has enjoyable sex when people seem to be willing to have sex but not you know TALK about it to their partner! For me its a no-brainer even if I was sexual I would still want a partner with whom I could be that open with whether in a serious relationship or not! Seriously most the tips you give can be applied to sexual/sexual relationships as well…Sadly most people aren’t concerned whether their partner is having a great experience as well as long as they are getting their thrills…also people are bad at reading signs that their partner is NOT enjoying themselves as much but then again thats where asking and talking come in and for us aces its twice as important!

    Like

    • I feel exactly the same way about what you said about orgasms not being so “mind blowing”.
      thank you so much this comment meant a lot to me, because I thought it was weird not to be interested in sex -or as you said stimulating other people’s parts- and I honestly thought there was something wrong with me (ah i’m 16 btw :p)
      You’re really lucky to have someone as understanding as your friend and that you can be so open with him!

      Like

  17. Pingback: The distinction between Verbal vs. Oral « Shades of Gray

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  19. I love this article; it should be used in sex education in schools!

    I have one question, for anyone. Are there any posts or articles that you know of that deal with “you can’t know until you’ve tried it” as a form of coercion? I talk to a lot of people about consent, and I’d love to have more resources to draw on regarding that specifically, since it’s so subtle and insidious that a lot of people I think don’t even realise that it’s bullying.

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  20. I don’t know about other asexuals, but I am uncomfortable with nudity, sharing my own especially, so I would much prefer it in the dark. If they can see my face, they can see the rest of my body.

    Like

    • Fair point. That’s a preference to ask about though and establish beforehand. To just assume it’s okay could lead to a miserable experience, especially if they don’t bother to ask if it’s all right before starting.

      Like

  21. “Popular conceptions of asexuals having sex include descriptors like “passionless” or “frigid,” but it IS possible for asexuals to give good, informed, affirmative, even enthusiastic consent (although using enthusiasm as the only indicator of good consent is problematic for asexuals), and “passionless” or “frigid” are certainly not descriptors my partner would apply to me. I’ve read erotica scenes similar to some of the sex we’ve had, although frankly, I think ours was better.”

    This made me pretty uncomfortable. I’m asexual, and honestly, “frigidly” is the only way I’m be interested in having sex. I know that word has negative connotations, and is often used to shame and pressure people. Personally, I want to reclaim it, because it’s the best descriptor of how I actually feel safe and comfortable having sex. I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want to touch myself. The whole affair might take place with both of us clothed. It isn’t even necessarily related to emotional intimacy. I’m a cold fish. I am frigid as fuck.

    Why is the way I prefer to have sex considered bad? Having sex with someone like me is somebody’s kink, I’m sure. Your comments kind of imply that it’s a bad thing to be frigid or passionless, and that consensual sex wouldn’t look like that, and…I was disappointed by that.

    Being “frigid” is the only way I feel honest during sex. “Passionate” sex is not going to happen with me, unless I’m acting out some social script, which doesn’t leave me feeling good at all afterwards. I associate this emphasis on passionate sex = good sex with partners pressuring me to act in a way that isn’t true to myself.

    And…this is also sort of a subtle thing, but you seem to write under the assumption that the sexual person would be the dominant partner in a sexual/asexual encounter. You write as though the sexual person is the instigator of every act, and it is the asexual’s job to grant or refuse permission. You talk about how the sexual person should interact with the asexual person’s genitals, but not how the sexual person should receive attention from the asexual person. I certainly know that my experience isn’t every asexual’s experience, but in the interests of being inclusive of my experience–that’s not what it looks like for me. I have to be dominant to feel okay with it. While I usually am not the one to suggest/initiate the encounter itself, once the encounter has begun, I’m the one “driving,” as it were. I’m the one checking in on my partner, making sure they’re having a good time, making sure their boundaries are respected. It’s pretty easy for me to stop or slow down if I feel uncomfortable, since I’m in the active role!

    One of the primary reasons I’d even be interested in having sex in the first place is the power trip of pleasing a partner. I have no interest whatsoever in being pleasured.

    Basically, frigid sex is not necessarily bad sex (and passionate sex isn’t everyone’s ideal), and asexual doesn’t always mean submissive.

    I think sex with me is a bit…unusual, and discuss it with potential partners first, so they know what they’re getting into, and that it’s not going to be like in the movies. They’re not having generic sex, they’re having sex with me, and if that’s not what they want, they can go bark up a different tree.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read erotica that looked like the sex I am okay with having. Making erotica sex into an ideal for my sexual encounters would be poisonous for me.

    Like

    • That’s not what I meant to imply at all, but you bring up a good point nevertheless. I was more attempting to address certain stereotypes about asexuals having sex, and specifically talking about my own experience. I also personally prefer to be the more dominant partner, although when I dominate I don’t really consider it to be a sexual act, just a kink I engage in for my partner. It’s sexual for her but not for me. But that’s digressing a bit…

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with having sex the way you describe.

      But if you want the reason why I made those assumptions, it’s because this post is written to a specific audience: the one that goes out and googles “how to have sex with an asexual” or “how to convince an asexual to have sex” or something similar. I think in THAT situation, yes, it’s a fairly safe assumption to make that the initiating partner is NOT going to be the asexual one.

      Whether or not that initiating partner turns out to be the dominant one is of course up to the individual dynamics of that particular relationship. But, to be frank, I’m not really worried as much about asexual people who, like yourself, are more interested in being the dominant partner. A person who is that aware and able to articulate their interests will not have nearly as much trouble as someone in a situation like I was around seven years ago: inexperienced, inarticulate, unsure, and being pushed by someone who just makes assumptions that doing sexual things would be okay without ever verbally asking. I couldn’t have known where he was going until he just started doing it, and that’s exactly the situation I want to try to keep from happening to anyone else.

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  23. I’m not Asexual and neither is my partner, I just came to this site out of curiosity, honestly. However, I want my boyfriend to read this entire article, it can be used for “normal” sexual relationships as well.

    Having said that, I have Asperger’s Syndrome which is a mild form of Autism, so the way I deal with relationships and especially with the physical aspects are much different than normal people, I suppose somewhat like being asexual? I’ve pretty much had to explain what’s said in this article to every partner I’ve had. I’m so glad it’s here, even if it wasn’t meant for someone in my place.

    I hope it’s okay, but I printed off a copy of this article and took it to my Asperger’s support group last week, and everyone who was there with their “normal” partners found it very helpful. (It was also what all of THEM had been trying to explain for years) You see, someone with Asperger’s may not always be okay with sex, though we may be sexually attracted to a person, the act of being that connected may scare the hell out of someone who has to constantly force themself to make eye contact.

    Even though I am bisexual and am a very sexual person, I find myself more and more associating my sexuality with that of an asexual person, because of the difficulties they and I both have with such intimacy.

    So, on behalf of myself and my fellow sexually active Autistic people out there, thank you for this article and this site :) It’s very helpful.

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    • Wow, I hadn’t thought of it being useful in that context, but I’m glad to help. :) I really do hope that a lot more people adopt this kind of explicit communication style when dealing with sexual negotiations, since after doing years of research on this sort of thing I’m convinced it’s much better than current norms just in general, regardless of whether or not one partner is asexual.

      Thanks for explaining a bit about Asperger’s, too! It’s something I never would have known about otherwise.

      Like

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  26. I’ve only recently discovered the term asexualality for something other than the clincal term that you use in biology. I’ve been tentatively identifying as an asexual for a bit, but I’ve always felt mildly alienated by the term because I have a boyfriend and we sometimes have a little fun in the bedroom. I find it stimulating and I get aroused but, I guess I’m so used to thinking of sex as being sexual that I felt this excluded me from the asexual community. Did that mean I couldn’t identify as an asexual? Like feel a need to initiate things myself and sometimes it just feels like a chore – boring but needed. I have found your blog to be incredibly helpful and inclusive. And I just wanted to say you’re awesome and that I’ve really enjoyed your blog.

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    • Thank you! I don’t see why you couldn’t identify as asexual, it’s the lack of attraction that really counts. I totally understand feeling alienated by the term and feeling like it might not fully apply—that’s why I ID’d as gray-A for such a long time, I think.

      Like

  27. This was a really interesting and educational read! I’m struggling with knowing whether or not I’m asexual, but either way I do recognize a lot of the feelings described here. I do sometimes fear cuddling with my boyfriend because I’m afraid it will lead to him wanting sex. And I do feel obliged to give it to him even though I know I’m not. He tries his best to be understanding on the occasions where I have turned him down, and/although he admits his disappointment. I suppose he would be even more understanding if I just sat him down and explained things properly, but I am scared of potential conflicts so I avoid talking about such issues even though I know I should. I suppose it is even worse for me to discuss it with him since I don’t identify as an asexual as of now. If I did, I think it would be easier for him to understand? But as a sexual person, I feel like it’s not as acceptable for me to not want sex?
    The reason why I don’t consider myself asexual, is because I do experience sexual desire/attraction, often. Both towards my boyfriend and other people. It’s just that the lust for sex stops as soon as genitals are involved, I guess I am repulsed by it?
    It’s rendering me quite confused. But now I’m considering showing this post to my boyfriend, so maybe it’s easier for him to know how to act towards me.

    Like

  28. This would have been a great help during my past relationship. I was dating an asexual and she ‘found out’ that she is asexual during our relationship and just doesn’t have the need for sex. She was basically doing it with me to keep me satisfied. After 8 months we separated. she had no more energy to keep preparing for sex with me and I had no more energy to have a sexless relationship. We had great sex btw, just not that often.

    Still some tips, like not putting your hand back, are crucial and hard to figure out yourself when you are a sexual person. I tried to be as caring and toughtfull as I could, but still felt rejected sometimes.

    Like

  29. Thanks for all the great info. I dated a guy for about 2 years that looking back I now think is an assexual. I was his first lover in 15 yrs and he didn’t even have sex during that time when he was married. At first he completely fell apart with shaking, crying, migraines, getting sick and sometimes disassociated. Being a man he refused to get counseling but would say, “I’m trying though.” I could tell it was an awful experience for him and I was so in love and attracted to him that it was hard for me too. I had just gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship and going through a mid-life crisis was in need of validation of my worth as a female. As time went by, we found that if he was dominant and tied me up the sex was easier for him but it really only made me more frustrated as i rarely ever got to that happy spot. As this continued he kept saying he didn’t want to commit to me and this hurt more than anything because I was deeply in love with him. I have to tell you that he touched me in a way that no man had ever touched me..very tender and very sensual. Finally i sought out a few sexual encounters outside of the relationship mainly due to my need for validation but when I was truthful to him about my mistakes he completely pushed me away. A few months later he said he was getting married to a much younger gal that his elite family had introduced him to. I was devasted and it confirmed my worst fear that his problem was that he was not attracted to me. But every few months he continued to come see me and would say he wanted to “tie me up” because he couldn’t do that with his fiancee. I was still in love with him and I believed this was his way to be close to me without admitting he still loved me too. Our last encounter was in October and then by Jan this year he contacted me saying he was back in town and hinting to see me. I had bronchitis and my son living with me plus my guard was up. He came by about 2 weeks ago to fix my sink but he kept running up to the store. At one point our eyes locked and I instantly felt the love for him again. He ran out my door and then all contact stopped. For the past few weeks I have been freaking out in texts telling him how much I love him and don’t want to lose him again. I even talk to pshychics who have told me he has already found a new girlfriend and that he keeps trying to have sex with various people to see if it’ll be different. I am starting to feel this may be true. Then last night I drove to his house at midnite and his music and light was on but he was not home. All day today I’ve asked him to give us another try and that we can try to just seeing each other without sex for awhile. I have never loved anyone this much in my life but now the ball is in his court. I just hope I didn’t scare him off with all my expectations from the past. It’s completely out of my control now but any of your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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    • That’s your prerogative. Nobody is saying that you HAVE TO try it.

      You are not, therefore, the audience for this post, because I’m writing to people who are interested.

      Like

  30. Let me put this to you bluntly:
    Your advice is for the most part fine when it comes to purely sexual or platonic friendship type of rrangements. However, for almost all heterosexuals sex is a part of a relationship (esp if said relationship is not ‘open’) and thus is legitimate reason to break off said relationship if you are not getting your sexual needs and desires fulfilled.
    This doesn’t mean getting your way all the time but partners communicate and often have to compromise and what I see in this whole article is a fear of compromise. Compromise is a part of life. No pressure? Well I dare say trying to have a relationship with a partner who does not share your sexual orientation or has a vastly higher or lower sex drive is going to require compromise so one should be aware of that going in or not do so in the first place.

    Like

    • You are not in any way required to be in a relationship where your sexual needs are not being met. If you still WANT to be in that relationship, then fine. In that case, find a way. But do not imply that I am in any way saying you HAVE to.

      Compromise is fine and IS in fact something I have experience with. It’s tricky, but believe it or not, you CAN do it without pressuring the other person to have sex. BOTH partners have to be up for it, though.

      If you are talking about a monogamous relationship, it may help to consider sexual non-monogamy. I honestly don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any one partner to fulfill ALL of your needs for you, and if you are unwilling to consider going outside the relationship for it (obviously with your partner’s blessing, cheating is bad), and it’s intolerable to you to go without those needs being met, then… yeah, reconsider being in that relationship. You being unhappy with your relationship is not an excuse to hurt someone by pressuring them to have sex that they don’t want.

      Like

  31. Pingback: Things Aces Can Learn From Kink: Part One | Ace of Liminal Space

  32. I’ve been seriously questioning whether or not I’m asexual or just inexperienced and busy with a low libido and your somewhat off topic comment about asexuals and freindships “you should realize that asexuals typically value friendship much more highly than most people do, and they may be sensitive to any withdrawal of even non-romantic affection.” struck me. It might be the ultimate defining statement for me right now. It was just so true for me that everything else just clicked… I never really wanted to be asexual since it just makes finding a partner that much more difficult but I think I might be able to accept that challenge now. So thanks haha, not what you were trying to accomplish with this article, but oh well. :)

    Like

  33. Pingback: Asexuality: Life Without Sexual Attraction — Everyday Feminism

  34. “I mean the “I explicitly asked them if they want to have sex right now, and received an unambiguously affirmative verbal response” kind of permission.”
    I really, strongly disapprove of this when you couple it with your “this is how you should have sex NO EXCEPTIONS” attitude. What gives you the right to tell me how to behave in my own bedroom? I would not sleep with a man who couldn’t or wouldn’t intrepet nonverbal cues – asking me to state that I want the sex I’m already trying to have is nothing but patronizing and insulting. I am a grown-ass woman, and I can damn well say ‘no’ if I want to. How dare you treat me like my actions can’t speak for themselves.

    Like

    • I write this way because I unfortunately have the experience to know that I CAN’T treat this situation the way that you do. It’s easy to go into situations thinking this way without actually realizing that you ARE constantly in danger of someone misinterpreting your non-verbal cues. You say you just wouldn’t sleep with someone who can’t interpret non-verbal cues, but how can you be so sure that whoever you get in bed with is going to be able to read your mind?

      Answer that with compelling reasons, and then maybe I will change my attitude. But frankly, I don’t think you have them.

      Also, how classy of you to upvote your own comment before anyone else has ever been able to even see it, lol.

      Like

  35. Why do Asexuals masturbate? Doesn’t that mean they would like to have sex? And how should I deal with this ? Pls help.. But Ioved reading your article. It has taught me to be more patient and sensitive..

    Like

  36. Pingback: Living It: Sexuality | Asexuality 101 | QUEER INK

  37. Thank you for this article, it is great, great, great! Don’t pay any attention to the troll!

    I am in my 30s and I had my first sexual experience a couple of months ago because I wanted to get rid of the virgin label. The guy I did it with is very sexual and it all worked out ok! I have to explain, I love being touched and don’t mind the male anatomy but it does not turn me on. Sadly, he froze me out in our last encounter and we are not together!

    Anyway, life goes on I am also very envious of the asexuals who mentioned that they have orgasms, in my life time I’ve only had 3 mini orgasm!

    God/Jah/the Universe bless us Asexuals and the rest of people!

    Like

  38. Pingback: 5 Myths About…Asexuals | Persephone's Bedroom

  39. Just wanted to add a small thank-you for posting this….
    as an asexual who was date-raped by the man whom I dated for two and a half years and originally planned to marry, I have had a very large amount of trouble with feeling worthless when it came to my sexual partners…. though I searched desperately within every rape survivors site I could find, no-one was ever willing ( or more likely able ) to sympathize with me, much less help. This post has hit pretty much every single nail on the head though— and at such a painful point, I really needed it. Thank-you so much for writing this, and thank-you for making me feel less alone on caring and affection scales…..

    { This is also a good guide in general, which could be easily applied to many different sexualities and situations…. and I honestly think rape survivors and their partners could also heavily benefit from it, as well as rape prevention / consent education….. }

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  40. Pingback: I am not your dirty secret | The Asexual Agenda

  41. Pingback: The False Dichotomy of Repulsion vs. Indifference | Prismatic Entanglements

  42. I hate sex. I really do. I wanted to be virgin my entire life but got into my first real relationship with somebody at 23 years old and ended up actually having sex because I was pestered into it. I told him up front that I never wanted to have sex because I have no interest in it at all. I wasn’t saving myself for anybody. I didn’t mind companionship. I just didn’t want sex. I can live without companionship no problem. It is not a need for me but for some people it is. Anyways, he never believed that I was really asexual. He would always joke that he’d turn me into “a sexual deviant”, whatever that means. To be honest, it really got on my fucking nerves. After 6 months of him pestering me about it I just said, “You know what? Go for it. I don’t really care.” Now I realize that I should have dumped the son of a bitch and never should have done that. He was mentally abusive. He really was. After I had an ECT treatment in the hospital that day, he wanted to have sex with me (after a WHOLE MONTH had gone by of having no sex). I told him no and that I felt sick from the ECT treatments. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that HE had been holding out from holding sex for MY benefit not HIS. And now it was my turn to hold out for HIS benefit. I was like, really? Are you serious!? But I had a really bad headache from having electricity electrodes on my temples to induce seizures that day and was really sick from whatever they used to put me asleep to do the ECT… I honestly did not want to argue with him. That’s all that he ever wanted to do was argue, argue, argue, and then guilt trip me into having sex with him. I’d rather just get the sex over with so that I wouldn’t have to listen to him bitch about how he isn’t “getting any”. ESPECIALLY after EVERY TIME we had sex that it made me feel worse and worse about MYSELF. I didn’t even like to kiss or hold hands. That all just sounds so weird. I just do not understand the appeal. I never have. I never will. And I’m okay with that. It’s other people that aren’t.

    What I have learned from all of this is that I never EVER want to have sex EVER in MY LIFE EVER, EVER, AGAIN! I had sex with him because he wouldn’t shut up about that. He kept telling me how close it would bring us together. Bull fucking shit! I completely regret having sex. It was nothing special. It was just a duty that I never in my life never wanted to do. Now that I have done it. I certainly never want to do it ever again, times a million-bazillion-gazillion. Seriously, I will never make that mistake twice. And another thing is that I will NEVER date someone is NOT an asexual EVER AGAIN. Even if someone who is not asexual says that they are fine with never having sex with me… the sheer millisecond they ask about having sex, I not hesitate to kick their ass to the curb because I don’t want to deal with that shit a second time. Word to the wise for all you overly sexual pricks who want to have sex with asexuals for the sake of turning someone into a sexual person: No we don’t want sex with you, now put your dick (or your vagina) back in your pants and go fuck yourself, seriously!

    TL;DR : I’m an asexual who never ever wanted to have sex. My boyfriend at the time was being a little bitch about not getting his dick wet and bitching about it all the time that he wasn’t “getting any” that I actually had sex with him and it seriously fucked me up! He was emotionally abusive. I dumped his ass. No more sex, EVER AGAIN for ME! And if you want to have sex with an asexual just to turn them into “a sexual deviant” seriously, you guys need to go fuck yourselves! Because that’s what you sexual people like to do all the time apparently. Just do all us asexuals a favor and leave us the fuck alone. We don’t want your dick (or vagina or ass or whatever). So you all can just go suck it (figuratively)!

    Like

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