Coming Up Aces – Feb 2017

One of the things I’m passionate about is asexuality education and awareness. Many people still don’t know much about this section of the orientation spectrum—one categorized by a lack of sexual attraction to anyone regardless of gender or appearance.

I’ve talked about asexuality in interviews and written essays on the subject (Don’t Erase the Aces || Identity, Spectrums, and Labels), but I also like being able to answer specific questions both about the orientation and about writing asexual-spectrum characters. I want to teach people more about this facet of my own life and the lives of so many others. Hopefully, with greater understanding will come both empathy and acceptance from the world at large. And a lot more accurate and respectful representation in books and media.

Without further ado, welcome to the first ever Coming Up Aces.

Dianna asked: How common is it for asexual people to also be aromantic?

Quickly, for those who don’t know, there’s a difference between romantic and sexual attraction, and an individual’s place on those two orientation spectrums don’t necessarily match. For example, someone could be panromantic-homosexual, heteromantic-pansexual, homoromantic-homosexual, or any other combination.

In the same way people who are asexual don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, aromantic individuals don’t experience romantic attraction. This isn’t to say they don’t feel love. They can and do love deeply, but only in the way we love family and friends.

Now to the question. It’s a good one, but I unfortunately don’t have an answer.

The statistics we have about correlative relationships like this one exist either because of large psychosocial or sexuality studies or massive survey data sets which researchers have taken the time to dig through and analyze. Technically, asexuals were noted in Alfred Kinsey’s original research in 1948, but his team simply noted the existence of group “X,” those who experienced “no socio-sexual contacts or reactions,” and left it at that. It wasn’t until nearly fifty years later that someone dug deeper.

A survey in 1994 of over 18,000 citizens of the United Kingdom once again pointed out the existence of Kinsey’s group X. In this survey, 1.05% of the respondents answered a question about attraction by saying they had never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that Canadian researchers Dr. Tony Bogaert took a closer look at this segment of the survey data, looking for other correlations and information hidden in the responses. Since then, there have been a few more studies, but most have been small scale and none—that I am aware of (if you know of one, please let me know!)—have specifically looked at or even included a comprehensive analysis of the difference between romantic and sexual orientation identities in individuals.

Without any evidence one way or the other, I must say that it wouldn’t surprise me to learn there’s a higher percentage of people on the asexual spectrum who also identify as aromantic. I’ve certainly met far more aromantic-asexuals than aromantic-anything elses. It shouldn’t be assumed, however, that asexuals are automatically aromantic. I’m not, and neither are most of the asexual-spectrum people I know. If you’re not sure, ask! Most of the ace-spectrum people I know are willing to answer simple questions.

Have a question for Coming Up Aces? Submit it here.

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