A person who identifies as asexual, or “ace” for short, does not experience sexual attraction. Likewise, a person who identifies as aromantic or “aro” does not experience romantic attraction. These two identities are often linked, but can be separate, especially among those who identify along the asexual or aromantic spectrums.
The asexual and aromantic identities exist on a spectrum. At one polar end of the spectrum, you have asexuality and aromanticism, or a complete lack of attraction. On the other end, you have people who do experience attraction, often referred to as allosexual/alloromantic or zedsexual/zedromantic.
In between these two identities there are people who rarely or sometimes experience sexual/romantic attraction. These people often label themselves as grey asexual, grey sexual, “grace”, or grey aromantic, grey romantic.
Another identity that falls within the spectrum is demisexual/demiromantic. This means that they can experience sexual or romantic attraction after some form of emotional bond between them and another has been formed. Anyone who identifies along the asexual or aromantic spectrums can identify with other sexual or romantic identies, such as heterosexual, bisexual, homoromantic, panromantic, etc.
Fluidity is also prevalent. Some members of the asexual and aromantic communities identify as fluid, or -“flux.” A ace-flux person would experience a shift in their sexual attraction across the spectrum that can happen often or rarely. The same applies to an aro-flux person.
It is important to note that these identities determine attraction, they do not influence desire, or someone’s choice to act upon anything. It is entirely separate from celibacy, or the choice to refrain from having sex due to personal choice. Some asexual people are sex repulsed, meaning that the concept or act of sex makes them uncomfortable. Likewise, some asexual people enjoy the act of sex and frequently participate. It is entirely up to the person to decide.
There are many different forms of attraction, including aesthetic, sensual, and platonic. These forms of attraction are often discussed within these communities.
Here’s a video by Ashley Mardell, who collaborated with several members of the asexual and aromantic spectrum to release a 3-part series on the basics of asexuality and aromanticism. This is part one.
If you are or believe you might be aro/ace, feel free to come to our weekly discussion group Aces and Aros during the academic year.