What is asexuality? It's an orientation that's often misunderstood and refers to people who experience no sexual attraction. This raises another question, what is sexual attraction? It's basically another way of saying “lust” or “having the hots” for someone. If you see a stranger that you would describe as being “sexy” or “hot,” then you are probably experiencing sexual attraction. It doesn't mean you would actually want to have sex with that person, but the attraction is there. However, for an asexual person, that attraction simply doesn't occur.
Many asexual people feel lost or broken until they learn the facts about asexuality. Learning that other people experience sexuality the same way they do can help them feel like they are not alone. If you are not asexual, learning these asexuality facts can give insight into an aspect of sexuality that you may not have understood before.
So what does it mean to be asexual? If you've been wondering, take a look at the items on this list.
Asexuality is a relatively new concept that refers to a spectrum of sexual orientations centered around a lack of sexual desire. The newness of the concept means there has not been as much research on it as other, more familiar sexual orientations like heterosexuality and homosexuality. For that reason, the number of people who could be considered asexual is relatively up in the air. However, the estimates seem to be from 0.6% to 5.5% of the population. And that percentage could go up if more people become familiar with the term asexual and decide that it describes how they do (or don't) experience attraction.
An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction to a specific person. However, sexual attraction is not the same as arousal. Some asexuals can still experience arousal and sexual feelings, and may have the desire to masturbate or engage in detailed sexual fantasies by writing erotic fiction. Some who masturbate may do so without thinking of anything sexual, while others might fantasize or look at pornography. However, if given the opportunity to be with the object of their fantasies, an asexual person would not experience sexual attraction in real life.
A person who identifies as strictly asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction. However, they may still experience arousal and enjoy sex; they just don't have the desire to seek it out. They don't, for example, experience a wave of desire induced by the mere sight of someone across a crowded room, a phenomenon most sexual people know well. According to asexuality.org, "Think of it as not being hungry but still enjoying an ice cream cone." So an asexual person might not have sexual desire, but could still choose to have sex as part of intimacy with a partner, to procreate, to experiment, or for any other reason.
Since sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two separate things, it's possible to lust after someone you'd have no interest in being in a relationship with, and it's possible to have a crush on someone without desiring to have sex with them. For this reason, some asexual people can be attracted to people romantically and enter into romantic relationships. There are also people who never experience romantic attraction. This is the equivalent of being asexual, called aromantic.