When your Partner is Asexual


Physical intimacy is an important factor for the success of any committed romantic relationship. While couples may differ on how often and how long they have sex, not having it at all can be an indication that things are somehow not quite right. Apart from stressful lives and medical conditions, an important reason for a sexless relationship is disparity in sex drives between the partners. So if you have been facing such a situation on account of your partner’s asexuality – whether real or suspected – here are some ideas on what you can do.

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Who is an asexual?

At the simplest level, an asexual individual is one who has no interest in sex at all; the disinterest is not motivated by the lack of right partner, the right emotions or the right gender. An asexual person will experience no physical attraction to any other individual, whether the latter is a man or a woman. While mere sexual disinterest is usually occasional, temporary, caused by a personal crisis or medical condition, asexuality is normally present from puberty and not brought about by external event. Yet another important point about Asexuality is that it refers to an orientation, unlike celibacy which is a choice. However scientists and psychologists are still discovering more about this trait everyday and one of the things known till now is that asexuality is highly variable. The complete disinterest in sex does not manifest in the same form in all asexual people. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), the main online hub for the asexual community, stresses that emotional needs vary widely in the asexual community, just as they do in the "sexual" community.

While some would refuse to engage in any sexual encounter, others may go along a partner’s request to have sex but the experience would mean nothing to the asexual person unlike the sexual partner whose feelings may vary from the satisfaction gained upon scratching an itch to a deep emotional bonding. Still other asexuals may enjoy sex, but they will rarely seek it out. Some may take pleasure in physical contact like holding hands, hugging, cuddling and lying side by side but stop short at sexual acts. The Asexual partner does not think about relationships the same way that the sexual partner does – to the latter sex is bonding on the deepest level or a satisfaction of bodily urges but to the asexual person, sex is not necessary for mutual or personal happiness in a relationship.

Sex is not the prime necessity

While the stance of an asexual person may seem extreme, on a basic level it does point to a truth of human relationships – that not having sex will neither kill you nor your relationship. Granted that sex fulfils an important human need, but there are other meaningful ways of remaining connected to your partner. The obsession with sex and its supposed importance to a relationship is a modern construction. Sex is not a physical necessity and many platonic relationships have been known to endure in the long term, though they do need more work than a normal relationship.

Consider your needs

If you have been dating this guy or girl for some time now and just found out that he/she is asexual, it could come as a big blow. But once you regain your bearings, ask yourself honestly how important is sex to you in a mutually satisfying relationship. The key to being happy with an asexual partner is to agree on the issue of sex. When both partners agree that they can have a meaningful relationship without sex, then a sexless relationship can be a fulfilling one. So if you feel that the secret to their togetherness lies in shared interests, mutual respect and pleasant companionship rather than bedroom antics, it should matter little to your relationship if your partner is sexual. In this case it would also be good to remember that the rejection of the sex act on your asexual partner’s side is not a rejection of you as a partner.

However problems arise when there is a mismatch in the sexual needs of the couple. So if your partner is asexual and you most definitely are not, he/she may feel pressured to perform while you are likely to be frustrated and hurt by the lack of physical love. This cannot go on for any length of time without making either or both of you utterly miserable. So if your concept of a relationship cannot but include sex and you realize that your asexual partner is unlikely to think on the same lines, it may make more sense to exit the relationship before things get more serious.

Remain connected

However if you believe that your needs are being met in this relationship and do decide to stay with your asexual partner, it may take some extra effort to make things work. While in sexual relationships, physical desire and intimacy keeps the partners connected, couples in a sexless relationship may have to do a little more to keep the bonding strong. One useful way to do this is to schedule some “couple time” on a regular basis. Make sure that you both are free from distractions for this period. If you have kids, leave them at home and don’t take calls from the office. Do something that you both enjoy like going to the theater or a football game. Don’t forget to indulge yourselves like having dinner at a fancy place or trying out the new restaurant in town. Doing something fun together is yet another way to remain close to each other. Take up a hobby which you both enjoy like hiking in the mountains or putting up amateur theatrical productions. These activities will not only offer you innovative ways to have fun with each other but more importantly keep you busy from obsessing about the perceived lack in your relationship.

Explore physical intimacy

Conventional wisdom has brought about an either/or attitude towards sex in relationships. Either you have sex in your marriage or you don’t have a marriage at all. In fact, there is a lot that couples can do to enjoy intimacy with each other which can also appeal to your asexual partner.  While an aromantic asexual may not want to be touched, Romantic asexual may be more open to physical if not sexual intimacy.  See if your partner is - under the right conditions – willing to get closer to you – maybe to find out more about you and to share things with you. Use these moments to walk hand in hand, lace your fingers together or even cuddle up. You could even encourage your partner to explore sensual pleasures without being overtly sexual. Spend leisurely evenings with some soft music and aromatic candles around. All these ways will help you to take pleasure in physical intimacy while leaving your partner free from pressure to have sex. However you both should be pre-decided on what is acceptable to either of you and where to draw the line.

Don’t fall prey to unfaithful

One of the biggest dangers of being in a relationship with an asexual partner when you are not is that the temptation to get sex from outside the relationship is immense. You as the dissatisfied spouse may one day reason that since your needs are not being fulfilled within the relationship, it is justified to get sex from someone else. Nothing can be further from the truth however. Having an affair is evidence of a partner’s own weakness and inconstancy. If one cannot live without sex, it is best to walk out of the relationship first and then look for a sexual relationship. curiously enough sometimes an asexual person may try and bring other people into the relationship since he/she feels that their primary partner should not be sacrificing his/her needs to be in a sexless relationship. This too is an erroneous way of thinking and you need to assure your asexual partner that you are in this relationship not despite his/her asexuality but because of the wonderful person he/she is and the value he/she adds to your life.

Be open to changes

Like other kinds of sexual orientation, asexuality does not have fixed boundaries. Just because you and your asexual partner have been in a sexless relationship till now, does not mean that things can never get perkier. Don’t shut yourself out to any pleasant surprises in your relationship. If you both love each other and happy with your marriage, then some day you may be naturally drawn to have sex with each other. Enjoy the experience and then go on with your life without getting stressed by the encounter.