How to tell the difference between asexuality and low sex drive.
There’s a question I sometimes get when meeting clients with low (or no) interest in sex: “Am I asexual?”
My answer? Maybe!
But also…maybe not.
In this post, I’ll explore the differences between being asexual and having a low sex drive. I’ll also share a quiz you can take to determine your next steps.
Let’s start with some definitions.
What is asexuality?
Being asexual, or ace, seems simple on the surface.
A quick internet search defines asexual as “experiencing no sexual feelings or desires; not feeling sexual attraction to anyone.”
However, this is a very limited definition of asexuality.
Some ace folks enjoy masturbation while others do not. Some choose to have sex for reasons other than desire, and others do not.
Additionally, some asexual people may:
- experience sexual desire once they have formed a strong emotional bond (demisexual)
- experience sexual desire sometimes, or at levels that feel in-between sexual and asexual (gray-ace)
Asexual people can and often do experience romantic attraction. Some may not, however, and may identify as aromantic.
Being asexual doesn’t mean someone can’t have healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationships. With good communication and compatible partners, many ace folks enjoy successful long-term partnerships.
Asexuality vs Low Libido: What’s the Difference?
With a whole spectrum of asexuality to consider, it’s easy to see how the difference between it and low libido can feel muddled.
Let’s set some things straight.
1. Asexuality tends to be consistent. Sex drive tends to fluctuate.
Generally speaking, asexual folks consistently have little or no interest in sex throughout their lifetime. They may not experience sexual feelings during adolescence and early adulthood, for example.
By contrast, people who do experience sexual desire tend to notice their first sexual feelings around or after puberty. They also tend to be sexually attracted to people of one or more genders.
These feelings and attractions naturally fluctuate throughout their lifetime. Sometimes they drop low enough to cause concern.
This brings us to our second difference: distress.
2. Low libido tends to be distressing. Asexuality tends to be less so.
In clinical settings, a big differentiator between asexuality and low sex drive is the amount of distress a person is experiencing.
Asexual folks tend to be comfortable with or accepting of their asexual identity. It may be difficult to navigate or introduce added complexity to their life. However, they don’t seek to change it.
I describe low libido as “the desire for desire.” People with low libido want to want sex, yet they don’t. They often seek help to increase their sex drive.
3. Asexuality is an identity. Low sex drive is a treatable condition.
Because asexuality is an identity, it does not require any treatment.
Low libido, on the other hand, is a condition with a number of treatment options.
If someone experiences a sudden drop in libido, it’s a good idea to mention it to a doctor. There are some possible medical reasons for a rapid loss of sex drive.
For people who have had negative sex-related experiences that may be affecting their libido, speaking with a therapist can help address psychological libido blocks.
And finally, for those who experience a low sex drive due to things like:
…there is sensual activation.
QUIZ: Am I Asexual or Sensually Disconnected?
There are a lot of quizzes out there designed to help people determine whether they are asexual.
Personally, I like this short questionnaire from Advocates for Youth:
- Have you ever been sexually attracted to another person?
- Do you want to have sex or engage in sexual practices?
- If you want to date or get married at some point, do you want sex to be a part of that relationship?
- If you’ve had sex or engaged in sexual practices before, was it something you liked?
- If so, would you want to do it again?
If you answered no to most of these questions and don’t feel too distressed about that, there’s a very good chance you’re asexual.
If, however, you answered yes to most of the questions or feel distressed about your ‘no’ answers, there’s a good chance that you are sensually disconnected.
Fortunately, Sensual Activation is a straightforward, natural process that does not require medication or therapy.
Ready to get activated?
Take the 6-question Quiz now to find your Sensual Source and get a free analysis with activation ideas to try at home:
Meet sensual activation expert: Shannon Burton, SXI
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