You were just told by your friend, sibling, or another family member that they are asexual. That’s awesome! It took A LOT of courage for them to tell you. Asexuality is still an unknown concept to many in this very-sexually-involved society. Sex is all around us in our media and so it can be difficult to understand that someone simply doesn’t feel sexual attraction at all, or does but rarely.
After learning that someone close to you is asexual, it is very important how you react to them—more specifically, what you say to them. Saying the wrong thing can make an asexual person feel invalid and lonely, like how they feel isn’t real or important. Here are 8 things that you should not say to an asexual:
1. "So, you're a plant?"
This one is the funniest. It makes it sounds like an asexual person is a Venus flytrap plant that will swallow you whole, like in The Little Shop of Horrors.
While plants and cells are asexual in that they reproduce on their own, human beings obviously don’t reproduce by asexual reproduction. I remember when I was growing up, the only kind of “asexual” that I knew of was asexual reproduction, which I learned about in biology class during my sophomore year of high school.
“Asexual” not only refers to asexual reproduction, but a person who doesn’t feel sexual attraction, or doesn't feel the socially-acceptable-amount of sexual attraction. It is important to remember that so that you don’t make an asexual person feel like a weird biological creature.
2. "That's not real.”
This can make anyone, regardless of their sexuality, feel insignificant and invalid. Imagine if you told this to another member of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as a gay person or a bisexual person. It can have dangerous effects on their mental health, like suicidal thoughts or depression. Although you may not understand someone who rarely or does not feel sexual attraction, remember that everyone is valid and every emotion that they feel is real.
3. "You should have sex. I bet you would enjoy it."
Being asexual doesn't equate to being a virgin. There are asexuals in the world who have had sex and still consider themselves to be asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum, which means that it takes many forms. There are some asexuals who feel disgusted about sex and want nothing to do with it, and there are some asexuals who enjoy the physical act of sex but simply don't feel sexual attraction. It is important to remember that so that you don't invalidate an asexual person.
4. "I'm so sorry."
You don’t need to pity a person who is asexual or on the asexual spectrum because they don’t need your pity. Saying this to someone on the asexual spectrum can make them feel like how they feel is wrong. Remember: Asexuality isn’t wrong and asexual people deserve the same respect and dignity as everyone else.
5. "Do you masturbate?"
This is never an appropriate question to ask anyone ever. End of story.
6. "Wait until you meet the right person."
While the way that someone feels may change in the future, as attraction is as fluid as everything else in the world, saying this to someone who is on the asexual spectrum only invalidates them. It makes them feel like deciding that they are asexual is a wrong decision and they are naïve in thinking that they are asexual. It is very important to remember that every person on the asexual spectrum is valid.
7. "I can help you change your mind."
This response, in particular, is probably the most rude out of the responses on this list. First, this response implies that you have the power to change how a person feels in terms of their sexual attraction, which is something that no one can change. While sexuality is fluid, that is for that specific person to decide for themselves. You can't change it for them or make them feel a certain way. Second, it invalidates them because it's essentially saying that how they feel isn't the right way to feel and they need to change. Once again, feeling invalid can be dangerous to the person's mental health.
8. "You shouldn't tell anyone that if you want a boyfriend.”
While there are many partners in the world who need to have sex or desire sex greatly in a relationship, there are some partners out there who are alright without sex. If someone doesn’t accept them for their asexuality, then they don’t need that partner in their life.
Encourage your friend or family member to be honest with themselves and with their partners because honesty in a relationship is incredibly important. Being asexual, or on the asexual spectrum, is nothing to be ashamed of.