Asexual Partner Preferences

Asexuals desire romantic relationships; they just don’t desire sexual ones

Andi Bittle, 2021

Understanding asexuality will provide insights into “sexuality (Bogaert, 2012, 2015). Understanding what something is not helps us understand what something is and thus understanding asexuality can help us understand sexuality more generally. According to Bogaert (2012), asexuality may reveal hidden truths about sex” (Andi Bittle, 2021).

“People’s own descriptions of their asexuality can vary just like researchers’ definitions of asexuality. For example, many people’s descriptions of their asexual identity involved experiencing no sexual attraction or desire, but some asexual people defined their asexuality by a lack of interest in sexual behavior (Scherrer, 2008). There has also been variation as to what behaviors asexual people consider to be sexual; as such, defining what is physical affection (such as hugging and cuddling) and what is sexual behavior can be important to an asexual identity (Scherrer, 2008)” (Andi Bittle, 2021).

Asexual female minorities “felt that knowledge of their sexual orientation was only relevant in certain situations and that their asexuality was not always the most salient or important aspect of their identity (Foster et al., 2019)” (Andi Bittle, 2021).

Asexuality Identification Scale

“Yule et al. (2014a) created the Asexuality Identification Scale, a quick and easy measure of asexuality containing 12 items, where a score of 40+ out of 60 means someone is asexual and a score of less than 40 means someone is some other sexual identity (Yule et al., 2014a). It captures both people who self-identify as asexual and people who have not yet come to an asexual identity. The Asexuality Identification Scale would be very helpful in future research involving the asexual population. Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge, the measure has not been used in research since its publication.”

Definition

“Bogaert (2004) initially defined asexuality as having no sexual attraction for either sex. This definition is potentially problematic as it excludes genderqueer, genderfluid, and nonbinary people (people who feel that their gender identity does not fit strongly with either man or woman)” (Andi Bittle, 2021).

Bogaert (2006) defines asexuality as a lack of sexual attraction.

“Asexual people report significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousal, and lower sexual excitation compared to allosexual people (Prause & Graham, 2007). Although asexual people do not experience sexual attraction, that does not mean that they are completely uninterested in sexual activity. Asexual people did not consistently differ from allosexual people in sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate (Prause & Graham, 2007).

Some asexual individuals do masturbate; they may do so to release tension or just for pleasure without having thoughts or fantasies that involve a partner (Bogaert, 2013; Scherrer, 2008).

Some asexual people do have sex, and may do so for a variety of reasons, including wanting to please a partner, to feel close to a partner, or to relax (Brunning & McKeever, 2020). Asexual individuals are more likely to report never having had a sexual fantasy compared to allosexual individuals, but when asexuals do have sexual fantasies, those fantasies do not involve other people (Yule et al., 2014b)” (Andi Bittle, 2021).

Aromantic

Asexuals do experience romantic attraction & desire romantic relationships (Decker, 2014), and they have romantic relationships (Brunning & McKeever, 2020).

Scherrer (2008) found that 41% of asexual individuals reported experiencing romantic attraction.

They may identify as heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, or romantic.

Chosen Family

Zaleski, Martin, and Messinger (2015) found that 80% of asexual youth reported talking with chosen family over given family.

Arousal Response

Asexuality is distinct from HSDD and FSIAD because an asexual orientation (like any sexual orientation) in and of itself does not cause significant distress to the person who is asexual or cause interpersonal problems; many asexual people are not distressed simply because they are asexual (Bogaert, 2015) and thus would not meet diagnostic criteria.

Moreover, asexual women do not have a clinical deficit in their physiological genital/sexual arousal response (Brotto & Yule, 2011).

Ace & Shades of Gray

“Intimacy shares an interdependent and mutually constitutive relationship with identity; the sense of self we get or do not get in close relationships matters to how both partners see their selves (Sanger 2010).

Asexual, or colloquially “ace,” refers to individuals who do not experience sexual attraction to other individuals, though they are physiologically capable of sexual arousal and may engage in practices such as masturbation (Bogaert, 2012). Aromantic refers to individuals who do not experience romantic attraction to other individuals. Terms such as graysexual or demisexual (or grayromantic, demiromantic) refer to individuals located somewhere on what is colloquially called the “ace spectrum.”

These individuals report some degree of sexual attraction within a broader identification with asexuality (i.e., graysexual) or report being unable to experience sexual attraction unless romantically attracted to someone (i.e., demisexual).

A queer paradigm challenges the normative assumption that intimacy is predicated on sexual and/or romantic attraction. We recognize that meaningful forms of intimacy occur among individuals who identify as asexual, aromantic, or with some label associated with the asexual or aromantic spectrum (e.g., demisexual, graysexual; see Bogaert, 2012).

Asexuality is loosely defined as an absence of sexual attraction to anyone or anything, and it is estimated that at least 1% of the population fit this definition (Bogaert, 2004; Poston & Baumle, 2010).

Brotto and Yule (2011) found that women’s subjective sexual arousal to the same heterosexual clips did not differ between the groups,

*although the asexual women did not experience an increase in sexual attraction during the film*

Whereas the other three groups did. That asexual individuals showed the same automatic and robust genital sexual response as the other sexual groups suggested that ‘‘category non-specificity,’ ’or the finding that women’s genital response can be evoked from a variety of preferred and non-preferred stimuli, may be a feature of all women,

independent of whether they have sexual attractions or not.

It is true, however, that lesbian women did show more category specificity in their genital responses than heterosexual women (Chivers et al., 2007), suggesting that category non-specificity is not ubiquitous among all women.

Handedness

(1) homosexuality is associated with a higher incidence of non-right-handedness in both males and females,

(2) a greater number of older brothers increase the odds of homosexuality in males, and

(3) homosexuality is associated with specific finger length ratios, such that lesbian women have been found to have lower 2D:4D than heterosexual woman(Grimbos et al., 2010).

Lalumiere et al. (2000) large meta-analysis of 20 studies that examined handedness and sexual orientation concluded that homosexual individuals were more likely to be non-right-handed than heterosexual individuals.

This finding was replicated by Blanchard & Lippa (2007; N = 255K) as non-right-handedness was associated with homosexuality in both men and women.

We pooled left-handed and ambidextrous participants as non-right-handed, according to the widely accepted definition of handedness put forward by Rife (1940)
❌ bisexuals are more likely to be ambidextrous (Michael Peters et al., 2006)

Juliana Guitelman et al., 2019

Bisexual women “would be exposed to a greater range of natural genitalia, thereby seeing their own as more normative, whereas women who only have sex with men would not have such exposure and instead, may only have exposure to false images of female genitalia and may therefore have less satisfaction with their own genital appearance” (Juliana Guitelman et al., 2019).

Given that women’s level of satisfaction with their genitals is associated with better sexual function (Algars et al., 2011), it’s easy to understand why bisexual women orgasm more during sex than straight women (Frederick et al., 2018) & experience more arousal than straight women (Flynn et al., 2017; Persson et al., 2016).

It is noteworthy that bisexual women report more sexual pain than monosexual women; more than both lesbians (Flynn et al., 2017) and straight women (Tierney Lorenz, 2019).

Sidenotes

Lesbian Couples

Kids typically spent more time with their biological-birth mothers than with their adoptive mother (Bos & Gartrell, 2010).

~ “It has been reported that half of all emergency room admissions of women due to accidents occurred during their premenstrual week (Dalton, 1960).

In Britain and the United States, many more women commit suicide or commit crimes during their premenstrual week than during other times (Chiat, 1986).

In another study, 49% of newly convicted women committed their crime within 4 days before or after their menses, and of women who knew they suffered from PMS, 63% committed a crime during a PMS episode (Chiat, 1986)” (Lewis, 1990, p. 438).

Height

Height is highly heritable around 0.80 (Macgregor, Cornes, Martin, & Visscher, 2006; McEvoy & Visscher, 2009; Silventoinen, Kaprio, Lahelma, Viken, & Rose, 2001; Silventoinen, Krueger, Bouchard, Kaprio, & McGue, 2004). Women who chose taller men as mates could directly pass this propensity for taller height to offspring, and, therefore, women prefer taller men as mates.

Women were more likely than men to indicate that height matters when selecting a mate (Salska et al., 2008; Yancey & Emerson, 2014), and taller men were more likely to be selected for dates at speed dating events (Kurzban & Weeden, 2005).

Men who are shorter than average appear to be at a disadvantage on the mating market: Their partners are more likely to be less healthy, have lower incomes and education, and have higher body mass index (BMI; Stulp, Mills, Pollet, & Barrett, 2014).

Past research has found that taller men were more likely than shorter men to find a long-term partner and to have multiple long-term partners (Nettle, 2002a). Tall men, however, did not appear to have an advantage over medium height men (Pawlowski & Koziel, 2002). Women prefer relatively taller men, not necessarily very tall men (Courtiol et al., 2010; Pawlowski, 2003; Salska et al., 2008; Stulp, Buunk, & Pollet, 2013).

Straight Friends — Ueno et al., 2012

Bisexuals & LG individuals differ in their interactions with their straight friends (Galupo, 2007).

“One dimension of a taste’s meaning that may be particularly salient for tie formation is its location in the local cultural ecology (Mark 1998, 2003; Kaufman 2004). For instance, if classical music lovers tend to befriend one another, is this because a taste for Bach is a universal marker of high status and exclusion (Lamont and Lareau 1988)? Or because it is relatively rare in the immediate social context and for this reason effectively distinguishes “us” from “them” (DiMaggio 1987; Lizardo 2006)?

People construct and modify their social networks to manage their self-identities (Ethier and Deaux 1994). For people who have a stigmatized identity, their effort to compartmentalize the identity often involves network compartmentalization — deliberately segregating their minority peers from other network members (Valenta 2009). Some GLB youth engage in identity and network compartmentalization in the process of sexual identity development.

When becoming aware of their same-sex orientation, many youth first disclose it to their GLB friends and hide it from straight friends (Cass 1979; Troiden 1989). This selective disclosure requires youth to interact separately with their GLB and straight friend.”

Lesbian Friendships — Paz Galupo, 2007

“Rose and Zand (2000) found that lesbians do not routinely report dating scripts similar to those of heterosexual individuals. Rather, a friendship script for dating tends to be both the most common and the most preferred way to enter into a romantic relationship for lesbians. Diamond (2002) suggested that, especially among young sexual minority women, friendships can lead to intense emotional interactions that incorporate elements of both friendships and romantic relationships. These “passionate friendships” may or may not include a sexual dimension. In addition, lesbian women, when asked about their friendships, count lovers and ex-lovers among their close friends (Clunis & Green, 2000; Nardi & Sherrod, 1994; Weinstock, 1998).

Lesbian-heterosexual friendships were significantly more likely to include an explicit acknowledgment of non-heterosexual identity. Although cross-orientation friendships did not consistently include a feminist/political dimension, when friends also differed in racial identity a feminist/political dimension in the friendship became apparent.”

Friendship Interactions

Independent of the perceived closeness between two individuals, it was found that men were also less comfortable with more intimate styles of greetings than were women (Felmlee, Sweet, & Sinclair, 2012).

Indeed, this male discomfort with perceived intimacy plays itself out in the very manner that men tend to express intimacy with one another; same-gender friendships among women are more likely to participate in conversation (emotional intimacy), while same-gender male friendships that focus more on physical activity (Baumgarte & Nelson, 2009).

Male sexuality: the fear of being considered homosexual has played into reasons why women are typically more comfortable with same-sex touching than are men (Floyd, 2000).

Men are less likely to display physical intimacy with other males than they are with their female friends (Derlega, Lewis, Harrison, & Winstead, 1989).

Perhaps this can be attributed to greetings between males being seen as interactions or enactments of masculine performances (Migliaccio, 2009).

Divorce Risk Based on Wives Status

— Women out-earn their husbands 22.1% of the time (Murray-Close & Heggeness, 2018)

— Women who win major political elections are 2x as likely to divorce than women who lose (Folke & Rickne, 2020).

— Women hired as CEOs are more likely to divorce than men hired as CEOs (Folke & Rickne, 2020).

— Women who win an Oscar for best actress are more likely to divorce than women who are nominated but lose & female actresses who aren’t nominated at all (Colleen Stuart et al., 2011).

The Great Recession was associated with declines in divorce, at least in the short run (Amato & Beattie, 2011; Cherlin, Cumberworth, Morgan, & Wimer, 2013; Cohen, 2014).

Husbands’ lottery wins are associated with increased marital stability, but not because of an increase in marital satisfaction (Boertien, 2012).

The least-educated women are the quickest to repartner (McNamee & Raley, 2011)

Emotional IQ

Women are better at discerning emotions (Campbell et al., 2002; Collignon et al., 2011; Hall, 1978; Hampson et al., 2006; Kret & Gelder, 2012; Mandal & Palchoudhury, 1985; Nowicki & Hartigan, 1988; Thayer & Johnsen, 2000).

Distressed Damsels

We’re socialized to assume that males are supposed to play hero. It’s in cartoons, sitcoms movies, videogames, & music… in every artistic medium that girls & boys consume throughout their childhood. It continues into adulthood in social media, expectations of attire & appearance labor, emotional labor, cognitive labor, gendered policy differences (see paternity leave debate), gender reveals, professional sports (8 of the 12 WNBA Head coaches are men… I’m sure that reinforces something), the big & tall sections which suspiciously seem to exist only in the men’s section… you get the idea. These socialization scripts are multimodal throughout life, and the more modalities in which something is transmitted the stronger the signal.

Even those of us who prefer deconstructive, egalitarian, & futuristic (hopefully) narratives are still reminded of the tired knight slays the dragon & saves the damsel in distress trope — if for no other reason than to present it for the purposes of dismantling it.

As a result, we become adults who are more likely to expect Mario to rescue Zelda from Bowser than for Zelda to rescue Mario from Bowser… just substitute ‘rescue her from Bowser’ for ‘rescue her from a flat tire on the 405 North’ and you get the idea.

Importantly, both women AND men are receiving these messages. Indeed, it wasn’t just women admonishing Harry Styles for wearing dresses → many men joined in. The ‘Man Box’ of our gender socialization narratives is also why Kevin Love’s ESPN special on Mental Health was praised as incredibly brave. It’s only brave because we’ve socialized males towards emotional agnosticism. Thus, men may come to expect this behavior in themselves as much as women may expect it of them.

Thankfully these norms have tangibly decreased in my millennial (GenY) generation, and all indications are that the iGen (GenZ) will show a similar trend towards more egalitarian norms.

Alas, until the social evolution of men & normative sea change towards mindful masculinity that I & my soul sister Elizabeth Plank dream of takes place, we must consider the epidemiological consequences of our current atavistic gender norms.

Online Dating

“Almost three quarters (71%) of romantic relationships that started online were reported as being closer and stronger compared to relationships that began face-to-face and were likely to still be together two years later, the intimacy levels developed at a faster rate than in a face-to-face setting, and the quality of interactions online was more predictive of liking compared to face-to-face interactions in which liking was determined by more superficial factors (Kelsey C. Chappetta, Joan M. Barth).”

Interparty Marriage

People are increasingly rejecting relationships with spouses and friends who are politically opposed, stating that the “widening divide… is not driven by increasing warmth toward own party, but rather due to rising animosity toward opponents, a phenomenon known as negative partisanship“ (Wilson et al., 2020).

Petsko et al., (2021, PrePrint): People question the heterosexuality of men more than the heterosexuality of women when they engage in sexual behavior with someone of the same-sex.

Crouch and Dickes (2016) suggest that the primary reason for close to 50% of divorces is infidelity.

Munsch (2015): Men who make less than their partners are more likely to cheat than men who make more than their partners.

Lesbians’ income is considerably higher than heterosexual women’s (Carpenter, 2008; Dilmaghani, 2017; Mueller, 2014).

¨There is empirical evidence that LBQW access cancer screening less regularly than heterosexual women owing to a combination of factors, notably perceived or enacted stigma and lack of health promotion targeting sexual minority women (Lacombe-Duncan & Logie, 2016; McElroy et al., 2015).

Women are about half of all gamers

#GamerGuy: What if it’s just because they’re biting their nails or something? I think you’re missing that confound.

#GamerGirl: …🤦‍♀️ We rarely have perfect measures of anything. Is that a reason not to ever measure something? To suggest that hormone differences have nothing to do with female sexuality at this point would be like suggesting that 20 year olds (on average) are shorter than 2 year old toddlers (on average). Even clocks don’t have perfect construct validity.

.

.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.