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Is there anyone who is attracted to no one?
January 13, 2007 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Do people ever exist who lack any attraction toward any other human being?

Heterosexuals like the opposite sex; homosexuals like the same sex; bisexuals like both. The remaining category is neither. Does that ever happen?

I.e., do any people exist who simply don't find human beings attractive at all? I'm restricting the domain to adults who are otherwise physically and psychologically healthy.

"Attractive" is a bit vague, so it's fair to divide the question into parts: a) is there anyone who is sexually mature (i.e. old enough and all the plumbing works) but not sexually attracted to anyone?, and b) is anyone not romantically attracted to anyone?

For the second question, I suppose you could claim that plenty of men see women purely as sex objects and not as romantic partners...but I'm inclined to say those men are still "innately" romantically attracted to women, they just lack the maturity / worldview / whatever to recognize it. But let's avoid that rat's nest: what I'm looking for is some condition like bisexuality, only the opposite. Of course, if such people existed, they wouldn't reproduce, so this would be a self-limiting trait. But I wonder if it ever spontaneously appears.

(I'm not trying to diagnose someone, by the way, this is just curiosity)
posted by molybdenum to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:29 PM on January 13, 2007


Asexuality?
posted by gfrobe at 12:31 PM on January 13, 2007


Asexual
posted by saffry at 12:31 PM on January 13, 2007


Actually, I did watch a short segment on a news program about individuals considered "a-sexual," a term they defined as, "adults who find no sexual attraction to any other human, regardless of sex."

This is what Wikipedia has to say.

The segment featured several different asexual couples who simply claimed that while they loved the other person, they felt no attraction to that person. I haven't a clue which news program featured them, unfortunately.
posted by santojulieta at 12:34 PM on January 13, 2007


Wow, four accuracte answers in under ten minutes! The hivemind is fast today!

Thanks everyone!
posted by molybdenum at 12:55 PM on January 13, 2007


A couple of years ago Salon ran a piece called "Asexual and proud!" on this phenomenon. You may need to sit through an ad to read it. Also, the science-fiction writer Greg Egan sometimes writes about asexual characters and the intricacy and difficulty of their relationships; I think especially of the novel Distress.
posted by cgc373 at 1:05 PM on January 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I know a guy who identifies as asexual who is in a relationship (his partner is also asexual). So romantic interest is possible without sexual interest.

On preview: what Santojulieta said.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 1:07 PM on January 13, 2007


yes, "asexual" is quite the buzzword the last few years. I'm sure the condition has always existed, but I had never heard the term until the last year or two.

and isn't "romantic interest ...without sexual interest" friendship. I guess it's a matter of semantics, but I'm not sure what "romantic interest" is if it isn't sexual desire combined with desire for friendship/companionship.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:13 PM on January 13, 2007


There are all kinds of trendy celibacy movements afoot as well, although the state of voluntary celibacy doesn't rule out attraction of course. These groups tend to be youth-oriented for some reason.
posted by frosty_hut at 1:44 PM on January 13, 2007


isn't "romantic interest ...without sexual interest" friendship.

At first I agreed that this was just a word game, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that there IS a difference (at least for me) between romantic feelings and friendship feelings -- aside from sexual stuff. It's very hard for me to put the difference into words, though.

I has a little to do with nurturing. I want to take care of my wife, and I would take a bullet for her. This in-and-of-itself isn't enough to define the non-sexual aspects of romantic feelings, because people feel that way about their kids. But it is a component. There's also that mushy "two souls that meet" stuff, which is somehow true despite its mushiness.

To some degree, I feel this stuff about really close friends, too. But not with the same intensity that I have felt it with romantic partners.

Also, there's a difference -- for me -- between touching and sexual touching. Maybe this is more profound with me than most, because I'm so introverted, but I rarely have a desire to touch -- or be touched by -- my friends. On the other hand, I'm extremely touchy-feely with romantic parters, and not all of that touching is sexual. In fact, the bulk of it isn't. Again, it's somewhere in the ballpark of parent/child touching.
posted by grumblebee at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


A side-issue to this thread: there are some people who, regardless of whether or not they ever have sex or get attracted, come across as non-sexual. I always find such people really disturbing.

Sometimes really attractive, model-type women come across this way to me, and I don't get why people view they as sex objects. Sure, they have gorgeous features, but if some guys can fantasize about having sex with them, those guys have better imaginations than me. I can't imagine having sex with them, because I can't imagine them having sex. Or if I can, I imagine them doing it with a bored expression.

Audry Hepburn always struck me this way, and I could never understand her appeal. God, I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I always wondered if Helpurn's a-sexualness contributed to her becoming a gay icon. I've had lots of gay friends who love women like that -- women who are pretty and stylish, but who don't give off a sexual vibe. I always wondered if this was because they feel threatened by overly sexual women. As a straight guy, I sometimes feel threatened by overly sexual men (I'm not talking about gay men -- I'm talking about other straight men.)
posted by grumblebee at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


isn't "romantic interest ...without sexual interest" friendship.

I dont get jealous if my friends have lots of other friends.
posted by vacapinta at 4:19 PM on January 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


isn't "romantic interest ...without sexual interest" friendship.

I think "companionship" might be a better word. I find it hard to see how you could have a "romantic" relationship without any form of attraction. I do believe it's quite possible that someone who is asexual may still require the companionship of another human being and be capable of deep platonic love. I imagine this as being much more than say, a room-mate type situation, but as a functional couple who have their needs/wants met by their partner as much as any other couple.
posted by goshling at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2007


I've known people who identified as asexual who were having and enjoying sex with multiple people and without getting into gritty details, were able to have a physical sexual response.

I no longer trust the asexuality of someone who self-identifies as asexual.

I do believe that people can and do function well without sex for long periods of time, possibly for life, while forming emotional connections with other people.
posted by digitalis at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2007


That was a little unclear. What I meant is that ultimately I believe in celibacy, but not asexuality.
posted by digitalis at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2007


grumblebee:
I was in a conversation about that once, where the example given was Audrey Tautou. I think it must be in the name :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:54 PM on January 13, 2007


a) is there anyone who is sexually mature (i.e. old enough and all the plumbing works) but not sexually attracted to anyone?, and b) is anyone not romantically attracted to anyone?

For 20 years, I self-identified as lesbian -- and I still consider myself to be part of the GLBT community. In the last couple years, however, I've begun to think that I'm asexual. While I can appreciate attractive women (and men, to a lesser extent), that's as far as it goes. I am not sexually attracted to either sex, and I don't have physical sexual sensations -- at least nothing that I recognize as such. I have no interest in sexual activity, whether with someone else or by myself. I can vaguely remember having sexual feelings in my teenage years, but I don't think I've experienced anything like that as an adult. And I don't know what you mean by romantic attraction, so I can't speak to that.

Disclaimer: I was raised in a physically and sexually abusive family, and my only adult sexual experience was 10 years ago with my (female) therapist. I've since come to view that relationship as non-consensual.
posted by worldswalker at 8:41 PM on January 13, 2007


digitalis: Being asexual doesn't mean sex isn't sometimes enjoyable. Some people may physically enjoy sex but not crave it or miss it when not having it. Being "celibate" would thus not be an act of will but an act of asexuality. In the same way, lesbians can physically enjoy sex with men without being attracted to men.
posted by nevers at 8:51 PM on January 13, 2007


Aren’t monks supposed to be Asexual, or Nuns for that matter??
posted by hadjiboy at 1:20 AM on January 14, 2007


hadjiboy, in the hope that you aren't joking, no, generally monks and nuns are not asexual. They make a religious choice to be celibate.
In my own personally defined world, herteo/homo/bi is just how you are, you have no choice, it's just how you are. Being asexual is lacking the desire that would make you one of the other things. Celibacy is a choice to abstain for whatever reason (religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, etc) and that choice may be made regardless of your sexual prefereces to and is not exclusive. A monk or a nun may be hetero/homo/bisexual and still be celibate. Or they may be asexual.

Also in my world, you can't be asexual if you're into having sex. You can't be vegetarian if you eat meat, either. I've known lesbians that have ACCIDENTALLY got pregenant. This is all labels, which I dislike and we should be able to fluctuate in our choices to an extent without judgement from ourselves or others.
posted by goshling at 6:43 AM on January 14, 2007



posted by goshling at 6:45 AM on January 14, 2007


Apologies for abuses to the english language, past present and future, and to dodgy html tagging
posted by goshling at 6:47 AM on January 14, 2007


Steven Patrick Morrissey, in an on-again, off-again kind of way. I think he has a boyfriend now, though.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:35 AM on January 14, 2007


I'm finding it interesting that the term "asexual" is, in some circles, being used invectively, as in "you won't have sex with me, therefore you must be asexual." Seems to be step up from being called (insert your favorite derogatory term for "gay" here) as an insult. Also, it's apparent some don't seem to realize that celibate <> asexual.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:17 AM on January 14, 2007


It is possible that Lawrence of Arabia was such a person.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:48 AM on January 14, 2007


I can't imagine having sex with them, because I can't imagine them having sex. Or if I can, I imagine them doing it with a bored expression.

The bored expressions are part of modeling, the idea is to look as 'neutral' as possible. I don't have much trouble imagining them having sex, ever watch porn?

Also you know what's intresting? You said "other human beings" I know a girl who's turned more by herself then anything else. It's pretty strange. She is definetly not "asexual" though, and definetly enjoys sex with other people.

I wonder if there are any people who have fulfilling organisms, but are not attracted to other people. I read an article on salon a while back about a girl who would think about "nothing" while she masturbated I wonder if there are other people like that, who orgasm, but are not attracted to other people.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 PM on January 15, 2007


grumblebee said:
A side-issue to this thread: there are some people who, regardless of whether or not they ever have sex or get attracted, come across as non-sexual. I always find such people really disturbing.

Sometimes really attractive, model-type women come across this way to me, and I don't get why people view they as sex objects. Sure, they have gorgeous features, but if some guys can fantasize about having sex with them, those guys have better imaginations than me. I can't imagine having sex with them, because I can't imagine them having sex. Or if I can, I imagine them doing it with a bored expression.

Audry Hepburn always struck me this way, and I could never understand her appeal. God, I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I always wondered if Helpurn's a-sexualness contributed to her becoming a gay icon.


This is an astute observation. I think you're right, that Hepburn's appeal speaks to something other than sexuality. She's been revived recently because of the thin thing. In the wake of the trend jogged out by the fitness robo-babes of the eighties, many women prefer to look enverated, delicate, and pale, not healthy and bronzed. It's not a recent phenom. Since the romantic movement of the 1700's, there's been something appealing about dead white skin, languid limbs, and deep-set, fevered eyes for certain artistic types, and this thread will find itself woven into the fabric of the larger culture. Sexuality and death are intertwined in the subconscious, and our new tendency to enshrine models who look like crack addicts and women who look ready to faint from hunger is not such a new thing after all...

If you find this disturbing, you're immune to the charms of the decadent strain with romantic roots in pop culture, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's always been an alternative (I'll bet you're not dating a goth chick either.)

I was interested that you said you find people who come off as asexual disturbing. Is it the sex-and-death conjunction that really bothers you, I wonder? I mean I don't know, I'm just curious about how others see these things.

I (as a woman) also find certain men disturbing who seem utterly non-sexual, but I never realized it until I read your post. It is disturbing, now that I think of it, to interact with men who don't expend any charm, who don't smile or make eye contact or joke a bit or bother to create or acknowledge the slightest erotic charge around me, and I always come away disappointed. (Flirtation is a lost art. Why are people so afraid of it?) But since these types of encounters are far and away the majority for me, I've always figured it was "normal."

For whatever reason (our still-prevalent double standards?) men aren't required to be "sexy," whatever that means, although they're permitted to think about sex a lot, to talk about how much they think about it, to consume porn with impunity, etc. And I've noticed they certainly don't seem to feel any pressure on them individually to be sexy for women, whereas women are still under pressure to be hot lest we make the insecure uncomfortable. But this isn't a criticism at all, grumblebee. I understand where you're coming from...just wish more guys would see it like I do!
posted by frosty_hut at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2007


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