Sunday Times

Let’s Talk About Sex

- Ableism · Sex · Discrimination · Human Rights · Society · Relationships & Sex · Dominican Republic

DR TLALENG MOFOKENG an­swers your intimate ques­tions Is be­ing asex­ual the same as be­ing celi­bate? Is it pos­si­ble to be in a re­la­tion­ship even though I am asex­ual?

Asex­u­al­ity is a spec­trum and not the same as celibacy, where you still have sex­ual at­trac­tion and are ab­stain­ing from sex­ual acts by choice.

Some­one who is asex­ual does not ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual at­trac­tion — it is a lack of de­sire for other peo­ple. Asex­u­al­ity is not com­mon. But more and more peo­ple are iden­ti­fy­ing with this ori­en­ta­tion.

Those who self-iden­tify as asex­ual ex­plain hav­ing never felt or ex­pe­ri­enced at­trac­tion in­tense enough to ex­press or act on it. For those who feel at­trac­tion, asex­ual peo­ple can iden­tify as gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual or straight.

Some asex­ual peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence ro­man­tic at­trac­tion and feel and ex­press this in many ways, in­clud­ing go­ing on dates. Phys­i­cal in­ti­macy could in­clude hold­ing hands or cud­dling — how­ever, these in­ter­ac­tions do not lead to sex­ual in­ter­ac­tion with other peo­ple.

Asex­ual peo­ple are able to have emo­tional in­ti­macy and close­ness, and many have long-term re­la­tion­ships. Many asex­ual peo­ple are in re­la­tion­ships with both sex­ual and asex­ual peo­ple. Oth­ers don’t ex­pe­ri­ence any sex­ual or ro­man­tic at­trac­tion and iden­tify them­selves as aro­man­tic asex­u­als.

Iden­ti­fy­ing as asex­ual is not a sign of www.123rf.com/Beatriz Gascn

be­ing un­able to ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual plea­sure or in­dica­tive of non­func­tion­al­ity of gen­i­tals. Be­ing asex­ual doesn’t mean some­one is un­able to carry a preg­nancy and have chil­dren.

Though they may not ini­ti­ate sex, some asex­ual peo­ple can en­gage in con­sen­sual sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with a part­ner. Some also mas­tur­bate and oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence fan­tasies.

What can be dis­tress­ing for asex­ual peo­ple is the knee-jerk re­ac­tion from their part­ners who may want to “fix them”. In the ab­sence of open com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the re­la­tion­ship, the risk of sus­tained frus­tra­tion due to sex­ual in­com­pat­i­bil­ity is great.

In­fi­delity, re­sent­ment and loathing may make in­ti­macy dif­fi­cult to achieve. Co­er­cion is un­wel­come and will leave an asex­ual per­son rightly feel­ing vi­o­lated. The sub­jec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of en­gag­ing in intimate ac­tiv­ity and sex will vary from per­son to per­son and must guide sex­ual and intimate re­la­tions. ●LS

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health prac­tice, Disa Clinic, safer­sex.co.za

E-mail your ques­tions to life­style@sun­day­times.co.za with SEX TALK as the sub­ject. Anonymity is as­sured.

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