“In our vast universe of human experience, few things are as personal, intricate, and yet widely misunderstood as sexual orientation. We often think in binaries – straight or gay, interested or uninterested, engaged or aloof. But human sexuality isn’t simply black and white. Two colors on this spectrum that often stir curiosity and confusion are bisexuality and asexuality. But like colors in a spectrum, can they overlap? Can someone identify as both bisexual and asexual? Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to unpack in this enlightening journey. So, buckle up and get ready to explore!
Defining the Terms: Bisexual and Asexual
Before diving into the depths of our discussion, let’s first clarify our understanding of the terms “bisexual” and “asexual.” These words carry a lot of weight in the discourse about sexuality and have distinctive meanings that are often misunderstood or simplified.
Bisexuality, as a term, originates from the combination of the Latin prefix ‘bi-‘ meaning ‘two‘, and ‘sexuality‘. The literal interpretation would mean sexual attraction to two genders. However, in contemporary use, bisexuality is generally understood as the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to people of the same gender, different genders, or more than one gender. This definition encompasses a spectrum of attractions that are not limited to the gender binary of male and female, recognizing and validating the existence of non-binary, genderqueer, and transgender individuals.
While bisexuality does not necessitate equal attraction to different genders, it allows for the fluidity of attractions which can change over time for some individuals. It’s crucial to remember that bisexuality is a self-identified label, and the nuances of what it means can differ greatly among individuals who identify as bisexual.
The term “asexual“ is derived from the Latin prefix ‘a-‘ meaning ‘without’, combined with ‘sexuality’. This does not mean that asexual people are devoid of any form of sexuality but instead refers to a specific orientation on the spectrum of human sexuality. Asexuality is generally defined as a lack of sexual attraction towards any gender. This doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of sexual activity, a common misconception. Some asexual people might engage in sexual activities for various reasons like pleasing a partner or desiring children, despite not feeling sexual attraction.
It’s also important to understand the difference between sexual and romantic attraction. Many asexual individuals can and do experience romantic attraction, which means they might engage in romantic relationships and can identify with various romantic orientations, like biromantic, homoromantic, or heteroromantic, among others.
The Spectrum of Sexuality
Human sexuality is not a matter of rigid categories or simple binaries. Instead, it’s better understood as a vast and varied spectrum. If we imagine it as an enormous rainbow, with different orientations represented by different colors, we see that these colors—like sexualities—don’t exist in isolation.
To fully grasp the concept of the sexuality spectrum, we need to let go of traditional binary thinking. Rather than viewing sexual orientation as a choice between heterosexual or homosexual, or between sexual or asexual, we should recognize that there are many points in between, and movement along the spectrum is completely natural.
Understanding the sexuality spectrum is a crucial step towards acknowledging and celebrating the rich diversity of human sexual identities. It invites a more nuanced, accepting, and comprehensive understanding of our own identities and those of others.
What Does it Mean to Be Both Bisexual and Asexual?
Understanding the concept of being both bisexual and asexual may seem puzzling at first, especially given the traditional definitions we’ve explored earlier. But remember, human sexuality is not a matter of strict boxes or binary choices; it’s fluid, diverse, and deeply personal. Let’s break down what it could mean to be both bisexual and asexual:
Romantic versus Sexual Attraction
- Firstly, it’s vital to understand that romantic and sexual attraction can be separate. Someone can experience romantic attraction (the desire for a romantic relationship) without experiencing sexual attraction (the desire for sexual activity).
- As such, a person could identify as “bisexual and asexual” if they experience romantic attraction to multiple genders (bisexual) but do not experience sexual attraction (asexual).
- The term “graysexual” (also known as “gray-asexual” or “gray-A”) falls under the asexuality umbrella and refers to those who might experience sexual attraction, but only rarely, under specific circumstances, or of a low intensity.
- Someone could potentially identify as both bisexual and graysexual if they are capable of being attracted to multiple genders, but this attraction is infrequent or less intense.
- Demisexuality is another orientation under the asexual umbrella. Demisexual individuals do not experience sexual attraction until a strong emotional connection has been formed.
- In this case, a person might identify as “bisexual and demisexual” if they are capable of forming strong emotional connections, leading to sexual attraction, with multiple genders.
By understanding these different facets of attraction, we can appreciate the intricate interplay between bisexuality and asexuality.
Identifying as Bisexual and Asexual
Navigating the world with an identity that sits at the intersection of bisexuality and asexuality presents its unique set of challenges. These difficulties stem not only from the societal misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding these orientations, but also from the internal complexities of coming to terms with these intersecting identities. Let’s delve into some of these challenges:
Erasure and Invisibility
- Both bisexuality and asexuality face significant erasure in different societal contexts. Bisexual individuals often confront ‘bisexual erasure’ or ‘biphobia’, where their identity is dismissed as a phase, a form of confusion, or simply ignored. Asexual individuals face ‘asexual erasure’, where their orientation is often invalidated, misunderstood as a medical issue, or completely overlooked.
- For individuals who identify as both, this invisibility can be compounded. They may feel overlooked within both bisexual and asexual communities, as their experience doesn’t completely align with either group.
Romantic and Sexual Relationships
- The difference between romantic and sexual attraction can create challenges in relationships. For instance, someone identifying as both bisexual and asexual may experience romantic attraction to multiple genders but might struggle with the expectation or desire for sexual intimacy.
- Navigating these feelings in a relationship requires open and honest communication about needs and boundaries, which can sometimes be difficult or awkward.
- For some individuals, reconciling the aspects of bisexuality (attraction to multiple genders) with asexuality (lack of sexual attraction) can be a complex internal journey. It might require careful introspection, exploration, and sometimes, seeking external support or resources.
Despite these challenges, many people find that identifying as both bisexual and asexual provides them with a sense of community, understanding, and self-acceptance.
Common Misconceptions about Bisexuality and Asexuality
As we continue to explore the intersection of bisexuality and asexuality, it’s important to address and debunk some of the pervasive misconceptions surrounding these orientations. Misunderstandings and stereotypes not only contribute to societal stigmas but can also create internalized confusion and self-doubt for those identifying within these spectrums. Here are some common misconceptions:
- Bisexuality is a Phase or Confusion
In reality, bisexuality is a valid and stable identity. Some bisexual individuals may explore their attractions and identity over time, but this does not make their bisexuality less valid or real.
- Bisexual Individuals are Promiscuous or Unfaithful
Being attracted to multiple genders does not mean one is unable to commit to a single partner or relationship. Like anyone else, bisexual individuals can choose monogamy or polyamory based on their personal values and desires.
- Asexuality is a Medical Disorder
A common misconception is that asexuality is a disease, disorder, or result of hormonal imbalances. While a lack of sexual desire can be a symptom of certain medical conditions, asexuality as a sexual orientation is not a health problem. It’s a valid identity, not something that needs to be ‘cured’ or ‘fixed’.
- Asexual Individuals Cannot Have or Enjoy Sex
Asexuality refers to a lack of sexual attraction, not necessarily a lack of sexual activity. Some asexual people may choose to have sex for various reasons, including pleasing a partner or wanting children. Others might be sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent. Asexuality is a spectrum, and sexual behavior varies greatly among asexual individuals.
Debunking these misconceptions is key to creating an understanding and inclusive environment for bisexual and asexual individuals.
How to Support These Individuals?
As we strive towards a more understanding and inclusive society, it’s important to know how we can support individuals who identify as both bisexual and asexual. Whether you identify within these spectrums or are an ally, here are some ways to offer and seek support:
Educate Yourself and Others
- One of the most powerful ways to support any community is to educate yourself. Seek out reliable resources to understand more about bisexuality and asexuality. Use your knowledge to dispel misconceptions and advocate for understanding and acceptance among your circles.
Respect Personal Identities
- Respect people’s chosen identities and use their preferred labels and pronouns. Remember that sexuality is personal and unique to each individual. Avoid making assumptions or applying stereotypes.
Provide a Safe Space
- Be open and non-judgmental. Provide a safe space for individuals to express their feelings, experiences, and challenges. Active listening can make a person feel validated and supported.
Encourage Professional Help
- Encourage seeking professional help if someone you know is struggling with their identity or mental health. Therapists and counselors trained in LGBTQ+ issues can provide valuable guidance and support.
- There are numerous online platforms and communities that provide resources, support, and a sense of belonging for individuals who identify as both bisexual and asexual. For example, MantraCare offers LGBTQ+ inclusive mental health resources and therapy services. PrideMantra is another such platform that provides community support and resources for individuals across the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Supporting individuals who identify as both bisexual and asexual is a shared responsibility that requires empathy, understanding, and active participation.
Life’s journey can sometimes feel challenging, particularly for those identifying within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, including those who identify as both bisexual and asexual. However, you don’t have to navigate these challenges alone. Online LGBTQ+ Counseling can provide invaluable support, guidance, and understanding, helping you or your loved ones to thrive.
At MantraCare, we offer a team of experienced LGBTQ+ therapists who are ready to support you. Are you ready to take the first step toward understanding and acceptance? Book a trial LGBTQ+ therapy session with MantraCare today.