In the grand scheme of things, asexuality is relatively new to society and is still struggling to be accepted. Of course, asexuality itself is as old as humans themselves but the term "asexual" was only coined in the late 1800's with online communities starting to pop up in the late 1900s. It's still gaining awareness and there are a lot of misconceptions that come along with that. Many people only have a vague idea of what being asexual means and many of those ideas aren't actually correct. Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions I have come across.
1. Asexuality is the same thing as abstinence
Asexuality is NOT the same thing as abstinence or celibacy or anything else that implies that a person is choosing not to have sex. It is not a side effect of medicine or aging nor is it something that happens when you're tired and don't feel like having sex. Asexuality is a sexual orientation and is part of the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, the A stands for asexual. Being asexual isn't something that someone chooses, it's a part of who they are. Asexual simply describes someone that has no desire to have sex.
2. People who are asexual can't have sex
This one is a little more complicated. To begin with, yes, asexuals are fully capable of having sex. The question is whether they want to have sex. Asexuals do not have a desire for sex, so by definition, many do not want to participate in the act. However, asexuality is a spectrum, just like other orientations, and some asexuals such as those who identify as sex-positive enjoy having sex. Others have sex to please a partner while many don't enjoy or have sex at all.
3. Asexuals are not capable of love
This is a misconception caused by people confusing sexual and romantic orientations. While asexuals are generally not interested in sexual relationships, many still want romantic relationships are more than capable of loving and being loved. While some asexuals may also identify as aromantic, most want relationships and love of some kind whether it's platonic, romantic, sexual, or otherwise, humans crave connection and asexuals are no different.
4. Relationships between asexual and sexual people never work
Relationships between asexual and sexual people can and frequently do work. Since the number of asexuals out there is so small (only 1% of the population) many find themselves looking elsewhere for a partner. While these relationships may seem doomed to fail, with clear communication, compromise, and understanding, many of them actually thrive!
5. You can't know you're asexual if you have never had sex
People who identify as asexual commonly know this about themselves without ever having sex. They recognize that they have no sexual desire and realize that they are asexual. This is like someone who is gay realizing that they like people of the same sex, they don't need to have sex with someone of the opposite sex, or have sex at all, to realize this. A person's sexual orientation is part of who they are, not something that suddenly develops after they have sex.