With so many names for sexual and romantic orientations, sometimes it can be confusing to know if and when a label fits you. This can be true even if your sexual identity falls into the realm of what our culture views as ‘typical’ sexual attraction and desire — aka allosexuality. If you’re not sure what allosexuality is and what it’s not, why there’s a need for this label at all, and if the label fits you, read on.
Here’s what allosexuality is
Allosexuality is a term that applies to anyone who experiences sexual attraction or desire. It can be understood as the opposite of asexuality — the absence of sexual desire or attraction.
Allosexuality does not pertain to who you are attracted to, but rather how you experience that attraction. For this reason, a person who is allosexual can have additional sexual identities. For example, an allosexual person may consider themselves a pansexual-allosexual (someone who’s sexually attracted to people, regardless of their gender identity or experesion), or a heterosexual-allosexual (someone who experiences sexual desire for people of the opposite gender).
A person who is allosexual may:
1. Experience crushes on people, be it individuals they know and already have a relationship with, people they’ve barely met, or complete strangers.
2. Want their partnerships or dating experiences to include sexual intimacy.
3. Have sexual fantasies.
4. Experience the desire to have sex with others, or engage in sex with others.
Here’s what allosexuality is not
There is no catch-all experience of this identity that can be defined, but here are a few things that allosexuality is not.
1. Always wanting sex or having a high sex drive. Allosexuals can experience waxing and waning sexual attraction and libidos.
2. Being “down” for anything. Enthusiastic consent is a must for any and all sexual activities. Don’t assume that just because someone identifies as allosexual that they will be interested in the same sexual activities you are.
3. Having a lot of sex. In fact, one can be allosexual and not have sex at all. Allosexuality simply refers to the desire, or to having sexual attraction.
Being allosexual does not necessarily mean you’re alloromantic
While allosexual refers to anyone who experiences sexual desire, the term “alloromantic” pertains to anyone who experiences romantic attraction. An alloromantic person may desire an intimate, emotional relationship with someone, regardless of if that relationship is sexual or not. In this sense, a person may identify with being alloromantic but not allosexual, and vice versa.
On the other hand, an alloromantic person can also be allosexual, meaning they experience both romantic and sexual desires.
Allosexuality exists on a spectrum
As with all aspects of our sexual identity, different people have different experiences with being allosexual. Some people who are allosexual may consistently experience a high level of sexual attraction to others. This is the case with Craig Anderson, a self-identified allosexual, who tells O.school, “The first time I had an orgasm I couldn’t even comprehend why people would not want to feel as many of these as humanly possible.” For him, this consistent level of sexual desire has continued throughout his life.
Others, however, may experience sexual attraction less consistently. Aram Shaw, a queer non-binary allosexual, experiences their desire differently. “I would describe my sexual attraction like a roller coaster,” they tell O.school.. Sometimes there are highs, which Shaw describes as “frequent thoughts of sex and heightened sexual activity” including masturbation or sex with partners. During the lows, conversely, they have a lack of desire for sex of any kind. “Sometimes my sexual desire wanes for a few weeks,” says Shaw. “Other times, for months.”
These fluctuations in sexual attraction can be confusing or frustrating for some people, especially if partnered with someone with a more consistent level of attraction and desire. Shaw speaks to this, stating that “sometimes I’m fearful that my sexual desire won’t return, but so far it's always come back even if briefly.”
Whatever your level of sexual attraction, and whatever ways it does or does not fluctuate, is totally normal. There is no one ‘right’ way to experience desire, nor any better way to identify.
Why the term ‘allosexual’ was coined
According to the LGBTA Wiki, one of the reasons the term allosexual was coined was to give an alternative to people just assuming that experiencing sexual desire is the norm. Prior to the creation of this term around 2011, people were seen as either being on the asexual spectrum, or being ‘normal.’ Other times non-asexual people were referred to as ‘sexuals’ which brought up a number of issues as not everyone who experiences sexual desire or attraction has sex. Therefore, the term allosexual was created as an alternative, and as a way to reduce the othering of sexual identities, such as demisexual or asexual.
The label ‘allosexual’ may feel right for some but not for others
For some, labels can be a way to better understand themselves. Anderson is one such person who finds the label “allosexual” helpful and tells O.school, “I’d never heard the word allosexual before. I have a number of friends who are on the asexual spectrum, but I didn’t know there was a word for non-ace or demi[sexual]. But that’s absolutely what I am.”
Others will opt to choose not to label their sexual identity, and that is also a reasonable decision. For some, labels don’t feel necessary, or it makes them feel as if they are too boxed into a certain identity and that it doesn’t represent the more fluid reality of their situation.
We may not always understand those whose identities are different than ours, and that’s okay. As Anderson says, “I finally decided it wasn’t for me to understand. Just to support and love.” So however you identify, be it as allosexual, asexual, or something else altogether, your sexual identity is yours alone to define, and whichever identity you choose is valid.
The bottom line
It can be an important and interesting journey to discover more about our sexual identity. If you experience sexual desire or attraction, it is likely you may fall into the identity of allosexual. If that term doesn’t feel right for you though, consider exploring other sexual identities (such as asexual, demisexual, or cupiosexual) to see if there is an identity that resonates with you better. Regardless of if there is any label you identify with at all, remember that our sexual identities exist on a spectrum and can be fluid, so your experiences with sexuality today may be different than what you’ve experienced in the past.