If you feel little to no sexual attraction to people but still desire a sexual relationship or to engage in sexual behavior, you might find the term cupiosexual helpful. The label falls under the umbrella of asexuality and was coined less than a decade ago, according to LGBTA Wiki. The term is part of an ever-growing glossary to describe varying individuals and experiences as our understanding of sexual identity expands. Read on to learn more about cupiosexuality and whether or not the identity resonates with you.
What is cupiosexuality?
People who identify as cupiosexuality are on the asexual, or greyasexual (grey-ace), spectrum as they don’t feel sexually aroused by people, but desire a relationship that includes sex or want to engage in sexual behavior. Nadège, a sex scholar and the founder of Pleasure Science, tells O.school that in order to understand cupiosexuality, “it is important to understand the difference between sexual orientation and sex drive.” Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to or who you desire sexually. Asexual individuals generally don’t experience sexual attraction. However, this doesn’t mean that asexuals don’t have a sex drive. “A cupiosexual person is an ace who desires a sexual relationship,” says Nadège, “even if they are not erotically stimulated by people.”
Kristen Tribby, sex educator and head of global marketing and education for the sex toy brand Fun Factory, explains: “Cupiosexuals are open to having sex, might seek it out, and are likely to enjoy it. It’s just that no person is ever the center of their desire. A good analogy for cupiosexuality is feeling hungry, but not finding anything you want to eat.”
A person who is cupiosexual may:
- Experience any level of sex drive.
- Seek out (and enjoy) sex, despite not feeling a sexual attraction to their partners.
- Enjoy masturbation and self-pleasure.
In addition to cupiosexuality, you may hear the term “cupioromantic.” Cupioromantic people do not experience sexual attraction or desire, don’t want sexual relationships, but do desire romantic relationships. For example, a cupioromantic may want to have an intimate connection with a partner or partners, while not feeling sexually attracted to them and not desiring to engage in sexual acts.
How to learn more about and connect with the cupiosexual community
If you think you may be cupiosexual or on the asexuality spectrum, it can be helpful to seek community and representation. For some, finding such a community can help them better understand their feelings and to not feel alone. To start, you can follow asexual activists on social media and listen to podcasts that talk about asexuality. Nadège recommends reading the book ACE by Angela Chen, while Tribby suggests exploring the website Asexuality.org, stating, “It can be validating to find an online community that is already familiar with and understanding of your sexuality.”
In addition to finding community and learning more about this identity, Nadège suggests getting really personal. “Discover ways that help you check in with your body,” she says. “It can help to journal about what arousal feels like to you. Understanding your arousal process and bodily responses can help you stay in tune with your sexuality. It may be confusing at first to be ace and cupiosexual, because you still desire some sort of sexual contact. It’s okay to feel confused; questions eventually give us answers.”
Dating as a cupiosexual
Dating and sex can be complicated regardless of your sexual identity, but dating as someone on the asexual spectrum can present a series of unique challenges. Much of this, Nadège tells O.school, comes from asexuality being something that is commonly misunderstood. “We live in a culture that teaches us that sex is mandatory for a functioning, healthy relationship. This can make people feel insecure about their asexuality, like it’s a signal that a relationship won’t work. The opposite is true. Many ace’s are happily married or in other thriving relationship styles.”
As with all dating, communication is key. When you feel comfortable, let your partner or partners know how you feel about sex. Knowing yourself well can help you to better do this. Tribby states that “by clearly communicating what you want and don’t want to folks you are dating, you and your potential partner are more likely to be fulfilled.” Just like any other person, there may be times you want sex and other times you don’t. You may also find that you prefer masturbation or sex with yourself over sex with a partner. Any experience is valid.
“As you date, remember that there is no wrong way to be in a relationship. As a cupiosexual, you may be interested in sex more than the average ace, but you never have to justify your arousal to anyone,” says Nadège.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways of experiencing (or not experiencing!) sexual desire, all of which are completely valid. As Tribby tells O.school, “As with any sexuality, it is important to know you are not alone and that the way you experience sexuality is completely normal and up to you to define (or not). While definitions are important, keep in mind that you are never married to one, and you don’t have to fit perfectly into any label.” Your sexual identity is unique to you, so enjoy the process of self-discovery.