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  • Cameron Mazzeo MSW, LCSW

Sensual, Not Sexual: How to be intimate with an Asexual Partner

Posted October 26th, 2023

Written and Researched by Mx. Rowan Quinn


While Asexuality has existed for millennia, under a variety of names, it remains widely misunderstood. Asexuality is a spectrum – there's sex-repulsed asexuals, sex-neutral asexuals, and sex-favorable asexuals. That being said, it's rude to assume any ace (short for asexual) is at one point or the other along the spectrum. Just like with any romantic or sexual partner, the best option is to ask what they might be interested in.

Say you have a partner closer to the sex-repulsed side of the spectrum and you want to express physical affection and intimacy; what are some non-sexual ways to go about this?

Again, the best option is always to ask, but here are some great ideas to get started:

  • Snuggles: Generally, non-sexual physical contact is appreciated! This always varies from person to person, but many of ace people enjoy non-sexual full body contact.

  • Holding Hands: If your partner isn't interested in full-body contact, hand holding is a great way to express sentimental feelings and affection.

*A great thing my fiancée and I do is the three-hand-squeeze. It's a silent and subtle way to say “I Love You”.*
  • Laying Down Together: Just laying in the grass, or near each other on a couch, is a lovely way to share in the closeness and love you feel. It's also a great excuse to watch the sky together. Whether star-gazing or binging a favorite show, or even just doing two totally separate things next to each other, this is a favorite way of being close to your love.

  • Dancing, Stretching, Hiking and other kinds of exercise: Doing something activities together like dancing, stretching, or kayaking is a great way to get close to a loved one while both making fun memories AND releasing some endorphins. Have fun getting your sweat on in a wholesome PG way!

  • Cooking, For or With Them: A way to an ace's heart, and many other kind of people, is often through their stomach. Food sharing is an ancient form of closeness and bonding, and a great way to show someone just how much you care about them. Try making their favorite foods, or sharing your favorites, or even trying family recipes together!

  • Self-Care: There's a wonderful form of intimacy in just sharing a self-care routine together. My fiancee and I went from my doing her hair, to doing her makeup, to doing a nighttime facial care routine together, to full-on showering together. Nothing sexual ever happens, but just that vulnerability and gentleness and affection is staggeringly intimate and special.

  • Adventures: Keeping track – whether mentally or just keeping a written physical record – of your partners likes, dislikes, hopes, goals, dreams, interests, and more? Lets you plan Adventures together! You can surprise your partner with their favorite items or music, plan a trip to somewhere special and important to them, or even just help them with a hobby.

In summary: Intimacy with Asexuals is far more cognitive-focused than other relationships... But that doesn't mean physical affection is completely off the table!

Even just having the discussion with your partner to get to know their love languages, is itself a form of intimacy!

So just pay attention to and listen to your partner. Plan things together. Take joy in learning about each other and experiencing new things together. After all, the little things in life are what make up the bigger things.

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