Asexual Relationships: What does Asexuality have to do with Polyamory?

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Non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships are often conceptualized in the context of sex and sexual intimacy. Yet, as in other forms of relationships, sexual intimacy is only one facet of polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships. Asexuality, a relatively new sexual identity based on a lack of sexual attraction, presents an interesting way to explore polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships in the absence of sexual intimacy. In this presentation, we describe findings from survey results with 102 self-identified asexual individuals. Participants were recruited from asexuality.org, a main internet networking website for asexual identified individuals. The internet based survey asked open ended questions about a variety of topics including demographics, asexual identity, and relationships. Findings indicate that individuals who identify as asexual are likely to describe an interest in monogamous dyadic relationships. While this supports hegemonic paradigms of culturally sanctioned relationship structures, a subsection of this sample describes its ideal romantic or relational interests as polyamorous or non-monogamous. These non-monogamous asexual individuals represent a form of polyamorous relationship that is as of yet unexplored in academic literature. Findings also describe alternative nonsexual conceptualizations of relationships that blur the distinction between monogamous and polyamorous relationships. This research illuminates the complications of categorizing relationships as monogamous or polyamorous indicating that new language is needed to appropriately describe the wide array of relationships humans form outside of this binary.


Keywords: Asexuality, Polyamory, Relationships, Sexualities, Identity
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Kristin Scherrer

Joint Doctoral Student in Social Work and Sociology, Social Work and Sociology, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Kristin Scherrer, received her BA in sociology and psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, her MSW and MA in Sociology at the University of Michigan. Presently, she is a PhD student in Social Work and Sociology at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include sexualities, gender, families, aging and the lifecourse. Her dissertation will focus on how families understand their GLBTQ family member(s).

Alexandra Atkins

Graduate Student, Cognition and Perception, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Alexandra S. Atkins, received her BA in psychology from Oberlin College in 1997, and her MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago in 2002. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan.

Ref: I08P0167