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By JASON LIPMANI/FAIRFAX NZ Asexuals are not the only people who want to be in relationships with someone who is not heterosexual, a new study has found.

The University of New England found people with an interest in being in relationships should “choose not to be sexually attracted to someone who shares the same sex orientation”.

The study, published in the journal Sexuality Research and Therapy, looked at 2,000 people who self-identified as asexual.

“I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I think there is an interest that I’m not seeing that is healthy,” said one 18-year-old man who wished to remain anonymous.

“Asexuality has a lot of things going for it, and it’s not just about the lack of attraction, it’s about the openness to experience that asexuality gives people, and that it’s a way to explore, and not feel, like the opposite sex,” he said.

It’s not something you have to be afraid of, and you don’t have to have sex with someone you don,t feel like with someone that you don”t feel attracted to, said the man, who said he had been in a number of relationships.”

It’s something you don”,t have to think about and feel about, and then you can just go out and have sex and not worry about it.”

Asexual people are less likely to experience sexual distress, and less likely than other people to engage in risky behaviour, such as drug and alcohol abuse, than heterosexuals.

They are also more likely to feel accepted, but not loved, by those around them.

The survey also found people were more likely than non-Asexuals to experience shame and guilt about their sexuality.

“The stigma around asexual people is not just around sexuality, it is around everything about our sexuality,” said lead researcher Sarah Crouch, from the University of Victoria, in a press release.

“This research demonstrates that there is a wide variety of reasons people are not attracted to other people, so it’s important to acknowledge and address those reasons.”

“In addition to the social stigma around being attracted to the same gender as oneself, asexuals also experience discrimination, violence, discrimination and harassment on a daily basis,” she said.

The researchers looked at the responses of people in relationships.

In the first year, 6 per cent of respondents were in a committed relationship.

This was significantly lower than the 15 per cent who reported being in a heterosexual relationship, and significantly lower, compared to people who were in same-sex relationships.

About one-third of those surveyed said they had been bullied at school, compared with less than one-quarter who said this had happened to them in the past year.

In their second year, only 3 per cent were in relationships, compared the 22 per cent in the first.

Crouch said that this was a finding that was surprising because many people were concerned about their own behaviour and felt they could not be themselves if they did not have a partner, and they felt guilty about this.

“Many of us are anxious about how our behaviour and choices are perceived, and there’s a sense of shame that we can’t be who we want to, so we can be that way and not have to worry about being rejected or hurt or attacked,” she told Radio New Zealand.

“That’s one of the things we’re trying to get across in the survey.

We’re not just looking at how you are, we’re also looking at what your needs are and what your feelings are.”

There was also a link between asexual behaviour and depression, and a higher likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment.

“Our findings indicate that people who experience sexual harassment are at higher risk of depression and are more likely in this relationship to experience significant distress,” she added.

“One of the reasons why we’ve seen this is that a sexual harassment victim is more likely be seen as a perpetrator than a victim of the behaviour they are witnessing.”

This research was funded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the National Centre for Sexual Health and Disability and the University College of New South Wales.

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