Asexual relationships aren’t so different: Study finds they still require commitment, satisfaction to succeed

EAST LANSING, Mich. — It’s estimated that about one percent of the population is asexual, defined as feeling little to no sexual attraction whatsoever. Regardless, plenty of asexual individuals enter into loving, committed long-term relationships with a significant other. Up until now very little research had been conducted on what makes for a successful asexual relationship, but a new study from Michigan State University finds they require virtually the same ingredients as any other to succeed.

Putting sex aside, factors like satisfaction, investment, and lack of alternatives predict commitment and longevity among asexual relationships.

“Although asexuals don’t have the desire for sexual relationships, they nevertheless form romantic relationships and those connections look at least somewhat similar to non-asexuals’ romantic relationships,” says study co-author William Chopik, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department, in a university release.

This project is among the biggest ever focusing on asexual individuals’ relationships, and the only one to focus specifically on what predicts both commitment and longevity in them. Researchers assessed a sample of 485 people both in a romantic relationship and self-identifying as on the asexual spectrum. Additionally, this is one of the only published studies to allow subjects to self-identify with any asexual spectrum label, as well as any other sexual or romantic labels that fit.

“I sincerely hope that this study will more widely show the diversity of the asexual community, shed light on their experiences and show that being on the asexual spectrum does not preclude one from successful romantic relationships or love,” explains study co-author and research associate Alexandra Brozowski.

These findings are based on the Investment Model, a long-standing approach to predicting which relationships will end and which will stand the test of time. According to the model, people tend to stay in intimate partnerships when they are happy and satisfied, if they have invested serious time and energy into the relationship, and if they don’t have any other options.

Plenty of other theories proclaim lovemaking is integral to a healthy relationship, but that doesn’t leave any room for asexual relationships.

“We found that the same ingredients predict success in these relationships, so they’re not weird, bizarre, worse than or much different at all from non-asexual people’s relationships.” Prof. Chopik concludes. “The hope is that this destigmatizes asexual people’s relationships as just as satisfied and common as non-asexual people’s relationships.”

The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.

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