Frog wearing a crown; “Frog prince” by NickyPe licensed by Pixaby

Popular culture tells us that women think with their hearts while men think with… other body parts. As a result, you might not be surprised to hear that men are far outnumbered by women and nonbinary people in identifying as asexual, a sexual identity that refers to those who experience low/no sexual attraction. But what about aromanticism, an identity that refers to those who experience low/no romantic attraction? If the stereotype of romance being a more feminine pursuit and sex being a more masculine pursuit is correct, surely there are more aromantic men than women. Right?

As it turns out, women are more likely to identify as asexual, but they’re also more likely to identify as aromantic. Our study, Sexuality, romantic orientation, and masculinity: Men as underrepresented in asexual and aromantic communities, examines men as a minority in asexual and aromantic communities. We draw on survey data from the 2020 Asexual Community Survey and the 2020 Aromantic Census as well as interviews from two samples (collected by the study authors) with individuals who identify on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrums. 

While 48% of asexual respondents in the Asexual Community Survey identify as women and 41% as outside of the gender binary, only 11% identify as men. Meanwhile, in the Aromantic Census, 33% of respondents identify as women and a mere 8% as men, with the remaining 59% identifying outside the gender binary. Our analysis suggests that men are vastly outnumbered by women and people outside the gender binary in asexual and aromantic communities.

Masculinity as Inherently Sexual 

While our survey data shows that men are a minority in the asexual community, we turn to the interview data to understand why this may be the case. We find that men in our study faced pressure from their peers, family, and community to participate in sexual relationships (with women). In the interviews, asexual men described how masculinity was tied in with notions of sexual voracity, and that they had been expected to seek out sexual experiences and enjoy having sex. As Richard, an aromantic asexual white man put it, “…you’re entitled to sex and you’re defined by sex and how much you want sex and the content of your conversations is going to be based around sex and conquest and competition and all those sorts of things. I think that duality plays into the fact that men are inherently less likely to identify as asexual.” Richard goes on to explain how this became an internalized belief such that when he first heard about asexuality “that doesn’t cross my mind as a possibility.” Unsurprisingly, because masculinity is framed as inherently sexual, this may help to explain why men are a minority in the asexual community.

Prince Charming and Romance 

What is more puzzling is why aromantic men are a minority in the aromantic community. Prior research has established that women often face pressure around partnering, but men are also expected to take the lead in initiating romantic relationship scripts with women. Although it seems likely that the consequences of not being in a romantic relationship are more severe for women than men, our findings suggest that not being in a romantic relationship also defies expectations of “ideal” manhood.

We argue that romance is also core to hegemonic masculinity. We find that men described “romantic gestures” as something that they were expected to perform within dating and relationship contexts. Additionally, some aromantic men explained that if they weren’t in a romantic relationship, they were often assumed to be gay or immature. 

Another likely explanation for why men are a minority in the aromantic community is that many people only learn about aromanticism after hearing about asexuality. We find that many interview participants describe finding out about aromanticism after finding out about asexuality. Given men’s underrepresentation among asexuals, it makes sense that this means men would be less likely to even learn about aromanticism.

Research Implications

Even as scholars and activists have challenged the stereotype that women want romance and men want sex, scholars have still devoted much more attention to the role of sexuality in constructing masculinity. The role of romance and romantic relationships in structuring masculinity has received far less focus. 

Our findings suggest that sex and romance both play a role in structuring culturally idealized masculinities. As a result, asexuality and aromanticism both fall outside these cultural ideals. These ideals frame asexual men as inadequately masculine, failing to live up to men’s supposedly universal voracious sexual appetite. Aromantic men, conversely, face the risk of being painted as too masculine, potentially even being interpreted as players or f-ckboys. 

In other words, our study helps us see that heterosexual desire and romantic relationship formation are both core to what sociologists often call hegemonic masculinity. Yes, men are expected to have an active sexual appetite–but they’re also expected to (eventually) settle down and pursue a romantic relationship. 

Hannah Tessler is a sociology Ph.D. candidate at Yale University. Her research centers on sociology of the life course and transitions to adulthood, including pathways to higher education, and union formation. She explores how race, gender, and sexuality shape experiences with intimate relationships and family life. You can find her on Twitter at @TesslerHannah or learn more about her work on

Canton Winer is an assistant professor of sociology and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Northern Illinois University, and the 2023–2024 Stephen O. Murray Scholar in Residence at Michigan State University. A leading sociologist studying asexuality, Dr. Winer’s work explores asexuality’s generative potential for the sociology of gender, the sociology of sexuality, and queer theory. You can find him on Twitter at @CantonWiner.