Danger: Dating While Asexual

“Hey, I think you’re beautiful…” was how a seemingly innocent (and somewhat flattering) message on OKCupid started out. I’m sure if you’ve seen blogs like OKStupid or other blogs documenting weird encounters on this dating site, you know where this is going. However, I’m a little too trusting, so I made an “awww” sound and then promptly choked on that as I kept reading.

I’m gonna summarize here, because it was a weird series of sentences, but the short version is that he took “asexual” to mean that I would enjoy “butt stuff” and/or treating him as a sex slave. (I’m guessing the logic here is that he wouldn’t be touching my genitals, so it’d be asexual sex…??)

I’d like to say this is the weirdest offer I’ve gotten on that site, but around once a week or so, someone bravely offers to “fix” my asexuality. You know, cause I haven’t found the right person yet. I often ask them if they’ve tried not having sex with the right person yet, just in case they might be asexual. As you might expect, this doesn’t really invite introspection so much as a whole lot of confusion.

The less expected downside of dating online as an openly asexual person is that some other asexuals think that matching sexuality is enough reason to date. Sure, we’re a small pool of people, but if you’re a 2% match for me, it’s probably not going to work out just because we both don’t wanna bone each other. I’d honestly rather date a better match who wasn’t ace, especially since sex is on the table for me. I’d get more into the difference of being sex repulsed and simply being indifferent to sex, but I can really only speak from my experience, which I’d compare to going to a sports event that you don’t generally care for, but your partner does, and you enjoy it because you’re there with them. This article, by a super awesome ace activist who runs the Resources for Ace Survivors website, details a little more about that topic than I’d really like to delve into here.

Currently, I’m dating someone who’s not ace, and I’ve learned from past experience, it means a lot of checking in, open communication, and explaining innuendos, because he’s pretty oblivious to them. It made me realize how hyper-aware I could be about invites to have sex, or situations that had a lot of sexual pressure in them, because I notice things like that way before he does, and it has a lot to do with past experiences. The last thing I want is to “lead someone on” by unintentionally agreeing to something sexual (reasons why the whole “consent is clear and enthusiastic” bit is so important!!). In past relationships, despite clearly telling the other partner I was ace, I often experienced either pressure to have sex, or worse, pressure to find them sexually appealing, which just isn’t something I experience. As in, holy shit that person is gorgeous, but no matter how gorgeous I find them, I’m not gonna experience any sexual feelings in relation to their utter beauty.

Being labeled a “tease” or “frigid” despite being clear about my sexuality has left me a little paranoid, and I’d like to thank the American film industry for that one. A combination of “persistence is true love” and “sex is true love” has poisoned a lot of my relationships, and has put me in some pretty creepy situations. I’ve even experienced sexual assault at the hands of one of my partners, who genuinely thought that doing so was showing me love, or teaching me how to love. Something like that. I never really got a full explanation on it beyond they felt like it was the right thing to do.

With that in mind, the more benign pit fall is that if I tell someone I’ve just started dating that I’m asexual, they abruptly disappear. And while that kind of hurts a little, I do prefer that over someone pretending they’re fine with it when they’re not. Though I’d like a little more honest communication than just…ghosting. When I was a young thing, I thought people were the Absolute Worst for not wanting to date someone based on their asexuality, but honestly, sexual incompatibility is a totally valid reason not to date someone, asexual or not.

What this all comes down to is that dating is already stressful, and asexuality is just one more layer of stressful in that dating game. Hopefully people will start googling “asexual” before they hit me up on the internet for kinky shit?


The “Bad” Asexual

You know you’re the “good one” when you’re asked to be on every panel on asexuality; I had it all! The charisma, the sense of humor, the indifference to sex, and the cute genderqueer sports coat. If I was on the panel, you had to know I was going to be adorable AND able to discuss sex like it was no big deal. The LGBT groups loved me, the gender and sexuality professors loved me, and most importantly, I didn’t make anyone feel like they had to question the amount of importance they put on sex in a relationship.

There was only one minor problem with me as an asexual rep: I’m a rape survivor. It happened my first year of college, by someone who thought they could fix my asexuality, and I conveniently edited that out of my story every time. At first, it was just because it was too new, and I didn’t want to discuss it. You need time to heal from something like that.

When I finally felt at ease with the past enough to discuss it, however, I talked with my asexual collaborators about it. You wouldn’t believe how quickly I was shut down. Yeah, they supported me, I was “brave” for telling them…but I probably should just keep it to myself. Enough people assumed that aces were that way because of trauma (it was the number one question at panels besides “…but you can have sex, you just don’t want to, right?”) and if I told my story, it would just feed that misconception.

I didn’t come out with my story until after I left college. Another, braver asexual wrote their story, and asked me to contribute mine. Then I wrote my story for asexualsurvivors.org, and joined the team as a moderator. It’s been amazing, connecting with other survivors, but it’s also been heart breaking, knowing that the same story is repeating for so many people out there. And it breaks my heart to know that my silence, and the silence of so many other people, has left many aces feeling the same way; that they are alone, an anomaly, and that if they speak up, their orientation will be seen as invalid.

It also makes me wonder how many of the young aces I mentored in college experienced the same, or something similar to this, and felt like they couldn’t say anything to me about it. Because I was so busy being a shining example of what a sex positive asexual looked like, there wasn’t any room for anything messy or questionable in my life.

I was always scared to say it out loud, and even today, I get nervous just thinking about others knowing.

I’m asexual. I’m a rape survivor. And I am no less valid for being both.