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?

Three Things Everyone Asked Me When I Came Out as Asexual…And One Thing I Would Tell My Younger Self.

I didn’t know the term, but when I first heard about sex (a rather non-informative talk with my mother for which she unthinkingly packed a hot dog lunch) my impression was something like “Well. I’m not doing that.” This sentiment didn’t change even after I started puberty, held babies, met someone I really loved, AND developed a healthy libido. I’ve been open about it since before I was open about anything else about myself; I’m even old school and have an ace ring…through which I’ve found two other aces in six years, so that’s not too bad a rate.

Here’s a few of the most common things I’ve heard as an open asexual, and some of my criticisms of these…uh, criticisms.

“What if you want a family someday?”

Yeah, maybe I will. What’s that got to do with being asexual? First, this is the 21st century. There are ways to get pregnant without having sex, there are ways to have children without getting pregnant, and most importantly, family is what you make it. Maybe family for me is all the younger queer kids I’ve mentored (they call me “Dad.” Go figure.) Or maybe, family for me is going to be a partner who I can grow old with. I don’t know. All I know is, my path to a future family isn’t restricted to the getting pregnant route.

“What if you date/marry someone who wants sex?”

Well, first, I did. That ended pretty horribly. Weirdly enough, loving someone who was allosexual didn’t make me any less asexual. Guess it’s not contagious. I’ve been in relationships where we’ve found compromises that made both of us happy, and I’ve been in relationships that have ended in anger and tears on account of sex. A lot of it comes down to communication, the maturity of both parties involved (and younger me was an asshat, so…) and the disparity between sexual needs.

In addition, it always seemed weird to me that this question presumes I’m not going to find someone else like me. You know, an ace-on-ace relationship. Because I’ve found that too, and that was pretty swell. I feel like questions like that are almost isolating, because they presume that the asexual in question is the only one like that. I know I often felt like, answering those types of questions, that I was on my own, navigating an allosexual dating scene.

“Did trauma or a medical condition do this to you?”

No, but thanks for bringing that up!! Seriously, I love discussing possible traumatic episodes and private medical conditions with people. Many people mean well when they ask these kinds of questions; for instance, my mother wanted me to get my hormones checked, in case I was sick. Other people are just genuinely curious. They can’t wrap their heads around why someone might not feel the way they do, so they have to come up with some kind of rationale. It used to bother me a lot, but generally, if I tell people politely that my orientation isn’t a medical condition, they leave it be.

However, I’ve always wondered; what would it change if I had a medical condition or traumatic event that made me this way? I mean, I’m sure there might be a cure or a treatment, but what if I was perfectly content living this way? And more interestingly, would I be weirder or more acceptable if my lack of sexual interest was explained by a medical condition?

When I first started hearing these questions, I got super defensive. It’s hard to be patient and understanding when it’s your identity being discussed, and I don’t think it’s for everyone. But if I could go back in time, I’d tell younger me that everything is going to be alright. In ten years, I’m still gonna be ace, people are still going to ask weird questions, and I’m still going to sometimes be accused of lacking genitals and/or a heart, but I’m not going to be alone. It seems like every year, my circle of ace friends just expands. And that’s something that makes this experience not so lonely.

But also, if I was able to go back in time, I’d let my younger self know to stop eating gluten. Super allergic, as it turns out.