Dating is a difficult area of life for many people, regardless of their sexuality or identity. However, dating while asexual creates an entirely different set of challenges that can sometimes make it feel almost impossible. I’m not saying there aren’t any asexual couples out there, but in my experience, it’s incredibly difficult to find someone who understands what asexuality is and what an ideal ace relationship looks like.
For those who don’t know what asexuality is, I’ll let The Trevor Project break it down: “Sexuality is an umbrella term, and exists on a spectrum. Asexual people—also known as ‘Ace’ or ‘Aces’—may have little interest in having sex, even though most desire emotionally intimate relationships.” While this is the basic definition of asexuality, being asexual means something different to everyone, myself included.
When it comes to dating, I’m not looking for a physically romantic relationship in any way. No sex, no touching, no kissing—nothing. Holding hands and cuddling, perhaps, but that’s all. However, others in the community do have sex and masturbate, while some (like myself) focus solely on an emotional connection.
When it comes to dating, I’m not looking for a physically romantic relationship in any way.
You might be wondering, why would an ace person even want to date? Similarly to many other people, I want companionship and to find “my human.” Because of this, I use dating apps and set up my profile like everyone else. Still, it’s always in the back of my mind whether or not I should disclose my aceness up front.
I think’s the most difficult part of dating while asexual. I want to be viewed as a “normal, desirable” person, but I feel this need to be upfront about my ace identity before initiating anything.
Unfortunately, nine out of 10 times, this doesn’t go over well. Usually, after I disclose my asexuality, whatever I have going with a potential partner fizzles out. I’m automatically labeled as “prude” or “scared” for being asexual; or, the other person internalizes it as something wrong with them that makes me uninterested in getting physical with them.
None of the above are true, but unless you’re ace, it can be really hard to accept. Still, knowing that doesn’t make my failed attempts at dating any less painful. Even when I do find someone who is willing to try to make a relationship work, I make sure to never get my hopes up.
I met my first girlfriend on a dating app and I let her know early on that I was asexual. I explained to her what that meant for me and she assured me that she understood. The first few weeks were great! We were essentially what I would call “best best best friends.” We would go out to nice restaurants, watch movies and have engaging conversations. For me, having a strong emotional connection with a partner is what I was ultimately looking for.
However, a few weeks in, I had the sense that she thought I would eventually “change my mind” about the physical stuff. When we had conversations about what we wanted out of the relationship, her desires started to lean more sexual and romantic in nature, whereas mine remained unchanged. I knew deep down that this would happen from the beginning, but I had tried to pretend that it wouldn’t just so I could experience a “normal” relationship, even if it lasted just a short time.
Eventually, we broke up because we wanted different things. I don’t blame my ex; even though sex and intimacy are not important to me in a relationship, I understand that for some people, they are necessary. That said, it still stings when people who claim they are accepting of my aceness end up hurting me because I can’t give them what they’re looking for.
Experiences like this reinforce the idea in my brain that I shouldn’t continue to date if it’s always going to have the name negative outcome. With this mindset, it’s easy to blame myself even when I’m not doing anything wrong.
One of the other trials and tribulations of dating while asexual is having to explain my orientation to people who don’t respect my boundaries. I’ve gone on first dates where, as soon as I mention that I am asexual, the person begins bluntly asking me about my masturbation habits. No, I’m not kidding. Part of me understands the curiosity, but on the other hand…Seriously? If bringing up what is seen by many as a fictional orientation isn’t hard enough, just add some invasive personal questions to make matters worse!
Maybe it’s just me, but following these negative encounters, I often feel angry at myself for not being “normal.” When I try to put myself out there and am constantly rejected and invalidated by others—even those who claim that they understand—dating can feel virtually impossible. Even though I know, deep down, that there is nothing wrong with me, other people’s opinions can’t help but get under my skin.
Just because my recent dates haven’t gone particularly well doesn’t mean asexual people can’t date. My experiences only further reinforce the fact that we all have our own path. No, mine may not be the traditional one, but there is room for me in the dating world. While it may not always seem like it, there are other asexual people out there, and although it may take a little more time for us to find one another, I know the relationship I want will be worth the wait.