As an asexual who recently went on her first ever date, I can see that the whole world of dating and relationships, which is understandably difficult for anyone, presents a whole different set of challenges for us “aces” out there.
Asexual, for those of you who don’t know, are people who do not have a desire for a sexual partner. Different than celibacy, which is the conscious choice to abstain from sex, asexuals simply possess no sex drive. Which, in the hyper-sexualized pop-culture world that we live in, can elicit all kinds of strange stares, remarks and questions of, “Well what if you just try it?”
The dating world, however, turns into an almost alien landscape. Most asexuals still want close relationships with others, and will have “romantic” orientations ie. homoromantic, biromantic, heteromantic, etc.
However, most sexual people at one point or another in a long-term relationship, are going to want to have sex with their partner (or partners, if that’s the way you roll). In my personal experience, most people aren’t willing to forgo sex, which can lead to some awkward situations of, “You see, I’m interested in you, I really am, I just… never want to sleep with you.” Usually responded with “I don’t think this is going to work out then.” Sex is something that the majority of the population wants, whether they are straight, gay, bi, pansexual, etc. To put it bluntly, for most people, asexuality is a major turnoff.
True, some aces will still have sex with their partner for the partner’s sake, some will try it, some are simply nonplussed either way, but a good deal of us don’t want to have sex even with someone we deeply love. So we don’t.
You could just say, “Oh so then aces should just date aces.” Which is a great theory, until you realize that less than 1% of the population identifies as asexual and chances are that you won’t meet 100 of them in your lifetime, if you even meet that many. It’s not exactly something, unless you’re dating or good friends with one, that is broadcasted. The chances of finding a compatible date are then shrunk drastically. Imagine if you only met 100 guys or girls of your sexual preference in your lifetime. There’s no guarantee that any of them would be interested in you, first of all, no guarantee that you’d be interested in them, and even if you were both interested, it still just might not work out in terms of personal compatibility.
Having to “come out” to a romantic partner or even have a romantic partner is another hurdle to jump over. If you’re a girl dating a guy you’re probably heterosexual, and if you’re not, well, if you want to come out as bi/pan/omnisexual that’s your own choice, the same goes for if you’re a girl dating another girl. But in these situations it’s not “required” to come out to your partner that you’re attracted to more than just whatever gender they are, especially just to move forward with dating them. With asexuals it’s an unavoidable reality.
Even if you end up dating a friend who already knows that you are ace, chances are you had to “come out” to them at some point, even if you don’t have to come out when you’re dating them. Another risk is that telling someone you’re an ace after you start dating them or are acknowledged as having an interest in them, can come across like you’re trying to fend off their advances, which is not true. Someone who identifies as asexual is not trying to get out of a relationship by stating their sexuality, they’re usually just trying to make sure that a potential romantic partner is aware of the circumstances going forward in a relationship.
Even if aces do find someone willing to be in a long term relationship without sex, there are other complications. Some partners will agree to this, thinking they can change their significant other’s sexuality, or thinking that it’s just a case of “don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” which can then lead to pressure on both sides of the relationship. Others may think that they are willing to commit to a sexless relationship and then find out later that they really can’t, which either leads to break ups or frustration in the relationship. Conversely, some aces will find that they are willing to have sex for the sake of a partner or may find that they are actually demisexual, which is a classification where someone only experiences sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed.
While I embark on what could be the start of my dating adventures as an asexual, I’m beginning to finally see all of these difficulties properly coming to light. For the first time they’re more than just vague concepts or bridges that I’ll cross when I get there. They’re actual, concrete bridges that I can see looming before me. And while I don’t know what I’m going to do when they’re right at my feet, I know that I can face these challenges and that I’m not the only one, that other asexuals out there face these challenges all the time. Even though these may not be “typical” dating challenges, they’re the ones that I have to deal with and as I do, I’ll see where this thing goes.
For all other questions about asexuality and aces, I encourage people to check out this link to AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, one of the most informative sites on the topic – http://www.asexuality.org/home/general.html