Asexual people are starting to be recognized on the official queer spectrum and with more visibility comes more questions from the rest of the queer community. I tend not to share the fact that I’m asexual; more often than not, a dozen clarifying questions are attached to it.
“That means you … don’t like sex, right?”
“Wait, what does that mean again?”
“So you, like, don’t ever want to date? EVER?”
It’s hard to explain because ‘asexual’ (‘ace’ for short) is more of an umbrella term than a straightforward label like ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual.’ The broadest definition is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction like the majority of the population.
However, you’ve also got your demisexuals (people who are only attracted to friends or acquaintances), aromantics (people who experience sexual attraction but have no romantic desire for a relationship) and graysexuals (people who do have sexual urges but aren’t comfortable labeling themself as asexual).
Even then, you need to delve into the question of who you’re willing to date. One ‘asexual biromantic’ person might be open to dating anyone and everyone, and an ‘asexual lesbian’ person is looking exclusively for a feminine partner. What a mouthful!
If you’re asexual and looking for a partner, you often find your options limited. All of my past relationships have ended because of my asexuality – and in some cases, my inability to voice it. When you’re pondering making a dating app profile, you can’t help but wonder if you’re a fraud for putting yourself out there but not wanting sex. It makes dating more of a mystery novel than a trope-driven romance.
Whether you’re ace or you want to date an ace person, there are a few things that you should clarify with your partner. (By no means is this the advice of a professional. This is all based on my own dating history and the experiences of other ace friends.)
The most important step is determining where your boundaries and desires are. There is no one set definition for ‘asexual,’ so make sure both of you understand what that means in the context of your relationship. However, sexuality is fluid and changing! What may work for you one day may change the next. Active communication is key.
Next, I want to emphasize that if you don’t want to date an ace person, you are not inherently homophobic or intolerant or whatever. Everyone has valid needs. Some people need that element of physical affection in order to feel loved.
On the other hand, if you feel the need to pull the plug on a relationship, first try to work out some kind of alternative system. Are the two of you willing to be in an open or polyamorous relationship? Would you be interested in using signs or messages instead of physical touches to remind each other of your affection? If the two of you want to remain sexually active, should you focus on individual pleasure or possibly plan things in advance? Romantic compromises don’t need to make both parties miserable and what will work is up to you.
If you’re interested in dating an asexual person (you totally should try it sometime ;)), don’t be afraid to experiment. Stay respectful of your potential partner’s boundaries as you grow closer to them. We are a valid and large part of the queer community, and we’re willing to teach if you’re willing to learn.
If you’re an asexual person who wants to date, the process can be frustrating. I don’t have much advice for you since I’m in a similar boat right now. All I can say is to stay determined and hopeful.
If you’re questioning your own asexuality, talk it over with friends and loved ones and don’t be afraid to do some research online. You are not abnormal for experiencing attraction and desire in a unique way – no matter how muddy the road looks ahead, you deserve love.
Milo Openshaw (he/him) is the opinions and outreach editor. Again.
You can reach him on Instagram @miloohno or email him at email@example.com if you're interested in submitting a creative piece to The Front.