Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The asexual dating experience

Trial and errors of dating as an asexual
Metros Kapadia/ Daily Collegian (2020)

Dating can be an interesting experience. From dating app hookup horror stories to awkward encounters with exes or one night stands to complicated situations, there are many trials and errors to dating nowadays. For the average person it seems difficult to find someone. I have had plenty of my own difficulties when it comes to dating, but I’ve found I’ve had  an extra set back: I’m asexual.

Asexuality is a sexual identity where a person has a lack of sexual attraction to others, and can be understood as a spectrum. However, it does not mean that someone feels no romantic attraction, as that is a separate identity and spectrum known as aromantic. A lot of asexual people want a romantic relationship and, depending on their identity within the spectrum and comfort level, crave physical intimacy. But dating as an asexual can be complicated. With hookup culture being prevalent it feels hard to find a partner that’s okay with not having sex or even waiting. I had a difficult time finding the right person for me.

I would define myself as an in-betweener, as I am demisexual and heteromantic. This means I feel sexual attraction once I have a strong emotional connection with men. I could feel a strong desire to be close to a man and start dating him, but it might take me months or up to a year for me to actually feel sexual attraction towards him. The need for sexual attraction is a hard boundary for me, meaning I do not want to have sex with a man until I am sexually attracted to him. Not having sex at first doesn’t mean the relationship can’t be fulfilling but I have had difficulty getting people to understand and respect my identity.

As many asexual people will understand, starting a relationship with someone who isn’t asexual often requires a disclosure. You have to be honest in the beginning and tell them you don’t have or experience sexual attraction in the same way they do, which can have negative results. I have had men flat out reject me after I came out to them as demisexual once they learned they weren’t going to have sex with me later. Rejection like that can be discouraging, as it makes a person nervous to either pursue another relationship or to even stay true to their identity.

Even when guys would stay after I told them I was demisexual, a lot of them didn’t understand or get the full picture. I had a six month relationship where the guy constantly asked me to estimate when I would be ready to have sex with him –– resulting in me never being sexually attracted to him. Another guy seemed very understanding about my identity for about 15 minutes, but he then asked if he could take off my shirt. Dating became more and more frustrating for me as every encounter seemed so based on sex. I was beginning to feel like a piece of meat rather than a partner.

It felt difficult to meet someone in person that respected my identity, and I began to wonder if dating online was a better or worse option. I looked into dating apps and saw that there are asexual exclusive dating apps like ACEapp, but I wasn’t too keen on that as it had few downloads and I wanted to meet someone at the University of Massachusetts or in the area. Other dating apps weren’t a good fit for me either since a lot of them are more hookup based and not all of them have asexual as an option under sexuality, meaning that you have to put your asexuality directly in your profile. I didn’t feel like dating apps were a good option for me, so I felt stuck.

For a while, I felt like I would never meet someone who respected me and was fine with waiting. I wanted someone to have a genuine love and connection with me, but I felt like I had to have sex in order to gain that. But I didn’t have to in the end. I met someone who understood and respected my boundaries, and didn’t see my identity as an inhibitor. He made it clear that the ball was in my court and we never had to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I have been with him for over a year, and I can never get over how safe I feel with him.

That love and safety is something each and every person should feel. No one should have to make compromises with their identity in order to feel safe and loved, and no asexual person should feel like they should have sex just to have a relationship. Sex does not equal a fulfilling relationship, and in my experience, you should never feel like you need to have sex to be loved.

This column was submitted anonymously.

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