What I Learned Dating as an Asexual
When I first started dating as an asexual*, I naively assumed that it would be about the same as dating as an allosexual*. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Dating as an asexual (or an “ace”) overlaps with dating as an allo in only the most basic sense. Two people, often strangers, get to know each other over coffee or cocktails.
However, all else equal, it is infinitely more work to date as an ace—and I say this as someone who went through an “I wonder how many dates I can schedule in one day” phase back in my allo days.
Shortly after I came out as an asexual, one of my friends set me up with a guy who I found incredibly attractive. He had a man bun, loved biking, and worked at one of my favorite breweries. It seemed like a perfect match. We chatted back and forth on Messenger for a few days before setting up a date at a small Irish bar. It was fine, but something felt… weird. Finally, I had to ask.
“You know that I’m ace, right?”
“Asexual. I mentioned it a few times on Messenger.”
“Oh.” He looked at me strangely. “I thought that was a joke.”
I was baffled. I had never phrased being ace as a joke, but apparently asexuality just sounds funny to some people.
The date fizzled after that. We both tried to salvage it, but it was clear that neither of us wanted what the other one had to offer.
Since then, I have experienced many classic ace dating fumbles.
There was the woman who adamantly did not care that I was ace until she met another woman who was allo. I got one short text message saying we should be friends before she ghosted me.
There was the guy who says he believes me when I say that I am asexual, but also believes that he can change my mind if I just gave him the chance.
There was the person who is convinced that I am traumatized and should just go to a sex therapist.
Dating is more of a slog now than it was when I tried to act like an allosexual. Gone are the days of rushing headlong into as many dates as possible just to see what it feels like to be across a table from a new person. Now I spend much more time building expectations before we meet or work to build a fully platonic relationship first before jumping into any kind of flirtation. Setting expectations and foundations protects everyone’s feelings and allows dates to be fun instead of confusing or disorienting.
Here are a few pieces of advice I could have used before I started dating as an ace:
Be upfront about being asexual. Your asexuality (especially if you are sex-averse) might be a deal-breaker to the other person. That sucks, but it is better to know sooner than later. All of us have certain commonalities that we want to share with our partners and for some allosexuals, that is going to be mutual sexual attraction or sexual activity.
When I was still living that allo life, I went on a couple dates with a guy I really liked. He asked me out on a third date. After I said yes and we finalized a few details, he said, “I totally understand if this changes things, but you should know that I have a son.” I felt blindsided. I had no interest in dating someone with kids and had said so in my profile. However, because we had already planned our third date, I felt obligated to go. It was manipulative of him to wait to tell me about his child until after I started developing feelings for him, and after I had confirmed another date. It worked in the short term—we dated for longer than I’d like to admit—but when we inevitably broke up, it was for the very reason that I wanted to say no in the first place.
Trust that people know themselves well enough to decide if dating an ace is something they could feasibly do.
Have an Explanation You Can Copy/Paste
You are going to run into potential matches who have not heard about asexuality. If they are interested in you, they are going to ask you questions. It is tempting to tell people to educate themselves instead of explaining asexuality for the twentieth time, but your asexuality is not the same as anyone else’s and these questions are a great opportunity to explain exactly what you want in a partner.
When I started identifying as an asexual, my conversations about everything relationship-related, from sex to love languages to long-term goals, became more candid than they had ever been.
This is your opportunity to say upfront that you feel repulsed by sex, but you love cuddling and want to find someone that you can fall asleep next to. Or that you are sex-positive and have kinks you want to explore with a partner, but you value your space and prefer sleeping by yourself every night.
You can of course have the long, meandering conversation about your identity, but there is nothing wrong with having a blanket explanation of asexuality that you can copy and paste when a new match asks the same old question. You might have to edit your copy/paste a bit for clarity, but I have found it incredibly helpful to start from a template.
Be Ready to Block
Sometimes blocking is necessary. There is nothing to feel guilty about in these situations. If anyone tries to make you feel broken or invalidates your identity as the badass ace that you are: block them. You have done the work to figure out who you are. Do not waste your time on people who try to imply that your identity results from a lack of experience or trauma.
If your usual style is to wait for your matches to reach out to you, it is time to stop. Yes, it is easy to swipe the night away and hope that your matches start conversations with you, but you will be most successful if you initiate the conversation and set the tone yourself. Maybe start off with a conversation about love languages—it can hook people into a conversation, and easily transitions into how your asexuality informs the way you approach sex and romance.
This applies to real life as well. It is a little scarier because you can’t just ask if they noticed that it says “asexual” in your bio, but you can still guide the conversation to a place where you can naturally bring up asexuality. Maybe talk about a TV show or book with an ace character that you love or initiate an argument about what the “A” in LGBTQIA+ stands for.
Use More than Apps
Look for other aces in the wild. Join digital and IRL groups for queer folks or asexual people specifically. I have personally had success with Facebook, Reddit, and MeetUp for both local and international groups.
A small word of warning: there are people within queer communities who do not believe that asexuality is a legitimate orientation. Just remember that not only has asexuality been discussed within the scientific community for hundreds of years, asexuals have also been a part of LGBTQ circles from the beginning.
We have deep roots in this movement. Make sure the communities that you join and the partners you find make you feel that way.
Good luck out there.
*There a lot of nuance to the term "asexual", but at its core an asexual is just a person who does not experience sexual attraction. "Allosexual" means the opposite of “asexual." Everyone who experiences sexual attraction falls into this category.