Asexuality: How to Navigate Dating and Relationships
Dating and relationships aren’t easy for anyone. Finding a partner can be even more challenging for asexual people. An asexual person has little or no sexual desire for others, which means they tend to abstain from intercourse and other sexual acts. When one partner has little interest in sexual intimacy, it can be tough for a partner who desires sex to maintain an emotionally intimate relationship.
Asexuality is an umbrella term for those who feel little to no sexual attraction for others. People who identify as asexual usually don’t feel sexual desire or feel it only at certain times. They tend to nurture more platonic relationships. A person might identify as asexual, or ‘ace’ for short, throughout their lifetime or only for a period.
Asexuality is a spectrum
Human sexuality is dynamic and changes throughout our lives. This is true also of asexual people. Some people on the asexuality spectrum might have no sexual desire whatsoever, while others have some interest in sex, or they do it to satisfy their partners. The main difference between an asexual and an allosexual (a person who feels sexual desire for others) is that allosexuals feel sexual desire—they want to have sex or fantasize about having sex with others, while asexuals have low or no sexual desire.
However, this is not necessarily a static condition. An asexual person may one day start identifying as allosexual or ‘greysexual’ (limited sexual attraction), or they may not.
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Asexual people feel other types of attraction:
Romantic attraction is when you fall in love with another person, but this does not necessarily include sexual desire.
Platonic attraction is when you enjoy spending time with a friend and sharing emotional intimacy.
Aesthetic attraction is when you are stimulated by the way another person looks and expresses themselves.
Asexual people can have a satisfying dating life and meaningful relationships no matter where they find themselves on the spectrum of sexual desire. Some may have nothing against sex but simply don’t feel a passion for it, others don’t have any kind of sex, nor do they masturbate, and even the thought of sex is repulsive to them.
Does that mean asexual people don’t date?
Asexual people can date, fall in love, have relationships, have children, and live happy and fulfilling lives. But dating can pose some additional challenges for queer people, and for asexuals, dating can be a very sensitive topic because our world is driven by sexual desire. Allosexuals often find it challenging to understand why an asexual person would want to date if they aren’t interested in sex. However, regardless of our sexuality, we are all people whose nature it is to connect with others. There are many ways to connect; the connection doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual.
Dating is a tricky business. When you meet a new person, it takes time to understand what motivates them and whether you enjoy each other’s energy. Different people require different conditions to open up to each other. Asexual people want to enjoy companionship and deep emotional connection in their relationships, just like anyone else. Some of them might even want to try sex with their partners. People who are interested in dating make many assumptions about each other. Asexual people tend to be careful about when and to whom they disclose their sexuality.
How do you navigate dating as an asexual?
Understand your boundaries. First, it is important to be clear about what your asexuality means to you and what kind of a relationship you are looking for. Do you want a platonic or romantic relationship? How do you see yourself sharing intimacy with your partner? Do you want an emotional connection only, or do you enjoy kissing and cuddling, and maybe even having sex from time to time?
Being honest with yourself is the first step. When you respect your own feelings, you can enter the dating scene and be sure no one crosses your boundaries.
Why not date other asexual people? Dating others on your end of the sexuality spectrum can be an obvious choice for asexual people. There’s a higher chance of sharing similar views on sexual desire and relationships. When partners understand this aspect of each other, it is easier to be open about your intimacy needs.
However, sexuality is never the only factor in a relationship. Asexuals and allosexuals can be drawn to each other for any number of reasons and can enjoy fulfilling relationships. Especially if they make the effort to understand each other’s views and respects their feelings about sex and sexual intimacy.
Try online dating. Dating has gone digital, and online platforms are no longer considered a last resort for finding love. The asexual community still lacks proper dating apps, but some initiatives appear. Many people meet and communicate on Reddit, and there are some Facebook groups. You can indicate your asexuality on some of the popular dating apps, like OkCupid. And HER is a popular dating app dedicated to queer women and non-binary people, including asexual folks.
While online dating has its drawbacks, it can give you a space to express yourself and allows you to find out a few things about a potential date before actually meeting them.
Be open about your intentions. Whenever you are getting to know a new partner, come out as asexual on your own terms. However, as a relationship develops, it’s important to be open about your future together. Your partner should know if you intend to develop sexual intimacy with them, and you should know what expectations your partner has around sex and physical relationships.
If your partner is asexual
Respect who they are. If you aren’t an asexual person yourself, but choose to be with someone who is, it’s crucial to understand that your partner might never have sex with you. Be honest with each other, respect your partner, and don’t expect them to change or treat them badly because they don’t.
Consider your future together. When people start dating, the excitement and newness can sometimes mask other important aspects of the relationship. When you are just getting to know each other, people often avoid serious topics like marriage, children, and growing old. But if you’re dating an asexual person and want to establish a long-term relationship, these are topics that should be faced head-on.
If you long for children, will an asexual partner be able to fulfil these dreams? Do you expect some sort of physical intimacy? Can you live with only an emotional connection? In the beginning, just being with your partner makes you feel as if you are walking on clouds, but the longer you wait to discuss these questions, the harder will it be in the end.
Relationships can be rewarding even without sex.Sexual desire is natural. If you desire sex, you should communicate that to your partner. However, many people enjoy fulfilling intimate relationships even without sex. Intimacy is formed in many ways. Emotional connection, romantic interest, companionship, and trust are often much more important than physical attraction, especially as we grow older. Talk about these things with your partner and listen to your own needs. No matter how much you love another person, hiding your true feelings will only make you resentful as time goes on.
Relationships are multifaceted and often involve some level of compromise. Many couples can create a healthy dynamic with each other even if they don’t share sexual intimacy and find creative ways for everyone to get their needs met. While dating as an asexual can be challenging, there are many ways to bond with others and build fulfilling and rewarding connections.
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