reader question: I go through the same cycle every few years. I am lovingly attracted to men, I will go to a dating site or app. I’ll be happy to meet them after chatting, and on most dates I’ve been on, I’ll have a great time and feel like we’re connecting. But everyone always wants to get physical after a single date. I’m never in it. After the first date or two, the kiss would end fairly quickly and be tolerable. But as new dates came up, I became more and more stressed about what was expected of me. I would fixate on it and can’t even relax, let alone be open to enjoying anything physical. And then I resent it, which is unfair of me because I never said anything to indicate my feelings, and I break it off.
I know I’m capable of physical attraction because I’ve felt it many times, but unfortunately it was never reciprocated so I have no idea where something like that would lead. Or I felt it while reading romance novels. I also had a religious upbringing which confused my head, so I don’t know what is related to that. I’m not averse to sex, I just feel like I need a little time. I recently tried to put demisexual on my dating app profile. But that didn’t really help. I went on a date, and he was still coming after my face after just a few hours. I had four glasses and it still didn’t help me. I closed it with an excuse because I can’t keep doing the same thing as before.
I think the problem is that I don’t know when or how to communicate about it. I feel weird going into too much detail on a profile without meeting someone first, because what if no one gives me a chance?
It seems incredibly difficult. However, it can be helpful to know that you are not alone.
As a bisexual, I know very well the feeling of other people acting like they know better than you about your own orientation, so the last thing I want to do is project onto you, whether it’s a label or how you should live your life. That said, I believe many insights can be drawn from the ace (asexual) and aro (aromantic) community.
While the general public queer (attracted to other people) the population may have made you feel like you needed fixing, the reality is that a small – but substantial and growing – percentage of the population identify as asexual. Within this category there are a variety of experiences, ranging from those who desire romantic relationships to those who do not (who may identify as a romantic). the asexual population includes those who have sexual desire under certain circumstances or once an emotional connection is fostered (they may use demisexual as a label) as well as those who have no sexual desire at all, or just not for others. This list is far from exhaustive, because as many people as there are, there are unique experiences of desire.
I’ve asked folks at as and aro for advice on dating in the queer world and got a ton of great responses. To verify this link to know more.
“I’ve come to accept that as a demisexual, grey-romantic person, I’ll just be a little confused forever, which is okay. That said, choosing the people in my life carefully was a critical step towards I stopped believing people who saw my sexual and love orientations as something to be fixed and started surrounding myself only with people who respect me enough to believe what I tell them and not push my feelings away. It allowed me to get out of fight or flight mode and heal enough that I could then think clearly about myself – my real wants and needs, and the kind of relationships I was interested in. Basically, I started to think, and if the heteronormative societal rules did not exist, what would make me happy Leaving behind the mindset that romantic relationships are the most important type of relationship of all the times and truly exploring the variety of existing partnerships is the best gift I can give myself. There are so many ways to have emotional and physical intimacy and life partnerships outside of the narrow heteronormative norm sold to us. -H
“I have long considered myself a failure and dysfunctional because I have never tried very hard to date anyone, even calling myself a coward. The fact that I like romantic stories a lot, that I like to write about expeditions and having some sense of excitement that people are “sexy” (being off as soon as it involves me or actual sex scenes) helped blur the issue A friend of mine pointed out to me that feeling happy when people feel happy with each other is a whole other thing… A romantic relationship is not necessarily deeper or more intense than a friendship. ‘d really like to see people normalize the idea that friendship isn’t just a consolation prize.
“I’m a polyamorous, semi-panromantic asexual, and people don’t take well to about 99% of that. Even after explicitly explaining to people on dating apps (where my sexuality is in my bio) that I’m in no way interested in pursuing anything sexual with them, they take it as a challenge. They assume I mean for first dates, but when I have to reassure them that I’m never interested in sex, even if a relationship strikes, that’s when the insults and threats occur…. If I had to give any advice to any as/aro reading this: you don’t have to compromise for ANYBODY. People may try to convince you, threaten you, ghost you, or whatever, but as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. I wish I could say that the right person will eventually show up, but I make no such promises (especially because since I got out, I haven’t found my person yet). Surround yourself with people who love you and take care of you as you are. -K
“Give yourself space to grow, evolve, change and live in nuance. For years I assumed I couldn’t be on the asexual spectrum because I had sex, I I will have sex again and I have a high libido. So although I suspected I was Ace, I didn’t by definition think I was. Then I learned that Ace is on a spectrum and that there is Grissexuals and even that is on a spectrum. Within “Gray”, I found a language to understand myself.” – S
“Aspects [those on the asexual spectrum] can have relations with anyone. We are not limited to being exclusively with other aspects…. Always communicate and set boundaries, regardless of the relationship. With aros and aces, these should be applied more firmly and clearly. I suggest keeping aro and ace resources handy. The best advice I can give would be to figure out your aro and/or ace identity first and go from there. If you decide you want a relationship, think about your limits and what you are and don’t feel comfortable with. Honestly, I hate to say it, but you have to be prepared for harassment, ignorance, and rejection. You shouldn’t deal with someone who upsets you because you’re aspec. With rejection, I’d rather see you rejected for it than end up with someone who might abuse you for it. Never blame yourself for the reactions of others. -M
This advice is solid for any sexual orientation. First (and foremost), consider what you want and what you don’t want. Are you hoping for a specific relationship or type of connection? Should this dynamic take place in a romantic context? Identify your needs, wants, and limitations so you can communicate them to others. Anyone worthy of attention will respect your limits, anyone who exceeds them has disqualified themselves from the pleasure of your company.
There are a small number of asexual dating apps (not just on Bojack Rider) but with apps, there is less accountability. Dating is difficult for almost everyone, but you’re more likely to encounter respectful behavior if you meet someone through your existing social networks and shared activities instead. Good luck to you!