Ashera is a Marriage and Family Therapist with an extensive background in sexual health education. You can ask her stuff anonymously and she won’t get weirded out. Seriously, try her. Send your questioning queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After years and years of confusion and questioning and soul-searching, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I am asexual (or at least gray-/demi-). This realization has brought me a lot of peace and overwhelming relief. All well and good.
I’ve never really dated much, and I have yet to have sex. I’m not necessarily sex-averse, and don’t consider myself aromantic; I’m open to a “traditional” romantic and sexual relationship with the right person, but there obviously needs to be communication about what I/they want and need fairly early on. So here’s my conundrum: when do I tell dates/potential partners I’m 1. asexual, and 2. a virgin? I’m assuming not halfway through our first date, but also not during our wedding vows. How do I start that conversation? How can I help them understand that, while I’m asexual, I’m potentially open to “things” (without them misreading that as me just being coy)? Not knowing how to approach these subjects is one of the reasons I haven’t been dating much, and I’m tired of being scared to try. Any advice appreciated! Thanks!
Ace of Hearts
Dear Ace of Hearts,
I’m so happy that you’ve done a lot of the emotional legwork around knowing yourself. Figuring out your identity and your needs is half of the proverbial battle. Now the challenge is to make those words with your face at another person and have them respected! No biggie!
JK, that is mega challenging for *everyone.*
For those unfamiliar with some of these terms, there are people who exist that do not have a sexual drive. Like all things, sex drive occurs along a spectrum: there are people who seemingly can’t get enough and there are people who simply don’t experience it. There is a growing community of folk who openly do not experience a sex drive. This is referred to as being “asexual.” “Graysexual” or “Demisexual” people fall on the lower half of the sex-drive spectrum. Basically, for a Graysexual or Demisexual person to feel sexual attraction, they need specific needs to be met—be it emotional, physical, spiritual, or physical—before they get hot and bothered. A Demisexual person can comfortably go years without a sexual encounter, yet, if they meet someone that aligns with them on a deeply personal level, they are good to go.
Asexuality is not completely homogenous: there are romantic and aromantic asexual people. What this means is that some asexual people are totally uninterested in romantic relationships (aromantic), whereas others do want to hold hands and cuddle and maybe kiss, but their end game does not involve sex (romantic).
Dating always has challenges, but being a romantic asexual presents a very specific set of obstacles. In a sex-saturated world with a strong hook-up culture, it’s hard to find someone that just wants to go to dinner and maybe snuggle. It’s tough, but it’s not impossible. I have met married couples where both partners identify as asexual. They have loving, strong partnerships and their marriages look very much like any other. The trick to finding such a partnership is openness and communication.
How you date will play a big part in this. If you’re an online dater, there are certain apps that are Ace (asexual) friendly. If you are romantically attracted to women, the app “Her” has an option for asexuality. To my knowledge, there is not an analogous app for hetero-romantic folk, but there are a number of asexual dating sites like asexualitic.com and asexualromantic.com. Finding a platform where other people are looking for the same thing you are can be super helpful.
But what happens when that cute person you’ve seen around asks you to go for coffee? What then?
Revealing any personal part of ourselves is tough, but it can all be done in much the same fashion. You don’t need to blurt out, “OH, BTW I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU.” Feel out the conversation and make a friend. A lot of people put a lot of needless pressure on first dates. It doesn’t have to be “get married or be worst enemies forever.” It really should be like getting to know someone. If it feels safe after a while, bring up that you identify as asexual and that it’s a part of you. If anyone gives you the business about who you are, how you identify, or how you experience the world then they can go kick rocks. Like David Whyte says, “anything or anyone that does not bring you alive, is too small for you.”
As far as being open to “more:” if you find yourself building a partnership with someone, remember that sex is never an obligation. The decision to be sexual or not is always yours. You also do not need to structure your relationships based on a heteronormative monogamous model. If you are happy having a romantic and asexual partnership with someone, but are comfortable with them having sex with other people, that’s fine! Likewise, if you would prefer that they don’t experiment with others, that should be stated when the relationship starts to get serious.
In short, get to know yourself and where your boundaries lie.
Remember, you are not beyond love.