Are you on the asexuality spectrum and interested in dating? If so, this guide is for you!
Yes, you might already know this intellectually. But because there’s a misconception that romance isn’t accessible to people on the asexuality spectrum who want it, it can still be helpful to hear (er, read)!
“The broad definition of asexuality is little to no sexual attraction,” she says. “That doesn’t say anything about romantic attraction or partnerships.” True!
In case you don’t know: People have a sexual orientation *and* a romantic orientation.
“Someone might be asexual and homoromantic, or asexual and biromantic, or any other combination,” Kaszyca explains.
A nonexhaustive list of common romantic orientations includes:
- Aromantic. You experience little to no romantic attraction to anyone.
- Biromantic. You have the potential to be romantically attracted to people of two or more genders.
- Demiromantic. You experience romantic attraction infrequently, but when you do it’s only after a strong emotional connection has been developed.
- Heteroromantic. You only experience romantic attraction to people with a different gender than you.
- Homoromantic. You only experience romantic attraction to people with a similar gender as you.
- Polyromantic. You have the potential to be romantically attracted to people of many genders.
Do you need to have your list of identifiers locked under key before embarking on a dating journey? No, not at all!
But Kaszyca, who is demisexual, says it can be helpful. Knowing your identity can help you know your boundaries around sexual activity, she explains.
When she was first figuring out where she is on the asexuality spectrum, she says, “I had a lot of anxiety and nervousness around going on dates because I didn’t know what to do if someone wanted to hook up or have sex with me.”
Once she learned the label “demisexual,” she found it easier to explain her personal boundaries and needs around sex.
Or, if you’re comfortable dating someone who is allosexual.
“Some people on the asexuality spectrum prefer to date other people on the asexuality spectrum because there’s an immediate understanding of your experience as asexual,” Kaszyca says.
Often, dating someone who’s also asexual results in less anxiety around sex or the pressure to have sex down the line, she adds.
But some people on the asexuality spectrum are totally comfortable dating someone allosexual, and maybe even enjoy sex despite not experiencing sexual attraction.
“Typically, someone’s feelings on dating someone who’s allosexual will depend on whether or not they’re sex-repulsed, sex-neutral, or something else altogether,” Kaszyca explains.
To determine your own preference on this topic, you may find it helpful to ask yourself these questions:
- Am I sex-repulsed? Am I sex-neutral? Am I intrigued by sex? Am I interested in having sex?
- What’s my preferred relationship structure?
- Do I want to date someone asexual?
- How do I feel about my partner having sex with people other than myself?
According to Kaszyca, “It’s relatively common for asexual people to be in long-distance relationships with other asexual people where they don’t see each other often, or meet in person ever.”
Thinking through your own thoughts on being long-distance may help you determine how you’ll meet someone (IRL or URL). Or, if URL, the max distance between you that feels doable for you for regular visits.
The online asexual community is poppin’!
“We’re all over the internet!” says Yasmin Benoit, MSc, asexuality activist and creator of the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike. “There’s an ace community on pretty much every platform.”
“There’s /asexuality on Reddit, asexuality Facebook groups, and asexual folks on Tumblr,” Benoit explains. “There’s also an ace community on Twitter, Instagram, and Discord.”
Plus, Benoit says, “the AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) forums, which have been around for decades, are often a starting point for a lot of people.”
Yep, those exist!
These can be great because you won’t have to worry about acting as Asexuality Google. Or about debunking asexuality myths and misconceptions, which can get exhausting.
As Kaszyca says, “It’s uncommon to be able to tell someone ‘I’m asexual’ or ‘I’m demisexual’ and have them know what you mean.”
Some dating apps like OKCupid allow you to indicate that you’re asexual right in your bio (the way other folks might indicate “lesbian” or “heterosexual”).
“I’d definitely recommend putting it in your bio just to save some time,” Benoit says. “If it’s a deal breaker, then it’s best to know that from the start so that neither of you waste any of your time.” Makes sense.
But with 95 to 99 percent of the population identifying as allosexual, it’s statistically easier to meet someone allosexual in person.
Regardless, to meet someone in person you might:
- Join a local dodgeball team.
- Volunteer at your local charity.
- Start a running club.
- Introduce yourself to a regular at your local gym.
- Give your number to the coffee shop regular you see each week.
- Attend events at your local library.
So you met someone at a bar who you’re totally vibing. Or you’ve been chatting up a cutie from Tinder and didn’t put “asexual” in your bio. How and when should you come out?
There’s no one-size-fits-all rule.
“It depends on how well you know the person,” Benoit says.
“If you’re comfortable with the person and you’ve already gotten to know each other, then you might find it easier to tell them in person,” she says. “However, there’s no shame in doing it over a text or an online message. In fact, it can be easier to share resources that way.”
Benoit explains that many people don’t know what asexuality is, or what it means for dating. Text messaging allows you to send links that’ll do the explaining for you.
You might say:
- “There’s something I’d like to share with you before we meet up: I’m asexual. Specifically, heteroromantic and asexual! Many people don’t know what that means so I’m going to paste a link below for you to check out.”
- “We haven’t talked about this yet, but I’m demisexual, which means I only experience sexual desire after really getting to know someone. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you and would love to continue doing so, but want to make sure you understand what I’m physically up for at this moment.”
- “Have you ever seen the show ‘BoJack Horseman’? Well, Todd and I have something in common beyond our devilishly good looks… We’re both asexual. I’m gonna paste a link about asexuality so you can learn more. After reading, feel free to ask me any questions you might have.”
Some ace folks do have an interest in having sex, for a variety of reasons.
This might be to:
- feel close to their partner
- experience a new sensation
- satisfy a partner’s desire
- experience sexuality
If having sex is something you do want to do, have a conversation with your partner ahead of time about:
- why you want to have sex
- what sex means to you
- who will initiate the sex
- how you’ll communicate if you lose interest in sex or are done having it
It’s not your sexual orientation that determines your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and potential for pregnancy.
It’s factors such as the:
- barrier methods and birth control options you use, if any
- current STI statuses of you and your partner(s)
- anatomy combinations of you and your partner(s)
In other words: It is possible to be asexual and transmit or contract an STI. And it is possible to be asexual and become pregnant.
“It can be hard to honor your boundaries in a relationship as an ace person because you’re told by society that the way you experience desire is abnormal,” says Angela Chen, author of “Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex.”
Because of that, she says it can be helpful to constantly remind yourself that your boundaries are valid, and that any allosexual (or asexual) person who makes you feel like they aren’t, isn’t deserving of you.
“Your needs and desires aren’t less important because they’re less common,” Chen says.
“It’s definitely possible for someone who’s asexual to be in a romantic relationship that is happy and healthy,” Chen says.
Does dating as an asexual person require some self-reflection, self-knowing, and boundary-setting? You betcha! But that’s just dating in a nutshell.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.