I was at an Ace meetup and, after listening to my dating travails, someone asked me, “Hey, why don’t you start a blog on Ace dating?”
So here I am. Why am I doing this?
I’m a thirty-five year old woman who discovered she was asexual three years ago after reading this Washington Post article. I knew I wasn’t interested in sex and dating the way people are supposed to since high school. But I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling or that terms actually exist to describe my experience. During the ensuing years, I regularly attended my local Ace (a slang term for asexual) Meetup group and become an event organizer. I became interested in asexual activism. I now identify as a bisexual, demisexual woman who does want to be in a relationship one day.
I want to focus on my dating (mis)adventures here with minor diversions now and then (like posts about my family and friends). I hope that I can educate the general public on what it’s like being an Ace person seeking a relationship and help other Aces by sharing my story.
I need to take a break from online dating. It feels like I was going out practically every weekend during the past couple of months to see someone. I’ve gradually slowed things down because the level of time and dedication I had to sustain to browse through profiles, talk to people, and schedule dates were tiring. And now I’m not really interested in trying to meet new people because of the holidays and I’m trying to be better with going to work-related events and networking.
I’ve never been one of those people who loved dating. I always feel a low-level of stress every time I meet someone. First dates are kind of like performance art- you’re trying to present your best self. If that date is successful, the subsequent dates are meant to further the relationship. So, I feel pressure to present my best possible self and try to judge whether I’m compatible with the other person. I don’t think this process is romantic at all. It probably doesn’t help that my analysis of the other person tends to be practical and cold-blooded. 🙂
I think the most important reason why I need to take a break is because I’m tired of thinking about coming out to allosexuals. Since asexuality and demisexuality are not well known, I have to provide asexuality 101 to people who I meet. I have to wield stupid questions or confusion about what makes demisexuality different from allosexuals who are not into hookups. I can say I don’t want to have sex and still be invited to overnight stays from people who’ve I’ve just starting talking to online.
Feeling stress from discrimination is a well-studied area (toxic stress from discrimination faced by ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people are a THING now in public health circles). I feel like I’m experiencing stress that is kind of like that. I mean, I feel like I have to be cautious when coming out to strangers. I resent being in a position where I’m forced act as a representative of Ace people when I don’t want to. I resent having men think that they can convert me to a sexual person because they’re so charming, etc. As if my lack of sexual activity isn’t proof enough that I’m not really interested.
I like dating best when I’m seeing another Ace person. I appreciate that they understand me at a fundamental level. I also feel secure in the knowledge that they won’t pressure me to engage in sexual activity. There’s a sense of freedom from that. But dating Ace people has it’s own challenges- finding an Ace man, let alone someone I’m compatible with, is like finding a needle in the haystack.
I’m having a very hard time finding The One. Maybe I’ll try next year. It’ll be one of my New Year’s resolutions!
As I’m going through the process of online dating, I realized that I never really talked about what my conception of love was on this blog. I talked about what kind of people I’m attracted to, my reasons for wanting a partner, etc. But it didn’t occur to me that I should address love as a topic until recently.
I probably consumed way too many romance novels, TV shoes and movies because I still believe that everyone has a soul mate or two who they are matched with. This belief is probably naive and unrealistic for many people but there it is. It definitely shows that I have a strong romantic orientation even if I’m asexual.
I’m not entirely a starry eyed dreamer however. I don’t have any desire to be swept off my feet. I’m more comfortable with the slow build up to attraction and love. I want to get to know the person I’m with before committing myself because my word is my bond. Some people tend to cycle through their relationships pretty quickly, but I can’t imagine doing that for myself. I think once I say, “I love you” to someone, I’ll really mean it and will be in it for life.
I’ve only said “I love you” to only handful of people in my life- my family and a couple of close friends. I’ve never said it to a potential romantic partner, even in a joking manner. I think the relationship has to be really serious for me to say the words. Even when I was with Tom,* I never told him I loved him because I was unsure if my feelings qualified as love and I was so unclear what the status of our relationship was that I wasn’t going to go there (I put my foot in my mouth in other ways in the relationship). I’m so cautious in saying, “I love you” to people, that “love” is probably used as little as the other four letter word “fuck” in my everyday speech. (As a non sequitur, I’ve managed to shock people when I use curse words because I use them so sparingly.)
Ultimately, I want to find “my person” or someone who I can go home to. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to feel like the other person truly sees me and is rooting for my success. I want to feel like I can lean on them for support when/if something bad happens. This is my definition of a loving relationship. I don’t want anything really fancy or a whirlwind romance. I just want to live my life knowing that I’m not alone in this world.
*All names in this blog are fictional to protect individuals’ privacy.
I had a first date last Saturday. I was more impressed with the venue, a fancy Mediterranean restaurant located near Grand Central Station in NYC, rather than by the man himself. We had many things in common so we didn’t lack subjects to talk about. However, I did not like how he wasn’t dressed appropriately for the venue (he dressed pretty casually in a semi-formal environment). And his mannerisms were slightly off, for example like he didn’t like giving eye contact. He seemed nice but I was turned off by my first impression of him. However, I’m going to meet him again next weekend to see if anything changes if he gets used to me.
Since I had that date, I was thinking about how much value I place on social status and appearances. Ever since I started trying to date more seriously, I realized that I have criteria that I vaguely was aware of before. I like well-educated and intellectual men who have good jobs. I want them to be financially stable and have good relationships with their family. I want them to understand social situations and perform appropriately. I obviously think that my partner reflects me in some way and I don’t ever want to be embarrassed by him.
Some may find this very cold, practical and unromantic. I guess I’m fine with that assessment. I want to know that I chose the best person that I can find to be with me. I do place value on personal chemistry since I have to like the person too, even if they satisfy my internal criteria. But I don’t want to be swept off my feet by love or lust in any way. I prefer the slow build-up to love.
I wonder if this kind of attitude scared off a lot of people. Or if I drove off potential suitors because I found them unacceptable. However, I don’t know how much my asexuality also prevented people from approaching me. I’m sure I confused people because of my lack of interest in dating even though I was “normal” in every other way. I’m working on trying to be less reserved (a couple of people told me that I give off positive and maternal vibes, which I found positive).
While I was drafting this blog post, I was listening to Diana Krall’s I’m Not In Love.
*Please note that this post is NSFW.
Asexuality is a spectrum. There are Aces with varying degrees of openness to sex, touch, intimate relationships. I fall on the more sexual side of the Asexuality spectrum. I feel like I’m pushing the boundaries of how sexual one can be without actually desiring sexual intercourse.
I identify as bisexual. However, I’m more attracted to men than women. My sexual fantasies generally involve me having a sexual encounter with a man, but will involve women maybe 10% of the time. I think that I’ll most likely have a relationship with a man, but I won’t rule out having a long-term relationship with a woman.
One of my longest fantasies that I’ve had was being taken from behind by someone who I’m prevented from seeing. I cannot turn around because I’m leaning forward on a desk. I just have to take what’s happening. I think I liked this fantasy because it wades into BDSM territory without being overtly so. And it allows me to fantasize about doing something with another person that I have very limited experience in. I know enough about sex to know what happens physically. However, it’s different reading about something versus experiencing it real life.
This taken-from-behind fantasy is slightly ruined for me because Amir* tried to recreate it while we were together. It was…anxiety producing. I think if I tried recreating it with someone I trusted, I would’ve felt better about the experience. Despite my unease, I found that I liked some parts of role playing the fantasy. I found that I liked feeling how much Amir desired me as he ground his erection against me. I liked seeing the two of us in the vanity mirror, his dark skin a contrast to my lighter one.
Despite my fantasies, I’m less likely to act on them than the normal person. I’ll accept sexual touch but it takes me long time to get there. I’ve been thinking about what it means to negotiate physical intimacy in a relationship, given how much I enjoy physical touch and affection and yet can’t/won’t do anything without lots of trust and “practice”. I feel a little like I’m enclosed somehow by being an Ace person and having limits on what I can experience through my body. I’m not sad about this exactly. I feel wistful.
* All names in this blog are fictional to protect individuals’ privacy.
While I was drafting this blog post, I was listening to Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do and Aaliyah’s I Refuse, Are You That Somebody, We Need A Resolution (Aaliyah is one of my favorite R&B singers and her songs stand the test the time.)
I went on a first date last Friday with another person I met on OkCupid. He seemed like a nice enough guy but I didn’t feel like we had chemistry. He seemed like he was one of those people who played Dungeons and Dragons when he was a teenager and viewed himself as a social outcast…. and never really grew out of it. I feel like my personality would have dominated him and we would both be miserable. I have this image of me constantly criticizing him for not being able to function in society in a way that I find satisfactory. That is obviously not awesome.
I feel like I’m slowly getting into the swing of things in the dating front. I downloaded OkCupid onto my phone maybe a month or two after I moved back to New York and never used it for months afterward. I think I was not ready to start looking seriously. I’m still having crippling anxiety, but I’m much more serious about using the app and I think that I put a pretty good game face when I meet my dates. I’m not really afraid of dating. It’s just that I don’t trust my judgment anymore about relationships and who I can rely on.
I met some Ace folks yesterday for dinner, drinks, and playing games at pinball machines. It was really nice to see people but it was a long day. One of my Ace bffs invited me to a BDSM munch next Friday. I’m excited to go. I haven’t gone to a munch in a long time and it’ll be my first in New York.
I want someone to dominate me. I feel like I’m happiest when I’m serving someone. It definitely affected my career choices since I worked in public service for a long time. I’m like that with my family and friends as well. So, why should my romantic relationships be any different? I definitely don’t want a D/S relationship that looks like a master-slave relationship. But I’m not sure how that kind of relationship would work with someone like me who’s more interested in the power exchange part of BDSM more than the sex.
The friend who invited me to the munch and I get along so well that I wish I felt romantic feelings towards him. But I don’t. But it’s nice to be able to rely on him.
While drafting this blog post, I’ve been listening to Handel’s Messiah.
Depression is a terrible thing. It also comes in different flavors, and you get to know them well if you’re fortunate enough to be depressed for a long time.
I’ve had depression since I was a teenager. It never goes away despite medications, therapy, good things happening to me, etc. I took anti-depressants a couple of years ago but stopped. The medication made me feel like I was numb or bubble-wrapping myself against my bad feelings. I thought that I’d rather feel my scary emotions. Of course, this is no way a statement against anti-depressants; they work for many people and should be taken under medical supervision. I have little use for therapy but I used a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) app on my phone and that was helpful. I thought CBT is useful because it provides pointers to modify your behavior without going through the tedious ritual of discussing what happened to you when you were growing up, etc. I should try that again.
The truly worst days of my depression is behind me. I don’t miss those days when I felt like I was psychologically drowning. I haven’t felt that kind of hopelessness for a long time.
For the past year, I felt like I’m tired all the time. The simplest things seem to require tremendous effort. I’m probably failing on multiple fronts in my career and personal life because I can’t muster enough energy to get things done. And yet, I’m genuinely a busy person who probably looks high-functioning. So, I’m not sure how reality matches my perception of myself.
I talked to an Ace friend about this and he said something like, “Well, you do things that happy people do so you must be happier than you think you are.” I don’t know what to make of that statement; it can be the most profound statement ever or totally wrong. But he has 15 years on me, so maybe he was more perspective on life than I do.
I view my mental health status as being totally separate from my identity as an Ace person. I’ve never viewed myself as lacking because I don’t have a partner or don’t have an X number of people who I slept with. I identified myself as being a depressed person way before I identified as Ace. But I’m sure both identities are intertwined for some people. I’m truly curious about this. I’ll have to Google this and do some research.
On Friday, I had a second date with a guy who I met through OkCupid. We met at a nice restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where we both ordered fish entrees and I ordered a Moscow mule. After our meal, we went to a nearby Japanese tea shop for tea and desserts. We definitely over-ordered there. We got our tea, shaved ice, mochi and ice cream. But I would go back to the restaurant and tea shop again because the atmosphere and food were delicious.
I think that I won’t go to those places with him again. If he messages me, I want to say that we’re better off being friends. I don’t feel the desire to be involved with him romantically. I usually feel some kind of pull or urge if I’m romantically interested in a person. And it doesn’t seem like he does either. I thought we got along well, but there’s usually some sign that the other person wants to be with you romantically. They’ll lightly touch you on the arm or the hand or put a hand on your back to guide you through a crowded area. They’ll kiss you goodbye either on the lips or on the cheek. He didn’t do any of those things. He’s also very quiet on the messaging front. I felt kind of relieved at first because I hate endless texting and find nonstop flirting to be draining. But he’s too silent and I think that’s disconcerting.
I suspect that he’s asexual because of the way he acts. He didn’t come out to me and we didn’t have a discussion about my demisexuality. But I have a hunch after being around other Aces for the past 4-5 years. I actually rather date other Aces because they understand me. But, even if my assumption is correct, I don’t see him as someone who I want to be partnered with. I’m a little sad because he’s a nice guy. It would have been great if we had that special chemistry.
On a final note, I find meeting new people to be very tiring. I know I have to keep trying, but I find it challenging to be on all the time. Dating is harder for me than my role as Ace event host where I meet many strangers at once, maybe because I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. I’m still feeling anxiety before my dates but that will go away eventually. I think I started this blog originally trying to lighthearted but I don’t feel like that anymore.
While drafting this post, I listened to Leona Lewis’ Run and Better in Time, Lara Fabian’s I Will Love Again, and Demi Lovato’s Fix a Heart.