I have never been on a date.
In my 25 years of life, not once has another person planned out a night in detail where we would spend time together alone. Not once. Even though I was in a relationship for 6 years. It was a hard relationship with lots of abuse and manipulation but one thing I’ll always remember about it was that he never took me on a date. Whether it was because we were still young and he didn’t know how to properly plan one, or because he just didn’t think I was worth it. I don’t know and I’ll never ask him. But we never went on one. I haven’t been in a relationship since him but there have been other people that I’ve connected with. I never went on dates with those people either. It just wasn’t something people wanted to do with me.
When I started identifying as Asexual, the idea of dating was pushed to the deepest darkest part of my mind and left there. I didn’t want to date anyone. I wasn’t really interested in being “in love” and I most certainly didn’t want romance from anyone. I still don’t want those things, but back then I used the label of asexuality to justify my way of thinking. That’s not what Asexuality is, and I soon learned this but I still hid behind it. It was easier that way.
Online I see many asexuals who do want to date and have romance and find love. And that interests me, in more ways than one. I don’t have those wants and desires anymore but I’ve always found the idea of human connection on a romantic and sexual level fascinating. We’re told that humans crave companionship and while I don’t really believe that, I see it being proven true more and more every day. I watch my fellow Aces as they struggle with dating and connecting with others, I watch as they recount the endless stories of how relationships ended before they could even get started. Once asexuality was brought to the discussion, many of my fellow Aces have similar stories of how they were turned away or shunned. It hurts them and in turn, makes me feel some kind of way. I’ve always found it strange the way society pushes sex and all acts of it down our throats. The way we’re conditioned to believe that sex is the most important reason for wanting to have a relationship with someone. People get into relationships for sex; sure they’re also looking for love and a life long partner but sex is usually the center of all relationships. If the sexual chemistry isn’t there, then the relationship falls apart. Or at least that’s what we’ve been trained to believe all our lives.
Sex is cool, for the most part. I never really liked it even before my assault, but I understand why people enjoy it so much. It’s not something I think I’ll ever really be into again and because of this, my perspective on sex and the way it controls romantic relationships is different from most people. In a sense, I’ve removed myself from the equation that makes up the possibility of having sex with someone else. I tell people I’ve turned that part of my brain off and though that’s not quite accurate (Let alone even possible?) it’s the best way I can describe it. And I had to come up with a way to describe it because when you tell someone that you aren’t into sex, they take that as permission to start asking invasive and personal questions. I learned to shut down those questions by letting people know the way I view sex and the way they view sex is very different. It’s important to most of the people I talk to, so important that they can’t fathom the idea of having a relationship without it. These days, I can’t fathom the idea of having a relationship where sex is so important our connection hinges on it. Perspective is obviously a very important tool to have.
In previous articles, I’ve talked a lot about the hyper-sexualization of Black women and the kind of trauma it can have on us. It’s something that I’d really like to dismantle in our society but with the way sex, in general, is such a big part of our beings as humans, the only thing I can really do is study hypersexualization and combat it as much as others are willing to listen. For me, hypersexualization plays a very big part in Black dating. No matter the sexual orientations of the people in the relationships. When two Black People get together one of the first things that people bring up, to their faces or behind their backs depends on the situation, is what their sex life must be like. In high school, I had only been with my boyfriend for a week or so before other girls were coming up to me asking what sex with him was like. My younger cousins just got her first boyfriend last fall, the first thing her friends and people older than her were asking? What was the sex like? She’s only sixteen, and it nearly made me irate that she was being asked that. But then I remembered, I was sixteen when people started asking me.
Nearly everything Black people do gets sexualized, little girls running around in diapers are called fast and boy toddlers that play with girl toddlers are asked frequently if the little girl is their girlfriend. As if everyone wouldn’t lose their minds if the toddlers started kissing and acting as if they were in an actual relationship. However, as we get older it gets worse and more obvious. Black girls are never given the chance to be little, we are preyed upon and ignored when we bring it up. Black preteen and teenage boys are forced into sexual situations that many aren’t ready for and learn to take pride in mistreating girls and women because their older brothers, uncles, and daddies praise them for it. As adults, Black women with any kind of shape are viewed through a sexual lens and a sexual lens only, they can be the smartest person in the room and will still only be asked for their number. When a Black woman doesn’t have a shape she gets ridiculed and mocked for it, I’ve watched many petite Black women nearly lose themselves trying to mold their body to a shape it wasn’t meant to be. So that they can get the same attention other Black women are receiving, even when these women speak out about not wanting it. On the other side, Black men face their own hyper-sexualization. If they’re tall and big then it’s assumed they’re aggressive in bed and only want rough sex. If they’re short then they’re ridiculed for being “small like females” and if they’re fat then they have to be absolutely perfect in every other way. Same goes for fat Black women. Everything we do and everything about the way we are is scrutinized and looped back around in some way to sex.
On the internet, there are hundreds of running “jokes” that set impossible standards for relationships. If you don’t do this, this and this then you aren’t dating material and deserved to be laughed at for not having these high set standards. The other day on Twitter I watched as women shared tips and secret ways of spying on their boyfriends to make sure they aren’t cheating. And I watched as men listed out things women must do for them to even consider giving them a second glance. It’s a constant war in the dating world it seems, to prove which partner is more right than the other. People say they’re in relationships with each other for love when they’re really in some sort of weird competition that the only prize is the praise of strangers on the internet.
So when you have all this to unpack and add Asexuality on top of that, it gets really complicated in almost record time. I haven’t yet tried to date someone, since coming out as Ace but I have had others try to date me. Even when they swore they weren’t and we were just friends, they all had in their minds that if they waited me out long enough I’d eventually “date normally”, which yes someone actually said to me. I don’t let people get even slightly close anymore but a few of my Ace friends have been trying to make next level connections with people. And the stories they come back to with me are always along the same lines. People hear the word asexual and think that it means the person won’t ever have sex with them and won’t ever be attracted to them. That’s not true at all. There are quite a few Aces that still have sex and whatever reason they have for it is valid. There are Aces who are only comfortable with some sexual things and they too are valid. Then there are the Aces who are only interested in a romantic relationship with no sex and the Aces that are against sex in all forms. All of them are valid in their ways of approaching relationships, sex, and connections. But just because they’re valid doesn’t make dating or searching for love any easier, especially when you’re judged before things even get started.
A common retort to this problem is that Ace people can just date each other or themselves. Which is hurtful to some, because anyone who wants love should be able to try and achieve it. To have your feelings dismissed and ignored, or to be told: “go date your own kind” can have long-lasting effects on a person. I’m not arguing that everyone has to date Aces because there is such a thing as having a preference but I am arguing that Asexual Representation needs to become more common and information about Asexuals needs to be readily available. It’s not. I learned about Asexuality through word of mouth, Tumblr and the one or two websites I could find that wasn’t mocking it. Asexuality is a spectrum, like all sexualities. There are Aces who don’t want anything to do with sex (me for now), there are Aces who only want romance and no sex. I’ve met Aces who are only okay with kissing and nothing else, Aces who like the way people look and nothing else and I have even come across a few Aces who want nothing to do with anyone or anything. Each Ace is different and should be judged by the kind of person they are, not just based off solely on the fact they are asexual
I don’t believe in romantic love, it’s a personal choice. I know this about myself and approach others and react to others accordingly. Everyone isn’t like me though and a lot of the time respect and communication gets lost in the chaos of uncertainty. Dating and love have become such a game that the art of it is often lost. Two people connecting on a level that they can’t find with anyone else is a great thing. There’s nothing wrong with love being a game when it’s played together with respect. But it makes me sad when I hear the rumbling and musing of my fellow Aces as they talk about how they aren’t even allowed to play the game in first place.