Love Without Sex: Building a Relationship with an Asexual Partner
Everyone in the queer community knows it's not easy to be different. It's more than who we love or how we identify. It's about how we look, what we wear, what labels are on our documents, and just generally if we fit into society's rules. Even in the midst of the LGBTQ alphabet soup, one group that gets overlooked a lot is asexuals (which is a word my word processor doesn't even know yet. Yikes.)
So asexuals deal with a lot of the same frustrating things other members of the queer community face. They get erased by mainstream culture. They get told they just haven't met the right partner yet. Sometimes they're even told it's impossible for them to exist. That's a lot of painful baggage to deal with. Then everything gets even more complicated when it comes to dating. After all, asexual people don't exclusively date other ace people. How do you find a balance between desires when someone who is sexual dates someone asexual? Like many things, it's about respect and being an awesome partner.
Asexuality represents a full spectrum, from grey-ace and demisexuals who like sex sometimes or under certain circumstances to those who are sex-repulsed and want nothing to do with what's going on in your pants. It's a good idea to figure out where your partner's stop signs are in general. With an ace sweetheart it really shows how much you value their identity that you're willing to take these matters seriously.
Being ace is just as real as being gay or bi or trans, so make sure you don't go into dating an asexual expecting them to change down the line. (Unless, of course, they're the sort of person who becomes aroused with greater emotional intimacy. Whew! Love sure gets complicated!) Yes, this is really how they are and it's unlikely to change. If your cutie only wants make-outs or hand-holding until the end of time, make sure you respect that. It doesn't mean you can never ask for a hand-job, just be sure that hand-jobs are at least a 'maybe'.
Find New Forms of Intimacy
This one is huge! The biggest reason that most people seek out monogamy instead of numerous casual relationships is because of the emotional intimacy that comes with it. For lots of couples sex is a means of expressing that intimacy, but that doesn't mean it has to be the only option!
Think about the differences between a standard romantic relationship and friends with benefits. Yes, both involve friendship and sex, but there are a number of important differences as well. Relationships are about established commitment, communication, compatible goals, and vulnerability. With all those things you are able to build a beautiful bond with your partner.
As for the lighter side of intimacy, it again depends on what your partner is into but tends to include kisses, hugs, lots of cuddles, and all the bonding activities you'd want to have anyway such movie nights at home or going to drag shows together!
Come Up with a Sexual Compromise
And, alright, as sweet as I make it sound there are some people for whom sex is very significant part of their lives. There's nothing wrong with that, the question just becomes do you need to have sex with the person you're dating? Is sex intrinsic to you vision of love, or is it a nice bonus?
Luckily we live in an age where ethical nonmonagamy is totally a thing! (Even if my spellcheck doesn't know what that is either.) If the amount of sex your partner can provide for you isn't enough, have an honest and open conversation about opening up your relationship. Once again, communication is key. Is it okay to go on dates or just have sex with others? Can these lovers become additional partners? How much do you want to talk about these sexual encounters? Also, don't assume you'll be the only one looking for other dates! Asexual people can enjoy having multiple partners too! It's an amazing new world out there and there are numerous ways to build a relationship or relationships. Don't be afraid to try something new.
Many asexual people and their partners have concerns about their relationships. How is it possible to have long-term love with incompatible sex drives? Hopefully I've been able to answer that question in this article, but in case you still have doubts I wanted to emphasize that this writing didn't come out of thin air. My research included interviews with very happy sexual/asexual couples, two who were married and one that had been together for over a decade. If you're in a relationship with an ace person or are asexual yourself I want to make it clear that you can have the same sort of happily ever after that many people dream. Don't give up. Find what works for you and let love lead the way!