Maybe you were on an online dating site where “asexual” isn’t an option you can click. Maybe you met briefly at a bar and it didn’t come up until you suggested “getting out of here”. Maybe you’ve known this person for a long time, but it’s something they’ve only recently discovered about themselves.
However it happens, the bomb has been dropped, and you have no idea where to go from here.
Well, I do! Sort of. Here are some do’s and don’ts to get you started.
DO take a deep breath, so that you DON’T freak out. It’s okay to feel however this confession made you feel. Disappointed, angry, betrayed, led on — however you feel, you’re allowed. But remember: this person just came out to you. Coming out is always a little scary, but especially so when you’re coming out to a potential partner. The possibility of violence is probably on their minds right now. You don’t have to be all smiles and positivity right now, but if you don’t want to come out of this looking like a douche canoe, you do need to make this person feel the most basic sense of respect and safety. Take a moment to collect yourself, and if you’re having this talk in person, check your body language and tone of voice for anything that could be threatening. It’ll go a long way.
DON’T jump to conclusions. Contrary to what you might think, being asexual doesn’t necessarily mean sex is off the table. If you want to know the details of why that is, you can read my piece from last year on the topic. For our purposes, just know that asexuality is a spectrum, and even people who experience no sexual attraction at all might still enjoy having sex just as much as you do. What they’ve told you is important, but it’s not the whole story. It’s just the starting point. If you want to know the rest of it…
DO ask questions! Respectful, helpful ones, of course. Here are some examples to get you started:
I know the broad definition, but can I ask what being asexual means for you?
In terms of physical stuff, what’s off the table, and what’s not?
What would this relationship look like to you, ideally?
DON’T assume this is something that could change. It might be easier on your ego to think that this person has just been in a string of bad relationships, or is working through some trauma, or that something else is going on other than what they’re telling you, and You Could Fix It. But asexuality is real, it’s not a phase, and it doesn’t mean something’s “wrong” or something “happened”. It’s as much of an unchangeable fact about that person as their eye color.
DO be honest about what you want. You probably know what you need out of a relationship to be happy, and where sex fits into all of that. If you know it’s really important to you, and your date says it’s not something they’d ever want, it isn’t fair to either party for you to try and stick it out. That can only lead to resentment and pushed boundaries. As much as it hurts in the moment, it’ll hurt less in the long run if you part ways now.
DON’T feel pressured to answer right away. If you feel at all unsure about whether or not you want to pursue this, don’t be afraid to ask for some time to think about it. Maybe this is the first time you’ve thought about what a romantic relationship would look like without sex, or maybe you want to do your own research about asexuality. It’s okay to need some time on your own to think it all the way through, and your date will probably appreciate you taking that time, no matter what the answer is.
DO educate yourself. Whether it went amazing or awful, if this is your first time considering the concept of asexuality, it’s probably a good idea to look into it a bit more. It’s always nice to be more mindful of other people’s experiences, and it may even help you or someone you love find a community! I’ll shamelessly plug my page as a source of info about topics ranging from how to write ace characters to the kinds of conversion therapy some ace people are subject to. If you’re more of a watcher than a reader, this video is super comprehensive, covering the basics of ace identity, sexless intimacy, sexless kink, and featuring interviews from ace couples of all sorts.
And there you have it! Go forth, and here’s hoping everything….comes up aces.
I’ll see myself out.