As I made it to the ripe age of 18, subsequently moving out of home and into the big city from my very small and very straight hometown, I felt elated knowing that a world of “adult” experiences lay ahead of me. Especially considering my queer identity, I was ready to experience my preferred “adult” experiences, or so I thought. I envisioned a very structured love story, one that looked suspiciously similar to a HSC chemistry paper flow chart.
Meet -> Like -> Love
Thus I began my journey, a journey of dating apps which was mostly brisk, but at times rather painful and demoralising. This didn’t necessarily worry me as it mirrored the experiences of most of my friends on the apps. Unlike them though, I found someone I got on with on my very first date – praise me as lucky or label me as desperate, both can be applied. The first date was smooth and pleasant. I assumed this was the most one could ask for.
Date two should’ve been a warning to me that something was off. I didn’t make any sexual or physically intimate advances, not that I ever had with my high school relationships, but now that I was older, maturer, I was ready. I was supposed to be ready. Date three was certainly not smooth, early in the night I asked to kiss them and they replied yes. Hours later they asked if they could kiss me again, and I said no. In the morning I freaked out, only to come out for what felt like the thousandth time, as asexual.
Asexuality is what many consider the middle child of the LGBT+ community, inoffensive but generally overlooked and forgotten by most. In my experience, so much of the queer community feels like it’s built off the romantic love people feel for each other, presumably leading to the sexual intimacy I had heard so much about. From what I could understand, a real relationship included sex, which was more of a hurdle for me than an exciting concept. I felt restricted and that I had gone on dates with this person just to accidentally lead them astray. It felt as if I was withholding some type of reward for all the work we’d put into getting to know each other.
There seems to be this expectation of sex, this expectation of something, this disappointment associated with taking it slow. Dating apps appeared to me as this overwhelming push to just get on with it. There’s no natural build up of interest, or intermediate period. Without this interlude, people on the asexual spectrum come to an impasse — you either label yourself as asexual and no one swipes right on you, or you don’t and force yourself to enjoy make-out sessions and lingering touches as you internally melt into a pile of self-loathing resulting in boundaries being broken.
I’ve been openly weird, openly queer, for what feels like my entire life, yet this, out of everything, is what estranges me. For months I was in a relationship and attempted to be alright, and normal. I attempted to want and crave something I had so little desire to be a part of. What I do know now is that I need time with romance and even then, there is no certainty of sexual intimacy. Hookups aren’t an option for me as I cannot end a date on a physical note, it feels somewhat of an insurmountable problem with the way apps are structured nowadays. There’s nothing natural about meeting someone over text; if it’s hard for sexually active people, it feels impossible for someone uninterested in sex in the early stages of a relationship. Asexuality is a spectrum, it doesn’t mean what many people assume it to. Many ace people have sex, many enjoy it, many don’t, many feel indifferent. It frightens me that I don’t know where I sit just yet, it frightens me that I can’t give someone a definite answer of what I want and don’t want to do.
I want to believe in romance and I want to believe that I can have it, I want to be on my seventh date and have no imposing structure on where we should be up to, no pressure to rush myself, first base is enough for me.