Photo: Christine Wang.
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On staying true to your sexuality while dating in university

I began identifying as asexual during my second year of university, but this road to self-discovery was not an easy one. After all, coming from a small town where no one talked about, or even knew about, obscure forms of sexuality, it took a long time to figure things out.

As I was with my high school boyfriend during my first year of post-secondary, I never really dated until my second year of university, which marked the real start of my dating life.

It wasn’t until I started dating that I realized just how far from “normal” I was. Instead of being attracted to anyone in a physical or sexual sense, I found myself drawn to people through intellectual or emotional connections. I’ve come to learn that you don’t need a physical connection to love someone fully.

I remember dating someone and they kept questioning why I wasn’t a very physical person and so I thought about it and realized I never really had been. That night, I went online to see if something was “wrong” with me and that’s where I found out about asexuality, and all the pieces started to fall into place.

Throughout my research, the one thing that came up over and over again was the fact that asexuality manifests itself in many different forms. This is because sexual and romantic orientation are different and on a spectrum.

Many people who identify as asexual refer to themselves as aces. There’s the ace of hearts, which refers to people who experience romantic attraction, but not physical. The ace of spades is reserved for those who don’t experience any romantic attraction at all (also known as aromantic asexuals). There’s also the ace of diamonds, which refers to people who experience either a romantic or sexual attraction with someone they share an emotional connection with (also known as demi-sexuals). Finally, there’s the ace of clubs, which refers to people who rarely experience romantic or sexual attraction, if at all (which are also known as grey-asexuals).

Now, getting to know yourself is great, but dating in university while identifying as asexual, that’s the hard part.

Dating is complex and it’s always hard to know when you should tell that new special someone that you’re asexual. Every time I started seeing someone new after identifying as an asexual, I made sure I was very upfront and open about it.

There were a few guys I dated that were still virgins, and those were actually the best relationships I had, since sex was never a problem. It was everyone else I dated where I found myself with issues.

Based on my experiences, there are two major issues you come across while dating as an asexual. However, this isn’t the case for all aces as everyone’s experiences and needs vary.

First, there’s always a general lack of knowledge of asexuality amongst the general public.

Anytime I talk to someone about the fact that I’m asexual, even now after graduating, it’s always a conversation that leads to educating the other person about asexuality. Most of the time I’m often met with confusion and blank stares because they truly don’t understand how physical attraction is not something I think about. What people don’t seem to get is that my attraction to people I date largely comes from an emotional attraction, whether it’s that I think they’re funny, smart, or genuine.

Secondly, unless you’ve found a diamond in the rough, there is eventually going to be a lack of understanding of what dating an asexual entails.

No matter how upfront I am with the person I’m dating, eventually my asexuality has always turned into a problem. Most people I’ve dated eventually begin to complain that I don’t initiate sex enough or that it’s not frequent enough. What they fail to understand is that I am more than capable of having sex but my emotional needs have to be fulfilled first as it’s more than just a physical connection.

At the end of the day, dating as an ace is hard. A lot of people just don’t understand. But I find the best way to get past it is just take everything with a grain of salt and stay true to yourself.

And lots of cake. That helps too.