Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dating Rules for the Ase Crowd

I'm a bit late on getting to this article, but it's ABSOLUTELY RELEVANT to what I am about to talk about, so here: A column from Dan Savage of Savage Love in which he answers a question concerning asexuality. I will quote the section here since it is way down there and I know too many people who don't use ctrl+F out there:

Does asexuality actually exist? My partner's younger brother claims to be asexual, but I think he's just a maladjusted little shit and that he's intimidated by the thought of sex. Your thoughts?

The Sister-In-Law

Asexuality must exist, TSIL, seeing as it has its own website—www.asexuality.org—where you can read this:

"Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else, and like [those] in the sexual community we vary widely in how we fulfill those needs. Some asexual people are happier on their own, others are happiest with a group of close friends. Other asexual people have a desire to form more intimate romantic relationships, and will date and seek long-term partnerships. Asexual people are just as likely to date sexual people as we are to date each other."

I'll probably be accused of asexophobia for suggesting that asexuals who date "sexual people" are obligated to disclose their asexuality, preferably on the first date and certainly no later than the third date. Asexuals may have the same emotional needs as anyone else, but most of us sexuals—heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals—expect to have our emotional and sexual needs met in our "intimate romantic relationships," thanks, and we're going to want to know if that's not in the cards before we get involved, not after. Someone who is incapable of meeting a sexual's needs has no business dating a sexual in the first place, if you ask me. At the very least, asexuality must be disclosed. And I'm still trying to wrap my head around this:

"Figuring out how to flirt, to be intimate, or to be monogamous in nonsexual relationships can be challenging..."

Um... since monogamy is understood to mean sexual exclusivity—you don't fuck other people—I'm not sure how you define monogamy in a sexless relationship. Does your asexual partner promise not to not fuck other people?

As for your brother-in-law, TSIL, I don't see what his asexuality and/or hang-ups have to do with you. If you're prying into your BIL's sex life, TSIL, I'd say he's not the only maladjusted little shit in the family.

Although I have a little trouble with some of his statements, he does bring up a good point that I think some asexuals need to come to terms with: disclosure. For all the ambiguity the asexual community has, and all the little shades of gray that are out there, I do believe in this firmly: if you are identifying as asexual, or even seriously suspect it, please, please, please, let a person know before leading them into a romantic relationship. It doesn't have anything to do with tolerance, or acceptance, or visibility. It's just a question of responsibility. Though you may not think sexually when entering a romantic relationship, chances are the other person is (at the very least on a subconscious level). Whether you like it or not, for most people romance and sex are linked. You may inadvertently lead the person into false assumptions and end up just leading them on. If you're afraid that revealing your asexuality will throw a wrench into your romance, then hiding it is definitely not going to make things better.

This also got me to thinking, for all those romanticly bent asexuals out there, maybe there should be a quick set of 'rules' for asexuals in relationships to look to. There's a whole forum on AVEN devoted to people asking for relationship advice, but there's definitely a few things that repeat themselves. Perhaps a little list of relationship advice for asexuals, and this is my first:

1) Tell the person that you are asexual up-front!

Any to add? Or am I just SO out of line?

4 comments:

  1. Oh. We survived Savage. The moment I saw his name, I was bracing myself for something deeply cutting and entirely untrue, but the article was neither. Yes, asexual people should disclose very early (though I'd say it's more a third-date sorta thing, you've not wasted too much of their time if they decide you're incompatible). Yes, monogamy is traditionally defined as sexual. I find it quite amusing that Savage doesn't realise this is exactly WHY nonsexual monogamy is a tricky area.

    There's an issue of asexuals who only find out once they're in relationships, and there's also the fact that nothing in the question even vaguely merited that rant about disclosure, but I think we got off quite well.

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  2. "There's an issue of asexuals who only find out once they're in relationships..."

    I was going to say a similar thing-- to me, this column exemplifies why visibility is so important-- there are probably tons of asexuals in relationships with non-asexuals, however, they don't know the concept of asexuality exists. Savage doesn't seem to be accounting for these people. I found out about asexuality completely by chance; others aces may not be so lucky. However, I loved this comment:

    "As for your brother-in-law, TSIL, I don't see what his asexuality and/or hang-ups have to do with you. If you're prying into your BIL's sex life, TSIL, I'd say he's not the only maladjusted little shit in the family."

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  3. @SlightlyMetaphysical: Yeah, I don't think he quite pondered the whole nonsexual monogamy thing. If you've hung around AVEN long enough you've heard all about it but it's not something that springs to mind right away.

    @Ily: I did love that comment as well. Definitely tells me why people read his column...

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