How Do I Start Dating When I’m Asexual?


Hello Dr. NerdLove,

I’m a 31 year old woman. Ten years ago I was diagnosed as autistic, which explained a lot about my social life (or lack thereof). About five years ago, I discovered what asexuality was, and that also answered a lot of questions. On the one hand, I thought “oh, so I’m not broken! There’s a reason I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone.” On the other hand, I thought “oh, I was *very* in love with that person in high school, wasn’t I? And I just didn’t realize because I thought you had to want to kiss someone to be in love with them.”

To make a decade-long story short, I’ve finally graduated from college this year. Emotionally, mentally, academically – in every conceivable way I’m doing the best I ever have. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.

And, I would like to date. But I’m honestly not sure how. My social circle consists of classmates all at least a decade my junior. I’ve tried online dating before, but if I wasn’t getting just the worst unicorn hunters in my DMs I was trying and failing to find an app that worked for asexuals. I’m not even kidding that if you google “asexual dating app” the response is “did you mean *sexual* dating app?”

As far as romantic orientation, I have no clue what I am. I guess I’m theoretically panromantic – in hindsight I definitely had pretty intense crushes on people of multiple genders in high school. But hormones do funny things. I haven’t really had a crush since, but until very recently I also haven’t been around people enough that I could have developed a crush, I think. 

I’d like to get out there! I’ve done the work, I’ve grown a ton in the past decade, I’m living my best life, and I’m finally in a place where I know and understand my sexual orientation and I’d like to explore dating. But I have no clue where to start. I feel like I’m at a crossroads composed entirely of dead ends.

Ready to Launch

I’m glad that you’ve been doing the work and getting to a place where you’re feeling confident and ready to give something new a try, RTL! That’s an exciting time, and it’s going to be an interesting adventure for sure.

But of course, there’s the complication of just how to get started when you’re not even sure about… almost anything about your sexual and romantic orientation. And to be sure: those can be different – some people are bi (or pan)sexual but primarily heteroromantic (that is, they mostly form romantic connections with someone who’s a different gender from them), while some may feel sexual attraction for one gender, but form romantic connections with people across the gender spectrum, or almost any combination thereof. And as you’ve discovered: just because you’re asexual doesn’t mean that you don’t also feel romantic love for people, and you can be aromantic without being asexual.

Now, it sounds like what you’re most interested in is figuring out more about who you are and what (and who) you want from a relationship – which is entirely valid! In practice, what you’re going to want to prioritize are potential partners who are going to be patient, giving and understanding that you’re still in a discovery phase. How do you go about finding them?

There’re a few options. One thing I would suggest is that, as someone who is at least potentially panromantic, to look into LGBTQ social groups in your area. If you’re in a college town or one of the larger, more liberal cities, you’re much more likely to find groups that are specifically for helping local queer people meet each other and connect. These are often based around activities – an LGBTQ amateur sports league, pub quiz teams, hiking and biking orgs and so on – that allow for people to get to know each other in low-key, low-pressure environments that don’t feel like meat markets. Taking the chance to get to know people, build connections and relationships with them and see who – if anyone – floats your boat without feeling the need to make things happen will be a good start.

That low-pressure environment is going to be important. You’re still figuring things out. The last thing you’re going to feel like you’re somehow obligated to hook up or declare someone your new one and only, especially if you’re not sure how you feel yet.

Another option is to get back on the apps, but with a different outlook than you had last time. I know I’m the guy telling people to let online dating be a supplement to how you meet people, not the primary method. But for someone in a situation like yours, it’s going to be one of the more reliable ways of finding a larger number of people who are a) the most likely to understand what you’re looking for and b) have more of an understanding of what dating you would be like.

One of the benefit of dating apps is that you have more opportunities to fine-tune what you’re looking for and give people a heads up in advance to what dating you would mean.

Of course, the tricky aspect of this is that – as with allosexual people – part of having success on a dating app is finding the one where you’re going to find the people who are most compatible with you. Since most folks are going to be allosexual, that can make things challenging.

But challenging isn’t the same thing as impossible.

Now, there are some ace-oriented dating apps out there, like Taimi or HER. The biggest drawback to specialized apps is that they may not have the critical mass of users that make them a viable option. I’d certainly recommend checking those out and see if they work for you, but I would also suggest that you are going to want to be a little creative.

Some apps that focus on less traditional, less heteronormative relationship models, like #Feeld may be one way for you to go. #Feeld is aimed at people looking for non-traditional relationships, like polyamory or kink. These tend to be communities where you will find people who are more versed in the wide array of human sexuality and the importance of open and clear communication. While nothing’s guaranteed, and you can find assholes anywhere, the people in these communities are much more likely to understand asexuality and be more prepared to date someone who’s ace.

I’d also suggest trying OKCupid. While OKC isn’t what it was back in its glory days before Tinder, it’s still very much the 500lb gorilla of dating apps, and one that has more options than something like Hinge or Bumble. It has options that allow you to list yourself as asexual, gray-ace, demisexual and in-flux, as well as to search for people who are similar to you. You also have opportunities to use the prompts to discuss what you’re looking for and what you’re not open to. While this isn’t going to rule out the time-wasters who don’t read your profile, it does mean that you’re going to signal to people who are worth your time that you’re here, you’re single and ready to mingle. The wrong people will self-select out, one way or another. You want to make sure the right people can find you.

One thing to keep in mind is that, if you’re not sure precisely what or who you’re looking for, then be open to giving things a shot. If someone seems like you’d get along well with them, chat a bit, make a pre-date date and see how you get along in person. If you dig them then hey, great! Propose a proper date and see how things go. Just make sure that they understand what ace means and what you’re open to at that time. If not, or you realize that they’re not of the gender you’re attracted to? Wish them well in their search and move on.

Now in all cases, it’ll be important to be clear about what you want, what you’re open to and what’s a hard “no” for you. If you’re open to trying sex with someone, make sure that they’re someone who you can trust and who understands what this will mean – how you do or don’t experience desire, and so on. If that’s a hard no, then that should be something they should know as well, so that you and they don’t frustrate one another.

However, whichever way you decide to go, remember that strong boundaries are what keep the time-wasters and wanna-be predators away. When the unicorn hunters show up – and if you list yourself as any flavor of bi or pan, they likely will – don’t bother even responding to their emails. That’s just a waste of your time, and interacting with them only fucks with your algorithm. Swipe left, delete or block if need be.

Similarly, if you do go on dates with folks, don’t let other people try to dictate to you what you should or shouldn’t be doing or what your orientation “means”; you know yourself better than anyone else, and only you get to define those aspects of yourself. Don’t listen to “well if you were REALLY bi/pan/whatever you’d do X, Y or Z”; that’s just someone trying to manipulate you into doing what they want, without a care for your feelings or needs. If someone makes you feel pressured or uncomfortable, you are well within your rights to speak up and say so. If they don’t respect and prioritize your comfort, you have the right to deny them access to you and you can leave them behind with neither guilt nor shame nor worry.

Most of all: take things at a pace that you’re comfortable with. This isn’t a race, you don’t need to make up for lost time and you don’t need to play catch-up. You are on a journey of self-discovery, and it will take exactly as long or as short as you need. If you’re interested in trying a sexual experience with someone who you think is worth it, then by all means. But if you feel like you need time to decide if that’s something you want to try or to bother with at all? That’s up to you, and someone who’s worth dating will understand and respect that.

This is an exciting time for you, RTL, and I hope you’re going to have an amazing adventure while you learn about yourself.

Good luck.


Dear Doc,

I’m an almost 37-year-old female virgin who is in good shape, makes good money, owns my own home, and considering my social awkwardness has a large circle of similarly weird and intellectual friends. But I badly want to be married and have a biological child or two, and time is running out for that to happen. The issue is that I have literally never once in my life experienced mutual attraction.

I’ve always been shy, nerdy, awkward, over-analytical, and had deep niche interests, so much so that I had myself officially tested for autism a few years back, but I’m apparently neurotypical. I also have a lifelong secret fantasy of being sexually dominant with a man that I despair of ever putting into action. I see myself as average-looking, neither attractive enough for my looks to be a significant plus on their own, nor ugly enough for them to be a significant minus if a guy likes my personality, but I may be overestimating my own attractiveness based on the reactions of guys whom I thought were in my league.

I like shy, nerdy, gentle-seeming men whom I can imagine pushing down and ripping the clothes off and making whimper. But every one I’ve ever encountered who wasn’t already taken has ignored me, and gently or soft-rejected me on the rare occasions I got up the courage to ask them out. Typically they seem to end up with more conventionally hot, outgoing women. Conversely, I’m repelled by dominant, outgoing, conventionally manly men; I can deal with them as friends, but can’t shake the feeling that they have more potential to be abusive or unfaithful in a relationship, and can’t imagine opening up to them sexually even if they’re physically attractive. The thought of being sexually dominated by a man is pretty equivalent in my mind to being raped. And the only men who have ever shown romantic interest in me have been those dominant, outgoing men who weren’t even physically attractive. I’ve even been in several situations where a man I’ve rejected has become aggressive and stalkerish, which for a woman who has never even had a relationship just feels comically, cosmically unfair.

I’ve kept detailed journals dating from around when I first started noticing boys early in high school, and I’ve spent the last month or so reading back through these and adding up all my disappointments. And I’ve objectively determined that so far in my lifetime, there have been 31 guys I’ve liked who haven’t liked me (8 of whom I asked out and was rejected by; the rest just ignored me, often when I was making every effort to get them to notice and like me short of actually asking them out); 13 guys who’ve liked me whom I haven’t liked (3 of whom got scary when rejected; the rest took it decently); and a grand total of zero guys I’ve liked who have also liked me.

(This is only counting in-person interactions; I’ve tried various dating sites and apps, but it’s just been more of the same, i.e., I only get messaged by men I’m not interested in, usually because they seem too macho, too conservative, and/or not intellectual enough, and none of the ones I message or match with are ever interested in me.)

I’m not looking to achieve any kind of epic body count here; I just need one compatible, mutually attracted partner for the rest of my life. What steps can I take to make that happen within the next year or two?

Only Want What Can’t Have

Attraction and compatibility are complex and wild beasties, OWWICH, and it’s important to remember that there’s rarely a single reason why anybody does or doesn’t struggle with meeting someone.

However, there’re a couple areas that tend to be the most common sticking points when folks have a difficult time finding a mutual match.

One is, obviously, presentation. The thing folks often don’t get about attractiveness is that it’s at least partially artifice. Someone can look model-hot when they’ve got a full face on and they’re dressed to the nines, but be absolutely unremarkable when they’ve just rolled out of bed or are dressed to go for a run or hit the gym.

Average looks often really means “average presentation”; a change in style, grooming or make-up can be transformative. So one thing that may help for you is to work on your look and style. What you’re doing now may be functional, but it may not evoke who you are as a person or play to your best aspects. It may also simply not signal to the people you’re most interested in. If you’re a domme in potentia, but you’re dressing like an office worker even in your off days, you’re not sending those signals to potential submissive men about who you are and what you’re about.

There’re a number of options for you to work on your presentation; this is an area where women are a bit luckier than men, since y’all have a head start on it being permissible to say “I need to learn how to do this”. I’d suggest trying to decide the sort of vibe or sexy archetype you feel resonates the most with you and look to start inhabiting it. Going someplace like Sephora or Ulta and asking for some advice on make-up that will help evoke those vibes can be a good start. So too would looking at styles on Instagram, Pintrest and elsewhere to give you a starting point that you can use as a baseline.

This is also going to be about attitude. Look at some of the characters in geek circles who get the “please step on me” crowd going. Lady Dimitrescu dresses like a lady of means from the 20s and 30s, but her demeanor (and, admittedly, size) is what draws people in and makes them say “punish me, I’ve been bad”. The same blend of confidence, authority and control is part of the appeal of both overtly domme-coded characters like Bayonetta and less-overt ones like Susan Ivanova. The more you cultivate and can inhabit that sort of character, the more you’re going to find folks who vibe with it. You don’t need to be going around barking commands or reminding people that Thou Shalt Not Question Ivanova’s Orders, but carrying yourself with that same level of attitude will go a long, long way.

Another thing to consider is what I tell people all the time: if you want people who are of a certain type, figure out where those folks are most likely to hang out and spend time there. Now, you say that you’re interested in submissive men who are into dominant women. Well, the most obvious place to start, in my opinion, would be to get connected to your local kink community. You’re going to have a much easier time finding submissive men looking for a dominant woman in an area where those submissive men have already pre-selected themselves than by going around hoping to find them by random chance.

Do some research – Google may be a decent starting place, but I’d also suggest specific subreddits and even Fetlife – and find a munch (an informal kink community get-together) in your area and join them. Getting more connected in the kink scene and making friends there will not only help you hone your desires to be the top in your relationships, but also help you connect with guys who are looking for precisely what you’re offering.

And as a bonus, if you start learning more about kink, topping and BDSM, you’ll feel more confident in yourself and in going after what (and who you want). Those more submissive guys aren’t always going to volunteer themselves or leap into your path and beg you to step on them. Sometimes you’re going to have to be the one to make the moves that draw them in. If you’ve had some experience with being the dominant in a scene – even if kink and BDSM isn’t necessarily where your interests lie – you’re going to feel more empowered to make the first move, especially in ways that some of those guys are going to respond to. Confidence and courage, after all, are about attitude and self-belief. If you know what you are capable of and what you’re worth, it’s much easier to say “ok I’m into you, let’s do this,” rather than having to build and build up to the point of being able to say something, only to find out that they’ve already been asked by someone else.

Now, to be sure: this is going to take trial and error. As with anyone who is trying to find their true, best self, you’re going to experiment with things that may not work out for you. That’s perfectly normal and it’s part of the process. You have to be prepared for some dead ends, some false starts and learning that some of the things you thought you wanted weren’t what you needed. But by learning how to best express and inhabit your true self, you’ll make it that much easier to find the folks who are looking for precisely what you offer and how to draw them in.

Good luck.


This post was previously published on and is republished on medium.



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The post How Do I Start Dating When I’m Asexual? appeared first on The Good Men Project.