That thing people call “dating”

On Thursday I did an interview for a popular Australian women’s magazine. I’m not mentioning the name for now, but someone contacted me via this blog and wanted to do a story about being asexual in today’s society. I did a little dance of excitement.

The interview went really well, but one question threw me a little, and I didn’t really know why until thinking about it further over the last few days. The question was “if you met someone you really liked, would you still date them?” I wasn’t quite sure what to say at first, because I’d spent the previous fifteen minutes talking about not being interested in people sexually or romantically. So I settled on a “maybe…?”

When I thought about it further though, I realised that my answer didn’t really make sense. As far as I understand, dating someone you’re not romantically or sexually attracted to kind of defies the point of “dating”, doesn’t it? To me at least, the social contract of dating involves both people being at least vaguely interested in each other, with the intent that said people will either “hook up” or decide that they aren’t really attracted to the person after all. Whatever occurs in the end, at the beginning there is still the implication that both people are at least partially interested in each other or imagine they could be – otherwise why would they agree to go on a date?

So in that sense, “dating” is something that is confined to the romantic/sexual paradigm. And because I don’t situate myself in that paradigm, I can’t say that it’s likely that I would still date someone. I might find someone intellectually interesting and meet them for coffee to get to know them better; I might meet someone knew who I can see myself in a close friendship with and hang out with them all the time. I have a potential meeting with a relatively new person in my life to discuss Plato’s Symposium. But none of those things would be dating to me, because of what “dating” implies.

So no, I probably wouldn’t still date people, unless I genuinely developed romantic feelings for them. I feel it would be unfair to the other person involved if I started dating them while not remotely romantically/sexually interested. I really doubt having a purely intellectual squish on someone counts as a reason to date someone. It doesn’t mean that I can’t form close friendships and enjoy other people’s company. I’d just rather re-read one of my favourite books, go on a hike, or spend a few hours sorting pottery fragments in the antiquities museum than date someone.

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6 thoughts on “That thing people call “dating”

      1. The fact that they asked you that after you had already explained to them that you are not interested in people sexually or romantically shows that they are unable to comprehend existance outside of the love myth. It implies that you are only asexual because you have yet to date THAT person, but that you, of course (sarcasm), must realise happiness is only possible through a sexual/romantic paradigm. A little depressing that this is the perspective of the interviewer, but not unusual… Perhaps they just asked it because they knew readers would ask it. It seems to be a common question. The worst part about it is that were you to answer anything other than maybe, I think you would have been attacked – yes means you aren’t really asexual, no means you can’t see the truth of that ever enduring paradigm of monogamy and its potential in your life (this isn’t my opinion, but how I feel most people seem to think). I guess any visibility and discussion like that is probably good though.

        I look forward to reading the interview.

        I agree with you, by the way, that it is unfair to date someone if you don’t have “intentions”, for whatever reason. That said, I’ve apparently dated people before when I thought I was just having coffee with a new friend – life and people are weird, but you gotta love em – just not in “that way”! Hehe! 🙂

        Sorry… That became a rant.

  1. Thank you! I prefer “misanthrope” to demisexual: I only sleep with men I like and trust, and they are scarce.

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