I hear this a lot.
“I’d never date an ace person.”
“I’m not sure I could be in a relationship with someone who’s ace…”
“Ace people just aren’t for me.”
Working on raising awareness and creating support in my student community, I’ve heard this from strangers, friends and people I respect. As an ace person, I get it. I understand what you mean. But it always hurts, and here is why.
The problem is that you don’t mean what you say. You mean that sex is an important part of a relationship to you. You mean that you, personally, cannot imagine a relationship working for you if it doesn’t include sex. Often people mean that they cannot imagine a casual relationship without sex. Sex is important to you. That is valid. Everyone experiences relationships differently, and people know what is important to them. It is okay for sex to be important to you in a relationship. However, that is not what you said.
“I would never date an ace person” and “I do not want a relationship without sex” are not synonymous. For one, sexual attraction can have very little to do with the amount of sexual activity a person engages in. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to have sex with them. You don’t even need to be sexually attracted to someone to enjoy having sex with them. Not to even mention the vast amount of ace people who experience sexual attraction rarely or under certain circumstances such as greyace or demisexual people.
Would you be willing to have a relationship with someone who may grow to be sexually attracted to you in time? Would you be willing to be in a relationship with someone who was only sexually attracted to you if they felt extremely close to you in that moment? For some people, the answer would now be yes.
Saying that you would never date an ace person seriously hurts. Not necessarily because we want to date you specifically, I personally would never want to date someone who valued sex in a relationship much higher than I do, but just brings echoes of all the acephobic things we’ve heard before. It brings back all the times we’ve been asked whether we can still have relationships, painful visions of when people ask if we’re robots, or plants, every time we hear “Wow, are you even capable of love?”.
“I’d never date an ace person” screams “I believe ace people are lesser due to their identity” and “I think sex is such a fundamental part of humanity that not having sexual attraction makes you less human.”
In future, pick your words carefully. You have every right to know that sex is an important part of a relationship for you, and that you would not want to enter a relationship with sex off the table. However you do not have the right to discriminate against an entire identity which houses a vast amount of people who are all as different and wonderfully unique and diverse as any other.