As we all know, asexuals are scarce. It’s hard to meet other asexuals in real life. Even if by chance we do meet up with another one, it’s not like there’s any way to pick an asexual out of a crowd just by their appearance, and the topic of asexuality may not be likely to come up. Or the person might not yet have realized that they are asexual (this happened to me with one of my closest friends–consider this a shout out!). There are a lot of barriers to overcome.
Most of the asexual or near-asexual people I know in real life I initially met online. Most of the time it’s just been by chance, meeting them through other interests and then discovering that we’re both asexual, but a few times, I have met asexual people specifically through online dating sites. I know that often, we romantic asexuals do end up foraying into the (potentially scary) world of online dating, so I thought I might help those who are considering it by putting up some reviews of the dating sites I’ve tried.
First up: OKCupid.
This is where I met my “wife,” so obviously, I’ve had some success with it. To some extent, I realize I was extremely lucky, but at the same time, this site ranks up there with the best dating sites of all time. I am really hard-pressed to think of any that are anywhere near as successful, and although I would attribute that to my own ignorance, I’ve asked a few other people too, and they can’t come up with anything, either.
ADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: It’s free. Not that I would even bother with any sites that aren’t free, so I guess that’s not saying much.
DISADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: The options in the drop-down box for orientation (and gender too, if that’s an issue) are limited. You must choose straight, gay, or bisexual. That’s it. Obviously, this seems to be very unfriendly to asexuals, but honestly, using the current system, I can’t imagine how allowing “asexual” as an option would work. You have to realize that this is being used as an indicator of gender preference, not as an indicator of sexuality. The sexuality is simply assumed, because everyone is assumed to have a sexuality, and of course that’s stupid, but that’s not really what this is about. In order to allow people to find your profile, you have to indicate whether you’re interested in men, women, or both. So in order to get the system to work, you have to be willing to “lie” a little. I personally think that instead of using a drop-down menu as they do now, they ought to just have little ticky boxes for men or women. That way it would be easier to add in an option for asexuals, and they could also configure it so that we would be able to search for each other.
ADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: But all is not lost! There are other ways that you can indicate that you are asexual. Obviously, you can write about it in your profile (which I’d recommend if you’re not worried about outing yourself to people you know in real life–otherwise you can just tell people using the messaging system). The second way you can do it is by answering user-created match questions. If you search for “asexual,” you will see a list of questions (and quizzes) that are about asexuality, and if you answer those and make the questions mandatory, then anyone trying to message you will have to answer those questions before being allowed to do so, and it will significantly impact your match percentage with that person. If you do a WTF report with that person, you can see exactly what they answered and decide whether you want to message the person or not. So, although you can’t choose “asexual” from a drop-down box, you still have a few different ways to communicate to potential matches that you’re asexual (because really, who else would have “would you be willing to date an asexual person? (yes)” as a mandatory question?), plus if the questions that already exist about asexuality (admittedly, there are not that many yet) aren’t satisfactory, you can always add your own.
DISADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: It takes time. These filters aren’t a sure thing. You may still be inundated with messages from jerks who don’t even bother to read your profile, or send you stupid messages about asexuality not being real (though that has never happened to me, personally; I’ve found most everyone who talked to me was very nice about asexuality, and wanted to learn more even if they weren’t interested in dating an asexual person), to the point where you may start to feel discouraged. This site was not created with asexuals in mind, so you will probably run into a lot of people who aren’t interested in an asexual person before you will run into someone who is. However, in a way, this is an advantage in itself, because you may be able to find people who would not have specifically searched for an asexual themselves (maybe because they had never heard of the idea, or never really considered it), but who are willing to date one anyway. But with a little time and a little luck, you may well be able to find someone who is compatible with you.
ADVANTAGE NUMBER THREE: This is a very well-known site with a LOT of people to choose from. Sites that are specifically targeted to asexuals and/or celibate people generally have the disadvantage of being very obscure. OKCupid, on the other hand, has a target audience broad enough to attract a decent amount of users, has been around for long enough that most people who use the internet on a regular basis have probably encountered it, if not because they have any interest in online dating, then because of their great selection of time-wasting quizzes. I had an OKC account long before I actually started using my profile for dating purposes, because I found the quizzes to be an excellent way to waste inordinate amounts of time on the internet. I think the quizzes are a big reason why OKC has become such a success, since they managed to find a way to advertise to so many idle bloggers wanting to put some neat quiz results on their journals. So the chances are relatively high, compared to other sites, that you will be able to find compatible people in your area (I have heard, however, that OKC is quite US-centric, though since I am from the US, I can’t really judge that for myself).
MINOR QUIBBLES: The IM feature sucks (but not enough that it’s unusable). There are also a few annoying things about searching for matches, like that my highest match (my gf) doesn’t always show up when I search for “highest match” in every range.
ADVANTAGE NUMBER FOUR: User-created content. I know I already mentioned this, but I think it’s just that important to mention again. This means that you can create your own quizzes and match questions, so there is an inbuilt flexibility to the system that can allow for anything the creators (and the rest of the user database) overlooked. This is good news for little-known sexual orientations and anyone who practices alternative relationship styles. And because the site is so well-known, we can get some free awareness-spreading done just by trying to score ourselves a date. Just think of the possibilities!
OVERALL RATING: 9/10
If you’re ONLY looking to date a fellow asexual, you may not like OKC. But if you’re going to go for the chance that you might find someone who’s not ase but willing to date one (and by “date,” I mean have any kind of romantic or blurry-lines relationship), then by all means, go with this one. It has a ton of advantages over other dating sites, and is flexible enough to accomodate all manner of people. With time, it will probably grow more and more asexual-friendly, too. Good luck!