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If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement. First dates, by and large, are cringe-fests. But for people who identify as asexual — or under the asexual umbrella — online dating can be even more exhaustingand often downright fruitless. Shortly after, he says his manager at work tried to set him up on a date with someone who ended up questioning the validity of his identity. Asexuality remains poorly understood by the public at large, and includes a broad spectrum of orientations; some asexual people feel no sexual attraction toward others and may be averse to sex, while others who feel no sexual attraction may still happily have sex with their partners.

Other aces the umbrella term for those on the asexual spectrum like Cutler identify as gray asexual or demisexual, meaning they sometimes feel sexual attraction once they develop an emotional connection with someone. Some may want romance but not sex; others fall on the aromantic spectrum, meaning they sometimes or never feel romantic attraction. But workable online alternatives for aces seeking their preferred levels of partnership and connection are few and far between. Free apps like Tinder and Bumble, and paid services like Match. Their options are to include their orientation in their bio, message it to potential dates, or broach the subject in person.

None of these options is perfect, and all provide barriers to aces who want to meet compatible matches, asexual or not. But as mainstream awareness of asexual identity continues to grow, online dating services are finally starting to do more to acknowledge asexual users. Cerankowski says that knowledge and acceptance of asexuality have surged, particularly sincewhich they credit to increased activism, scholarship, and pop culture representation. Among mainstream dating services, OKCupid stands alone in acknowledging aces.

In Novemberit added expansive dropdown options for gender and sexualityincluding asexuality and demisexuality. It probably only matters if it comes down to their bottom line. Bumble, a swipe-based app with a feminist bent, encourages people to network and find friends as well as romance. Faced with the limitations of mainstream dating services, some asexual people prefer to stick to ace-specific alternatives, like Asexualitic and Asexual Cupid.

It makes sense, in theory: Though many aces happily date outside the spectrum, a pool of like-minded users can be a more comfortable starting point. However, these sites often have their own pitfalls: unintuitive interfaces, binary gender options, and, perhaps most limiting of all, few active users.

During my numerous visits to Asexualitic at multiple times of day, there were typically five to seven members online; I never saw the on the home hit double digits. ACEapp, Free adult dating oberlin ohio launched on Android in June with pending iPhone and web versionshas a slightly slicker look and a nonbinary gender option, but its pool of users is even smaller than that of other ace-centric sites The app has around 12, members, 40 percent of whom live in the US, says founder Purushotam Rawat, a year-old college student from India studying computer science.

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But as with other ace-specific services, the user pool on ACEapp is still so small that it can be difficult to make IRL connections. And when multiple marginalized identities are in play, online dating is even more complicated. Valencia, who is autistic, says some people make the incorrect assumption that all autistic people are repulsed by sex. Josephine Moss, a year-old aromantic asexual woman who occasionally dates, has been romantically attracted to only three people in her lifetime. What she does need is someone self-sufficient, resourceful, athletic, and compassionate — someone who could hold their own in the zombie apocalypse, she jokes.

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Online dating isn’t easy — especially when you’re asexual