A cervical cancer survivor has started a dating site for people who can't — or would rather not — have sex. Her new venture challenges the notion that all relationships have to be sexual.
According to the New York Daily News, Laura Brashier created 2Date4Love after cervical cancer treatments rendered intercourse painful for her. The site says it "enables people who cannot engage in sexual intercourse to meet and experience love, companionship and intimacy at its deepest level." This could include people with conditions that make sex impossible — or, according to the paper, people who simply would rather not have sex be part of their relationships.
Brashier says she wants to be able to date without sex becoming an issue: "It's just the freedom of not having it on my mind when I am talking to a man. It's really hard for someone else to understand how it weighs on my mind." And it's true that in most contemporary relationships, sex is assumed — even dating gurus who tell women to wait are assuming they'll be doing it at some point. At the same time, there's a pretty big chunk of the population for whom life and love don't play out this way. Some, like Brashier, don't have sex for health reasons. Then there are people like Paul Cox, who identify as asexual. Back in 2008, Cox described his marriage in the Guardian:
People always ask how our marriage is different from just being friends, but I think a lot of relationships are about that — being friends. We have built on our friendship, rather than scrapping it and moving on somewhere else. The obvious way we differ is that we don't have sex, though we do kiss and cuddle. We like to joke that the longer we're married the less unusual this is. By the time we've been married five years we'll be just like everyone else.
Some married people might disagree with the last sentiment, but the fact remains that some asexual people do want to have romantic relationships. Many have found a sense of community on the Internet — Cox describes visiting Asexuality.org and finding "a way to explain myself that could settle all the awkwardness and questioning." And there is a dating website just for asexual people: Asexualitic.com says "when major dating sites don't recognize our asexuality, we think that asexual people should have a place to meet."
People who can't have sex for physical reasons aren't asexual, and the two groups may have differing sexual practices (for instance, someone who can't have vaginal intercourse may still enjoy other forms of stimulation). But both groups are often misunderstood, and both may struggle in a world where sex is not just a part of many relationships but also an integral aspect of dating culture, from the silly but ubiquitous "three-date rule" to the gesture of offering someone up for coffee. 2Date4Love allows people to bypass that — and in addition to helping them find partners, hopefully it will create a community where they no longer feel outside the norm.