Dating websites are revolutionizing the way we think about relationships. The sites exist in almost every stripe, from online matchmaking based on religion to (the admittedly odious) Beautifulpeople, which recently ejected 30,000 members for being “ugly.” But what about people for whom a relationship can never include sex? Intercourse can be painful or impossible for a variety of reasons, from disease to disability to simple disinterest, but it can be a challenging topic to bring up.
Enter 2date4love, a dating website created by cancer survivor Laura Brashier. The site, which launched earlier this month, “enables people who cannot engage in sexual intercourse to meet and experience love, companionship and intimacy at its deepest level.” In other words, it helps people — like Brashier, who had trouble dating because they could not have sex — to find an intimate, loving relationship. More than 2,000 people have already signed up.
Over ten years ago, Brashier finished treatment for cervical cancer, which saved her life but made sex unbearably painful. She explains,
“I still have all the same sexual desires I had before cancer. As the cancer treatment took a toll on my body, I’m no longer able to function sexually the way I used to. This has proven to be an enormous challenge when it comes to dating — when the topic of intimacy is raised, I fear that once my partner knows my limitations, he may lose interest.”
There are a myriad reasons why people might seek a non-sexual romantic relationship, but very few venues in which to find a partner who feels the same way. Cancer treatments like Brashier’s very often interfere with sexual functioning, and even the process of aging can lower women’s sex drive and inhibit men’s sexual performance. But this large group of people generally experiences significant stigma around the issue, leaving them fearful of what their partner will say. Brashier’s new site could change all of that.
“It’s just the freedom of not having it on my mind when I am talking to a man,” she said. “It’s really hard for someone else to understand how it weighs on my mind.”
Of course, there’s no reason why any romantic relationship needs to involve sex. And if sex is difficult, painful or undesirable, these factors should not consign anyone to lifelong loneliness. Brashier’s brave new site will do much, both to normalize the idea of a functioning, nonsexual romantic relationship, and to provide ways for people who are seeking this kind of intimacy to find each other.
Photo from IrnyaTerzi via flickr.