Demisexual

In May of 2019, I learned that I’m demisexual. I told a few friends, but I really went public with that information at the very end of 2020. I hate to say I came out, because I’m heterosexual and cisgender, so I feel weird about using that phrase. Demisexual falls under the asexual umbrella, and is technically part of the LGBTQIAPD community. However, I recognize that I come from a place of privilege within that community. Nearly all of my struggles have been with myself. I have not had to face the hatred and prejudice that others have had to face.

I’ve thought about writing on this topic for a while now and just kept putting it off. It’s a topic that has come up quite a bit in the last week. I also learned last night that today is International Asexuality Day, and that’s why I decided it is time.

Growing up, I always knew I was different, but I didn’t understand it or have words for it. I remember having a crush on a boy in my class in kindergarten. Other girls in my class had crushes, too. Here’s where it differs. I rode the bus with this boy because we lived on the same bus route. We sat close to each other, sometimes across the aisle or sometimes he’d be in the seat in front of me. I started talking to him because I heard him talking about dinosaurs. It sounded interesting, so I joined in. As time went on, I developed a crush on him.

One day, some of the other girls asked me who my crush was and I replied. I was met with “eewww!” I didn’t understand why they responded that way. Looking back now, I suppose it’s because he looked like what you would imagine the quintessential nerd to look like at the age of five. His appearance never factored in for me. Every last one of those girls had a crush on the same blonde-haired boy who ate paste. I couldn’t understand that either. Sure, he was aesthetically pleasing, but he ate paste and had nothing of any substance to talk about.

That is the first time I remember feeling different. As I got older, I began to feel broken. I thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t feel the way other people felt. I also thought maybe I was just bad at relationships and was destined to be alone. What didn’t help was being raised in a conservative Christian home in the midwest, where it was implied that the value of a woman is to marry and have children. It was never explicitly stated by my family, and I was encouraged to be able to support myself should the need arise. It’s just that it’s “normal” here for women to marry and have children and for that to be fulfilling to them. I’d like to be married, but I’m fine if it doesn’t happen. I definitely don’t want children. So, again, I felt broken.

I was engaged at nineteen. I was young and naive. Since I hadn’t ever dated prior to that, and so many of my high school classmates were getting married and/or having children, I felt like I was behind somehow and that this might be my last chance. Therefore, I dated and got engaged to the first guy to ever ask me out, even though I didn’t feel any attraction. It was a mistake I wish I hadn’t made, but I did. I paid for that mistake. And I learned from it. Thankfully, I broke it off with him before we married.

I didn’t even want to think about dating for years after that. Eventually, I developed an attraction to a close friend of mine, but that went nowhere and he moved away. Years later, I started having feelings for another close friend, we’ll call him Alex for the sake of keeping the story straight. In February 2019, I told him about it and that was the catalyst for us no longer being friends. As that friendship was ending, I turned to a mutual friend of ours, we’ll call him Logan, to help me understand what had happened. He was a neutral observer and often brutally honest, so I felt I could trust him. Logan said, “Have you ever thought about the fact that you fall in love with every guy you get close to?”

“Not every guy,” I countered. “I haven’t fallen for you or the other guys that we hang out with.”

“Yet,” he replied.

I sat with that for a while, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. It certainly wasn’t every guy I got close to, but it did seem to happen when I got close to someone. Not every time I got close to someone, but there was never any attraction on my side without a connection. I still didn’t understand what it all meant.

Eventually, Logan stopped talking to me. I don’t know why. All I know is he had said on more than one occasion that he was afraid I’d fall in love with him and he didn’t want that. I tried telling him that there was zero possibility of that happening, because the surest way of severing any connection that had formed was for me to feel like I’m not wanted. And he had flat out said I wasn’t wanted. He never seemed to believe me.

A short time after Alex and I ended our friendship, a friend, whom I met playing an online game, was in the game group chat one evening. She was explaining to some of our game mates what demisexual is. I messaged her privately and asked if she would tell me more because it sounded like me. She did. I also did some of my own research. It is exactly what I am. And suddenly, I didn’t feel broken. Because there are other people out there who feel the way I do. And I know one of them personally.

In July 2019, I started reading Black Bird, a manga series by Kanoko Sakurakoji. I don’t know that she intended for the character of Kyo Usui to be demisexual, but so many of his lines resonated with me. That’s where today’s featured image quote comes from (Volume 14, if I remember correctly).

“There’s no such thing as beauty or ugliness!” That’s really how I feel about it. To me, people are like paintings. They can be aesthetically pleasing or not. Whether or not they are has no bearing on how much I like them. However, the more I get to know about them, and the more of a connection I develop to them, the more beautiful they become. Conversely, if I get to know more about them and I don’t like what I’m learning, they can become less beautiful in my eyes, even if the rest of the world considers them to be the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. I’m not attracted by physical beauty. I’m attracted by the beauty of the soul.

I’ve explained this as best I can to everyone. Some people have been accepting, others just don’t understand. Still others want to argue with me. The things I most vividly remember hearing in opposition to my declaration are:

  1. Why do you need to label yourself?
  2. I don’t think that’s a real thing. I think you just want to feel special.
  3. Everyone is that way.
  4. You’re just scared. If you date more, you’ll get used to it. You just need to practice.
  5. You just need to put yourself out there more so you can meet the right person. I just want you to be happy.

Let me address these. I, personally, feel the need to label myself because it’s how I understand myself. My brain works kind of like a database and that’s how I understand the world. I categorize and catalog everything. Some things have one label and some things have a hundred labels. That’s probably why I was drawn to librarianship. I recognize that not everyone’s brain works this way, but mine does. I need to label things. It’s also how I find others like me for support. There are plenty of people (demi, ace, allo, or otherwise) who do not like to be labeled. And that’s ok.

Demisexuality is most definitely a real thing. It’s as real as asexuality and allosexuality, and all of the other labels that fall on that spectrum. Learning that I’m demi didn’t make me feel special, it made me feel like I wasn’t broken. It made me feel valid.

Not everyone is that way. If that were the case, would one-night stands even be a thing? Whether they realize it or not, for allosexual people, a physical attraction is what causes them to take note of or have an interest in someone. For demisexuals, physical attraction doesn’t come into play until a bond has been established, if it even does at all.

Case in point, back when I worked at the library, I was manning the customer service desk with a co-worker, Lynn. A man approached and asked to borrow the stapler. I handed it to him and he walked toward the copy machine.

“You should’ve gotten his number,” Lynn nudged me. “He was hot!”

“Was he?” I asked. I really didn’t even notice. He was just a guy asking for a stapler. I looked at him again. Still just a guy. Not unpleasant looking, but that didn’t make me want to ask for his number.

While I do have some trauma that makes me afraid to date, I am brave enough to take the chance when I want to do that. Demisexuality is very different.

I can go out on a date with someone if I find them interesting enough, but there is such immense pressure in this day and age for a physical relationship, and quickly. I don’t know for a long time whether or not I even want to kiss someone, let alone do anything else. It has taken me anywhere from three months to ten years to get to the place where I feel like I want to kiss someone. That’s far too long of a wait for most people.

“Practicing” dating would be my worst nightmare. In addition to being demi, I’m introverted and have a lot of social anxiety because I don’t always understand social cues. Flirting goes right over my head. The idea of dating people I don’t know well enough to know it could go somewhere, and who might try to force physicality on me, is enough to make me never want to date. If I’ve agreed to go out with you, know that it means I think very highly of you.

Maybe I haven’t met the right person yet. Or, maybe there isn’t a right person for me. Maybe I’m the right person for me. If you want me to be happy, let me be. I’m happy with myself. I will date when and if I find someone who doesn’t disrupt my peace. Someone I trust enough to take a chance with, and who I know cares about my comfort. Relationship does not always equal happiness. I know plenty of couples who aren’t happy. Happiness is different for everyone. Please, let’s stop perpetuating the idea that the only way to be happy and fulfilled is to be married and/or have children.

This has been a bit of a lengthy post, but I felt it was important to share my journey. Demisexuality is not very mainstream and I think the more awareness we can generate, the better. If I had known at nineteen that I’m demi, I could have saved myself so much physical and emotional pain.

I’ll leave you with a couple of good resources:

Published by melissawiseheart

I have a deep love of the woods. In my free time, I enjoy genealogy (family history), etymology (study of names and words), movies, music, reading, writing, painting, cooking, sewing, theater (opera, ballet, etc.), and traveling.

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