Demisexuality: Dating for Someone Who Identifies on the Asexual Spectrum

Dating for anyone is a tricky process, but dating takes on a certain degree of complication when you identify on the asexual spectrum. For those who don’t know what the word asexual means, AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) defines an asexual person as someone “who does not experience sexual attraction.”

I, myself, identify as demisexual, or someone who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Essentially, if I meet someone, there must be enough time to build trust and develop a close relationship with them, or I will feel no attraction or desire whatsoever. Unlike celibacy, which is the act of voluntarily abstaining from sexual relationships, demisexuality is defined as an orientation, much like heterosexuality or homosexuality, meaning that it is defined as an identity, an essential aspect of one’s being.

Today we live in a Western society that often conflates the idea of romantic love with sexual interest, as though the two were mutually exclusive. However, in my experiences as a demisexual woman this has proven to be a much more complicated reality.

To start off, not everyone knows the definition of asexual, much less the word demisexual. I didn’t know what asexuality meant for a majority of my life, and as such I operated for years under the notion that I was different from my peers. While in middle school and high school, when everyone around me began talking about boyfriends and girlfriends and certain hormones, I felt confused and uninterested.

When friends began to speak about feeling sexual frustration, I could only express a distanced sympathy, unable to relate to their feelings or contribute to the conversation.

One day while I was online, I discovered the word “demisexual” and something inside my mind just clicked. The word explained to me how, even though I could find certain people physically attractive, I did not want to kiss them or engage in sexual behavior.

The word explained to me “attraction at first site” didn’t seem to be an option for me as it did for other people. It explained to me how after getting to know a certain friend of mine better, and establishing a stronger emotional connection with them, that I began to imagine engaging with them in a more physically affectionate manner.

Discovering the asexual community and the word “demisexual” brought immense relief to me, explaining my ambiguity revolving around my sexuality. Having the words for something inside of you, meant that other people felt the same way I did about sex and relationships, and meant that I wasn’t “alone” or “strange” or “broken.”

Given my lack of experience with dating, I didn’t feel “alone” because of one person’s reaction to my orientation, but out of the whole structure of modern dating not being adapted to people such as myself.

However, simply knowing what “demisexual” was did not resolve the complications that I have experienced in the dating world, it only explained them.

For instance, a considerable part of the dating world today revolves around dating apps. I myself have used Tinder and OKCupid, both to varying degrees of dissatisfaction. While on these apps, there were several instances when someone appeared interested in me, and I occasionally was interested in dating them. However, during the few times when I revealed the fact I was demisexual, there was a pause. The most common reason for the pause was confusion. Like I have mentioned before, not many people are aware of the asexual community.

People online proceeded to ask me what asexuality was and what demisexuality meant to me. After explaining it, I would often receive a second pause: hesitation. I remember an instance where one person stated to me that they could not imagine having a relationship with me without the expectation of sex, something that I could not guarantee them.

While I am proud of this part of my identity, there are times when it can be frustrating. There is a clear lack of representation of the asexual community within mainstream Western media, so people are often left ignorant to what asexuality means. Oftentimes, people ridicule asexuals, make jokes about asexual being plants and “asexual reproduction.” Other times, it can be disheartening, knowing there are people out there who have rejected me or will reject me simply because I cannot reciprocate sexual attraction to them immediately, if ever.

For me, demisexuality means that I require time and trust to get to know another person in order to experience attraction. However, that does not guarantee that I will feel a sexual attraction toward that person, even if I may feel love and a romantic attraction. On dating sites, I have had trouble finding people who were willing to try and get to know me once I tell them I am demisexual. This is typically because in their minds dating and romantic relationships are accompanied by physical attraction and sexual interest, which is not my reality.

For those out there who are struggling with the same fears I have been struggling with, I know where you are coming from.

But I also know, thanks to online and in-person communities, that there are other people like me out there who have found success in dating and relationships. It gives me hope that those things are possible for me as well. Because of internet exposure, asexuality and subsets such as demisexuality are gaining more attention than ever, meaning that asexual people can find others who are aware and understand this aspect of their lives. This means that the chances of finding someone who is interested in taking the time to get to know me, to wait for a physically intimate relationship, or simply be with me for the company, is greater than ever.

In the meantime, AVEN and other LGBTQIA+ networks are working to spread awareness of asexuality, meaning a future where more young individuals like myself will be able to discover who they are faster, and less ignorance within society in general. In the meantime, even when I’m not in a relationship, I can still work on establishing strong emotional connections with friends and family, cherishing my platonic relationships while pursuing my own interests such as school and writing.

I am demisexual, and I know there is hope for someone like me to one day have a romantic relationship, and no one can tell me otherwise.

I am a freelance writer currently studying at Hunter College. I am planning on graduating with a Major in English with focus in Creative Writing. I have written for websites such as ComicsVerse, Lambda Literary, GeeksOut, and more. I am an intersectional feminist geek, interested in literary fiction and several elements of Geek Culture. My focus is genuine representation and diversity in media.

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Demisexuality: Dating for Someone Who Identifies on the Asexual Spectrum

Dating for anyone is a tricky process, but dating takes on a certain degree of complication when you identify on the asexual spectrum. For those who don’t know what the word asexual means, AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) defines an asexual person as someone “who does not experience sexual attraction.”

I, myself, identify as demisexual, or someone who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Essentially, if I meet someone, there must be enough time to build trust and develop a close relationship with them, or I will feel no attraction or desire whatsoever. Unlike celibacy, which is the act of voluntarily abstaining from sexual relationships, demisexuality is defined as an orientation, much like heterosexuality or homosexuality, meaning that it is defined as an identity, an essential aspect of one’s being.

Today we live in a Western society that often conflates the idea of romantic love with sexual interest, as though the two were mutually exclusive. However, in my experiences as a demisexual woman this has proven to be a much more complicated reality.

To start off, not everyone knows the definition of asexual, much less the word demisexual. I didn’t know what asexuality meant for a majority of my life, and as such I operated for years under the notion that I was different from my peers. While in middle school and high school, when everyone around me began talking about boyfriends and girlfriends and certain hormones, I felt confused and uninterested.

When friends began to speak about feeling sexual frustration, I could only express a distanced sympathy, unable to relate to their feelings or contribute to the conversation.

One day while I was online, I discovered the word “demisexual” and something inside my mind just clicked. The word explained to me how, even though I could find certain people physically attractive, I did not want to kiss them or engage in sexual behavior.

The word explained to me “attraction at first site” didn’t seem to be an option for me as it did for other people. It explained to me how after getting to know a certain friend of mine better, and establishing a stronger emotional connection with them, that I began to imagine engaging with them in a more physically affectionate manner.

Discovering the asexual community and the word “demisexual” brought immense relief to me, explaining my ambiguity revolving around my sexuality. Having the words for something inside of you, meant that other people felt the same way I did about sex and relationships, and meant that I wasn’t “alone” or “strange” or “broken.”

Given my lack of experience with dating, I didn’t feel “alone” because of one person’s reaction to my orientation, but out of the whole structure of modern dating not being adapted to people such as myself.

However, simply knowing what “demisexual” was did not resolve the complications that I have experienced in the dating world, it only explained them.

For instance, a considerable part of the dating world today revolves around dating apps. I myself have used Tinder and OKCupid, both to varying degrees of dissatisfaction. While on these apps, there were several instances when someone appeared interested in me, and I occasionally was interested in dating them. However, during the few times when I revealed the fact I was demisexual, there was a pause. The most common reason for the pause was confusion. Like I have mentioned before, not many people are aware of the asexual community.

People online proceeded to ask me what asexuality was and what demisexuality meant to me. After explaining it, I would often receive a second pause: hesitation. I remember an instance where one person stated to me that they could not imagine having a relationship with me without the expectation of sex, something that I could not guarantee them.

While I am proud of this part of my identity, there are times when it can be frustrating. There is a clear lack of representation of the asexual community within mainstream Western media, so people are often left ignorant to what asexuality means. Oftentimes, people ridicule asexuals, make jokes about asexual being plants and “asexual reproduction.” Other times, it can be disheartening, knowing there are people out there who have rejected me or will reject me simply because I cannot reciprocate sexual attraction to them immediately, if ever.

For me, demisexuality means that I require time and trust to get to know another person in order to experience attraction. However, that does not guarantee that I will feel a sexual attraction toward that person, even if I may feel love and a romantic attraction. On dating sites, I have had trouble finding people who were willing to try and get to know me once I tell them I am demisexual. This is typically because in their minds dating and romantic relationships are accompanied by physical attraction and sexual interest, which is not my reality.

For those out there who are struggling with the same fears I have been struggling with, I know where you are coming from.

But I also know, thanks to online and in-person communities, that there are other people like me out there who have found success in dating and relationships. It gives me hope that those things are possible for me as well. Because of internet exposure, asexuality and subsets such as demisexuality are gaining more attention than ever, meaning that asexual people can find others who are aware and understand this aspect of their lives. This means that the chances of finding someone who is interested in taking the time to get to know me, to wait for a physically intimate relationship, or simply be with me for the company, is greater than ever.

In the meantime, AVEN and other LGBTQIA+ networks are working to spread awareness of asexuality, meaning a future where more young individuals like myself will be able to discover who they are faster, and less ignorance within society in general. In the meantime, even when I’m not in a relationship, I can still work on establishing strong emotional connections with friends and family, cherishing my platonic relationships while pursuing my own interests such as school and writing.

I am demisexual, and I know there is hope for someone like me to one day have a romantic relationship, and no one can tell me otherwise.

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