I distinctly remember that, growing up, I never felt the pangs of young, adolescent love that my friends experienced. I never swooned over Robert Pattinson’s ripped body in the Twilight movies, never used hearts instead of tittles over the i’s while writing, and certainly I do not remember finding someone so attractive that they made my heart flutter and knees weak. While my friends were tacking up posters of One Direction and Johnny Depp on their walls, I used to sit there and wonder how they could be in love with someone they hadn’t even met. Sometimes, (and, I’m ashamed to admit to this now), I used to even join in, in a pathetic attempt to ‘blend in’. I never dwelt too much over my alarming lack of silly teenage crushes and obsessions, though, and growing up in a desi household, it was just an added advantage.
Fast forward to grade ten, which was when I was persuaded by a close friend to join Tumblr. This was the time when the newest wave of feminism that today is called ‘tumblr feminism‘ was starting to do the rounds, and my dashboard was soon groaning under the weight of posts on disabilities, gender identities and alternate sexualities.
Tumblr feminism or not, it was because of the blogging website that I came to terms with my sexuality. I discovered that I was a demisexual. So what on earth is demisexuality? Well, I think of it as a sort of halfway house between asexuality and hetero/homosexuality. Demisexuality is essentially being sexually attracted to somebody only after you form a strong, emotional bond with them.
Demisexuality is also, most importantly, a part of the asexuality/aromantic spectrum, which ranges from asexual, demisexual and graysexual. According to asexuality.org:
A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It’s more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. Nevertheless, this term does not mean that demisexuals have an incomplete or half-sexuality, nor does it mean that sexual attraction without emotional connection is required for a complete sexuality. In general, demisexuals are not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender; however, when a demisexual is emotionally connected to someone else (whether the feelings are romantic love or deep friendship), the demisexual experiences sexual attraction and desire, but only towards the specific partner or partners.
But you may ask, ‘Aren’t most sexual attractions only forged after knowing someone well? Why do we need a separate label for that?’
The fact is, most people, if not all, experience instant sexual attraction to someone, at some point in their lives. What makes demisexuals different is that we can only be physically intimate with someone we know really well, or after a strong emotional relationship has been established. In other words, while demisexuals may occasionally be sexually attracted to someone, the desire to have sex or do anything intimate with them, will be unthinkable to the demisexual. As Buzzfeed writer Bitty Navarro puts it, “Demisexuality isn’t not about not wanting to have sex without a connection, it’s about not wanting (and highly disliking) to have sex most of the time, even if there’s a connection”.
So, are these labels simply providing a facade to those with low libidos/hormonal imbalances/nonexistent sexual desires?
Not at all. People on the asexuality spectrum simply do not feel like sex is an integral part of their lives. Simply put, they don’t think it is weird that they don’t experience sexual urges, nor do they feel like they are missing out on something massive.
Any famous demisexual I might know of?
Asexuality as a separate spectrum is still gaining momentum and recognition, so it is not surprising that no celebrity has so far come out as demisexual. It has been widely speculated by fans that the character of Sheldon Cooper in the popular CBS show the Big Bang Theory could be demisexual, but nothing has been confirmed by the writers yet. Sheldon insists on holding out on having sex with his girlfriend, Amy Farrah-Fowler for a long time, but that could also be attested to by his conservative upbringing and lack of social skills.
American vlogger and Youtube star Evan Edinger came out last year on his Youtube channel as demisexual. In a seven-minute long video, Edinger chronicles his history with his sexuality and talks about how a friend of his helped him on the journey.
So what does demisexuality feel like?
In a word, weird! Personally, I have faced everything from scorn to derision to outright disbelief that I, a young, reasonably attractive woman could dare to exist without a romantic partner. “You don’t have a boyfriend???” is a constant rejoinder in most of the conversations about relationships I have with friends. Friends have offered to set me up with their single, potentially compatible friends, and have been baffled when I have turned their offers down. I have been accused of thinking myself to be a ‘special snowflake’ or even a ‘prude’ for being demisexual.
People often misunderstand non-heterosexuality as an attention-seeking gimmick, but I have found that this idea stems from a misunderstanding borne out of ignorance. During a very memorable conversation with my classmate, I was talking about how Edward Cullen’s behaviour in the Twilight series, is inherently problematic, especially the part where he watches his girlfriend sleep without the latter’s knowledge of it. The classmate argued that it was romantic, and that I wouldn’t know that because I am asexual. So yeah, apparently being asexual robs you of your ability to know the line between romantic and plain creepy. Who knew!
How come I’ve never heard of these sexualities before?
Like I mentioned before, the asexuality spectrum is yet to gain the full, undivided attention of mainstream media and feminist and queer activists. Indeed, even the addition of the letter A for asexuality to the LGBT+ acronym has been a recent development. It will be some time before asexuality and its various derivatives are seen as separate from the hetero-homo spectrum. Identities like asexuality, greysexuality, sapiosexuality and demisexuality are still seen as make-believe by many, so the journey to recognition and acceptance is still a long, arduous one.
Discovering my true sexuality has been, to say the least, eye-opening. I no longer wonder if something is wrong with me if I don’t have Sidharth Malhotra as my phone wallpaper. I understand now why I’ve been so averse to the concept of one-night stands and random hookups and the like. I’m no longer alarmed by the fact that I’ve only ever had crushes on a small handful of people, despite being nearly twenty-one years old.
Coming to terms with your sexuality can be hard, especially if you, like me, have spent your entire life thinking you were straight. But in this age of internet and digital media, where there is no dearth of resources and material, it has never been easier to discover your sexual identity.
If you believe you could be a demisexual, then I suggest you utilize the resources listed below. These helped me embrace my sexuality, and I hope you will find them helpful too.
And from one demisexual to another, I will tell you this: we won’t have our knight in shining armour, and that is okay. I will have some peace of minding knowing that the aforementioned knight is not a raving lunatic/serial axe-murderer masquerading around as a knight.