Demisexuality, confusion and self-doubt

I’ve written before about my sort of complicated experiences of sexual attraction, framing it in terms of demisexuality. I am not always entirely comfortable embracing demi as part of my identity, however.

I find that when other people talk about demisexual experiences, the kind of strong emotional bond that they require in order to experience sexual attraction takes something on the order of years to develop. And this doesn’t really reflect my experience, or at least not my more recent data points.

At the same time though, it is clear that my experience is not the norm, and I kind of want to start there. Here’s what I know about me that seems to be different from allosexual people:

  • I have literally never met or seen a person and felt sexual attraction to them or desire for them based on that first impression. I *do* experience strong aesthetic attractions – there are people that I find very pleasant to look at, or voices I find myself loving to listen to, but this is definitely not a sexual kind of pleasure. I am also pretty clearly alloromantic, in that I can very quickly develop sort of fuzzy feelings of wanting to be closer to and get to know people better, and wanting for them to notice me and reciprocate those feelings (which is the best way I can think of to describe ~romantic feelings right now). And I know a spent a lot of my life rounding these sorts of feelings into sexual attraction, even though it is clear ti me now that most people (i.e. allosexuals) these feelings will at least sometimes have a sexual element attached or alongside them.
  • Also possibly important: there is little to no correlation between my experience of aesthetic attraction (i.e. liking the look of) a person and actually developing romantic or sexual attraction for that person. This is sort of where I identify partially with demisexuality: as I understand it, this is somewhat equivalent to saying that I don’t experience “primary sexual attraction” (which I seriously have so little understanding of that I am apparently putting it in scare quotes, y’all). And it’s not as if I am just working on a slower curve than allosexuals, where I first experience aesthetic attraction, and that becomes romantic, and then sexual. My initial aesthetic response to people has no bearing whatsoever on whether those other kinds of feelings will develop, because they are simply based on entirely different things.
  • I experience sexual attraction rarely. And this isn’t about having high standards, or even just very specific preferences. I don’t have an identifiable type across any variable I can think of, really. And I often find myself “crushing” (really more like squishing) out on people who are just generally awesome in all kinds of ways, but just not feeling it for them in a sexual way for no apparent reason. Being in this space with people has caused me a great deal of confusion, since I used to have a bad habit of rounding this up sexual attraction, and then not understanding when it really obviously wasn’t.

But, once I get to this point in my analysis, I start to feel like I really have no idea what my sexual attractions *are* based on.

I mean, it is actually true that most of the sexual partners I have had in my life are people I had known for between three and five years before the relationship become sexual, and this is a thing that I have in common with many demisexual people. But, then again, my more recent data points include time-lines from first in-person meeting to sex on the order of 12ish hours (with the person who was to become my husband) and a few weeks (with my boyfriend of now a little over a year). So, I mean, I don’t know anymore?

On the (other) other hand, though, it’s not as if there’s a rule that says “strong emotional connection” must automatically imply a years-long relationship. Because, I mean, that first date with my husband was pretty spectacular (totaling 36 hours before I really had to go home and attend to real life responsibilities), and the kind of thing that allowed for intimacy of a real kind to develop quickly. It was very open-ended, and we just kept exploring the city and finding more things we wanted to do together. And if I’m being totally honest, I developed feelings for him so fast that I actually felt comfortable saying after we had had literally just that one (admittedly epic) date, that I already thought I was falling in love with him. I seriously said that. Out loud. To another human being. (Confidential to RS: I don’t think I ever actually told you that. But now you know <3)

So… maybe this post just turned into an exercise in reconfirming what I had already previously concluded re: me being demisexual? It is definitely the most useful model I've found in helping me navigate and understand this stuff, at any rate.

Which is less interesting than I thought it was going to be, actually. But I shall post it anyway. I actually have more to say on this topic, re: the fact that I am also kinky, which I haven't talked about much here, if at all. The ways that my kinkiness interacts (or doesn't) with my experiences of sexual attraction are actually kind of interesting, at least to me.

5 comments

  1. I’ve had a very similar experience, and therefore have similar reservations about referring to myself as demi. Sometimes, emotional intimacy can develop very quickly for me, especially since people tend to self-select into my social circle and we tend to know a lot about each other through social media before we ever meet in person (or start talking regularly one-on-one online). I’ve slept with people the first time I met them in person, sometimes within hours, because of that. Yet it still feels like there’s a huge difference between allosexual people and me.

    1. I totally feel you. I definitely tend to think of myself as being on the allo-ish end of the part of the spectrum where demi would be, but my experiences trying to deal with the allo assumptions in dating etc have been frustrating enough that actively thinking about myself as under the ace umbrella has been super helpful, which I’ve come to understand is really the only reason you need to take up the identity <3

  2. This post too (see my comment on your first demisexuality post for more excitement/commentary lol). I really appreciate reading this here, as well. ;) You shared a lot about yourself here that is really easy for someone like me to follow!!

    Btw I can find myself feeling really emotionally bonded with people pretty quickly in some cases and can really relate to aspects of what you say here, as more recently in blog posts I also related to aspects of your experiences of friendship!! There’s just… never any sexual component of any kind that develops for the super-asexual person that is me… :P

    When you do develop sexual attraction for a person, I still find myself wondering what that type of thing “developing” really means. Like in queenie’s linkspam or somewhere a while ago I do remember, now, that I read this: http://ol-cunty.tumblr.com/post/57261722965/hmmm-no-offense-but-the-gray-asexuality-and and reading this: “sexual attraction is flat-out terrifying for me. The first time I felt it, I thought something was hideously wrong with me, because the crush I’d been carrying for a long-ass time suddenly morphed into something huge that manipulated my body’s reactions and my imagination without my permission and made me feel absolutely ashamed of myself.” did stick with me for a while there, but over the past… idk, year? I realize probably your experience and some other demisexual people’s experiences of developing sexual attraction for a person/finding a person sexy probably is vastly different. Especially as someone thinking about getting in a demisexual character’s head when writing fiction, I’m wondering how to frame how these things feel, and while I’m sure it feels different for so many people, just like my experience of aro aceness is pretty darn different than the average ace character I stumble across in fanfiction experiences it… WELL… hmm.

    I also really want to be able to explain demisexuality to people who ask me what it is, and while I’ve known the general answer for years, it’d be nice to really truly understand it inside and out. I’ve been doing my fair share of online and offline asexual awareness spreading and whatnot for almost 3 years now.

    Like for you, and I know this is really personal so feel free not to answer… but the question on my mind are, well, do the feelings of sexual attraction gradually happen, like: nothing, to mild, to medium, to strong? It feels like I’m missing an important piece of the puzzle to think the average demisexual “woke up one day to finding a person’s body really attractive/to fantasizing about them actively/to desiring sex with them specifically” when literally the day before they didn’t… but maybe that is how it works?

    Thinking about how I experience emotional intimacy, or the few things I do experience, I think, in hindsight, that I go from “thinking someone seems likable” to “really liking them a LOT” the moment they do something that produces some kind of emotional intimacy between us, if they say the right thing, react just the right way to something I say, that kind of thing. I’m not sure I’m conscious of it IN the moment, but I’m smiling and generally feel happy and it’s more in my chest than in my head and after I am alone again with my thoughts I reflect and realize “damn, that person is my new best friend” or something. Not only conversation can do it, it can be actions, realizing what we have in common, idk. Is that the kind of moment/experience that can, for demisexuals, either from your reading of other people’s experiences OR from your own experiences, make you start to see them in a sexual-light, I guess? Or is there that moment first, and then *later on* (whether 1 hour or 3 years later being another question in and of itself), later on is there another kind of moment that turns from just “close emotionally” to “feeling sexual attraction on top of it all”?

    I don’t remember which blog post of yours I was reading but I remember you describing more about your experiences elsewhere. I know you’ve actually written at length about all of this. And I’ve been absorbing a lot of it for quite a long time of reading your blog, or so it feels. I think reading your posts on your experiences of what makes you feel “Sexy” probably had a lot to do with this all, at least tangentially. But I’m just… I’m trying to get a feel for how “Secondary sexual attraction” really works, and what it even is describing. I know not every demisexual person even agrees that secondary sexual attraction is the best way to describe their sexual attraction: http://demigrayspeaks.tumblr.com/post/132918299584/why-i-dislike-the-primarysecondary-sexual and that the real problem I’m getting at is… what in the world is sexual attraction AT ALL https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/a-jaded-look-at-sexual-attraction/ Lol and how can I hope to write realistic, compelling, “inside the heads of characters” fiction about any kind of character that experiences sexual attraction, allosexual or demisexual or whatever, if I STILL after 3 years of searching for an answer, don’t know?

    I relate way too strongly to your questions here: https://valprehension.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/monosexuality-i-still-dont-get-it/ Because yeah, how can people really genuinely only find people of one gender attractive? Or even romantically speaking, how can they not find it possible to crush on a certain gender/crush all the time on another? I mean I’m so aro ace I don’t really understand how sexual attraction exists at all nor how to parse out romance/friendship/feelings of all sorts… XD But… like… I still WANT to understand. I’m reminded of this post of Sara K.’s recently: https://thenoteswhichdonotfit.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/in-spite-of-growing-up-in-a-society-full-of-allosexuals-the-allosexual-experience-still-doesnt-make-sense/ – despite spending SO MUCH time and effort trying to understand, I literally still do not. And I’m not even alone in not understanding. This is COMMON. But why, oh why, is it seemingly impossible for someone who doesn’t experience it firsthand to understand?

    P.S. Did you ever end up writing about the ways that your kinkiness does or doesn’t interact with your experiences of sexual attraction? XD Actually… maybe you did really recently here? https://valprehension.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/whats-your-favorite-ways-of-upsetting-gender-roles-genderbending-genderfucking-30-week-genderqueer-challenge-part-3/ I did read everything you wrote there about sex… etc.

    1. Thank you again for this comment! I’m glad to hear that other people emotionally bond quickly like me, because that is a thing that makes me feel weird about calling myself demi, where the sort of platonic ideal of the demisexual can take years or whatever to develop a bond, I’m like, no, I kind of know pretty quickly whether a person is one of ‘my’ people or not.

      Re: developing sexual attraction, it is definitely an all-at-once thing for me. Less of a ‘waking up one morning’ thing and more like, someone will do something that makes me feel particularly safe/seen/cared for/amazed/generally just in love if I’m being honest, and the switch will flip suddenly and it’ll just be there – an attraction that is very in my body and very much about theirs, even though I was totally unconcerned with their body prior to that. It’s weird, for sure! It is immediate, and always intense right from that moment on; no slow build. For me, anyway :)

      I did *kind of* write about being demi and kinky here: https://valprehension.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/me-and-demisexuality-and-kink/
      and here: https://valprehension.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/i-want-to-have-sex-like/
      but I haven’t ever quite gotten around to writing the actual post I referred to wanting to write here – it keeps turnign into other things when I sit down to do it, and I keep being weirdly scared to do it somehow? I still have a few drafts kicking around though, so I will probably get around to it eventually! More likely now, actually, since you’ve asked about it. It’s good to know ahead of time that at least someone will be interested in reading a thing I’m working on.

      Thank you, again, so much for your kind words and support. It really means a lot to have people who pretty seriously follow my writing journey, and you always have awesome things to say, so thanks for that too!

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