WHAT’S ATTRACTION ANYWAY?
This post is one I’ve been trying to write on and off since late this summer, and I’m still not really sure why I was never able to finish it. What I write here probably won’t come as a surprise to many people who know me well, even though I’ve realized that I haven’t really talked about this much with a lot of the people in my life. In all honesty, I’ve probably written more Twitter threads on this specific topic and elaborated on it more in that fashion than I have verbally to the majority of my friends.
But in the spirit of National Coming Out Day yesterday and the fact that I’ve been realizing just how much this other aspect of myself really does impact my day-to-day life and relationships, I finally decided to sit down and get myself to hammer out this post.
Something else people will need to understand prior to me really starting this post (and let’s be honest, I’m probably going to make a little series on this, but don’t quote me on that, because clearly it took me ages to write this one) is that the catalyst for this entire revelation was my glamping trip with the internet queers earlier this summer. I’m sure that I would’ve made this connection and realized this about myself eventually, but being able to spend several days surrounded by only fellow queer people all along the spectrum of sexuality probably expedited this process quite significantly.
While I was there, I was telling a story about a series of interactions I had with a guy earlier that summer and upon finishing my story, one of my friends who was sitting there remarked to me saying: “That’s a really demisexual thing to say.” In that moment, I had a simultaneously really profound and really simple revelation at the same time. I’m demisexual.
“THAT’S A REALLY DEMISEXUAL THING TO SAY”
Now, your first question is probably: what does demisexual even mean? I would forgive my straight friends and even several of my queer friends if you didn’t know what it meant. As I’ve continued to learn more about what being demisexual means for myself, I’ve been finding that it really doesn’t get a whole lot of exposure, even in the queer community.
The first thing you need to know is that being demisexual is on the asexual spectrum. Yep, asexual, as in not experiencing sexual attraction at all. Demisexual tends to encompass the entire spectrum between asexual and allosexual, or the opposite of asexual. What the prefix demi- usually means is “partially",” which is why it covers the whole spectrum between asexual and allosexual. Essentially what that means is that demisexual do experience sexual attraction, but not nearly with the frequency that allosexual people do.
For many demisexual people, including myself, what that boils down to is that I don’t experience most forms of attraction to people until I’ve already developed an emotional or relational bond with that person. Maybe the easiest way to describe this is that love at first sight is DEFINITELY not a thing for me, whatsoever. In fact, it’s generally the opposite. For me, I generally need to spend extended periods of time getting to know someone before I even know if I might like that person or not.
What this also means is that attraction itself is slightly more complicated for me and many other demisexual people as well. For most allosexual people, sexual attraction, romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, intellectual attraction, etc., all of those things are normally wrapped up into this one word “attraction” or “sexual orientation,” because they tend to all be bundled together. That’s not necessarily the case with demisexual and asexual people. That’s because asexual people often still experience romantic attraction to people and want to have partners, even if they don’t experience any sexual attraction to people at all, and demisexual people are on the asexual spectrum.
WHAT THAT [DEMISEXUALITY] BOILS DOWN TO FOR ME IS THAT I DON’T EXPERIENCE MOST FORMS OF ATTRACTION TO PEOPLE UNTIL I’VE ALREADY DEVELOPED AN EMOTIONAL OR RELATIONAL BOND WITH THAT PERSON
When I try to explain how this plays out on a day-to-day basis in my life, I usually say that I can appreciate someone being attractive, but that fact in and of itself is usually just that, a fact. Similarly to how even as a queer male, I can appreciate the fact that a woman is an attractive person, that’s generally how my mental process goes with everyone until I form an emotional bond with that person, for the most part. In the asexual/demisexual world, this is usually referred to as aesthetic attraction.
In addition, I would generally say that when I finally get to a point of being able to decide whether I like someone or not, that generally manifests as what we would call romantic attraction. A sort of funny way that I’ve expressed this and that many other demisexuals and asexuals have echoed is that when I like someone, generally no matter how intense or serious it gets (or at least, has gotten, in my life), all I want to do is go on walks with that person, hold that person’s hand, bake cookies with that person, be in close proximity to that person, MAYBE kiss that person if things are getting really heavy (LOL), but that’s about it. Truly. Because what I’m primarily talking about when I talk about “liking” someone is the romantic attraction, and while that typically aligns itself with sexual attraction for allosexual people, they are very separate and very distinct for asexual and demisexual people.
In fact, on a related note, I can actually vividly remember being on what essentially amounted to a date several years ago, watching the sunset with the guy I was on this “date” with at the time, and remarking to him that, “We can just do this forever.” What I was insinuating was that if being fully LGBTQ affirming was still hard for him (and this is a whole other thing…) that the romantic aspect of it would be enough for me. There are a lot of problematic things with that entire scenario, but looking back on it, that is one of the starkest examples of me being a raging demisexual before I even realized it.
WHAT WE REFER TO AS “LIKING” SOMEONE IS WHAT WE WOULD GENERALLY CALL ROMANTIC ATTRACTION IN THE ASEXUAL/DEMISEXUAL WORLD
There’s so much more to say about this, especially as I’ve been learning more and more what being demisexual actually means for me and how it affects me on a day to day basis, but I’ll say that it’s been SO GOOD to finally have some language to describe the way that I operate as a human being. And it’s been liberating in a lot of ways as well, which I’m sure I’ll write about in future posts on demisexuality.
But one thing I want to make sure I say before ending this post is that while a lot of these experiences and mental processes that I described have generally been agreed upon by several demisexual people I’ve spoken with, my experience of my own demisexuality should in no way be viewed as normative, especially for something as diverse as demisexuality. These are just some of the things that I’ve been experiencing and coming to understand as I lean more into what being demisexual means and what it is.
But, so I guess this is my second coming out, and I guess you could say that makes me doubly queer. I’ll take it. This is why the acronym goes to LGBTQIA or LGBTQ+ these days. The A stands for asexual, and demisexuality is right there on the spectrum. So cheers to another National Coming Out Day, and now you all know I’m demi. *thumbs up*
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