A lot of queer people once they are out of the closet often claim, "I always knew I wasn't straight," or, "I always knew I was different." For me, this feels partially relatable. Partially.
I could never say that "I always knew I was gay" because I genuinely believed people when they told me, "you'll find the right man one day." I believed, in true Disney Princess fashion, that a man would come along with the charm and charisma of a flamboyant king, sweep me off my feet and bounce me away merrily on his trusty steed. Some call it kidnapping, but maybe it was a specific romance that I needed to experience for myself before it became charming. That's what I told myself.
Truth is, while I was younger, I can't say I felt much attraction for either men or women. I didn't feel that teenage killer attraction that often drove most other girls into obsession and tears. I reasoned that it probably meant that I was either attracted to both or neither. And I spent a good amount of time identifying as Bisexual (attraction to both genders) and Asexual (lack of sexual attraction) alike. As I got older, I dated a few men, and fairly often there were lacklustre nothings, that at the most would spark a pathetic fart of common ground revealing that we shared a similar interest. I felt so unenthused for every man I dated, and it was in no offence to them. I simply didn't feel the "butterflies" or... Well, any interest at all really.
Despite telling some close friends I was bisexual, I put off dating women. Mainly to avoid that confrontation with my family that would come with doing such things. But, as it turns out, it was bound to happen eventually.
How I Realised I Was a Big Old Homo
Everyone has that one place that they start to take the restraints off of themselves and finally allow themselves to try something new. Somewhere to finally do something new or crazy and to live and learn. For me, the university was that place.
University is a sacred ground for discoveries, trying new things and realising who you truly are. It's the first time young adults escape the boundaries their parents have embedded into them and, most of the time, everyone goes pretty wild. I think I would have to say that my "wild year" was the second year of university. It was a time for making out with strangers after doing Sambucca shots and realising that no one really gave a shit about it.
I had my first kiss with a woman during this time, and while it was intoxicated and in the dark corner of a club, something about it just felt right. I wouldn't be able to describe it fully in words, but it was almost like something that had been staring me blatantly in the face for the longest time, and I was only just acknowledging it. I was only just making the contact and engaging and I could finally ask it to take a few steps back for personal space. And it felt wonderful -all of it! It's wonderful to have that little bit of knowledge and control on a part of my life I didn't realise was uncontrollably swinging from my shoulders all this time.
I was beginning to understand myself more, but even after that, after that discovery and suddenly knowing something new and brave about myself, something still didn't feel right. Mainly because I still had yet to feel the desire to have sex. I simply realised that I wanted to take girls on cute dates, kiss and cuddle and watch Netflix together, building a connection that goes beyond friendship. And, after befriending more people from the LGBTQ+ community, I still felt like I couldn't fully relate to their ways of dating, one night stands, casual sex etc.
So, maybe I wasn't a lesbian. Maybe I was simply experimenting.
But then I started dating women. Then I started to build stronger connections with them. I started to feel sparks, fireworks, leads tethering us to one another so we won't sail too far apart. I started to feel more, I started to look at this one person so differently to the rest of the world that it sometimes left me blind.
Yet, I still didn't quite understand myself. I didn't understand why I wasn't feeling sexual. Well, not straight away at least.
Then I came across a new term. One that suddenly made me buzz at how much it sounded like me, and that meant everything else make sense.
If I'm frank, the number of sexuality terms that are in the world frightens the living shit out of me. It's a confusing mess, and I truly believe that it's no one's business apart from your own, and your partner's, as to what specifics there are to your sexuality.
However, if I can spark that feeling of familiarity and knowing with at least one other person that I felt when I heard this term explained, then it'll be worth it. So, here it is:
A demisexual is someone who, on a spectrum of sexuality, is positioned half-way between "asexual" and "sexual." People who are demisexual don't feel any sexual desires for a person unless a strong connection with said person is established, quite often meaning that demisexuals don't have many sexual partners.
I've often seen it described as "not a sexuality" and rather just being a respectable human being, "holding off desires until you've gotten to know a person."
And, this statement has pissed me off so many times because they didn't understand the definition, or are refusing to try to. So, let me get to any details that may have been glossed over before.
A demisexual is not simply holding back a desire they hold if they do not have sex straight away. They are not holding high morals, being more of a romantic, or trying to be charming. They are not trying to be nice or safe or considerate. They genuinely do not feel the sexual desire. Similar to asexuals, they don't have any desire or impulses to have sex. The only difference between asexuals and demisexuals is that demisexuals will eventually start feeling said impulses with time.
I say "with time" broadly, simply because it varies from person to person. Some, it may take six months. Other's, it might take a year or two. And it is not something to rush, or elongate. It is simply a desire that you will feel eventually. It's a desire that will probably vary with time and from relationship-to-relationship. Obviously, because of this, a demisexual person would probably never have a desire for a one-night stand or a "fuck-buddy" as they wouldn't really get any pleasure out of it. But still, some demisexuals and asexuals will still get stimulation from porn and masturbation. This is a trait that I'm pretty sure varies from person to person though. Some do enjoy porn, others don't. Either way, it does not "diminish" or "enlarge" your asexual or demisexual traits.
This said, alike to asexuality, demisexuals may still have romantic desires for a person from their first date, first encounters, first anythings! This means they still might get a thrill and a buzz from the connection established with dating, hand holding, kissing, cuddling, etc.
Along with this, comes the attraction to a specific gender. Perhaps you have seen some of the terminologies online like "heteroromantic," "homoromantic," "panromantic," etc. These terms are often used by asexuals and demisexuals to define what gender they are attracted to romantically. They may feel no desire to have any sort of sexual relationship with these genders, but they will still be interested in dating them.
I, as a demisexual woman who is attracted to people of the same gender, would be able to identify myself as a homoromantic demisexual. However, "-romantic" terms is not something exclusively meant for those who are asexual or demisexual. You may be a "heteromantic demisexual," a "biromantic asexual," or a "homoromantic bisexual." The combinations can be endless, and once you understand the difference between a "-romantic" term and a "-sexual" term, they're fairly straightforward to understand. It's an endless bingo game of combinations, and you'll eventually be able to work out which one relates most to you.
At the end of the day, this is what demisexuality means to me. It's not set in stone, and someone else might define it differently, whilst another may have minor differences in some of the parts I've explained. But this is my understanding of the term.
As time has passed by, especially in the last ten or so years, the understanding of sexualities and the acceptance of them have increased greatly. But, there are still people out there who just can't figure themselves out. The number of terms can be overwhelming, and I completely understand the frustration and anger around the number of identities out there. If for anything else, I believe they're out there for the individuals who want to get a better understanding of themselves. It's not for the purpose of disclosing our identity for others, it's not so we can wear our specific flag at pride, but for our own gain in knowledge.
Even if this post hasn't helped you fully understand yourself, there's not much more I can say, apart from:
With time, you'll work it out.
Even if you don't, I don't think it matters what term you use.What matters is your contentment with life, whether that be finding a healthy relationship with your ideal partner, or finding something else beneficial to dedicate time and money to.
I can tell you, I have a near perfect understanding of my sexual identity now, and there's still much more to my life than just this terminology. I don't even talk about my demisexuality that often, if only for the fact that it doesn't seem important unless someone wants to sleep with me. If I have to identify as anything, I often say gay or lesbian. Because that's what people want to know about when they ask that question. What gender are you biased towards, if you do have a bias? Even then, if you don't know, you don't need to tell them if you don't want to. It's your identity, and you can keep it as private as you want.
What more can I say? I suppose the only thing left to reassure is as follows:If you, yourself, are struggling with your identity, finding lack of inner peace and confliction about how you identify—try not to stress too much about it. In the end, things will all fall into place, and you will find the answers naturally. There may be hurdles and bumps along the way, but they will smooth over with time. You don't need to seek out answers or solutions by doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or unnatural. And if something is starting to draw you in and make you curious—try it! You never know what you might find out. Your identity should not be something to make you feel unnatural. Your identity should be your discovery. Your journey. Your life! Have fun with it. Go out and enjoy!
Good luck with it all, mate.