For as long as I can remember, sex has always been something that I would only consider if I was in a committed relationship with someone I had a strong emotional bond with. When I was a child and during the first years of my teens, most of my friends agreed with me. Of course we wanted to wait for that special someone! As we got older, however, it was like all of them realised that it was time to start living ‘in the real world.’ They started kissing people at parties, they started having casual sex, and they started getting into one relationship after another. They also started telling me that I just needed to try it. That I would definitely change my mind ‘once I got into it’. I didn’t get into it. I didn’t get into it at all. One by one, I saw them board the dating-and-sex-train, but somehow I always seemed to miss it. It felt like they were breaking our pact and leaving me behind.
Friends and family told me that I needed to let go of this idea of ‘the one’ and that fairy tales didn’t exist. I wondered if I was just being naive, but I was sure I wasn’t. I didn’t have an unrealistic idea of love or sex. I didn’t believe in soulmates anymore. I knew how dating, relationships and sex worked. I just really, really couldn’t see it working for me.
I first learnt about the term ‘demisexuality’ the same way one learns about all things that actually matter in life yet school fails to tell us about: by reading One Direction fanfiction. In this particular story, one of the characters was demisexual. When he explained what it was, I got this strange feeling. Oh.
No, being demisexual does not mean being sexually attracted to Demi Lovato. The short definition is: ‘Only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a particular person.’ It basically means that there is no primary attraction, which is attraction based on things like appearance and smell. For a lot of people it also means that it’s (very) rare for them to be sexually attracted to someone.
But that can’t be me!….Can it?
This made perfect sense to me, but I also had a million questions. First of all, demisexuality falls under the asexual umbrella. That confused me and almost made me abandon the idea completely. The word ‘asexual’ scared me because I didn’t understand it. I thought that being asexual meant that you wanted nothing to do with sex at all, ever. How could I be asexual? I want to have sex sometimes. I masturbate!
I started doing some research though, and just like with any kind of sexuality, asexuality exists on a spectrum. You don’t have to identify as either asexual or not asexual, just like you don’t have to identify as gay or not gay. And yes, there are people who have no desire to have sex whatsoever, but that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone who identifies as asexual.
I started watching YouTube videos, I had a look on different forums and I even did some of those idiotic tests. Everything seemed to fit. ‘You mostly fall in love with friends.’ Check. ‘You’ve been called a prude.’ CHECK. ‘Looks are irrelevant to you.’ Yep. ‘You don’t get flirting, dating or hookup culture.’ HAHAHA.
When I told a friend about this, they kind of brushed it aside immediately: ‘So you don’t want to sleep with everyone you meet? Isn’t that the case for…everyone?’ Well, maybe, but that’s not exactly what this is. And if this was the case for everyone, I wouldn’t have felt like a prudish freak for the better part of twenty-eight years. Also, when someone tells you something like this, I highly suggest you validate their feelings. That’s just being nice.
I recently watched a Hannah Witton video where she talks about the difference between desire, arousal and attraction. She explained how we have been told that we need all three of those things to have a fulfilling (sex) life, when actually, we’re often only experiencing one or two. I learnt that I basically reside in the bit where arousal and desire meet (section B if you’re watching the video). Yes, I can get aroused and I can experience sexual desire, but I almost never feel sexual attraction.
So let me try and explain this in a more concrete way. First of all, I don’t see the point in kissing someone, let alone having sex with someone, for fun. Not only is casual sex something I’m not interested in, the thought makes me highly uncomfortable and feels unnatural (I’m not saying it is unnatural!) There are no words to express how much I don’t want to do that. To me, it’s something that is part of a relationship. Not an essential part though. I think I would be completely happy in a romantic relationship without partnered sex.
Another thing, and possibly the thing that has made me feel the most ‘different’ from other people: The idea of being attracted to someone because of their looks is very odd to me. Every time someone tells me they’re dating someone who is very pretty, I’m like… okay and? When they show me pictures of said person and they’re looking at me with hope in their eyes, waiting for me to confirm that they’ve made a good choice, I never really know what to say because I think it’s strange that they’re even focusing on that in the first place. I want to know who my friends are dating, but I couldn’t be less interested in what they look like. No matter what you show me, I will either respond with ‘Uh-huh’ or with ‘Oh’.
I’m not gonna sit here and act like I don’t think some people are better-looking than others or that I can’t see when someone is conventionally attractive. I have eyes. However, it’s all very theoretical. There’s basically no connection between the ‘type’ of people I find good-looking and the people I would want to have sex with or be in a relationship with. When I like someone, their appearance has absolutely nothing to do with it. I only start thinking of them as physically attractive after an emotional bond has been established. So if I’ve ever had a crush on you, it was not because I thought you were handsome. Glad we cleared that up.
Because of that, it’s very weird to me when people say things like ‘He’s out of her league because he’s beautiful and she’s not’ or ‘Why is she single? She’s pretty.’ People say these things all the time. Why is someone’s appearance considered their most important asset? Maybe that guy is a massive dickhead and their ‘ugly’ partner is the one that deserves better? As Judge Judy would say: Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
No thanks, Harry
I also did a lot of Googling on how you can be on the asexual spectrum, but still have solo sex and sexual fantasies. Another misconception: being demi- or asexual does not have to mean you have a lower libido than others. I, for example, have plenty of solo sex. I also watch porn. I’m not attracted to the people in the porn. It’s more about the, ehm, activity. And about getting off, really.
But what about celebrity crushes? There’s no denying I’ve had more than my fair share of crushes on celebrities and fictional characters. This, too, confused the hell out of me. A couple more hours on the internet taught me that this is completely normal as well. You can find a person gorgeous, you may think about them during sex, and it might even feel more ‘safe’ to think about celebrities or fictional characters because you know that all of that will never happen in real life. Aha.
Allow me to illustrate this with an example: Harry Styles. It’s no secret that I think this man is a GOD (why do you think I was reading 1D fanfics in the first place?) I just love him. And yes, he has, on more than one occasion, crossed my mind in the boudoir (I’m so glad I told my family to subscribe to this blog). BUT. I actually only started thinking of him as attractive because I loved everything I knew about him. And again, this is theoretical, because let’s say that Harry was standing in front of me right now and that he wanted to kiss me, I would politely decline. Not only that, but the thought also kind of makes my stomach turn. It’s all fun and games as long as I know it would never actually happen.
The same thing has happened with real-life people I had a crush on, by the way. There have only been a handful (is three a handful?) and even though I would think about what it would be like to do stuff with them, afterwards I would see them in real life, look at them, and think: ‘No offense but I would rather drown myself than kiss you.’ In fact, in twenty-eight years, there’s only been one person I’ve actually wanted to have sex with.
Keep your options open? You guys have options?!
It’s very confusing to be a teenager and watch all of your friends, who once seemed to be on the same page as you, grow up and start doing things that you really don’t want to do. I used to tell myself that I just hadn’t found ‘the right person’ yet, but I didn’t understand why my friends were meeting people they found attractive every couple of weeks or months and why it only happened to me every decade.
People would tell me they were dating someone but they were ‘not exclusive’ or they wanted to ‘keep their options open’ and all I could think was: ‘Do you have any idea how rare it is to want to be with someone who wants to be with you too? And you’re trying to tell me that you found more than one person at the same time? Where are you finding these people?!’ When I actually like someone, it takes me years to get over them. The good thing is, if I’m ever in a relationship, I probably won’t cheat very easily. The idea of wanting one person that wants me back is almost laughable, let alone finding two at the same time.
You could say it has been frustrating at times. It’s difficult to have people ask you questions and not really have any answers. I’ve lost count of how many times people have told me to just pick someone up at a bar and get it over with. I didn’t know how to express my feelings without either sounding like a prude, or like a stuck-up bitch who felt so much better than everyone else because she was less shallow and less promiscuous. While that’s obviously the case, there was also a lot more to the story.
All jokes aside, I want to make it very very clear that I do not think there is anything wrong with having casual dates or casual sex. I’m not saying that those things are weird, I’m just trying to explain how they feel to me. Hearing other people’s stories does not make me uncomfortable at all, I just think it’s time we stopped assuming that this is the way to go for everyone.
It’s a no from me
Which brings me to dating. What an absolute fucking nightmare. I don’t for the life of me understand how people meet a stranger, flirt with them for a bit, and all of a sudden find themselves in a relationship. I have only ever been attracted to people I was friends with, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
The idea of going on a date with someone you met online and knowing that you’re both there to see if the other person would be a good potential partner seems so unnatural to me that I find it difficult to believe people do that shit for fun. I have done it, twice, and both dates were probably as successful as first dates can be, but I hated every single second of them. The whole time, I was thinking: ‘I could be at home reading a book right now. Or I could be hanging out with someone I already know I like.’
These guys were lovely, but now I realise the whole thing just made me extremely uncomfortable and I’m done forcing myself into these situations because I feel like I have to. I’m currently using an app to meet up with other women and make friends in London, and even though the process is exactly the same, I love it and I’m actually excited about meeting up and getting to know these girls. Dating apps though….a hard pass.
And let’s say I did meet someone on a dating app, how would that even work? I know people expect things after a couple of dates. Things I don’t want to do. Do I just say: ‘Hey, I know it’s date twelve but the thought of you touching me still makes me want to vomit so how about we hang out for a year or two and maybe I’ll start liking you and maybe I won’t. Sounds good? Alrightie.’ I don’t know much about dating etiquette but I have a feeling that most people wouldn’t be up for this.
If you don’t like salmon, don’t eat salmon
We live in a world where casual dating, casual kissing and casual sex are almost the norm. We as a society seem to think that everyone needs to want sex, and that everyone needs to like sex. And, of course, a relationship has to be the ultimate goal. No. Some people don’t want to be in a relationship. Some people only want to have sex in very specific circumstances. Some people don’t want to have sex or be in a relationship ever. There’s not much room for people to express that and I think that’s a problem. I’ve had people tell me that they would be relieved if they never had to have sex again, but that they’ve accepted it as part of their lives or relationships. That worries me. You shouldn’t be doing something you don’t like. I don’t like salmon, so why would I eat salmon every week?
These past couple of years, I have met several people who identify as (kind of) asexual, so it’s not some kind of rare phenomenon. I recently had this conversation with a friend who, like me, is almost thirty. They were worried that, at our age, it is slowly becoming less acceptable to be a virgin. I looked at them and went: ‘I hate to tell you this, darling, but I think that ship sailed about ten years ago.’
The whole concept of virginity is bullshit anyway. It implies that penetrative sex is the only type of sex that counts. A lot of people never do that, doesn’t mean they’re not having sex. It also implies that partnered sex is more valuable and more important than solo sex, which is also not necessarily the case for everyone.
I constantly find myself in situations where people start talking about relationships and sex and simply assume that I have similar experiences. When I was younger, I was embarrassed to tell them the truth. Now I think it’s funny. Usually, their whole demeanour changes when I tell them I can’t relate. They look at me like I must be part of a cult and start backtracking like they didn’t just tell me they had a threesome in a McDonald’s toilet.
Is this a coming out?
It’s ironic how in my last post I stated that I would never know what it’s like to come out, yet in a way, it feels like that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not one hundred percent sure what label I feel most comfortable with. There’s also still a part of me that thinks that I can’t be 100% sure about this. Maybe I’ve just never met someone I immediately felt attracted to? What if there’s a Samantha Jones inside of me, waiting to break free? And once she’s unleashed, will I feel silly that I ever shared this?
All I know is that right now, it feels good to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. That’s the good thing about these labels, I think. They can help you understand yourself better, and they can make it easier to have these conversations.
I wrote this post for a couple of reasons. First of all, like most of my posts, they feel like an essential step in the process of me getting more comfortable with who I am. Second, I feel like this is a topic most people are not aware of and there are not many stories that show this perspective. Most of all, though, I hope that I can help show people that there is not one ‘normal’ way to live your life. When it comes to sex or relationships, never ever ever feel like you have to do something. You don’t. You’re fabulous no matter what you do or don’t do. I mean, look at me.
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