38 votes

What's hard about being demisexual/demiromantic/asexual/aromantic?

(Topics like this need people to have more sympathy for the other because we're talking about real people's sexualities and discrimination these people often face every day and have deep feeling abouts, so be nice.)

If I had to (uneducatedly) guess, some of them would be:

  • Your sexuality (and the word allosexual) being as good as unknown by most people.

  • Asexuality being a big umbrella (hence the title being demisexual/demiromantic/asexual/aromantic rather than just asexual)

  • Allosexual and aromantic people being confused for "people who only want sex"

  • People not believing you when you say that.

  • Being perceived as an anomaly or lying, along with people promising that you will realize the truth one day.

  • Overly religious people seeing your sexuality as a virtuous rejection of degenerate lust/sin and as an unnatural anomaly simultaneously.

  • People seeing your sexuality as being "free" from dating or porn consumption or above identifying yourself by how un-sexed you are. (True, but obviously very reductive and usually contingent on the insecurities of the people seeing you that way.) (This is admittedly something I struggle with.)

33 comments

  1. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [3]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Thanks for writing what I don't have the will to. I have felt every sentence of this every day since I started thinking about my sexuality a couple of years ago. It would have been easier to be...

      Thanks for writing what I don't have the will to. I have felt every sentence of this every day since I started thinking about my sexuality a couple of years ago. It would have been easier to be asexual. I thought I was asexual for a little while after I realized I'm different from most other people. Coincidentally, shortly after that I experienced sexual attraction and romantic attraction for the first time. Now I can only imagine what sating those desires feels like.

      because online it's easy for this to come off as incel griping

      You shouldn't worry about this. We've both turned away from sexual opportunities because we know in order to move forward with them we would have had to make ourselves extremely uncomfortable. I think I'm attractive. Women have told me I'm attractive. Women have tried, repeatedly, to engage me. But I either didn't know them very well or knew them well enough to be sure we wouldn't have the compatibility required. The only exception I've experienced, the rare chemistry of reciprocated interest, didn't work out. I don't fully understand why and I'd hesitate to state as much as you have about her psychology. It would feel wrong to pick apart someone's brain when I know my biases would have too strong an effect.

      Anyway... incels aren't demisexual. They're misogynists. They're vocal wannabe rapists.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        nukeman
        Link Parent
        I’m not trying to justify inceldom here (it’s a horrifically toxic and dangerous mindset), but I’ve been through periods or rejection where I could feel the ideas creeping into my brain.

        I’m not trying to justify inceldom here (it’s a horrifically toxic and dangerous mindset), but I’ve been through periods or rejection where I could feel the ideas creeping into my brain.

        5 votes
        1. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          I focused on that word because I think often when we say we're afraid to be labeled a certain way it says more about what we sometimes think of ourselves than how people really would label us....

          I focused on that word because I think often when we say we're afraid to be labeled a certain way it says more about what we sometimes think of ourselves than how people really would label us.

          People have all kinds of intrusive thoughts. As nothing but thoughts, they don't mean anything to your identity.

          6 votes
  2. [3]
    soks_n_sandals
    (edited )
    Link
    Being in a long-term, committed relationship with a partner who isn't asexual. This used to be a more significant problem for our relationship in the past than it is now. During our relationship...

    Being in a long-term, committed relationship with a partner who isn't asexual.

    This used to be a more significant problem for our relationship in the past than it is now. During our relationship (~7 years), I've gone through periods of months where I felt no sexual attraction or desire, effectively stymying our sex life. Then, for a short period, my attraction would return, only to fade away once more. I consider myself in the "grey-A" space because of this. In the past, I had no concept of the asexual spectrum, so it led to feelings that made me feel emasculated and broken, and made my partner feel unwanted.

    Once I learned more about asexuality and learned more of the language regarding sexuality, I was able to have a constructive and ongoing conversation with my partner about myself. This growth has greatly improved what was once a challenging and tense aspect of our relationship.

    18 votes
    1. [2]
      reifyresonance
      Link Parent
      Huh, I didn't know it could fluctuate over time like that. Makes compete sense though. I've been going "no, no, I'm not asexual cuz I definitely have felt sexual attraction before, for long...

      Huh, I didn't know it could fluctuate over time like that. Makes compete sense though. I've been going "no, no, I'm not asexual cuz I definitely have felt sexual attraction before, for long periods of time... even though I've been having zero sexual attraction for the past X."

      Thank you for sharing.

      15 votes
      1. soks_n_sandals
        Link Parent
        I don't share often, so I'm really happy you got something out of it. I thought a lot about whether I "qualified" to identify as ace, since I didn't either know if it could fluctuate either. I...

        I don't share often, so I'm really happy you got something out of it. I thought a lot about whether I "qualified" to identify as ace, since I didn't either know if it could fluctuate either. I gathered that people have lots of different individual experiences, and at the end of the day it's not something I share with people in my personal life, and for that I'm not trying to enter any irl LGBT spaces or really anywhere else on the internet (other than this thread), so I don't worry much about self-identifying.

        I look at my own personal sexuality more like a pattern of behavior as opposed to a strict binary "I am" or "I am not" something. So when I consider an overarching trend, I saw that it wasn't just missing attraction/desire to my partner, but I didn't feel it toward strangers or anyone else. The lack of desire occurred repeatedly and for long stretches, despite being quite satisfied with everything else in my life and relationship. Sexuality is nebulous and I am only somewhat more well-equipped to talk about mine. Good luck in your journey and try not to worry too much!

        8 votes
  3. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    The hard part about being a male demisexual is that many partners expect men to be sexually forward at all times, and will think there's something wrong otherwise. I'm supposed to perform like a...

    The hard part about being a male demisexual is that many partners expect men to be sexually forward at all times, and will think there's something wrong otherwise. I'm supposed to perform like a machine, to want sex as soon as possible, on every occasion. Failure to conform can be met with criticism, disbelief, and other emasculating responses.

    Edit: there are obviously good things too, I'm just answering the question.

    14 votes
  4. [5]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    I'm not sure I experience romance in a very similar way to I'm not sure if I experience gender. In the last two years or so, I've made it a mission of mine to ask everyone I end up dating what...

    I'm not sure I experience romance in a very similar way to I'm not sure if I experience gender.

    In the last two years or so, I've made it a mission of mine to ask everyone I end up dating what romance is. I've also asked a few of my close friends, and asked others online to define it. So far, about the only common thread (much like gender) is that there is some sort of specific 'feeling' to romance. I'm still unsure whether I do not experience this feeling, or whether I am capable of feeling this feeling for everyone.

    You see, I don't like categorization and I don't really like labels. They fail to capture human diversity. What is the difference, for example, between having dinner with a best friend and with a partner? Have you ever had a partner for which having dinner with them felt like having dinner with a best friend? How do we classify this difference? Does having a partner and being monogamous stop you from having a dinner with a friend that borders romance? What makes it romantic? The topics that are discussed? The deep connection between the two individuals? The desire to have sex? Can you not have similarly deep discussions with people that is not romantic?

    It's hard for me to tell whether I'm open to feeling any way about someone and because of such always open to the opportunity of romance and therefore do not experience it as something 'special' or whether I just don't feel anything special towards anyone and am completely blind to what romance is. At best I have a vague idea of romance from what society shows me romance is - candlelight dinners, rose petals, oil massages, curling up in my partners lap while they stroke my hair and we watch Netflix. But I also don't feel like I'm against doing any of these activities to anyone who's open to them and something that we both desire in the moment.

    So I'm going to leave this comment here in the hopes that others can explain a matter I've felt lost on for a long time…

    What is romance?

    13 votes
    1. [3]
      soks_n_sandals
      Link Parent
      This is an excellent example that hits right to the point of your question. I have been thinking about this somewhat lately and think it falls, in large part, on intent. Please do not assume that...

      What is the difference, for example, between having dinner with a best friend and with a partner? Have you ever had a partner for which having dinner with them felt like having dinner with a best friend?

      This is an excellent example that hits right to the point of your question. I have been thinking about this somewhat lately and think it falls, in large part, on intent. Please do not assume that I have written the following thinking it is sacrosanct or a rationally sound concept.

      An example: I have two best friends. One is my partner, whom I am to marry, and I am in love with her. I also love my other best friend (Friend B). She will be the Best Woman at my wedding, alongside my groomsmen. I am not in love with my best friend. This is where intent plays a big part in what I think romance is. Let's assume the dinner in question is casual. No fancy clothes, no special occasion. Dinner just because.

      When I have dinner with my partner, that dinner rests atop many other moments in our relationship. These are moments that exist beyond what a close friend would know. Because of this, we aren't "catching up". Rather, we are on a date. It's an opportunity for me to express to my partner that she is the most important person in my life, and I want to do everything I can so she wants to remain in that status. To me, romance implies exclusivity and sincerity.

      When I have dinner with a friend, it is an opportunity to catch up. The topics between a friend dinner and a partner dinner may be similar, as may be the food and location. But my friendship is built on far fewer shared moments in aggregate than my relationship with my partner. So while aspects of a friend dinner may be "romantic", the dinner itself is not romance insofar as I have no intention to elevate my best friend to the same place in my life as a romantic partner.

      11 votes
      1. [2]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        So romance is inherently monoamorous to you? That is to say you cannot have romantic feelings for more than one person at a time? Assuming you are not in a relationship, how do you know when to...

        To me, romance implies exclusivity and sincerity.

        So romance is inherently monoamorous to you? That is to say you cannot have romantic feelings for more than one person at a time? Assuming you are not in a relationship, how do you know when to feel romantic feelings? Does it just turn on and off based on whether you are in a relationship or not?

        8 votes
        1. soks_n_sandals
          Link Parent
          I think you can have romantic feelings for more than one person. I think that's the tough thing about feelings - you don't really decide to feel them or know when to feel them. What can be decided...

          I think you can have romantic feelings for more than one person.

          I think that's the tough thing about feelings - you don't really decide to feel them or know when to feel them. What can be decided is if you feel romatinc feelings and you're in a relationship, and they're for the wrong person, you avoid situations that precipitate those feelings.

          6 votes
    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Romance is a nebulous term. I've never used it to describe anything because I also am unsure of how it should be used. I'm some kind of a-spec. Demi-sexual and demi-romantic are probably the best...

      Romance is a nebulous term. I've never used it to describe anything because I also am unsure of how it should be used. I'm some kind of a-spec. Demi-sexual and demi-romantic are probably the best descriptors for me. Any time someone's labeled my action or words as romantic, the common thread is that there was an expression of romantic love. Having read a bit of biological literature that describes humans from a fake "outside" perspective, this is supposed to be a second wave of the infant-parent attachment. It's been a while since I was that young, but I think that might be correct. The feeling could be similar, if not the same. I could try taking a drug that stimulates Oxytocin. I'm pretty sure that will confirm it's what I'm feeling.

      I've only ever felt romantic love for one person. I knew that's what it was because all of a sudden, for the first time in my life, all of the trite themes from love songs felt relatable. Up until that point I didn't understand why so many songs were about love, or how someone could feel so strongly about another person.

      Billy Joel, how do you know exactly how I feel?

      6 votes
  5. eladnarra
    Link
    I identify as demisexual, but only when it comes up (like in this topic). I didn't grow up thinking something was "wrong" with me, but when I discovered the word it did help me contextualize some...

    I identify as demisexual, but only when it comes up (like in this topic). I didn't grow up thinking something was "wrong" with me, but when I discovered the word it did help me contextualize some things. The times I felt uncomfortable with being expected to find guys attractive, the fact that my crushes didn't involve wanting to kiss or have sex with the person even though I was interested in sex in the abstract, etc.

    It does make it tricky to meet people with an intent to date them, but so far I've had two relationships (one current) that grew from friendships, so it's possible. I'm just not probably ever going to find a relationship on a dating app.

    I guess one of the hard things is how people perceive demisexuality. Some people think you're a prude, while other people think you're making up an unnecessary name for something that many people feel. ("Lots of people don't have sex with someone until they know them better; you just want to feel special.")

    I don't actually have to deal with those types of comments because I'm usually not open about it - which I guess is rather telling.

    There's also some gatekeeping from some people in the LGBTQIA community around people who are ace/demi and straight. I don't know how I feel about it; I think demi/ace straight people should be welcome if they want to be a part of the community, but personally I'd feel like a fraud if I tried to claim a spot. It's up for debate how much of my feeling stems from gatekeepers or the "you just want to be special" crowd.

    One reason that the gatekeeping sucks, even if you personally don't think straight demi/ace people belong, is that some people who are demi/ace and think they're straight aren't. If you don't normally feel attracted to any gender, compulsory heterosexuality can end up forcing a "default setting" with no underlying evidence for it. But they don't always have a place to explore that, because the identity they do know for sure (ace/demi) is rejected by a few very vocal people.

    12 votes
  6. [5]
    Tygrak
    Link
    For me, being a gay gray-A/demi guy, the thing is that the amount of gay guys who are ok with dating someone who won't guarantee sex in a relationship is tiny. It's understandable that most people...

    For me, being a gay gray-A/demi guy, the thing is that the amount of gay guys who are ok with dating someone who won't guarantee sex in a relationship is tiny. It's understandable that most people don't even want to talk with me because sex is a important part of a romantic relationship for them. I am already a pathetic person that would have a hard time finding a guy (or a girl if I was straight) even if I wasn't demisexual. So the hard part for me is that I will very likely stay single.

    Other than that, there's nothing hard about being demisexual for me. Most people have no reason to know that I am demi, so I can avoid any ignorance concerning this from others.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world that are similar to you and don't feel so negatively about themselves. I don't know what you could do, but there are probably actions you can take...

      I am already a pathetic person that would have a hard time finding a guy

      I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world that are similar to you and don't feel so negatively about themselves. I don't know what you could do, but there are probably actions you can take that will improve your self image. I'm not even trying to say this in the context of romantic or sexual success. In isolation, you need to find a way to feel good about yourself.

      7 votes
      1. [3]
        Tygrak
        Link Parent
        Thank you for your response. I don't think I feel too negatively about myself. I have done a lot of soul searching in the past, and I figured out that I just need to be ok with being single. I...

        Thank you for your response. I don't think I feel too negatively about myself. I have done a lot of soul searching in the past, and I figured out that I just need to be ok with being single. I went on quite a few first dates a few years back (I would even almost say that I nearly exhausted the dating pool available in the area at the time) and every time the topic of sex was brought up it was a deal breaker. The only times I even went on a second date were before I admitted to myself that I fall somewhere under the ace umbrella. I am also probably not a very conventionally attractive guy, which I am totally ok with, because I am happy with both how I look and think, and I don't want to pretend to be someone I am not.

        I guess what I am trying to say is that I am being realistic. Maybe saying I am pathetic is a bit too harsh, but I think that it's also kind of true.

        7 votes
        1. [2]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          Some of the apps, okcupid in particular, have really leaned into being queer friendly. You can put in your profile that you are ace, demi, etc.- really any label you can think of. Because of this...

          Some of the apps, okcupid in particular, have really leaned into being queer friendly. You can put in your profile that you are ace, demi, etc.- really any label you can think of. Because of this there's a lot of queer folks on the app. While I can't promise it will be much different, I've personally found dating through okcupid to be much, much easier than other apps. There's less to sift through because people get to see what you are and make decisions on deal breakers and desirables before they even swipe.

          I would highly encourage you to take a look. You might find it a much more accepting and open dating scene.

          7 votes
          1. Tygrak
            Link Parent
            Thanks for the recommendation. Sadly, I've already tried it and there are about 5 gay guys on there in total in my area (also they probably made a profile, saw that no one is around and never...

            Thanks for the recommendation. Sadly, I've already tried it and there are about 5 gay guys on there in total in my area (also they probably made a profile, saw that no one is around and never looked at the site again after that, the same as I did). I did see some demi guys on there which was cool, but they were in other countries, haha. And I also never matched with any of them, trying to start dating people in other countries probably wouldn't work anyways. I still have some hopes for Tindr, which I am probably going to try when things get normal again.

            3 votes
  7. LukeZaz
    Link
    Here's a bit of an oddball answer to what problems being aromantic gives me: I dislike TV more. More specifically, I dislike romance in TV even more. To me, it feels hamfisted most of the time,...

    Here's a bit of an oddball answer to what problems being aromantic gives me: I dislike TV more.

    More specifically, I dislike romance in TV even more. To me, it feels hamfisted most of the time, like every show has to have it, with absurd tropes leading to kissing, engagement or (most frequently) sex at what feels like ridiculous levels. Some shows are obviously worse than others, but it really doesn't take a whole lot, and it's ruined more than few shows I probably would've otherwise liked.

    While I can see past it if I'm invested enough in the show already, this is still one of the big reasons I don't watch TV hardly at all. That said, I tend to be critical as hell about everything else in a show too, so I'm probably not very fun to watch TV with regardless, haha.

    8 votes
  8. [3]
    Wren
    Link
    Literally every piece of media involves sex in some way. I'm honestly tired of it being literally everywhere. Seriously, how do the allos ever get anything done if they think about it this much?...

    Literally every piece of media involves sex in some way. I'm honestly tired of it being literally everywhere. Seriously, how do the allos ever get anything done if they think about it this much? It's difficult to relate to most stuff out there because people just have a compulsive need to make their characters fuck each other.

    Plus it's a bonus annoyance factor toward the idiots who think my transness is a fetish of some sort. Even if I don't particularly care about sex, some people just feel the need to make it a huge issue.

    7 votes
    1. kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Allo here! We don't think about it that much, but some media tries its damndest to make us. I know your comment there was mostly a joke, but I think your post as a whole brings up a larger point...

      Seriously, how do the allos ever get anything done if they think about it this much?

      Allo here! We don't think about it that much, but some media tries its damndest to make us.

      I know your comment there was mostly a joke, but I think your post as a whole brings up a larger point that's well worth considering in detail. I'm a gay guy, and I actually think hypersexualization is acutely bad in my circles. "Sex sells" has been a common advertising mantra for a long time, but because much of gay liberation was about being unashamed of our sexuality, gay advertising and media gets seeming carte blanche to use even the most egregious "sex sells" ethos as "liberating" or "affirming" rather than "unnecessary" or "exploitative".

      One of the reasons I first installed an adblocker wasn't because of privacy concerns or out of disdain for advertising in general -- it was because any time I went to even the tamest gay site online I was deluged with porn-adjacent ads featuring nearly-naked muscle men, often selling decidedly non-sexual products. I was worried my roommates were going to think that I was brazenly surfing XXX sites in their presence when all I really wanted to do was read entirely chaste LGBT-focused news articles.

      Likewise, as soon as the Netflix and Kindle platforms both figured out I was gay, I was deluged with recommendations featuring shirtless men. Forget every other book I've ever read or found meaningful in my life -- clearly the only thing I'm interested in is pecs, right?

      If I talk about the issues I have with this, particularly in gay circles, it can be received poorly, as I come across as very sex-negative. For many gay guys who spent years hiding themselves out of shame and fear, even slight condemnations of sexuality can come across as an affront to their personhood, and I in no way want to take away the meaning or dignity behind anyone's sexual identity (or lack thereof).

      But my problem is that I think sexuality, particularly in the form of advertising but also outside of that as well, can be used in an exploitative manner because, for many (if not most) allos, it's not something that we can really turn off. I can scoff all I want on an intellectual level at the shirtless men those algorithms are feeding me, but I also can't deny that my sexuality yields a separate and automatic magnetic response to those images. They are sort of fundamentally unignorable to me unless I make a deliberate effort. They pull focus in a powerful way, unlike other less arresting forms of advertising which remain effortlessly invisible to me.

      Using images like that and pigeonholing me in that manner can often make me feel like my own biology is being used against me -- like someone else has found the ideal way to push themselves into my brain and experience. It's a cheap hack, but it's deeply rooted in my firmware and it's something for which there won't ever be any bugfix.

      I think it happens outside of advertising too, in other shows and media, which is likely what you're frustrated with. I think it's easy for so many things to turn towards flesh because there's an almost guaranteed, built-in response in much of the audience, and I think it's often framed as liberating when in fact I think it can be stifling. I am so much more than just my sexuality, but if I leave myself in the hands of mass media platforms, that's sometimes seemingly all they're interested in having me be.

      So, for me, it's not that allos are constantly thinking of sex, but that it is trivially easy for our attention to be pulled in that direction, and, knowing this, there are many cultural forces that choose to willingly do so. We're not always thinking of sex, but some people have very vested interests in trying to make us that way.

      5 votes
  9. [11]
    PhantomBand
    Link
    Sorry to go offtopic, but if being aromantic means you don't experience romantic attraction... isn't sex the only thing left for them in a relationship?

    Allosexual and aromantic people being confused for "people who only want sex"

    Sorry to go offtopic, but if being aromantic means you don't experience romantic attraction... isn't sex the only thing left for them in a relationship?

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure what constitutes a relationship for you, but for me there's also companionship, long term commitment, potential financial cost/savings/retirement combining... Plenty of other attributes.

      I'm not sure what constitutes a relationship for you, but for me there's also companionship, long term commitment, potential financial cost/savings/retirement combining... Plenty of other attributes.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        PhantomBand
        Link Parent
        But you don't get into a relationship purely for those, right?

        But you don't get into a relationship purely for those, right?

        2 votes
        1. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          You should look up queer-platonic relationships.

          You should look up queer-platonic relationships.

          1 vote
    2. [6]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      Depends on how you define 'relationship,' I suppose. I personally don't have any desire for a relationship in the traditional sense; I only really care for having good friends. If I've got that,...

      Depends on how you define 'relationship,' I suppose. I personally don't have any desire for a relationship in the traditional sense; I only really care for having good friends. If I've got that, I'm set. Honestly, I don't even really want sex at all; I feel attraction, but don't care for it whatsoever. Just feels like it gets in the way.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        PhantomBand
        Link Parent
        Isn't that just... friendship?

        Isn't that just... friendship?

        1. [3]
          LukeZaz
          Link Parent
          Well, yes. That's more or less what I'm trying to get at. For me, being aromantic means I don't really want a relationship. Good friend are good enough. For others though, I'd still not say sex is...

          Well, yes. That's more or less what I'm trying to get at. For me, being aromantic means I don't really want a relationship. Good friend are good enough.

          For others though, I'd still not say sex is all that's left. The way I take it, relationships aren't just romance and sex; friendship, caring, etc is a component itself. Besides, "just sex" doesn't really constitute a relationship, IMO.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            PhantomBand
            Link Parent
            Fair enough, but I assumed we were talking about romantic relationships here (at least, that's what I usually assume when I hear the word "relationship"). I'm showing my inexperience I guess, lol.

            Well, yes. That's more or less what I'm trying to get at. For me, being aromantic means I don't really want a relationship. Good friend are good enough.

            Fair enough, but I assumed we were talking about romantic relationships here (at least, that's what I usually assume when I hear the word "relationship").

            For others though, I'd still not say sex is all that's left. The way I take it, relationships aren't just romance and sex; friendship, caring, etc is a component itself. Besides, "just sex" doesn't really constitute a relationship, IMO.

            I'm showing my inexperience I guess, lol.

            4 votes
            1. LukeZaz
              Link Parent
              Haha, no worries, I'm sure I'm doing the same. Hell, I'm dropping opinions on relationships despite never having had one, so I might be doing it more.

              Haha, no worries, I'm sure I'm doing the same. Hell, I'm dropping opinions on relationships despite never having had one, so I might be doing it more.

              2 votes
        2. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          I'd still call it a relationship if you live together (probably for financial reasons and to also have a friend nearby), share finances, and generally can expect the other person to be around long...

          I'd still call it a relationship if you live together (probably for financial reasons and to also have a friend nearby), share finances, and generally can expect the other person to be around long term to help you out.

          3 votes
    3. Kuromantis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      It's more about "people who only want sex" being a pejorative as opposed to aromantic-allosexual being a sexuality, or at least, that's what I imagine would happen. (Not that the former is a lie,...

      It's more about "people who only want sex" being a pejorative as opposed to aromantic-allosexual being a sexuality, or at least, that's what I imagine would happen. (Not that the former is a lie, just that I would guess people would mix the 2.)

      1 vote