Truth or dare: the game of shameless questions and brazen actions we all played growing up. While others unabashedly shared what celebrities they wanted to kiss (or fuck, when we got a little older) and hotness ratings of people we knew, I would be stuck explaining why I simply could not answer these questions.
How could I make them understand that the idea of being physically intimate in any way with someone I don’t personally know is really repulsive to me, no matter how “hot” they are? How could I explain that how “hot” people are to me is deeply, intimately intertwined with how much I like them as people? That, in my mind, it is impossible to detach hotness from personality?
“What does that even mean?” my friends would say, rolling their eyes. “Stop overthinking everything and just answer the question!”
As my friends would share and gush over shirtless images of sweaty men with six-pack abs and carefully tussled hair, I would look away with blatant indifference and, in retrospect, a lack of comprehension. I had no idea what they were talking about, and I didn't care to understand.
From a young age, I could never naturally describe people of the opposite sex as “hot” or “sexy.” In fact, the words made me somewhat uncomfortable, because they felt too sexual. Instead, I used words such as “cute” or “attractive” as I would develop romance-dominated, intense crushes.
That's not to say that I don’t experience sexual attraction — only that it is limited to the select few individuals I’ve liked liked in my life. And this is certainly not to say that my sexual drive is weaker than others’, but that I can only express it with a handful of people. Otherwise, the concept of getting physical with someone is cringe-worthy.
Needless to say, the workings of hookup culture are beyond me. One-night stands, make-out sessions with strangers and summer flings are all baffling wonders of life that I have come to accept. Flirting is not a language I speak, and emotional and physical connection are so interconnected for me, they seem to be almost one and the same.
I recently found out there is a word for people like me: demisexual. It was eye-opening to realize my tendencies are shared by more than a few others, as I read article after article about signs of demisexuality, thinking “OMG, that’s me! That’s SO me!” Finally, it all made sense.
But I must say, the realization and the label do not mean very much to me for the simple reason that I was never particularly made to feel like a misfit. While the people around me realized I was unique in some ways, they've accepted me the way I am.
Although this acceptance might not have always stemmed from the right places, it served its purpose. My apparent lack of sexual expression and preference for committed relationships is considered a virtue for a woman in the conservative culture I grew up in. Oftentimes, it even seemed to appease the egos of men who have not made peace with the fact that women have sexual desires as strong and diverse as their own.
And yet, this acceptance and my response to it makes me wonder whether individuals from sexual minorities would feel less of a need to identify and label their tendencies if they had been shown more acceptance in their lives. Perhaps they would feel less of a need to find a category where they fit in and to seek comfort from those who are like them if they did not feel like they had to fight for that acceptance.
Before I am a demisexual, I am simply a person who experiences sexual attraction in a unique way, as do countless others. There will never be enough categories to encompass the infinite uniqueness of people’s experiences — so let’s just embrace them.