Throughout high school, I felt as though I couldn’t relate to or partake in the hookup culture, a phenomenon even more prevalent in college. I chalked it up to the fact that I was self-conscious, or maybe that I simply didn’t find it appealing. I knew I was somewhat different than my friends. It didn’t occur to me until halfway through my senior year that maybe it wasn’t merely a lack of interest. Perhaps there was an intrinsic attribute that led to not wanting to be in a solely physical relationship. It’s not that I wasn’t attracted to people or wanted something more than a hookup; I just wasn’t drawn to anyone unless I really knew them. I never wanted to participate in the hookup culture because I found no pleasure or human connection in it, which is why most people get Tinder or what-have-you. For me, this lack of joy and meaning made hooking up with someone an obsolete idea that made zero sense. It rendered the action physically and mentally meaningless.
Even once I figured this out, I simply deemed myself an oddball. I went so far to call myself incapable of love or attraction. Without others knowing, I silently cast myself out of my own mind, separating the way in which I approach relationships from what all of my friends were doing. I wondered why I couldn’t “let loose” or “not make everything so serious” as my past friends attempted to convince me to do. They called me “old-fashioned” and a “prude.”
But upon reading an article about sexuality and asexuality, I had an epiphany. The definition of one of the terms struck me incredibly hard in the chest, releasing some pent up self-hatred and misunderstanding of myself that I’d been holding onto for several years. Demisexuality. This new term (that I didn’t even know existed) means someone between asexual and sexual. A demisexual only has attraction for someone with whom they have a strong emotional connection, meaning that hooking up with someone you know very little about or doing so just for the physicality of it would appear pointless. Being demisexual would therefore explain how I fail to comprehend others’ desire to hook up with or even date someone they care or know little about.
One of the toughest things I’ve found is that I don’t know if I’m actually attracted to someone until I really get to know him. By then, a lot of guys decide I am too good of a friend to lose, they only like me as a friend, he has friend-zoned me, I have inadvertently friend-zoned him or he finds another girl who is quicker to get sexually and/or romantically involved with him. In my experience, even people who want “real” relationships have very little patience and tend to get into dating situations where they know little about the person before their first date or simply base their judgements off shallow attributes like “cute” and “seems nice.” I literally cannot fathom that, and I know they are not wrong for wanting that connection or for going about it in the way they do; that’s their choice. It can just be frustrating when you feel like you live in a society where deep connections are disregarded in favor of immediate gratification and the dismissal of loneliness. It’s frustrating because deep connection is the only compass I have for romantic endeavors.
My point is not to call out anyone who finds and constructs relationships in the way I’ve described above. I just think demisexuality isn’t really talked about or recognized as a legitimate way of being, and this lack of acknowledgment can be alienating in a hookup culture in which emotional detachment is so prevalent.
Contact Nina Knight at ngknight ‘at’ stanford.edu.