In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, hilariously titled, “The Naked Man,” Marshall is laughed out of the pub booth for saying that the only reason people should have sex is if they’re in love. As a result of this statement, the gang find 50 colorful reasons why people have sex. For example, makeup sex, breakup sex, revenge sex, nothing good on TV sex, rebound sex, and so on. And as relatable as all of those reasons are, I can only affiliate with Marshall’s. But I guess that is just one problem with being demisexual.
PROBLEM 1: NOT KNOWING WHO YOU ARE
For those out of the loop, this term, contemporarily coined in 2006, is used to describe “a person who does not experience sexual attraction until they have formed a strong emotional connection with a prospective partner. The definition of ‘emotional bond’ varies from person to person. Demisexuals can have any romantic orientation.” Having a label is notoriously a thing of this era, yes, but it can also be helpful to have one. For instance, I have previously shared my own personal experience on this matter, because, for years, I had to deal with being the Marshall in a world of Barneys (watch the show and you’ll get my drift), and I really struggled with that. For some, this may not seem very dramatic, and I do appreciate that, especially when looking back in history and the fight for equality. Nevertheless, working out how to fit in, thinking I was “weird,” and not knowing what to do about any of it left me feeling powerless. I was fighting a losing battle with both present society and myself, as well as the future. If I can’t do this now, it’s only going to get worse. Or so I thought.
PROBLEM 2: SUCCUMBING TO PEER PRESSURE
Among a sex-soaked society, I felt alone in what I assumed was my passé view of romance. From adolescence to adulthood, that feeling hasn’t changed. The only thing that has is my own self-acceptance and ability to let go of things I cannot control. What began as word on the grapevine about me being a lesbian because, as a teen, I had no boyfriend, transpired into events of hearing that “being demisexual isn’t real.” In the smallest of ways, the peer pressure varied from being recommended silly dating apps I had no understanding of to being asked, “Why don’t you fancy him, though?” But I no longer submit to being in a relationship because that’s the done thing, or going on dates because I’ve been on my own for “too long.” Now, I choose to not let it get to me. Because, unlike my teen self who felt isolated and thought she had to march along with the loudest beat, I now realize that I was wrong. I wasn’t alone. I was hiding my identity in order to fit in with what I perceived to be the “masses”. In actual fact, though, there are plenty of people out there who feel this way. And yet, even with this reassurance, there is still another problem – educating others.
PROBLEM 3: PERCEPTIONS IN SOCIETY
Now, before you clobber my figurative butt, I am in no way shaming anybody for being sexually liberated. In fact, throughout my time on this big blue marble, I have sought out to understand why exactly people do see sex so differently. Namely, since I used to feel so insulted if a guy approached me with only one thing on his mind. To be honest, that feeling will probably never go away, due to the way I’m wired. Nonetheless, I am also very open-minded, and I like to hear reasons why people approach others so confidently and spiritedly. Perhaps that is why I enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother so much. It highlights both sides of this sexy coin, quite fairly, and shows that perfectly normal, likeable, and well-functioning people can be wired one way or the other and still all get along. Gentle mocking is allowed between friends, of course, and obviously, if someone acts out of line in accordance with their sexual endeavours, then they will be put in their place. But as a whole, everyone gets on with each other. This is something we need more understanding of, not just between friends, but society as a whole. So, while I may never wish to experience a one-night stand myself, I accept that others do. This same understanding should be applied in the reverse. Because no matter how the media portrays it, both sides co-exist, one is just more popularized than the other, which leads to my next point.
PROBLEM 4: FEELING ALONE
The world has been clouded by a smokescreen, showing that sex is what sells, makes people rich, and is what others want. But that’s not completely true. This make-believe is what has rendered demisexual folk, whatever their orientation (straight, gay, bi, and so on) feeling completely alone. It’s only in recent years that we’ve begun to find our voice. Instead of being the one on the receiving end of derision for being unable to find another person sexually attractive in five seconds, we’re able to simply shrug our shoulders, knowing we’re totally normal. No pretence is needed anymore. Lust at first sight isn’t something we’ll ever get, but that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be alone. It just takes a little bit more time. Even after five years single, I’m still certain that a like-minded other exists somewhere out there, and we’ll meet when the time is right. Because if I exist, then so do they – right? Nevertheless, while society is becoming more aware of these sexual and romantic differences, we shouldn’t let this get to our heads.
PROBLEM 5: SUBJECT OF SHAME
I have seen some people go as far as to say that demisexuality is the way it “should” be. That anything outside of that is “wrong.” However, in a world packed with diversity, trying to narrow down what should and shouldn’t be done, in regards to sexual behaviour, seems wholeheartedly ignorant. As long as there is consent between two people (or however many like to attend the party), then controlling how it plays out is pointless. What people choose to get up to is nobody else’s business. All I ask in return is that 1) you don’t send me an invitation to said party, and 2) you don’t mock me if one is sent out and I politely decline. Because calling a person who identifies as demisexual picky or prudish is just as insulting as calling someone who is highly sexed a hussy or a slut. Neither side needs to feel like they should apologize for being who they are. Neither side needs to feel scared to admit the truth about themselves or feel shame for it. This world is crazy enough without all that lark.
This is where input is so important. In my honest opinion, if this situation could be truly simplified, I would suggest that instead of casting aspersions towards those who oppose our beliefs, we should work out ways to live alongside them. Just like in the famous sitcom, respectively, we should try and understand the reasons behind the person’s views, we should show acceptance of the person as a whole, and, most importantly, help each other navigate a way through life. To me, it’s the only way forward.