How To Sail From Friendship To Relationship
“In every living thing there is the desire for love”—D. H. Lawrence
I reached across the table and gently took her hand in mine. It was our ﬁrst date and I had been trying to get a feel for who she was. I knew that we were compatible, at least in interests and views, but for a person like me this was a very important time as I was assessing if she was someone with whom I could form an emotional connection. While nothing was a guarantee—nothing ever is—I was starting to see who she was inside. I liked who I saw, despite her subconscious attempts to hide the real yet intriguing vulnerability within her, and it made me want to see more of the woman she was. I wasn’t there yet, but I needed to let her know that I wanted to try to get there, together.
“I’d like to be completely honest with you. I like you and would really like to get to know you better. How about this? We take it slow, as that’s something I need to do, but I promise you that you will always know where you are with me, and how I feel about you. I don’t play games and I want to explore this with you.” She ﬁrst seemed a bit startled by my frank request, and then a sincere smile spread across her face. We talked, got a little bit closer, and ﬁnished our date together.
This is how I always begin.
Disclaimer: This article is very much written from a demisexual perspective, for demisexual people as a means to help us in the very complicated process of connecting and forming relationships. It may seem unnecessarily blunt if you are not demisexual, and please understand that it is in no way judging those different from us. We just see relationships differently than the majority of people.
For those unfamiliar, someone who is demisexual is a person who’s sexual attraction is almost always based on a strong secondary emotional connection, rather than primary physical attraction which is common for most. We who are demisexual fall on the grey asexual spectrum as someone who is between those who are fully asexual (never experiencing sexual attraction) and those who are allosexual (experiencing “normal” sexual attraction). We are often misunderstood, but very real, with great capacity to give and receive love as well as enjoy fulﬁlling sexual relationships with those to whom we’ve connected with.
What draws in initially the vast majority of allosexual people is the appearance and presence of a person. Other factors like personality, interests, beliefs, career, etc., are also often components, but many of these things are very subject to change with the individual. Meeting to determine if there’s compatibility is largely based on physicality and pheromone attraction. It’s through these initial aspects that people then develop deeper connections—lust and infatuation turns to love and commitment. I’m in no way looking down on allosexuality, but our animal ancestry does play a large factor. We are all deﬁnitely human animals, and without these qualities, humanity may have not evolved at all. Often subconscious impulses on cosmetic and apparel choices can accent personal indications of fertility and sexual receptivity. Aggressive behavior in men is frequently seen as signs of animal strength, as well as downright threatening behavior when compatible chemistry isn’t present. It’s all often very biological at the start, but much more complex attraction is built as relationships grow and change over time.
We as demisexuals connect through emotion. To oversimplify things, we get to know someone from the inside out, and not the other way. We often very logically learn about a person ﬁrst, then emotion comes in. After we as demisexuals connect, as our partners age and maybe develop other issues that can diminish conventional attraction, we will still typically see that beautiful person inside that we fell for.
We love them, then lust after them. We are, by deﬁnition, not shallow in our attractions. We are deep, attentive and loving partners that embrace all of the humanity in those we love. We are by no means perfect, but emotion is our driving force. How often have we heard someone ask us why we are with someone, when we honestly can’t understand why anyone could negatively view their appearance? Also, how often has someone gone on and on about someone aesthetically attractive, and all we see is someone that feels like a creep or bore?
I will agree, dating while demisexual is complicated. We are naturally high empathy people, and that will attract insecure people, as well as a signiﬁcant number of narcissists and sociopaths. We can attract some damaged people, because we are more open than most and place much less concern of conventional attractiveness. We are more authentic and genuine due to our tendency to not play games to entice, because we want to know who a person is and we want them to see us for who we really are. This is an inherently beautiful thing, and many people struggle their wholes lives to become more like how we are naturally. To most demisexual people I’ve encountered, being otherwise is completely contrary to our basic nature.
Now there are things we tend to do that can throw off some people. We can sometimes feel cold or even distant at ﬁrst, as we are still evaluating who a person is. By contrast, we can also be very penetrating and highly emotional in our conversations. We also give a lot to our friendships, so if we have too much on our plate it can be hard to metabolize another relationship. We also easily miss signals and ﬂirting, as it’s inherently a game and we don’t do games not purchased in a store. The quaint give and take of ﬂirting is unnatural to people who are literally just themselves. When we are interested in pursuing a potential connection, we can be very intense. Our desire to reveal who we are can be very overwhelming for the vast majority of people who aren’t comfortable sharing themselves so quickly. Vulnerability is old hat to us, and can be quite terrifying to many others. We feel, “overshare” and express depth that can make those more guarded rather uncomfortable. Deep emotion can bring out anxiety in others, but deep emotion is what we require. When dating someone who is allosexual, there are some tips that may be of help:
- Be honest about being a demisexual is a way that can be understood. Some won’t know what demisexuality is, and hearing the word may cause them to think it means a different, likely incompatible, sexual orientation. Many people are not willing to understand yet another label, nor respect ours. Let a potential date know that you are a bit different. Explain that you really do need to take time to get to know them in an emotional way, before physical intimacy is an option for you. This will clear out people that won’t be able to adapt to who we are while we endeavor to connect with them.
- Filter somewhat who you are at ﬁrst. It’s not dishonest to hold back a bit of who you are. Most people are used to having to delve into people as if they were mysteries, and often enjoy this process. However, we as demisexuals are simply documentaries. They will need to feel on more familiar ground to reveal who they are, and ﬁgure out who we are.
- We need to show that we are potentially interested. I frequently ﬁnd the need to kiss someone early on to let them know I’m potentially connecting. Not all of us will be comfortable with this level of affection so quickly. For you, maybe you simply touch their hand and let them know that you are “getting there” and need for them to be patient. Some will be able to handle that, others won’t. If they don’t have patience now to wait on physical intimacy, they won’t later on when stressful life steps in and you need to reconnect over the troubles all relationships experience from time to time.
- Watch out for people that are inherently selﬁsh. Some people are drawn to our nature of pleasing and focusing on the needs of our partner, and many of them aren’t going to be interested in reciprocating our needs. While focusing on an allosexual’s physical needs can seem a good idea before we’re completely connected and ready, this more than often than not ruins things. I don’t recommend it as it sets up patterns that can be hard to change later, and can encourage selﬁsh behavior even in those not normally prone to it. If a partner is also truly giving, that may be a different case. But lets be honest, connecting with a giving partner is usually a lot faster.
- Always keep open communication with where you are with them. Always remember to let potential partners know how you feel about them. It is easy for an allosexual to become insecure with us, due to how we connect, and sometimes disconnect at times. This kind of communication can help them approach your relationship in a more healthy manner.
Now, since we are more likely to “friend” rather than date, here are some suggestions for if you start to connect with a friend:
- If you develop feelings for a platonic friend, remember they are never under any obligation to reciprocate those feelings. Telling them you have feelings can feel like an attack for some people. While this is often hard for us to grasp as demisexuals, it can feel manipulative and disingenuous to allosexuals that often have clearly deﬁned ideas of friendship vs. romantic relationships. Some would never consider dating someone who’s a friend for any reason, while others often feel a need to reinforce platonic boundaries to feel comfortable with sharing their own emotions. We typically don’t differentiate as friendship is one of the easiest ways to ﬁnd a connection with someone. Do not dump your feeling on a friend as the sudden shift in relationship dynamics could cause you to lose them entirely from your life. First determine how they feel about friend-turned-partner relationships and proceed with caution from there.
- Understand that some will not be able to return to friendship if things don’t work out. It sucks, but it’s true. As a demisexual, I still care for those I’ve connected with in the past on some level, even if I now recognize them as having been toxic to me. Many people can never go back, and shouldn’t be judged for that. This is a gamble you are taking, and asking them about how they deal with this may be worth knowing before you share your feelings.
- If things are good, and you sharing your feelings is received favorably, make sure the friendship also stays preserved with them. As mentioned, some allosexuals aren’t comfortable with partners being friends too—this being very counter-intuitive to us. We, as demisexuals, will not be able to maintain a relationship with a partner than also isn’t our friend. If they can’t do this, they won’t do well with us.
Lastly, we obviously can do a lot better dating fellow demisexuals, but we are fairly rare and still have to deal with being compatible with each other. However, here are a few suggestions for dating a fellow demisexual:
- Both of you may not connect with each other. This is a risk and it’s happened to me more than once. There are a lot of reason that a demisexual may not connect with another person, demisexual or otherwise, sometimes for completely inscrutable reasons. There is absolutely no assurances, and much the same way people can’t always control who they fall in love with, we can’t always control who we connect with.
- If you have issues, both of you may disconnect at the same time. If you keep communication open, you should be able to mend things. Just realize that you may be starting from scratch again, and anything can happen.
I know this is all complicated, and we’re complicated, but I wouldn’t want to be anything other than what I am. I love being a demisexual. I have a very positive self-image and being demi is a large part of it. I’ve screwed up every one of these things mentioned above, personally in the past, so hopefully my failures can contribute to your success in ﬁnding a healthy emotional connection. I’ve also talked to dear friends, allosexual and demisexual alike, to try and comprise these ideas. I can promise this isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. Hopefully you found something that speaks to you. If you aren’t demisexual, hopefully you found this at least enlightening on how it is for us to connect with you.
People-ing can be hard for us sometimes, but good luck demi-ing out there!