Demisexual Disconnection

How To Break Or Mend When The Emotional Signal Is Lost

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Photo by Paul Garaizar on Unsplash

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” — Brene Brown

It was six months to the day, of that wonderful evening I’d spent with her. She’d approached me that evening with a comment about my clothing, and over a couple hours our conversation transitioned into dancing, cuddling together, kissing and sharing. She’d shown such beautiful vulnerability and I couldn’t help but be smitten, to form an emotional connection faster than I’d ever had before. She was kind, affectionate, playful and free. When she kissed me my knees went weak, and she was so beautiful in my eyes. This dancing enchantress had me completely under her spell.

Life can be cruel sometimes, and our attempts to see one another kept failing. It was as if the universe was stepping in to prevent us from having a relationship. After a few weeks, her interest in trying to see me had clearly subsided. While the door was never closed, be both agreed that seeing each other wasn’t in the cards then. We kept in contact via social media, but even in time that lessened.

I tried to move on, and after a couple months I went on a few dates with others. I realized much later that my heart just wasn’t in it. I would get the occasional like or comment from her, and my heart would leap. A single message could make my entire day, as well as confuse me greatly. I ached for something that wasn’t meant to be, and my thoughts drifted to her often. It was at this point that I reached out to a friend, to try to reconcile my feelings, to process and understand them. I came to realize that I was still emotionally bonded to her, deeply attracted to the woman she was. I couldn’t move on until I took steps to break this connection that now only existed for me. I needed to disconnect.

Sexual attraction comes in many flavors and varieties among people. People can be attracted to others of the same gender, opposite gender or some combination of all of the spectrum in between. Some can have and pursue more than romantic relationship ethically, whiles others can only handle loving one person. But there’s also the nature of sexual attraction as a capacity. Some people are asexual, experiencing no sexual attraction. Others are allosexual, experiencing primary sexual attraction based on the physical aspects of a person. Simply put, they see someone as hot and therefore are sexually attracted to them.

Others fall somewhere in between, grey asexuality, not always experiencing sexual attraction, but sometimes to a lesser degree. Whether or not they act upon this is another matter, but they are able to experience physical attraction without knowing a person deep down.

But there is another kind of grey asexual, known as demisexual. Demisexuals do not experience lasting sexual attraction based on physical aspects, but rather on a deep emotional connection. Our attraction is secondary, once we know a person in an emotionally intimate way. We are more inclined to become attracted to a person who is a close friend, rather than via conventional dating, because a sexy outfit doesn’t ensnare our desire, but a vulnerable heart does. Many will claim that this is normal, but we simply don’t find people beautiful on the outside, in a sexually attractive manner, until we see them as beautiful on the inside. I’ve written on this concept in the past, so for the sake of brevity will not go into more details now

The foundation of attraction, both initially and continuing, is through deep emotional connection. We as demisexuals can bond in many ways, sometimes over a long time and, while less common, sometimes rather quickly through a powerful shared experience. I’ve experienced connection a number of times in my life, and they formed in very different ways. Yet, when I saw who a person really was inside and realized they saw me for who I am, it was as if a veil was lifted from my eyes, and their attractiveness became quite overwhelming. The experience of how incredibly beautiful and sexy someone can become, when before you maybe didn’t even seen them as all that aesthetically attractive, is often a very powerful revelation.

But the nature of any connection is that it needs to be maintained. This is the one difficulty that many allosexuals will often have in a relationship with a demisexual person, we are not zero maintenance partners. You looking hot is not what keeps us desiring you. You being genuine and vulnerable is. A single cruel action can be devastating to our connection, and emotional wounds can be harder to heal that physical ones.

Still, when we have an unrequited connection, releasing it can be difficult. For some of us, it can be months, years, or even decades between these connections, and even an untenable or unhealthy connection can feel like a precious thing we can’t let go of easily. While many people will pine for lost love, for a demisexual a connection can makes us feel very human. We live in a highly sexualized world, and a connection can make us feel normal, or more accurately allonormative. When we don’t have a connection, we often feel like strangers in a strange land, with people going on about how hot celebrities and models are, and us just scratching our heads.

Disconnecting from a non viable relationship can be done, but as a demisexual you need to employ some emotional tools to break that connection. It can be painful, but freeing yourself can open up new possibilities. The friend I reached out to in regards to my earlier shared connection, a fellow demisexual, became my partner in time. Had I personally not disconnected, I would not have been able to be completely emotionally available with her. Here are some methods of breaking a hopeless connection:

  1. Identify the reasons you connected. Demisexual connection is not based on logical constructs, but emotional experience. We need to understand what were the feelings that allowed us to grow attracted to this person. Was it a shared conversation about a past trauma or a deeply personal wish? Was it time together, laughing and understanding one another? For my example, the way this past woman danced with me struck a chord, and she partner danced with me, which felt intimate. It was also the way she giggled, blushed and shared her vulnerability with me. For someone who is allosexual, it’s often something about them physically that attracted them initially. What is the thing that started you to see them as attractive. There’s always a tipping point and knowing that will help you understand the why. Once you know the why, you can start deconstructing it in your mind, chocking it up to something no longer relatable, to help diminish that connection.
  2. Determine what your new red flags are. In order to help sever an emotional connection, you need to identify things that now serve as red flags. Arguably, this is easier if the relationship has abusive or neglectful aspects to it, but even if no one did anything wrong, functional red flags can be identified to establish the closure your heart needs. In my case, the complete lack of her being interested anymore as anything other than a platonic friend was one. Another, was the realization that we were too different on fundamental levels. As a demisexual, we often can overlook things that could be deal breakers, because our emotional connection is our driving focus. In the way that an allosexual may lose attraction for a partner over a weight loss or gain, an overlooked habit or political view can become very powerful ally to break your connection with them. This isn’t assuming your person of attraction did anything wrong, but this serves as a tool to help separate your feelings and give reasons that the relationship isn’t viable emotionally.
  3. Establish distance. If this person is still in your life, on a regular basis, try to minimize interaction, as proximity can often complicate matters. Being around a person can easily reinforce your connection. If you work together, or live together, this can be exceedingly more difficult, but explain that you need a little personal distance to sort your feelings out. Physical distance can do much to aid you to building emotional distance.
  4. Give it time. There will be times you can disconnect quickly, almost instantly, but if you are struggling to release an unwanted connection, time and introspection will help. Refocus your attention on hobbies or work. Cultivate a new interest, or even binge watch a show that has nothing to do with relationships. In even a week’s time, that intense connection can and will begin to ease.
  5. There is strength in numbers. Spend time with friends and loved ones. For me, reaching out to a friend for perspective led to a closer friendship with her. In time I was thinking about my friend quite often and started to see how truly beautiful she was on the inside, and how breathtaking she was on the outside. We connected, fell for each other and she is was my partner for a while.

So, those are tools for ending a connection, but what about when your connection with someone weakens due to life and it’s bad habit of screwing with you? Stress in other areas of your life can filter into your relationships, and your partner or you having a bad day can sometimes result in damaging words said in the heat of the moment. If your relationship is abusive, I’d recommend in earnest counseling. However, if you just hit a bump, it will be of benefit to use the above five tools in a definitely different direction.

  1. Identify the reasons you connected. As above, understanding why and how you connected could lead you to recreate those same feelings again with a willing partner. Revisit the place where you had that intense conversation. Maybe recreate an emotionally charged date you had together. Spend an evening re-sharing stories you experienced to help rebuild your connection.
  2. Reinforce your original green flags. Remember the amazing things about your partner. Remember how easy it was to overlook those same habits that may have become annoying in time. See the person as a whole being, flawed and imperfect, and thus just as they should be. Remember the person you were originally attracted to, and find them again through the mire that weakened this view for you.
  3. Establish closeness. Distance will not help a weakened connection, and even if physical closeness isn’t an option, find ways to spend more time together. If you can, get away for a weekend at say a bed and breakfast. Or, take a couple days off and have a staycation, where you stay in bed too long and spend time just holding one another. Rebuild your emotional intimacy, even if it’s through video chat or long phone calls. Be with this person completely, and leave technological distractions on silent.
  4. Give it time. You may need some time to rebuild a waning connection, but with time and the perseverance of a willing partner, it can be done. If you took time to fall for them, you can do it again.
  5. There is strength in unity. Focus on making the time spent with your partner be quality time. Leave discussion of world events and finances to a minimum, instead address the value of each other. Avoid outside influences that may wish to lead you astray. Often times friends won’t be able to see what you saw in your partner, and what you wish to see again.

As demisexuals, we are wired so differently, and to many we are a type of unicorn partner for our capacity to be highly empathetic and attentive. But, we are not always easy partners to have if we are not valued. Reciprocity is very important for maintaining a connection, as one of the things we want the most for our partners is their happiness. We also can have a very hard time letting go. I hope these tools serve to aid you. I learned them the hard way. I wish for you to lead an easier path in your lives and connections.

Life is complicated, and stuff happens, but we’d give the sun, moon and stars to our partners, if they only share with, and value, our hearts.

Safety, Sanity and True Consent

Understanding When Yes Really Means No

Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

Trigger warning: Sexual trauma and rape is discussed

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”— George MacDonald

Jennie whispered, “Yes, Daddy,” as she knelt onto the foot of her bed. She was completely nude, with a crosshatching of reddened skin across her back, painted by my flogging. I wrapped my arms around her and kissing the nape of her neck, her long black hair swept forward. She trembled slightly and I could feel her pulse quickening. Despite being in the scene, everything was tender and loving. It was our first play session, and we were just starting our exploration.

I took a small wooden paddle and caressed her bottom with it, then I applied a small little slap. She jerked slightly, but seemed deep in subspace. I switched cheeks and gave another light slap. I wanted her to feel the sensation but I wasn’t trying to cause pain. I needed to find her comfort zone and see where she responded best. After two more slaps I saw that she was sobbing quietly. In that instant she began closing in on herself and I knew something was terribly wrong.

I immediately stopped play and started aftercare for her, and after a couple minutes she was relaxed enough to say “That hurt so much.” I was confused as the impacts were so light, that I couldn’t conceive of them actually hurting. She was an active submissive, with many dominant play partners, and she loved very rough edgeplay way beyond my comfort level. I asked her why she didn’t use our safeword, being that we had two, one to indicate she was getting close to a limit, and another that she needed it to stop. She said she had used the former, but her head and mine were mere inches from each other during the scene and I would have heard even a whisper. She wanted to continue play but I told her the scene was over. She may have wanted to go on, but her whole being was saying no, loud and clear.

As we talked, Jennie started telling me more about her other scenes. She said she didn’t use safewords with others because she felt like she would be failing somehow. She spoke of letting another dominant beat her with a baseball bat, another choke her, not by the still dangerous technique of cutting off blood circulation, but actually squeezing her neck until she couldn’t breath. She spoke positively about letting men have unprotected sex with her after showing their clean STI test results on print outs—even though a twelve year old could fake one with Photoshop in a few minutes. She shared things even worse, and I was stunned how deep she was down the rabbit hole.

It became clear to me what was wrong. Jennie had experienced a few violent sexual traumas when younger and much of her sexual adventures had been to recreate and gain strength over those events. I really cared about this intelligent, beautiful younger woman, and she wanted me as a mentor to help her explore new things. What was at conflict is that my actions came from a loving place, and the other dominants had been using her as a toy to abuse and throw away. She even reacted negatively to some of my affectionate caressing, and anything that wasn’t degrading to her caused her discomfort. My being gentle was hurting her. This realization distressed me deeply, and I safeworded within my own self. I withdrew my consent as she was unable to.

I left that evening, with a goodbye kiss, feeling very conflicted and empty. I realize I needed some aftercare myself. I broke things off a week later, the day of the our next planned date and scene, expressing my fear to her that I couldn’t be with her and watch her get hurt on her self-destructive path. She was going to catch a permanent STI, be badly injured or even killed. She was engaging in very dangerous edgeplay on the first meetings with new men, and receiving outright physical trauma. I had held off our first scene until after spending some time together, and having met her one other time. I wanted a real connection, not a fuck toy. We were completely incompatible.

Dr. Bettie Martin’s work, particularly her four quadrant wheel of consent, discusses the complicated nature of consent. I realized that with Jennie offering continued consent to play wasn’t something that I could consent to. I had protect myself from the emotional distress of needing to physically hurt her to satisfy her wants, at the cost of my own emotional well being. I needed to protect myself from someone whose self-harming activities stood to harm me in very real ways. The BDSM community, despite the more common focus of SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) play, has it’s harder side. I’m not going to judge anyone who with informed consent, diligent preparation and precautionary measures, chooses to engage in negotiated responsible edgeplay, also often called RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink). Edgeplay belongs with experienced partners that have grown to trust one another. It’s really not a good idea to act out an unprotected violent rape scene with a complete stranger from the Internet, and I can’t watch someone I care for gamble with her life to her ruin.

Being safe and sane, and understanding consent, isn’t just for kink oriented relationships. Another past vanilla partner ended our relationship over a matter of me declining her consent.

When I arrived at Carrie’s house, she seemed a bit disheveled. She’d been working hard all day on work for a client, and hadn’t slept enough. Our usual routine, being we only had one night a week usually, was to go for a walk maybe to a local tavern or restaurant, then walk back for some alone time. As soon as we started walking, I noticed that she was a bit hesitant to hold my hand. Something was eating at her, but she wasn’t forthcoming about it. Carrie was a bit older than me and extremely thin. Much like myself, she’d lost a tremendous amount of weight and was very focused on remaining thin. I often thought she was too thin, but others have commented the same for me, so I kept those thoughts to myself. I loved her, and that’s what mattered to me. When we got to our local haunt, she slid into the booth across from me. She’d never done that since the night we’d met. We usually sat beside each other, stealing little kisses and enjoying holding one another. She continued to seem off, and very unhappy. She mentioned not feeling well, being tired and stressed over and over again.

After a bit, we headed back, and I commented that all the going out had caused me to gain a few pounds and that I was now working to lose it again. She immediately responded that she was unhappy about having gained two pounds, and she was visible distressed by this. In our conversation, the obsession she had with these two pounds made it quite clear she wasn’t just too thin, she had anorexia nervosa. I suggested maybe next time we skip the food and just go for some hikes to solve our extra poundage concerns. She seemed a bit relieved at the idea, but there was still a distance in her eyes.

When we got to her door, I said that I think we should call it a night so she could get the rest that she kept reiterating that she needed. I was uncomfortable how much she was on guard, and I wanted to respect the needs of my partner. She said that I had to come in, and the subtext of her request was that we needed to have sex, despite every indication prior to that being to the contrary. I didn’t feel remotely like being intimate, despite loving her and finding her very sexy. I repeated that I really should go home and she should get some sleep, we’d make up for it next time. She yelled “Fine!” and slammed the door in my face. She went silent on communication and dumped me via text the a few days later.

No always mean no. If you missed it, no always means no. In these two experiences I’ve shared, I learned that yes can sometimes also mean no. I was saying no, because it was the right thing to do, it honored the needs of myself and my partners. There are so many people who engage in unhealthy sexual activities for so many reasons. I have had too many nights where my need to just have a human moment, to feel another’s touch and to just have sexual release has caused me to makes poor choices of encounters that I later regretted having. Loneliness is one of the biggest abusers of self respect and wise choices. I don’t regret saying no these two times, and I have said no many more times than that to a wrong yes.

One of the hardest things about being sexual, is just being conscientious about the experiences we have. When in the mood, so many things can seem like a good idea, and later something you hang your head in shame over. Safety for yourself and your partner is so critical. Making sane choices, and making sure that you are doing what you can to increases the beneficial enjoyment for your partners, and yourself, is also paramount. Knowing when to not continue with a willing partner, despite wanting to, is not a easy thing to do. I miss what could have been with Jennie. I miss what I did have with Carrie. I will never know if I could have handled these things in a better way, for a more positive result. I was true to myself, being a giving loving partner, and I can only say that I did what I felt was right for both of them and me. I would do it again.

Cold showers and lonely hearts are better than taking someone where they can’t go in a healthy way.

Friending for Demisexuals

The Unique and Powerful Nature of Demisexual Friendships

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Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” — Jim Henson

Ceci was effectively my best friend, yet I knew I wasn’t hers. We’d met in a college photography class in the early 90’s, and we’d become friends after working on assignments together. She was was a very beautiful and fun person, but she was just a friend. We spent hours together and talked often on the phone.

I started to notice, over time, how attractive she was. I’d learned to ignore this, however, as I never dated anyone nor thought anyone could ever like me. I was utterly broken inside and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like other guys. I just didn’t lust after anyone, yet the thought of a deep conversation meant so much more to me. I was also very overweight, and people don’t often find morbidly obese guys attractive, and never had found me attractive. I threw my focus into my photography, but I also truly began to care for Ceci. She would tell me about her dates, and I would do my best to offer advice from my very limited experience with relationships. I knew I was falling for her, but I buried it down deep. I didn’t want her to know that I liked her. I was terrified of losing her, of losing my dear friend.

One day Ceci started avoiding me and stopped returning my calls. There was no conversations, no confessions. Things just stopped. A mutual friend found out what had happened — Ceci had realized I had feelings for her. She wanted no part of it, of me anymore. I wanted nothing more from her than what I already had with her. We didn’t even hug one another. I didn’t want to sleep with her; I just wanted her happiness. I never realized that her happiness required me to now be gone.

We never spoke again.

Friendship is something that seems to differ from person to person. For some, the essence of friendship is based on quantity, not quality, and people will maintain often toxic friendships for no other reason than the years they’ve invested in each another. For others, there is a definite focus on personal benefit, as in what is it that I get from being friends with this person. The mercantile nature of this thinking is, while understandable to human nature, is inherently unwholesome, yet common.

For a small minority of people, friendship is the foundation of all of our emotional makeup — for demisexuals. Demisexuality refers to those that fall between people who experience sexual attraction based on primary physical aspects, allosexual, and those that experience no sexual attraction at all, asexual. We are members of the grey asexual spectrum, but for us, sexual attraction is developed via deep emotional bonds, that are more often than not forged in friendship. This secondary emotional connection is what defines a demisexual. Sexy is found through sharing of your heart, not through the shape of your body.

For a demisexual, friendship is the core. A recent study determined that approximately 20% of people are born with the genetic capacity for a high level of empathy, the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. This is not some mystical force or alien attribute in science fiction. Empathetic people are more attuned to subtle emotional signals in other people, a trait often shared with dogs from birth. The sad reality of this, is that for the bulk of the population, empathy is lacking, and for some who are psychopaths or who have narcissistic personality disorder, it’s lacking entirely. Most do have reasonable ability to feel sympathy, but feeling sorry for someone’s misfortune is not the same as being able to embrace their experience and understand it fully. The ability to figuratively walk a mile in someone else’s shoes requires empathy.

Demisexuals are almost always highly empathetic, with a highly attuned capacity for feeling and sharing the emotions of people around them. This can be an incredible gift, but also can be a double-edged sword. When we care about someone, we genuinely want them to be happy. As one demisexual man I know said to me recently in how he approaches relationships, “I’m happy to be of service.” This tendency in us runs the risk of become people pleasing behavior which can become deeply unhealthy.

Altruism and benevolence are also easily taken advantage of by people with less than savory intentions. Highly empathetic people are akin to a beacon to those who have deep emotional insecurities, narcissism and / or psychopathy. Even people who aren’t inclined to be users can find themselves taking for granted and later using someone who finds happiness in being an attentive and generous friend or partner. When you’re highly empathetic, being around unhappy people drains you, so we often struggle to find balance between altruism, and becoming a door mat.

But then you add in the unique nuances of being demisexual, on top of empathy, and it can be quite complex. For many demisexuals, we find it hard to maintain friendships because we put so much into them and often don’t feel things being reciprocated. The divide between acquaintance and friend is often pretty clear for us, and when we ask how you are, we usually do want to know the answer. In the 1998 movie adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, the standard greeting showed the sad disconnect from humanity that people then had, spoken entirely as one line by the greeter:

“Hello. How are you? I’m fine, thank you very much.”

In our modern society, the fact that answering the question “how are you?” accurately is regarded as impolite, yet the fact that we continue to ask this as part of expected social mores, shows we are not far from this kind of greeting.

So the focus of most demisexuals is to build strong emotionally relationships. This is what drives us in regards to interpersonal interactions. Small talk is often forced and baffling for us. We seek big talk. We want to know about you on a fundamental level, and this can be seen as intense. We don’t simply have friendships, we actively friend. We seek to build emotional intimacy with people around us, and will find ourselves bonding with people whom we only have casual interactions with. We function as emotional beings, not to be confused with being overly emotional. We can be quite analytical with the people we include into our lives, and no two demisexuals friend in exactly the same way. Yet, we all friend in one way or another.

Once a genuinely emotionally intimate friendship is formed, you’d be hard pressed to find a better friend than someone who is demisexual. It isn’t that we want to form a connection with you so we can become attracted to you, but rather we truly want to see who you are on an authentic level. We seek to know who you truly are. Being empathetic means being intuitive too and lies, even when the liar is unaware, are much more transparent to us. This will hamper our ability to become close. When our friendship is earned, we are the friends that will stay up with you when your heart is broken. We are the friends that will show up to help you move. We we ask, “how are you?” we truly care about your answer.

But through this emotional intimacy, we can and often will connect and find someone attractive, and possibly develop feelings for them… but honestly, how is that different than any friendship with someone of a relationship-compatible orientation? The reality of attraction is that is must be consensually welcomed, or it is abusive. Most allosexual people will feel some attraction to people with whom they deal with and are around, and many have claimed that heterosexual males and females cannot be truly friends, which shows a remarkable lack of faith in temperance and boundaries among people. If one person develops feelings for another, they have to decide if they are willing to risk their friendship to share this reality, which is often unburdening themselves and in effect burdening their object of affection. As a demisexual, feeling attraction does not necessarily equate to love, and that is something important to understand. It can be very frustrating as attractions can often have a very long times between them, and the desire to explore that attraction can cause limerence, or infatuation, to be interpreted as love. Many demisexuals struggle with the desire to be in a relationship, and actively seeking a relationship without a strong friendship foundation can more often than not doom any success in this pursuit.

The processing of friending, the building of a strong friendship bond, can be applied to a sort of dating methodology for demisexuals. The process of building a platonic friendship or a romantic and ultimately sexual relationship is fundamentally the same process, with only one difference — communication of intention. Honestly expressing with someone that you’d like to explore a possible relationship can do remarkable wonders for facilitating the growth of a healthy relationship. If a connection doesn’t happen, but the two of you become close friends, what have you really lost? Having a close friendship means you get the best part of someone in your life. If there is no connection, there is nothing missing as there is no attraction. Conversely, perhaps a connection does occur, but the feasibility of a traditional relationship isn’t tenable due to some form of long term incompatibility. But if sexual attraction exists, a true demisexual friendship with benefits is very possible. For some demis, sex can only happen in a monogamous relationship, while others can have friends with benefits, play partners and even explore different types of ethical non-monogamy, such as polyamory. The only thing that makes us all alike is the need for emotional connection for an attraction.

And of course there is the risk of forming a connection with a friend that is either unwilling or inappropriate to explore a romantic and / or sexual relationship with. This often requires disconnection by means of converting the relationship away from one that has you experiencing attraction. But disconnection isn’t absolutely necessary unless the attraction is causing you discomfort or anxiety around the friend. Most allosexuals experience attraction to people they will never be with. The novel experience of unrequited attraction for us can be much more difficult to bear, so the decision is ultimately up to the demisexual to process and decide. As with anyone, your feelings and attractions are your responsibility to deal with.

Friendship is a very powerful thing for anyone. People will often go through many relationships, but their friendships will always be there with them for decades, if not their entire lives. Some will find new friends that feel like they’ve know each other forever. For demisexuals, the process of building friendships, whether or not they become relationships, is of critical importance. We don’t really build groups of friends, we build tribes. Sometimes the tribe is small, sometimes vast, but our tribe is filled with the people the we hold closest, and become akin to family — more often than not closer.

May your tribe be strong.