When I was in grade seven, I specifically remember thinking something was wrong with me. All my friends had crushes and drooled over whichever celebrity was popular at the time. I was at a friend’s house listening to her drone on and on about how cute so-and-so is, how she couldn’t believe what’s-his-name was dating what’s-her-face, and I felt genuinely uncomfortable. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with the topics of conversation, but because I couldn’t actively participate in them. I didn’t have crushes. I mean, I knew I was supposed to have crushes, so I made them up to appease my boy crazy friends. Then one day my friend asks why I’m so weird when I talk about boys. I shrugged it off. Then the question that changed it all: “Hayley, are you gay or something?” Good question. Was I? It would explain an awful lot. So off I went to navigate the next four years of my life struggling between what I liked, who I liked, or if I liked anyone at all.
When I entered high school, things got a little more tough. I was forced to see couples holding hands, kissing in the hallways, and giggling about who knows what. I concluded that something really was wrong with me if I truly couldn’t find myself being attracted to anyone. Could I determine if somebody was attractive? Absolutely. Was I ever attracted to anyone myself? No, I can honestly say that I wasn’t. I tried to be, and I knew I should have been, but no matter how hard I tried I could never bring myself to feel any sort of way with any sort of person. This was fine with me. And then Sarah happened. I met Sarah in one of my classes when I was 16. She had a huge personality, and made sure the entire room knew she was there. Unexpectedly she asked me if I was in to girls, to which I said “I honestly don’t know.” Two days later she asked me to be her girlfriend, and before I even knew what I was saying the word “yes” slipped out of my mouth. Was I attracted to her? No. Did I want to be in a relationship? No. Did I want to feel normal for once in my life and see if maybe I could feel attracted to somebody? Absolutely. Sarah and I didn’t have any sort of sexual contact until we were together for at least three months. She tried multiple times, and often grew irritated with me. I couldn’t explain to her why I just wasn’t into it, because I couldn’t even explain it to myself. “Maybe you just aren’t gay” is something I heard her say many times. Then I slowly found myself becoming increasingly attracted to her, and eventually I could feel and do all kinds of things with her. But this story isn’t about Sarah. That story would take far too long and be far too painful to tell. This is the story of how I figured out my sexual identity.
So, fast forward 2 years later when I find myself newly single and back to not being attracted to anyone. That is, until a guy I’ve known forever took an interest in me, shared his secrets with me, and eventually told me that he loved me. Again, that story is far too long and far too painful to hash out for all Wolfville to see. But my experience with him was valuable in that I could finally see a pattern in my sexual attractions, or lack thereof. I explained to a close friend of mine that I seem to only ever be attracted to people who I have established a close connection with first, and that sexual attraction was completely non-existent without that pre-requisite. She turned to me and said three words that would change the way I thought and felt about myself entirely: “so you’re demisexual?”
I had never heard this term before, so I’m assuming many readers haven’t either. Simply put, demisexuality belongs on the spectrum between asexuality (no sexual attraction at all) and sexuality. For the most part, demisexuals do not feel sexual attraction unless a strong emotional bond is first formed. This is different for every demisexual though, as each person has a different definition of what an emotional bond is. I can count on one hand how many people I have been sexually attracted to in my life, and I can guarantee that the number won’t increase by very much. Some of my friends have legitimately pitied me (Oh no! You poor thing! You don’t have sex? Like, ever?! That’s so sad, I could never imagine!), and some have claimed that I’m faking the whole thing just to have an excuse as to why I don’t have a love life. I have also been called a prude, a bitch, stuck up, and just too damn picky since I have no interest in discussing or engaging in sex. Hooking up is not for me. Lust at first sight is not my thing. Sexual arousal and I are not well acquainted. If that’s your thing, there is nothing wrong with you. But there’s nothing wrong with me either, and I’m thrilled that I can now believe that.