That moment when you discover a word that's so fitting, so appropriate--not only do you feel enlightenment but also seen. When people ask what labels do for us, I imagine that it's just that. They make us feel seen! If you're an active Twitter user, you've seen this play out in real time for the masses. Ironically, labels are like social media -- they have the power to make you feel totally isolated or understood. Which is why we're very much torn between "I don't subscribe to labels" and "Buy me a label maker for Christmas."
It's human nature to be curious, but with that curiosity comes the doctrine that all things must be labeled in order to further understand. Abstract, foreign, subjective concepts aren't something we've been socialized to just "get". It takes a creative, innovative, abstract mind. In short, it requires an open mind that can see beyond their own socialization. With language--is the inevitable evolution of it. Language says, "If you knew me yesterday, allow me to reintroduce myself tomorrow and the next day."
With that in mind, it can admittedly be difficult and even uncomfortable when you're unsure of how and when to use new terms or how they fit into your world. This especially seems to be the case around language surrounding sexuality, likely because our understanding of human sexuality is just as, if not, more evolutional. But in addition to being thoughtful to others who may not want to be boxed into the binaries of the world, it's nice to be in the know of new language for our own personal growth and understanding of ourselves as well as others.
Maybe you've heard of the word "demisexual" but have no damn idea what "demiromantic" is. Say less, read on. Psychotherapist and blogger, Monica Renae M.A. APC gave us a deep dive into what it means to be demiromantic vs. demisexual -- the tale of one prefix (meaning "half" or "lesser"), and two slightly different words.
What Does Demiromantic Mean?
In defining what it means to be demiromantic, Renae began by clarifying what it means to be demisexual. She explained, "Demisexuals require a deeper understanding of people before sexual attraction manifests whereas most other people, with the exclusion of asexuals, experience the general sexual attraction without knowing much of anything about the individual(s)."
Quick xoPoll: Raise your hand if your panties have ever been personally victimized by thoughts of Morris Chestnut, Rihanna, or whoever recently? Well, according to our expert, "Demisexuals typically weren't screaming at boy bands or fantasizing about an actress as an adolescent."
Instead, "Demisexuals and demiromantics focus on emotional bonding, those connections lead to different aspects of the relationship." For demiromantics, these aspects may include sex (eventually) but are not limited to sex. As the word suggests, "Demiromantics need to know more about a person(s) before romantic interest can be established. There's no rush to crush with demiromantics."
I imagine that this also means demiromantics can have casual, "no strings attached" sex with more ease because they might have sexual feelings without desiring for sex to end in a RomCom "happy" ending. The ones that many of us can't really turn off. Demiromantics may be people who cringe at superficial first date conversations, instead, they want to get into the deeper "what makes you tick…(emotionally speaking)?" conversations.
I understand it as a parallel to sapioromantic, where those who identify as such cannot establish a romantic connection without the intellectual. Sapios want to geek out and demis want to "deep out". Their subconscious simply won't allow them to get butterflies over a "good morning" text.
I think understanding the difference lies in unlearning the socialization that romantic and sexual feelings must be present in all scenarios. Probably another ploy from the patriarchy used to slut-shame women. This is not me negating the science that says love hormones that create emotional attachment during sex aren't real, but the myth that if you can bypass that and have sex when you want, how you want, with whom you want, then something is wrong with you.
When Is It Demiromance & When Is It...Not?
While our sexual and romantic identities can evolve throughout our lives, and anyone can identify as demi, it's important to introspectively flip through your lived experiences and determine whether what you've experienced/experience is related to demisexuality, demiromance, or … a matter of attachment style.
"In some instances, there are people that develop deep emotional connections post-sexual encounters. [Although], this can be due to a number of reasons...attachment style is the main. For those with a preoccupied attachment style, sex may be misunderstood as emotional commitment. 'I shared something intimate therefore there's greater meaning to our relationship.'" Monica points out, that this likely has more to do with "attachment style" and less to do with sexual and romantic preferences.
For this, she recommends "a 'slow to touch' approach and a focus on being present with potential partners in order to determine if there is a genuine romantic connection."
But, how do I know if I’m demiromantic? According to Monica Renae, ask these two questions:
- In looking at your dating history, do you see a common pattern?
- Were all of your romantic partners friends first?
If in assessing potential dating partners, you are not moved to date people, you barely know or you don't 'crush' on those whom you have not established an emotional bond with, you may be demiromantic. Keep in mind, unlike demisexuals, demiromantics can experience general sexual attraction. Having a one night stand is separate from romantic desire.
In a world where "coming out" has damn near become a mandate for anyone who has had an epiphany that falls outside the binary, she reminds us "there's no need to plan a large coming out but rather [creating] a deeper awareness of yourself."
That growing awareness of self requires you to "accept that this is how you healthily function in the dating world and not force yourself to do as others do." Renae says to "think deeply about your values and desires that you'd ideally seek in a romantic partner. This will help you weed through dates with more certainty and less anxiety." This will help you in "communicating the way in which you operate with potential partners is essential" because "as with any intention" this is necessary.
On the flip side, if you're someone who is romantically involved with a demiromantic, "it's important that you respect their boundaries by not pushing to speed the relationship ahead. Participate in creating an environment of openness that will allow the both of you to get to know one another better."
The importance of communication cannot be overstated and so she leaves us with a simple but important gem: "Moral of the story for either party, 'communicate, communicate again, and some mo'.'"
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