Dating as a Demiromantic

I recently discovered that I am a demiromantic.

This was a mind blowing discovery, as I didn’t know there was a word for the way I experience attraction. After my last break-up I found that I was having a difficult time feeling romantic attraction towards people. Everything would be fine on paper, but I just wasn’t feeling that “spark”. At first I assumed it was because I was still to raw from the breakup. I assumed that I was just too afraid to feel attraction. After nearly 2 years I was forced to conclude that was not in-fact the case. It wasn’t until I was listing to some psychology channels on Youtube that I realized there were other people like me out there. So, let’s break it down. What’s a demiromantic, and what does this mean for dating?

There are different kinds of attraction.

Let’s start by clarifying one thing first: sexual attraction and romantic attraction are not the same thing. While it is true that these two types of attraction often travel hand-in-hand, they are not the same feeling. You can be sexually attracted to a person you despise, and you can feel romantically drawn to a person you wouldn’t want to have sex with. Ideally, you will be both romantically and sexually attracted to your potential partners so the difference may seem irrelevant. However, this distinction is important for the purpose of demiromantics. A demiromantic can feel primary sexual attraction for another person, but they do not feel primary romantic attraction. They do not develop romantic attraction for a person until they have formed an emotional bond.

So what is primary attraction?

Imagine that you are in a crowded bar. You look across the crowded dance floor and lock eyes with a stranger. In that moment of primary contact you are hooked. That is primary attraction. This is just an example, because primary attraction doesn’t have to be “love at first sight”. From all the articles I’ve read on the topic, most people agree that “primary attraction” occurs within the first 3 dates. By that point most people know if the “spark” is there. They know if they want to sleep with, or potentially start a relationship with a perspective partner by that point. A demiromantic will know if they are sexually attracted to someone by then, but they will not feel romantic attraction at that point. That desire to become romantically/emotionally involved just isn’t present.

How do you know if you are a demiromantic?

I’ll be honest, it is not easy to tell. I have fallen in love, been in relationships, and had sex. I’ve done all the things “normal” people do. What I didn’t realize was how different my romantic process is.

For starters- I don’t have casual crushes. Ever. I can see a person I want to sleep with and fantasize about that, but I couldn’t care less if a fling turned into an actual relationship. My desires for that stranger is purely physical with a smattering of interest in friendship. I can’t imagine having a domestic partnership with a stranger the way that my friends and siblings do.

Secondly- I take a long time to catch feelings. Falling in love is a long term process for me. I lived next door for my first real boyfriend for 5 months before I started to like him “like-that”, and I lived with my male roommate for over a year before I started to fall for him. As a general rule, I fall in love very slowly, but also very deeply. On all three occasions I’ve fallen in-love, I had a deeply personal, emotional bond with them. I intimately cared for them as another human being, and felt connected with them on many levels. Feelings developed from these deep bonds that took months or even years to build. However, an emotional connection doesn’t guarantee love either. I have wonderful friends I have strong emotional ties to that I do not feel romantic feels toward. While the emotional attraction is vital, other factors also have to be present.

Thirdly- Sexual attraction is a separate experience. I’ve had casual sexual crushes, and I’ve had casual hook ups. My abilities to operate on a physical level is not related to my romantic feelings.

Fourth and final- The light is on, but the oven just won’t heat. This is the hardest part I’ve been dealing with; everything is right but nothing is happening. I’ve had a few experiences lately where the person I was seeing was practically perfect in every way, but I just didn’t feel anything. If you follow my blog you’ve heard me mention this before. They are smart, funny, charming, sweet, sensitive, etc. but, I can’t bring myself to feel the way I think I should. It’s like baking a cake and having all the ingredients, but the oven won’t heat. You have everything you need, but you can’t make it happen.

Of course being a demiromantic is different for everyone.

My personal experience isn’t a universal one, so it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. I have been lucky to have loving relationships before (even if they didn’t last), and I personally feel that I am likely to feel that way again. However, I cannot pretend that I am not worried about how my romantic inclinations will playout in the fast-paced dating world.

Will anyone want to date a demi?

That’s my biggest concern right now. Is it fair to date someone who is likely to develop feelings for me long before I develop feelings for them? I cannot guaranteed I’ll develop feelings at all, so isn’t is cruel to keep them waiting around? Who would want to waste 6 or more months on someone who doesn’t love you back? Is the sex alone enough?

I’ll still working it out.

I only realized I was a demiromantic a few weeks ago, so I’m still figuring out how to move forward with this. Maybe it doesn’t matter at all. I don’t mind being alone for now, and maybe when the time is right I will find someone who isn’t afraid to love someone who takes a little time to return their feelings in return. Yes, dating as a demiromantic is intimdating because I don’t want to lead anyone on or hurt their feelings, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying.

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