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Online Dating As Demisexuals: When Modern Courtship Rules Leave You Feeling Uncomfortable

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Online dating as demisexuals: New age apps like Tinder and Bumble have made dating far more accessible. If you are looking for someone to connect with or hook up with, dating apps can surely point you in the right direction. Scroll the profiles, read their bio, swipe right if you find someone attractive and left if you are uninterested. While online dating may seem much like shopping for people, we cannot deny that it works for most people. The keyword here is ‘most’. Because as advanced as dating apps are, there are a group of people that dating apps might never work on – Demisexuals.

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where people only experience sexual and romantic attraction to people they have close emotional connections with. Now, you might be thinking that it doesn’t sound too bad. After all, doesn’t everyone prefer having an emotional attraction to the person they are having sex with?

An emotional connection for demisexuals is not a preference or an additional bonus – it is a must-have for sexual and romantic attraction. To put it most simplistically: no emotional bond equals no sexual attraction. The opportunity of lust at first sight – the principle that governs the success of dating apps – does not arise here. As a demisexual person, dating apps have always been a dampener for me. I am not someone who gets attracted to chiseled faces, beards, or muscular bodies, as I have learned in the past through my limited experience on dating apps. Emotional connection cannot be built overnight, it takes time to build, but the dating apps have made most folks eager and impatient. Sex has moved to courtship period or often in the category of “getting to know each other first”.

Where does this leave demisexuals?

One of my interns who is a demisexual shares her distressful experience

“The two-dimensional pictures that flash on the screen invoke absolutely no desire or emotion in me. The first time I used a dating app, I swiped left on every single man that the algorithm recommended for me. I spent hours on the app until my eyes grew blurry, trying to make a connection, but failing miserably. I thought that maybe I was being too shallow, that my standards were too high. So I pushed myself to swipe right on random people I had no interest in. It made me deeply uncomfortable, and it was more of a chore or an obligation than enthusiasm or excitement.

Most men I met viewed dating as an entitlement. Their desperation for a sexual/ romantic connection and resistance to understanding women made them see me like a prize more than a fellow human being. They all had a sex-centered idea of what dating meant, and it was incompatible with mine.

Feeling dejected, I went on to the internet for answers. Why couldn’t I be romantically interested in others like my peers could? What was wrong with me? Apparently nothing! I was just wired differently than most people I knew. I wasn’t broken, but the service that dating apps provide was just not what I needed to make a connection.”

The issue faced by demisexuals is further compounded by the fact that many men have poor dating skills. Our sex repressive culture has ensured that most men are raised to be good professionals but not good romantic/ sexual partners.

I asked some of my demisexual followers about their experience in the dating world and these are some of the responses I received:

“Exhausting and time-consuming. But worth it when it is worth it”.

“Horrible! Wish I could engage in casual sex.”

“I had sex with a guy without getting much attached and I still regret it.”

“Not so good. Exhausted from explaining my orientation.”

Something that I have noticed while talking to other demisexual people is that most of us feel like the dating world imposes an ultimatum on us. It tells demisexual people that if you cannot commit, get attracted to, or have sex with a person within a stipulated time, you are doomed to be single forever. Due to this, we have to force ourselves into situations and relationships we are not comfortable with. Because if we do not conform to the rules set by the modern dating world, we feel like we have no right to ask for a romantic relationship.

Pride Month is not only for celebrating your sexual/gender identity, but it is only for taking your power back. It is about unabashedly declaring your own true self, demanding the respect and space you deserve. Everyone – no matter their preferences- should be able to love who they want, at their own pace, without feeling like they are doing it wrong. The third date means sex rule do not work for everybody. That is why we need to reexamine and reimagine the world of dating to be more inclusive to more people. Everyone deserves to love, even if they need years to get there.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Pallavi Barnwal is a certified sexuality coach and founder of a sex-positive platform Get Intimacy. She has been featured as a sexpert in publications such as Huffington Post, India Today, Vogue, The Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar, Indian Express, Times Of India, BBC, Deccan Chronicle, Femina and more. She specialises in helping people gain courage to talk openly about sex and relationships and equipping them with actionable tips and skills so they can start having more pleasure both inside and outside their bedroom. The views expressed are the author’s own.


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