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By now, you probably already know that gender, sexual orientation, and romantic preferences all span across spectrums. And while you might have previously thought your sexual and romantic preferences were one and the same, that’s actually far from the truth.
In fact, there are tons of terms to describe your romantic attraction that could be different than how you experience sexual attraction. One of those terms is “demiromantic.”
This term is used to describe someone who feels romantic feelings for someone only after they have built a strong bond or connection with them. And even though you might think, Wait, isn’t that the case for everyone? it’s not.
The big difference is that for someone who is demiromantic, their romantic attraction doesn’t come and go with different people, says Courtney D’Allaird, assistant director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the University at Albany. “It’s an actual absence of any romantic feeling until they get deeply mentally connected to a partner.”
Have more questions? Let’s dive deeper into demiromanticism.
The difference between demiromantic, aromantic, asexual, greyromantic, and demisexual
There are a lot of terms that seem similar to demiromantic, and oftentimes, they overlap. You don’t have to be one or another—you get to decide what terms resonate best with you.
So first, let’s talk about what it means to be aromantic. It’s used to describe someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction to others at all. Then there’s greyromantic, which is used to describe someone who rarely experiences romantic attraction. These are different than demiromantic because when you are demiromantic, you do experience romantic attraction—but only after you have developed a deep bond first.
Demisexual is used to describe someone who forms a sexual attraction to a person only once they have formed a close emotional bond with them, as noted in a recent Cosmopolitan article. And while demiromantic and demisexual seem pretty similar, they are on different spectrums. Demiromantic is used to describe your romantic preferences, and demisexual is used to describe your sexual preferences. You could technically be both at the same time.
Psychotherapist Ashley Starwood, author of Writing With Love, says the difference lies in what the attraction is and when it begins. “Demiromantics don’t have romantic feelings until a connection is established, but they could have sexual feelings toward the person/persons. Demisexuals do not have sexual feelings for others until a connection has been made, but they could have romantic feelings for others without a solid connection,” Starwood explains.
Finally, being demiromantic varies from being asexual, which means you don’t experience sexual attraction at all. This is totally different than being demiromantic, and actually, someone could be both asexual and demiromantic because one term describes sexual orientation and the other describes romantic identity.
What does being demiromantic look like?
Because each individual’s romantic life is, well, individual, being demiromantic can look different for everyone. There aren’t really any physical features to look out for because you can’t tell someone’s sexual orientation, romantic identity, or gender simply by their appearance. That said, you might be able to pick up some cues based on their love life and dating tendencies.
“Folks who are demiromantic remind me of light dimmer switches,” explains sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, a sexpert for Lovers sexual wellness brand and retailer. “You become close to them, and they eventually warm up to you and then it’s on—or you hang out with them and then something just clicks like a light switch,” she says.
Typically, someone who’s demiromantic might not develop crushes on random people—like the cute barista whose name you don’t know—and they might not be into traditional romantic gestures until they’ve known someone for a while, D’Allaird explains.
This means a lovey-dovey getaway with a new partner or even watching a rom-com on a first date might not do it for them. On the flip side, the whole friends-to-dating thing is lowkey a demiromantic person’s bread and butter.
Signs you might be demiromantic
Unfortunately, there’s no set guideline that determines whether or not you’re demiromantic. Just like with your gender identity and sexual orientation, it’s up to you to figure out what term resonates with you, if any of them do at all. (This is also a reminder that you don’t have to label yourself anything at all if you don’t want to.)
But what’s a lil tricky here is that because romance is so well represented in popular culture, someone who’s demiromantic might feel unsure about their needs and desires. D’Allaird says demiromantics may feel self-doubt about their value in relationships and worry that a partner won’t like them because they aren’t romantic enough. Luckily, that’s where communication and self-exploration come in.
So if you’re trying to figure out your romantic identity, here are a few things that might indicate you could be demiromantic:
Sexual attraction may come easy, but romantic attraction feels more confusing.
You tend to fall for people who are already close friends.
You find it difficult to fall in love.
You feel like your friends develop too many crushes (or at least way more than you do).
You don’t understand how people have crushes on “strangers.”
It’s hard for you to grow closer with people.
If you do decide to talk to or date someone, you might not be inclined to do things that are traditionally romantic but instead prefer to hang out casually.
Stewart adds that people who are demiromantic generally have a heightened sense of awareness surrounding the differences between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. For some people, it simply takes trying on the term and seeing how it feels to determine if it’s for you or not.
How to be a proud demiromantic person
If you’ve discovered that you’re demiromantic, you might be wondering what the next step is. The creator of the popular Instagram resource account ACE and ARO Garden, Pablo, who has been demiromantic in the past, says finding a word to describe how you feel is like “taking a breath of fresh air.” Now you’ve just gotta breathe it.
Not only does being proud give you a sense of self, but it also helps connect you to a community. Hashtags like #Demiromantic, #DemiromanticPride, and #Demiromantics on social media are a great place to find other people who are also demiromantic and can help on your journey to self-discovery.
If you’re demiromantic or an ally, you could also consider flying the demiromantic flag, which showcases three vertical lines—white, green, and gray—with a black sideways triangle on the left side.
If you want to subtly show your demiromantic pride, Pablo suggests wearing a simple white ring on the middle finger of your left hand. “People on the aromantic spectrum wear these rings to show in public that they belong to the spectrum while also being subtle and secretive,” they say. “Like a secret code—if someone doesn’t know what it means, they’ll think it’s just a stylish white ring.”
All that said, you should never feel pressured to be out if you don’t want to be. You never need to label yourself or tell others your label(s) if you don’t want to/don’t feel safe to. It’s fully your choice to be however you want to be.
How to support friends or partners who are demiromantic
When it comes to supporting someone who’s demiromantic, the simplest and best way you can show your acceptance is by doing that: accepting them.
“If your partner is a demiromantic person, do not disregard their feelings or tell them not to label themselves,” says Pablo. “This may be something they have been working on for a long time and have had to reach a certain mindset to understand and accept it fully.”
It all comes down to respecting their identity and feelings. D’Allaird says you can do this by recognizing what being demisexual is and isn’t and taking the time to educate yourself.
Remember, though, it’s never someone’s responsibility to educate others about their romantic identity (or gender or sexual orientation), so take some time to research it. Not only will this show your desire to understand, but if you do have questions for them, you can approach them from an educated mindset too.
Ultimately, the way to support a demiromantic person is simple: Accept them for who they are, because as D’Allaird rightly explains, that’s truly what matters.
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