At a certain point, I stopped watching The Big Bang Theory. I don’t actually remember when, but I do know it was not long after Sheldon started dating Amy, and it was very clear to me hose two characters were going to end up married at some point. Subtlety, thy name is not Chuck Lorre.
Every time I try to figure out what, exactly, bothered me about their relationship, I kept landing in the same place: despite the entire premise of the show resting on how different and socially awkward he was, he was still expected to follow a ‘normal’ relationship trajectory. Meet a girl (heteronormative!), fall in love (we’re never actually shown a relationship that would lead to those feelings!!), get engaged (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay patriarchy!!!), get married (now we’re just like all the other couples on the show!!!!).
And while yes, I’m definitely poking fun at it a little, it speaks directly to something that takes up a lot of my brainspace: how to find someone when the normal assumptions surrounding that process doesn’t really apply.
A few years ago, while working on my old undergrad campus, I passed by a bulletin board with a poster that defined Demisexuality: the ‘grey’ area between asexuality and sexuality, where someone is capable of sexual feelings for another person, but it’s not always the case.
I’m the first to say that the label and definition aren’t perfect – labels never are. I use the term, and see the value in having a label at all because it’s made it easier for me to find community, find other people who have similar experiences and understand, in a really way, the feelings I have that don’t quite meet the definition of mainstream.
I went to my first Ace Toronto meeting last month, and got to do something that scared the absolute crap out of me: I said, out loud, to a room full of strangers, that seeing people kiss makes me uncomfortable. That since I was little, when people would kiss on screen, I’d divert my gaze, turn my head, and not really know why. That I often don’t understand why people kiss, but that it is almost without fail the first ‘base’, the first step towards a romantic relationship, and that my honest thoughts about it are something along the lines of *facescrunch* EW.
In the second of quiet after I finished speaking, I panicked. I don’t talk about my experience of physical attraction with my friends, with my work colleagues, with anyone outside of my therapist (she says on a public blog). I’m incredibly adept at staying in the mix when conversation turns to sex and relationships, while not sharing any personal information or stories. I have to thank whatever is out there in the universe for my natural sense of curiosity, because it means I know a lot, but don’t actually feel the need (yet) to do a lot.
And the people in that room? Knew exactly how I felt. They were kind, understanding, connected to the feelings I expressed, sharing their own and how they’ve found love, community, friendships that span decades, and a place to belong. In that moment, I felt something incredibly powerful: I felt understood.
It felt like being wrapped in one of those weighted blankets you see ads for all over the Internet: comforting, peaceful, like I had been accepted as I was, without having to use words that only seem to fail me when I talk about this part of myself. I left that meeting feeling settled, feeling lighter, and feeling not alone.
There is no easy conclusion here – I try to date, to navigate being all the things I am that differ from the mainstream (fat, dorky, nervous, demisexual), let myself feel the weight of feeling alone when it becomes all I can do to keep moving forward through my day.
I do my best to know that I will get there in time (s/o to Captain Awkward on this one, her writing and advice is perfection). And, if anything, I hope that maybe someone will read this, and have it resinate with them the way seeing that poster did for me, tilt their worldview just enough that they see that the part of them they thought was broken?
It’s pretty fucking great, just like them.