In defense of demiromanticism

So it appears that Some People have decided to start going after demiromantics.*  Can’t say I’m deeply surprised, as it seems like Some People have nothing better to do than talk about how other people’s identities are invalid.  Metapianycist and greenchestnuts have already written in defense of demiromanticism, but as I identify as demiromantic, I thought I would weigh in as well.  (Oh gosh, what are you getting yourself into, Queenie?)

One of the main arguments I’ve seen against demiromanticism goes something like, “But everyone feels that way, so you don’t really need a label for it!”  I somehow seriously doubt that everyone is demiromantic, as I have friends who have developed crushes on people after meeting them for literally 30 seconds.  But let’s just say that demiromantics make up the majority of the population, like 65%.  65% is a pretty large amount, right?  So we don’t need a word for demiromanticism, right?

Well, who says that we don’t need words for something once a large enough number of people experience it?  Let me make a comparison.  Although nobody can actually agree on the exact percentages, it seems as though introverts and extroverts each make up roughly half of the population in the U.S.  Half of the population is a pretty big number!  So we don’t need to use words like “introvert” and “extrovert,” ’cause they’re both “normal,” right?  Well, no.  The thing is, when someone calls themselves an “introvert” or an “extrovert,” they’re (almost always) not trying to show how special and magical they are; they’re using a word to describe how they experience the world.  That’s what “demiromantic” is–it’s a word to describe how you experience the world.  When I say, “I am demiromantic,” I am not saying, “OMG LOOK HOW SPECIAL I AM AND BASK IN MY SPECIALNESS”; I am saying, “This is how I experience romantic attraction.”  Even if it turned out that 99% of the population was demiromantic (unlikely, but theoretically possible, I suppose), it would not stop me from identifying as demiromantic, because I would still find the term an accurate description of the manner in which I experience romantic attraction.

Then there are the people who say, “Well, okay, so maybe not everyone is demiromantic, but why do you need a word for it?  Why can’t you just stop labeling things?”  I think that some people don’t understand the difference between labels imposed by outside sources and labels to help you understand yourself better.  When people say, “Labeling is bad!  You should just do whatever you do and stop putting labels on everything!” sometimes I wonder if they’re thinking back to middle school, when adults told them not to go around calling other people jocks or nerds or whatever other label was popular at that point.  Here’s the thing: labels imposed from the outside are not cool.  If someone came up to me and said, “HEY, QUEENIE, YOU ARE TOTALLY [whatever label],” I would make faces of consternation at them regardless of how accurate that label was; after all, who are they to tell me what’s going on in my own head?

But labels for yourself, new ways to describe your own experience, thoughts, and desires, are amazing.  The thing about labels is that they’re not there to prove how special you are.  If anything it’s the opposite; the power of labels lies in their ability to prove that you’re not alone.  Because if someone else out there bothered to come up with a word for it, it means you’re not the only one experiencing it!  Sometimes I think people forget how powerful that can be for people who feel isolated (regardless of whether that isolation is real or perceived).  I mean, if we really wanted to prove how special and unique we were, wouldn’t it make more sense to say, “I’m too special for labels” or else make up our own words that describe our experiences in dizzyingly precise detail, rather than adopting a more generalized term that others are already using?  Seems kind of counter-intuitive to adopt a label in solidarity if you want to prove how unlike other people you are.

One last thing that I think people are confused by is that you can be demiromantic and [romantic orientation].  “You’re just tacking on words to make yourself sound more special!” they yell.  “You can’t be both demiromantic and heteroromantic!”  Well, actually, you can.  Think of it this way: “demiromantic” functions adverbially–“demiromantic” describes how I experience romantic attraction (demiromantically?), while my romantic orientation describes toward whom I experience romantic attraction.  This might not be the best parallel, but if I say, “Peter walked sneakily toward the library,” “the library” is the direction Peter is going and “sneakily” is how he is going.  Similarly, if someone says, “I am demiromantic and homoromantic,” it means that “homoromantic” describes the “direction” in which they experience romantic attraction (toward the same sex/gender) and “demiromantic” describes the manner in which they experience that attraction.

For the record, I don’t think being demiromantic is any better or worse than not being demiromantic.  I don’t think being demiromantic makes me special any more than I think being incapable of whistling makes me special.  I’m not particularly proud of being demiromantic; I just am.  Having a label is nice, because it means that I don’t have to just say, “I’m kind of bad at getting crushes” (which was how I tried to describe it before I discovered the concept of demiromanticism), but if I didn’t have that label, it wouldn’t actually change how I feel or what I experience.  Do I think that everyone who identifies as demiromantic is just trying to be special?  Obviously not; I think a lot of us are just excited to know we’re not alone.  Sure, there might be some people who are “just collecting labels,” but I don’t think they’re the majority any more than I think people who identify as any other identity to be “cool” are the majority.  Do I think that demiromanticism is “the norm”?  I dunno, but I really want someone to do a study to find out.  (Queenie’s solution to almost everything: DO SCIENCE/STATISTICS TO IT.)  If demiromanticism is, in fact, the norm, do I think we don’t need a word for it?  Nope.  Words are good, even if they’re describing a majority experience.

And that is what I have to say on demiromanticism.

*For those of you not in the know, a demiromantic person is one who does not experience romantic attraction until they have an emotional connection with the other party.  This does not mean that they won’t date someone until they know them; it just means that they won’t experience romantic attraction/get a crush on them.  I’ve written a fairly long explanation of how I personally experience demiromanticism here.

About queenieofaces

QueenieOfAces is a graduate student in the U.S. studying Japanese religion. She is a queer asexual. She also blogs over at Concept Awesome and runs Resources for Ace Survivors. She is never quite sure what to write in these introduction things, but this one time she accidentally got a short story on asexuality published in an erotica magazine.
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14 Responses to In defense of demiromanticism

  1. Annah says:

    I just want to adopt the phrase “I’m kind of bad at getting crushes” into my personal arsenal. I love it.

  2. fluffy says:

    This +100000 and then some. It’s very frustrating how people assume that me saying “I’m asexual” when it’s relevant to the conversation is somehow equivalent to me shoving it down everyone’s throats and acting superior about simply not having sexual inclinations. But people like to feel superior to other people, and one way they can feel superior is by assuming that everyone else is trying to feel superior and denigrating people for their assumed “superiority” so they can stay on top. It’s like an ouroboros of attitude.

  3. Eponine says:

    Hmm, I found the definitions given by Metapianycist and greenchestnuts (the links in the first paragraph) are quite different. One is “only developing romantic desires/attractions toward people who are not strangers”, the other is “not experiencing romantic attraction except for people with whom you have a strong emotional bond” (which is the definition I usually see on AVEN). The threshold is much lower according to the first definition. If we go by the first one, I’m definitely demiromantic; if we go by the second one, I’m not sure, because what counts as “a strong emotional bond” is open to interpretation. But I think it’s safe to say I at least have demiromantic tendencies.

    • queenieofaces says:

      The “strong emotional bond” definition is the one I see more commonly cited; I think metapianycist was trying to make the point that demiromantic folks AREN’T attracted to strangers, i.e. that they’re not just choosing not to act on their attraction. That said, I think “strong emotional bond” really varies from person to person–for me, I have to know someone for AT LEAST several months (and when I’ve gotten crushes on people after several months, it’s only been when I’ve had a lot of contact with them every single day…so people I have lived in close contact with or I’ve been working closely with). …now I’m inclined to ask some demiromantics to see what the average is (ALL PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED BY DOING SCIENCE/STATISTICS TO THEM).

  4. Calinlapin says:

    “who says that we don’t need words for something once a large enough number of people experience it?”
    Exactly ! It works for demisexuality exactly in the same way.

  5. Pingback: Visualizing demisexuality | The Asexual Agenda

  6. Soren says:

    Thank you for this article! Even though I’m not demiromantic, it helped me frame the way some people experience romantic attraction. And thanks to what you wrote, demisexuality now makes sense to me! I think the problem was I previously had no frame of reference, being asexual and always having to think about demisexuality in terms of sexual attraction. But thank you!

  7. everything you’ve just said, i feel the same could be said for sapioromanticism. in fact, sub in sapioromantic for demiromantic throughout this article and that’s precisely what i would say about it. some of it, i was actually thinking about before i read this. and i’ve heard identical arguments against it as well.

    see, demiromantic would be suitable for me if it had a slightly different context (i’m not really one for emotional bonds, however that might sound). sapioromantic, however, actually feels quite accurate… as i see three types of connections that can be made here… either individually or in some combination: sexual, emotional, and intellectual.

    i’m, dare i say it on the internet, romantically attracted to people like Nikola Tesla, Simon Amstell, and the The Doctor (yes, from Doctor Who… and not any specific actor, i mean the actual character)… and those are my only examples because those are the only people toward whom i’ve ever felt any sort of attraction (well, there was one other person i knew personally, but their name would have no meaning here… however, the reason for the attraction was the same).

    But this isn’t an emotional connection or sexual attraction… it’s something about the way their minds work that’s drawn me in (note, i am not a neuroscientist)… to where i simply want to interact with this person on a regular basis… not in a mentor/guru kind of way… maybe romantically… at the very least, to have a closer relationship than a friend might…

    so, what other word fits this than sapioromantic? etymologically speaking, it makes perfect sense… to me, anyway.

    i saw someone mention the term, sapioromantic, on a forum, thought “hey! it fits!”, then read the harsh delegitimisation that followed, and thought “sheesh… the irony…”

    now, i was also fine to consider aromantic when reading through definitions… but those four people were tripping me up… see, i’m certain it’s the way their minds work that’s attracting me… but clearly not which specific way (maybe it’s intellect, maybe not entirely?)… as these are four rather different people in my observation. it certainly doesn’t feel like a preference… and i’m not the “fan-girl” type…

    so, since i’ve yet to identify anything more specific than “the way their mind works” (the common link between these four people), i have no way of knowing which mind i might like next. not exactly aromantic, that. not exactly demiromantic either… but sapioromantic… yea, kinda makes sense here.

    Humans are complex… so it stands to reason that sentences that describe the human condition will contain complex words with complex definitions. it’s the language of identity… and i happen to like languages.

    So yea… thank you for sharing this. It’s always fun to read something i was just thinking. 🙂

    PS… for the sake of consistency, for those that don’t know… sapioromantic is defined as “romantic attraction to intelligence or the human mind”

  8. Nutmeg says:

    I can’t whistle, either! =D

    I still have to spend a hell of a lot more time in my thinking tree to nut out the convoluted knot that is my (a?)romantic orientation because the damn thing is just so stubborn.
    The ‘who’ is easy; I’m genderblind when it comes to extending little invisible cognitive/emotional sticky ribbons at people, so pan-something. The ‘how’ is the tricky part.

    I do identify with some demi- tendencies and Adia Air’s post on sapioromanticism has given me some tasty food for thought, so maybe I’ll make some progress. Thanks, peeps! 🙂

  9. Avi says:

    Thank you.

  10. Pingback: Aromanticism in Fiction Pt 1 | penny stirling's numbathyal zone

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