Simple Sexuality: How Do You Label Yours?

Updated March 31, 2016 10:04am PDT
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There are a slew of labels many people may or may not be familiar with that feed into my relationships: demisexual, pansexual, aromantic, sapiosexual, polyamorous, singleish, relationship anarchist, etc. 

What the hell are all of these, why are they relevant to me, and how can they possibly all fit together?

There’s a simple way and a complex way to describe the way I relate to other people. The simple version is that I let each relationship be exactly what it is. Sex and love are other aspects, dimensions, of the relationships I have with people. I don’t categorize them by importance and I don’t go in with certain expectations. I develop them based on the person I’m interacting with, instead of having a set of roles for people to fill. 

It starts with my values. What I treasure, what I seek, and what I know about myself. My experiences have been rather unique—the fact I happen to fall into so many of these alternate categories both adds to interactions and allows me to explore new avenues. When it comes to love, relationships, and sex all of my various aspects play off against one another and create some rather interesting situations, ideas, and discoveries. Most of all, I value truth. I also really like math. 

The idea of just happening to find the one true soulmate in my area, in my lifetime, always struck me as extremely odd. The math never added up for me. It also didn’t make sense to choose one person and place them on a pedestal above all other humans. What about family? What about friends? What about myself? Polyamory made more sense to me because in the entire history of humanity, many people have loved or been with more than one person in their lifetime. 

People leave, people die, people meet other people.

The saying about not being able to fill another person’s cup without first filling your own just makes logical sense to me. On airplanes, everyone is instructed to put their own mask on first before assisting others. So it is with love or relationships—of any kind. If you’re a wreck, or expecting someone else to fulfill you, what happens when they leave or die or if someone is required to prop you up? I mean, we fall in love with a person, an individual right? Each person is different, they’re not interchangeable, and to get to know them you have to understand yourself. That’s why autonomy, self-love, is at the top of my list. That’s the singleish part; I take care of myself and expect my friends and partners to do the same. It’s also kind of difficult to care about anything else if you’re starving yourself. It’s hard to even notice anything else when your mind is a mess.

With such a huge world and so many people why ever would anyone desire to shrink their experience? For me life is about learning. I suppose that has a lot to do with my sapiosexuality. That is the term for arousal or attraction based on the other person’s intelligence. It’s a mental connection based on knowledge, information, ideas. This is near the top of my list and precludes the other labels. It also falls close to my demisexuality. I have a high sex drive, oddly enough—I have to actually like a person, feel emotionally or mentally close to them before I even think about having sex with them in particular. That’s what demisexuality is: the inability to be sexually attracted to another without an emotional connection. If I don’t like, feel close to, or know someone there’s very little chance I’ll find them attractive and want to be physical with them. I don’t lust after celebrities or models, either. The desire for sex is secondary attraction, naturally growing out of the feelings I’ve already developed for them.

That leads right into my relationship anarchy. I don’t sort my friends according to some exalted status like lover or partner. Each person I choose to interact with is important to me in their own way, whether or not that includes love or sex. I’m not romantic (the aromantic part) but I am very passionate and loving. 

I don’t get swept off my feet. 

I don’t desire to meld into one being or forsake all others. 

I’m not romantic because I don’t experience these kinds of desires for my relationships. 

Friendship tends to be the strongest aspect of any relationship for me, no matter what else it includes. Romantic things like candlelit dinners, identifying as a couple, marriage, or childrearing aren’t what I want or if I do want something like them they’re not necessarily limited to those I call my lovers or partners. Friends aren’t treated like dirt just because they don’t live with me and those I might have sex with aren’t more important. Each relationship is just what it is. Each relationship is developed around how we actually get along, how we feel towards one another, and is open to change. I’m also very sensual and the thought of limiting that based on who’s supposed to be acceptable to touch makes no sense. Touch is so often bound up with sex that people have trouble seeing it apart from sex.

Since people are unique and my love for one doesn’t detract from my love for another--although time may be an issue—the gender and sex of another don’t matter much to me. That’s my pansexuality. My own gender is fluid; I consider myself human first and foremost. Everything else is secondary to that and the contents of a person’s mind. I’m not going to exclude the possibility of knowing someone just because their body looks a certain way. This doesn’t mean I want to have sex with everyone or everything. I usually have to have a connection with someone to even consider sex, if either of us even wants to go there.

Each of these labels grows out of the values I hold, the information I see, and my inherent curiosity. It’s amazing how much I learn about myself, the world, and other people by just letting them be themselves. When there are no arbitrary barriers, when communication becomes the focus, when options are open-ended instead of proscribed a whole world of unique connections opens up. These labels don’t make me who I am. They describe several aspects of me. They are helpful, although not always necessary. The simple description I gave above is accurate even though others can miss the full implications. That’s why the complex description comes in handy.

Having language to sum up behavior or values allows new possibilities to sprout. Labels don’t have to be scary or impossible or divisive. 

They can be helpful, informative, and dare I say even simple? 

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Michón Neal is a minority of minorities: female assigned at birth, mostly black, disabled, genderqueer, autistic, aromantic, pansexual, single parent, kinky, demisexual, poor, noetisexual, polyamorous, singleish, RA, a survivor, intersex, and left-handed.

Michón Neal writes a mix of scifi, fantasy, erotica, and autobiography called cuil fiction about unique people in unique circumstances, with characters running the gamut of non-monogamous and LGBTQIA+ spectrums. 

That’s right: queer and polyamorous fiction!