We live in a society where casual sex is a normal part of dating culture. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a casual hookup between consenting adults, but for demisexual folks (people who only experience sexual attraction after forming an emotional connection), dating and intimate relationships can be a bit harder to navigate -- in no small part because there are still a lot of misconceptions about what demisexuality is and is not. These misconceptions not only put a strain on our relationships but on our mental health as well.
LGBT Intimate Relationships
Gender identity in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community is important when speaking about mental health. Society has made a habit of assigning gender based on assumptions relating to outward appearance and tone of voice. Mental health concerns can be tied together with gender identity, and it is important to respect an individual's chosen identity without our own biases getting in the way.
Despite common belief, there is domestic violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community. I know there is because I am a lesbian survivor of domestic violence. A decade ago, I entered a police station after a physical assault from my partner looking for help. The officer who took my report ended our meeting by explaining to me that my allegations would never hold up in court. He stated I should have fought back. His closing remark was to leave my partner if I was unhappy. It took me six more months of enduring abuse before I was able to escape my domestic violence partnership.
I believe in the importance of self-care, especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. But I wasn't always this way. In fact, until this past year, I'd heard about the self-care movement but dismissed it as "narcissistic" or "selfish." I also thought that I didn't deserve to take care of myself when I could spend that time helping others.
The more I've been a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, the more I've realized how complex attraction really is. One of my close friends is asexual, which means that while they're happily married, they don't experience sexual attraction. As an advocate for asexuality, my friend has met opposition in and outside of the gay community because so many people don't understand how this identity exists or falls under the LGBT spectrum.
Finding love as a transgender (trans) person is difficult. After recently leaving a long-term relationship, I've found myself back on the dating scene. Finding a romantic partner as a trans man isn't easy. Even the most affirming cisgender (a person whose gender conforms with his or her birth sex) people can have reservations about dating someone who's transgender. I don't blame people who aren't comfortable dating a trans person. Physical attraction is an important part of a healthy relationship and, if someone isn't attracted to my body, I understand that. But I also think it's important to recognize and eradicate transphobia in the dating scene to make finding a partner safe for everybody.
Hurting other people, especially those we love, is inevitable. Living with mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Depression, Addiction and other mood altering conditions, means we will also have to live with the fact that we hurt other people with greater frequency and sometimes with greater depth than those who are not. So if we are going to have healthy relationships, learning to acknowledge our slights and ask for forgiveness is essential.
I come from a large quirky family of addictive and codependent personalities that bred what seems like nothing but toxic relationships; relationships that ultimately did more to harm our mental, physical and emotional well-being than good (7 Basic Signs of a Toxic Relationship). I've never really considered us "dysfunctional" because we actually functioned quite well as long as everyone did their job and played their role. That job or role always being to pacify and enable the person with issues by protecting them from reality or the consequences of their actions. It looks a little something like this:
It’s no secret that those of us in LGBT relationships tend to have strong emotional attachments with our partners, particularly long-term partners. While this can be a wonderful experience in a relationship with healthy boundaries between “self” and “other”, strong emotional attachments can become maddening when codependency is an issue. Anyone who has spent any time in the LGBT community may have heard comments like: “Lesbians never break up.” and “Gay men never let go.” While this has been a widely accepted idea often used to stereotype our relationships as dysfunctional, research is showing that there is some truth to these statements. Specifically; that women in same-sex relationships tend to remain connected and intertwined in each others lives long after break-up.