Profession: Food Service and hospitality
Minnie operates in a different way than a lot of the women I’ve interviewed so far: she is not driven by sex or the desire to have sex appeal. In fact, sex is mostly an inconvenience to her. It’s the elephant in the room, thing that everyone else seems to be obsessed with. She can’t really wrap her head around it.
Minnie identifies as demisexual, which means someone who doesn’t want to have sex except with people they share a very deep emotional bond with.
“People have asked me, ‘Oh come on, but what about, like, Matt Damon, or some other movie star? Don’t you think they’re hot?’ And I’m like, ‘Objectively, I think they’re handsome but it doesn’t make me want to sleep with them. At all.’”
Minnie’s only really wanted to have sex with one man, someone who she was in love with but never officially dated. And aside from me and the people at the ACE (asexual) meetup group where I met her, she’s only told 3 people that she identifies as asexual or demisexual.
The thing that struck me about Minnie was this:
Minnie’s a no-nonsense person. She doesn’t like to play games and she thinks in this very linear way.
“I don’t understand girls,” she told me. “They’re always asking, ‘Does this make me look fat?’ I’m like, ‘Do you really want me to answer that?’”
So Minnie is more drawn to friendships with men.
But friendships between men and women can get really complicated by sexual attraction. Sometimes, someone decides they want more. For Minnie, sexual attraction is, at best, a bother. At worst, it feels like this wild, invisible force — impossible to control and almost as hard to understand. Because she almost never feels sexual desire.
You might understand this if you’ve ever had a best friend confess that they’re attracted to you. If you don’t feel the same way, it creates this chasm between what you want and what they want. Maybe you even wish you were attracted to them (you love them, it would make everything so easy, they make so much sense, you love spending time with them, etc.), but you just can’t get there. You don’t feel it. That’s how Minnie feels all the time.
Here’s the rub, though, Minnie still craves love, company and understanding, just like we all do. But it can be hard to parse those things out and separate them from sex when it comes to a dating relationship.
It became apparent to me though the course of our interview that not experiencing sexual desire can create as many difficulties as having a super high sex drive can. Sexuality is usually taken for granted (if you need proof, look at the magazine rack next time you’re standing in line to buy groceries). And that makes life complicated for people like Minnie.
It can take Minnie years to feel connected enough to a person that she wants to have sex.
“I have friends who say, ‘We went on a date, and we clicked. And now, I’m so attracted to them.’ I just don’t understand how you get there. I just feel like you just don’t really know that person at all after one or two dates.”
“A lot of people go to bed with someone after they’ve been dating for a month, three max. That speed is just way too fast for me. And a lot of people aren’t willing to wait around.”
Minnie has dated a few people, but in almost all cases, her partners (all male) have wanted to have sex more often than she does. it’s been even harder to explain because no one talks about demisexuality. In fact, she only learned the term a couple of years ago.
I wanted to know whether sex was fun for Minnie. Like, take the element of emotions and attraction out for a minute. Did any part of it feel good?
“I don’t need to masturbate,” she told me. “It bores me. It’s like asking someone who’s not a sports fan if they want to have a long conversation about the Giants.”
“I’ve had orgasms. It really does feel like a sneeze.”
Me: Was it a pleasurable sneeze for you?
“If you don’t have it, then it just feels like the sneeze you almost had. Like, now my nose is itching…” she said.
Aside from being Demisexual, Minnie also believes she’s somewhere on the autism spectrum. It’s often hard for her to understand the interactions she has with people, or figure out whether someone is flirting with her. So there’s often the element of uncertainty when she meets a new friend, compounded by the stress that they might want something more from her, something she doesn’t want to give them.
Without the lure of desire and the promise of pleasure, the idea of sex became more like a burden, something fraught with danger — physical and emotional. Minnie told me that she didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. So on the days when she didn’t have marching band practice, she’d often come home from school and spend hours poring over the day’s newspaper. Back then, the AIDS crisis was in full swing. No one really knew what was making so many people so sick. She read about it every day. And it scared the hell out of her.
So Minnie has experienced a lot of mismatched desires in her relationships when it comes to sex.
She dated one guy who was polyamorous for a while. He had other lovers. That worked well, in a way, because it took some of the pressure off of Minnie to have sex. But on the other hand, the guy still wanted to have sex twice a week, which was way more than she wanted to do.
But there was one person who she did want to have sex with. It was a man she worked with. She’d known him for four or five years before they really started becoming friends. I’ll call him by his initial, “T,” at Minnie’s request.
Because she’s more of a loner, Minnie doesn’t have a ton of close friends. This guy became someone who she could trust for nonjudgmental support.
“I called him once when I was on a work trip in D.C. It was the first one I’d ever been on. It was my first day and I was walking around and I got totally lost and I was tired and starving. I had no idea where to go. So I called him up on the phone. He just told me, ‘Calm down, you’re ok! Just go up to the nearest person and ask them were you can find a good meal.’
I did what T said. The nearest person was this nice, older, doorman. He pointed me to a restaurant across the street and told me to order the mussels. They were delicious. Then I was totally fine.”
“T was someone who I could call, you know? He wouldn’t tell me I was stupid or judge. He’d just listen and try to help.”
After years of knowing one another and months of becoming closer and closer friends, Minnie and T were texting every day and having dinner together at least once a week. Finally, Minnie kissed T. A while after that, they also slept together. For the first time, she actually wanted to have sex.
But by the time that happened, T also had a girlfriend. The girlfriend, suspecting something was going on, moved in and demanded that T stop talking to Minnie entirely.
They tried to meet up and be friends, but they would end up having sex and eventually, he told her he couldn’t see her anymore.
“I think it’s hard for him to see me and not have the urge to sleep with me. But now that I don’t see him anymore, I wonder, were we even friends? I’d like to think so, but I don’t know. I wish I could meet someone who just wanted to be friends until we got to know each other better,” she said.
“My aunt and my uncle who grew up in Hong Kong were friends for 7 years before they kissed or anything,” she said. “Not that things were all that great back in that era, but, a really long courtship sounds nice to me.”
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