Let me start with a confession. For a long time, I didn’t know the term ‘demisexual’. I just knew that I’m not into instant gratification in romantic settings. I always thought something was missing, because my friends used to call me ‘old-fashioned’. That was the word.

Even until December 2019, I identified as a gay man. Eventually, I identified as a non-binary person because I don’t really fit into the understanding of what a male is. There’s a weight that comes with being masculine that the best of us can’t keep up with, and what is expected of you as a man. I wanted to get rid of that. The thing about identifying is that people love to hate labels. As a person who does not really fit in, they again want to put you in a box. And then you have to keep telling yourself that non-binary isn’t just a box.

Sexuality is a process, and so is identifying as demisexual. To explain it in simple words, a demisexual is a person who can experience sexual attraction to someone they’re emotionally connected with. I mean, that’s me, and I have finally found the right word to tell the world my ‘relationship status’. My bio on my Tinder profile says ‘straight out of Jane Austin novel’. Because I really am. For me, love is a process. It takes time to warm up, and nothing is instant. I don’t believe in anything that is instantaneous, not even noodles. Everything has to be a process, just like my daily cup of tea.

I know, I know, sounds idealistic. It can also be frustrating, because we are living in a world where everything is expected out of you instantly. Like instant attraction, instant text, instant love. In the queer world, it is so rare in India to actually meet someone who you vibe with. And even when you do meet someone, what is expected of you is really instant. Nobody wants to wait around, and it’s not always fun to negotiate the need for more connection.

There’s this big misconception that demisexuals are not sexually active. Please, that’s not true. There’s no asexuality to being demisexual. Demisexuals love sex, the difference is that sex comes out of a deeper connection. I don’t think I’m asexual at all; just because I take time to feel sexually attracted to someone, does not make me asexual.

In fact, in retrospect, no wonder my first love was my best friend in school. He was really the one who I understood and had a deep emotional bond with, and we were growing together. That made me feel very sexually attracted to him. My last relationship, too, was not driven by instant attraction. It was a long-distance relationship, he was in Germany and I was in India, so I decided to go see him and spend two months in Germany. I was clear with him that it’s not going to be like we meet at the airport, and we’re in bed immediately. We need to go out on dates, get to know each other, first. And for a month, that’s what we did. That’s when I stopped judging myself for what I want.

To quote a famous line from Kuch Kuch Hota Haipyaar dosti hai is perfectly applicable to demisexuality. If he’s not going to be my best friend, it’s not going to go anywhere. First dates are huge deals, it’s almost like a make-or-break thing. So, my future potential boyfriend, please don’t get scared. I am working towards wholly accepting myself.

While 2020 sucked for the dating market, it was actually the demisexual’s year. It gave us time to really get to know people, albeit virtually, and find out if we feel that connection. There was no pressure of meeting, there was no pressure of being physically there. I will admit I missed cuddling, 2020 has been about authentic connections, and tricky situations, and knowing how much time you are investing in potential relationships. 2021 is going to be the year where the relationships I forged in 2020 will be taken to the next level. Let’s face it, talking to someone virtually and actually being in the same room as them are two different things. Will love be in the air? Will the third date finally result in something? I’m excited to see.

Demisexuality is a label, and I stand by it. I stand by all my labels — gay, non-binary, demisexual. I am explaining who I am, and I am unapologetic about it. I’m not a prude for wanting emotional connection before having sex, and if I don’t judge one-night stands, no one gets to judge me too, right?

It’s 2021. Live your fucking fantasies. Make this the year to be who you are. I know I’m interested in seeing how my 2020 cookies crumble in person, in the new year.

To stronger bonds. To love.