I'm a Late-Bloomer Demisexual, and I'm Worried That I'm Screwed

I'm 23 years old, and I'm already so disappointed in dating.

You see, by now I thought I would be able to look back and "thank u, next" à la Ariana Grande at my modest list of ex-lovers, but . . . I have none. And I'm ashamed of that. I could have had my fair share of relationships by now. It's not a matter of thinking I'm not good enough or way too good for anyone, either. Things just have never felt right enough for me to put myself in such a vulnerable position with anybody. And a big part of that is because I'm demisexual.

[Dating app culture has made] it that much harder for those of us who need to date at a slower rhythm and really get to know someone first.

Being demisexual means I can't feel any sexual attraction with a person without an established emotional connection. It has everything to do with attraction, both romantic and sexual, and nothing to do with orientation, or what gender(s) you're attracted to. And when you factor this into our current dating sphere (online dating, dating apps, etc.), you may arrive at the conclusion that I'm f*cked — or at least I have.

Dating apps have revolutionized how we score dates and also how we think of potential prospects. Not only are we commodifying others on a regular basis, but we're doing the same to ourselves as part of the modern rhythm of dating and finding love. Of course, casual dating and hooking up are not novel concepts, nor are they wrong if everyone involved is having a good time. But now that we have these apps at the tips of our fingers, this behavior has become the norm for many, making it that much harder for those of us who need to date at a slower rhythm and really get to know someone first.

To keep up with this dating pace, I've forced myself to "get with the times" and be casual about things, hoping that'll be enough for me to be able to feel somewhat of a connection. But like anyone else, I have needs. And I have a trace of a libido. It's just very particular about what it likes. It likes trust and comfort. And as hard (and lonely) as it can sometimes be, I had to start honoring that.

And I know dating apps aren't all bad. A lot of them really do work, and I've heard many cute stories of friends meeting their partners online. Most of these, however, started with casual sex, which, again, is totally cool. It's just that, for me, that's not really plausible.

So how the hell does someone like me find love (and eventually sex)? I'm not sure, but I'm hoping it can still happen. And as disappointed and unsure as I am about my prospects, I still have hope that someone for me is out there. It took me a while to really accept myself for who I truly am, and I'm really proud of the fact that I no longer put myself in situations that make me feel uncomfortable. I just hope someone respects that enough to not write me off right away.

I know it might take a while, but I really want things to happen organically. Not fully understanding my sexual identity led me to feel isolated and confused for a long time, but by embracing my true self, I no longer have to compromise. I deserve the best, and if it takes a little longer for me to find that, I'm willing to wait.