Although the main focus has strayed from them since they became an official couple, Demi and Kristian’s relationship on Bachelor in Paradise just returned to the forefront in a very powerful way. Demi admitted that she isn’t as comfortable displaying public affection as Kristian is, which opened up a larger conversation about what it’s like to navigate your first gay relationship after coming out. A lot of LGBTQ+ folk on Twitter remembered feeling the same way Demi did, knowing that society is far less accepting of same-gender relationships.
The struggle began when Demi noticed Kristian being physically affectionate with the other girls on the beach. She would touch their shoulders while laughing with them or hug them goodbye. Then, they ended up talking about their love languages with Katie, whose relationship with Chris cleared a huge hurdle with their first one-on-one date. Kristian told Katie that she likes physical touch, and Demi isn’t a very touchy person. Demi was visibly annoyed by the comment, and then Nicole arrived with a date card with Demi’s name on it.
“I’m irritated," she said. ‘I don’t wanna go on a date right now.” In a confessional, she went on to say that she has never liked to show affection in a group setting. But then she began to get emotional and explain how that hesitation has been amplified by the fact that she’s in a relationship with another woman.
“It has everything to do with me being comfortable with being gay around people," she said. "I’m still holding back because I’m scared." Although those feelings were totally valid and understandable, she still blamed herself for "not giving [Kristian] enough." She felt guilty and feared that it would eventually drive a wedge between them. Not to mention, she felt resentful toward Kristian for what she assumed to be flirtatious behavior with the others. She felt very under pressure.
"I’m getting there," she said. “I wanna give her what she needs, but I’m still uncomfortable with it because I don’t want people to be like, ‘That’s weird.’” Despite her confusion and hesitation, Demi took Kristian on the date. Kristian could immediately sense that something was wrong, and they sat down for a heart-to-heart.
Demi revealed her observations and fears, that she was frustrated with her PDA with others. Kristian assured her that those interactions were in no way romantic or sexual, that it’s simply how she shows care and friendliness toward those she loves. Demi went on to explain her issue with PDA. “I just don’t like PDA," she said. "It’s just something that I don’t like.” She also mentioned that she didn’t grow up around the display of much physical touch, which contributed to her discomfort.
Some viewers misunderstood Demi’s anxieties because of her previous displays of affection with men in the franchise (i.e. Colton’s season of The Bachelor and her hot tub make out session with Derek in Paradise). They are failing to take into account that a same-gender relationship makes the situation — and the feelings — entirely different. Her affection with men on the show is normalized and therefore largely accepted by society. That with women, unfortunately, is not. But that’s why it’s so important for couples like Demi and Kristian to have a platform, and Paradise had provided that.
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