Being Demisexual: Everything you need to know

Being Demisexual: everything you need to know

You might be here because you’re wondering if you are demisexual… Perhaps you’ve met someone who told you they’re demisexual… Or maybe you heard the word in a book, tv show or movie and you’re wondering what being demisexual means.

I’m so glad you’re here. Demisexuals get little attention in popular culture. We’re pretty much invisible, written off as being picky, playing hard to get or labelled prudes.

There seems to be a lack of understanding and education surrounding what exactly it means to be a demisexual. That’s what I want to change.

So, I’ve created what I think is a pretty comprehensive guide about being demisexual. I’ve answered the questions I hear asked time and time again and tried to explain this highly complex topic in the best way I know how.

You’re in for one heck of a long post, so grab your coffee and get comfortable.

Am I Demisexual?

I think a lot of us turn to Google when we have a question, if you’re wondering if this label fits you, I’m so glad you’re here.

Thinking back, I can remember the first time I asked myself Am I demisexual?  What exactly does it mean to be a demisexual? How do I know if I am one?

For anyone who is on a journey of self exploration or looking to get to know themselves better, those questions are super important to ask yourself.

This is especially true if the labels you once applied to yourself don’t seem to fit very well anymore. When looking to apply a label to ourselves, it’s important to research and make sure whatever label we choose truly is the best fit.

No pressure, you have all the time in the world. Try the label on, see if it’s the right fit for you.

Whether you define yourself as demisexual or any other label along the continuum, when you find a label that fits, it’s empowering. Labels such as this bring about feelings of connection and community. You know you’re not alone, there are others who understand, who can answer any questions you may have.

What does Demisexual mean exactly?

To put it simply, demisexuality is a sexual preference where the emotional connection comes before sexual attraction.

While every emotional bond doesn’t lead to sexual attraction; every instance of sexual attraction is underlined with an emotional bond.

Because it is so rare for a demisexual to experience sexual attraction or desire, it’s not unheard of for them to but put under the label of asexuality. However, this label fits about as well as the other labels we try to place upon ourselves and leads to years of confusion and frustration.

Why do we need a Demisexual label?

Labels are an important part of life for most of us. They mean we can categorize and predict the likely response of a person in any situation. The demisexual label helps us to predict the response of a demisexual when confronted with a potential sexual partner.

Recognizing and taking ownership of our identity as demisexuals allows a person to slowly chip away the isolation that comes with being different. It fosters a sense of belonging and provides the comfort and knowledge that you’re not alone. There are other people like you.

I see people roll their eyes when demisexuality comes up. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked, “isn’t it normal to build an emotional connection with someone before having sex with them?”

While there is a point there, it’s minimizing the things that makes demisexuals so unique.

We’re not waiting for an emotional connection to have sex. We’re not following an arbitrary set of rules like going on three dates or knowing their mother’s maiden name before hopping into bed together.

For demisexuals, it’s not about ‘waiting’ to have sex. They have no desire to have sex without an emotional connection – there is no sexual attraction.

People who identify as demisexual have no interest or desire in sex before the formation of an emotional connection. Thoughts of such intimate interactions without an emotional bond are repulsive.

How do I know if I’m Demisexual?

Another tough question because like every other sexuality, being demisexual looks different to different people.

I will throw out a few statements that describe the demisexual experience and you can decide if they’re true for you.

  • I have no interest in one-night stands or intimacy with someone I’m don’t have an emotional connection with, even if that person is good looking.
  • Sometimes I’m surprised by my attraction to someone, especially after a deep conversation or being near them for a time.
  • Most of the people I have been sexually attracted to were people I considered close friends.
  • People often think I’m playing hard to get, when really I’m just not interested.

Like I’ve said the demisexual experience is different for everyone. I’m not a researcher and this isn’t a scientifically validated quiz. Just food for thought and scenarios that I’ve seen as true for myself and some other demisexuals I know.

When you say emotional bond, are you talking about love?

I’m not. An emotional bond or connection can mean love. But, it can also mean friendship and camaraderie.

The bond doesn’t have to be romantic to beget sexual feelings, it just has to be there.

This emotional bond may not be based in love or romance. It can absolutely be friendly and strictly platonic. It’s not even necessary to love the person – romantically or platonically – at all.

A demisexual might feel sexual attraction toward a person after knowing them for several years. They might also feel the same sexual attraction for someone they have only known a short while.

There is no hard and fast rule for the nature or duration of the emotional bond just that it has to exist.

Something to Remember

It’s entirely possible to be sexually attracted to someone and not have sex with them. Just like it’s possible to have sex with someone you don’t feel attracted to.

When a demisexual enters a sexual relationship with someone, it’s not because they have put off being intimate with them for whatever reason. It’s because they have suddenly found themselves sexually attracted to that person.

With that said, demisexuals are a varied as the rest of the population and they very well might hold off on having sex with someone for many valid reasons. This is a personal choice and has nothing to do with their sexual orientation or preferences.

Does an emotional bond guarantee that sexual attraction will develop?

No, of course not! Sexual attraction is as random and unpredictable for demisexuals as it is for everyone else.

Here is some perspective. Heterosexual men are sexually attracted to women. However, they’re not sexually attracted to every woman. They’re not even attracted to every woman with a certain physical characteristic (a particular hair color, chest size, body type, etc.).

In that same way a demisexual isn’t attracted to everyone they have an emotional connection with.

Demisexuality and Asexuality

How can I be sure I’m not asexual?

That is a great question, and the source of a lot of debate and confusion in the community.

You might be asexual. With that said, many demisexuals once identified as asexual before finding themselves feeling sexual attraction toward a specific person.

Choose the label that fits you best at this point in time. It’s not static you will not be stuck with it forever if at some point you realize it’s not fitting so well anymore and want to change it.

A demisexual only experiences sexual attraction toward a specific person. An asexual person experiences little to no sexual attraction towards anyone.

For our purposes, sexual attraction the state of finding someone sexually appealing and wanting to have sex with them.

This differs from recognizing someone as good looking. Acknowledging and even appreciating that someone is attractive doesn’t cause or imply any sexual desire.

Do I fit under the asexual umbrella?

If you’re asking, you probably fit somewhere under the asexual umbrella.

Unfortunately, there is no quick test to determine exactly where you fit or label you as asexual, graysexual or demisexual.

Here are some things to consider when trying to find the label that fits you best.

Who am I usually sexually attracted to?

What is your relationship with those people?

How often do you experience sexual attraction?

Is sexual attraction an important factor in who you date?

How intense is the attraction?

Do you feel sexually attracted to strangers and acquaintances?

Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer and the answer will differ from person to person. It’s just some food for thought to help start the conversation and get to know ourselves a little better.

Let’s Talk about the Asexual Spectrum

It’s accepted that sexuality is a spectrum, or continuum. We have asexual on one side and allosexual on the other.

Somewhere in the middle is what we call graysexuality. The term graysexual is used to describe someone who does not frequently and/ or intensely experience sexual attraction.

For graysexuals, the ability to feel attraction is still there, as is the desire to act on it. But it is not strong or persistent.

Demisexuality and Graysexuality

How is being Demisexual different from being Graysexual?

We have, I hope, established that demisexuality falls somewhere on the asexual – allosexual spectrum.

Graysexuality is the catch-all term that covers the middle of the spectrum. It covers the fluid area between people who are sexual and people who are not. So in that way, being demisexual and graysexual are similar.

However, demisexuals may or may not identify as asexual depending on the frequency and intensity of their sexual attraction.

The defining characteristic for demisexuals is the emotional connection. It wouldn’t be unheard of for them to experience sexual attraction with great frequency and intensity – just with people they’re close to.

Likewise, a person who identifies as graysexual experiences sexual attraction whether or not that have an emotional bond with that person.

Can you be Graysexual and Demisexual at the same time?

Absolutely!

Sexuality is a complex and multi-faceted topic. It’s unique and individual and there truly is no right or wrong way to do it.

It’s perfectly valid for a person to be demisexual and graysexual or demisexual and asexual at the same time.

It is also equally valid to fluctuate between orientations. This is all about finding the right fit for you and sometimes that changes.

Can you move between periods of sexuality and asexuality or to different places on the spectrum?

Of course! As our lives and situations change, it makes sense for our place on the spectrum to change as well.

Move between asexual, graysexual and allosexual as much as you need to. You may also choose not to adopt any of these labels.

When emotionally connected and attracted to someone, a demisexual might most closely identify as allosexual. The attraction is frequent and intense –  even if only directed toward one person. When they don’t have that connection and attraction to someone, they may feel most comfortable identifying as asexual.

We know that sexuality and sexual orientation are fluid. The things we find attractive shift. The emotional connection that once drew us to a person may fade, and that’s okay.

It’s important to remember that change is a normal, natural and expected byproduct of getting to know ourselves better.

The change doesn’t minimize or invalidate any of our previous labels or identities. It doesn’t mean your old label was “just a phase” or that we weren’t whatever we identified with before.

As always, the goal is to be comfortable with ourselves, in our own skin and with our place in the world. Labels can help us do that, but if we get too hung up on them, they can also hold us back.

Further Considerations

Debates, gatekeeping and segmentation are harsh facts in pretty much any community. The demisexual, asexual and LGBT+ communities are no exception.

It’s human nature to want to limit group membership, for several reasons. It’s a difficult if not impossible problem to conquer. I’m choosing to deal with this phenomenon by acknowledging that it exists, discussing it, then shrugging my shoulders and saying “it doesn’t matter.”

Some people will argue that demisexuality and demisexuals don’t belong under the asexual umbrella. There are plenty of arguments for and against this but most center on the idea that asexuals do not feel sexual attraction. It doesn’t consider the frequency or intensity of the attraction.

Demisexuality is a statement of the conditions under which a person feels sexual attraction. It’s as varied and complicated as you would expect something so personal to be.

Demisexual Considerations

It’s entirely possible for a demisexual to only find themselves sexually attracted to a handful of people over the course of their life. Alternatively, they may find that even when they feel attraction, it is never intense or overwhelming. These demisexuals may identify strongly with asexual or graysexual communities.

Alternatively, a demisexual may also find themselves sexually attracted to many (or even all) of their closest friends. Chances are they don’t feel any attraction toward people with whom they don’t have an emotional bond – strangers or acquaintances. If the attraction is intense, the demisexuals in this group may not identify as asexual at all.

Everyone is Welcome Here

Personally, I feel strongly that labels and community are important. But, sex and sexual topics are generally taboo and uncomfortable to discuss at the best of times. This is especially true for demisexuals.

When push comes to shove, you’re welcome here, no matter what.  Feel free to join The Demisexual Group on Facebook. It is a safe place to talk, to ask questions, get answers. It’s a place to learn about ourselves and others who are like us. Maybe we can even make a couple friends along the way.

If you identify as demisexual, whether you identify as asexual doesn’t really matter. As demisexuals we feel sexual attraction in very limited circumstances. While those circumstances will differ between individuals, compared to the general public, it is limited.

Perhaps the best answer to the asexual – demisexual question is that it doesn’t really matter what anybody else thinks. Take on the label and join the community you identify with and interact if you’re comfortable.

There are few things more personal than sex and sexuality. This is about you and no one else has a place to judge or make you feel less than or like you don’t belong.

Can I be Gay/ Straight/ Bi/ Pan and Demisexual?

The short answer is: YES, absolutely.

Demisexuality refers to the circumstances under which a person feels sexual attraction and doesn’t offer any stipulation for the gender that attraction is directed toward.

As a sexual orientation it is a testament to the relationship between us and the people we’re attracted to. It’s valid to add a label describing the gender orientation of your attraction.

You absolutely can be demisexual and homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc. at the same time.

Choose the label/ labels that fit you and your current situation. As we get to learn more about ourselves and others around us, our labels may very well change and that’s ok. Be as specific as you want to or feel comfortable being.

Demisexuals and Attraction?

I’ve occasionally been asked if demisexuals experience other types of sexual attraction. The answer? Oh my goodness, yes!

Demisexuals can, and do, experience all forms of attraction. Including but not limited to:

Platonic (friendly) Attraction: There is no romantic attraction to this person, but you enjoy spending time together, sharing laughs and talking to each other. Romantic attraction for a demisexual typically starts here.

Romantic Attraction: This involves wanting to have a romantic relationship with someone. For a demisexual, this typically happens after they form an emotional bond.

Subjective Physical (sexual) Attraction: This is what my friends seem to experience when they see the good-looking barista or watch a movie with Liam Hemsworth in it. It’s about wanting to do more than hold hands with someone. This attraction usually forms regardless of whether you know them well, or even at all. A demisexual may look at someone differently after getting to know them. The distinguishing factor here is that this attraction hinges on knowing someone and liking their personality.

Objective Physical (sexual) Attraction: I find myself here a lot. It’s when I know someone is good looking, when I know they have a winning personality, but I just don’t have the feelings I need to pursue a relationship. It’s when I usually say you’re not right for me, but I have a friend… 

Entrepreneurial Attraction: There’s something to be said for surrounding yourself with people you work well with. You may be more attracted to pursuing a business venture with that person rather than pursuing a relationship. But for demisexuals emotional connections can come in all shapes and sizes and discussing business matters may be the catalyst they need to get to the next level.

Mental Attraction: This is usually the result of having things in common with another person. You may find someone who loves the same music you do, or always has an amazing book recommendation to give you. Just like with entrepreneurial attraction, a demisexual may find themselves attracted to someone after a passionate discussion on politics, religion, or band rivalries.

Demisexuals in a Relationship

Let’s start by mentioning that a demisexual may or may not want to be in a romantic relationship.

Either decision is valid and right for that person.

What does being demisexual mean in a romantic relationship?

When the right emotional bond forms, a demisexual may enter a romantic relationship.

This causes a close emotional bond and a level of trust that may not be often or easily achieved.

What about sex?

This is always a tricky discussion to have. The trust and emotional connection required to be in a relationship with someone may differ from what they need to feel sexual attraction.

It’s possible for a demisexual to be in a relationship with someone and not have sex at all, or not have sex very often. Some people consider sex an important part of a romantic relationship, some don’t.

A demisexual, or anyone else may enter a relationship for many reasons that have nothing to do with sex or sexual attraction.

In these situations the couple may choose not to have to have sex. They may build their emotional bond and have sex if/ when both parties feel sexually attracted to each other. They may even have sex with their partner in the absence of sexual attraction.

Whatever choice they make is valid. Honestly, as long as the parties in the relationship are ok with the decision they made, it’s truly no one else’s business.

Do Demisexuals have to want relationships?

Of course not!

Personally, it makes me sad to think of anyone being in a relationship they don’t want to be in for any reason. But it’s sadder when people do it because it’s what they think is expected of them.

Many people, demisexual or not, don’t desire relationships. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Being demisexual says we need a romantic connection before we feel sexual attraction. Let’s not kid ourselves, sexual attraction is different from romantic attraction.

It is entirely within the realm of possibilities for a demisexual to want to have sex with someone without wanting a relationship with them.

While we, understandably like to think of emotional attraction as the predecessor of a relationship, that need not be the case.

As a society, we’re slowly moving away from the idea that sex needs to be in the context of a committed relationship that’s as true for demisexuals as it is for everyone else. Emotional connection does not cause or imply commitment or a relationship.

Demisexuals and Sexual Activity

Do Demisexuals have Sex?

Being demisexual does has nothing to do with your ability or desire for sexual enjoyment. Simply the criteria necessary for sexual attraction to form.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, there is a big difference between sexual attraction and sexual behaviour. We know it is very possible to feel sexual attraction toward somebody and not have sex with them. It is equally possible to have sex with someone without being sexually attracted to them.

There are many perfectly reasonable and equally valid reason to have sex that don’t require sexual attraction. For example:

  • Connection and intimacy
  • To experiment and see what all the fuss is about
  • For fun and pleasure
  • To bond and build an emotional connection
  • To become pregnant

Being demisexual means we’re not sexually attracted to people we’re not emotionally connected to. However, like anyone else, we might still have sex even if we’re not sexually attracted to the other person.

With that said, a demisexual may have no desire to take part in sexual acts for those purposes.

Like any group demisexuals have different outlooks and feelings towards sex.

Some people may find themselves repulsed by the thought of sex. This means they dislike sex and thoughts of sex. They have no desire to have it. These feelings are especially strong in the absence of an emotional connection.

Others may find themselves indifferent toward sex and sexual activity. This means while they aren’t opposed to it, but they’re not seeking it out either.

Some demisexuals may see sex in a favorable light. They might desire and enjoy sexual activity, especially with the addition of an emotional connection.

None of these outlooks are unique to demisexuality and they are all perfectly reasonable in any number of situations and circumstances.

Do Demisexuals Masturbate?

Masturbation is a healthy and normal part of life for those who do it.  Demisexual people, whether they identify as asexual, graysexual, or allosexual may masturbate.

Like anyone else, they might even get joy and pleasure from it!

Every person, demisexual or not, is unique. It’s up to us all to choose the sexual acts that we’re comfortable with and take part in.

What one demisexual enjoys, another may not, and that’s alright. Masturbation, like all other things sexual is a personal choice.

Do what you’re comfortable with in a way you’re comfortable with, this truly is no one’s business but your own.

Do Demisexuals watch Porn, read Erotica or use Toys?

Just like with sex and masturbation, porn, erotica and toy usage is a personal choice.

As long as what we’re doing is safe and legal, the only important factor is us being comfortable with ourselves and whatever we’re doing.

Nothing precludes demisexuals from using any of those tools in their personal or romantic life. Whether these are the right choice for you is up to you to decide. Both choices are valid and there is nothing to be ashamed of either way.

Conclusion

As with most intimate matters being demisexual is all about personal choices and doing what’s best for you.

Do you have questions or comments about what you just read? Anything you think I should know? Let me know in the comments.

Being Demisexual

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2 thoughts on “Being Demisexual: everything you need to know”

  1. My wife who I love and trust will have sex with me sometimes if I ask, but I am very put off if I sense she doesn’t want the sex. Is this specifically an aspect of demisexuality?

    1. It certainly can be. I think it’s totally normal, to want to have sex with someone who wants it as much as you do. It shows that you care about and respect your wife enough not to want her to do something she doesn’t really want to do.

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