physical vs. mental attraction as a demisexual

Physical Attraction vs. Mental Attraction

The difference between physical or sexual attraction and mental attraction is something I often have to explain when demisexuality comes up.

So let’s talk about demisexuality as it relates to the concept of physical attraction and mental connections.

What is demisexuality?

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where a mental connection must exist before they feel physical or sexual attraction.

For this post, it is going to be very important to remember that while all forms of attraction are related; they are separate entities, and it is entirely possible to feel one form of attraction toward a person and not another.

Let’s Talk About Attraction

Since starting this blog, I have been tasked with answering the question of if demisexuals experience other types of 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.

Physical (sexual) Attraction: This sort of attraction is the biggest difference between demisexuals (or any other acespec person) and allosexuals. An allosexual might see an attractive person and immediately think about having sex with them – that’s the sexual attraction. It’s based purely on physical traits.

Entrepreneurial Attraction: There is something to be said for surrounding yourself with people you work well with. You may feel a pull 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 feeling safe and comfortable being vulnerable and sharing your true self with another person. It’s about shared interests, similar opinions, and a certain comfort felt in the presence of that person. You may find someone who loves the same music you do, or always has an amazing book recommendation to give you. A demisexual may find themselves attracted to someone after an intimate conversation or a passionate discussion on politics, religion, or band rivalries.

Sexual/ Physical Attraction

For most allosexual people, it seems physical attraction is what it’s all about. They see an attractive person and want to have sex with them. In theory, I understand this. In practice, not so much.

For me, the idea of love, or even lust, at first sight is ridiculous and has been hard to wrap my head around. It’s the stuff of romance novels and all the cheesy Christmas movies I’ve been watching lately, it’s just so far removed from my experience.

I’ve even been told that strong sexual attraction can be (and often is) mistaken for a mental one! Perhaps it’s possible to find a person so visually pleasing and want to be with them so desperately that someone can create this mental connection that doesn’t really exist. I find this fascinating, yet utterly confusing.

The fact is, we associate certain physical attributes with positive qualities. It’s entirely possible to confuse those positive qualities we associate with certain physical features, to assume their existence and build a connection where there is none.

With that said, I have enough of a social circle to have realized that physical and sexual attraction are every-day occurrences for many people.

There are, after all, attractive people everywhere.

Physical Attraction as a Demisexual

Here’s the deal, I’m demisexual – not blind. I know when someone is attractive, I can absolutely appreciate their physical attractiveness.

Like allosexuals, I’m fully aware of what makes a person physically attractive and I know when someone has a pretty face or nice body.

The difference is, thoughts of having sex with them won’t ever cross my mind. I might want to get to know them better or wonder if they’re a good person or what their hobbies are, but I won’t think about having sex with them.

For me, sexual attraction is independent of a person’s physical attractiveness and never occurs without mental connection.

Mental Attraction

While some people may find it easy to confuse physical attraction and mental connections; mental connections are ultimately quite rare.

They’re formed when you “click” with someone when you have shared interests, similar opinions and chemistry. It’s what happens when you just get each other, and that’s kind of amazing.

This is something that happens after spending one-on-one time with a person. It’s the result of building trust and lowering defenses.

Mental Attraction as a Demisexual

Mental attraction is what it’s all about for me (and probably other demisexuals). For me, a strong mental connection is the foundation for any physical or sexual attraction I might develop for a person.

It’s about those quiet moments and shared understandings. It’s giving myself permission to take off my mask and be real and vulnerable in front of them, it’s about knowing they’ll be there when I can’t be strong anymore.

Speaking for myself, and maybe other demisexuals, acting on sexual attraction is an inherently vulnerable position to allow yourself to be in. It requires a great deal of trust. That’s not something that’s always easy to give someone, but it is easier in a strong emotional connection.

Obviously, for many people sex is an activity separate from emotions and entanglements, but that’s not the case for demisexuals.

How do you know if you have a Mental Connection?

The straightforward answer is that you just know. It feels different.

Perhaps the conversation flows effortlessly no matter the topic. Or maybe the silence is comfortable, as opposed to the awkward silence you’re used to experiencing with other people.

Non-verbal communication is huge. Being able to have an entire conversation with nothing more than eye contact, knowing there is a person who will realize if the situation gets uncomfortable for you, those are the building blocks of mental attraction.

It’s not a common thing and you’ll know if/ when you find it. There’s a certain intensity to the relationship that just isn’t present with others.

The Key to Mental Attraction

But here’s the other thing that is sometimes difficult for people to understand, the magic of a mental connection is that it has to go both ways. If the attraction is one sided, we might need to take a look at ourselves and the relationship and figure out what’s going on.

Why is Mental Attraction so important?

I absolutely understand that being physically attracted to someone is important in the short term. It might even be essential for a one-night stand.

The fact is, if our goal is a long-term relationship, those things that make us physically attracted to our partner are going to change. Age and gravity aren’t exactly kind to the body. So if our relationship relies too heavily on physical attraction, and neglects the more emotional parts, the relationship is going to fall apart.

So a mental attraction is important for both allosexuals and people on the asexual spectrum alike.

Mental connections take time and effort to build. While you may experience mental attraction after a single interaction, it grows with time.

The moral of the story is that given enough time, looks will fade. Then mental connection, however, can withstand the test of time.

I’ll be honest, any sexual attraction I feel toward relates directly to how emotionally connected I feel to them. People become more attractive to me the deeper our connection grows.

To be totally honest, I don’t do casual very well, so when I enter a relationship it’s with the intention of it lasting a while. For me, mental connection is non-negotiable.

Final Thoughts

Physical and mental attraction can both play important parts in a relationship. While physical attraction may occasionally be confused for a mental connection, it is not an adequate substitute.

Physical vs. Mental attraction and what it means for demisexuals

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