Demisexuality can be really difficult to explain. People often confuse it with purity culture, celibacy, and abstinence.
From the outside looking in, demisexuality looks a lot like those things. The difference comes from the thought process, the absence of sexual attraction vs. the act of diligently resisting sexual urges.
What is demisexuality?
Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where a person only experiences sexual attraction after they have an established emotional connection.
What is purity culture?
Celibacy, abstinence, simply not having sex is a goal and an achievement when we’re discussing purity culture. It is based on the idea that sex is dirty, shameful and something to be done only in very limited and specific circumstances.
Lust the most vile of vices and something everyone should fight against in order to remain righteous.
The foundation of purity culture is a promise to God, oneself and their families to remain “pure” by not having sex, or taking part in certain sexual acts until marriage.
Why demisexuality and purity culture are not the same
When I say, “I’m not sexually attracted to anybody without a strong emotional connection,” people assume it’s because of some sort of moral or ethical reasons. They find it hard to believe that sexual attraction and the urge to act on it are not something I’m fighting every moment of the day.
In some ways, asexuality and, by extension, demisexuality undermines the crowning feature of purity culture. Demisexuality is the absence of sexual attraction until a strong emotional connection is established.
It has nothing to do with religion, family pressure,
Do purity culture and demisexuality overlap?
Some time ago, I had a conversation with a demisexual who grew up in a religious household. She recalled how much her peers seemed to struggle to fight against their sexual urges and keep their purity vows. She didn’t understand why it was so easy for her when everyone else had such a hard time.
I think this story is very telling as far as the internal processes that lead someone to embrace purity culture vs. demisexuality. A demisexual or anyone else on the asexual spectrum may be religious, they may even take part in purity culture.
The difference is that for a demisexual, there is no sexual attraction in the absence of an emotional connection. This lack of attraction has nothing to do with morals or righteousness.
For many people, sexual attraction is something they experience regularly. It is something to be suppressed because of an obligation to God or their family.
The challenge is that purity culture commends a person on fighting their primal impulses and not having sex, even though they really, really want to. If everything I’ve heard is to be believed, fighting these urges is a constant battle.
When you experience no sexual attraction or very limited sexual attraction, fighting those urges becomes a lot easier.
The important thing to remember from all of this is that your body and your sexuality belong to you and you alone. It is 100% your decision what you do and who you share those experiences with.
Following the tenants of purity culture is a choice. It is a decision that has no barring on your sexual orientation.
Demisexuality is a sexual orientation that is beyond our control.
Regardless of your thoughts and your stance on religion and purity culture, your demisexuality is completely valid on its own. It can stand entirely apart from any religious, moral or ethical values.