You’re probably here because you’ve wondered, what is demisexuality? What does demisexual mean? Am I a demisexual!?
I can’t wait to help you answer all of those questions!
Over the last few years we’ve seen a great expansion surrounding the terms we used to describe the continuum of sexual identities and orientations. Demisexual is one such term.
You might have heard the word in movies, tv shows and books. But, do you know what it means? If you’re anything like I was, probably not. But I’m so happy you’re here to find out!
What is Demisexuality?
I am so glad you asked! But I will warn you, we’re wading into the waters of deep philosophical conversation. Like most things having to deal with sex and sexuality, there is no black and white, clear-cut answer.
Every individual experience with demisexuality is different and unique to them. All I can do is talk about it as I’ve experienced it and as it has been shared with me.
Without further ado, the short and sweet explanation is that demisexuality necessitates the existence of an emotional bond before sexual attraction develops.
As an emotional connection is a mandatory precursor to sexual attraction, and we all know how difficult and rare it is to develop a meaningful emotional connection, a demisexual may seem to have much less interest in sexual activity than the general population.
When a demisexual has a crush or feels attraction to somebody, it’s a big deal!
The Emotional Connection
So, demisexuals need an emotional connection, is that all?
This is perhaps the biggest reason demisexuality is so difficult to explain.
We’re told throughout our lives that sex is better with someone we love, someone we trust. As a demisexual, my reaction to this is well duh.
Many of my friends have spoken about sexy times being better when they have an emotional connection with someone. But, they learnt that by having those same experiences without an emotional connection. It was a light bulb moment for them.
For them sex without emotion is good/ fine/ perfectly adequate; sex with an emotional connection is great. They will continue to have good sex – the kind without an emotional connection.
A demisexual has no interest in sharing that sort of physical intimacy with someone without a strong emotional bond. It does not mean they lack interest in sex, simply they don’t desire sex without an emotional bond.
How does a demisexual form this emotional connection?
As with all things, each individual experience with sexual intimacy, orientation and identity will be different.
For demisexuals, emotional intimacy is the main component in sexual attraction. Which means they may find themselves attracted to people they know well – friends, co-workers, etc.
Speaking for myself, it’s not as though I plan to find myself attracted to anyone. Sexual attraction is often surprising and arrives after sharing a deep conversation.
One important thing to remember is that an emotional connection does not guarantee sexual attraction. Just like a straight person doesn’t find themselves attracted to every member of the opposite sex they encounter, a demisexual doesn’t find themselves attracted to everyone they have a emotional connection with.
How long does it take to form this bond?
Again, I will say, it varies from person to person and situation to situation. Sexual attraction is an intimate and personal experience, it is unpredictable at the best of times. As with any relationship, friendly or otherwise, building an emotional connection depends on several individual and situational factors and cannot be reduced to concrete formula.
Sometimes a demisexual will develop a sexual attraction for someone after years of friendship. Other times those feelings will develop after a short but emotionally intense experience – being stuck in an elevator, or going on a road trip together.
Let’s again remember, an emotional bond doesn’t guarantee that sexual attraction will happen. It is just a prerequisite for it to occur at all.
Demisexuality and Sex
How do demisexuals feel about sex?
As with any group sex is a very personal activity. It is often uncomfortable to discuss our opinions or thoughts surrounding it, whether we’re partaking in the activity or now, especially if those answers differ from the norm.
Just like any other group of people, the feelings demisexuals have toward sex differ from person to person. A demisexuals feelings regarding sex and sexual activities can range from being repulsed or entirely uninterested in sex to greatly enjoying it with the right partner.
It’s difficult or impractical to try defining the feelings of an entire group toward a topic as broad, intimate and individual as sex. The defining characteristic of a demisexual is that sexual attraction forms after an emotional bond. All feelings about sex and sexual activities are valid under the demisexual umbrella.
Let’s also remember that peer pressure and the desire to fit in and be normal affect demisexuals as much as they do anyone else. Regardless of sexual attraction or emotional connection, a demisexual might decide to have sex for several valid reasons.
How is being demisexual different from being asexual?
Figuring out exactly how demiexuality and asexuality are different isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not unheard of for a demisexual to identify as asexual until the development of an emotional bond and suddenly, for the first time ever, or in a long while, they feel sexual attraction.
If we think about sexuality as a spectrum with asexuality and no sexual desire on one side and pansexual or allosexual (a person who feels sexual desire) on the other, most people will fall somewhere in the middle. It is not uncommon for many people to feel sexual attraction in the absence of a close emotional bond.
An asexual person is someone who feels little to no sexual attraction and has little to no interest in sex.
While demisexuality falls on the more asexual side of the spectrum, people who identify as demisexual do feel sexual attraction. It may not be often and only with specific people, but we have those feelings and desires.
It is easy to mistake a demisexual as asexual, we’ve probably made that mistake ourselves. In general demisexuals do not feel sexual attraction. It’s entirely possible for a demisexual to go through life only feeling attraction to a few people, or even just a single person.
Indeed, demisexuals and asexuals have much in common. There is a disinterest in sex and a marked absence of sexual attraction in most situations. They may find kindred spirits in each other as it is often difficult and uncomfortable having to explain and often justify a lack of sexual attraction or desire to partake in random hook ups in many social situations.
However, despite all the similarities, the biggest difference is that demisexuals can, and do, experience sexual attraction. This attraction may only occur upon the formation of an emotional bond, but it happens.
Isn’t it normal not to want to have sex with someone you don’t know?
Foremost, it’s possible to feel an attraction towards someone and not want to have sex with them for many valid reasons. There is a difference between being sexually attracted to someone and wanting to have sex with them.
We know that we can’t control who we’re attracted to any more than we can control our eye color or height. Sexual attraction is one of those things that we either have or we don’t – you either have sexual feelings for someone or you don’t.
As humans, we can (an often do) fight it. But when push comes to shove, we can’t force those feelings to go away, anymore than we can force them to show up.
Sexual behavior, having or not having sex with someone, is completely within our realm of control. Being demisexual differs from practicing abstinence, fighting temptation, or not having sex with someone for any other reason.
Demisexuality is not a conscious choice to abstain from sexual activity. It is the fact that in the absence of an emotional connection that desire and those feelings do not exist.
Why do demisexuals need a label?
From a philosophical perspective labels help us feel like we belong, like we’re not so different from everyone else. Labels are helpful in creating a sense of community and validating a person’s sense of themselves.
These benefits apply as much to demisexuals as any other group. It’s reassuring to know there are other people like me out there. Knowing a community of people like you exists is comforting. We all want to feel we belong and finding a community of people with similar worldviews and experiences is valuable and validating.
Take a quick look at the world we live in, full of cat-calling and unsolicited pick-up lines. It’s clear people have sexual feelings for people they see on the street, at work or in class. People they may have hardly spoken to. Or, in the case of celebrities, never have spoken to at all.
Sexual feelings that seem so commonplace in our very sexualized world can be confusing and foreign to demisexuals. It would be foolish to underestimate the value of emotional support and practical advice offered by people who understand.
It’s not surprising that a demisexual may find themselves feeling confused, overwhelmed and alienated by the world in which they live. This label helps decrease those feelings, it brings a sense of security and normalcy to an identity that few understand.
When answering the question of what is demisexuality, the label is comforting and reassuring for anyone wondering if they should apply the label to themselves. It offers a way to direct questions, concerns, to find and offer support and to feel a bit less alone.