There is an increasingly expanding list of terms used to describe people and their sexual identities as we as a society begin recognising and accepting our differences when it comes to sexual orientation.
One term that is being used with increasing regularity is demisexual; a term that falls under the asexual umbrella. If you’re unsure what it means to be demisexual, or perhaps you’re wondering if you align with this sexual identity, here’s everything you need to know.
What is the definition of demisexual?
Demisexual refers to someone who only feels sexually attracted to another person when they have a deep emotional connection with them. And while it might seem as though that could sound like many people, there are a few nuances to demisexuality.
According to MindBodyGreen, a demisexual person’s experience falls between asexuality (where a person doesn’t experience sexual attraction) and allosexuality (where a person does experience sexual attraction).
A demisexual person can be of any gender and can be straight, gay or any other sexual orientation.
You might be thinking, “Don’t a lot of people wait to form an emotional connection before they have sex?” And this is true. However, it’s not the same thing, as there are many reasons why someone might abstain from sex, for example, religion.
The Demisexuality Resource Center describes the difference as, “Sexual attraction isn’t something you can control — either you have sexual feelings for someone or not. You can’t force it to happen, and you can’t force it to go away, so you don’t have a choice in the matter. Sexual behaviour, on the other hand, is something you can choose to participate in, or not.”
They add that demisexuals are part of the asexual community because they don’t feel sexual attraction for the most part. They are usually only attracted to a small number of people in their lifetime, or maybe even just one person.
“The thing that makes them different from asexuals is that they are capable of feeling sexual attraction — it’s just that it only happens after they form a deep emotional bond with someone,” the organisation writes.
What are signs you might be demisexual?
Demisexuality is unique to each person, but there are some common characteristics. Here are some that may point you in the right direction if you’re unsure.
- You’ve never felt immediate sexual attraction to someone or even a celebrity.
- It takes a while for you to develop a sexual attraction.
- You’ve never had a random celebrity crush, but you do have crushes on people in your inner circle.
- You have no interest in a random hook up or one night stand.
- Sexual attraction doesn’t come for you unless you’ve known someone for some time.
- Usually, you feel sexual attraction after you really get to know someone.
- You don’t understand how others can be sexually attracted to someone before forming a close romantic bond.
- You might have had sex with a partner before but weren’t sexually attracted to your partner.
- Porn doesn’t appeal to you.
If the term feels right for you, then it’s OK for you to use it. You might decide later that it doesn’t fit you and that’s OK, too.
Lidia Buonaiuto, a woman who identifies as demisexual, told The Guardian, “It’s been really helpful to identify with something that makes me feel comfortable about my sexuality. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself and have had a lot of pressure from friends and family to be a way I’m not.
“I can’t have one-night stands or sexual escapades or fancy a random person who is interested in me. I don’t have that desire at all, my brain doesn’t work that way and I forced myself into situations that just ended up giving me a lot of emotional distress.”
Can you be demisexual and another sexual orientation?
“Being demisexual doesn’t mean you can’t also identify with other sexualities such as homosexuality, pansexuality, bisexuality, and even asexuality,” Megwyn White, certified clinical sexologist and director of education at sexual wellness brand Satisfyer, recently told MindBodyGreen.
For example, a person could be gay and demisexual or a different combination.
“In many ways, sexuality is a fluid process in learning through the experience of connection. There are so many ways to be intimate that go beyond sexual, and in many ways, demisexuality orients you toward wanting to experience a broader spectrum of intimacy than just sexual,” White added.
How does demisexual dating work?
If your partner identifies as demisexual, it’s important to honour their boundaries and not pressure them.
Everyone experiences attraction and romance in a different way. However, demisexual people might:
- Not be interested in sex with their partner
- Wait until they feel extremely close to their partner before having sex
- Have consensual sex with their partner without being sexually attracted to them
- Be very sexually attracted to their partner and enjoy having sex
Are there any communities for demisexual people?
There is also a demisexual flag, which is similar to the asexual flag:
How to be a better ally?
While you might not initially understand demisexuality, it’s important not to discount people who identify this way. Listen to their experiences and believe them. Do some research yourself, rather than assuming your friend or partner will be the person educating you.