In today’s world, you can identify with a whole host of terms when it comes to your sexuality. You can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and a wide range of other things. You may have heard of those terms before, but what about the term demisexual? If you’re not sure what that word means — or you’ve heard it before but aren’t sure of the definition — keep reading.
According to the Demisexuality Resource Center, the definition of demisexuality is “a sexual orientation in which one feels sexual attraction only after forming an emotional connection.” Basically, what demisexual means is that a person who identifies as such would never be interested in casual sex. Instead, they need to get to know someone on a deeper level before they can be interested in having sex with them. It’s a pretty novel concept in today’s world, where, if you wanted to, you could fall into bed with someone after just a few swipes on your smartphone.
Additionally, according to asexuality.org, people who are demisexual don’t generally have a specific gender that they are attracted to, their attraction just depends on who they find an emotional connection with. The more specific name for this is panromantic demisexual, where panromantic means your attraction is unrelated to gender.
What is Gray Asexuality?
If you’ve heard of demisexual, you may have also heard of gray asexuality. This is another term that often gets tossed around when discussing demisexuality. According to demigray.org, gray asexuality is “a catch-all term for people who aren’t quite asexual or non-asexual. There are a variety of reasons someone may choose to identify as gray; these include experiencing sexual attraction infrequently, experiencing it under specific circumstances, and more.”
While both demisexuality and gray asexuality encompass only feeling sexual attraction under specific circumstances (with demisexuality meaning that you need an emotional relationship first), they do differ. People who are gray asexual could have occasional sexual attraction, a low sex drive, or do not feel strongly about sexual attraction (even though they do feel it). People who identify as gray asexual are not necessarily demisexual, but many demisexual people do identify as a subset of gray asexuality.
What is it Like to be Demisexual?
It can be hard to answer the question “am I demisexual?” But there are a few things that many people who are demisexual relate to, which can help you identify if you are demisexual.
You’ve been called a “prude”
Since people who are demisexual have no sexual attraction without an emotional connection, others can misconstrue this as you being conservative or restrained when it comes to sex. Demisexuals aren’t interested in one-time hookups and sex-only relationships because those types of interactions lack that essential emotional component. Many people don’t understand that, and instead just consider demisexuals to be a prudish.
Sex is far from everything to you
Demisexuals can absolutely enjoy sex, but they don’t place the same amount of weight on sex that non-demisexuals do. As demigray.org explains, “Some demisexuals have a high sex drive, some have a low one, and some have one which changes… It is possible to feel sexual attraction and have no sex drive to act on it, or not feel sexual attraction and have an impulse to satisfy a sex drive.”
Conversation is crucial
When demisexuals meet someone, they want to go deep to see if that emotional connection exists. They want to know that they are compatible and that the person they’re dating has a personality they click with and are attracted to.
Personality > Looks
The most important thing to a demisexual person is a potential mate’s personality. That is what they are attracted to, and for the most part, looks (and as mentioned before, gender) do not matter as much.
All of your relationships start out as friendships
Since demisexual people have a desire to get to know people on a very intimate level before they get intimate, a lot of their relationships start off as friendships. It is very helpful to have that no-pressure relationship with another person and get to know them super well before feeling comfortable enough to take it to a sexual level.
Common Misconceptions about Demisexuals
With any nuanced sexuality, there are many misconceptions from people who are confused about what it means and can’t fully understand the definition.
Demisexuals do not fantasize about sex
As demigray.org explains, the broad range of asexual people, which can encompass demisexuals, “may enjoy [things like porn and masturbation] and still identify as such because they do not experience sexual attraction. Enjoying sexual activities does not invalidate your asexuality because attraction is not the same thing as behavior.”
Demisexuality just means you have morals
Demisexual people do not avoid casual sex because of their morals necessarily; it is because they do not have any feelings of sexual attraction when there’s no personal connection. Someone who avoids casual sex because of their religious beliefs or personal tenets is not demisexual for that reason. Of course, you can have high morals and be demisexual. It just isn’t because of your high morals that you are demisexual.
Coming out as demisexual
Acknowledging this about yourself and sharing it with your friends and family can be complicated because of the misconceptions and lack of knowledge of what it means to be demisexual. Their first thought is likely going to be, “What does demisexual mean?” So, once you choose to share this information about yourself with the world and let your demisexual flag fly, you should be well informed so you can answer questions for your friends and family.
It can be helpful to start off by offering to define demisexual, and then explaining how you came to this conclusion about yourself and what exactly it means for your dating life.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to reveal this fact about yourself if you don’t want to or you’re not ready. But if or when you are, just be clear, honest, and maybe even give an example of an experience you’ve had so your friends and family understand.