What Is Demisexuality?

Only this much is certain: demisexuality is not the adoration of Demi Lovato. If you love her, chase your bliss, but it’s not a sexuality. Demisexuality is something else entirely, and we’re going to take a quick look at it today.

What Is Demisexuality?

The language of sex, sexuality, and gender is becoming more varied and more nuanced all the time, as we begin to realize that we’re dealing with spectrums, not binaries. As a result, there are near-countless terms and labels for sexualities appearing all the time, in an effort to categorize what may eventually prove to be uncategorizable. 

It’s beginning to look like there is no way to organize all of our sexualities, and that’s frightening to some who gravitate towards order and segmentation. We’re starting to learn that sexuality is personal: we all express it and identify with it in completely unique ways. With seven billion people on the planet, it could well mean there are seven billion distinct sexualities.

There are commonalities, though. There are feelings and patterns of behavior that apply to groups of people, and to those, we can provide names and offer categories. One such ‘new’ category is demisexuality. So what is it?

In demisexuality, the connection between people is the source of attraction. Demisexuals define themselves as becoming sexually attracted to someone the deeper and longer they know them. Demisexuality requires closeness and emotional intimacy, and a prominent element of friendship is central to the attraction.

In this way, sexual attractions are built very gradually, rather than immediately. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for a demisexual person to indicate no lust or sexual desire at all on first meeting, but for that magnetism to develop slowly, over time. In this sense, it becomes clear that demisexuality has been with us all along, and has only recently been recognized as a phenomenon that demands a name. Because, after all, most of us can think of a couple that got together after years of knowing each other socially, having relationships with others, before acknowledging their feelings for each other.

The feeling of “love at first sight” doesn’t exist for this population. They don’t experience that instant punch of dopamine and adrenaline and butterflies and lust, not in the way we think about it. For demisexuals, it’s a slow burn, but no less intense.

Demisexuality subverts the pressure we put on ourselves to conform to certain standards of beauty to be attractive and eschews the idea that we need to be immediately available sexually. In fact, many demisexuals find the idea of immediate sexual attraction uncomfortable or distasteful. Instead, they put the emphasis on a longer type of chemistry, one that blooms over time, and in which the connection itself ultimately provides the electricity.

Demisexuals, then, sometimes encounter a problem that few of us ever have to deal with: the fact that sexual attraction is based on friendship means that, eventually, that friendship is sexualized, and it may only be from one of the participants, since the other may not identify as demisexual. In other words, demisexuality can be dangerous for long-lasting friendships.

Demisexuality seems to transcend gender and sexual identity, instead of focusing on the connection between people over and above all external considerations. But it’s complex, particularly because the recipient of a demisexual’s affection and sexual attraction may not be aware of it, and continue to believe that the relationship is a friendly one. You can already see how frustrating this must eventually be for a demisexual.

As we progress culturally and socially, and begin to understand that our sexualities are as unique as our fingerprints, so diverse sexualities like demisexuality need to be understood and considered.

Written by: Stuart Nugent

With 16 years in the adult industry, including many years at LELO, it's fair to say Stu has been around the sex toy block a few times. As LELO's resident sex geek, he's been featured in the Independent, the Guardian, HuffPost, Vice, Cosmopolitan, and anywhere people talk about sex. Here on Volonte, he turns his spotlight onto the important events affecting sex right now in a regular op-ed. Views are his own.

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