What does demisexual mean?
Demisexuality is a sexual orientation. People who identify as demisexual only feel sexual attraction to someone after they’ve formed a strong emotional bond with them. Compared to the general population, most people who are demisexual rarely feel sexual attraction. Some have little to no interest in sexual activity.
Most people in the general population can feel sexual attraction regardless of whether they form an emotional bond with someone. They may feel sexually attracted to strangers or to new people they meet. But people who are demisexual don’t feel this initial sexual attraction.
Forming an emotional bond doesn’t guarantee sexual attraction will develop, but the bond is necessary for them to even consider sexual activity. If they do develop a sexual attraction, the desire for sexual activity is often less intense.
The length of time needed to create an emotional bond varies. Some people who are demisexual develop a close bond quickly, but others only develop a bond after several years of friendship with someone. The emotional bond doesn’t necessarily need to be a romantic feeling. The bond could just be a close friendship.
How do I know how I identify? Is there a demisexuality test?
No test can identify your sexuality. But it may help to ask some questions about yourself. These questions include:
- Who are you sexually attracted to? How do these people make you feel?
- Do you feel sexual attraction? How frequently? How strong is the feeling?
- How important is sexual attraction in determining who you want to date?
- Do you feel sexual attraction to people you don’t know?
There aren’t any right or wrong answers. But answering these questions may help you start to figure out your sexual identity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to be asexual or on the asexual spectrum?
People who identify as asexual feel limited or no sexual attraction and/or have no interest in sex.
People who identify as demisexual are sometimes placed under the umbrella of asexuality because they don’t often feel sexual attraction. But they can feel sexual attraction and have an interest in sex after they’ve formed an emotional bond with someone.
The opposite of asexual is allosexual. People who identify as allosexual regularly experience sexual attraction, regardless of their sexual orientation.
What’s the difference between demisexual and graysexual?
Demisexuality and gray sexuality are similar but slightly different. People who identify as graysexual feel sexual attraction infrequently or have less of a desire to engage in sexual activity. The difference between demisexuality and gray sexuality is people who are graysexual don’t need an emotional bond to feel sexual attraction like demisexuals do.
What does it mean to be demiromantic?
Demiromanticism is like demisexuality but slightly different. People who are demiromantic need to feel an emotional connection with someone before they can feel romantic toward them. People of any sexual orientation can also be demiromantic.
What’s the difference between demisexual and pansexual?
People who identify as pansexual are sexually attracted to anyone, regardless of the person’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. People can be pansexual and demisexual.
Can you be a straight demisexual?
Sexual orientation labels usually refer to the gender or genders of people you’re attracted to. These labels include heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and pansexual. The demisexuality label is different. It references the degree of attraction experienced toward others. Many people identify in both ways. For instance, you can be heterosexual and demisexual or pansexual and demisexual.
Why does demisexuality need a label?
For many people who identify as demisexual, having a label gives them a sense of belonging. They may have grown up feeling different from their peers because they didn’t have similar feelings of sexual attraction or interest in sex as described by peers. Many felt confused and wondered if something was wrong with them.
Demisexuality has a label because it helps those who are demisexual find a community of people they can identify with. Finding an identity generally can help people who are demisexual feel more secure and help them realize they’re not alone. It also helps normalize individual experiences of sexual attraction and feelings on a spectrum and helps people realize these feelings are valid. The label gives those who are demisexual a word to use for something they haven’t been able to describe before.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
People who identify as demisexual only feel sexual attraction after they’ve developed a close emotional relationship with someone. Demisexuality is under the umbrella of asexuality because demisexuals have lower-than-average sexual desires. But people who identify as demisexual find themselves in their own group, because they may end up developing a sexual attraction or an urge to engage in sexual activity with someone after they’ve developed a bond with them. If you have feelings you want to discuss, contact your healthcare provider. They can provide resources for you to explore your feelings and find your identity.
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