Is demisexual anti-queer?

2 06 2010


Sometimes I support the idea that proliferation of identities approximates deconstruction, but demisexual is the dumbest thing ever, right down to its etymology. Fair enough if you take an extended hibernation, limiting your sexual activity to summer and spring, but any non-temporal reading suggests that demisexual is halfway on “the asexual spectrum”, between the poles of asexuality and “full” sexuality.

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network wiki, a demisexual is

a person who does not experience primary sexual attraction but yet still experiences secondary sexual attraction. Primary sexual attraction being sexual attraction based on outward qualities such as a person’s looks, clothes, or personality. Secondary sexual attraction being attraction to another stemming from emotional connection (usually romantic) or status or how closely the person is in relationship to the other.

Other definitions give primary attraction as based only on that which is immediately perceptible (looks, smell, clothes, etc), not personality. For some demisexual implies panromantic inclinations, while others use it with gendered orientations (eg a “heteroromantic demisexual” would be someone who only wants to fuck within the context of heterosexual romance).

It would be silly enough for a sexual identity to not only accept but reinforce a notion of normative sexuality, but the normative sexuality implied by demisexual isn’t even correct. For women at least, normative sexuality presupposes “deep emotional connection” as a requisite condition for sex — if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have concepts like “nymphomania”. Isn’t there enough slut-shaming in society as it is?

I don’t buy the argument that demisexual can exist without denigrating promiscuity. Even if individual demisexuals don’t use their identities as a value judgement on other people’s sexuality, demisexual already assumes a normative centre, and elaborates the sex of that centre as being based on “primary characteristics”. Never mind that the primacy of those characteristics (such as gender) might be something we actively resist. Never mind how we might understand our own motivations or attractions and the ebb and flow of desire. How does a demisexual differ from me (sexual, pan, poly, fussy)? Presumably I’ll want sex earlier in a relationship than they will, or with people I don’t know as well as they’d need to — but if I haven’t fucked someone by the third date I assume they just like to pay for meals and lose arguments. I hear that most girls work slower — apparently there’s even rules about it. So how is a demisexual different from your run-of-the-mill, sex-after-love romantic? And doesn’t demisexual deny the fluidity of sexual(ity)?

Even if all this is true, it may yet be insufficient grounds on which to deny anyone’s self-identification (though I don’t accept that it’s never justified to do so). And I realise that many other sexual identities involve similar value judgements: eg, when people talk about bisexual or pansexual as being attracted “to a person, not a gender”, when I think that describes people of all sexual identities, even if gender might be a factor (which it is for many bi and pan people anyway). Or how poly people talk about monogamy sometimes. I think it’s always rude to pretend your tastes are more profound and less superficial than others. Nevertheless, I feel that demisexual is especially problematic and I’d like to hear the rebuttal.

What does all this have to do with flagging? I think flagging is about communicating something that usually isn’t immediately perceptible, which destabilises the distinction between primary and secondary attraction. More than that, hanky code creates a sexual lexicography that enables a level of specificity and intentionality that I think is inherently queer, regardless of who practices it, while demisexual seems to me anti-queer in reinforcing fixed and stable sexual identities. This isn’t about sex positivity necessarily — I think dominant culture is both relentlessly sexual and particularly anxious about sex; I wouldn’t call it repressive or oversexualised  — but a critical relation to normative sex.


In response to Pico the Great’s post:

[gauche 18/6/10]

I think your point that demisexual comes at sex and love “from an asexual, rather than sexual, perspective”, is pretty useful. This makes sense to me — that the resulting position might look the same to another person (in terms of stated desires and concrete action) but is coming from a different direction.

You said:

If there is a bell curve of human sexuality, zero to ten, then there will be folks all from one end to the other, from -1 to 11, expressing themselves and realizing themselves in a myriad of ways. […] Promiscuity is simply on the 10 or 11 end of the bell curve, just as demi is on the 1 or 2 end.

As I said to Emma Rainbow below, I reject all views of sexuality as a spectrum or scale — I think this forces complex subjectivities into a binary opposition. But accepting this spectrum for the moment, I would have said asexual is all numbers ≤0, and everything above 0 is just sexual — a 1 or 2 isn’t “demisexual” any more than 10 or 11 is “hypersexual” (though “hyposexual” would seem more apt to me than “demi-“). I can accept though that someone who thinks of themselves as a 0 but sometimes ventures into positive integers will retain an asexual identity despite their actions, just as dykes can retain lesbian identity despite having sexual relationships with men. The “demi” etymology still bothers me but that’s just my pedantry at work. (To be fair, you used the words “anthypophora” and “apodioxis”.)

By the way, you used male pronouns for me: I’m a woman, which is why I’m positioning my sexuality in relation to norms of female sexuality. As a cis woman whose femaleness is rarely questioned, and whose preference for gender-inclusive pronouns is inessential, misgendering me isn’t a big deal, but I do think it says something about the way you read (ie, androcentrically). This criticism is valid regardless of your gender.




71 responses

2 06 2010

really interesting post! I think when I heard about demisexuality I remembered thinking something along the lines of but isn’t that just the ‘typical’ /normative identity in society? But Im not sure if I agree that demisexuality denies the fluidity of sexuality- at least no more than identifying as something else queer like lesbian would deny the fluidity of sexuality in defining in some ways how you have identified some of the ways you are likely to experience sexual attraction at that moment in time.
Maybe it could be argued that despite the values society gives to being attracted to ‘primary characteristics’ such as shallow and slutty (and the likely valuing of attraction only based on secondary characteristics as more ‘profound’) I don’t think this is a valid reason to position demisexuality as anti-queer because even though it is more ‘respectable’ I think dominant discourses around attraction and sex nearly always focus on attraction through primary characteristics or a combination of primary and secondary characteristics.

6 06 2010

I think [female] flagging is definately a way of resisting the normalised (and relentless) slut-shaming of dominant culture. And demisexual is a part of that (slut-shaming). It’s a classic postmodern backlash, ie when counter culture (such as that of marginalised sexualities) gets (re)moulded into something that actually reinforces dominant culture [but acts like it’s subversive], misogyny amongst dykes or possibly same-sex marriage (I don’t know if gays getting married think they’re subversive, do they?) are other examples of this.

Flagging is slut pride: flagging says ‘I’m into consent. I’m into being approached. I’m fine with being rejected (and you should be too).’ But mostly it says ‘I’m into sex’ and for women, and especially femmes, that’s (unfortunately) subversive in itself (as in this).

16 06 2010

You set up an argument with the wrong definition of primary sexual attraction and therefore the wrong definition of demisexual.

You interpret “primary sexual attraction” as “attraction to primary sex characteristics,” which is not the correct interpretation. Primary sex characteristics are genitals, and people usually don’t see their sex partner’s genitals until they have sex. Primary sexual attraction happens before clothes come off. I have always interpreted “primary sexual attraction” as a person’s immediate biological reaction to the presence/appearance of another person whose personality details are not known. There is no value judgment involved in immediate biological reactions; the biological reaction just happens or it doesn’t. A person’s body reactions can be to other people’s primary sex characteristics or to characteristics that have nothing to do with reproductive systems but may be gendered (like long hair or hairy legs). Primary sexual attraction is when you see a person you’ve never met and are like “Wow, that person is hot!” (for whatever reason). That’s all it is, in my understanding. I can’t speak from much experience.

The difference between a “run-of-the-mill sex-after-love romantic” and a demisexual person is that they describe themselves differently. They might have the same body reactions to the same stimuli, but the difference is how they think about the role of sex in their lives. For someone to say “Sex is not that important to me” is not a value judgment on others who might value sex more. It is a personal value judgment about sex only as relating to the speaker, which is different from a value judgment about sex as relating to everyone.

That said, I used to self-describe as asexual until I experienced semi-sexual feelings about a person when I was 20. For a time, I questioned whether or not to describe myself as demisexual. I ultimately decided that neither demisexual nor asexual described me: my experience is too sexual for me to call myself asexual, but what I do experience is not sexual enough for me to describe myself as asexual. I’m not personally interested in genital sexual activity–there are other things that sexually pleasure me–and most people who self-describe as demisexual enjoy some form of genital sexual activity. I don’t, and I don’t have a problem with people who do. I encourage people to do what pleases them and pleasures them the most with regard to sexuality.

No one concept constitutes “normal” or “full” sexuality. A person’s own sexuality is normal and full if that person knows what they like and is okay with it. I think there are far fewer demisexual elitist people than you assert. Most asexual people I have spoken to, including David Jay, the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, are vocally sex-positive. Demisexual people I have spoken to are even more vocally sex-positive. I’m a sex-positive polyamorous transmasculine genderfuck feminist queer whose sexuality is in the grey area between asexual and demisexual. I exist. Among demisexual and asexual people, if you care to look, people like me are not that rare.

16 06 2010

You interpret “primary sexual attraction” as “attraction to primary sex characteristics,” which is not the correct interpretation.

Uh, where did I say that? I defined primary characteristics as that which is immediately perceptible (looks, smell, clothes, etc) — which I got from the AVEN forum and which I think makes more sense than “outward qualities”.

Otherwise I more or less agree with you — my point is that everyone’s sexuality has ebbs and flows and is relational and situational and “demisexual” seems to rely on a very narrow definition of “sexual” (or “not-asexual”) — and calcify a sense of what “normal” or “full” sexuality is by positioning itself against it. To me asexuality makes sense because it’s not sexual. Anything that’s at all sexual, is just sexual.

I have a pretty broad understanding of what constitutes the sexual, and to me queer is about expanding that, while acknowledging coercive norms, while demisexual seems to accept coercive norms and define itself against them, as outside of them.

11 06 2013

But I think you could in some ways argue homosexuality defines itself in relation to heterosexuality. Homonormativity frustrates the purpose of queer in my mind. Bisexuality defines itself in relation to the binary.
Saying your either sexual or asexual is one way of seeing it and I get it. Technically I would call demisexuality being “sexual under certain circumstances”, I think it’s almost like how some people have fetishes and are only aroused by leather etc. But it’s a prerequisite of emotional connection, rather than certain fetishes to feel excited. I think to argue that it is anti-queer is quite silly. Demi-sexual doesn’t mean monogomy or heterosexuality/heteroromanticism necessarily.

While yes the bloody patriarchy favours straight women being emotionally connected and monogamous,to assume demi people won’t be able to “cheat” so match society’s expectations is also kinda fucked. You could be in a steady marriage as a demi person etc. but then find yourself emotionally drawn to another person.
I think that the patriarchy imagines all women as heteromantic demisexuals on the terms of men, whereas acknowledging demisexuality as a stand alone reality for some, not all women is pretty fucking Queer- because it makes visible demisexual women who are not heteromantic and demisexual men who are often hit with the “men are all more sexual than women” stereotype.

Demisexuals are diverse.

Who demisexuals feel connected to can change (men, women,intersex, trans etc.) and you can live in poly or mono arrangements, but remain demisexual in how you interact. Demisexual meaning you only desire those you’re connected to emotionally/romantically. So therefore demisexuality does not deny the fluidity of sexuality. I think assuming demisexuals are mono is a common mistake, if a demi person feels connected emotionally to two people or more at once they may be with many partners.

Demisexual allows people to explain their way of relating and finding others who relate that way. Personally I think not everything we are and feel has to pass a test. I don’t feel demisexuality more profound than “lust at first sight”, I just find demi floats my boat.

16 06 2010

I guess I feel a little bit confused, as the definition that is given on the asexual website is pretty clear and different from yours… You say that demisexuals do experience primary sexual attraction whereas the website says that they don’t. Which I think is a pretty big distinction between your and gauches ideas…

16 06 2010

@lc, was that a response to Hezaa? Where do they indicate anywhere that demisexuals experience primary sexual attraction? They were simply explaining what primary sexual attraction means, and how it differs from what gauche seems to be assuming.

It’s pretty sexist to claim that most women require an emotional connection to have sex, and by implication, that men do not. That said, there is still a *huge* difference between someone who is inherently sexual and needs an emotional connection (love, perhaps, or simply just a certain level of *trust*) and someone who is inherently asexual and can sometimes, maybe just maybe, find a sexual connection with someone they are already emotionally connected with.

16 06 2010

“The difference between a “run-of-the-mill sex-after-love romantic” and a demisexual person is that they describe themselves differently. They might have the same body reactions to the same stimuli, but the difference is how they think about the role of sex in their lives.”
is what I was referring to. Granted Hezza uses ‘might’ in their sentence, but it’s still there.

I don’t think that Gauche was saying that most women need an emotional connection to have sex, just that that is how women are socialised to behave and what the dominant culture validates and celebrates (check out the numerous ‘chick flicks’). Also, I don’t think that when someone talks about women, it necessarily means that they are saying absolutely anything at all about men (an assumption, which I find to be sexist).

16 06 2010

As someone who defines as queer and as ase/demiase, I have to disagree with you.

As Hezaa has said, you seem to have missed the point of the label.

Demisexual is a label for those who experience sexual attraction under certain circumstances, too much to label themselves as asexual, but having a lot more in common with asexual identity than their perception of sexuality.

It is NOT a label for those who hold off sex til after love – it is a label for those who don’t experience sexual attraction until *fill circumstance here*. It’s not a case of ‘Ooo, we’re not being slutty because we’re waiting’ but (often) a case of ‘this is alien to me until *circumstance*’ It takes a lot of self-awareness and discovery to understand that nuance of sexuality.

Demisexual is the middle-ground between sexual and asexual, as bi/pan can be between gay and straight. It’s not a label of repression, shame at sexual feeling, and righteousness of chaste behaviour, it’s a label that acknowledges different experiences as valid and worthy of existing. It gives us another word and understanding for sexuality, enriching queer discussion.

If someone is defining as demisexual because they’re being groovily counter-culture and denouncing other individuals’ sexual behaviour and experience, that is very unfortunate. But almost any sexual identity has someone behaving like that. It doesn’t invalidate that identity for everyone.

16 06 2010

I feel like I get what you’re saying, and I accept that dominant culture puts a lot of emphasis on initial attraction, as Steve raised (though I’m not sure that the thing that makes you cross a room to say hello to someone is best described as ‘sexual’ – it’s attraction, certainly, but I think it’s usually much more social than sexual). But I dispute the demarcation between primary and secondary characteristics, and I think sexual chemistry, even in the most unadulterated instances, is more about a dynamic between people than characteristics.

Also, I really intensely dislike the idea that gay and straight are poles which bi and pan somehow fall between and reject all the Kinsey-style views of sexuality as a spectrum or scale. I emphasised the word “halfway” in my post because the idea is nonsensical to me. I’m not sure how to explain it better but that kind of logic just rings false for me, entirely.

18 06 2010

Well, personally, my experience of sexual attraction is definitely alien to others’ experiences of it – discussions with sexual and asexual people lead me to recognise that I have certain disconnects and similarities with experience with both groups, but my definite sexual attraction to a very small number of people would omit me from an asexual label, whilst discussion with sexual people of all inclination leads me to realise that I just don’t recognise the very difficult to quantify kind of ‘attraction’ that they experience. It’s very complicated, but safe to say that those of us who identify with this label have reason to.

I thoroughly agree with you, there’re no binaries in orientation, gender, and little else really. My original meaning inferred that there was a blur between gay, pan/bi and straight as there is between asexual and sexual. I describe myself as a queer woman on the asexual spectrum.

I agree that the word ‘demisexual’ – infers a direct halfway point, but that’s not an accurate definition. Many labels are the best we can do to illustrate concepts within the limitations of our language.

2 10 2012

Why do you reject the line between primary and secondary characteristics?

17 06 2010

“Nevertheless, I feel that demisexual is especially problematic and I’d like to hear the rebuttal.”

Actually, it sounds from your post and your subsequent comments that you’ve pretty much made up your mind about what demisexuality is (even though you’re entirely wrong), and you seem to think you have the right to define other people’s sexuality for them.

13 06 2011


17 06 2010

1. yeah, I agree, gauche. Based on my sexual history, I could be described as demisexual — but the term seems really strange to me. I’m cagey around most people, and this makes me uninterested in sex with them. That seems like….just something that’s happened, maybe a personality trait, but not a part of my sexual identity, and certainly not a halfway point between sexual and asexual. Like, if someone is interested in sex with women and not men, do we define them as demisexual? Everyone is uninterested in sex in some circumstances. How about if someone goes to a sex club once every couple of years, but is otherwise celibate?

2. Having said that, I do think that a kind of pro-sex subversivism exists in some counter/subcultural communities, and is alienating to some people, particularly (some, not all, obviously) survivors of sexual assault. On the other hand, none of the people I know who’ve expressed reservations about countercultural sexual norms identify as demisexual. this is a bit of a jumbled thought where I’m trying to figure out what makes people define something as an *identity* — I feel like it’s usually based on feelings of marginalisation, some based in reality, some less so.

3. This post reminds me of a critique I read somewhere (will try and find the link) of the slut-shaming implicit in many defences of polyamory. As in, polyamory is usually defined as the capacity and desire to experience multiple *romantic* attachments, and therefore defined in opposition to swinging and casual sex generally.

18 06 2010

Yes on all three points, especially the third. I really dislike The Ethical Slut for this reason — positioning oneself against those other people with multiple partners — which I think also reinforces the assumption that being a slut is unethical unless otherwise modified — and also suggests that by simply following certain guidelines or being open to communication and negotiation, you can be “ethical” in your relationships. I’m not sure “ethics” is the most relevant way of thinking about relationships anyway, but even if I accept it as a framework, it still seems like something you attempt rather than achieve.

And re the second, the more that having multiple partners (or being open to it) is accepted in my communities, the less value I put on it as an identity. I think being asexual, celibate or even monogamous make sense to me as potentially marginalised identities within certain circles. Hmm. At least 90% of my objection to demisexual is the prefix “demi”. “Nearly asexual”, “not very sexual” or “rarely sexual” all make perfect sense.

Off-topic, I saw a tattoo recently that I thought was really beautiful and poignant — “capacity” on one knee”, “desire” on the other.

18 06 2010

“Ethical” merely means that everyone is on-board with what’s going on. “Ethical non-monogamy” includes swinging and polyamory and everything in between. Unethical non-monogamy means cheating, or coercing a partner into letting you have other partners. It doesn’t mean anything else.

Ok, so you admit that you don’t have a problem with those of us who are neither sexual nor asexual. I don’t know any demisexuals who consider themselves “halfway” between the two. Maybe you should have specified this in your original post, rather than ragging on people who choose to identify as such? Demisexual is a form of “grey asexual”, recognizing that sexuality isn’t blackand white, but rather a flexible spectrum.

18 06 2010

There are tons of people who are polyamorous *and* interested in casual sex and/or swinging. They’re not mutually exclusive, and very few people treat them as such. (And those that do tend to be of the “polyamory is more enlightened” sort that the rest of us try to avoid.)

I’m pansexual, polyamorous and kinky. It’s terribly offensive to imply that I’m not pro-sex just because I’m also demisexual.

I don’t really understand what harm it does to any of you if someone chooses to identify as demisexual? I’m personally much closer to asexual than to sexual, so I guess I should shoehorn myself into the “asexual” box just to make you happy.

As I said previously, there is a huge difference to me between being basically sexual and occasionally being disinterested in sex, and being pretty much asexual, but coming across one or two people in your entire lifetime that you’re sexually attracted to. It’s not just about sex, it’s about sexual attraction. I don’t even masturbate. I just have no interest in doing so. I never initiate sex, and I would be perfectly happy to never have sex ever again. But I have two romantic partners, and under the right circumstances, if they wanted to have sex, I might be interested in doing so.

But sure, I guess I’m no different than any other person who identifies as sexual. Just because you say so.

18 06 2010

Hey Liz. Re: 3 – Totally.
I think this might be the article you’re referring to:

Christian Klesse, Polyamory and its ‘Others’: Contesting the Terms of Non-Monogamy. Sexualities 2006; 9; 565.
“The prevalent definition of polyamory as ‘responsible
non-monogamy’ usually goes hand in hand with a rejection of
more sex- or pleasure-centred forms of non-monogamy”

8 07 2010

that was it — thanks max!

18 06 2010

In response to your amendment – I’m confused that you replied to my comment saying that you reject binaries and in your amendment that you reject spectrums? :/ Could you clarify? Lying between sexual and asexual and defining as pan, I used to see sexuality as a lot of sliding scales/scattergraphs of increasing complexity before I gave up and settled on ‘queer’.

People choose to identify as asexual for a number of reasons – largely that their experience (or lack of) is different to the hegemonic culture, and the label is a useful way of grouping people who share the same experience of difference in the same way. If you experience sexual attraction very rarely, it still follows that you may have this disconnect for the same reasons, and are driven to identify differently in the same direction. If you see what I mean.

To an ase reader, comparing asexual as the ‘0’ end of the scale only and even a 1 being sexual, could be seen as a little like saying that if you aren’t a gold-star lesbian, you must be straight, and certainly a denial of the experience of some people. The original AVEN triangle has symbolism – the top two corners of the triangle represent homo and heterosexuality, with bi in between, and they all lead to asexual at the bottom of the triangle. The ase part of the diagram is coloured in – it’s not the very bottom point of the triangle, but a fair bit of that corner, and it fades up, showing a crossover to ‘regular’ sexuality.

18 06 2010

Yep, I get that you don’t need to be only ever attracted to women to be a lesbian.

> I can accept though that someone who thinks of themselves as a 0 but sometimes ventures into positive integers will retain an asexual identity despite their actions, just as dykes can retain lesbian identity despite having sexual relationships with men.

I agree with your last two paragraphs. Except, if you’re going with a scale it would have to be asexual-hypersexual, not asexual-sexual, to correspond to homosexual-heterosexual, but either way we’re losing a lot by trying to analogise the two.

Responding to your first paragraph, I am down with the idea of a “spectrum” as a range of related qualities (which seems to be the sense you’re using), but not the idea of a scale or bell curve or anything that suggests binary opposition (it doesn’t have to be a mutually exclusive, mutually exhaustive binary opposition, it bothers me even if it’s a range). There are just too many axes, to the point where even a scattergraph in ten dimensions would be missing something.

An asexual-hypersexual scale suggests that degree of sexuality is one simple variable — but even if we talk only about desire and not action, who is more or less sexual here?

– someone who loves reading porn and fantasises sexually about fictional characters and celebrities but isn’t interested in actually having sex with anyone
– someone who has sex regularly out of affection for their romantic partner but would never ask for it themselves and doesn’t get off on it
– someone who experiences attraction based on immediately perceptible characteristics and enjoys the process of wooing and being wooed but isn’t interested in making any kind of physical contact
– someone who enjoys and seeks physical contact, including genital contact, in a sensual and non-sexual, non-orgasmic way

It’s hard to say. Maybe they have enough in common to feel some kind of affinity. But even if someone has the same level of sexual desire as you, the specifics of their desire might still be totally alienating.

18 06 2010

If I understand what you mean by spectrum versus scale, then I think the current asexual/grey asexual (which includes demisexual)/sexual breakdown works fine. There’s no need for anyone (unless they want to) to define their sexuality on a “scale of one to ten.” I mean, I consider myself demisexual, but I’m “less sexual” than some people who identify as asexual. It’s simply a term that I personally feel more comfortable with. And ultimately, I think the point is that the label that someone uses to describe themselves shouldn’t have anything to do with other people. Calling myself demisexual is in no way “slut shaming” sexual people, any more than someone who identifies as monogamous or straight/gay is “slut shaming” me for being bisexual and polyamorous. (And if they are, well, that’s *their* problem, and not mine.)

9 10 2011

As someone who chooses not to identify (because I really see no benefit in forming a “named” sexual identity for myself–and feel no connection to straight/queer/LGBT/ace communities), I have found the term “demisexual” to be reassuring in its existence.
I have no interest in sexual activity or drive towards orgasm, genital stimulation, etc., but am willing to compromise an engage in sexual activities with a partner to whom I am committed and emotionally connected. This isn’t the same as “waiting until the right person” or following a normative sexual role, to me. From my perspective (one among thousands, of course) it’s the same as watching a film I don’t particularly like because it is my partner’s favorite. Sexual activity simply carries no importance or appeal for me, but the happiness of my partner is very important.
I’m not sure this entirely makes sense, but I think there are some who would identify as ace/demi simply because sexuality isn’t an important part of our day to day lives (to be frank, I find it boring), so sexual identity isn’t useful. Normative relationship patterns expect a certain degree of sexual attraction, investment, or at least identity, so our alienation comes from feeling disconnected from that world.

19 06 2010

H, I’ve responded to everyone except you because you can’t seem to get past the fact that my problem is with what demisexual, as an identity, implies about ‘sexual’, as an identity* – I said in the original post that it’s not about whether individual demisexuals are sex-positive or slut-shaming.

* ie, I think it implies that sexual people do invariably experience primary attraction and that most sex results from primary attraction. And I don’t think that’s true and I don’t accept the distinction between primary and secondary attraction as a stable one.

But I am coming to understand what demisexual means as an asexual identity, as detailed in Pico’s post and my response, so maybe this discussion is resolved.

P.S. I know what poly folk mean when they say ‘ethical’. My point is that it’s pretty arrogant to label your practice as ethical just because your partners know about each other and you articulate your needs and negotiate them openly etc — and to suggest others are less ethical because they do things differently. Power, harm and justice in relationships is a bit more complicated than that, I think. FYI my partners do know about each other and I do try to articulate my needs blah blah blah but I don’t think I deserve to call my practice ethical based on that.

20 06 2010

Wow. Ok,I think I’m done here. I can’t belive you just said that it’s perfectly ethical to lie and cheat on your loved ones. And no, as many people have pointed out, demisexual implies *nothing* about sexuals. Why can’t you just admit that you misunderstood and moved on, rather than continuing to try to make those of us who identify as demisexual feel bad about ourselves. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to be different than most other people.

20 06 2010

dude, you really need to read closely. This: “it’s perfectly ethical to lie and cheat on your loved ones” is not what gauche said. The point is, gauche and I don’t think ‘ethics’ is a very helpful way of framing relationship discourses, and it certainly is the dominant one employed in poly circles.

Here’s my problem with this use of ‘ethics’:
“My main concern with “poly” discourse is that overwhelmingly I continue to see it employed in defense of behaving badly and screwing people around.”

22 06 2010

but any non-temporal reading suggests that demisexual is halfway on “the asexual spectrum”, between the poles of asexuality and “full” sexuality.

I’m not sure halfway is a accurate term. I don’t know, I’d assume halfway means feeling sexually attracted to more than one person every five years?* I think rates differ for demis.

*This is my current average.

Another vocabulary quibble I have with demisexual’s definition is “emotional connection.” I don’t think it expresses the wide range of forms an emotional connection can take, or that some demis form emotional connections more often than others.

It’s like… this is generalizing, but most people meet someone who seems cool/interesting/whatever and know whether or not they could stand fucking them. I don’t. I wander around in an asexual world where everyone is at the same level on my scale of hot or not. Follow a rule book to catch Mr. Right – who cares about Mr. Right? I’m not going to leap into an elaborate mating ritual because I can’t pick out a target I’m sexually attracted to until after at least a few months.
If you’re going to work slow at catching someone then you better pick them out damn fast before you lose too much time. I’ve come into the game too late before. It kinda hurts.

Demisexual isn’t a fancy term people who decide to wait for sex use to pat themselves on the back and it’s not a sign of purist nobility. I’m not pretending to be “more profound” or “less superficial.” (Considering the massive amount of people I reject, I probably do look superficial for never “settling” or whatever that nonsense BS is). I agree that secondary and primary characteristics interact a lot more for sexual people than the definition suggests. For me secondary characteristics outshadow primary characteristics enough to have an impact on my life and the largest part of my sexual identity is the asexual component.

It’s not a matter of defining myself against sexuals. It’s a way to describe how I form relationships, which happens to be drastically different from the norm.

3 01 2011



20 08 2010

Demisexuality is a totally valid identity and it can and does exist alongside sex-positivity outside of a culture of slut-shaming. And I definitely don’t think it comes from dominant culture. I get how it can be misinterpreted by some as being part of the noble (sex-neg) or repressed (sex-pos) choice to abstain from sex outside of romantic love, but it’s actually just an orientation. There are people who just do not experience sexual attraction sometimes, and that changes. It’s not about repression. It’s about orientation. And that’s just how it is for some people. It is NOT easy identifying anywhere outside of cis gender and heteroSEXUALITY. Same goes for demisexuality. I think this need to disqualify asexual identities, of which demisexuality is one, comes out of a totally valid rebellion to social sexual repression. But demisexuality is not the tool of repression here. It’s just another identity that gives people a way to talk about their lives and their heads. It’s really not helpful in the struggle for all queer identities to be accepted to exclude this one. It is not ‘respectable’ in this society to not want to fuck. It’s scary figuring out that you’re different to everyone else. And, just when you’ve come to terms with that, finding out that you do want to fuck in certain situations is no picnic. Kinda like just coming out as gay, and then discovering that you’re attracted to men sometimes, too, and that there are a whole bunch of genders out there that don’t really work if you try to stick gay/straight on them.

12 02 2012

Yeah cool, I agree with this.

9 10 2010

This demisexual says that we don’t care what you say; we exist.

5 12 2010

I believed I was asexual (and had no reason to think otherwise) until I started a relationship with my boyfriend. As I fell in love with him, I started to feel sexual feelings towards him and now we’re sexually active. However, the way I see people other than him has not changed. I just don’t feel attraction towards anyone else. I don’t feel like I need a label anymore, but I don’t see that any one other than demisexual would work for me.

3 01 2011

Holy cow, I need to read up on the vocabulary on this topic. I got so freaking lost with the normative culture mentions and assumptions in your post. Don’t worry, not asking for a definition, just: people are confusing on the internets again.

Okay. I just found the definition of demisexual and thought “ME!” Not for any:

1) slut-shaming or critical of sex w/o romance ideas
2) refutation of Kinsey scale, 1-10 scale, or pan/bi/etc. sexuality.
3) or any acceptance of the cultural expectations toward sex.

I thought “Me!” because it takes at least 6-12 months before I am comfortable enough with any guy to feel physical attraction to him. At all. We are talking zip, zilch, nada. Not for actors on screens; not for friends; not for coworkers. 99% of the population doesn’t even get a moment’s mental consideration on the topic. Ever. (This is not fussy/picky; this is “trees hold equal interest for me. Which is zero.”)

The 1% comes about when I know someone well, trust them, feel physically comfortable *around* them, and also like them. Then, sometimes, out of the blue: attraction. Ziiing. (And yes, it’s happened a couple times for women, but in the same vague, unfocused way. Mostly toward guys, though.)

I don’t act on it. But it’s always weird for me when it suddenly happens. And never, not once, has it happened for anyone I’ve been aware of for less than six months.

I don’t have any hormonal problems. Heck, maybe I’m just… low libido? Mildly repressed? I don’t know.

I like the definition because it explains several conditions that have to come to pass before any physical, mental, or emotional sexual interest will develop. Familiarity. Emotional connection. Time. Lack of notice.

I’ve still only been attracted to… maybe 4 people? Over 4 decades?

I get that you find pitfalls in these definitions, a politicization of perceived choices, an implication of hierarchy or ‘better’ choices. This doesn’t feel like a choice. This feels like walking in a world where people are saying “check out that butt!” and going “What about it?” And then liking someone’s collarbone because you thought their joke was funny.

12 01 2011

I realize I’m coming in late here, but I really needed to comment on this. As a queer gray-A person—who is NOT demisexual, as that is not the only way to be gray-A—I find this post extremely problematic. First, I’m going to address your comment about anything above 0 (completely asexual) not being on the asexual spectrum. For one thing, you implied that 1s are all demisexual. That is not true. There are many, many ways to be gray-A. In my case, I am a person with an odd fetish that is unrelated to people, and I have sex mostly for that reason. However, I experience romantic and aesthetic attraction to people, which helps, but it has made sex hard in the past because people expect you to “want” them sexually and be really obvious about it. I personally have never, ever identified with any sexual person when it comes to their sexuality. I am not sexual. I find sexual-dominant culture to be very alienating. I identify more with asexuals, but even then, there’s a big difference.

Now onto demisexuals. I think that for most people who would use the label, there is a huge difference between their orientation and a typical sexual person’s sexuality (I am not denying fluidity here, but *generally*, sexual people have a medium-to-high sex drive and are attracted to people fairly early on). And there’s a difference between a sexual person who is only sexually attracted to someone after knowing/dating them for a while (let’s say a month) vs. someone who takes a very, very long time to experience any sexual attraction, and only in certain circumstances. I think it’s definitely useful to have a label for this. I don’t see how it denies fluidity if there are people who do feel this way 99% of the time. It’s not like demisexuals are saying, “Hey, guys, I only rarely experience sexual attraction after knowing someone for a while, which means it’s invalid if you, as a sexual person, have a low sex drive for a few months and go back to having a high sex drive.” I really don’t understand your argument.

And if demisexual is “anti-queer” and “normative”, should straight people not identify as straight? Straight identities are a hell of a lot more normative, that’s for sure. But they are real and valid, since it can’t be denied that some people are only attracted to the other binary sex. And you ignore the existence of demisexual men, who would very much be going against the norms for their sexuality. Even women are expected to “put out” at some point—the use of this common sexist phrase illustrates my point—and it’s usually a sooner time than any demisexual woman would be comfortable with. In fact, one way the term demisexual could be useful is at the beginning of relationships. One could tell their partner they are demisexual so they don’t expect sex too soon. If this term didn’t exist (or if the demisexual partner didn’t come out early on), it could potentially cause problems in a relationship between a sexual person and a demisexual person.

I had many, many extremely painful and humiliating experiences in sex due to not realizing I was gray-A at the time. When I found the term and began to use it for myself, it was the first step in solving the problems with my sex life, and it was a huge relief to know that nothing was, in fact, wrong with me. I cannot stress enough the importance of having labels that exist on various parts of the spectrum in between “sexual” and “asexual”. Frankly, if you’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced, you wouldn’t understand. Your post reeks of sexual privilege, and I hope you realize the extremely offensive implications of what you’re saying and begin to accept every queer identity without arbitrarily picking and choosing only the ones that you deem “valid”.

9 02 2011

I think (or at least hope?) you sincerely misunderstand the concept of demisexuality. Otherwise I find your stance both confusing and offensive. I myself am not demi: I’m an aromantic ace. A demi would probably be better able to explain demisexuality to you. However, I will attempt to anyway:
A demisexual is someone who does not experience physical sexual attraction, i.e. will not become sexually attracted to a person because of their appearance or other physical factors. It’s not that they think there is something wrong with experiencing physical attraction, or that they are morally opposed to physical attraction. It’s just not something that happens to them.
A demisexual does experience sexual attraction after having already formed an emotional bond with a person. From what I understand, after that point, they vary in libido as much as anyone else- some may only want sex sometimes, some may want sex a lot. The difference is that the nonsexual relationship has to occur first. Again, this is not a matter of personal concepts of morality or, for that matter, a choice of any kind. This is simply how demis are wired to work.

With this in mind, proposing that the existence of demisexuals is somehow threatening or demeaning to sexuals who experience physical attraction makes about as much sense as proposing that the existence of non-heterosexuals is somehow threatening or demeaning to heterosexuals. It’s also just as hurtful.

9 02 2011

Speaking for all fellow demisexuals; a straight person is not ‘demisexual’ for they will only accept the opposite sex, same goes to how homosexuals will only accept the same sex. Demisexuals are gender-indifferent. This is not the same as bisexual because bisexual refers to those who are attracted to both sex as demis are attracted to neither.

Attraction does not always mean you are interested in sex with that person. Not every sexual person will look at someone they find attractive (pretty, hot, etc.) and think “I’d like to have sex with that!” A friend of mine is straight and only interested in guys, but she makes sure she gets to know them before entering a relationship with them and denies sex till she’s ready. That does not mean she’s demisexual, she’s just not shallow. But what makes her straight is her interest in a relationship with a male, and the influence his gender brings. Along with that, she along with other straight people may or may not be interested in another person initially off of appearance. However generally you know whether you’re straight or not based off your attraction to either male, or female, or both.

Close and intimate bonds trigger sexual desires. This is true for most people (asexuals aside) and is just how the mind tends to work. So just because many people don’t want or feel the desire to have sex until they are close to someone does not make them demisexual, and that’s because if you only consider this (no sex till emotionally close), you’re ignoring the other aspect of being gender indifferent and absent of any initial, physical attractions. You have to filter through both, you can’t consider just one and not the other.

I consider myself demisexual because I had no desire for any relationship, nor any attraction/interest in others features (and that does NOT have to mean initial or immediate sexual desires, not everyone wants sex as soon as they see someone they think is attractive, but there’s gender preferences), I was alone and perfectly fine with it, and not interested in either males or females (and by interest, I mean being in a relationship, not just sex). But my best friend (who happens to be a girl and demisexual like me) who I’ve known and grown close to for 3 years before anything else developed changed my status form ‘single’ to ‘taken’. We were just friend, for that many years. Never had any attraction or interest in being more for that length of time. But as we got closer we settled in a place between friends and lovers, where we loved more than friends but not physically intimate like lovers (besides cuddles and hugs), and then months after that desires for physical intimacy appeared.

If you’re a straight female, imagine what you feel towards other females. That’s what a demi feels for both genders. Many people don’t want sex till they are mentally close, but many of them DO prefer one gender or another, or like them both (like bisexuals). Maybe you’re a straight girl who doesn’t feel sexual desires for a boy until you feel a close mental connection, that doesn’t mean you’d ever go that direction with another girl. That’s where demi and straight are different. Unlike bisexuals, demis don’t ask/want either sex. Bi people like both.

26 05 2011

i’m just not comfortable having sex outside certain very emotionally intimate circumstances. that is HOW I FEEL INSIDE. that is ME. i get enough shit from the mainstream heterosexual community for that, and apparently the queer community won’t accept my feelings as valid either because they aren’t “sex positive” enough.

fine, whatever. i won’t identify as “demisexual” if it irritates you. i’ll just go back to using a 100-word paragraph to explain my sexuality when i can’t get out of answering. i certainly would not want to be crushed under the treads of the sex positivity tank division that is putting even more pressure on me than ever before to have sex i don’t want to have and pretend to like it.

i guess i really am on my own.

4 06 2011

Okay, I admit, I wasn’t very happy about this article when I first read it, but after browsing the discussion, I can see points to both sides of the argument.

My best friend identifies as an asexual, and I have always believed her 100% completely. It was because of her asexuality that I often started thinking about my own (lack of) sexual feelings. I always felt that my sexual drive and desire (although it wasn’t non-existant) was SIGNIFICANTLY lower than that of other people. (I’m in my 20s, and I’m still a virgin, but not by a conscious choice.)

Even a guy that I was -VERY MUCH- romantically and aesthetically attracted to, and who I even thought about having sex with, when he started trying to come onto me I immediately felt that it needed to stop. — And when I always looked back on that experience (until recently), I really couldn’t understand why I was rejecting him. — He was everything I both emotionally and sexually desired.

Because my friend identified as an extreme asexual, I just wanted to be educated more about the topic, and while I was doing asexual research, I stumbled across the term “demisexual”. — Immediately I felt that this was the label I belonged under, so I was upset when I cam across your article, because I also identify as bi, which is a queer topic. (Although I suppose I am technically pan, because I could see myself potentially in a relationship with intersexed or anyone who is trans, I feel much more comfortable identifying as “bi”.)

Looking at your etymological argument however, I think that “hyposexual” actually does indeed project a better definition than what the term “demisexual” currently is held to mean, and I actually might start identifying as “hyposexual” instead. My only worry is that this is -SUCH- a new concept and idea, that people are going to mistake me for saying “hypersexual”. The majority of people I know are not as well educated about etymological prefixes as they probably should be.

There are plenty of enough people already who have a hard time understanding what “pansexuality” or even what “bisexuality” means. — Much less the concept of “asexuality”, that referring to myself as a “bi/pan-romantic hyposexual” is really going to confuse people I suppose.


This reminds me actually alot about the “Atheist”, “Agnostic”, and “Theist” argument. Where many people believe that Agnostic falls in the middle of “Atheist” and “Theist”…it is actually referring to a whole different topic altogether.

Essentially people who respond to the question about what do they -BELIEVE- about god who identify as an agnostic are avoiding the question altogether.

I feel this is a good metaphor for asexuality, and those who identify as demis, and I do agree that an “Asexual” to “Hypersexual” spectrum, with “Hyposexual” falling closer towards the “Asexual” end makes much more sense. — And in that regards, makes me rethink if people should even look at hypersexuality as being “medical issue” at all, and not just what is normal for that person.

On that scale however, I don’t suppose “sexual” is the right term to describe the average person who falls relatively in the middle of that spectrum either.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?


**I wanted to apologize for my writing style, I am really not that great with syntax and grammar or word choice usage. I end up feeling really bad whenever I write, but I just wanted to put in my 2 cents.**

12 02 2012

Yeah, I’m sorry I started off so snarky – and I should have said that I don’t have any problems with asexual or grey-A as identities, I just wince to hear “demisexual” because it involves all these assumptions about what “sexuals” feel that I think are pretty bullshit.

10 06 2011

this doesn’t make sense to me. you are assuming a lot of shit about demisexuals that isn’t necessarily true. i am a woman-identified queer demisexual who has never been sexually attracted to cisgender men. i tend to only date/feel attracted to women and gender variant people and consider myself “queer” even though you may label me “normative.” my demisexuality has a lot to do with my history of sexual abuse and the inability to feel sexually attracted to people unless i develop a sense of trust that comes with emotional intimacy. i am certainly not sex-negative and have tons of kinky polymorphous queer sex with my current partner–but given my sexual history, i am personally not comfortable having sex with strangers because i feel that it may potentially be dangerous. so i don’t feel any sexual desire unless the trust/intimacy has been established, and i immediately lose sexual interest in someone when they violate my consent.

obviously, i support other people having casual sex with whoever they want even though my boundaries are different. your claim that demisexuality inherently denigrates promiscuity is absurd to me. i find it odd that you reinforce a “queer” norm in your post. it’s incredibly problematic how queers with different boundaries are written off as prudes or fake queers. often i feel extremely “pressured” to be sexual in queer environments (or judged about my boundaries), and judgmental attitudes such as yours can feel incredibly violating, especially when my boundaries are connected to a personal history of sexual violation. by preemptively assuming that demisexuality has an underlying sex negativity at it’s core, you judge demisexuality based on these unfounded assumptions.

if you want to talk normativity–look at the representation of non-sexual or demisexual women in the media. repeatedly, you see disgusting portrayals of “frigid” and “uptight” women who just need a good fuck–often by a powerful man. look at films like Black Swan. not feeling sexual desire is pretty unimaginable to those with a sex-normative mentality. “sex drive” becomes essentialized. given the reactionary backlash against the increasing visibility of asexuality (from both queers and heteros alike), asexuality seems to be the most perverse… indeed, unimaginable. people should think about the interplay between sexism, patriarchy, heteronormativity and the backlash against asexuality. in the most extreme cases, sex-normative attitudes becomes a justification for violating behavior against asexuals and demisexuals.

thanks for policing the queer borders with your reductive analysis.

3 09 2011

I decided not to read ALL of the back and forthings, so I am sorry if I reiterate things….
To the original poster of this thread:
I did not know what demisexuality was, until I stumbled upon it… and then realized that I was part of that group.

Growing up, I was NEVER attracted to ANYBODY at all… from primary physical characteristics…. so when my best friend would say, “Wow, Brad Pitt is hot…” and I was like, “Eh…” and she would wonder what the heck was wrong with me, I would just say, “I am not attracted to him.” But the fact is, I am not attracted to anybody…. at least, not by looking at them… and seeing how “hot” they may or may not be. “Hotness” does not compute for me. Period. I don’t “check out” guys I see on the street. As the walk by, they are like blank canvases… they have no appeal or attraction. It is almost like they look like nothing…. like see-through ghosts…. that is, until I have some sort of relationship with them. If I am a friend of theirs, I know what they look like. And my perception of their “attractiveness” is linked to how I feel about them personally, and not what they look like. And this IS NOT by choice. It’s my nature. I have been pre-wired this way. I am a heterosexual female. And I am engaged to the sexiest man in the world. Why is he sexy? Because after building a solid friendship with him, and becoming connected to him socially and intimately (intimately meaning being close friends, knowing a lot about each other, etc… not sexually), I started finding him attractive. His attractiveness, and henceforth, my sexualilty evolved from my feelings about him after we had a close relationship. THAT is demisexuality. It is basically the inability to be attracted to someone by looking at them…. and that the attraction comes later, after a romantic or close friendship relationship is formed.

You have the wrong definition of demisexual, which is why you have offensive ideas about it. Too bad you didn’t actually know what demisexuality was before sounding off on it.

19 09 2011
go fuck yourself

Wow! Way to be an asshole and make false assumptions about a legitimate sexuality you clearly know nothing about! Congratulations!!! You’re no better than the homophobes who tell people what their sexuality is and isn’t!

25 09 2011

Hyposexuality-hypersexuality is already a specific concept related to sex-drive levels. It has little to do with the concept described by demisexuality, and as such would not work as a replacement term.

You are way too hung up on words, so much so that you would further marginalize people who are just trying to connect to others who share their experience. That is way more anti-queer than the word “demisexuality” could ever be.

24 11 2011
Actually Queer

THANK YOU for this blog post. Everything you say is 100% accurate. “Demisexuals” are just morons who don’t understand how sexual attraction actually works.

16 12 2011
Your mom

Actually Queer I’m pretty sure they understand how it works because they have to constantly hear about it from people like you and the sex obsessed media everyday.
Get off your pink sparkly gay high horse.

29 07 2012

Uh, yah. Not true. Sexual attraction can “work” in many ways. Many people are sexually attracted to many different aspects of people/things. But there are definite differences in how some perceive sexual attraction. And if you are ACTUALLY homosexual, you should be able to understand the differences in sexual attraction… as the “norm” is heterosexual attraction… and your argument can be used by oppressive heterosexuals about homosexuals. I wouldn’t think you were going to be the one who was going to be biased and hateful of a sexual preference….

20 12 2011
You and me could write a panromance | BINARYTHIS

[…] people that insist that asexuality is just another example of “not queer enough” (see this polemic about why asexuality is anti-promiscuity and therefore anti-queer). While I can see why some people […]

23 12 2011

I actually consider myself to be demisexual. I think most people are confused about what it actually means. When I meet people I have no sexual interest. I look at a person the same way I look at a Renaissance painting, like I am just observing them. In the past, I’ve been out with friends and they can point a person out and say look how hot he is, and while he may appear attractive, there is no sexual response. But once I get to truly know a person then over time a sexual attraction can develop. And I’m not talking a week. I have to know a person literally to the depth of their soul, before I can feel any sort of sexual attraction. And it is a dramatic change (not instant though), going from having no attraction to having such a strong attraction you want to rip the person clothes off and go at it like wild animals. And also kind of frighting, at first you have that moment of ‘what is wrong with me’. For me it is based largely on intellect, but also personality. To know a person this well, takes a long time. With me it has only happened with two people. With the one it ruined our friendship because she was female like me. We had been great friends for several years and then I wanted her as more than a friend and she said goodbye (she actually said more than that, but it was not flattering or kind). The other, me and him still talk, but we see each other less. Seems to be the only way to keep our friendship. Unfortunately I have already noticed a pattern. Though it has only happened with two people it is easy to spot. When I get to the point that I have a great friendship with a person, now I’m sexually interested in them. So I can either keep less close friends, or pick friends that if by chance I do become attracted to them, they would be willing to be more than friends. To me neither is that appealing, so I find myself having almost no friends and being alone a lot.

4 01 2012

” When I meet people I have no sexual interest. I look at a person the same way I look at a Renaissance painting”

OMG. You are amazing. I’ve been trying to describe how I feel regarding the attractiveness of “hot” people for AGES. Intellectually, I know they’re attractive and there may even be certain aspects of a person’s appearance that appeals to me on an aesthetic level. My reaction, however, is very much akin to liking one painter’s style versus another’s. I’m gonna start using that analogy from now on. Thank you!

6 01 2012

Glad I was able to help. One advantage to being a writing, coming up with creative descriptions.

24 12 2011

My understanding of demi-sexuality is that the emotional connection creates the sexual desire. Any type of kink or sexuality, is simply a tool for enhancing a pre-existing emotional connection rather then a desire in it’s self.

I don’t demi-sexual is anti-sexual. I think it’s pro-relationships. Some thing can be for something with out being against something.

There was a flag with flowers on it for “romance fetish” That might be the closest flag for demisexual combine with any kinks they might have in the context of a relationship.

31 01 2012

As a few people have stated, the point of demisexuality is the complete lack of sexual attraction prior to reaching a point of intense emotional intimacy.

This ISN’T like a conservative or “normative” situation of taking it slow or getting to know someone. Presumably, in that scenario, one would be sexually attracted but holding off. Maybe sexually attractive but not feeling safe, or not trusting the other. Demisexuality deviates from this idea in that there is no sexual attraction as a basis for romance – instead, it is more like the opposite.

In my case, I have absolutely no interest in someone the first time I see them. I cannot “check people out” on the street – it’s a meaningless concept to me. I would never be sexually attracted to anyone “on the spot”. I have to know them very intimately, and even then it’s very unlikely that I would be sexually attracted to them.

It isn’t just romantic love – it’s the complete absence of sexual interest for anyone that you don’t know extremely well.

9 02 2012

Love how a faggot is complaining about other people’s sexuality.

Stay classy, homos

30 04 2012

In regards to this comment: “I don’t buy the argument that demisexual can exist without denigrating promiscuity.”


This is not an issue for me. If everyone saw me publicly as a ‘slut’ – since you mentioned slut shaming – I could care less. In fact there were times in the past when I actively pretended to be sleeping with several men, even though I was not – purely to see people’s reaction.
I am very anti-denigration. I’m all for sexual freedom!

But if you ask me what I actually feel sexually – the truth is, I feel nothing until a strong emotional connection is formed. I just have ZERO input and desire to have sex with anyone out there. This is just the truth of how I feel. It’s a truth I don’t share with people, precisely because they might react the way you just did. I definitely do not want people to interpret my personal sexual instincts or lack thereof – as a political statement against promiscuity!

2 05 2012

Like you I am a demisexual, but I am also a major flirt. The people I do flirt with know I am not really interested in them sexually and that for me it is fun; but others who have observed often do think I am a ‘slut’ just because of how much I flirt.
People misunderstand and think that those of us who are demisexual are frigid or view sex as gross, but it’s not true. I am very open minded when it comes to sexuality, but I just need that connection before I can find someone sexually appealing. A sexually ‘normal’ person would not have sex with someone who did not arouse them, so why would a demisexual

10 07 2012

Demisexual is the only sexuality that fits me. I can’t get aroused by “strangers”. The idea of acts with someone can arouse me, but if I act on it physically I feel nothing. But if I am close to someone emotionally I can feel the arousal most find on a more frequent basis/with people they have’t formed a bond with. It isn’t being on the prudish side of normal. It’s not being able to feel anything. I’d give just about anything to feel attraction/arousal like most do. Being demi is lonely and confusing.

29 07 2012

The blogger does not understand the basis of demisexual. Has nothing to do with “slut-slamming” or whatever else, or homophobia. And to think you have an understanding of a concept like demisexuality by reading a definition is stupid. (I use the word stupid, because the blogger thought to use it to describe demisexuality without actually understanding its meaning.)
Demisexuaity, at its core, has nothing to do with the CHOICE of waiting for sex. I’ll describe its basic principles more scientifically. Demisexuals do not have the same hormonal reaction when looking at other people as most people do. Most people can look at someone and say, “oooh… she’s hot,” or “man, he’s sexy, I would totally date/screw/etc. him.” Demisexuals simply are not wired to relate perception of someone’s looks to their attraction for that person. Most of the time, demisexual relationships form out of long-time friendships, because the attraction ONLY stems from having a very intimate (as in close) relationship with someone. They are not and cannot be “attracted” to someone unless they know them deeply. Whether it stems from a different hormone balance, a slight mutation of a genetic trait that covers sexuality, or a neurological difference with how the pleasure centers of the brain work, who knows? But it isn’t a choice that person makes… not to have sex. If it were, that would just be the abstinence choice…
It’s more of an inability to see someone in an attractive manner in the conventional way someone would at first glance–by looks. And it is innate. Not chosen. So if you have someone claiming to be demisexual by choice… that really isn’t true. That person is just someone who CHOOSES not to have sex or whathaveyou for personal reasons. Someone who is demisexual does not see people as outwardly attractive, regardless of who they are. Outward beauty/sexiness does not compute. It does not register. And that is why it is only on the second level of attraction (the bonding over a period of time, causing a connection to that person) that will attract a demisexual to someone else.
I should know. I had no idea all my life growing up, when my girlfriends would drool over celebrities or whatever boy in school… and I was always like… “So?” Didn’t find them attractive… and they would wonder why. I’d always say “well, he’s a nice guy… but..” when they would mention our star quarterback (the high school heartthrob of every girl in school)… because I knew him and had most of my classes with him. Unless I was friends with someone a very long time, and had a positive emotional outlook of them (they didn’t make me angry, mad, hurt, etc. more than being positive), I was not attracted to anyone. Even now, being married. I love my husband very much. But when he makes me terribly angry, or hurts me, and it feels as though it is harming the bond we have, my attraction for him starts going away. And when we are happy, and supportive, that is what attracts me. Even though he is my husband, he was not physically attractive to me. That’s because nobody is. That part of my brain, I guess, did not open up… never became anything… I’ve never been able to be attracted to someone because they were “hot” or whatever else.
That’s demisexuality.
And I had no idea it was… until reading something about it on an online group and going, “hey….. THAT’S why I am like this. It isn’t just me!!!”

5 10 2012

Michelle, everything you said about Demisexuality being a wired hormonal response and not a choice is absolutely true, but from the rest of your descriptions, I noticed what you’re describing is Asexuality, not Demisexuality. Why? Because you mentioned: “Even though he is my husband, he was not physically attractive to me.” That does not classify as demisexual: it’s asexual, since demisexuals, after getting into a close relationship (especially one as close as marriage), actually do feel lust, arousal, and sexual attraction, but /only/ towards the one they love, and it’s powerful.

To put it bluntly, a demisexual is literally asexual /except/ towards their partner with which they have a strong trust and emotional connection with: with that one person, and that one person alone, frankly, the demisexual can both feel and act like a complete slut with all that raging hornyness for their partner! 🙂

Asexuals can be emotionally attracted to people, but they cannot be physically or sexually attracted to them as you mentioned. You’re saying you do not feel sexual feelings towards your husband. Demisexuals /do/ have sexual feelings (and sexual attraction) towards their partner, especially a husband, because Primary Sexual Attraction develops /only/ towards their own partner when in a strong emotional relationship (or if they love someone that they’re still only close best friends with at the moment).

One comment by an actual demisexual that /seriously/ hit the nail on the head with demisexuality, is each comment on this thread by Fae.

I know about all this because my fiancee had never felt sexual attraction or arousal, even the slightest, tiniest, most scientific sense, ever, until she started getting strong feelings for me. Her situation is /exactly/ the same as Fae’s except my fiancee had only ever been with one guy: me.

29 07 2012

How funny…. apparently I commented this blog a year ago, and didn’t notice until I started scrolling up and reading stuff again… and here I was posting again… how funny.

17 08 2012
Karl Bolton

First and foremost I am a queer man. I just want to be upfront with my privalage, as I do understand that a mans voice in a conversation surrounding masogony is problematic at best.
I would just like to share my experience with my identity as demisexual as it relates to sex and sexual atraction.
I have a rich relationship with sexual pleasure and a deep connection to my body. Over the years I have had the pleasure of sharing my body with many others; one to one and in groups. But there is a hitch. I do not experience sexual arousal with those that I do not have trust relationships with. By this I do not mean chemistry, or atraction, I mean sexual arousal and atraction. For example, I recently hooked up with a new friend. We kissed, licked, sucked, tickled, wrestled, and spanked (all of which I would consider essential parts of great sex), however, though I found the person very attractive, and was able to gain a lot of pleasure from the physical exchange that we had, during this time I was not even remotely sexually aroused.
I would love to have one night stands, spontaneous sexual escapades, steamy anonymous encounters and the like, however, whatever is in control of my sexual on/off switch is not a part of my conscious control.
Consider what it would be like to be in your twenties and not be able to interact sexually as your peers do, especially considering what an amazing opportunity for sexual exploration lies within the queer community.
Food for thought.

27 08 2012

I think there is an issue when you try and say what makes an identification different rather then just focusing on what it means. The same problem comes with pansexuality. A lot of people seem to try to define pansexuality by saying what makes it different from bisexuality rather then just saying what pansexual means. this is a problem because it imposes a definition on bisexuality that most bisexuals don’t agree with.

31 08 2012

I just discovered the term demi for myself and I thought I should add something.

It’s a term that describes attaction. For me it means that I’m only sexually attracted to my closest friends. That doesn’t mean I’ve never had sex – I have with people I was not attracted to (out of curiosity mostly), and I masturbate frequently as my libido is quite active.

Gender doesn’t even factor – it’s a primary sexual charactristic! Hetero or gay demis make me think they’re just fussy lovers! For the longest time I thought I was pansexual, but even that was shaky as I couldn’t even think of people as sexy or attractive, and I ran like woah if someone kissed me or did did more, disgusted not with myself but with the guy/girl.

Lately I’d been playing with the thought of me being asexual, but then I remembered that I kept getting crushes on and wanting to sleep with my closest friends, and only them. Hell at one point I got attracted to my own sister (but without the crush, and thankfully I got over that).

If this makes sense. I’m asexual, except when I become non-asexual towards the ppeople I share a close bond with.

I’ll still be using the term ‘bisexual’ though people don’t recognize pan or demi.

6 10 2012

Hmmm, I’m Demisexual, and male, so maybe I can make this clear. I’ve never been sexually aroused by someone I wasn’t already emotionally intimate with, to the degree that the single lap dance I’ve received was entirely just uncomfortable and awkward.

6 12 2012

As a hetero-demisexual, I have to let people know that there is a VERY BIG difference between being a demisexual and choosing to save yourself. When you’re demisexual, you don’t feel that primary attraction (sexual) towards people you don’t really know or don’t have an emotional bond to, but you can feel a secondary attraction (romantic). Some demis don’t feel any sort of attractions towards any genders, but may be panromantic. Others may be homo or hetero-romantic. When a person is chaste or is waiting, they are choosing not to have sex with strangers, but it doesn’t mean they’re not feeling that sexual attraction. With demisexuals (and asexuals), we just don’t feel it. Period. Nor is it some sort of slut-shaming. We demisexuals and asexuals could not give less of a fuck of those who have sex five times a week in group orgies. You don’t CHOOSE to be a demisexual just like homesexuality isn’t a choice. It’s the way you’re born. No demisexual ever goes, “omg I so want to bang him/her/othe but I’m going to choose to wait. That makes me a demisexual.” No, it does not work that way. It’s like that who has OCD thing. There are genuine people with OCD (from minor to severe) and there are people that have very little understanding of the term. But, there are other people that tell people with minor OCD that they don’t really have it.

And since when is it a person’s job to to tell us that what we’re feeling is not real or not “official”? And the beauty of everything is that it is never black and white. So, whoever thinks demisexuality is about slut-shaming or homophobia (I don’t know how it relates to that. Kind of shows how much this person know about demisexuality), really needs to do some extensive research.

31 12 2012

The prefix Demi does mean half but the experience is not half of sexuality, it’s experiencing half the types of sexual attraction. Sexual people experience primary attraction (to body, voice, and the other things that can come at first glance) and secondary attraction (personality and emotional bond). Asexual people experience neither primary, nor secondary attractions (don’t mistake libido or behavior for attraction. Charts for the different types of attraction are very helpful). Finally the demisexual, demisexual people experience only secondary attraction, the attraction is ultimately as strong as a sexual person’s (not half sexual) but the other half of sexual attraction is not present. This is how I make sense of the name. The rest of it has been explained very well in previous comments.

8 07 2013

I disagree with your assertion that demisexuality cannot exisist without denigrating other orientations. What demisexuality means is that a demisexual has no desire to have sex before a deep connection is formed. With more sexual people the desire to have sex (with another person) is still there wether or not the person in question waits for a deeper emotional connection to have sex. It also means that while a demisexual could find someone aesthetically pleasing that doesn’t translate into sexual desire so a demisexual wouldn’t think “wow that person is so hot I want to sleep with them” even if a sexual person would not actually sleep with that hypothetical person until knowing them better they still have sexual attraction towards that person. Another way of explaining demisexuality is through crushes. Most people experience crushes on people they don’t know very well (God knows it is blasphemy to not have a crush when you are a teenage girl at a sleepover). Demisexuals don’t generally get crushes on “that kid who sits across from me in Chemistry who I’ve never talked to” instead they are more likely to crush on their best friend.

I do however agree that the etymology is strange. I hope this kind of clears things up and doesn’t offend anyone.

17 07 2013

I think the main idea is that a demisexual, like an asexual, would be incapable of fancying strangers – they could look through a magazine full of naked supermodels of both genders and feel no sexual attraction or stirrings at all: no “wow they’re hot!”
However, as the demisexual got to know and fall in love with a partner then, unlike an asexual, they would begin to feel sexual attraction for that partner; “wow, now that we’ve formed an intimate bond I just realised you’re really hot!”
The main thing is that they don’t make a conscious choice to resist any sexual desire until they know someone better; rather, they are incapable of feeling any desire until they know someone better.
Hope that made sense…

24 06 2014

I read almost half the comments, too many to read all, so I hope I won’t be repeating what other would have already said.. And english isn’t my mother tongue so I apologize if I doesn’t express myself very well…

I understand you don’t agree with the term in itself “demisexual”, but I don’t understand how you can say that demisexual is sexual (since it’s not “asexual”) and so it’s bullshit to use it.
I identify as demi, and if I do, that’s because being “sexual” as most people are is nothing like being “demisexual” as it fit for me. Minorities are always defined compared to the “majority”, the main thing.. And most people are able to have sex on “one night stand”, with people they just met, with people they don’t know at all, and so on.
Being demi doesn’t implicate that they’re better or what, I don’t even know why this came out in the first place.
Me for instance, I really CAN’T have sex with any people I could find “at my taste”, so to speak. And it really frustrate me. I wish I could find a guy I find cute, ask him and have sex, just like that. (for information, I’m a transguy panromantic and pansexual but mostly gay, well it’s complicated) And that’s not that I don’t want to, or that I find it ethically better or what. It’s just that I don’t have any sexual attraction even to people I find aesthetically at my taste. And since I do have a sexdrive…. Yeah it’s kinda frustrating.

So well, I feel a bit denied when I read your post, when I read that it’s BS, and anti-queer etc…. Being gay doesn’t imply that every gay love anal sex. And identify as “gay” doesn’t imply “love for anal sex”… Being demisexual doesn’t mean all other sexual people will have sex at the first date or what. But only that it can happen to them to get aroused only by looking at someone, and (want to) have sex with this “someone”.
Me, as a demi (and I don’t imply it’s the same for all demis…!) I just can’t. I don’t get a boner when I see a very handsome-by-my-criteras guy, I don’t feel aroused.. I can look at him as I would look at a very beautiful painting (I mean by that : aesthetic attraction), I could want to get to know him if I were not that shy lol, but I could never ask him to follow me at my place to a quick fuck or something like that.

And the existence of the “demi” term and way of identifying oneself it – on the contrary – a way of saying that not all men are sexual by nature (able to have sex attraction whenever they saw someone they find beautiful (“hot”) and not all female are “romance then sex” by nature. Some women are sexual, some are highly sexual, that being said without implying any “slut” related thought. It’s just the way it is. Asexuality or demisexuality aren’t the “women’ common way of being about sex” and “sexuality” in the sense of “being able to find people hot and getting aroused by them and being able to have ONS” isn’t the “common man behaviour about sex” neither. So in my opinion it totally goes with the fluidity of sexuality idea.

13 07 2015

Hello. I just thought that as someone who identifies as demisexual, I should share my thoughts on what I experience as someone who is demisexual that may shed some light on the issue. I do not experience any sexual attraction to other people without having a very deep emotional/mental connection with them. Any sexual attraction I may feel towards someone only develops out of that connection. Being in a person’s physical presence or finding them aesthetically attractive does not lead to any sexual attraction for me. Aesthetic attraction and sexual attraction are very different by the way. A person or painting may look nice to me and that is me experiencing aesthetic attraction. However, if someone is aesthetically attractive to me, that will not lead to sexual attraction for me. Of course that doesn’t mean that aesthetic attraction always leads to sexual attraction for sexual people. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t.
Here is another way of better understanding demisexuality. Someone who is asexual may still masturbate or have sex, but they don’t do it out of any sexual attraction that they feel towards others. For some people who are asexual but do not experience sexual repulsion, sex/masturbation still feels good. For someone who is demisexual, sex/mastubation can feel good. The difference is that no sexual attraction will be a part of the decision to have sex with someone unless there is a deep emotional/mental connection. If sexual attraction arises from a deep emotional/mental connection the sexual attraction being experienced is secondary sexual attraction.
This is my understanding of the difference between sexual, asexual, and demisexual. Of course there is gray asexual as well, but I won’t get into that now. The reason why I am explaining this is because in your post you seemed to be saying that demisexuality feeds slut shaming (or that’s what I understood it to be saying). I think you may have misunderstood the nature of demisexuality. This also concerns me because I happen to be a demisexual feminist who hates slut shaming and everything to do with it and I want it to be understood that what I am experiencing as a someone who is demisexual has nothing to do with reinforcing normative sex. I just don’t experience primary sexual attraction. It should also be noted that having a primary sexual attraction doesn’t mean that someone will or won’t have sex with the other individual, it just means there is a sexual attraction there. Obviously some people want to get to know someone before having sex with them. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t an initial sexual attraction though. It just means it wasn’t acted on. People who are sexual or demisexual or asexual or anything in-between can decide to have sex or not to for any number of reasons and that is totally cool. The issue of demisexality is only an issue of sexual attraction. It has nothing to do with whether someone should have sex or whether they want to have sex. Having sexual attraction and having sex are very different things.
In the end, the reason why all of this mattered to me is that it helps me understand what I am experiencing in my romantic relationships with others. I used to be confused and anxious in my relationships because I didn’t understand what I was feeling. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have ever worried about whether I was demisexual or not. It’s very easy for me to tell someone how I am feeling without even using the word demisexual. In fact, with so much misunderstanding around the term, it’s almost better. Obviously, given the nature of how I experience sexual attraction I may have the privilege of not having to worry about being referred to as a slut. It sucks that slut shaming exists and I hate that being asexual or demisexual is considered morally superior by some people who feel that sex is sinful or wrong. It obviously isn’t true and the idea of any superiority for being demisexual should be snuffed out. It especially does’t make sense because demisexuality isn’t a choice. Also, just a side note, I have never met someone who considers people that are demisexual to be oppressed. So, just thought I would clarify that important point as well.
I hope what I said makes sense and that I explained that well. If you disagree, have any questions, or feel that I misunderstood something you said, please let me know.

13 07 2015

One more thing I forgot to add. You can still have sex as a demisexual and not be married if you develop sexual attraction from a deep mental/emotional connection. In my second to last paragraph I may have made it not sound like that isn’t the case when I said that demisexual and asexual people may not have to deal with as much slut shaming. In fact, if I develop secondary sexual attraction and decide to have sex with someone out of wedlock, I could still experience slut shaming. So, I suppose the statement I made about having the privilege of not having to worry about being slut shamed is actually somewhat flawed and not well thought out. Sorry about that. Anyways, I hope the rest of what I said made sense and I think that was the only thing I could have probably said differently. The rest seems fine on a second reading from what I can see. Hope that helps.

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