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Am I Demisexual? 15 Signs You Identify With This Sexuality

If you only feel sexual attraction after forming an emotional bond, this label may apply to you.

Do you find yourself disinterested—or even repulsed—by the idea of having sex? Does it take months of knowing someone before you feel comfortable getting physically intimate with them? Does nothing turn you on more than having a deep emotional connection with another person? Then you may be asking yourself: am I demisexual?

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When did the term "demisexuality" emerge?

The word "demisexual" was coined back in 2007 on a forum called The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) by a user called Sonofzeal. "As far as asexuality goes, I'm what I refer to as "demisexual," they wrote. "I do experience sexual attraction, but extremely rarely and only when there's a deep emotional bond already." Flash forward to well over a decade later, and the term has become much more mainstream, with dating sites including Tinder, Hinge, and OK Cupid offering this identifier to users.

What does demisexual mean?

"Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond," according to the Demisexuality Resource Center. The prefix "demi," which means small or halfway, connotes that a demisexual person finds that their sexuality lies somewhere between allosexuality (feeling sexual attraction to others) and asexuality (feeling no sexual attraction to others), says the AVEN.

People who identify as being demisexual do experience sexual attraction, but it's almost always predicated on having an intense emotional bond with another person. While that may not sound particularly unusual, demisexuals aren't simply characterized by needing to like a person before feeling ready to have sex. If you identify as demisexual, you may find it easier to feel attracted to someone with whom you already have an established friendship.

Types of demisexual sexuality

two young people laying in the grass and looking at each other
zeynep boğoçlu/iStock

Panromantic demisexual 

People who identify as being panromantic demisexual can develop romantic feelings for individuals of any gender identity and typically tend to feel that their partner's gender does little to define their relationship. Like other demisexuals, however, they typically won't develop sexual desire for anyone until they feel a strong emotional bond with them.

Biromantic demisexual

Individuals who are biromantic are romantically attracted to more than one gender identity. Regardless of the gender identity of their potential partner, biromantic demisexuals will typically not feel sexual attraction to them straight away, but only after their relationship solidifies.

RELATED: 14 Little-Known Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life. 

How is gray asexuality different from demisexuality?

Gray asexuality, also known as gray-a or gray-ace, is a broad term that may seem fitting to those who see themselves as being somewhere on the spectrum of asexuality. "Gray asexuality can be hard to understand because of its broad definition," The Demisexual Resource Center explains. "It encompasses people who identify strongly with asexuality, but don't feel like asexual is the most correct word for them."

The organization also states that "some demisexuals consider demisexuality to be under the gray asexual umbrella, because it involves feeling sexual attraction in specific circumstances. Some demisexuals also relate to other definitions of gray asexuality, such as finding experiences of sexual attraction confusing or hard to pin down." Some people may use both labels if they feel that both apply to their experience.

Demisexual vs. Pansexual: How do they differ?

Cropped high angle shot of an unidentifiable man and woman holding hands on a table

Pansexual people find that they can feel sexual attraction to people of any gender identity. (Bisexual people, on the other hand, may feel sexual attraction to one or more gender identity.) Demisexuals may or may not have a preferred gender. For demisexuals, the most important aspect of sexual attraction is the deep feeling of sharing a mutual emotional connection.

Demisexual vs. Demiromantic: How do they differ?

People who identify as demiromantic will only develop romantic feelings for another person after a strong emotional connection develops. In other words, those who are demisexual lack an initial sexual attraction while those who are demiromantic lack an initial romantic attraction. While some people who identify as demisexual also consider themselves demiromantic, it is possible to identify as one without the other.

Demisexual vs. Sapiosexual: How do they differ?

People who identify as sapiosexual will only develop sexual feelings for another after that person has demonstrated high intelligence. Unlike demisexuals, they may not need to feel emotionally connected to this person to pursue a relationship. Sapiosexuals lack primary attraction to those they don't perceive as intelligent, while demisexuals lack primary attraction to those whom they have not yet bonded with emotionally.

Signs of Demisexuality

Here are the 15 signs you might identify as a demisexual:

1. Demisexual people may not appreciate physical intimacy—at least not right off the bat.

young women talking on the couch

Physical intimacy can be uncomfortable and make you feel a bit anxious. While you may enjoy platonically hugging friends or don't mind shaking hands with colleagues, touch that feels more suggestive may be overwhelming or unbearable, at least before you've developed sexual attraction for that person.

On demisexual person explained to Wired that though they do have general sexual desires not connected to any particular other person, "If someone tried to initiate something [sexually], I'd throw my hands in the air and run out of the room screaming."

2. Demisexual people might grow up feeling different.

Long before you ever wondered if you might be demisexual, you probably felt as though your sex life was different from that of other people. Since your teen years or even earlier, you've been aware that you don't experience attraction the same way as allosexuals and perhaps felt alienated when your friends talked about how sexy someone was or described their dating lives and sexual exploits. You felt like you might be missing something or that there was something deeply wrong with you. There isn't!

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3. Developing a close emotional bond is incredibly important to you.

Trust, openness, and emotional connection are what really gets you going. You feel a high when you experience emotional intimacy with another person and share personal stories. Where other people might feel a thrill after sleeping with someone else, you feel a jolt of satisfaction after a night of great, personal conversation.

4. Demisexual people do enjoy sex, but only under specific circumstances. 

While some people on the asexuality spectrum may not enjoy or desire to ever have sex, demisexuals do—but it has to be on your terms. An emotional bond has to be established before desire to sleep with a specific person kicks in. You would feel exposed and uncomfortable rather than aroused if thrown together with even the most attractive stranger.

5. Demisexual people may be dubbed "prudes."

Friends who don't really understand demisexuality may give you a hard time about your tendency to show little interest in getting laid. You've tried to explain that you just aren't interested in sex with anyone you don't feel connected to, but it's a foreign concept to them, and they assume you're just nervous about sex.

6. You aren't alone.

Diverse group of friends taking a selfie

A demisexual person can also be gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, or any other orientation, and may or may not have a gender preference when it comes to sexual or romantic attraction. So while you might feel like you don't fit in with a sex-obsessed culture, take heart: there are many other demisexuals out there and even if they aren't noisy about it, they are numerous.

A 2022 survey conducted by Georgetown University found that 3.2 percent of all students of the campus population identified as asexual. And remember, there are even more demisexual people than asexuals.

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7. Demisexual people don't get "hook-up culture."

You feel out of step with the modern hook-up culture. While your friends feel a night out is not complete without a make-out session at the bar or at least getting a phone number with the potential for future fun, you'd be perfectly happy just chilling in a quiet corner and chatting with friends or getting to know a quirky stranger, with no interest in having anything progressing beyond a handshake.

8. Some demisexual people are in the market for a relationship.

It's not that you aren't attracted to others or interested in sexual relationships, and while you might get aroused by physical touch, you won't be fully turned on by the physicality alone. The emotional element is integral to feeling a true sense of connection and sexual desire.

One Redditor broke it down this way on the board r/demisexuality: "I always recoiled and quickly withdrew from socializing altogether out of fear of being pressured into anything romantic or sexual with others, but as soon as I got home and in my own bedroom, I found myself longing for a relationship with someone… but the severe anxiety I felt whenever someone expressed any romantic interest in me kept me from dating anyone or even flirting back when it did happen."

9. Demisexual people are not often driven by sexual desire.

You may feel baffled by how much time and effort others expend in pursuit of sex. It's just not as important to you, and it's not a major consideration in how you live your life.

"Overall, I feel like I'm not as sexually charged as the rest of the world and rarely feel any sexual attraction towards anyone," wrote a 23-year-old woman on a Reddit forum dedicated to topics about demisexuality. "When I do feel attraction, it's after I get to know them or discover that they value me for my intelligence or another personal attribute."

10. Demisexual people don't usually rate strangers' hotness.

When your friends talk about how hot some stranger is or rate a person at the bar on a scale of 1–10, you're usually not participating. It's as if the concept is entirely alien to you. Judging a person solely by their looks or by their online dating profile without having even spoken to them doesn't come naturally to you and isn't fun for you to do.

11. Demisexual people have a healthy solo sex life.

woman smiling alone in sunset
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Just because you don't feel sexual attraction to other people as readily as allosexuals do doesn't mean that you don't enjoy regular sexual release or fantasizing. For a lot of demisexual people (especially if they're single), sexual gratification come from masturbation.

12. Sex is about connecting for many demisexuals.

When you do have sex with someone else, it's in pursuit of a deeper emotional bond. Physical touch serves as a method for connecting and getting to better understand and appreciate your partner, in addition to bringing them satisfaction and pleasure.

13. Some demisexuals may not respond to sexually charged conversations.

Your friends may enjoy having suggestive conversations with strangers at the bar or through Tinder. But heavy flirting in person or sexting over an app just doesn't appeal to you, since you have to feel emotionally bonded before desiring someone.

14. Some demisexual people find themselves dating their friends.

You've heard so many dating gurus warn against "falling into the friend zone," but that's your favorite place! Some of the most serious relationships you've had began as platonic friendships, where you'd gotten to know another person deeply before progressing to romance. If the same friend had just met you and hit on you at a bar, there's no way it would have gone anywhere. But after a few months of hanging out as friends and learning what really makes them tick? Game on.

15. Demisexual people may have sexual fantasies or enjoy erotic fiction.

man receiving a sext message in bed – Yuri A/Shutterstock

As we mentioned above, demisexuals may have very active sexual fantasy lives—whether that means enjoying erotic stories, watching porn, or creating their own mental fantasies. There may even be a major emotional component to these fantasies that give them an extra charge for the demisexual person.

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Terms Related to Demisexuality

If the label demisexual doesn't feel quite right to you, you may be more comfortable with one of the following terms, all of which refer to people who only experience sexual attraction sometimes or under certain circumstances.

  • Asexual-ish
  • Gray-a
  • Semisexual
  • Sexual-ish

Wrapping Up

That's it for our rundown of demisexuality, but be sure to check back in with us soon for even more information about identity and relationships. You can also sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar content, as well as the latest in wellness, entertainment, and travel.

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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