We live in a world where fast romance is made easy with dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble. But what if you want more than just a hook up? What if you don’t even feel sexually attracted to someone until that emotional connection has been established? Well, you may be demisexual.
Demisexuality is often forgotten when discussing the queer spectrum. With no letter designation in the LGBTQIA+ acronym and rare discourse surrounding its meaning, many individuals aren’t exposed to the concept of demisexuality until they frantically search Google for answers to their feelings.
Hell, even the Word document I’m currently typing into doesn’t recognize demisexuality—an aggressive red squiggle appears each time I type it out.
My first encounter with demisexuality was via Tumblr. A post was circulating around my dashboard about the spectrum of sexualities, and my eyes paused on the word “demi”. According to the Demisexuality Research Center, demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond.
When considering demisexuality, it’s important to distinguish sexual attraction from sexual behavior, as you can’t control the former but can choose whether or not to participate in the latter. Many people denounce demisexuality as they think it’s normal to only want to get into bed with someone after getting to know them. Feeling sexually attracted to your barista or Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, doesn’t come naturally to those who are demisexual though. While the chance to do the horizontal tango with any of these individuals is not always plausible or may be halted due to a variety of reasons, the fact of the matter is that these sexual feelings are not present at all for demisexual people until the emotional bond has been formed.
Demisexual individuals are actually considered to be on the asexual spectrum for this reason. While some demisexuals are uninterested in sex and don’t feel sexual attraction for the most part, the key difference is that they are capable of feeling sexual attraction. Sexuality is incredibly complex, so it’s crucial to remember that even people who identify as demisexual will have a lot of variation within that term.
Anna Drummond, a recently graduated Emerson alumna, says she thought she was straight until certain college experiences prompted her to search for a way to describe what she was feeling.
“I wasn’t emotionally or mentally feeling anything, until I started talking to this guy. We started out very much as a friendship, and I really came to trust him, emotionally, intellectually, mentally,” says Drummond. “It was all there, and then sexual and romantic attraction happened. It wasn’t like some corny movie where the protagonist realizes their best friend has been hot this entire time, but for me it’s that I don’t experience a sexual attraction for someone from the get-go.”
Drummond added that even if a deeply emotional connection has been formed, it doesn’t mean she’s going to suddenly want to fuck them. “It’s just that if I do fuck, I need/want to have that beforehand.”
My relationship with demisexuality is one that is fairly new. I came to college having never experienced sex before, as it wasn’t something I wanted to engage in while I was in high school. Anyone I would have had sex with in high school likely voted for Trump five months ago, so I dodged a bullet.
The sexual climate of college was aggressive. For two years I participated in hookup culture, inviting stranger after stranger into the most private parts of myself, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled with every kiss, touch, and gasp. I even turned it into a game, but nothing seemed to make me feel, well, anything.
Only now am I discovering that demisexuality explains what I’ve been feeling. The one time I felt anything during sex was when it was with someone I felt so completely connected to, emotionally and mentally. I loved that person, and that love transcended into the bedroom, leaving me satisfied for the first and only time.
It is so important to have conversations about these feelings and ideas that are often hidden. Expression provides visibility, and with visibility comes awareness and understanding of self.
As Drummond so perfectly put it, “All sexualities, whether hidden or not, are valid and have a need to be visible.”
Art by: Taylor Roberts