I’m Dating a Demisexual!

Have you ever heard of demisexuality?

It’s okay if you haven’t. I hadn’t either, until I read a post on a friend’s blog, a response to a woman who had recently come out to her mother as being demisexual (i.e. she doesn’t experience sexual attractions to people unless she already has a strong emotional bond with them).

The argument against this woman (which I do not necessarily agree with – I’m still not entirely sure) was twofold:

1. You should not use LGBT terminology like “coming out” to apply to an identity that is not nearly as oppressed or disadvantaged as LGBT identities are.

2. You should not regard demisexuality as a legitimate identity, because it’s just a way to slut-shame women who don’t need to be emotionally connected to someone to have sex with them.

Initially, as a queer and sex-loving woman, I thought, “Yeah! Stop appropriating our terms and making other folks feel shitty for enjoying loveless sex!”

And then my boyfriend told me he believed himself to be demisexual.

Obviously, this required me to re-examine my beliefs about this orientation. And I realized what I always end up realizing when I initially reject someone’s self-professed labels: We each get to choose how we identify, and it’s no one else’s place to dispute that.

The thing is, there are people who genuinely aren’t sexually interested in folks until they know them a lot better (or, to quote Ewan McGregor’s character in the movie Down With Love, “all the way better”). It’s not intended to slut-shame on any level; it’s not a case of sexual elitism or puritanical ethics; it’s just the way their brains work. And if they feel like they want to use terminology like “coming out” to describe their experiences, we should allow them to do so… provided they are willing to accept the fact that they are (assuming they’re also straight) inherently privileged and not oppressed to nearly the same degree that LGBT people are.

Look, no one’s going to call you a freak for wanting to wait until you know someone better to have sex with them – no one, at least, who isn’t either totally stupid or totally joking. No one’s going to try to strip you of your basic human rights for being sexually choosy. So yeah, it’s probably going to piss some people off if you try to group yourself in with other non-standard sexual identities like gay or asexual or even kinky. That’s something you basically have to be willing to deal with if you want to proudly identify as demisexual.

As for the practicalities of dating someone who’s demisexual, here’s what I can tell you:

1. When we’re out and about together – walking down the street, getting drinks at a bar, whatever – I will occasionally see people that I find attractive. People who, if I were single, I might flirt with. People who seem cute and fuckable to me. By contrast, this never happens to my boyfriend. Literally never. If I point out some girl and say, “Wow, look at that foxy lady,” my man might acknowledge that said woman is pretty or is wearing a nice outfit, but he will express ambivalence on the topic of whether or not she is sexy or whether he would “do” her. I find this a bit vexing.

2. Recently I told my boyfriend that I sometimes wished our relationship was closer to “monogamish” than monogamous – that I would feel happier within our relationship if I were able to kiss and flirt with other people on occasion. While he was okay with this, and readily agreed to this “rule change” in our relationship, he could not fathom feeling how I felt. He could not identify with my need for the excitement of pursuing, and being pursued by, other people. I tried to explain it to him, but he couldn’t really get his head around it.

3. He is much more interested in emotionally-based sex than I am. I’m not sure if this is because he’s demisexual, or just because he’s a gentle, sensitive kind of guy (or maybe they’re related?), but it’s very noticeable. Sometimes I joke that, in some ways, he’s “the girl” in parts of our sexual union, because if he had it his way, I think we would always have slow sex in missionary position. I, on the other hand, would be happy to have hard, fast, doggie-style sex almost every time. We both enjoy having sex both ways (and other ways too), but it’s clear that we each have our favorite way, and they differ.

I believe strongly that the universe delivered me exactly the kind of lover that I was yearning for in the months before I met him. My previous boyfriend had exhibited signs of possibly being very bad at monogamy, and so I felt an acute desire to be with someone who had eyes only for me. So of course, I ended up with a demisexual – someone who can be hit on by a random hot person and have no interest in them whatsoever. I find it amazing how this worked out.

This is a huge topic, one I have a lot of interest in and haven’t yet formulated strong opinions on. So I have to ask you, readers: What’s your take on demisexuality? Do you think it’s a legitimate identity? Are you at all offended by it? Do you know any demisexuals? Tell me all about it!

  • I had never heard of demisexuality until I read your post, but after reading it, I think I might be at least a little bit demisexual. It’s not that I never find random strangers attractive, but it’s so incredibly rare for me. I don’t check out guys on the street, and I don’t check out my coworkers, even though I work in a warehouse where there are plenty of men around. I can’t say that I regularly fantasize about celebrities, etc., and I honestly think it’s because I don’t know them personally. Sure, there are some sexy celebrities, but it’s incredibly rare for me to say that someone I don’t know is attractive enough for me to imagine what it would be like to have sex with them. I’m terrible at flirting because I often don’t recognize when someone is flirting with me. I’ve also noticed a pattern that has existed in my life since I was a teenager. I have always tended to fall for close male friends. I can name several male friends whom I’ve fallen for well into the course of the friendship and only after spending a lot of time together. Having an emotional connection is necessary for me to enjoy having sex with someone. I’ve never been the type of person who could enjoy casual sex. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with people who can enjoy the occasional one-night stand or casual hook-up, but I’ve never been able to do it. I’ve only ever had sex with one person, and he’s my fiance. Even in my relationship, I need an emotional connection to enjoy sex. When we’re both busy and tired, working a lot of overtime, etc., and don’t have the time to connect emotionally or share many intimate moments, my interest in sex tends to drop off severely, and for a while – at least several weeks or a month – that may not bother me at all. I still masturbate during that time, but it takes a while for the lack of sex in our relationship to start to bother me, and when it does start to bother me, it’s usually because the thought that we “should” be having sex creeps in.

    The reason I don’t think I’m completely demisexual is because I am rarely attracted to people I don’t know. It takes a lot for me to be attracted, but it happens. Also, I wouldn’t say that I ever have absolutely no sex drive. I masturbate regularly, but I’d say that I fantasize while masturbating only a small portion of the time. I focus mainly on physical sensations most of the time. I only occasionally watch porn. It’s difficult for me to reach orgasm during sex, and I’m not always sure why. It’s not that I don’t like harder sex. I definitely do, but I tend to prefer deeper over harder. Hard is good, but I like when he penetrates me as deeply as he possibly can and grinds into me rather than thrusting hard and fast. I don’t know if many of these things are true about me because I might be slightly demisexual or because I’m a woman. I tend to need to think about sex before I’m in the mood for sex. I want a lot more foreplay and don’t usually get it. I really need to warm up before I’ll get anywhere close to having an orgasm, and I think it’s good advice for someone like me to start having sex before I’m interested and allow my body to physically catch up in the moment. However, those things seem to be true for many women, so perhaps I’m not necessarily demisexual. I’m really not sure, and I’ll have to think about this some more, but it’s definitely something to consider, and I think it might explain a lot for me.