Many people talk about having a true, deep and meaningful connection with a person before wanting to get physically intimate.
‘When we feel empowered, advocate for our needs, and have self-acceptance, we are more likely to have enjoyable sex,’ says sex and relationship therapist Shadeen Francis.
However, there’s a select few members of society who don’t just strive to attach feelings to sexual attraction, but view it as a necessity, which means casual sex, a one-night stand or – in some cases – a kiss with a stranger is pretty much a no-go.
If this sexual orientated lifestyle sums up your feelings towards sex, emotion and relationships, you might be what is known as a demisexual. While the exact number of demisexual individuals in the UK is unknown, this demisexuality subreddit has over 69,000 members, #demisexual has over two million mentions on Instagram, and over 266 million mentions on TikTok.
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What is demisexuality?
In 2019, Brian Langevin, executive director of Asexual Outreach, told the Guardian: ‘Demisexuality is a sexual orientation like gay or bisexual.’
According to resource website , the meaning of ‘demisexuality’ can be defined as: ‘A sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond.
‘Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity.’
To put it simply, demisexuals only like someone once they’ve formed a strong emotional connection. Then, and only then, can the possibility of sexual attraction arise.
Francis notes: ‘If sexual attraction matters to you for sex, great that you know that. If not, that’s great too. What is most important is to know yourself and honour your needs.’
Lidia Buonaiuto, 30, explained to The Guardian: ‘I don’t fancy people. I don’t have a primary sexual attraction to anyone the way most people do, ever. I identify as straight and I’m not in any way a prude, but I need to have a deep emotional connection with someone before any sexual feelings appear. Demisexuality is not a preference or personality trait.’
At school, Buonaiuto didn’t have crushes, couldn’t relate to her peers conversations about sexual desire and didn’t feel anything for “objectively hot” boys who tried it on with her.
‘I can’t have one-night stands or sexual escapades or fancy a random person who is interested in me,’ says Buonaito. ‘I don’t have that desire at all, my brain doesn’t work that way and I forced myself into situations that just ended up giving me a lot of emotional distress.’
Buonaito stresses that she isn’t celibate though. ‘I have sexual urges but it’s only when I’m in a relationship that has come out of an intense emotional connection first. I don’t have a physical “type”, it doesn’t matter what they look like,’ she says. ‘My sexual fantasies are never physical, it will be about a guy coming over to me in a library, having the same favourite author, talking, bonding … I can’t feel an urge for anyone without that, and it’s so rare for me to find it at all.’
Is demisexual a new term?
The Independent reports the term ‘demisexual’ first came to light in 2006 on the website of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network – a website designed in 2001 to provide a resource on all things asexual – and has been gaining traction ever since, with more and more people identifying with the orientation.
‘It’s very true that demographics skew far younger and the primary reason is that the asexual community grew up on the internet. It wasn’t until 2001 that asexual people came to discuss what had always existed but now had a language,’ Langevin told the Guardian.
Struggling to identify with her sexuality for years, in 2016 Washington Post writer Meryl Williams detailed how she came across the term ‘demisexuality’ on Twitter and started an investigation into what it meant, which ultimately helped her come to terms with her own sexual orientation.
‘I’m just glad that a term for my sexuality exists, even if it’s one I’ll probably have to explain to my future partners,’ she wrote. ‘As I continue to date, that conversation will probably serve as a decent screening process.’
After stating that she was queer during Pride Month, 56th governor of New York Andrew Cuomo’s d that she identifies as demisexual.
During an Instagram Live conversation with activist Donato Tramuto, the 23-year-old said: ‘When I was in elementary school, I feared that I was lesbian. When I was in middle school, I came out to my family and close friends as bisexual. When I was in high school, I discovered pansexuality and thought, “That’s the flag for me.”’