Am I Demisexual? Here's How To Tell, According To A Sexuality Expert
If you're consistently not in the mood for sex, you might be feeling lost or isolated in a society that, for better or worse, absolutely thrives on it. Maybe the thought of having sex makes you mostly uncomfortable. Or, maybe, even though it just doesn't sound that lit to you, you'd give sex a shot with someone you love dearly, especially to make them feel good or make them happy. In the past, others may have written it off as low sex drive. Or maybe you've been wondering, "Am I demisexual?"
Sexuality educator Jamie J. LeClaire defines demisexuality as "a sexual orientation in which one needs to build a strong emotional connection or bond with a person before they engage with them sexually." Demisexuality falls under the umbrella of asexuality, a term to describe feeling no sexual attraction to people at all. The difference from straight-up asexuality, LeClaire says, is that "most demisexual people still possess a desire for sex, however, it is conditional to the development of a meaningful connection and friendship." If this sounds like you, here are some other aspects of your sex and dating life to consider if you think you might be demisexual.
What you'll notice romantically...
When it comes to your love life, there are a few tendencies you might pick up on that might indicate you're demisexual. For example, you might find that you don't develop crushes on TV or movie characters, actors, musicians, or other celebrities nearly as often as your peers do. Or you might find it rare that you're crushing on anyone IRL — if so, it's only with people you've become emotionally close to and it's over time.
"It takes you a long time and a significant amount of emotional intimacy to develop a romantic, loving attraction to a person," LeClaire describes. "And to, therefore, want to engage in sexual activities with them." If you don't feel any sparks after a few Tinder dates, but tend to fall hard for long-time friends or that one school crush that pops up in your classes, you might be demisexual.
What you'll notice sexually...
When it comes to sex, a key sign you might be demisexual, LeClaire says, is that your interest in sex and relationships is significantly less from that of your peers, or from the messages you receive from media and culture.
Another sign, LeClaire explains, "Flirtation and physical touch from people you don't have a strong, developed relationship with already makes you feel uncomfortable." So, if the idea of sexts and a back massage from a long-term partner sounds lit, but you'd never want those things from someone you just matched with on Bumble? There's a chance you could be demisexual.
Just like asexuality, demisexuality is a spectrum
When it comes to existing under the asexual (ace) umbrella, it can be helpful to understand how different ace people see sex. Many folks on the asexual spectrum, including demisexual people, describe themselves as one of three categories: sex-favorable, sex-indifferent, and sex-repulsed or sex-averse.
As one writer put it, it's a spectrum from "disinterest to disgust." For some ace people, sex is completely off the table, because they're sex-repulsed and it grosses them out. Sometimes, an ace person isn't interested in sex on their own, but they don't mind having it with their partner. Maybe they even look forward to meeting their SO's needs or making their partner feel good — even if they themselves aren't voluntarily interested in sex.
Whatever the case may be, know that identifying under the ace umbrella can look a number of ways, and you can definitely find other people who love and desire the same way you do.
Remember, coming out is a process
Coming out isn't a single conversation or a FB announcement or Insta post — although that might make it easier. It's a process, LeClaire explains, that will probably take place pretty regularly in your life. Apart from your family and existing social circle, you might end up coming out to new friends, to coworkers, and people you're interested in romantically. "Hey, at least you'll get tons of practice!" they say.
While being on the asexual spectrum can mean you're a member of the LGBTQ+ community — it's the "A" if you've ever seen it spelled out as "LGBTQIA+" — your coming-experience might differ from someone who is queer and allosexual (aka interested in sex). People might automatically assume your sexual desires are the same as theirs, especially if you have a partner who has been or is sexually active. Or, you might get uncomfortable questions about why you don't like sex and if you ever will.
You've got to do what feels right and comfortable for you. You don't owe anyone an explanation, and you deserve to decide how and when you come out as demisexual. "You get to decide who you disclose your sexuality to," LeClaire says. "And who you do not."
Also, dating isn't a lost cause, BTW
That being said, they are in favor of being open about your demisexuality in the dating process, if you're comfortable sharing that, especially on dating apps. It can be helpful, because then, they explain, you can find other demisexuals or people who are open to dating demisexual folks. This can help narrow your matches down, LeClaire says, "Since the scope of types of relationships people are looking for on dating/ hookup apps can range so widely, from searches for friends and 'jamming buddies' to people hoping to have anonymous, raunchy, casual sex."
When it comes to dating apps and online dating as an asexual, there are a few platforms: ACEApp, Asexualitic, and Asexual Cupid. But above all, OkCupid looks like the more solid bet. In 2014, OkCupid offered an inclusive list of 22 gender options beyond the binary — whereas Asexualitic and Asexual Cupid have only male and female, and ACEApp lets you check male, female, or non-binary — along with giving users an expansive list of sexuality options, including "asexual" and "demisexual."
Asexual resources are out there
One of the leading resources for folks on the ace spectrum is Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN). Not only do they hold conferences, where ace folks, aromantic folks, and their allies can meet up IRL. They also have a bustling AVEN forum where people the world over chat, and ask and answers Q's about their experiences. More specifically, LeClaire suggests the digital Demisexuality Resource Center and following the work of Dr. Melissa Fabello, a journalist who often speaks about demisexuality and polyamory.
Connecting with other demisexual and ace folks, whether that's online or IRL, can be super helpful — especially when society at large and the mainstream media puts a lot of emphasis on (heterosexual) sex and having an extraordinary sex life. There's nothing wrong with identifying on the asexual spectrum and more people should take note of that!