If you ever scroll through various dating apps, you might come across the term “demisexual” listed as someone’s sexual orientation. Don’t fret if you’ve never heard of the term or are unsure of the exact definition.
Someone who identifies as demisexual is “a person who experiences sexual feelings and attraction only after developing a close emotional relationship with another person or persons,” says Cathy Renna, director of communications at the National LGBTQ Task Force.
But wait: Does this mean the same thing as asexual? Is this a LGBTQ identity? What else do you need to know to understand demisexuality? Get all your questions answered below.
Is demisexual the same as asexual?
Demisexual people fall on the continuum of asexuality; sometimes asexual people are known as “ace,” according to PFLAG.
“Think of asexual as the umbrella term for ‘people who experience a complete or partial lack of sexual attraction to others,’ whereas demisexual is under this umbrella, and falls into the category of those who experience ‘partial lack of sexual attraction,'” says Shoshana Goldberg, public education and research director at the Human Rights Campaign.
About 1% to 2% of LGBTQ adults labeled themselves as queer, pansexual or asexual, according to a recent Gallup survey.
Is demisexual queer?
Not necessarily. Someone could be straight and demisexual.
“It is not defined by the sex, gender or gender identities one is attracted to. Instead, it is defined by the emotional connection within a relationship,” Goldberg says. “Someone could be gay and demisexual, meaning they only experience sexual attractions to people of the same gender after a close emotional connection (‘demisexual’); similarly, someone could be straight and demisexual, meaning they have the potential to experience sexual attraction to only a single gender other than their own – but only after a close bond.”
It’s often lumped in when discussing LGBTQ identities because of its deviation from prior societal expectations of sexuality.
What does demiromantic mean?
Demiromantic is the romantic attraction in line with demisexuality.
“Much like ‘sexual’ orientations focus on one’s sexual attractions, ‘romantic’ orientations focus on when, and to whom, a person experiences a romantic attraction, defined as a desire to have a romantic/emotionally intimate relationship,” Goldberg says.
Plus, “demiromantic people can be of any gender identity or sexual orientation,” Renna says. That means a person could be pansexual and demiromantic, for example. “This may include someone who experiences sexual attraction without an emotional connection, but only wants to progress to a romantic relationship after a close bond,” Goldberg adds.
More on demisexuality and LGBTQ identities
What does asexual mean? Learning what the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA stands for.
More on asexuality:What people are getting wrong about asexuality (a lot)
Another explainer:David Archuleta mentioned ‘asexuality’ in his coming out post. What is that?
What is pansexual? What is pansexual? What to know about the LGBTQ label