EtymologyFrench: demi, meaning "half"[1]
Definition1: The state of not experiencing primary sexual attraction. 2: Attracted to someone (any gender) after getting to know them for a certain period of time.
ClassificationSexual identity
Parent categoryAsexuality
Other terms
Associated termsGray asexuality
Demisexual pride flag
Demisexual pride flag
Flag nameDemisexual pride flag
MeaningBlack chevron represents asexuality, gray represents gray asexuality, white represents sexuality, and purple represents community.[2]

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which an individual does not experience primary sexual attraction[3][4] – the type of attraction that is based on immediately observable characteristics such as appearance or smell and is experienced immediately after a first encounter.[1] A demisexual person can only experience secondary sexual attraction – the type of attraction that occurs after the development of an emotional bond.[5][6][1] The amount of time that a demisexual individual needs to know another person before developing sexual attraction towards them varies from person to person.[7] Demisexuality is generally categorized on the asexuality spectrum.[8][9][1]


The term was coined in the Asexual Visibility and Education Network Forums in February 2006. Based on the theory that allosexuals experience both primary and secondary sexual attraction and asexuals do not experience either, the term demisexual was proposed for people who experience the latter without the former.[6]

Demisexuality, as a component of the asexuality spectrum, is included in queer activist communities such as GLAAD and The Trevor Project. Demisexuality also has finer divisions within itself.[10][11]

The word gained entry to the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2022, with its earliest usage recorded in 2006 as a noun.[12]

Since 2019, the app Tinder includes demisexual as an option for self-descriptors of sexual orientation on profiles.[13]


Demisexuality has been described as a sexual orientation where a person feels sexually attracted to someone only after developing a close or strong emotional bond with them.[14][1] Some demisexuals will also feel romantic attraction, while others do not. The duration of time and the degree of interpersonal knowledge and bonding required for a demisexual person to develop sexual attraction may be highly variable between individuals. There is a lack of clear definitions for what qualifies as a close or strong bond in this context, which can cause confusion.[5][1]

Unlike other words used to describe sexual orientations, the term "demisexuality" does not indicate which gender or genders a person finds attractive.[1]

Primary vis-à-vis secondary sexual attraction model

After secondary sexual attraction is developed, demisexuals are not only aroused by personality traits. They also may or may not experience arousal or desire based on the physical traits of the persons whom they have already experience secondary sexual attraction towards.[15][16]

Common misconceptions and sexual activities

A misconception is that demisexual individuals cannot engage in casual sex.[17] Demisexuality refers to how an individual experiences sexual attraction; it does not describe a choice or an action, but describes a feeling instead.[5][18] While it is common for demisexuals to not desire sex without feeling sexually attracted to the other person, this is not required to be considered demisexual. Many demisexuals may choose to engage in casual sex even without experiencing sexual attraction towards their sexual partner.[19]

Demisexuals may experience aesthetic attraction and can have an aesthetic preference. An aesthetic attraction is an attraction to another person's appearance that is not connected to any sexual or romantic desire;[20] it is so called because of its similarity to other aesthetic desires.[21]

Demisexuals can be attracted to fictional characters, and can also be attracted to a character played by an actor without experiencing attraction towards the actor when out of character.[22]

Attitudes towards sex

Some demisexual, gray-asexual and asexual individuals (all included under the "ace umbrella") use the terms positive, favorable, neutral or indifferent, averse, or repulsed to describe how they feel about sex.[1] Nonetheless, these terms can be used by anyone, regardless of if they are asexual spectrum or not.[23]

These terms are generally used to refer to someone's opinion about engaging in sexual activities themself. However, they might also be used to describe how they feel reading, watching, hearing about, or imagining these activities. The term -repulsed in particular is often used to refer to one's feelings about engaging in sexual activities or being around them. One's feelings can vary depending on the situation or other factors such as identity, societal context, common social understanding or intent of actions, and/or comfort level with another individual. For example, someone who is aegosexual may enjoy thinking about sexual activities involving others but may feel repulsed upon the thought of personally participating in such activities.[27][28]

In fiction

Demisexuality is a common theme (or trope) in romantic novels that has been termed "compulsory demisexuality".[29] In this genre, the paradigm or trope of sex being only truly pleasurable and fulfilling when the partners are in love is a trait most commonly associated with female characters. The added requirements for a connection to occur may engender or reinforce feelings that the connection is unique or special.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Demmer, Jenna (February 22, 2023). "Everything You Need to Know About Demisexuality". Health. Archived from the original on March 20, 2023. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  2. ^ "Queer 101". Old Dominion University. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  3. ^ a b "Explore the spectrum: guide to finding your ace community". GLAAD. 2018-06-25. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  4. ^ "Sexual orientation - APA Style". Retrieved 2024-02-12.
  5. ^ a b c "What Is Demisexuality?". WebMD. Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  6. ^ a b c Iqbal, Nosheen (September 7, 2019). "No lust at first sight: why thousands are now identifying as 'demisexual'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 7, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  7. ^ "What Is Demisexuality?". Feeld. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  8. ^ Decker, Julie Sondra (2015). "Grayromanticism". The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1510700642. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Kurowicka, Anna; Przybylo, Ela (2020). "Polish Asexualities: Catholic Religiosity and Asexual Online Activisms in Poland". In Buyantueva, Radzhana; Shevtsova, Maryna (eds.). LGBTQ+ Activism in Central and Eastern Europe: Resistance, Representation and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 297. ISBN 978-3030204013. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  10. ^ Pasquier, Morgan (2018-10-18). "Explore the spectrum: Guide to finding your ace community". Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Asexual". Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Content warning: May contain notes on the OED March 2022 update". March 15, 2022.
  13. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley (2019-06-04). "Tinder adds sexual orientation feature to aid LGBTQ matching | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved 2023-01-06.
  14. ^ "Demisexual: Understanding What It Means & FAQs". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  15. ^ "Demisexuality: The Gray Area of Asexuality". Blood & Milk. 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  16. ^ "What demisexual means and how to be an ally". Newsweek. 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  17. ^ Hubert, Nori Rose (July 10, 2021). "5 Damaging Misconceptions About Demisexuality". Healthy Place. Archived from the original on July 10, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  18. ^ White, Ro (2021-04-13). "You Need Help: How Do I Explore Casual Sex If I'm Demisexual?". Autostraddle. Retrieved 2022-07-26.
  19. ^ Barghiel, Naomi (September 13, 2019). "Can Demisexuals Have Casual Sex?". Her Campus. Archived from the original on May 12, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  20. ^ Huang, Yi; Lyu, Jinyun; Xue, Xiaodi; Peng, Kaiping (2020-10-12). "Cognitive basis for the development of aesthetic preference: Findings from symmetry preference". PLOS ONE. 15 (10): e0239973. Bibcode:2020PLoSO..1539973H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0239973. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 7549785. PMID 33045015.
  21. ^ "Aesthetic attraction and being on the asexual spectrum". Archer Magazine. 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  22. ^ Karhulahti, Veli-Matti; Välisalo, Tanja (2021-01-12). "Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters". Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 575427. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.575427. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 7835123. PMID 33510665.
  23. ^ "Attitudes Toward Romance or Sex – The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project". Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  24. ^ Wynne, Griffin (2021-08-02). "Sex-Repulsed". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  25. ^ Wareham, Jamie. "How To Be An Asexual Ally: Learn Why Some Asexual People Have Sex (And Accept That Most Don't)". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  26. ^ "About Asexuality and Aromanticism – Asexual & Aromantic Community and Education Club". Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  27. ^ Winter-Gray, Thom; Hayfield, Nikki (2019-10-22). "'Can I be a kinky ace?': How asexual people negotiate their experiences of kinks and fetishes". Psychology & Sexuality. 12 (3): 163–179. doi:10.1080/19419899.2019.1679866. ISSN 1941-9899. S2CID 210570094.
  28. ^ Bogaert, Anthony F. (2012). "Asexuality and Autochorissexualism (Identity-Less Sexuality)". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 41 (6): 1513–1514. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9963-1. ISSN 1573-2800. PMID 22576251. S2CID 45261209.
  29. ^ McAlister, Jodi. "First Love, Last Love, True Love: Heroines, Heroes, and the Gendered Representation of Love in the Category Romance Novel." Gender & Love, 3rd Global Conference. Mansfield College, Oxford, UK. Vol. 15. 2013
  30. ^ McAlister, Jodi (1 September 2014). "'That complete fusion of spirit as well as body': Heroines, heroes, desire and compulsory demisexuality in the Harlequin Mills & Boon romance novel". Australasian Journal of Popular Culture. 3 (3): 299–310. doi:10.1386/ajpc.3.3.299_1.
  31. ^ "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation". The LGBTQ Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Archived from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2020.