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Which Should Come First, Emotional Bonding or Sexual Attraction?

Signs you may be demisexual.

Key points

  • Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which you are attracted only to a person only when you share an emotional connection.
  • Demisexuality is not a conscious choice or being picky in romantic relationships.
  • It is not easy to find a partner who resonates with you and understands your desire for an emotional connection before sexual intimacy.
Jose de Lago/Shutterstock
Source: Jose de Lago/Shutterstock

What is 'Demisexuality'?

Is emotional bonding a prerequisite for you to be sexually attracted to a person? Is the concept of so-called "love at first sight" unfathomable for you? Are you the odd one amongst your peers because of your inability to fancy a complete stranger?

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which you are sexually attracted only to a person only when you share an emotional connection. (Hille, Simmons, & Sanders, 2020) The prefix 'demi' is derived from Latin, which means 'half,' connoting that demisexuality lies halfway on the asexual spectrum. A person can identify as demisexual irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

Demisexuality is not a conscious choice or being picky in romantic relationships; it is a fundamental orientation that requires you to have an emotional bond before you feel sexually drawn to a person. An emotional bond does not guarantee sexual attraction, but for demisexuals, it is a prerequisite.

The time a demisexual person takes to bond emotionally varies. For some, it may take a few years to develop a deep emotional relationship, and for others, a few deep emotional experiences or good conversations can trigger passionate fondness towards another person. As a demisexual, you don't have sex on your mind when you go on a first date; you just want to get to know the person. In fact, almost 67 percent of demisexuals are uninterested in and/or repulsed by sex.

Signs You May Be Demisexual

It is not necessary to put a label on everything but knowing where you are on the sexuality spectrum will help you become comfortable with who you are.

Here are a few signs which might strike a chord if you are demisexual.

Physical appearances do not beguile you.

It's only when you start to find a person attractive emotionally that you feel a physical attraction. Your idea of beauty may not corroborate the typical ideas about beauty and good looks that most people have. That does not mean that you are not looking for an aesthetically appealing partner. It's just that the physical desire is a secondary stage in your attraction towards your partner. The problem is that internet dating sites only offer images and a short personal bio of the other person for an initial connection. As a demisexual, you need to feel a lot more than that to go on a date.

Your approach to dating is misunderstood and rejected.

When you like a person, you take it seriously because you seldom feel that way about someone. As you develop deep feelings towards the person, you want to do your best to make things work. You are emotionally honest and vulnerable and would express your affection in a tender way. This is absolutely normal and healthy, but in today's fast-paced dating world, your genuineness may not be appreciated. Your expressiveness may even be unfairly deemed as 'too much' for those who are not ready for emotional intimacy.

Intimacy to you does not revolve around sex.

In pop culture, the start of a relationship is often depicted as sexual chemistry between two people. As a demisexual, such a lopsided view of romantic attachments places your preferences outside the dating norm. You enjoy sex, but it is not what excites you the most about being in a relationship. Being in a committed relationship with a person with whom you have an emotional attachment is what keeps you blissful. Your lack of interest in casual sex is heavily misunderstood. As a demisexual, you enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with a steady partner. But you do not project a 'desire for sexual intimacy' typical of most people who are actively dating. For you, there are many ways of sharing an intimate moment, from listening to music to running errands. Since you don't subscribe to the norm, your peers may taunt you for being a prude, for having impossible relationship standards, or for being clueless when someone shows interest in dating you. You might feel out of place when your friends talk about celebrity crushes and sexual desires.

What Demisexuality is Not

There are a lot of misconceptions about demisexuality. The fact that you want to first get to know the person and then be sexually intimate is not a novel idea. But what people do not realize is that just like other sexual orientations, demisexuality is not a choice. Most demisexual people are genuinely unable to be attracted to another person unless there is an emotional connection.

A demisexual is not a prude; they do not fear sex or have a low sex drive. They are not abstaining from sexual intimacy because of religious or moral beliefs.

Some sexual identities on the asexual spectrum might appear similar to demisexuality but are actually different. Asexuality is a polar sexual orientation in which there is no desire for physical intimacy, which is different from demisexuality. Sapiosexuals are like demisexuals as both are attracted to people with specific qualities, but the basis for attraction is different.

Being a Demisexual

It is not easy to find a partner who resonates with you and understands your desire for an emotional connection before sexual intimacy. It can be tedious to explain yourself to others, who may quickly jump to conclusions and label you as indecisive or choosy.

Bonding at a deeper level is a process that requires time, courage, and authenticity on both sides. As you take the time to know someone, the other person may lose interest in the relationship. Your natural responses can be misinterpreted as a rejection or lack of interest.

However, as much as it is tempting, try not to yourself to be sexually involved in a relationship before you are ready for the sake of conforming or pleasing your partner. And when you are in a relationship, there is no reason for you to feel guilty when you say' No' to what makes you uncomfortable.

Start by creating a safe space for yourself to clarify who you are and your values, potentially with a therapist or a trusted friend. From there, you have a foundation to work from. When you enter the relational world, try and be as honest and as clear as you can, knowing that there is absolutely no shame in having particular sexual preferences.

Trusting Yourself

In the last decade, a new discourse of sexuality and gender identity has emerged in society. This is a discourse that marks itself outside of and challenges that old, binary framework of masculine/feminine, hetero/ homo, and LGBT/straight. (Cover 2018) This new taxonomy has provided a whole new way of thinking about sexuality and gender identifications, and it can be utterly liberating.

You have the right to live life your way. Just because your preferences are outside of the norm does not make you any less entitled to joy and fulfillment. As much as anyone else, you can and deserve to have comfort, ease, and happiness in sex and romance. You do not owe anyone an explanation, but you do owe yourself a chance to live your truth.

Facebook image: Jose de Lago/Shutterstock


Cover, R. (2018). Emergent identities: New sexualities, genders and relationships in a digital era. Routledge.

Hille, J. J., Simmons, M. K., & Sanders, S. A. (2020). “Sex” and the Ace Spectrum: Definitions of Sex, Behavioral Histories, and Future Interest for Individuals Who Identify as Asexual, Graysexual, or Demisexual. The Journal of Sex Research, 57(7), 813-823.