What Does Demisexual Mean (And Could It Apply To You)?

Demisexuality — maybe you've heard of it before, but with so many new terms relating to sexuality entering our vocabulary so often, you may not know what it means. Allow us to explain.

Put simply, demisexuality refers to a person who doesn't feel sexual attraction until there's been a pre-established close bond with that person. Though non-demisexual people may prefer to get to know someone before getting intimate with them, they can still feel that desire for sexual intimacy in the early stages — unlike demisexuals. Equally, some people feel instant sexual attractions to people they've never met, such as strangers on the street or celebrities, but demisexual people don't. Because of that, a lot of people who identify as demisexual are unlikely to feel sexual attraction regularly. Demisexuality isn't defined by gender identity, so don't think if you already identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community that you can't be demisexual too.


According to Your Tango, demisexuality is rare, as only around 1% of the population is reported to identify with the term. However, there's still a lot of research to be done regarding why people feel this way and how many people are self-identifying. But that doesn't mean it can't apply to you, and there are ways to work out if demisexuality is something you identify with if you're still unsure.

Demisexuality is different to asexuality and sapiosexuality

It's a common misconception that demisexuality (which has its own Pride flag, by the way) is something a lot of people identify with, but that's just not true. Demisexuality is on the asexuality spectrum, something the Williams Institute found in 2019 that only 1.7% of adults currently identify with. But demisexuality and asexuality aren't the same. Asexuality.org noted demisexuality falls into an asexuality gray area. That's because demisexual people may believe they're asexual until they find someone special and create that important bond, which then awakens their sexual desires. Asexual people, for the most part, are not inclined toward sexual activity at all. It's also worth noting that people who identify as demisexual can still have a high sex drive, but those desires won't manifest until after they've gotten close to someone. An asexual person's sex drive is far more dormant, to the point of nonexistent.


Equally, demisexuality, although similar, is also different from sapiosexuality. Sapiosexuality refers to a person who is only sexually attracted to people they consider to be intelligent. Although someone who identifies as demisexual may form a bond with someone because of their intelligence, this smart nature still has to be proven to develop that emotional closeness and subsequent sexual desire. A sapiosexual, on the other hand, can be sexually attracted to someone they don't know, based purely on the fact they perceive them to be intelligent.

How to know if you're demisexual

Most demisexual people are unlikely to have felt an instant sexual attraction before a close relationship. So if you've never had a sexual attraction to a person you don't properly know, that could mean you're demisexual. As board-certified Dr. Margaret Seide put it to Verywell Mind, "If you are only drawn to someone after you get to know their personality, their life story, and trust that person, you may be demisexual."


A few other signs to look out for include: having no interest in casual relationships or one-night stands, feeling the need to get to know somebody before you can even imagine being intimate, or finding it takes you a long time to feel sexually attracted to someone, even if you're already dating.

If you feel you may be demisexual or need more advice, try speaking to supportive friends (remember, though, your friends aren't your therapists) or family members about your feelings, or open up to other people you trust who may be able to help you talk things through. Many therapists will also be able to help you learn more about your sexuality, especially licensed sex therapists who are qualified to help work through the emotional aspects of issues related to sex and sexuality. Just don't forget to shop around to find one that works for you.