Demisexual is an orientation on the asexuality spectrum, a scale which spans a wide range from feeling no sexual attraction at all, to allosexual (experiencing sexual attraction.) If you identify as demisexual, this means you experience sexual attraction to another person only after you have formed a strong emotional connection.
Primary and secondary attraction
To understand this better, let’s think about what is known as primary and secondary sexual attraction. A model posited on the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) divides sexual attraction into these two categories. In short, primary sexual attraction is being attracted to someone based on immediate factors, such as their appearance.
On the other hand, secondary sexual attraction is what develops after that initial chemistry (or lack of chemistry). It’s an attraction that builds over time, based on an emotional connection, time, and the relationship between two people. This is – broadly, and with a lot of space for nuance, as everyone experiences desire differently – the experience of those in the demisexual community.
Definitions and the nuances of demisexuality
As awareness grows about demisexuality as an orientation, so does misunderstanding. Many allosexuals prefer to have a strong emotional connection with a person before becoming intimate with them or forming a relationship, which can easily lead to confusion the distinction between this and demisexuality.
The key difference with the orientation demisexual is that sexual attraction is not present at all until the emotional connection is established. It is not the preference to wait until an emotional connection is formed, but a condition of creating sexual attraction in the first place. Waiting to be intimate with a new partner until a bond is formed is a choice; not feeling sexual desire towards a partner until a bond is formed is something a demisexual-identifying human has no control over.
And, of course – just as not every allosexual is sexually attracted to every person they meet – it’s also entirely possible to be demisexual and form close emotional bonds that don’t result in a sexual attraction.