What Does It Mean To Be Demisexual?

When Dr. Alfred Kinsey created his famous Kinsey scale in 1948, it was very black and white when it came to sexuality. Ranging from zero to six, if you were zero, you were "exclusively heterosexual," and if you were six, you were "exclusively homosexual." One through five were the percentages and combinations of heterosexuality and homosexuality that people could be if they weren't "exclusively" on either end of the scale.

"[The Kinsey scale] really helped make bisexuality visible, as well as helping bring homosexuality out of the closet," sexologist Carol Queen, Ph.D. tells MindBodyGreen. "In my day — the '70s, when I came out — the gay movement very openly acknowledged its debt to Kinsey... when we think about why he felt so strongly, it might point to the fluidity of identity, or the way people can engage in all sorts of behavior that doesn't match their 'label,' and when we look at our history of behaviors and attractions, those are really useful insights."

Although Kinsey firmly believed that sexuality was fluid, his scale didn't offer much room for fluidity. But, as Dr. Queen points out, his work, despite being extremely controversial at the time, really laid some groundwork for what was to come. Sadly, Kinsey died in 1956 before he could see just how expansive the sexual continuum really was. He would have had a field day with how far society has come in regard to identifying and expressing sexual orientation, with demisexual being one of those many orientations.

What's demisexuality?

According to the Demisexual Resource Center, demisexuality is a "sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity." Of course, this doesn't mean that demisexuals don't have sex or one-night stands. It's just that, unlike other sexual people, they need to have emotional intimacy before attraction can be experienced.

"Demisexuality is about sexual attraction rather than sexual action," demisexual activist and co-host of the podcast "Sounds Fake But Okay" Kayla Kaszyca tells Cosmopolitan. "And just like anyone else, a demisexual person can choose to have sex with someone they are not attracted to... While it may be true that many people wait until they have a bond with someone to have sex, it is not true that everyone doesn't experience sexual attraction until there is a bond." So, yes, demisexuals can be just as sexually active as anyone else, but it doesn't mean that sexual attraction is necessarily there during those sex-related acts.

How to know if you're demisexual

Identifying as a demisexual may not be easy because, for a lot of people, sexual attraction only comes after an intimate bond is created with someone else. Because of this, people may just feel fine in not labeling themselves since that's just who they are and have always been. But for those who want a label and need an identity, then at least now they know there is one for them.

"Language helps us describe our experiences," sex and relationship therapist Shadeen Francis tells Elle U.K. "If folks find the definitions of demisexuality or read the stories of demisexual folks and feel like it resonates with them, they might decide to identify as demisexual themselves... Identifying as demisexual doesn't change how you experience sex, it makes it clearer when or how you might be interested in sex... If sexual attraction matters to you for sex, great that you know that. If not, that's great too. What is most important is to know yourself and honor your needs."

What's great about sexual orientation is that it's all fluid. What you identify as today, may not be the same identity you have in a couple of years — or even a few months from now (via Harvard Health). The point is to stay open and listen to your instinct. Life may be short, but that doesn't mean you don't have time to experience all the sexual orientations out there until you find that one that fits you either for the moment or for the long haul.