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What Comes First? Love Or Sex? Demisexuality Explained

Decoding why sometimes you can see someone in a sexual light only after forming an emotional bond with them.

Are you one of those people who couldn’t imagine getting ‘down and dirty’ with someone without knowing their take on pineapples on pizza or forming an emotional connection first? Let me guess, you cannot relate to “Platonic One Night Stands” or the “No Strings Attached” theory. If you have vigorously nodded your head in agreement so far, you miiiight identify as a demisexual. 

For those hearing the term for the first time - Turns out it’s not a Demi Lovato fan club. It is actually a term of sexual orientation that describes people who can experience sexual attraction only after they've established an emotional/intellectual connection with someone. (Fun Fact - Demisexuals have a flag too!). So what comes first for demi folks you ask? Unsurprisingly the answer is not ‘Love or Nothing’.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about being a demisexual, or why even if you don’t identify with this term, you may have experienced elements of this feeling in your own life. 

Decoding Demisexuality:

So what does being a demisexual really mean? Demisexual folks typically need to feel a strong emotional, intellectual or spiritual connection to someone in order to feel sexually attracted to them. While that might be the most commonly used definition, being demisexual can mean different things to different people. One may identify as being demisexual in conjunction with other orientations. For example, you can identify as bisexual and as a demisexual at the same time.

You might also like reading: How I Went From Bi-Curious To Bisexual

It is important to remember that demisexuality deals with sexual attraction and not sexual action. It is completely different from making an active choice to abstain from sex or waiting for sex. According to this study by the Demisexuality Resource Center

“Forming an emotional bond doesn’t guarantee that sexual attraction will happen. It is just a prerequisite for it to occur at all. The length of time required to develop an emotional bond may vary.”

What It’s Not:

Since demisexuality can appear in different shapes and forms, like mixed fruit ice cream served in a rainbow platter, it can sometimes be confused with being asexual, greysexual, or even celibate. While there can be an overlap sometimes, demisexuality is not synonymous with these terms.

“Even though some demisexuals can live a mostly asexual experience, there are usually a few exceptions for that rare or conditional attraction,” says demisexual writer and activist Elle Rose.

A lot of misconceptions thrown upon the demi folks can be misleading - like when people assume you’re just choosing not to get intimate, or following the purity culture, or that you’re “faking it”. Being demi is not about having sex only with people you love either. 

“Demisexuals can choose to have sex with whomever they please, whether they love them or not. That doesn’t make them any more or less demisexual. Many non-demisexuals only choose to have sex with people they love, and that doesn’t make them demisexual” says this report on Demisexuality Resource Center

So being demisexual  doesn’t mean that your libido is always as low as your phone’s battery life. Demi folks can get just as horny when they find the right person! Just know that pleasure is not only between your legs. It often takes the right circumstances to spark a deeper connection.

The key is to understand that you’re not broken or wrong when you don’t get butterflies in your stomach every time you watch Keanu Reeves on screen. Maybe your biggest turn-on is the smell of aromatic massage oil (Pssst.. try Glow Arousing if that’s your thing), and that’s absolutely okay too!

On that note, you might also like reading Not In The Mood? No Problem

Signs You Maybe Demisexual:

Amy Santiago from Brooklyn 99 being attracted to Charles Boyle


Since demisexuality feels different to everyone, it might be challenging to create a personality trait or roadmap for all demi folks. However here are some common signs and experiences  that   experts say might point to your demisexuality:

  • You don’t relate to getting celebrity sex dreams aka you’re not sexually attracted to people you haven’t met.
  • You’re not sexually attracted to someone even after a meet-cute
  • You might enjoy cuddles and snuggles under the blanket without going all the way
  • The idea of one-night stands or platonic hookups makes you go 🙄
  • Porn just doesn’t do it for you
  • You’d go for an aromatic massage over ‘Netflix N Chill’ any day
  • You crave an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bond
  • You have mixed feelings about sex
  • You’d rather date your friend
  • Your ideal dates start with an intimacy card game 😉

With that said, these aren’t the only signs you’re Demi. As with any other sexual orientation, exploring demisexuality comes down to experiences and self-reflection. And when you are ready to identify yourself as a demisexual, just know that you’re not alone. 

Open conversations in non-judgmental spaces, finding community, and positive affirmation can take you a long way. Demisexuality Resource Center, TrevorSpace, The Demisexual Safe Space are some super cool resources and communities for all the ‘Demi Divas’ out there. 

And for those who want to be a better ally to your demi folks, try to listen to their experiences, believe, and be there for them. Incidentally what comes first for demisexuals is the emotional, spiritual, or intellectual connection with people. So providing that bond for them just might make their lives easier and happier.

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