If you’ve ever used dating apps, you’ve seen many different labels people use to describe themselves. They don’t necessarily describe fixed identities but help people to locate each other online.
One of the labels is “demisexual”. The word demisexual seems to have come into being on an AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) forum in 2006. It was coined by somebody who was trying to explain how they connect to other people. The prefix demi– is derived from the Old French word demi meaning half, derived from the Latin word dimidius.
A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It is a common experience that always existed; it’s just in the past few years that people started using many new labels to describe where they fit on the sexuality spectrum. The fact that, thanks to the Internet, more and more people are aware that normal sexuality is not something very narrow and fixed, is progressive.
There’s an interesting quote from the AVEN website that further explains the term:
The term demisexual comes from the orientation being “halfway between” sexual and asexual. Nevertheless, this term does not mean that demisexuals have an incomplete or half-sexuality, nor does it mean that sexual attraction without emotional connection is required for a complete sexuality.
This makes sense because demisexuals have a lot of untapped sexual energy waiting for a target and become very passionate after they fall in love.
If you ask experienced people about this, they say it makes total sense and they may wonder why even use this label for such a common experience. They usually use words “an old fashioned romantic” or something similar. Young people, on the other hand, may struggle with being demisexual. They think they’re “weird” because in their formative years they compare their experience with the media representation of sex. Later in life they realize that they’re actually quite normal, sometimes after years of feeling rejected by their peers. It’s a concept that can be so foreign to some people that they believe there must be some pathological explanation. This is not true, these people simply need to know someone for a few weeks or months before having sex.
Also, it’s important to notice that sexuality is fluid and things can change over the course of someone’s life: they may have different levels of sexual attraction in teenage years and later in life: sometimes it begins with no desire and it increases gradually, sometimes it’s the opposite.
Language is always changing and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone coined a more precise label in the near future. Many demisexuals don’t like this term because they in no way feel “half-sexual”.