Under the Ace Umbrella: Demisexuality and Gray-asexuality

I’ve heard about something called the “Ace Umbrella”.  What’s that about?

There’s a gray area between asexuality and non-asexuality.  Some people say that they occasionally experience sexual attraction, yet still relate to asexuality.  The ace umbrella encompasses asexuals, as well as people in this gray area.

Some people, known as “gray-asexuals”, experience sexual attraction infrequently or not very strongly or possibly aren’t quite sure whether or not what they experience is sexual attraction.

One subtype of gray-asexuals, known as “demisexuals”, can experience sexual attraction only after developing a close emotional bond with someone.

So, if asexuals don’t experience sexual attraction and these people do, why the “umbrella”?  What do you have in common?

Many graces and demis tend to feel alienated by or disconnected from the sex-charged culture that they see around them.  Most of the time, they do not experience sexual attraction, same as asexual people.  When they do, the manner or frequency with which they do does not align with how “everyone else” describes their experience with sexual attraction.  In this way, their experiences are often very similar to the experiences of asexuals.

Many times, demisexuals and gray-asexuals will even identify as asexual or something like “asexual with an exception”.  The frequency of sexual attraction may be so low that they go years without feeling it, so, for all intents and purposes, they are equivalent to asexual during that period.

But isn’t that just “Normal” sexuality?  Most people aren’t attracted to everyone all the time.

Certainly, most people don’t feel constant sexual attraction.  However, most people seem to feel it fairly frequently.  Often it’s toward a romantic partner, but throughout the day, there might also be the hot co-worker or the random stranger on the sidewalk or the celebrity with the great body.  Even if most people don’t act on it, the attraction is still present.  Grays and demis aren’t like that.  For a gray-asexual or a demisexual, there may be years between episodes of sexual attraction or there may have been only one person that’s ever caught their eye.

So…  “Demisexual”?  Does that mean they only sleep with demi-gods?  Demi Moore?

Unlike “hetero-” or “homo-” or “a-“, etc., which describe the gender(s) that a person is or isn’t attracted to, “demi-” describes the circumstances in which a person may experience sexual attraction.  Demisexuals are only capable of feeling sexual attraction after they’ve developed a close emotional bond with someone.  Even then, they still might not feel anything.

It sounds like demisexuals are trying to make themselves out to be special because they only have sex with people they love.

Demisexuality is about attraction, not action.  It doesn’t mean that people are picky about their sexual partners.  It doesn’t mean that they’re “saving themselves for the right person”. When someone says that they’re demi, they mean that they can’t experience sexual attraction unless they’re close to someone.  They’re not choosing to repress sexual feelings for others because they don’t have anything to repress.

Furthermore, demisexuality says nothing about who a demi has sex with, or if they even have sex at all.  It’s possible to be demisexual and a virgin.  It’s possible to be demisexual and repulsed.  And it’s possible to be demisexual and sleep with anyone who is willing.  Demisexuality is only about the circumstances where one can experience sexual attraction, not about sexual activity.

It’s also important to note that demisexuality is not, in any way, a value judgment against other people.  Just because they only experience sexual attraction after developing an emotional bond, that does not mean that they feel there’s anything wrong with people who don’t require that bond to experience sexual attraction.

Okay, so they’re only sexually attracted to people that they love?

Not necessarily.  The close emotional bond does not have to be love.  It could be friendship, it could be a work relationship, or any number of other strong emotional connections.  Something purely platonic might still be capable of triggering sexual attraction.

How long does it take a demisexual to develop sexual attraction after forming the emotional bond?

Every situation is different.  Many demis say that it can take anywhere from months to years to come about.  Maybe less time, maybe more.  It’s not like there’s a chess timer that starts ticking the moment you meet someone, and if you don’t feel sexually attracted to them by the time the hands go all the way around, you’re not going to.

Are gray-a’s just asexuals who have sex?

It’s not about what someone does, it’s about what they feel.  If an asexual has sex, they’re an asexual who has sex, not a gray-asexual.  If an asexual masturbates, they’re an asexual who masturbates, not a gray-asexual.  The difference between “asexual” and “gray-asexual” is one of attraction, not behavior.

It’s not about enjoying sex, either.  If an asexual likes sex, they’re an asexual who likes sex, not a gray-asexual. It’s possible to enjoy sex and sexual activities and not experience sexual attraction.

How can someone be “Gray”?  You’re either asexual or you’re not.  Clear as that.

Is it clear where you fit if you’ve only felt sexual attraction once in your entire life, then never again?  Is it clear where you fit if you occasionally feel something that could potentially be sexual attraction, but it’s so weak that a passing breeze is enough to make it stop?  Is it clear where you fit if you’re sometimes sexually attracted to people and you like sex, but don’t feel any drive to seek it out and would be fine without it?  Is it clear where you fit if you’re not sure what sexual attraction even is, let alone whether or not you’ve felt it?  Gray-asexuals live in this land of confusion.

So what is gray-asexuality, then?  The description you’re giving is a bit fuzzy.

The definition of “gray-asexual” is intentionally vague.  It’s meant to be a catch-all for anyone who feels they fall somewhere near asexual on the spectrum between “sexual” and “asexual”.  There’s no strict criteria for what makes someone “gray”, there’s no shining dividing line.  If there were, it wouldn’t be a gray area.

It’s a bit like the purple spectrum between red and blue.  When you’re close to red or blue, the color can be described as “reddish” or “bluish”. There’s no clear line where being “reddish” stops, but it’s clear that it stops somewhere.  I mean, you can’t be one tick away from blue and still describe the color as “reddish”.  Gray-asexuality is sort of like “asexual-ish”.

Do demisexuals and gray-asexuals fall in love?

Like asexuals, graces and demis come in all flavors of romantic orientation.  Someone can be a heteroromantic demisexual or a panromantic gray-asexual.  For a demisexual person, a romantic relationship could potentially be the catalyst for sexual attraction, however, it won’t necessarily happen just because someone’s in love.

Gray-asexuals and demisexuals can be even aromantic and not be romantically attracted to anyone.   Additionally, a person can be demiromantic or gray-romantic, which are similar to being demisexual or gray-asexual, but around romantic attraction, rather than sexual.

How can you know you’re demi or gray and not asexual?

Well, if you experience sexual attraction occasionally, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not asexual.

Aside from that, if you feel like you’re almost asexual, but not quite for some reason, then perhaps gray-asexual would be a better fit.  If you’re asexual most of the time, but there’s that one person you’re close to who’s an exception, then maybe demisexual would work.

How can you know you’re asexual and not demi or gray?

If you don’t feel like you’re demi or gray, then you’re not.  There’s no 100% surefire way to determine that just because you’ve never experienced sexual attraction before, that you won’t tomorrow.  You can be fairly sure that it’s not going to happen if it’s never happened before, but it can’t be ruled out completely.  It’s a bit like a scientific theory:  It can never be proven entirely, it can only be disproven.  After all, everyone who has experienced sexual attraction had a first time, and they probably weren’t expecting it to happen, either.

Look at it this way:  There are plenty of straight people in the world.  Most of them have never been attracted to a member of the same sex.  But how can they know for sure that they won’t be?  How can they be certain they don’t have dormant bisexual tendencies?  The common response is “Well, I just know“, but really, it’s impossible to know for sure.  It’s not something that stresses out a lot of straight people, yet I see a lot of aces worried that they might really be gray or demi.

For me, I’m asexual.  I don’t expect that it’ll turn out that I’m actually gray or demi, but if it does, I’m not going to push it away.  If I happen to experience sexual attraction one day, then okay, I’ve learned that I’m not asexual after all.  I’m not going to let this word that describes me very well right now tell me what to do in the future.  You’re not permanently locked into asexuality for the rest of your life once you’ve used the word to describe yourself, so if it no longer fits, don’t try to make it fit.

72 thoughts on “Under the Ace Umbrella: Demisexuality and Gray-asexuality

  1. I think I’m demisexual. I thought I was asexual when I was younger then just convinced myself I just hadn’t found the right person yet. Ive never had feelings of strong sexual attraction but after being in a relationship for 5 years I usually enjoyed sex but it wasn’t that uncontrollable desire. I always thought I was just suppressed or weird. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t function the way the normal population does.

  2. I have know that i was different from a young age (about 5 or so) however i just thought i liked girls. But at the age of 21 i actually started to think about what i wanted in a relationship, as i have never had one. All i wanted was a deep connection, to hold hands with some one, and even, if the mood was to strike; possibly kiss. For me, i don’t really like to label myself, to constrict myself and be put in a box. Im just me. But i suppose if you or i had to, i would be a Homoromantic Demisexual.

      • I think, after reading your comments, that I, too, am a panromantic demisexual. But how do I tell anyone without sounding like an attention seeking, confused teenager?

        • Demi-pan here.And I’ve only told a few people (all of whom were well aware of the fact that, prior to this discovery, I’d thought I was “broken” – either an asexual with flaws or a “normal”, if repressed, sexual person) and my only advice is…try to get them to understand where you’re coming from.

          And ignore the idiots who insist demisexuality isn’t a thing. No one is saying any sexuality is any better than any other one, nor that non-demis are “impure” or some such nonsense. It’s not about chastity or purity.

          It’s that I (or, in this case, we) have a very specific turn-on that acts as a gateway to all other turn-ons or fetishes we might experience: We need to feel an emotional connection. That’s it. That connection can be anything.

          We’re not the chivalrous, virtuous, or chaste; this isn’t celibacy with mandates, and it’s not abstinence. It’s just that the thing in our brains that says, “Damn, you’re sexy” doesn’t go off without a connection present, and even then might not appear at all.

          One wouldn’t turn to a straight man and ask, “Why don’t you like men? And of the women around you, why don’t you want to have sex with all of them?” So why ask demis the same thing in context? Gender, in that instance, is the gateway turn-on. Well…for us, it’s emotion.

          • Thank you for this reply! I like your likening it to a specific turn on that happens to be an emotional connection.

  3. I feel like demisexual more than anything else. I dont have a physical appearance preference, rather, the thing that would attract me to someone is their intellect and personality. I think my current relationship might be in shaky waters because of this im often accused by him of not having a very high libido. But honestly there are some things that two people can share in a relationship that just pales in comparison to sex that i deem more important. God as if the dating scene couldnt get anymore difficult then you add this too.

  4. I’m 100% asexual. Even thinking/reading about sex makes me sick to my stomach, and I want nothing to do with it. I don’t understand how an asexual person can ”like sex”.. how are they asexual if they enjoy sex? I thought sex disgusted asexual people. It disgusts me. Maybe I’m a different kind of asexual. Hmm.

    • An Asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction; the yearning for it; that does not automatically mean their parts do not respond with pleasure when having sex, so they could do it for that reason (or to satisfy their sexual partner). They simply do it out of masturbation not sexual attraction; no physical attraction but just the desire for pleasure; they probably wouldnt get turned on by things that normally initiate sex or experience a need for sex, but again, just the pleasure whether its by masturbation or sex.

      • actually i should clarify, i meant “the yearning for it with another person”. And porn can still be a turn on to any type of Asexual. So then doesnt that mean they actually desire sex? No, because faced with the option with another person they have no sexual attraction. Also, the part where i said they can do it to satisfy their partner comes more as a “i did this and it made them happy so it made me happy to do it for them,” not necessarily sexual satisfaction.

  5. After this I’m pretty much sure I’m graysexual. The vagueness of it suits me. I mean, I have sexual urges and desires- and I can look at someone and be like “they’re hot”- but when it comes to the actual sex act itself I feel totally disconnected from the act. Like I’m putting on a show or something- it’s just uncomfortable. Whereas when I’m on my own and just “playing around”, I feel much more sexually satisfied. I can be aroused on my own, thinking of someone else, or just plain fantasizing in my head, but if any of them were to ever come true in real life it’d just be weird for me. Graysexual panromantic- I feel like that suits me to a T, but how the hell am I supposed to explain that to people without coming off as an attention seeker or something? You tell people you like the idea of sex but not the sex act itself and they think you’re some sort of prude. Ugh.

    • This is exactly how it is for me too, I like the idea and I can find gratification myself but doing anything with anyone else is just not comfortable nor is it enjoyable.

    • i think the EXACT way! wow. i dont feel alone anymore. sometimes i think im not normal at all and its kind of annoying because sometimes i do want to have sex (only with someone i’d like) but when it finally happens its so..weird. i dont know its kind of boring or something because i just dont enjoy it . and i think its going to be like that for the rest of my life. i cant explain that to people because they r always like “you just havent had good sex, i could make you cum you know, i do it right” and stuff like that and ITS SO ANNOYING

    • This is an old comment, but I had to respond anyway.

      Whatwho’sthis, every word you wrote could’ve been written by me. Even some close friends can’t understand it, they just think I have a low libido. They can’t comprehend the distinction between infrequently wanting sex (their understanding) and infrequently meeting anyone who you’d like to have sex with (my reality).

      And I never describe myself as “gray-asexual panromantic,” because it’s obscure and complicated, and so much easier to be “straight and usually single.”

      So here’s to the gray-asexual panromantics of the world. May we each find what we’re looking for.

    • Thank you so much for posting this. I recently went through a traumatic experience with an ex that caused a huge shift in my sexuality. I used to be almost exclusively heterosexual heteroromantic, but this is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone.

      • Thank you all so much. It is very good to know that other people feel this way. As of the past year I have been questioning things and upright confused. I have no one to talk to and my parents strongly disaprove of anything but being straight or heterosexual/romantic. It really is great to know that other people know how I feel. I know this was from a long time ago but I felt like I should comment anyway.

  6. Never really understood that there is a definition for the way I have felt for so long and others who are like me. I enjoy and always have the fantasy of being with someone who I am attracted to ( which is rare for a dead-on heart-thumping kind ) I could survive for years and have just on someone I have met a few times to imagine us having a relationship of some kind. As I have gotten older ( almost 50 and in full menopause ) I do not even fantazise much about them in sexual; scenerios.

  7. Can I just say this article and website and also the article about masturbation have been so happy I could almost cry. Like, Ugh I guess you’d say I’m heteroromantic but I really have never had sexual attraction. The only time was when I was drunk and I was with this guy I had a crush on and we ended up having sex, but that was only because I liked him A LOT and also I think being tipsy helped relax me. But now that my crush on him is over it’s like: zilch, nada, nothing. So I can pretty confidently say now that I’m demisexual and it just feels really good to just know that about yourself. Ok thanks just thought I’d spew my spiel!

  8. Thank you for this, I’ve always been so confused about my sexuality. Although the fact that I’m hyper-rational always helped to keep the despair of not being “normal” away, it never really helped me figure out what I was. I still don’t have a label for myself, and I feel like I never will, but learning all of this about different kinds of sexualities always eases me, even though I know I still haven’t figured myself out yet. I can’t thank you enough for writing that last paragraph, that was the best thing I could possibly have read.

  9. I think I have finally found out what I am…a gray-A. Not good news, since my husband of 10 years has a high and very active sex drive. Wondering if it’s the end of our relationship?

    • I’m a panromantic grey ace, and am having the same issues with my boyfriend. Did you ever find a solution? Cuz I’d like some help.

    • I’m a sexual person with a partner who used to be sexual but lost most of her sex drive through hormonal changes and is now functionally demisexual or graysexual. I decided I was too young to be celibate and my sexuality is very important to me, but we love one another and wanted to stay together. We decided to become polyamorous, so I now have two romantic partners, one of whom I am sexual with and the other I am affectionate with but not usually sexual with. The thing to understand about relationships with sexuals is that even though sexual behaviour is not important for you, sexual expression is a core part of their aliveness and sense of self. We are both so much happier. Some people become poly to have more sex, and some to have less without feeling they are letting their partner down. Here’s some good info on ethical polyamory: http://www.morethantwo.com

      • You may not want to share but in what capacity did you two meet? Under what circumstances? The more I consider how I feel and how introverted I can be, it sometimes feels impossible. If you have any suggestions feel free to share. I feel like we could all benefit from some sort of instruction manual moving forward from all of this self realization…lol

  10. I think I’m homoromantic gray-asexual with heterosexual tendencies. Does that even make sense? I was born a girl, but I prefer to be thought of as a male, if any gender; I identify as genderless, but most places don’t set that as an option. I’m romantically attracted to males. I very very rarely feel sexual attraction, but when I do, it is towards females.

  11. Hi! So, I haven’t really chosen a definition yet, because I haven’t felt the need too, and because I haven’t found one that feels right. But reading through this post, I realized… I have no idea what sexual attraction means. Can anyone please explain that to me?

    • I am no expert but I believe that sexual attraction is a physical response to desire. A person experiences a trigger for the romantic it may be an act of love from the person with whom they are in love or for others it may be the body of a person they find attractive that causes their sexual organs to swell with desire for sexual intercourse. The nipples become erect as does the penis, the mouth becomes wet as does the vagina and the mind has flashes of sex acts with the person causing the trigger.

      • The physical reaction is arousal. Arousal is different from sexual attraction. There are many things that will lead to arousal (Tight fitting clothes, for example) which have nothing to do with attraction.

  12. I find myself looking at a woman, and fantasies more on how deeply in love we could be, rather than the thought of sex with them. The thought of sex outside of love is repulsive to me, disgusting in a way. I abolish porn, and I can not call a woman “hot” or “sexy” because I find it strange. Almost like I can’t say it.

  13. I used to think I was asexual. I had never felt sexual attraction towards anybody, never thought “they’re hot” or even had any sexual urges. I started going out with my current boyfriend after being friends for three years (so he knew about my “asexuality”) and now we have a very enjoyable sex life. Since he knew from the beginning, it’s not that I wanted to please him, it just happened. With him, it’s somehow different. I wasn’t physically attracted to him at the beginning at all. He’s an amazing person, but even in a non-sexual way (you know, I can intellectually say “this person is good looking”, even if I don’t feel attracted to them) I never thought of him as physically attractive. The thing is, even thought I like sex with him, I still get disgusted at the idea of sex in general, when I read about it, or in films etc. And while I love the experience with him, I could certainly live without it. So this page really touches a chord with me! Thank you x

    • Oh, give voice to the words inside my heart! :D

      So, for you, the sex is more an emotional connection, yes? I wouldn’t want to go up and cuddle with a stranger any more than I would want to have sex with them, that sort of thing. But with someone you’re involved with, it’s okay.

  14. I came across asexual and demisexual definitions today,research on trying to understand my non sexual boyfriend. I’ve accused him of cheating and of being gay. I have a very high sex drive. I’m 39 and at my sexual peak. I’ve been divorced for almost 10 yrs and when dating/relationships, I never experienced a man not desiring me or sex!
    I feel awful for accusing my boyfriend. He’s not perfect but I know he loves me and I believe I’ve found the reason or root of our continuous frustrations. We have been off n on a year now. We are very close,comfortable,compatible, etc. If we didn’t have any of this,I’m sure I would have gotten rid of him by now. I am ridiculously sexually frustrated!!! But we always find a way back to eachother. I love him very much and I hope we will be able to overcome our differences.
    Thanks for the information.

  15. I have always thought of myself as a heterosexual serial monogamist with a finicky sex drive. But perhaps I am a heteromantic demisexual. Labels never fit completely. But they are wonderful for opening the mind and getting people to think beyond themselves. The first steps toward tolerance and acceptance. These labels also start the communication process because each of us have a unique set of preferences that make up our sexuality that our partners need to know and understand.

  16. I think I’m hetero-demi or gray, but I can’t actually tell because I’m a virgin. It’s frustrating, because I’m going to have to have sex just to find out how it makes me feel, so I can confirm. Any advice? I find some guys sexy and hot, and some gross, but when I get to thinking about sex with the hot ones, my excitement gets iffy. Something about the act repulses me, and I’d like to try it and find out that it’s heaven. At the moment, I find sex gross. I can’t tell what I’ll end up feeling about it until I do the deed, and as much as I want to know my orientation, I don’t want sex for the sole purpose of finding out. What I find arousing is touching all over. I’m capable of imagining sex as amazing, but I get to the thoughts of him cumming, and the flesh, and eww. If real sex was like movie sex, with the passion without the nitty gritty details, I think I would be more open to it. In fact, as I write this, I’m currently in the mindset sex is disgusting because I’m having to think of the details. I think I want sex EVENTUALLY, but it’s ok if it doesn’t happen. I do feel very attracted to people, sometimes they happen to be fictional.(I’m very turned on by an anime character at the moment.) I do think what I want from a relationship is emotions, not sex. I want a man who really cares, and won’t get pissed if sex isn’t for me.

    • You have the right idea, friend. I’m demi, and took years of being sexually active to figure that out. What I can tell you is: in a strong, close relationship full of intimacy (not just sexual, like lots of cuddling and kissing), when sex does happen you’re not often thinking about the nitty gritty details. Yeah, if I thought about the physical, medical details of sex I would think “eww” but in the middle of it I’m thinking “this is pretty great”. Though, getting into too much information here for a second, the best part is afterward when you’re just cuddling and kissing and both of you are coming down from the emotional high of the act.

  17. for me sex and something i would want in an actual relationship are just completely different ball games. i get sexually attracted to people, but i dont want to actually have sex WITH them? or even date them? from that arousal, and never have sexual fantasies about actual people or ones that include myself having sex, just about the act itself, or just about cuddling? sometimes i see a guy that i think i might like to date, but that doesn’t include being sexually attracted to him. romance and sexual attraction and sex are all just in completely different boxes in my brain, i guess that makes me gray-sexual? even though i dont want to have sex with the people im sexually attracted to? like if one of them asked me out or something it would just be weird- i just dont know.

  18. I’m confused. I’ve read about gray asexuality and stuff but I don’t know if it equates to sex drive. To put some context. I’ve identified myself as a gay man. I think women are great but don’t find them sexually appealing. Men… I love them, I constantly see them but I rarely wanna pursue my desires or fantasies. And when I do… They bore the hell out of me. My fantasies are satisfied by some physical contact and within minutes I start feeling uncomfortable. I start worrying about the sheets, the smell and I get bored with them. I tend to think, let’s get off and get you out of my house. But since everybody has a higher sex drive than me, I tend to keep on going, for them.
    Sometimes sex is just plain repulsive or overwhelming after a while. I just feel the need to be left alone after the encounter, I feel awkward about people who can go on and on and still want more. It’s weird… I thought I was being picky about people. But coming to think about it, I’ve never fell in love. I have had boyfriends telling me they love me but I can’t reciprocate. Nonetheless I have created some strong bonds but not infatuation or an unstoppable sex desire. I think I’d rather be by myself and fantasize people than having then with me. Also, a sexual encounter can let my body be at peace for months, and that’s why I do it really, so I can focus on my life and not on sex.

    And I wonder why people say it’s fun or pursue it so much… I felt I was being nit picky, but it seems I’m not alone. However, I don’t feel that I fall within a specific category.

    Could it be that I’m homoromantic and gray asexual? Even if I experience sexual desire but not for long? What about sex drive?

  19. I started getting confused when my friends and I were talking about what type of people we are, meaning where we look first when determining if a person is hot or not. My bi-friend and my trans-gay friend both agreed that they’re ass people, but when they asked me I said face, which confused them. I’ve never stared at someone’s butt and it seems weird to me that you’d be looking there, or boobs or genitals. Is that weird? I can tell if a person’s hot or not but that doesn’t mean I want to sleep with him/her.

  20. I always felt different than other girls growing up. I never had crushes or even cared about the other boys, mainly because I didn’t talk to them. I wasn’t friends with them. Sure I liked their faces and bodies, but I never actually felt anything more. I have one good male best friend (who has a girlfriend) and I know him very well and I am physically attracted to him, but not romantically. But another guy I had never met before I was physically and strongly emotionally attracted to, but it was after I had talked to him for many months. But we stopped talking and those feelings kinda drifted away and now I feel nothing for him, in either category. I never had any other crushes on boys in my life, and I identify as heterosexual. I thought that I might be a lesbian but imagining being with girls didn’t feel right for me. I used to think to myself, “my boyfriend will have to be my friend first” I realized thats how I am. I am 18 and a virgin and I now identify as demisexual. Do I think Chris Hemsworth is attractive? yes, he has a nice body and features, other hot actors i feel the same way but i cant fawn over them like my friends do and I would never imagine having sex with them. They are nice to look at. But they don’t stir anything in me. I’ve come to an understanding about myself that, if i have a strong, open and close friendship with someone it opens the avenue for romantic feelings, (regardless of physical appearance) if not i cannot be attracted to them at all. It makes me feel better knowing how I feel is not strange in any way, just different from most people ^^

  21. I had identified as bisexual for a long time, but that was mostly because I dated both men and women. Now, being older and having considered my attraction to others at length, I find I identify as a panromantic grey-asexual.
    It surprises some of my friends, because they figure there’s only gay, straight and bisexual, but they’re getting used to it. I’m a good wingman, but only because I’m an actor. Elsewise, I’m ridiculously unattracted to anyone I’m talking to unless I’ve known them for years, and even then, nope.

  22. Demisexual… demisexual makes so much more sense.
    I’ve always hated the idea of sex, since it first started to become prominent in my life. Around 15 or 16, everyone was having sex, my friends convinced me to watch porn with them, would tell me about their sexual experiences, and it sounded awful. But I didn’t want to seem weird, so I went to experiment with a boy, a friend, when I was 18… and we didn’t even get past the kissy-gropey part. The kissing disgusted me. The groping I didn’t even notice, positively or negatively, but the kissing brought home the fact that we were, and would be, exchanging bodily fluid, and that about made me gag.
    Since then, I never tried again. I’ve tried my best to imagine myself with people on several occasions, but I get too grossed out, it just doesn’t “turn me on”, so to speak… I do enjoy masturbation. It relaxes me.
    And I do find people aesthetically appealing. I can think a lady is very beautiful, I can think a man is very handsome, but I can’t think about myself actually wanting sex with them.
    But I would like a family someday (with adopted kids, pregnancy is even worse than sex). And I know I’m capable of loving people very deeply. So, if I truly want someone to stay with me… I think I’d be willing to try and push aside my disgust and have sex with them (and god, do I hope it will be enjoyable for both parties).

    My therapist hardcore labelled me “asexual”, but I think demisexual is much more fitting for my situation.

    Thank you so much for making this site! It clears up so many years of confusion and self-doubt. Thank you!

    • Far be it from me to tell someone else how to identify.

      That said, I’m not sure what it is that makes you think you are demisexual instead of asexual or grey-a. Having read your comment, it seems as if you’ve never experienced sexual attraction to anyone. I’m not sure if this is true, but if it is then it would point to you being asexual, not demisexual. Masturbation and appreciation of how people look are very common in asexual people, so if that’s why you think you might be demi- then I want to point that out.

      One other thing. You say towards the end of your comment, “if I truly want someone to stay with me… I think I’d be willing to try and push aside my disgust and have sex with them”. Just remember that if you’re looking for someone who appreciates you as a person, then they should be willing to stay with you despite your disinterest in sex. There’s no need to do something you truly dislike just to keep someone around.

      • Agreed. It’s noble and all to want to push aside your feelings of disinterest for the person you love and far be it from me to tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies – if you want to try to experience sex at least once, go right ahead. Use protection. But anyone worth your time and energy will be understanding of your disinterest in sex, and if they have a really powerful sex drive then maybe a nonmonogamous arrangement would work. It doesn’t work for everyone and it may not work for you or them, but it’s worth considering.

  23. I’m consider myself a heteromantic asexual. I still find men aesthetically pleasing, but I have no desire whatsoever to have sex with them. I’ve never actually been in a relationship, so I could be demi, but I’m not sure. I’m also not entirely sure if I can call myself romantic. I feel like I want a relationship someday but I also can’t imagine myself in a relationship. Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m capable of forming deep, emotional bonds. All I know is that I’ve never felt sexual attraction in my life and the idea of having sex is completely foreign and gross to me.

  24. Thank you for this article. For a long time now I’ve wondered if I’m asexual or aromantic or something, as I have never felt “attracted” in any way to anyone really (although I do enjoy masturbation). But at the same time I’ve never been comfortable calling myself “Asexual” due to my ability to enjoy masturbation and presumably sex if I were to experience it. I believe best grey-asexual describes my experience, so now I have something to tell people when they ask “What’s the matter, are you gay?”

  25. Thank you so much for this article. After many years of confusion I’ve finally identified myself as Grey-A. I’ve told only one person so far. Mainly because it’s something that not many people seem to know about and it’s very hard to explain! Your article on it is to the point and easy to understand which is why in the future anyone I want to tell about it I will refer them here, making things a lot easier. Thanks for this :) from Alanna in NZ

  26. I dont know if this was posted above or not.
    Im only 15 but have not found any real attraction to people. But I just found out about the term “asexual” and all its sub regions.
    Im wondering..is it normal to be asexual but be attracted to anime characters. Not like you want to have sex with them but just find them cute.
    At school, I only admire the guys and girls. Im not attracted to them just say to myself “if I was a boy then I would want to look like that”.
    Also, I dont have sexual dreams or fantasies. At night, I just wish there was someone beside me. Is that just being lonely?
    Sorry if this all just sounds stupid. But im really kind of confused about all of this. Asexual definitely sounds like me, I even get weird around a sex conversation. I find the whole thing gross. In movies it’s like “is this really necessary?”

    • That doesn’t sound odd at all! Part of me is saying “I was like that at 15″ and at 23, sex conversations do not bother me in the least but I also know a 22-year-old who is actively repulsed by them but who doesn’t consider themselves asexual or under the ace umbrella.

      I also was attracted to anime characters because, quite frankly, I realized the pickings were rather slim in my hometown. I have a very strong heteroromantic drive and a strong desire for intimacy, but when it comes to sex, I can take it or leave it. I can give up having sex for the rest of my life easily, but I could not give up kissing or cuddling, which are seen as more romantic activities. So when I was younger and surrounded mostly by peers who I didn’t find attractive, I fantasized about fictional characters as an outlet for my strong romantic drive. The fantasies never got sexual, and even now I sort of have to forcibly have a sexual fantasy. Whenever exes have asked about my sexual fantasies I always drew a blank.

      So you probably are asexual (or demi, or gray, I don’t know, I’m not a label maker) but like me, you have a strong romantic drive that needs an outlet. You may permanently be asexual, or you may wind up in a romantic relationship and realize you’re demisexual or grace but for now only time will tell. It took me years of actively having sex to realize I was demisexual because there just wasn’t great articles like this to clarify the feelings I have and there was still this notion that romantic orientation = sexual orientation = sexual activity. So I’m glad you’re researching this now and saving yourself years of confusion :)

  27. Thank you for this, I’ve recently been trying to figure this stuff out for myself and have had a lot of trouble finding anything that doesn’t make the spectrum of asexuality out as some sort of abnormal medical or emotional problem. I think I’m grace, I almost never feel any sexual attraction (though I adore romance and feel strong romantic feelings) though I don’t hate sex I just don’t think about it or seek it out.

  28. wow. just wow. stumbling up on this site was an eye-opener. i have been thinking of myself being asexual for the past 2 years or so. but mostly i thought it might be due to the hormones after pregnancy and giving birth and also due to the abusive relationship i went through with my ex (he is a sexual person with a strong sexual drive and he sexually abused me). but thinking in retrospective, i came to the conclusion that i might have been asexual or whatever even before meeting him. i dont really know how to identify. i am not straight asexual. i had sex. i enjoyed sex. i have sexual fantasies. i masturbate. but all of this is rare. like litterally once a year kind of thing. like “oh, springtime, hormones kicking in. whoever’s around and showing interest in me…give it a try”. so, i go along. take pleasure about 2 months. never doing anything crazy, just usual stuff. during this time i enjoy sex very much. i am horny. i masturbate and fantasize on the current partner. i also daydream in a romantic way of him (having a happily-ever-after relationship thing going on, children, holding hands, cuddling a lot, kissing, …). but usually, when i hit the 2 or 3 months mark, it just stops. suddenly. i am not attracted to this person anymore. neither physically or romantically. it just stops. having sex all the sudden becomes a burden, an obligation. in the beginning i will think that i might have had just one of those days. like sexual people do have, too, where you are just not in the mood. but within days, i start realizing that i really do not desire anymore sexual activity with this person. like, my libido shut down all the sudden. and also i start getting desinterested by this person. even annoyed. things i liked about him in the beginning start bothering me. i start forcing myself into having sex. starting feeling disusted bymeself for doing so. starting ressenting the parter for forcing me into sex. and around 3 months into the relationhip i call it quits. to the point that i dont want to ever see this person again if possible. at this point i dont masturbate anymore. i will try once in a while (rare) but it will always fail. then i go on with my daily life, just developing one crush over another on several people, mostly unattainable for a certain reason. but still daydreaming on how my romantic life would be with them. a few months pass. maybe a year. and there will be a person who seems to be interested in me. and i will go along. engaging with him. flirting. seducing him. having sex with him. developing romantic phantasies. until we reach the magic 3 months. then, all the sudden, it all seems weird. i feel dirty after having sex. and i call it off. i find a whole bunch of excuses why it didnt work out with this person. ….. in general, i understand the concept of identifying people as hor or sexy. it happens to me that i can think this of a person. but in general, i am so much more attracted to to the idea that this person is just there for me, listening, caring, providing, hugging, crying with me. … i do have a lot of crushs on a lot of people. basically, it all starts very sudden and it all stops very sudden. but lately i switch from one crush to another without any break. i can fantasize about a person for months, only because i saw a picuture of them, being convinced this is the one. as soon as i find out that this person is not single, i dont have a crush anymore but switch on the next “victim” right away. of course, without ever telling them or making any effort to get to know them. …. so basically, most of the guys i dated and had sex with were into me first, showed interest and i always was convinced right away that i am into them and went along. just happend recently. had a crush for a guy who lives in my neighbourhood. he has no clue but i am very informed about everything that is publicly visible on his facebook. went to a concert. a guy was hitting on me, but really in a nice and shy way, we exchanged facebook contacts. and right away the next day the original crush was forgotten and all i think about is the new guy, although i dont find him attractive at all. but i have this idea in my head that he must really be a nice guy and treat me right because of his bad looks he must be very unsuccesfull with women. so he wont be an asshole. … fast forward. i can imagine and fantasize about having passionate sex with him but cannot imagine at all having a long-lasting relationship with him where regular sex (and be it only once every other week) is required after my initial urge has gone away. so…. where do i fit in? asexual? no. because i have a sex-drive. (once in a while. but i can comfortably live without it). demi or gray? no, because i do develop sexual attraction on a lot of persons. my problem is more that i can have sex, enjoy sex, be wild (within my boundaries) for a while. but then all the sudden it stops and i start feeling grossed out by myself and all i want is just a romantic relationship. more cuddling and kissing and talking and having fun. but no sex. only once in a while. but even once a month would seem kind of an effort and not really exciting. what do you think, fellow people? i know this was long, but really really glad to see, that i am not the only one with whatever kind of orientation or sexdrive. i always knew that i am not prude. when i do have sex and enjoy it i am really not.

  29. I’m very romantic and I like to think about being intimate with someone I love, but the idea of sex does not appeal to me. Seems like something that I would have to get used to, but makes me somewhat curious. I found out about aces after wondering if there are people who would rather avoid sex, but would much rather snuggle. I guess that classifies me as one… it’s just helpful to gain a better understanding of what I want. I guess a gray ace would be something akin to bisexuality.

  30. I’m a 50-something male who is sexually attracted to women, enjoy masturbating to internet porn, but have never had a wife or even a girlfriend in my entire life (save for two 3-month flings). And – if I’m perfectly honest – content to stay single.
    I’m a mystery to me and to all who know me.

    My mother would always enquire if I had “found a nice girl yet” but I would reply “No, I’m fine as I am” and quickly change the subject. Needless to say, my other 5 siblings are in relationships and have their own kids – two are on their second marriages.
    It’s not for want of trying either; I have had numerous dates and quite a few one-night stands…but it always felt ‘wrong’ some way or other. And no, I’m not gay either. I just feel ‘right’ being single, that’s the best way I can put it.

    You can imagine how awkward it is at work when they find out I don’t have a wife or girlfriend or any plans to get one – when absolutely everyone else is in a serious relationship, even gay colleagues.
    I’ve often invented ex wives and even adult kids who’ve flown the nest and don’t keep in touch…just so I fit in.
    What the hell’s the matter with me? Do I come under the asexual umbrella?

    • I do not think you belong under the Ace flag but still likely under the Straight flag. Because you acknowledge you are sexually attracted to women, this would classify you as straight and no asexual, but you could still classify as aromantic, which may very well put you under the Ace flag. But this is just my opinion.
      I believe that you are what you think, because only you can truely classify yourself because only you can tell what you really feel like. So maybe you’re under the ace flag, maybe you’re under the straight flag. Maybe you’re aromantic, and maybe you’re not. It’s hard to tell.

  31. When I was younger, I was really confused about demisexuality and thought it meant you had a low sex drive. So I was really confused when people would talk about how horny they were or how sexually frustrated they were as if they didn’t care who relieved that tension, but then I got a boyfriend who I cared for very much but didn’t have sex with. I didn’t consider myself demi because I did want sex but more in the “I want to experience this new part of my life I have never experienced before”. (I would discover years later that a lot of my sexual interest is more of an intellectual interest rather than a physical desire) My one time making out with a guy, I had zero desire to have sex with him even though I did get hot and bothered. I got very sexually frustrated while dating this guy (VERY VERY sexually frustrated) and thought that made me sexual.

    Then several things happened throughout the course of the next few years (boyfriends came and went, virginity left in a puff of smoke, a few times attempting casual sex with disastrous results, then being single and celibate for 2 years) and I did some research on demisexuality. I realized: wow, this describes me. Outside of a relationship, I have zero interest in pursuing sex and almost never feel sexual desire (the few times were directed at someone I had a close bond to and would last for like 10 seconds). I had for a long time mistaken romantic desire to sexual desire and I have a VERY strong heteroromantic drive. I realized I never sexually fantasized about anyone I didn’t have feelings for. Now I’m in a strong, close relationship with a wonderful man who knows all of my LGBT acronyms and in a strong and close relationship I am basically insatiable. But that doesn’t stop me from being demi. I’m glad this information is out there because young people can avoid years of confusion.

  32. I’ve often wondered where on the spectrum of sexuality I fit since my experiences are a study in contradictions (anyone who knows me would not be surprised by that) and I still don’t really have a good answer for that. I have a high sex drive in terms of desire for release and masturbate frequently. I am also in a long-term monogamous relationship and we frequently have enjoyable sex. I am attracted to other people and I used to identify as pansexual because it was never anything physical that attracted me to them, but more that certain characteristics about them did. But I’ve realized that doesn’t really fit either. Sometimes I wonder if what I feel is actually sexual attraction, or if it’s just a desire to be close to a person I find alluring and wouldn’t mind having sex with.

    I know that I’m not romantic. I’ve been married 10 years, but I wouldn’t really say that I love my partner in a romantic way. He’s my best friend, and sometimes we have sex, and it’s pretty much my idea of a perfect relationship. The thing is, I want to get off, and frequently, but I’m not really sure if it’s attraction that I’m feeling. I hate touching and I hate foreplay. When I have sex all I want is to say, “Hey, you wanna?” and go straight to penetration under a specific set of circumstances. I also hate being touched for any reason other than sex by anyone. For this reason I would often rather masturbate, even when my partner is home and interested in sex. Also, even though I enjoy sex with my partner very much and think he is an attractive man, I’m not entirely sure I feel attracted to him. I love the idea of sex, I love porn, and I love erotic novels. But I think I like it because it’s happening to other people. When I have sex, I almost always block out my partner and think of passages of a recently read bit of erotica.

    I’m not sure what that makes me. Reading this article made me think I might be a gray-asexual who enjoys physical release and sex but rarely feels attraction. But my experiences vary so drastically from most of the ones described here, and I know everyone is different (part of the reason why this spectrum exists) but now I’m just confused again. Maybe I’m just a regular old bisexual who hates to be touched. There are worse things to be, I guess.

    Whatever though, I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship that works for both parties so the label is really more to satisfy my own curiosity than to be any sort of identification or information.

    Best of luck to everyone, no matter where you fall on the spectrum.

  33. How do you know if you are demi sexual, as opposed to grey a sexual? Is there a clear distinction in the two? I can become attracted to someone only after I form a strong emotional bond with them. However, the sex is still uncomfortable and I can never relax enough to actually want it. It always ends up with me trying so hard to calm my anxiety and appear natural for the other person, which dissolves whatever little attraction that sparked it. I get turned on but only masturbation satisfies me. I keep thinking that maybe if everything worked out exactly how I picture it when I masturbate, I could finally orgasm during sex. But the things I think about are immoral and even go against my own values. They are just fantasy. I am hopeless.

  34. Pingback: Being Queer in a Straight Relationship | OfficialJane

  35. I have just recently been calling myself asexual. When I found the term, I thought that it fit me, but, I have a small libido and do, in fact, masturbate. I was worried that I wasn’t really asexual or that I was lying to people when I told them I was asexual. I have a small desire for sex, but it’s not attraction, it’s just the action itself. When I came across this site, it really helped me a lot. However, I think I might be grey-asexual (nothing wrong with that, but I’m not sure). There is someone there that I wouldn’t mind (and slightly want) to have sex with and (I’m panromantic, by the way) I knew that if I HAD to have sex, it’d be with a guy. I do fantasize, but it’s blank faces not specific people (and if it is, then it’s because I personally think they’d look good, I mean, faces make it seem more realistic and, but it’s not because I’m attracted..unless..that is attraction..) but yeah, I think it might be safer to call myself a grace. But anyway, this site is very good and helpful and just well done to begin with.

    • That’s exactly how it is with me- when I do feel attraction, it’s towards men or someone I feel really connected to. I have long periods of honestly not thinking/desiring sex, but I do masturbate- usually imagining a character/person I feel a deep connection with. (Sorry for tmi xP)

      I worry that I may be lying/deceiving people when I describe myself as demisexual…it’s a confusing road, but I think the “umbrella” and the “spectrum” help a lot because with a spectrum, there is only TWO spots of definity- complete “black” (for example, “regular”/really strong sexuality) or complete “white” (example, asexuality) the rest of the spectrum is all variations of gray.

      So if we don’t fit into these two definite spots (“black” and “white”) there isn’t anything to be worried about because it just means you’re in the gray areas like the majority of people. Very, very few people are on the extreme sides of any spectrum (not that there’s anything wrong with fitting the description of an “extreme” side).

      • Actually majority of people are on the sexual side of the spectrum. The rest of us are minorities especially full asexuals on the opposite side of the spectrum. Studies show that statistically only 1 percent of the population is asexual, although some scientists think it’s probably a bit higher than that.

  36. I’m pretty sure that I’m a demisexual, but I do go through long periods of time when I just honestly don’t feel sexual/don’t think about sex, but there are also periods when I feel a lot of sex drive- not to have sex, though, rather- um…pleasuring myself by imagining sex with someone I feel really connected to. Does that not fit the demisexuality profile? Or is this confusing behavior with attraction like in your article? (i.e. an asexual may have a lot of sex but still be asexual because they don’t feel sexual attraction?)

  37. A friend on Tumblr explained demisexuality to me and I knew almost instantly that THIS was me! It was such a relief. Ever since middle school, I’ve felt like an alien because most of the time I really don’t care/think about sex.

    I’ve wondered “what the hell is wrong with me?”

    I’m a 24 year old virgin because in the past I honestly didn’t have any interest in having sex, while I did experience feelings of attraction towards men (only men for some reason- is there such a thing as heterosexual demis?)

    My parents are psychologists, so I knew about asexuality but that didn’t quite fit me- sometimes I’d have a pretty heavy sex drive, but for long periods of time I just honestly didn’t think about sex- and to be more honest, usually seeing sex scenes in movies actually grossed me out (I remember being 12 years old and a sex scene upset me so badly I cried).

    It was all so confusing, even hurtful, but now I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel- I understand myself better and now I’m absolutely determined that there is nothing I need to “fix”!

    I am kind of worried about my future though– I want a monogamous relationship so badly- but one with a deep connection and emotional understanding. I want kids so badly too. Can I find love with a man who understands my sexuality?

    • Demisexual and grey asexual etc have nothing to do with your sexual orientation (who you are attracted to) it’s more about how you’re attracted to them. You could be heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual or any other sexual orientation coupled with demi/grey. For example, I identify as heterosexual grey-a with demisexual tendencies. I like men, which makes me heterosexual; but I’m often not attracted to them in a sexual way (don’t feel sexual attraction like regular sexual people) which (in short) makes me grey-a. In some circumstances if I form a strong emotional bond with a man I will be a lot more likely to feel sexual attraction towards them, which is the demisexual tendencies part.

  38. I feel almost the same way as Alanna… I just found this page because I have been feeling lost…I think I’m a grey-a…with demi-sexual tendencies…but i’m sooo confused ‘cuz I don’t always want a romantic relationship as now… but I’ve been involved in romantic and sexual relationships…Now I don’t want a romantic relationship, but I’m dating a guy who makes me feel great because I don’t feel pressure, he is sweet and funny and I do care about him…and sex is fun and nice with him..
    But there have been situations where I have enjoyed the company of a guy and felt attracted to him and enjoyed kissing and holding hands but didn’t want to have sex … I mean, sometimes I see sex as something unnecessary, sometimes I think that cuddling or sleeping after sex, is way nicer than sex indeed. So right now I’m a very confused grey…Beside sometimes I feel attracted to women (mostly tomboys)or trasgender girls…but not in a really sexual way….I mean I would like to date with them, have fun, hang out, hold hands, cuddle and kiss…but not necessarily have sex with them… So I don’t know how to feel…or how to explain this to people…especially to my family who is very conservative and thinks that anything that’s not socially “right” or “acceptable” is just wrong… Somebody please help me

  39. I love thinking about sex, and reading about sex, and sex in general, but I’ve never really been sexually attracted to someone. Kissing grosses me out, and imagining myself in sexual situations disgusts me. There is only one person this wasn’t true for, and she was a very very close friend. She’s the only person I’ve ever comfortably imagined having sex with or kissing, and that was only once we had been friends for a while and had gotten very close. However, in terms of my porn preferences, I love both men and women, as long as I can imagine that I’m not involved in any way. I’ve considered myself demisexual for a bit, but it’s very difficult to accept the label when so many people tell you that it isn’t real, or that I’m just repressed. I’m not repressed, I think sex is great, just not when I’m the one having it… I wanted to thank this article for giving me extra confidence, and also wondered If anyone else recognised how I feel. x

  40. For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I could tell the difference between someone who was attractive and someone who wasn’t, but I didn’t seem to process it the way my peers did. I was the only girl in six grade who had pictures of boy bands on her wall just because my friends did, not because I thought they were “cute” or “hot” or “sexy”. I am 25 and have been sexually attracted to only two people in my lifetime, both of whom I developed a very deep emotional bond with first. The sexual attraction didn’t draw me to them at all, that came after. I thought maybe my mind was just making me careful, or maybe I was just picky, or maybe I was just scared. But the fact that I didn’t see men the way my friends did really bothered me, and I questioned my sexuality for the longest time. But I wasn’t attracted to women, either. I thought I was asexual for awhile, but I did experience sexual attraction to the two men I had a deep emotional connection with. So I didn’t fit there either. I came across the term “demisexual” By mistake one day, and when I looked up the term’s meaning, a light bulb went off in my head and it described me perfectly. I finally feel normal, it feels fantastic that there is an actual word for what I am, and I’m not just weird or afraid of sex. The only thing that bothers me, is that when people ask me what I am, and I tell them, they either don’t believe me, or get offended and think I’m trying to steal the LGBT “Thunder”. Not true at all. So thank you for describing this so perfectly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>