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I have had a couple conversations with people where they identified as “demisexual” and then it turned out that they had a mistaken idea of what demisexual means, so I thought I would make a public post about it, since confusion is apparently somewhat widespread in the rationalist community.

“Demisexual” means not being attracted to someone unless you have an emotional bond to them. The emotional bond may be platonic or romantic. This is not the same thing as not wanting to have sex with someone until you have an emotional bond to them. Allosexuals: you know how there are some people who are kinda weird-looking, and then you get to know them and they’re funny and smart and kind and suddenly hot as hell? That is the sexual attraction demisexuals experience all the time.

If you just mean to convey something like “kinda asexual but not really”, the word you’re looking for is “gray-asexual” (also spelled “graysexual” or “gray-A”). Gray-asexual people may experience sexual attraction on rare occasions, enjoy sex but only on very specific or limited circumstances, have some sexual attraction but be repelled by sex, fluctuate between being asexual and being allosexual, have sexual attraction but no interest in having sex, etc.

If you are like “hey, one of those words describes me! But I don’t like those special-snowflake words and I don’t want to identify as them”, you don’t have to! You should only use words if they are helpful to you in understanding your own sexual attractions and communicating them to others.