In the age of inclusivity and gender-neutrality, the discussion on expanding the sexuality spectrum has gained steam among millennials and Gen Z. From self-identifying as cis, trans, hetro, homo, bi, pan, poly, and/or non-binary, the gambit of sexuality knows no bounds anymore.
The latest term added to this bouquet of self-identification is “demi-sexual,” which essentially means people who only feel sexually attracted to someone when they have an emotional bond with the person. They can be gay, straight, bisexual, or pansexual, and have any gender identity. The prefix “demi” means half — which can refer to being halfway between sexual and asexual.
So, could this be the new cool that goes against the popular hook-up culture? We explore.
Take your sweet time
In a world full of dating apps that fuel easy and non-emotional sexual relationships, how challenging would it be to invest emotionally and be a demi-sexual person
Harpreet Mann, a 30-year-old government professional, believes being demi-sexual makes more sense than meaningless relationships that fizzle in no time. “For me, love is pure and full of emotions. I relate to physical intimacy as an extension of love and loyalty and it can only happen with someone I deeply bond with. I am only physically attracted to someone if we know each other well, spend quality time, develop a deep sense of care, loyalty and be exclusive to each other in an old-fashioned way. I like to keep my love life personal, and deep emotional connection matters a lot to me to take it to next level in a relationship,” explains Harpreet.
To learn about the demi-sexual, it is essential to step aside from stereotypical notions of categorised sexual orientations.
In fact, according to psychologist Sanjoni Sethi, sexual desire, arousal, sexual act and romantic experience or fantasies are closely associated concepts. She remarks, “Culturally defined binary system is moving onto a broad spectrum. It would be incorrect to scrutinise people as identifying for a trend or assessing its practicality. The demi-sexual shares feelings of frustration, rejection and guilt while labelling and practising in a hook-up culture paradigm. Some of them may feel out of place, even when they hold sex-positive views. Cultural notions of gender may be stereotypical. Thus, to be an inclusively safe community, it is supreme to be expansive and welcoming to unique experiences, orientations with which people identify across gender identities.”
Demi-sexuality to humans comes as a core concept of evolution. Over thousands of years, we’ve moved from polygamy to monogamy only because of the bond that is established between humans.
Dr Khizar Raoof, MD at Raoof’s Urocare, Hyderabad, feels that one-night stands or hook-ups are easy but meaningless, while an emotional bond anchors a relationship. “Developing an emotional bond with your sexual partner is as more important than the act itself. If there’s no attachment, then the act is nothing but an exchange of goods. It’s but natural for us to be demi-sexual; we just have a new term for it,” he states.
The doctor also points out that an asexual relationship can turn sexual although it’s difficult for a demi-sexual relationship to turn asexual unless the partners chose not to interact any longer. “And it applies to all genders,” adds Dr Raoof.
Nothing confusing here
Although demi-sexual people are often confused to be asexual, there is a marked difference between the two.
Dr Sukhjinder Singh Yogi, a sexologist at Yogis Ayurveda, believes that these days many youngsters are inclined towards hook-ups for their sexual desires, without having to take on the responsibilities of emotional ties.
He says, “With easier access to technology or porn, the idea of casual sex is presented as cool and trendy. Sometimes, this also leads to a lot of guilt and confusion about their identity, which hampers their mental health. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everyone else but they do not feel the urge to act on these feelings sexually. They can be attracted to the same sex or other sexes.”
However, Sanjoni Sethi sums up the conversation rather succinctly. She says, “Asexual people may seek pleasure from romantic desires but not sexual acts or someone who may not experience either. Asexuality is used as an umbrella term with various layers to the spectrum. It is imperative to examine asexuality as a self-identified phenomenon versus medical diagnosis.”