Illustration by Miranda Lorikeet
by Shannon Ashley
Have you ever heard the term demisexual? It refers to one type of person who falls under the umbrella of asexuality. But unlike asexuals who never or rarely feel sexually aroused, we demis do get lusty under certain circumstances.
We typically don't feel sexual attraction to another person unless we feel a deeper connection to them. It doesn't matter how physically attractive they may be. And it doesn't even matter how horny we are. Demis just can't phone it in. We need to feel that connection and attraction, but as even non-demisexuals know, that’s pretty damn hard to come by.
Most demis I know don't get celebrity crushes because we can't feel attraction to a stranger. Actually, we're more likely to fall for a fictional character and the feelings they inspire. We're unlikely to salivate over some photo of a stranger, like Ian Somerhalder. But we might fantasize about Damon Salvatore, or another fictional character he plays if we've grown to feel connected to their stories. Some of us need a deep friendship before attraction can grow. For others, there are specific and even esoteric emotions that must be felt to view somebody in a sexual light. People like myself gag at the thought of having sex with a stranger.
"I used to wonder what was wrong with me when all of my friends gushed over Brad Pitt,” my friend Jillian tells me. “I've learned that I'm not broken. I'm just demisexual."
Some folks might be confused at the notion of demisexuals who engage in frequent masturbation, because demis are often dubbed as uninterested in sex and even touch-avoidant. The truth is, solo sex might be more important for the demi than almost any other sexual type. We're more likely to experience sexual droughts since it takes a lot for us to even consider dating somebody new. So for some demisexuals, including me, a robust masturbation habit is a matter of self-care.
Because, you see, demisexual people get horny. Sometimes we might even feel insatiable. Some of our libidos might even be higher than our friends who have no trouble swiping right on Tinder or OkCupid for a one-night stand. I sometimes get so turned on that I'm not sure how to contain it.
The truth is, solo sex might be more important for the demi than almost any other sexual type.
For many people, though, this sudden surge of lust can be triggered by random people around us: You see a hottie at the coffeeshop and before you know it, you're going to town in the comfort of your own bed, alone. For me, that intensity isn't typically connected to anyone in particular—more like the idea of getting off hard and being pleasantly surprised to discover some kinky connection with the right kind of person.
Since most demisexual folks aren't about to scratch their itch with a stranger, we've got to take our sexual needs into our own hands to fill in the gaps. Solo sex is a safe way to get off and relieve sexual tension in a way that feels pressure-free. And it's where our fantasies thrive because we don't have to wait for the right kind of partner.
"If I didn't masturbate, I would feel routinely stressed,” says Jillian, who is demisexual. “I look at orgasms as a pretty big need in my life, but I don't always have a partner to help meet that need. Sometimes it's up to me to take charge—especially when I'm single."
Whether we're exploring our body with our fingers or a fun new toy, we get to imagine our ideal partner and feel no shame. Or, we get to simply fantasize about whatever situations turn us on. And some of us demis are perfectly happy to help somebody else get off if we don't have to touch them. Personally, I've gotten more than one thrill by simply allowing guy friends to watch a video of me pleasuring myself.
If that person doesn't exist at the moment, that's okay. I can direct all of that sexual desire in a very personal way. And I can take delight in the way my body aches for release, along with the way my orgasm comes hard, fast, slow, or deep. I can find satisfaction in pleasing myself and also in the thought of somebody else masturbating along with me--as long as I don't have to do anything I wouldn't do alone.
That said, every demi is different. Some demis might not masturbate at all, while others might never dream of letting a guy friend see their O face. Another demisexual writer, Elle Wayne, told me that masturbation doesn't interest her much. "I don't feel many urges for sexual satisfaction, except for my partner of 6 years,” she says. “Rather, sex is something I do as a result of my attraction to an individual."
Perhaps more than most people, a truly successful masturbation session for a demi is all about the fantasy. Since we're not attracted to strangers, our solo sex sessions tend to cover the fantasy of connection. Still, some demis masturbate to porn because the situation turns them on. It's not about the strangers on the screen; demis don't salivate over porn stars. But some of us do fantasize about new experiences with a partner we're crazy about.
For most demis who use porn, I think we're often imagining what it would feel like to want someone so bad that we do whatever it is that we're seeing on the screen. We might imagine feeling desired, but again, it's not the stranger we're watching, it's the circumstances and the whole fantasy of being wanted.
I know several demisexual women who identify as heterosexual, but they masturbate to lesbian porn because the situation feels sexy and taboo. They're not attracted to the women they see, but rather the notion itself. In fact, I've got a few fantasies about being schooled by a lesbian, along with a couple of other plot twists I'll likely never do in real life. Solo sex for a demi is a time to imagine the possibilities of every quirk and kink.
At the end of the night, demis aren't all that different from non-demis: We like what we like, and there's no shame in an act of self-love.
Shannon Ashley is a top writer on Medium who's known for covering awkward, honest, and occasionally cringeworthy tales. When she's not writing, she's a single mom, dreamer, and blogging mentor.