Being Demisexual in a Hyper-Sexual Culture

March 9, 2023 Hayes Mitchell

I'm demisexual—I'll explain what that is. The first sign that I was on the asexual spectrum was back when I was in middle school. I remember driving in the car with my mom getting annoyed as I listened to the radio. Every song was about sex, love, or drugs. I didn't understand why the themes for music were so narrow. People could sing about anything, yet they would always sing about the same old things. I off-handedly said, "Why is every song about sex? Can't they sing about something else?"

My mom gave me a strange look. She didn't know how to respond. I felt like a child who didn't know anything. Sex was some adult secret. But the truth was that I felt uncomfortable in the hyper-sexualized culture of America. 

I kept my feelings about sex to myself after that. But hiding those feelings made me feel alienated from my peers in high school. Everyone was experiencing all their firsts, clumsy and awkward as they should be. Unfortunately, the way sexual intimacy is portrayed in the media, especially when it comes to teenagers and young adults, creates misconceptions and high expectations. Exploring your body and your sexuality should be a journey all your own. But the social pressure and influence of media can muddle young people's minds. Schools may do the bare minimum of teaching the youth about their feelings, bodies, and sexuality. 

Before I even got the chance to think about what I wanted, I was creating these false beliefs based on what I heard from my friends or saw in the media—never had I any interest in sex or relationships. I had a few crushes, but I only fantasized about physical intimacy, like being in someone's personal space, hugging, or kissing someone. Often, when I was actually around my crush, my feelings for them wouldn't be present. 

Navigating the Different Types of Attraction as a Demisexual

I only recently understood the difference between having a crush and genuinely liking someone, whether that's romantic or sexual attraction. Growing up, the majority of my crushes were based on infatuation. I fantasized about a person I didn't know. I did not like them, but rather a person I idealized them to be. I liked them from afar. I hardly, if ever, spoke to them. When I was around my crush, I didn't experience any attraction to them at all, which was confusing.  

Eventually, I learned that I was demisexual. This means that I don't experience sexual attraction unless I have an emotional connection with a person. This doesn't mean I'm developing crushes on all of my friends--even people who aren't demisexual can agree with that--but I could develop a crush on any one of them. 

While I'm demisexual, I'm also pansexual. This means that when I do like someone, I like them regardless of their gender. I experience aesthetic attraction, but once I feel romantic or sexual attraction with a friend, I become a mess of confusion. These feelings hit me like a truck out of nowhere. I find myself trying to navigate the difference between romantic and platonic feelings. Experiencing romantic and sexual attraction is rare for me. I wish I could meet people on dating apps instead. 

Being a Demisexual on Dating Apps and in Hookup Culture

I was on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble for a while because my friends were, and I wanted to join in on the fun. But I had no interest in hookup culture, nor did I understand it. Conversations would run dry; I would ghost people after the first date. How could I parse through the selection of matches on aesthetic attraction alone? Appreciating how someone looks and sharing an interest doesn't mean I would like someone after a few dates. I felt like I was wasting people's time and that I wouldn't meet their expectations. People were on dating apps looking for sexual intimacy. I went on dates with people who I could tell were interested in me in a way that I was not interested in them; it was incredibly uncomfortable and made me feel broken in a way. 

Giving dating apps a rest gave me freedom. For so long, I had been trying to be a person I was not. I was so much happier once I decided to focus on myself and what I wanted. I understand that seeking out a relationship the way other people do is pointless and tiring for me. The right person may come along one day, or they might not. At least I'm confident in who I am and what I want. 

APA Reference
Mitchell, H. (2023, March 9). Being Demisexual in a Hyper-Sexual Culture, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Hayes Mitchell

Hayes can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and his personal site.

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