I was walking down the hall in high school, just a shy freshman minding my own business, when a girl from my class beckoned to me.
She opened her locker and glanced around before letting me see inside.
I had a bad feeling about what she might be hiding in there, but I looked… and what I saw almost made me gag.
It was a poster of a naked guy.
I backed away in a hurry, and she laughed at me. She slammed the locker door shut and sashayed her way to class.
Some women love beefcakes. Others don’t. I fall in the “don’t” category.
I liked boys for their hidden qualities. For their sweetness. Their goofiness. Their love of books.
Back then, there weren’t many words to describe what you liked.
If you were a girl, it was assumed you liked boys, and everyone knew which boys you were supposed to like. The popular, confident boys who had no problem stripping their t-shirts off.
As girls of that time and place, we understood that our sexuality was in service to our future husband. Our desires needed to fit inside the box of finding a suitable husband and pleasing him.
And if your desire didn’t fit inside that box?
The problem was ALWAYS you.
What Do You Want—REALLY?
One of the beautiful things about life in the 21st century is that we have a much richer vocabulary to describe our preferences.
It’s like you used to be offered either vanilla or chocolate. Now you get to order mango sorbet or caramel swirl or scoops of different flavors. You can get super-specific about what you want.
There’s no embarrassment, either. You don’t have to settle for chocolate just because everyone assumes you want chocolate.
Your desire is your right to express who you are and what you’d like best.
But women of my age don’t always know the menu options.
So, in this article, I’m going to share with you 3 new menu options you might not have realized you had.
They can apply to anyone, regardless of gender or orientation.
Some of the more progressive dating sites list these terms, so you might even come across one of them in your hunt for a partner.
One last thing: this vocabulary is so new that it’s still evolving. I’m sharing with you my understanding of these terms, but others might disagree, and the words may come to take on additional nuance as the years pass. Do your own research!
Let’s dive in…
Menu Option #1.
A demisexual is a person who is only sexually attracted to someone she has an emotional connection with.
If you’re not the sort of woman who enjoys watching strapping young men run around a football field, or drools over People magazine’s list of the Sexiest Men Alive, or pays much attention to eye candy, then this might be describe you.
There are women out there who find complete strangers really hot and can do casual hookups, but a demisexual cannot.
For demisexuals, physical attraction arises out of emotional connection.
Which means that she probably won’t feel any physical chemistry when she meets a man for the first time.
She has to spend time with him and get to know him and establish an emotional bond before her body will start to respond.
Now, there are many women out there who want to have an emotional connection before getting physical, but they’re not necessarily demisexuals.
For demisexuals, this is just how their bodies work. It isn’t a choice.
They may wish they could “loosen up” and get intimate with a man faster, but they find it impossible to feel turned on when they’re with someone they don’t really know.
This can cause misunderstandings in dating.
If a man doesn’t know you’re a demisexual, he might conclude that you don’t like him because you shy away from kissing or physical contact. He doesn’t realize that he’s going too fast.
When a guy knows you’re a demisexual up front, he’s not going to expect to get physical right away. Some men won’t be interested, for sure, but other men—men who perhaps also want that emotional connection first—will appreciate it.
Menu Option #2.
A sapiosexual is a person who is only attracted to highly intelligent people.
Sapiosexuals are attracted to brains over brawn or beauty. There is nothing more beautiful to them than a brilliant mind.
Intelligence is such a turn-on, and a lack of intelligence such a turn-off, that sapiosexuals often screen potential partners by their reading lists or proper use of grammar.
Sapiosexuals connect best through fascinating conversations, sharing ideas, and learning new things.
Sapiosexuality appears to be more of a sexual preference than a sexual orientation. We all prefer certain kinds of people. Sapiosexuals just happen to prefer smart people.
And “smart” is always relative.
Because there are many different kinds of intelligence—spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, etc—a sapiosexual may focus on certain kinds while not recognizing others.
Menu Option #3.
Graysexuals experience low or limited desire that falls somewhere in the gray area between asexuality (not feeling sexual attraction) and allosexuality (feeling sexual attraction).
They don’t feel a strong sexual drive, although they might enjoy sex for different reasons, like emotional closeness or pleasing their partner.
If you’d be quite happy without sex, or you don’t really understand what other people mean when they talk about sexual urges, then you might identify more as asexual.
But if your feelings about sex are more ambiguous, then you may fall somewhere on the spectrum between asexual and allosexual.
Graysexuality and asexuality are not the same thing as having a low libido.
f you’re in a relationship and have lost interest in sex, that’s a temporary situation that can be resolved through boosting your libido or changing partners.
However, if you’ve always had little interest in sex, except on rare occasions, then you might want to learn more about what it means to identify as a graysexual.
What I love about these words is that they show how different desire is for everybody.
Just because your desire doesn’t work the way you think it should work—or the way your friends tell you it should work—doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.
We don’t have to fit in a box anymore.
We can find words to describe what we want, and we can ask for it.