For Friends and Family

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that your friend or family member has come out to you as demisexual, and you’d like to understand them better. You deserve kudos for finding yourself here and educating yourself on demisexuality. You’re on the right track to helping them feel supported and being a good ally.

Why did they tell me about this?

Your loved one has come out to you because they trust you with this personal knowledge. It is great for both of you that you have such a trusting relationship, and that they feel comfortable telling you. It means that they would now like your support as they learn more about themselves and integrate this idea into their concept of self. Your acceptance would mean the world to them.

My child is too young to adopt a label. I don’t want them to restrict themselves later in life.

Children usually figure out who they’re attracted to at an early age, even if they don’t want to act on it just yet, and children as young as 10 may have crushes and experience sexual attraction. If a child is not too young to adopt heterosexual as a label, then they’re not too young to adopt demisexual.

It is likely that their peers have already started discussing crushes and similar topics, and they have sensed that they are different, which led to them discovering demisexuality. This label has most likely provided them with a lot of comfort and security as they feel different from their peers, and is a useful tool for them at this stage in their life.

That said, in the asexual community, people frequently repeat that sexuality is fluid and can change over one’s lifetime, and that labels are tools to better understand yourself. You should use your tools and not let them use you. These sentiments provide a safe space to try on different labels, so the community encourages self-exploration, rather than restriction. Your loved one has already put a lot of thought into identifying as demisexual, and will most likely continue to be introspective as they grow older.

They’re just a late bloomer, and will grow out of it.

This is not outside the realm of possibility, but like I said, people put a lot of thought into identifying as demisexual, and often consider previous experiences and feelings. Maybe this will change in future, maybe not. Most heterosexuals don’t go through life waiting for an instance of same gender attraction to prove them wrong. Demisexuality is an orientation, and orientations don’t usually change due to puberty.

Is this a psychological issue which requires therapy or medication?

The asexual community considers all demisexual identities to be valid, whether or not they were caused by something like sexual trauma or mental illness. If something unfortunate did happen in the past, your loved one will realize it themselves—don’t assume that you should hunt for a cause. While there are demisexual survivors of abuse and demisexuals with mental illness, it does not mean they are one of them. Sending them to a therapist to “cure” them of demisexuality is not advisable, as it will most likely be harmful to your relationship and their self-esteem. Also note that asexuality is recognized as valid in the DSM-V, the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic tool.

Will my loved one’s life be more difficult because they are demisexual? Will they be unhappy?

It is unlikely that their life will be difficult simply because they are demisexual. Demisexuals are not actively persecuted on the same level as gays and lesbians, and most people don’t even know what demisexuality is. They might have some hesitation regarding romantic relationships, especially if they are not interested in sex, but your support will be invaluable as they navigate them.

With supportive friends and family who accept them for who they are, a demisexual can be a well-adjusted, happy adult. Their knowledge about demisexuality, which contributes to a secure, strong sense of self, will in turn contribute to this happiness.

Should I tell other people?

Unless your loved one has explicitly told you that you can, it is unwise to tell others. They will choose who to come out to and do so if they want to.

How can I be supportive?

Your acceptance is the most important thing. If you believe your loved one and accept that they are demisexual, they will be enormously relieved and pleased that they can count on you. If they want to talk, let them know that you’re available, and allow them some space to continue thinking about it if that’s what they want. Even if they don’t want to discuss it further, just knowing that you’re available can be immensely helpful.