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It was coined by somebody who was trying to explain what it was like to be mostly, but not entirely, asexual.The term caught on only in the last few years, and now most people who are demisexual say their desire arises rarely and only from a deep emotional connection.

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In 2001, a Wesleyan University student named David Jay created a website called the Asexual Visi­bility and Education Network.Rae tells me she’s an aromantic asexual, Sean identifies as a heteroromantic demisexual, and Genevieve sees herself as a panromantic gray-asexual. Gray-­asexuals (or gray-aces) roam the gray area between absolute asexuality and a more typical level of interest.Then there are the host of qualifiers that describe how much romantic attraction you might feel toward other people: Genevieve says she could theoretically develop a nonsexual crush on just about any type of person, so she is “panromantic”; Sean is drawn to women, so he calls himself “heteroromantic.”“WHEN MY HEART DECIDED HE WAS MY SOUL MATE, MY BODY DECIDED SO TOO."If the taxonomy seems loose and even confusing, it’s because the terms were created almost wholly online, arising on gaming-site forums and a nest of interrelated Tumblrs, blogs, and subreddits.Sex is “fascinating from a clinical point of view, but personally? “I have better things to do with my time.”The conventional wisdom today is that lust and gratification are natural and healthy, a nonnegotiable aspect of being human.We presume that freedom of sexuality is a fundamental human right.Sean and Rae do not have the hots for each other—or anyone else, for that matter.

In fact, they’re here hanging out at the campus outreach center, a haven for all who question their sexuality and gender identity, because they’re exploring an unconventional idea: life without sex. They’re pioneers of an emerging sexual identity, one with its own nomenclature and subcategories of romance and desire, all revolving around the novel concept that having little to no interest in sex is itself a valid sexual orientation. The definitions are still in flux, but most people who describe themselves as demisexual say they only rarely feel desire, and only in the context of a close relationship.

It might be the only corner of the Internet that is not laced with porn.

So although labels are a big part of it, demisexuals and gray-aces don’t get too caught up in the lingo.

“My partner is sexually attracted to that many people during particularly sexy bus rides.”Beyond that, there’s a lot of variability. “It has no relationship to your actual desire to have sex with someone in real life,” she says.

Some demis and gray-aces have occasional flare-ups of desire, some say they’re indifferent to sex, and others find the thought of it repellent. More from the WIRED Sex Issue: The Sex Talk You Never Had With Your Parents Japanese Sex Hotels Cater to All Kinds of Fetishes, Even Hello Kitty S&MVirtual-Reality Porn Is Coming, and Your Fantasies May Never Be the Same Some demisexuals say they have strong sexual urges that just don’t connect to anyone in particular.

Rae, a tiny pixie of a sophomore wearing a newsboy cap, nuzzles up against Sean, a handsome freshman. They giggle and tease each other, and she sprawls into his lap.