This post addresses a specific criticism of demisexuality that regards the orientation as a “preference”, in effect interpreting “can experience sexual attraction only once a strong emotional bond has formed” as “willing to have sex, but only with people they know really well”.
This belief reflects a conflation of sexual attraction and sexual desire, which is a pretty common mixup — and I wish people got taught about this directly, because it caused an awful lot of discomfort for me as a kid whenever my mom’s married friends would express sexual attraction to a hot guy, and I assumed they were indicating a willingness to cheat on their spouses.
The truth is, you can be sexually attracted to people you wouldn’t actually have sex with. You can have sex with people you’re not sexually attracted to. Desire and attraction are separable concepts, even if for many people they go together most of the time. This is, in fact, crucial for understanding demisexuality and bisexuality both.
What I’d like people to realize is that if you disagree that demisexuality describes a sexual orientation, then you are using the same logic that says bisexual people cannot sustain monogamous relationships. If you treat “sexually attracted to” and “willing to have sex with” as perfectly synonymous, then you support the idea that bisexual people are more likely to cheat, because under this paradigm, “sexually attracted to two or more genders” = “willing to have sex with more people than gay or straight people are willing to have sex with”, i.e. they will not remain monogamous because of their sexual orientation. Heck, even (allo) gay and straight people aren’t trustworthy under this paradigm because they can be sexually attracted to people other than their immediate partners, but it’s bisexuals who’d be especially at risk.
This is, of course, also bundled up with other ideas such as believing that bi people are “greedy” or inherently more inclined toward (or can only satisfied by) having threesomes. Because if demisexuality is a “preference” — if attraction and desire and inseparable, and if “only sexually attracted to people with whom they’ve formed a strong emotional bond” describes the circumstances under which an individual is willing to have sex — then bisexuality is a “preference” for multiple people, and bisexuals’ relationship preferences necessarily entail multiple sexual partners at once.
We know that’s not true, however. Many bisexual people can and do sustain monogamous sexual relationships without cheating. That’s because finding someone sexually attractive is not the same as immediately making a decision to jump into bed with them.
Finding someone sexy is not a behavioral choice; demisexuality is not a behavioral pattern, and rejecting the validity of demisexuality as a sexual orientation entails telling bisexual people that they are inherently incapable of sexual monogamy.