Primary vs. secondary sexual attraction model

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This hypothetical model of sexuality takes the position that sexual attraction and desire can each be subdivided into "primary" and "secondary" forms:

  • Primary Sexual Attraction: A sexual attraction to people based on instantly available information (such as their appearance or smell) which may or may not lead to arousal or sexual desire.
  • Secondary Sexual Attraction: A sexual attraction to people based on information that's not instantly available (such as personality, life-experiences, talents, etc.), how much a person needs to know about the other and for how long they need to know about them for secondary sexual attraction to develop, varies from person to person.
  • Primary Sexual Desire: The desire to engage in sexual activity for the purposes of personal sexual gratification, whether physical, emotional, or both.
  • Secondary Sexual Desire: The desire to engage in sexual activity for the purposes other than personal pleasure, such as the happiness of the other person involved or the conception of children.

One of the strengths of this model is that it clearly distinguishes demisexuals from both sexuals and asexuals. Most sexuals in romantic relationships feel both primary and secondary sexual attraction. The term demisexual, under this model, tends to refer to people who experience only secondary sexual attraction; this attraction can result in primary sexual desire. Since asexuals experience neither primary nor secondary sexual attraction, they cannot experience primary sexual desire. However, since they can experience secondary sexual desire, this model accounts for the sexual behavior of some asexuals.

Sexual Orientation Primary Attraction? Secondary Attraction? Primary Desire? Secondary Desire?
Sexual Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demisexual No Yes Yes Yes
Asexual No No No Yes

History of the model

This model was placed on AVENwiki by the wiki editors after a post by the AVENite Rabger, under the username ~Forbidden Fury~, which addressed perceived problems with AVEN's definition of asexuality. It was named Rabger’s model from 2006 until 2011 and remained largely unchanged during this time. However, the model described on the AVENwiki was very different from Rabger's original proposal, and was renamed to reflect this fact after Rabger expressed concerns about the misrepresentation of their views.

A more detailed discussion of Rabger's original post can be found here.

See also