As technology advances and everyday folks gain access to virtual reality experiences and robotics are a household commodity (Hello Siri & Alexa!), we have started to see a shift towards sexuality that utilizes technology. If you want, you can have a vibrator that provides you with data about your orgasms or that is controlled remotely by an app on your lover’s phone. You can become a completely different person and engage in virtual reality sex that you may not have ever considered before or you might even wear discreet sensual jewelry designed to turn you on at a moment’s notice.
In just a few decades, we’ve moved way beyond chat room cybersex and online dating into an age of technologically-aided sexuality that may or may not include another human being. It comes as no surprise that digisexuality has found its place in society.
Digisexuality is a type of sexuality that relies primarily on a digital object of desire.
With growing concerns that people are becoming less socially connected in person, I believe more and more people will begin to identify as digisexuals.
I wanted to know more about digisexuality, so I decided to go straight to the woman who introduced me to the concept, Dr. Holly Richmond. Dr. Richmond is a Somatic Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who has recently found herself working at the intersection of technology and sexuality. Because of her background in somatics, Dr. Richmond has consulted with numerous sex-tech companies that are using technology to create sensual and sexual experiences for consumers. Here’s what she had to say about being digisexual and how to know if you are one.
MB: First off, what is a digisexual?
HR: A digisexual is someone who chooses to mediate their sexuality through technology. Not only do they meet their sexual needs with a technological device like VR content, teledildonics or AI companions, e.g., sexbots, their sexual expression is also tied to technology. Whereas many people can hook up and have sex either with technology (a vibrator, porn) or another person, a digisexual prefers only to engage sexually with technology.
MB: How would someone know if they’re a digisexual?
HR: If sexual connection with other people is difficult or uncomfortable, and a person finds themselves much more at ease when they are engaging with technology, this may be a sign. But it’s not just about shyness or social anxiety — there is something important, and erotic, about the technological aspect of their sexual expression. Again, digisexuals strongly prefer and may only use technology for sexual expression, whereas someone who is not a digisexual but enjoys technology can connect with technology and other people as well.
MB: What are some concerns that digisexuals might have in dating or relationships?
HR: We can assume that the digisexual met their partner online, so if they decide to take the relationship further, it would be imperative to communicate the degree to which they prefer engaging with technology in addition to or instead of their partner during sex. Some digisexuals will want to include their partner in the sex they have (that’s mediated by technology), such as watching VR porn together or using electronic or wifi connected sex toys, and some partners will only engage in their sexuality singularly with technology. Sexual expression is unique to every individual, and this is certainly true for digisexuals as well. It’s important for them to know what their sexual and relational wants and needs are, feel empowered around them, and ask for them in a way that helps their partner understand.
MB: What are some new technologies that might excite the digisexuals out there?
HR: There are literally new immersive technologies emerging daily — the sex-tech landscape is incredibly exciting right now. Already VR adult content is the fastest growing sector of the VR industry — consumer demand is high and incredibly varied; thus content creation is at a critical phase.
Teledildonics are also making enormous inroads into the sex toy market. In two to three years, all sex toys will be smart, meaning connected via Bluetooth to other devices and content. Not having a smart sex toy will be like not having a smartphone — you’ll miss out on engaging, interactive and totally immersive ways to connect with other people and content. And, yes, the sexbots are coming. There are several intimate companions equipped with AI, like Harmony and Henry from Abyss Creations. They can be programmed specifically for each owner. The machine learning capabilities allow them to say all of the right things and share the right kinks. They are a life-size, fully interactive sex toys that can sit on your couch or lay in bed with you!
Currently, it’s a stretch for most people, but I believe the therapeutic and sexual health implications are significant.
All of these immersive technologies provide additional ways to reach and help people, but mainly, as in the case with digisexuals, they further normalize and destigmatize sex in a way that is relevant and beneficial to everyone.
So basically we’re living in the future, and that future includes lots of ways to be sexual with the aid of technology, whether or not you choose to have a human partner. If that excites you, you might be a digisexual! If not, just know that you may start to encounter more and more digisexuals in your dating life, so remember to keep an open mind.