For Ghia Vitale, self-love means something completely different than it does for other people.
“I first noticed that other people weren't autosexual, I think, when I was in high school, when I would fantasize about myself, and I remember telling other people and they were like, 'Really? I've never done that,’” Vitale said.
“In college was also when I discovered the term 'autosexual,' and I discovered it on a dating and relationship website, and that was the eureka moment. That's when I knew it was me. I'm autosexual.”
What does it mean to be autosexual?
As Vitale said, the starting point for “autosexuality is being sexually attracted to yourself.”
But the definition goes much further than that, said Cyndi Darnell, a clinical sexologist and sex and relationships therapist.
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“For folks who identify as autosexual, the current definition [and] the current understanding is that they are people who prefer a solo erotic practice, a solo pleasure practice, a self-touch practice – let's say masturbation over partnered sexual activities,” Darnell said.
For Gen Z and Millennials, a larger conversation surrounding sexual identities and orientations outside of traditional labels has sparked more discussions when it comes to modern dating and relationships.
“Now we recognize that there's so much more than gay and straight – there always was, but we have more words now. We have more ways to be able to talk about it, including asexual, including autosexual, including bisexual, including all of the variations on that,” Darnell said. “And then within those little subcategories, we also have variations, so these identities exist on a spectrum.”
How does the technical definition of autosexuality differ from real-life experiences?
“Sexuality, like many things, isn't a binary. You can be autosexual and identify as other sexual orientations, as well,” Vitale said. “Some autosexuals are exclusive with themselves and they don't want to date other people, but I am polyamorous, so I am open to multiple relationships at once.”
Vitale also identifies as bisexual and has been in a polyamorous relationship with her two partners for years. Her autosexuality has never been a problem for either of her partners, she says.
“I have a good balance between spending time with myself and spending time with my partners. It’s not a struggle. It feels natural,” she said.
That balance includes fulfilling an important part of her autosexuality: self-dates.
“A date with yourself is different than just doing something for self-care purposes,” Vitale said. “I'll watch a movie and light some candles and incense.
“I need to bond with myself sexually and romantically on a regular basis to feel fulfilled and grounded in myself,” Vitale said. “I'm very creative with the ways I pamper myself, and [I’m] very grateful for me.”
The most common misconception Vitale says she hears about autosexuality is that people assume it is a form of narcissism.
“Some of the criticism I've experienced as an autosexual advocate is that they think, 'Oh, you're encouraging people to not care about others, you're encouraging the downfall of society, and you're saying it's a good thing that you can just focus on yourself and no one else.' And being autoexual doesn't mean that the world doesn't exist outside of you,” Vitale said.
It’s also not anything that requires a change, according to Darnell.
“With any of the identities, there is a misconception that these things are a diagnosis – that these are something that needs to be fixed, that this is something that needs to change, that it’s something that is the implication that there is something wrong with this person,” Darnell said. “What the truth is, is that these ways of expressing sexual attraction, sexual preferences, sexual ideas, sexual pleasures have always existed. What's different is that we're using different words now to describe these things as ways of understanding how we are as sexual beings.”
Can autosexual people legally marry themselves?
The process of marrying oneself is actually called "sologamy." You might remember a certain Sex and the City episode when Carrie Bradshaw proclaimed, “I’m getting married – to myself.”
Vitale is planning to go down that path.
“I'm actually engaged to myself,” Vitale said. “My proposal was very simple. I just asked myself, ‘Ghia, will you marry me?' And then I paused for just a little bit, and then I was like, 'Yes!’”
While there are currently no laws in the United States prohibiting self-marriage, it is not legally recognized by the government. So those in a self-marriage don’t get an actual marriage license. Instead, as it stands, it’s more of symbolic gesture.
“I can't decide on what kind of wedding I want, and I've been deciding for years,” Vitale said. “But you know what? I'm not in a rush.”
What has Kourtney Kardashian said about being autosexual?
In 2020, the eldest Kardashian sister posted an article on her lifestyle website, Poosh, about autosexuality with the title: Are you low-key autosexual?
“The short answer is yes, most likely,” she wrote. “In fact we all are, just a little.”
Kardashian clarified her generalization further with an explanation that “while it may not be true for everyone, we generally feel more sexual and turned on when we feel we ourselves are sexy.”
While Kourtney Kardashian doesn’t claim to be the arbiter of the autosexual experience, her recognition of the sexual identity follows a trend that both Vitale and Darnell say they’re seeing more and more from Gen Z and Millennials daters.
“I am absolutely noticing a mass broadening of how we define and perceive sexuality and all it encompasses,” Vitale said. “One of the things that I really admire and love about my generation and generations younger than me is that we often approach sexuality with a sense of openness and open-mindedness.”
“Previous generations would only talk about sex through a very gendered lens and only two genders, male and female, and then a very binary lens of gay and straight. Millennials and especially Gen Z have busted that wide open and said, 'Okay, there's multiple genders, there's multiple identities, there are multiple ways of engaging with the erotic,’” Darnell said. “That is going to be a constant, and I think, ever-evolving source of discussion.”