This analogy has three phases: specific hunger, general hunger, and craving. I personally experience the latter two only.
Have you ever been walking down the street and suddenly you smell food grilling or you spot someone eating some ice cream and suddenly you want whatever is being cooked or want to buy some ice cream of your own? When seeing or otherwise noticing something makes you crave that thing, even if you’ve never had it before? It just looks/smells/sounds so good you have to have a bite?
I think that is what primary sexual attraction is like to people. When they see someone or hear a voice, etc, and are aroused or are able to incorporate that person into fantasies. It doesn’t make sense to me, but this is the best way I’ve come to understand it.
Have you ever been hungry but not wanted anything to eat? Like, you look through your fridge and cabinets, you browse delivery apps, you try to think about food you’ve had in the past or that others have talked about, but nothing says “yes, me! you want me!” Like, you’re hungry, but you could probably just drink some water or maybe eat some old leftovers or crackers and be perfectly satisfied? As long as the food isn’t repulsive, you don’t care what it is. You don’t want to eat anything; you just want the hunger gone.
I experience this. Sometimes I really want, say, to make out with someone, but I don’t have a specific “someone” in mind. I usually do the lust-equivalent of drinking water and crunching ice to get rid of the feeling or force my focus elsewhere until the feeling passes. When I’m dating, it is both easier and harder. Easier because there is a convenient person to help me deal with the general hunger and harder because how do you explain to someone that you don’t actually want them? And then, when the hunger passes and the idea of eating anything makes your stomach clench, how do you explain that they didn’t do anything wrong?
A craving is when you want one specific thing. In a way, it is a lot like specific hunger, but generally you only crave things you know either because you know how satisfying it is or because your body needs something and knows that thing has what it needs. There’s a sort of familiarity to cravings. So, like, if you love chocolate chip cookies and then, one day, you smell chocolate on the wind and are suddenly hit with a deep craving for cookies, perhaps even a specific type of cookie. No other food will satisfy. Or you see someone eating ice cream and your head goes ice cream is sweet, cookies are sweet, god I want a cookie.
Or (and this is the biggest stretch of the analogy because how do you get to know food without trying it?) maybe you find a recipe for something online. At first you just see the thumbnail and it looks interesting, so you click. You don’t want it yet, but you are interested in learning more. You read through the ridiculous recipe story, but instead of just rolling your eyes like usual, it reminds you of a similar experience you’ve had. You get to the ingredient list and it is full of things you like. The steps aren’t too intimidating. The reviews are good. You go shopping and notice one of the ingredients and it isn’t super pricey. And eventually you start wanting to make and try it. Maybe if the ingredients were too expensive or the steps too complicated, you could push the recipe out of your head, but they aren’t and you don’t and suddenly you have this weird craving for something you’ve never tried before. It took time to build, sure, but now it is there.
Or maybe you’ve satisfied your general hunger with the same food a few times and you’re surprised when you’re hungry next that you actually want that food specifically rather than just anything.
This is the hardest bit of demisexuality to explain to people. You say that you have to get to know people to be attracted and they reply “that’s everyone.” And, yeah, I do think everyone can experience this kind of craving, but the important thing to remember is that I separated this kind of craving for the familiar or known from more sudden, specific hungers. And it varies for people what tips them from interest, curiosity, and fondness into hunger. You can love people romantically without ever sexually desiring them. For me, it is trust. When I trust someone I am romantically interested in, desire begins. The problem for me, personally, is that I trust very, very slowly. And, just because I trust someone to be themself, doesn’t mean I trust them with me. I am trying to get better at it.
Other people, though, have other definitions for “getting to know” someone and so their desire develops for different reasons and at different paces.
I’ve had cravings before, so I know I can have them, but they’re rare.
Anyway, that is my hunger analogy for demisexuality. The analogy isn’t perfect, but no analogy is.