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What Is Graysexuality?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 29, 2021

Graysexuality — sometimes spelled “greysexuality” and also known as gray asexuality, gray-a, gray-ace, or grey-ace — is a term to describe people who identify as asexual but don’t fit into the main types of asexuality. The three major types are:

  • Sex-repulsed: Someone who is repulsed by or completely disinterested in the idea of sex.
  • Sex-neutral: Someone who isn’t repulsed by sex but also doesn’t actively seek it out. These people may still have sex if, for example, they’re in a relationship and want to please their partner.
  • Sex-positive: Someone who identifies as asexual, meaning they don’t feel sexual attraction to others, but will still have sex for pleasure.

As the name implies, graysexuality is somewhat hard to define — a sexual gray area. The term is intentionally vague to accommodate the people who fall somewhere between asexual and sexual. They might experience sexual attraction once in a while but largely don’t.

A graysexual person may have a history of sexual experience that doesn’t reflect their current sexual identity or sense of self. Others might identify with graysexuality because they experience infrequent sexual attraction that’s not strong enough to act on or pursue.

Sexuality, including graysexuality, is unique to each individual. However, some common graysexual characteristics include:

  • Not prioritizing sexual attraction when choosing a romantic partner
  • Not viewing sex as important
  • Feeling sexual attraction occasionally, but not often
  • Showing love and affection for their partner in non-sexual ways, like cuddling or talking

What Is the Difference Between Graysexuality and Demisexuality?

People who identify as demisexual only experience sexual attraction after they’ve formed a close emotional bond with someone. This is different from only feeling sexual attraction rarely.

There are two levels of attraction people can commonly experience: primary and secondary. Primary attraction has to do with physical traits, such as how a person looks or smells. Secondary attraction develops over time and has to do with an emotional investment in another person. Demisexuals only experience secondary attraction.

Graysexuals only experience sexual attraction some of the time, and sometimes not at all. Their level of sexual attraction could fall anywhere from “not normally, but sometimes,” to “enjoys sex only under very specific circumstances”. 

And sometimes, the same person will move between these two places — and others — on the sexuality spectrum during their lifetime.

Myths and Misconceptions about Graysexuality

Many of the misconceptions around graysexuality are the same as those around asexuality. People may think asexual and graysexual people “just haven’t found the right person” or that they’re going through a phase. However, asexuality and graysexuality are sexual orientations.

Another myth is that people who are asexual or graysexual can’t enjoy sex. They actually can, and sometimes seek it out. Asexual and graysexual people may enjoy sex itself without experiencing sexual attraction.

How Graysexuality Works in Relationships

Graysexual and asexual people may enjoy sex with their partner for the bonding and physical stimulation. However, they may not feel an intrinsic need for sex, because it may not interest them. Even if they aren’t interested in sex for themselves, however, graysexuals may take part in sex if it pleases their partner and makes them feel loved. 

Graysexual people may also decide to have sex because they want to have children. The choice of how much — or how little — sex they have is up to the individual.

Graysexual people can also be attracted to others romantically, but not sexually. They may pursue romantic relationships that are minimally sexual or not sexual at all. 

This had led to the separation of romantic and sexual orientations, as someone can be asexual but still seek out romantic affection. It is still completely possible for graysexual people to have relationships with one another, or with someone who is sexual.

Helping Your Loved Ones Understand Graysexuality

No one is required to come out to anyone else about their sexual orientation if they aren’t comfortable doing it. Coming out can be difficult, and it can be tough to explain something as fluid and complicated as graysexuality to someone else. 

If you choose to do so, there are many online resources and support groups where you can find advice. Connecting with people who are going through similar experiences or who have already navigated coming out may also make you feel less alone. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

AVENwiki: “Asexuality.”

Cosmopolitan: “Greysexual.”

GLAAD.org: “explore the spectrum: guide to finding your ace community.”

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network: “Asexuals and Attitudes Towards Sex.”

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network: “General FAQ.”

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network: “Romantic Orientations.”

The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network: "Relationship FAQ."

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network: “The Gray Area.”

The Asexuality Archive: “Asexuals on Coming Out: Advice.”

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