Graysexuality Is Massively Misunderstood — Here’s What It Means
Graysexuality Is Massively Misunderstood — Here’s What It Means
In case you haven’t noticed by now, sexuality isn’t black or white — it exists on a spectrum.
Case in point: Allosexual people feel sexual attraction to others, while asexual people generally don’t. But what if you fall somewhere in between? Fittingly, that gray area is known as graysexuality. So, what does it mean to be graysexual?
Graysexuality is often misunderstood. Some people confuse it with asexuality or demisexuality. Some wrongly assume that it’s a medical condition — the same thing as low libido.
So, let’s clear up some misconceptions. Below, experts share what distinguishes graysexuality, how to tell you’re graysexual, and what it means to date and form relationships as a graysexual person.
What Does Graysexual Mean?
Being graysexual — also often referred to as gray-A, or gray-ace — means experiencing sexual attraction infrequently, at a low intensity, or maybe even only in very specific contexts, says Holly Wood, a certified sex therapist and clinical sexologist with BedBible.
“Someone who’s graysexual may sometimes experience sexual attraction or desire, but not to the same extent or frequency as allosexual individuals,” she explains. “Graysexuality acknowledges the variability and ambiguity of sexual attraction.”
Something to keep in mind: Not everyone’s experience of being graysexual is the same, says Amber Shine, ACS-certified sex therapist and dating coach with XFansHub. Graysexuality itself has a spectrum with varying degrees.
Common Misconceptions About Graysexuality
Graysexuality is subject to all kinds of misconceptions that can contribute to a stigma, says Wood.
“To promote greater understanding and acceptance, it’s important to dispel these misconceptions and respect individuals’ self-identification, recognizing the uniqueness of each person’s experience and attractions,” she tells AskMen.
For example, Kara Nassour, a licensed professional counselor at Shaded Bough Counseling, notes that graysexual people are often assumed to be picky, prudish, late bloomers — or to have a sexual dysfunction.
“In reality, graysexual people can be of any gender, and most are physically healthy. Being graysexual doesn’t reflect a person’s views about sex in general or their attitude towards relationships,” she explains. “Graysexual people are very diverse in their attitudes and preferences.”
According to Gigi Engle, a certified sex and relationship psychotherapist and resident intimacy expert at 3Fun, one of the most common myths is that people who are graysexual can’t ever desire or enjoy sex.
“There is a difference between enjoying sex and not experiencing sexual attraction,” she says.
Some may also mistakenly assume that graysexuality is just a passing phase or trendy label, says Aliyah Moore, a certified sex therapist and expert at SexualAlpha.
“However, people have experienced varying degrees of sexual attraction for a long time,” she adds. “The terminology and understanding of these orientations have just evolved over time.”
What Does Graysexuality Look Like in a Relationship Context?
There’s no right or wrong way to date as a graysexual.
“Some graysexual people will enjoy dating and romance, while others won’t,” says Nassour. “Some have sex with their partners, some don’t, and some only do it rarely. They might be monogamous, polyamorous, or happily single.”
Wood says it’s important for anyone who’s graysexual to be open with their partners about how they identify. This way, their partners can offer more patience, understanding, and support when it comes to cultivating a mutually fulfilling sex life.
“Graysexual individuals might not initiate sexual activities as often as their partner might expect or desire,” adds Shine. “In relationships with allosexual partners, there may be a need for compromise to accommodate differing sexual needs and preferences. Communication and understanding are crucial in making these compromises work.”
Wood recommends discussing with your partner what kinds of non-sexual intimacy you enjoy, whether that entails cuddling, back rubs, or other affectionate gestures.
Graysexuality, Asexuality and Demisexuality
While there is some overlap between graysexuality, asexuality, and demisexuality — and graysexuality is actually considered part of the asexuality spectrum — it’s important to acknowledge that they aren’t the same thing.
Whereas asexual people generally don’t experience sexual attraction at all, graysexual people just experience it more weakly or less often.
“Demisexual people, on the other hand, only experience sexual attraction after developing a strong emotional or romantic connection with someone,” explains Shine.
“With demisexuality, the person is experiencing secondary attraction,” says Engle. “This means it is built out of the bond, rather than on more primary forms of attraction, such as physical traits. With graysexuality, you only experience sexual attraction sometimes—but this attraction isn’t necessarily dependent on the bond with another person.”
Signs You Might Be Graysexual
Here are some ways to tell you might be graysexual, according to experts:
You only feel sexual attraction vaguely or infrequently — and it’s often not enough to act onYou feel like you don’t “fit” in the categories of asexual or allosexualYou feel like you relate to the asexual community, yet you have had occasional experiences of sexual attractionWhen you do feel sexual attraction, it’s very subtleYou have difficulty relating to friends’ experiences with strong or frequent sexual attractionYou don’t feel a pressing need or urge to pursue sexual activity — in fact, you can go without it for long periods and barely noticeYou’re not very interested in having casual sex
Tips and Resources on Graysexuality
Whether you’re still trying to figure out if you’re graysexual, or already know you are, Moore and Wood advise engaging in self-exploration by reflecting on your experiences relating to sexual attraction and desire.
“Keeping a journal can help you record your thoughts and questions, aiding in your self-awareness,” adds Wood.
Experts suggest checking out some online resources geared toward graysexuals. As Shine points out, online communities like The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), can provide some much-needed validation and a sense of belonging. Engle also notes that it can be helpful to follow asexual influencers on TikTok and Instagram.
“It would be helpful to connect with the graysexual community and join movements like Ace Week to gain a better understanding of your identity and learn from others who share your experiences.”
Nassour recommends reading The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality.
“Give yourself plenty of time, and talk to other people who are asexual or graysexual,” adds Nassour. “It’s okay to try on a label for a few months and then decide if it’s right for you.”
Finally, don’t hesitate to seek support as needed. If you don’t have friends or family you feel comfortable talking to about your graysexual journey, consider finding a therapist who specializes in working with the LGBTQ+ population. According to Wood, these kinds of mental health professionals can provide a safe space for you to explore your feelings and experiences around sexuality.
“Surround yourself with friends and chosen family that affirm your identity,” adds Engle. “Remember that you do not need to stay in relationships where people deny who you are. Be brave in setting boundaries that feel healthy and authentic to you.”
What Does It Mean to Be ‘Fraysexual’?Signs You’re a SapiosexualBest Dating Sites and Apps for the LGBTQ+ Community