Sexuality is an entire spectrum, not just one orientation. For instance, those who are graysexual “feel they are within the gray area between asexuality and more typical sexual interest,” according to sexuality educator Sari Locker. Here’s what it means to be graysexual and what you should know about it.
What is graysexuality and what does it mean to be graysexual?
While it may not be a term you’ve ever heard of, it’s an identity that many relate to. According to a 2015 Asexual Census of 9,161 people, 15.6% — or 1,427 people — identified as graysexual. It makes sense if you think about it, especially since many people aren’t at extreme ends of the spectrum. “People who call themselves graysexual tend to feel sexual attraction rarely, at a low level of intensity, and/or only in very specific situations,” Sarah Melancon, Ph.D., a sociologist, clinical sexologist, and sexuality and relationship expert for SexToyCollective.com, told Health.
However, it’s not the same thing as asexuality. On one side is asexuality, and allosexuality (which is when people are sexually attracted to other people) is on the other side. Graysexual people are on the asexual side, but some don’t regard themselves as being asexual. While someone who’s asexual doesn’t experience any sexual attraction and has no interest in sex with other people, someone who defines themselves as graysexual might experience sexual attraction and want to have sex every now and then.
Signs you might be grayseuxal
- Graysexuality doesn’t make sex a big deal. If you consider yourself graysexual, you’ll likely relate to not prioritizing sexual attraction when dating. In fact, maybe sex just isn’t that important to you. In addition, other thoughts and feelings that might feel true to you include feeling sexual attraction sometimes but not regularly, and prioritizing other ways to show your love, such as cuddling with your partner instead of having sex.
- You’re into other types of attraction. While you might not feel sexual attraction to someone, you can feel other types of attraction. These include romantic attraction, which is when you want a romantic relationship with someone; aesthetic attraction, which is when you’re attracted to someone’s physical appearance; platonic attraction, which is when you want to be nothing more than friends with someone; and emotional attraction, which is when you crave an emotional connection instead of anything physical.
- You have a high libido, just not a lot of desire for other people. Graysexuality doesn’t mean that you won’t necessarily have a high libido. This is a huge misconception out there that we have to kill right now. There are important differences between libido and graysexuality. Libido is your sex drive, which involves wanting sex. By comparison, sexual attraction is when you find someone attractive and want to have sex with them. Now, as a graysexual person, you can have a high libido. Although you might experience this, you might not necessarily want to have a sexual relationship with someone.
- You might only want to do certain sexual activities. Another part of greysexuality you might relate to is that you don’t mind certain sexual activities but you’re totally against or repulsed by others. While this can obvs happen with anyone on the sexuality spectrum, it might be more intense when you’re graysexual. So, you might also only want to have sex in certain sitautions, such as to have a baby, to feel more connected with your partner, or to try something new with someone.
- It doesn’t mean you won’t have sex, though. Another common myth related to graysexuality is that people who define themselves as graysexual don’t have sex, like, ever. Although this can be true as some people might feel repulsed by the idea of having sex, there are different views of sex in the graysexual community. Some people who define as graysexual might feel indifferent towards the idea of having sex, while others are sex-positive, which is when they enjoy sex sometimes.
More about what it means to be graysexual
- Many people who are graysexual still masturbate. Another question you might have about graysexuality is if you can masturbate and still be graysexual. You can, and should masturbate regularly if you enjoy it! Just like when it comes to sexual interest, which can vary from one person to another, you might want to pleasure yourself from time to time or not do it at all. It’s really up to you.
- You’re not graysexual if you don’t want sex sometimes. If you go through phases when you don’t feel like having sex (hey, join the club), this doesn’t mean you’re graysexual as there could be other reasons why you’re not in the mood. Examples include if you’re on certain medications that zap your libido, you’re going through a stressful time that’s taking all your energy, or you’re single and holding out for someone with whom you have a real connection. These alone do not mean you’re graysexual.
- Is being graysexual the same as demisexual? While these two terms can seem like the same thing, being demisexual is a bit different from being graysexual. Basically, if you’re demisexual, you’re someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction or interest in sexual activity until you have a strong bond with your partner. This is quite different from being graysexual because being demisexual means you’re still actively searching for an intimate relationship. By comparison, if you’re graysexual, that probably doesn’t factor into your future plans.
- Is this the same as being grayromantic? This is another term you might have heard, and maybe you’re confusing it with graysexual. Grayromantic means that you experience romantic attraction rarely, and/or with low intensity. However, you can be graysexual and grayromantic!
- It’s not just a phase. Something that you might’ve heard some people saying about graysexuality is that it’s “just a phase.” It’s best not to be bogged down by the thoughts, misconceptions, and ideas of others. If you feel that you’re graysexual, it’s up to you to chart your course forward when it comes to sexuality and relationships. There are lots of gray areas, but that doesn’t mean that graysexuality is some wishy-washy idea. Graysexuality is a sexual orientation. If it’s your sexual orientation, wear the label with pride.
Graysexuality is a complex identity that many people don’t understand. However, if you feel it applies to you, adopt it. Don’t feel the need to explain yourself or your sexual identity. That’s between you and your partners. That being said, you should offer yourself a bit of grace. The graysexual label may not always feel right for you throughout your life. Give yourself room to evolve and change.