Graysexual — sometimes spelled greysexual — refers to people who experience limited sexual attraction. In other words, they experience sexual attraction very rarely or with very low intensity.
This is also known as gray-asexuality, gray-A, or gray-ace.
Graysexual people fit between firmly asexual and allosexual identities. This stems from the idea that sexuality isn’t black or white — there’s a “gray area” that many people fall into.
According to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), an asexual person experiences little to no sexual attraction.
“Sexual attraction” is finding someone sexually appealing and/or wanting to have sex with them.
The opposite of asexual is sexual, also referred to as allosexual.
A common misconception is that asexuality is a medical condition. Being asexual isn’t the same as having a low libido, managing sex-related trauma, or experiencing pain during sex. Asexuality isn’t the same as celibacy, a voluntary vow of abstinence.
Sexual attraction is different from libido, also known as sex drive.
Libido is about feeling a need to have sex to feel sexual pleasure and release. It’s often compared to the need to scratch an itch.
Sexual attraction, on the other hand, is about finding other individuals attractive and wanting to have sex with them.
Asexual and graysexual people might have a high libido, and allosexual people might have a low libido.
Sexuality is often seen as a spectrum, with asexuality on one side and allosexuality on the other side.
Often, graysexual people consider themselves part of the asexual community. But all graysexual people are different, and some don’t view themselves as asexual.
Yes, though where individuals feel they fall can vary. Some graysexual people consider themselves the midpoint between allosexuality and asexuality. Others consider graysexuality to be closer to asexuality than allosexuality.
Graysexuality looks different to different people — no two graysexual people are the same.
However, many graysexual people experience the following:
- not prioritizing sexual attraction when it comes to choosing a romantic partner (if they want one)
- sex being unimportant to them — or not as important as it seems to be for the rest of the population
- feeling sexual attraction sometimes, but not often
- feeling sexual attraction only in certain circumstances
- showing love and affection in other ways, such as cuddling, talking, or helping their partner
Demisexual people experience sexual attraction only after a close emotional bond has formed. This is different from seldom experiencing sexual attraction.
Demisexual people might experience sexual attraction often and intensely, but only with people they’re close to.
Similarly, graysexual people might find that when they experience sexual attraction, it isn’t necessarily with people they have a close emotional bond with.
Yes. You can be both graysexual and demisexual.
Your orientation can shift and feel different over time, so it’s possible to fluctuate between graysexual and demisexual identities.
Yes. Again, sexuality and orientation are fluid. You might find your capacity for sexual attraction shifts over time.
The 2015 Asexual Census found that over 80 percent of its respondents identified as another orientation before they identified as asexual, which demonstrates how fluid sexuality can be.
Asexual and graysexual people can experience other forms of attraction. These include:
- Romantic attraction: desiring a romantic relationship with someone
- Aesthetic attraction: feeling compelled by someone’s physical appearance
- Sensual or physical attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
- Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with someone
- Emotional attraction: wanting an emotional connection with someone
When it comes to romantic attraction, graysexual people can have different romantic orientations. These include:
- Aromantic: You experience little to no romantic attraction to anyone, regardless of gender.
- Biromantic: You’re romantically attracted to people of two or more genders.
- Greyromantic: You experience romantic attraction infrequently.
- Demiromantic: You experience romantic attraction infrequently and only after developing a strong emotional connection to someone.
- Heteroromantic: You’re romantically attracted only to people of a gender different from your own.
- Homoromantic: You’re romantically attracted only to people who are the same gender as you.
- Polyromantic: You’re romantically attracted to people of many — not all — genders.
You can be asexual or graysexual and identify with any of the above romantic orientations.
This is commonly referred to as “mixed orientation” or “cross orientation” — when the group of people you’re sexually attracted to differs from the group of people you’re romantically attracted to.
Some asexual and graysexual people may desire romantic relationships and partnerships. These relationships can be just as healthy and fulfilling as relationships with allosexual people.
To some asexual and graysexual people, sex might not be important in relationships. To others, it may be.
Asexual and graysexual people may still have and enjoy sex — they just seldom experience that form of attraction.
Yes. Many people — graysexual, asexual, and allosexual — don’t want to be in romantic relationships, and that’s OK.
Some asexual and graysexual people have sex. For them, sex can be enjoyable. Being asexual or graysexual isn’t about your capacity for sexual enjoyment, only sexual attraction.
There’s also a difference between sexual attraction and sexual behavior. You can be sexually attracted to someone without having sex with them, and you can have sex with someone you aren’t sexually attracted to.
There are many reasons people have sex, including:
- to become pregnant
- to feel intimacy
- for emotional bonding
- for pleasure and fun
- for experimentation
Asexual and graysexual people are all unique, having different feelings about sex. The words used to describe these feelings include:
- sex-repulsed, meaning they dislike sex and don’t want to have it
- sex-indifferent, meaning they feel lukewarm about sex
- sex-favorable, meaning they desire and enjoy sex
Some people might feel one consistent way about sex their entire lives, while others might fluctuate between these different experiences.
Asexual and graysexual people might engage in and enjoy masturbation.
Again, everyone is unique, and what one asexual or graysexual person enjoys might not be what another person enjoys.
There’s no test that determines whether you’re asexual or graysexual.
To figure out if you fall under this umbrella, you might find it helpful to ask yourself:
- How often do I experience sexual attraction?
- How intense is this sexual attraction?
- Do I need to feel sexually attracted to someone to want a relationship with them?
- How do I enjoy showing affection? Does sex factor into it?
- How do I feel about sex?
- Do I feel pressured into wanting and enjoying sex, or do I genuinely want and enjoy it?
- Would I feel comfortable identifying as either asexual or allosexual? Why or why not?
Of course, there are no right or wrong answers, and many graysexual people would answer differently based on their feelings and experiences.
But asking yourself these questions can help you understand and process your feelings about sexual attraction.
You can learn more about graysexuality and asexuality online or at local in-person meetups. If you have a local space dedicated to the LGBTQA+ community, you might be able to connect with other graysexual people there.
You can also learn more from:
- Asexual Visibility and Education Network wiki site, where you can search the definitions of words relating to sexuality and orientation
- forums like the AVEN forum and the Asexuality subreddit
- Facebook groups and other online forums for asexual and graysexual people
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.