Sexual attraction isn’t always black and white, sometimes it’s shades of gray. And we’re not talking “50 Shades of Grey” — even if that’s your thing ⛓. We’re talking about the sexual orientation graysexuality.

Being graysexual means a person may experience slight sexual attraction to others on an infrequent basis.

Here’s everything to know about being graysexual and how it relates to asexuality.

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Illustration by Brittany England

Graysexuality is often called greysexuality, gray-asexuality, gray-A, or gray-ace.

In a similar way to how bisexuality and pansexuality operate as the fluid sibling of being straight or gay, graysexuality is a more fluid approach to asexuality.

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) puts greysexuality under the asexual umbrella (aka ace umbrella).

AVEN defines asexuality as “someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships.”

So while these sexualities are similar and often lumped in the same group, here’s the main diff:

  • asexuality = no sexual attraction
  • graysexuality = infrequent sexual attraction or attraction with low intensity

Not necessarily. Being asexual or graysexual doesn’t mean a person just has a low sex drive.

Sexual attraction and libido (aka sex drive) are not one and the same. Sexual attraction deals with wanting to jump a specific person’s bones based on feelings of attraction. Libido is the need for sexual pleasure driven by your brain and hormones (you know, that itch you just have to scratch).

Anyone can have a low libido. And even asexual or graysexual folks can have a high libido, but the attraction might just not be there to pursue a sexual relationship.

When you look at sexual orientation as a spectrum between asexual and allosexual (all folks who experience sexual attraction), graysexuality can fall somewhere in-between.

Looking at sexuality as a continuum (or spectrum) allows for more variation and less categorization, which can be helpful if you find your sexuality more fluid.

Much like other sexual orientations, graysexuality is about self-identification. This means that how one person defines graysexuality may differ from another.

Some graysexual folks may consider themselves the middle point between asexual and allosexual. Others may identify more with asexuality. It’s really up to the individual.

While not all graysexual people are the same, the hallmark traits of graysexuality often include:

  • an infrequent feeling of sexual attraction
  • sexual attraction only under certain circumstances
  • sex is unimportant or less of a priority
  • sexual attraction is not a priority when it comes to finding a romantic partner (should they decide to date)
  • cuddling, words of affirmation, or acts of service are used to show love and affection over sexual activity

Demisexuality means a person must feel a romantic and emotional connection in order to experience a sexual attraction.

An emotional bond doesn’t factor into how often graysexual folks experience attraction. But demisexual peeps experience frequent and intense sexual attraction to those they feel an emotional connection with.

Graysexuality’s infrequent sexual attraction could be with a random Tinder hook-up or a partner of 25+ years.

Maybe. Looking at sexuality as a continuum makes room for shifts and changes. Someone may identify as graysexual at one point in time, but feel demisexual fits them better later on. The choice is yours!

You bet. For some, sexuality feels fixed and unchanging, but other peeps find their sexuality can change. The 2015 Asexual Census reported that 80 percent of survey responders identified as something other than asexual before using that identity.

There’s simply no timeline for coming out as asexual, graysexual, or something else entirely. And, it’s A-OK to change your mind or feel no sexual attraction at all.

Sexual desire is just one piece to the attraction puzzle. Asexual and graysexual folks can experience attraction in other forms including:

  • Emotional attraction. Desiring an emotional connection with someone.
  • Aesthetic attraction. Experiencing attraction based solely on the way someone looks.
  • Physical attraction. Wanting to be close to someone in the form of cuddling, holding, or general nonsexual physical touch.
  • Platonic attraction. Wanting to be friends with someone.
  • Romantic attraction. Desiring a romantic relationship with someone.

Romantic attraction comes in many varying identities that include, but are not limited to:

  • Aromantic. Regardless of gender, this is a person who experiences no romantic attraction to anyone.
  • Biromantic. A person romantically attracted to their own gender and genders other than their own.
  • Greyromantic. A person who experience romantic attraction infrequently or with low intensity.
  • Demiromantic. A person who must establish a strong emotional connection in order to experience romantic attraction.
  • Heteroromatic. A person who is only romantically attracted to people of different genders.
  • Homoromantic. A person who only experiences romantic attraction to their own gender.
  • Polyromantic. A person who is romantically attracted to many but not all genders.

If a person has mixed orientations, this means that they identify with one sexual identity and a different romantic orientation. For example, someone could be graysexual and biromantic, or bisexual and greyromantic.

Yes! Asexual or graysexual folks can still experience relationships just as fulfilling as allosexual couples.

Lack of or infrequent sexual attraction doesn’t equal alone or lonely, especially given that sexual attraction is just one aspect of a relationship.

Committed relationships aren’t for everyone. Asexual and graysexual folks may be more fulfilled riding solo, but the same goes for some allosexual peeps. It all depends on the individual.

Heck no! Asexual and graysexual people can and do still have sex if they want to. Asexuality and graysexuality refer to one’s ability to feel attraction, not necessarily their ability to experience sexual pleasure.

It’s also possible to have consensual sex with someone you’re not sexually attracted to for a number of reasons, like:

  • to make a baby
  • to experiment and try something new
  • to emotionally bond with someone
  • to experience intimacy
  • for the fun of it!

Speaking of sexual enjoyment, masturbation is a great way to experience pleasure without the need for sexual attraction to anyone else.

Some asexual and graysexual folks may masturbate and others may not, just like allosexual people.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see where you fit under the asexual umbrella:

  • How often do I want sex?
  • What are my feelings on sex?
  • To what level do I want to have sex?
  • Do I genuinely want to have sex or do I have sex because that’s what I am expected to want to do?
  • Does sex play a factor in how I show affection or want to receive affection?

Graysexuality may seem complicated, but if you look at sexuality as a spectrum, it’s basically the gray area between asexual and allosexual.

It’s your choice to pick the identify that feels right for you, and that identity can even change.