“NOT ALL THINGS ARE BLACK AND WHITE. “ This is something you’ve likely heard about your life. Graysexuals are more attracted to the gray areas.
Graysexuality–sometimes spelled “greysexuality,” and sometimes known as gray asexuality, gray-ace, grey-ace, or gray-a–is a term people use to describe their identity. It can also mean many things, so it is difficult to define.
What does graysexual mean?
In general, a person who identifies as graysexual is “someone who identifies with the area between asexuality and sexuality,” according to the Asexual Visibility & Education Network. “For example, they may experience sexual attraction very rarely, only under specific circumstances, or of an intensity so low that [it] is ignorable and not a necessity in relationships.”
Shadeen Francis, LMFT, CST, licensed marriage and family therapist and board certified therapist, says people who identify as graysexual may relate to statements like:
- “I feel like I experience sexual attraction occasionally, but only in particular contexts. “
- “Maybe I like certain kinds of sexual activities, but I’m repulsed by or turned off by others. “
This lack of sexual attraction to other people is not the same as having low libido due to life or relationship changes, or due to health reasons such as taking certain medications or having certain health conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions regarding a possible medical condition.
What does graysexuality feel like?
It can be different for everyone. For example, someone might use the term “demisexuality” to indicate they are part of a group that experiences little or no sexual attraction. However, their attraction depends on context, Francis says. Some people may consider demisexuality–characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person–to be under the graysexuality umbrella.
“Some demisexuals also relate to other definitions of gray asexuality, such as finding experiences of sexual attraction confusing or hard to pin down,” according to the Demisexuality Resource Center. Both labels can be used if necessary. “
According to the Demisexuality Resource Center, people who identify as graysexual may:
- feel sexual attraction infrequently, of low intensity, to just a few people, or in specific circumstances
- feel sexual attraction but have no desire to act on it
- have confusing or ambiguous feelings of sexual attraction
- feel sexual attraction is not a meaningful concept to them personally
Not sure how you identify yet? Francis suggests that people “take inventory” of their situation before settling on a name. Ask yourself questions like:
- “What brings me pleasure? “
- “What doesn’t feel good? “
- “What am I feeling open to?”
What’s the difference between graysexuality and asexuality?
Sexual attraction–just one of several kinds of attraction–refers to desiring someone in a sexual way (like desiring sexual activity or touching).
Someone who identifies as asexual “does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships,” according to the Asexual Visibility & Education Network.” Meanwhile, someone who is allosexual (sometimes called “sexual”) does feel sexual attraction, or desire for other people. A graysexual refers to someone who says that “my identity” (or my sexual orientation) exists in gray. “Graysexuality is part of the larger asexuality, or ace, umbrella.”
All these labels can help people understand themselves, connect to a community, and find comfort in knowing others feel similarly, according to Francis. She says that language helps people understand their experiences. She adds that if someone you are dating identifies as a particular label, knowing the language will help you understand their experiences.
Labels will help you feel more free than boxed-in. While terms like graysexual, asexual, and allosexual can help people find belonging, if you do identify with a particular label, it’s not necessary to identify with–or act out–every single attribute, says Eric Marlowe Garrison, a sex counselor and best-selling author.
Also, remember that sexual attraction isn’t the same as sexual behavior. A person may choose to have sexual contact regardless of whether they feel attracted. A person may choose to not have sexual contact even if they feel attracted. Because…boundaries, ya’ll. )
If you are feeling confused or need support processing your feelings, talk to someone who you trust. You can also reach out to other members of the same online networks and communities or to a sexuality therapist.
Can you be straight/gay/bi/pansexual and graysexual?
Yes. Graysexuals may also identify with another orientations. For example, if you find yourself attracted to other genders when you have a feeling of sexual attraction you may be graysexual or pansexual or gray-pansexual or any combination thereof. )
It is possible to experience infrequent sexual attraction, but still feel romantic attraction. People may use labels to express their identity and desire for the right relationships.
How can you communicate about graysexuality when dating?
As with any dating relationship, communication is important. Communication is key in any relationship.
For instance, if your partner says “I don’t do this X thing,” Garrison says you can look into positive commonalities and discuss what they are comfortable doing.
“It’s a process of exploration,” says Francis, suggesting that if you experience something that feels unsafe, scary, or “very bad,” to honor that. Francis also stresses the importance of having a partner that is open-minded, patient, cooperative, curious and respectful of boundaries.
Consent is an ongoing process and both you and your partner have the right to say no at anytime.
If your wishes don’t align and you are unable to move forward it’s okay. You should be open about your feelings and best wishes to each other. Everybody is different, so it’s OK to not be a match.
Finally, if someone who doesn’t understand graysexuality insults you either intentionally or unintentionally, don’t internalize it, Garrison says. You are valid.
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