What Does the Term Graysexual Mean?

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What Does the Term Graysexual Mean?

Graysexual is a sexual identity term used to describe people who don't often experience sexual drive or attraction. While it falls under the umbrella of asexuality, the term "graysexual" is different from the term "asexual" in that sexual urges in graysexual people are reduced, where in asexual people they don't occur at all.

Graysexual cn also be spelled as "greysexual." Shortened version of the term include: grayce, gray-A, grace, and gray-ace.

The History of Graysexuality

The concept of falling within a "gray" area of asexuality was made available to the public in an interview in 2015, when Columbia University sex educator Sari Locker discussed it on MIC.

Prior to that, graysexuality hadn't been acknowledged publicly as its own sexual identity outside of asexuality. Since then, graysexuality has come to be seen as a sexual identity of its own, and is acknowledged by The Asexual Visibility and Education Network as being both part of asexuality and different from the standard definition of it.

Signs of Graysexuality

If you have been wondering whether graysexual is an identity that might fit you, here are some ways that you can discern whether or not you might be graysexual. The following are common for graysexual people to experience:

  • Not seeing sex as important
  • Feeling ambivalent about sex or sexual attraction
  • Choosing a romantic partner without consideration for physical attraction
  • Preferring affection that isn't sexual over affection that is
  • Not feeling sexual attraction or urges often

The Difference Between the Terms Graysexual, Asexual, and Demisexual

When looking into graysexuality, you will probably notice that both asexuality and demisexuality are discussed in relationship to it. They differ in some important ways, though.

What Does Asexual Mean?

Asexuality means that a person very rarely, if ever, has sexual feelings or urges that are strong enough to act upon.

Conversely, people who are greysexual may have sexual feelings or urges that they act upon occasionally, or with some level of regularly.

While graysexuality falls under the umbrella category of asexuality, the two are not interchangeable. In fact, some people think they are different enough that graysexual should not even fall under the umbrella of asexuality.

What Does Demisexual Mean?

Demisexuality means that a person requires emotional connection in order to feel sexual attraction to others. Graysexuality does not mean that emotional connection is necessary, or is even related in any way to whether or not a person feels sexual attraction to someone else.

Someone who is demisexual will not feel attraction unless they have spent time and energy in getting to know a potential partner.

A graysexual person, however, does not necessarily have sexual feelings, or a lack of them, based in any way on the time spent with, or emotional closeness to, another person.

Graysexuality and Sex

As you can likely assume from the information so far, people who are graysexual may not want to engage in sexual activities often. They might not even want to engage in them ever.

Some graysexual people feel sexual urges only occasionally, while others feel them but not strongly enough to actually act on them. If you are graysexual, you might go months, or even years, without wanting to have sex.

Like all identities, graysexuality is individual and there is no quantifiable element to it. There is no standard frequency that a graysexual person thinks, or doesn't think, about sex. In general, we base what graysexual is against how often allosexual people think about sex or act upon sexual urges.

If you resonate with the term graysexual, you can identify as that, and someone who partners with you will have an understanding that you, in all likelihood, don't want to engage in sex often.

Graysexuality and Romantic Relationships

Graysexual individuals, when studied, are mostly like to identify as grayromantic. This means that a graysexual person isn't aromantic, but they also don't prioritize romance.

People who are aromantic don't experience feelings of romance, just as people who are asexual don't experience feelings of strong sexual urges. Similarly, a person who is grayromantic may experience occasional feelings of romance. They might not prioritize them, or feel as strongly about romance as an alloromantic person (someone who experiences romantic feelings), though.

Even though graysexual people are most likely to identify as grayromantic, a graysexual person might still identify as alloromantic, and that's OK. Sex and romance are two different things, and a graysexual person might experience strong feelings and urges around romance even if they do not experience a similar level of feelings about sex.

Challenges That Graysexual People May Face

Because we live in a society that strongly prioritizes romance, sex, and partnership, being graysexual can make a person feel like there is something wrong with them. In truth, there is no right or wrong way to be! But that can be difficult to remember when you don't feel like your natural inclinations fit in with other people's.

Graysexual People May Feel Misunderstood

In addition to feeling isolated or different from others, graysexual people might have a harder time finding an appropriate partnership when or if they do want one. Because graysexuals tend to be grayromantic, it might be hard to find another person who also is OK with only occasionally being sexual or romantic.

Lastly, because many people may be unaware of the term graysexual and what it means, it might feel like a lot of work for a graysexual person to explain themself to others. This work of explaining or answering questions is emotional labor.

A graysexual person might have the energy and interest in answering questions to help others understand them, but they also might not. It might be exhausting to feel like they have to explain themself, and it might feel very vulnerable to share such personal information.

Benefits of Graysexuality

As with any identity, there are benefits of graysexuality in addition to its challenges. First, since the term came about in recent years and gave a word to the idea of rarely wanting sex, people who are greysexual have been able to find one another and create their own community.

They May Feel Lonely Less Often

Additionally, some graysexuals say they are less likely to feel alone. They may be more comfortable by themselves than people who are allosexual or alloromantic because they don't have as strong of an urge to partner with someone else.

They May Be Less Likely to Have Unsatisfactory Sex

Lastly, some graysexuals believe that because they aren't as driven towards sex, they are less likely to end up in situations of bad or uninteresting sex. Because their less strong urges may make them more discerning, they're able to confirm that a sexual experience feels right or worthwhile, rather than always being carried away in the moment.

A Word From Verywell

Because the term graysexual is still fairly new, we're still developing an understand of what it means to be graysexual. If you think this identity might fit you but you aren't sure what to do about it, consider talking to a therapist. You can find a standard talk therapist, or consider a sex therapist, who may be better able to help you delve more deeply into your feelings around sex.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. The Gray Area.

  2. MIC. 6 actual facts about what it really means to be asexual.

  3. Copulsky D, Hammack PL. Asexuality, graysexuality, and demisexuality: distinctions in desire, behavior, and identity. J Sex Res. 2021 Dec 17;1–10.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.