Thoughts on Being Grey Ace

Do you ever have those thoughts when you’re lying in bed late at night that are far more coherent than anything you can think up during the day? This is me trying to recall some of that, and probably failing a bit.

I was nearly twenty when I figured out the whole ‘being bisexual’ thing, but it’s only this year, at twenty-four years of age, that I’m starting to get the hang of the fact I might also be somewhere on the asexual spectrum. And probably the aromantic spectrum, too. It’s not all that easy for me to discern the difference when it comes to my own attraction. I think I’ve made some progress, but it’s shaky at best.

I’ve been wondering about being grey ace and grey aro for a while now, but descriptions from asexual organisations have never quite matched up to my reality because I don’t know if “rarely” is the correct word for how often I experience attraction because it’s not strictly a one in a blue moon occurrence the way it’s sometimes made out to be and I have had crushes on multiple people at once before.

The way it works for me is that I tend to only develop attraction under specific circumstances. I struggled even more so while looking up demisexuality and demiromanticism, because I don’t strictly need to have formed a close connection with a person to develop attraction.

I did ponder possibly being demi for a bit, since I don’t tend to be outright attracted to strangers, however the point where it all falls down is the close part. Because I don’t strictly need to be close to a person to experience attraction, but I do need to have been around them a fair bit and gotten to know their personality. This is how I’ve developed crushes on classmates. I tend to really really want to hang out with someone first and possibly appreciate the way they look in a more abstract manner (i.e. aesthetic attraction), but not be strictly interested in romance or sex with them. Then, when I’ve been around them long enough, I start developing romantic attraction and then, sometimes, sexual attraction.

So, for me, it seems to go: aesthetic attraction -> romantic attraction -> sexual attraction.

I am so extremely new to this and kind of still in the ‘what if I’m faking’ stage. I already went through that with my bisexuality so it’s pretty fucking annoying that I have to deal with this again, but here we are. [TMI HERE: It probably doesn’t help that I do sometimes get aroused by sexual situations regardless of attraction, which just muddled my brain further on all this. But aces and aros can experience arousal anyway, so… fuck that confusion, mate. END TMI]

Being grey aroace does explain a lot, though. Such as the good old-fashioned “who’s your celebrity crush” question. I always struggle to answer it because people just do not accept “I don’t think I have a celebrity crush” as a real answer. I once answered Martin Freeman because, I don’t know, he as his character in Sherlock at the time seemed kinda cuddly with all the knitted jumpers he wore. But I don’t think I was ever actually crushing on him?? Anyway, he called Lucy Liu a dog, among other shit, so I don’t even like him in any way at this point.

Sidenote: Lucy Liu is definitely someone whose face I like and I wouldn’t say no to hanging out with, but I wouldn’t even strictly call her a crush either. Aesthetic attraction is definitely a thing when I look at her, though. Her face makes me smile, so that’s probably as close to a celebrity crush as I tend to get.

That’s a thing that happens to me a lot. I like seeing good-looking people because they make me happy, not really because I’m romantically or sexually attracted to them per se. My favourite photos of people tend to be ones where they’re smiling rather than just posing. I can appreciate those photos as well; I just connect to smiles better on a personal level. My favourites are probably photosets that have both kinds of photos in them, because I tend to appreciate each type more when it’s in opposition to the other type. But that contrast thing probably isn’t even an ace thing. It’s more likely just a me thing.

I also really struggle to feign interest when people show me pictures of people they’re attracted to. I just… don’t really care and probably accidentally offend people sometimes. Given I’ve been training in live theatre since I was a kid, you’d think I’d be better at pretending in order to conserve people’s feelings, but I’m actually a shit liar.

I’ve also mistaken aesthetic attraction for sexual and romantic attraction on so many occasions because, up until recently, I didn’t even know there was a difference. I also have a lot of fun joining in raunchy banter, which definitely didn’t help me come to terms with this shit. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that just looking at random people doesn’t strictly tickle my ivories in the same way it does for allosexuals. And, yes, I constructed that sentence purely because I wanted to say “tickle my ivories.” I played piano for over a decade. Let me live.

There’s an interesting parallel between me realising my bisexuality and me realising my grey aroaceness. I realised I was bi because a friend who I thought was straight said she was, and that lit a lightbulb in my brain. Similarly, I’ve had a lot of online friends come out as grey ace and aro, and sometimes they’ve spoken about it and that’s helped me get my brain around this whole thing.

So, it would seem I’m both bisexual (and biromantic) and grey aroace. Grey aroace still feels weird to say for me and I feel closer to the term grey ace, but I do think grey aroace is technically correct for the way my attractions work. So I might use the terms interchangeably and possibly confuse people. Sorry!

Furthermore, my sexual attraction does tend to be dependent on experiencing romantic attraction first. It’s starting to sink in and it’s given me a whole new understanding of how my brain has been working over the course of my life, i.e. a generally small number of crushes on people but not so few that it was obvious to me. I’m somewhat adjacent to demisexuality but not quite on that level as I understand it. Possibly incorrectly. I don’t know.

Honestly, most of my life I’ve just thought I was weird or, as a kid, a late bloomer. Nah. I’m just on the asexual and aromantic spectrums. It’s going to take a while for it to sink in, but at least some shit has started to make sense.

And now I need to shut up before I tie myself up in knots trying to write out my thoughts when I’ve more or less said what I wanted to say. I’ve already written more than 1000 words so… now’s the time to stop. I have a novel to write anyway.


5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Being Grey Ace

  1. I very recently discovered demisexuality and I think that’s what I identify as. I totally get the whole ‘am I faking it’ thing, though. Really I’m trying to put it out of my mind and focus on the positives and thankfully this community seems like a safe, accepting place (most of the time). Keep being awesome! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to apologize ahead of time if this is incoherent or if you think it’s not my place to contribute. I normally don’t comment on blog posts.

    I am also grey-a and bi-something (sexual? romantic? I haven’t a clue). Except for me, it was sort of the opposite. I was 21 when I started figuring out I was grey-a/aro and 23 when I started realizing there was a bi-component to that. But even so, there was so so much of this piece that resonated with me (the ‘what if I’m just faking it,’ the I thought I was a late bloomer, even the celebrity crush thing!) But, I guess, what I really wanted to address is the ‘is “rarely” the correct word for how I feel’ bit because that was the part I struggled the most with. Which, I know, might not be true for you, but for me, was definitely the case. When I first started looking up asexuality, “rarely” was the most common description I found for grey-a, but I eventually found other descriptions and other definitions used to describe grey-asexuality. In particular, I found “A gray-A is someone who finds asexuality to be a useful idea, even if it does not quite fit” and “Gray-asexuality is an umbrella term for identifying with asexuality without identifying as “asexual” itself” to be the most helpful. So I guess… don’t worry about if ‘rarely’ is the correct word? Because it’s alright if it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Discussing Bisexuality in Books AND IN LIFE | A Bookish Bi

  4. Pingback: My Bisexual Awakening | A Bookish Bi

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