Gray-romantic is a microlabel used to describe an individual who only experiences romantic feelings occasionally, however rarely. The gray-romantic identity is part of the aromantic spectrum.
Sexual and romantic orientation are often conflated, which can make it difficult to distinguish between the two. Sexual orientation indicates the sex or gender of the person someone is most likely to feel sexual attraction or desire towards, while romantic orientation indicates the sex or gender of the person with whom someone is most likely to have a romantic attraction, develop romantic feelings, or pursue a romantic relationship.
Gray-romantic people can be of any gender identity or sexual orientation. There is no causal relationship between gender identity, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation and whether a person will be demiromantic or not, and they can be potentially attracted to people of any gender.
Gray-Romantic and the Aromantic Spectrum
Gray-romanticism is on the aromantic spectrum. Individuals on the aromantic spectrum (also referred to as “aro-spec” individuals) feel little to no romantic attraction to anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Other identities on the aromantic spectrum with conditional attraction include demiromantic people (i.e. people who only feel romantic attraction after they’ve formed an emotional connection) and recipromantic people (i.e. people who only feel romantic attraction once they learn the other person has romantic feelings for them).
These differ from gray-romanticism in that both a demiromantic person and a recipromantic person’s romantic attraction is contingent upon particular conditions of a relationship before said attraction can be formed. A gray-romantic person’s potential attraction is not necessarily dependent on relationship conditions in this way.
Gray-Romantic versus Graysexual
Graysexuality (also known as gray asexuality) is an identity on the asexual spectrum. Asexuality is a sexual orientation where people experience little to no sexual attraction to others or sexual desire in general. It is possible for someone to be both gray-romantic and graysexual, but they are not synonymous terms nor do they always occur in the same individual.
Unless they are asexual as well, gray-romantic people can feel sexual attraction and desire. They can develop sexual interest in others and enjoy partaking in sexual activity. Their sexual desires are separate from their romantic feelings or desire to have a romantic relationship.
Sex and Intimacy
A gray-romantic nature does not affect someone’s inclinations towards physical or sexual intimacy. Like most sexual or romantic orientations, many gray-romantic people enjoy being physically close with other and engaging in physically intimate exchanges like hugging, affectionate touch, and sexual activities, while others do not.
Gray-romanticism determines who someone may form romantic attractions and relationships with. It does not affect their level of physical affection or intimacy needs.