GraysexualImage via Christopher Stoudt's short film, "I'm Graysexual"

How do I talk to my partner about being “graysexual”? There are times when I enjoy sex and even have a sex drive, but more frequently, I have no sex drive at all. I’ve been dating my partner for a little over a year, and I’m struggling to communicate my needs to him. When we first started dating, our sex drives were in sync, but for the last six months or so, I’ve had little interest. I don’t know when my drive will be back (if ever), so it’s hard to talk to him without knowing what’s around the bend. – Sometimes Sexy

The term “graysexual” refers to the asexual spectrum, which is variously defined as a lack of sexual attraction and/or interest in sexual behavior with another person. People shouldn’t confuse asexuals with those who are celibate or abstinent—though there may be some overlap—nor should they assume asexuals do not want partners.

It’s ideal for people to disclose their sexual selves to their partners early in a relationship, but variable desire makes that difficult. Fluidity can be part of an asexual’s experience, as it can be for anyone, and it can take a while for a person to understand and come to terms with changes in desire. Be clear with your partner about being graysexual, because otherwise he’s free to imagine all kinds of reasons why you have been less responsive. He also has a right to know that you may not be as much of a sexual partner as it originally seemed. There are certainly “discordant” couples that make it work, though. Sometimes, but not always, they will consider polyamory as a way to add more sexual access without pressuring the asexual partner.

To be sex-positive, in my view, involves a respect for someone’s desire for the kind of consensual sex they want and for their boundaries and/or absence of desire. However, it’s worth investigating whether your vanishing desire is a result of medication side effects. Depression and ill health can quash libido, as can emotional factors within a partnership. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) has a website that’s full of information, and Julie Sondra Decker’s book The Invisible Orientation is another good resource. Check out AVEN’s forums if you want to talk to others who have had these kinds of conversations, and share information with your partner, too.

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Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone

Carol QueenIllustration by Marcellus Hall

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today


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