What Does It Mean To Be Greyromantic?
Updated: Jun 19
by Ashley Oken March 12, 2023
Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, trying to find something to watch on Netflix, or getting promotional emails from Expedia about dreamy vacations for two, romance is everywhere. In an increasingly digital world and culture preoccupied with love, it can be hard to escape the idealization of the affairs of the heart, especially when it seems like everyone else is coupled up. Not to mention, this bombardment can leave you wondering where you fit into the dating landscape when you’re greyromantic, meaning you do not often experience romantic attraction.
Greyromantic is a romantic orientation on the aromantic spectrum, and those on this spectrum feel little to no romantic attraction to others, regardless of their sexual orientation. That said, it’s possible to be greyromantic and have strong sexual and platonic bonds, too.
“It’s important to remember that just because one has a challenging time or little desire to feel a romantic connection, this doesn’t mean that they are asexual or don't have an interest in having sex. It also doesn’t impact one’s ability to have friendships, feel empathetic, or care for people,” says Tarynn Dier, LMSW, a psychotherapist and coach based in New York. “They will likely just relate to relationships in different, more alternative ways.”
Meet the Experts:
Tarynn Dier, LMSW is a psychotherapist, coach, and consultant based in New York.
Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, PhD, LCSW, CST is a psychotherapist and sex therapist based in New York.
Shavon Gaddy-Dalrymple, LMSW is a psychotherapist based in New York.
Kryss Shane, PhD, LSW, LMSW is a leading LGBTQ+ expert and adjunct professor and lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Fordham University, and Columbia University.
Learning about romantic orientations on the asexual and aromantic spectrums can help you grasp the wide variety of different labels, and maybe even provide some useful language to describe yourself. Without further ado, here’s how to tell if you might be greyromantic—and what it means if your friend or S.O. says they’re on the aromantic spectrum.
What does it mean to be greyromantic?
Because individuals who identify as greyromantic don't often experience romantic attraction, that can look like several things in practice. Greyromantic folks can feel some romantic attraction to people, but feel no desire to be in a relationship; they also might be unsure if they feel romantic attraction at all, or if they only feel it under specific circumstances.
Worth noting: Being greyromantic isn’t a sexual orientation, but a romantic one. You can be greyromantic and feel sexual desire for others; you can also be greyromantic and identify as asexual, too. In fact, you can be attracted to any gender(s) and identify as greyromantic—it’s possible to be bi and greyromantic, for example, or straight and greyromantic.
What's the difference between being greyromantic and aromantic?
“People who are aromantic don’t connect to what society has deemed 'romantic,' and cannot connect to the meaning behind it all,” Dier explains. “Greyromantics are more flexible.” Think of it as—yep—a “gray area,” which can offer some flexibility in such a binary world.
Greyromantic is a romantic orientation that falls under the broader aromantic spectrum—and it’s one of many that do. The aromantic umbrella also includes the following:
Demiromantic: These individuals do not feel a romantic attraction to someone until there is a deep emotional connection.
Aroflux: These are individuals whose romantic orientation can fluctuate. When they feel attraction, the gender(s) they're attracted to are always the same—it is only how they're attracted to them, or how intensely they're attracted to them, that changes.
Cupioromantic: These individuals want a romantic relationship, but do not feel romantic attraction.
Lithromantic: These individuals seek romantic attraction, but do not want to have it returned.
How do I know if I'm greyromantic?
If you’re greyromantic, you might not feel that tug of desire when you watch big romantic gestures and platitudes, like New Year's Eve marriage proposals or Tom Cruise’s “You complete me” speech in Jerry Maguire. You may not have much interest in romance at all. But what it means to be greyromantic, exactly, varies from person to person.
“For some, being greyromantic has to do with how long it takes them to know whether they will have romantic feelings for someone, which may or may not align with how long it takes for them to feel sexual desire for someone,” says Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, PhD, LCSW, CST, an NYC-based psychotherapist and sex therapist. “For others, it has to do with the waxing and waning trajectory of emotional intimacy in their relationships. For others, it’s a way to signify that romantic relationships are not necessarily a priority over other types of relationships.”
Ultimately, “identifying as greyromantic is a way [for someone] to communicate to potential partners that they do not fit into normative relationship model trajectory,” Pitagora adds.
Also, remember that romantic and sexual identities can change over a lifetime—it’s totally fine to try out the greyromantic label for a bit to see if it fits.
If I'm greyromantic, can I still date or fall in love?
To answer briefly, yes, it’s possible to be in romantic relationships if you’re greyromantic (that is, if you want to be!). Think about it like this: Love and romance don’t have to mean the same thing, says Shavon Gaddy-Dalrymple, LMSW, a psychotherapist in New York.
“You could receive love and give all types of love to others without feeling romantic towards or wanting romance from another human,” says Gaddy-Dalrymple. “Love and romance are not necessarily linked like we see in different aspects of pop culture.”
So, if you or your partner identifies as greyromantic, you can still have a fulfilling relationship. “What I love about any identity that begins with the prefix grey- is that it requires more communication and disrupts typical assumptions about relationships,” explains Pitagora. “As with any other identity or orientation that falls in or outside of the mainstream, people who identify as greyromantic will be more successful in relationships the more they are clear on what they want and how that changes over time.” It's paramount for partners to communicate continuously about boundaries and desires, they add.
How can I support my partner or friend who is greyromantic?
You may feel an initial reaction of disbelief or confusion when a partner or friend reveals that they’re greyromantic, or that they fit anywhere under the aromantic umbrella. However, this can lead to a partner or friend feeling misunderstood, othered, or attacked for who they are. Taking people at their word—and, better yet, helping them navigate their identity—is key to understanding the orientation and where it may fit in a partner’s or friend’s life.
“If your partner [tells you that they’re] greyromantic, you should just communicate more and ask more questions,” Dier says. “It’s important to understand and accept them for them, and that means not having unrealistic expectations of them—especially when you are informed of what they are or aren’t capable of.” It’s also important to remember that a person has value outside of their romantic or sexual orientation, and to look at the things that bring joy within the relationship outside of those realms.
To avoid excluding friends who may be questioning their romantic orientation, try to focus less on romance and relationships in conversations with friends. “Don't make your gatherings ‘you and your plus one’-type invitations, which can lead aromantics and many others to feel left out,” says Kryss Shane, PhD, LSW, LMSW, a leading LGBTQ+ expert. “Also, don't assume your single friend is sad or hoping to be set up on dates, or that someone in a relationship is having sex or wants to talk about the romantic aspects in their relationship. Instead, focus conversations on activities, hobbies, pets, and other aspects of life.”
Finally, try to unlearn misconceptions you might have picked up about what it means to be greyromantic. In pop culture, “people who are greyromantic are often portrayed as either unfeeling robots or sex-crazed nymphomaniacs,” says Gaddy-Dalrymple. Spoiler alert: this isn’t true! Being greyromantic can look like so many things in practice, so it’s always great to ask your friend or S.O. what it means for them—or ask yourself what your romantic orientation means for you.