Some people like to have an emotional connection with someone before they have sex, or enjoy developing an emotional connection with someone through having sex. Then, there are the people who prefer to have sex with strangers, or acquaintances with whom they specifically do not have an emotional connection.
People who tend to experience sexual attraction to folks they are not romantically involved with, or do not know well, are called fraysexuals.
“Fraysexual (also known as ignotasexual) is a sexual orientation which describes someone who is only sexually attracted to someone they are not emotionally connected with, and often loses sexual attraction as they become closer with someone,” says sex therapist Ty David Lerman (he / she), MA, LPC-S, CST. “It’s the counter-end of a continuum of sexuality, opposite to demisexualswho are only attracted to those they do have an emotional connection with. ”
Fraysexuality is a sexual identity falling under graysexuality, a subset of asexuality where folks still experience sexual attraction circumstantially to varying degrees. Fraysexuality does not speak to your sexual orientation; you can be gay, straight, bi, pan — anything — and prefer having sex with people you’re not emotionally attached to.
It can be difficult to have a fulfilling romantic relationship when you’re fraysexual, but it is by no means impossible.
What are some of the challenges of being fraysexual?
People who are fraysexual “struggle with misunderstandings that they are just sluts [and] can never hold a relationship, Lerman says. Because their sexual attraction to partners fades after developing a deeper bond, they may also have to “dodge accusations about having commitment issues.”
But Velvet, 25, who identifies as fraysexual, says there’s still plenty to love about being in a relationship. “I have plenty of intimacy issues, but they have nothing to do with me being fraysexual,” Velvet says. “Simply because sexual attraction fades does not mean that a liaison cannot still be romantically and even sensually fulfilling.”
Issues can arise when a fraysexual person dates someone who needs sex in order to feel loved, connected, and appreciated, which is how the majority of people operate.
“Their partners commonly feel abandoned,” says psychotherapist Adam D. Blum, MFT, founder of the Gay Therapy Center, who sees many fraysexual clients. “Then the fray partner can experience guilt and shame for their lack of sexual desire for their loved one. This creates a painful cycle of hurt that can create emotional distance between the couple. ”
Note that this is different from the traditional ebb and flow of sexual desire that comes when you’re in a long-term relationship, Lerman adds. When you’re fraysexual, that lack of sexual desire happens immediately after bonding with someone, and it occurs in every relationship.
How can fraysexual people have fulfilling sexual and romantic relationships?
The easiest way is to find someone else who’s also fraysexual, or who falls on the asexual spectrum. That way, there is no tension about not wanting to have sex. (Today’s dating apps offer plenty of ways to label your sexual orientation and filter your results for people who match what you’re looking for.)
Of course, a fraysexual person might fall in love with someone who does not meet the above criteria, but that does not mean they can not have a fulfilling relationship. People in that situation might want to consider ethical non-monogamy so that everyone’s sexual needs can be met. The fraysexual person can have casual flings with strangers on the side, and their partner can have whatever type of sex they want with strangers, friends, lovers, or other romantic partners.
Both partners can still enjoy a romantic and emotional connection with each other. “If you prioritize offering attention, affection, and compassion, you might establish an intimacy with your partner that you both may have only dreamed about, Blum says.
If you’re fraysexual and your partner isn’t, ask them to share ways they like to be intimate — besides having sex. “Avoid an ‘autopilot’ relationship where partners forget to invest in deepening their connection,” Blum says.
Here are some activities that build intimacy without sex:
Fraysexuals still very much enjoy cuddling with partners and having the bodily closeness. Check out our all-time favorite cuddling positions.
2. Shower them with gifts.
One of the “love languages” is gift-giving. If that’s how your partner feels loved and appreciated, then surprise them with flowers, chocolates, video games, or whatever they like.
3. Have a hobby together.
Whether it’s rock climbing, reading books and talking about them, or watching TV together, sharing an interest will help you bond.
4. Talk about things that matter.
The best way to feel emotionally close with someone is to talk. Talk about your childhood, friends, work, life, goals — anything. Here’s a long list of questions to get to know your partner on a deeper level.
5. Explore kink / BDSM.
People often think that kink and BDSM must involve sex, but they do not have to. Getting tied up and spanked, for instance, does not involve any genital touching, but it’s a way to feel vulnerable with your partner. “Through kink, I found alternative ways to express and feel desire, pleasure, and attraction that makes me feel seen and appreciated without sex,” says Liv, 28, who recently realized they were fraysexual.
Does being fraysexual mean you and your romantic partner will never have sex again?
Not necessarily. Some fraysexuals like to have threesomes or group sex with their primary partner. Having that third (or fourth) stranger arouses the fraysexual partner, and that arousal carries over to the entire sexual experience, including having sex with their romantic partner.
Then, there are many ways of being sexual around or with your partner without actually engaging in sexual activity together. “There is watching pornography together, mutual masturbation, or the use of toys separately or together,” Lerman says.
Lerman also notes that some — not all — fraysexuals experience responsive arousal. (While some people get horny out of nowhere, others get turned on after receiving some form of sexual stimulation — the latter are the “responsive arousal” group.) “Sometimes we can get aroused given the proper stimulation,” Lerman says. “Just because we are not aroused initially does not mean we are unwilling to be stimulated to get aroused.”
However, if responsive arousal is unsuccessful or a fraysexual person has no wish to be sexual with a partner, you should never pressure, push, or shame them. “You cannot force attraction or arousal; just ask any gay person how well acting straight went for them, ”Lerman says. “In fact, often the pressure to ‘perform’ will cause stress that pushes us further from arousal, not closer.”
So, what’s the best way to be happy and fulfilled as a fraysexual?
The first step is acknowledging that you are fraysexual! So many people are fray but do not know there’s a label that describes their sexual orientation, so they think something is wrong with them. Nothing is wrong with you!
“Relationships get better when we know and accept ourselves,” Blum says. “Knowing that you are fraysexual and learning to confidentially disclose this to new partners increases your chances of maintaining a relationship that works for both of you.”
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