Are you more sexually attracted to a stranger than a long-term partner? Well, you may just be fraysexual. It’s a little more complex than that of course, but generally speaking, fraysexuality is a sexual attraction toward someone you don’t know, or at least don’t know very well. For fraysexuals, the more they get to know a person, the less sexually desirable that person becomes.
Fraysexuality is considered the opposite to demisexuality, a sexual orientation where people don’t experience sexual desire until they’ve established an emotional connection. Despite their opposing ideologies, both exist on the asexuality spectrum, as each has specific ways in which they experience sexual attraction. For example: a demisexual would likely require several dates before experiencing sexual attraction, whereas a fraysexual might prefer to skip the date altogether and hop right into bed.
For this reason, fraysexuality can get a bad wrap. They’re often slut-shamed, told they have intimacy issues, or will never be able to experience a meaningful relationship. None of this is true, of course, just closed-minded comments toward a misunderstood and marginalized community (so, nothing new).
In most cases, only sexual attration is affected once a fraysexual gets better acquainted with someone. They can still experience romantic and emotional attraction toward someone meaning, yes, they are capable of long-term commitment.
“Fraysexual doesn’t mean you’re incapable of love; it just means love occupies a separate part of your emotional needs from sex, and they don’t always overlap,” explains Ben, a 33-year old fraysexual.
“I still crave emotionless sex, often with people I don’t know at all, but I balance that with the emotional connection I have with my partner and fully disclose the sex I have outside of the relationship,” he says, adding that he and his partner bond over sharing the steamy details of each other’s hookups. “It’s a way to bring that thrill of unattached sex into our loving sex life.”
Jasper, a 35-year-old fraysexual, compares monogamy to celibacy. “I cannot find sexual satisfaction within a monogamous relationship,” he says. “Over the last ten years, I’ve been able to find rewarding and fulfilling non-monogamous relationships that have given me the freedom to express my sexuality outside of the relationship.”
Jasper discovered he was fraysexual while listening to Dan Savage’s podcast. “The description validated the many confusing feelings that I have experienced with everyone I have ever dated,” he says. “The relationship starts off hot and heavy, but my sexual interest dwindles after a few months, even as emotional intimacy continues to grow.”
Jasper’s discovery occurred while he was in a long-term committed relationship. He admits his partner wasn’t thrilled with the news, but was relieved to know Jasper’s lack of sexual desire wasn’t about him. “The conversation helped us temper expectations about what our sex life would look like,” he shares. “Like all relationships, it requires constant communication about our wants, needs, and desires to make it work.”
Of course, no two fraysexuals are alike, and the degree to which they experience sexual attraction varies. For one person, sexual desire might decline after they’ve formed a deep connection with a person, whereas for another, this could happen after an initial conversation. Similarly, this decline in sexual attraction could be gradual, whereas for others, the ick is instant.
Fraysexuality can be a sexual orientation within an orientation, meaning they can be of any gender expression and sexual orientation. For example, a bisexual non-binary person can be fraysexual, as can a cisgender straight man, and so on.
Within the asexual space, fraysexuals and demisexuals are considered “graysexual”, meaning, unlike most asexuals, they still experience sexual attraction. As the name suggests, it means these sexual orientations exist in a space that can be difficult to define.
That’s why some people may think they are fraysexual, but are really just experiencing the natural ebbs and flows of attraction. For example, sexual attraction typically decreases in long-term relationships because, when we first fall in love, we crave the novelty of the bonding chemicals that come with the honeymoon phase. Naturally, this excitement wears off with time and we experience more typical desire, which has a tendency to fluctuate.
The identity is something Ben still struggles with. “For me, I have never been the type to need a romantic or emotional connection to enjoy sex. In fact, sometimes it detracts from my enjoyment,” he admits. “So in the end, I’m comfortable placing myself on the fraysexual side.”
Fraysexuality, like all sexual orienations, cannot be diagnosed, but if the information above has made you think “hmm, this sounds like me”, you may benefit from speaking with a sex therapist who can guide you through your feelings and, most important of all, validate your desires.