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Anytime, Anywhere: The Growing Appeal of the Free-Use Fetish

In a free-use fantasy, partners can have sex with each other whenever they want, no holds barred. But in reality, freedom is anything but free.

On a cloudy Wisconsin morning in early February, 27-year-old Vixen woke up the same way she does most mornings — with her roommate’s dick pressing against her slumbering mouth. Groggy and barely conscious, the bespectacled brunette stretched her jaw to let it all the way in, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes as she came online.

A wake-up blowjob might not be everyone’s preferred morning alarm, but Vixen loves it. She and her affably named 32-year-old roommate, “KinkShame,” have a consensual and long-running “free use” dynamic, and they’re allowed to have sex with each other (almost) whenever they want. 

For the uninitiated, “free use” is a fully-consensual fetish where partners are allowed to sexually “use” each other at any time. This can happen to varying degrees depending on a person’s interests and boundaries, and though it’s typically associated with “willing women” and “horny men,” it occurs in relationships between people of all genders and sexualities. 

In more intense cases, one partner solely exists to be had sex with, and anyone can walk up to them, at any time, and do what they want, no holds barred (performance artist Milo Moiré’s “Mirror Box” is a prime example). In more mild dynamics, the so-called “use” is private, monogamous and only in reference to a limited number of activities like vaginal sex or a.m. blowjobs. A third, more common iteration involves one person going about their daily business — cooking, cleaning, reading, texting, working and snoozing — as their partner has their way with them. More often than not, the partner getting used doesn’t really react; generally speaking, the fantasy is more about being a consensual object than an eager, thirsty partner. 

Obviously, there are a million shades of grey in between. As many people in the free-use world point out, the term can mean almost anything so long as there are elements of easy access and the freedom to use or be used.  

In some cases, free use takes place within a BDSM dynamic, and will make use of kinkier things like bondage, sensory deprivation and even other people to enhance the fantasy. But in others, free use is perfectly vanilla. Vixen and KinkShame use each other in equal measure, and they mostly stick to hand jobs, blow jobs and vaginal sex; the majority of which they do while playing video games or waking up in the morning. Lurk their profiles on Reddit or OnlyFans and you’ll see scores of videos of Vixen concentrating on Fable or Hades with KinkShame’s cock in her mouth, paying far more attention to the game than she is to him. 

Here’s how their dynamic works: If either of them should become horny at any time (which happens a lot), they can do a limited range of things to each other without having to ask, seduce each other or ease into it with foreplay. For both of them, this satisfies a “base need” or a “primal urge” that they can’t get in other types of relationships, and it’s one that prioritizes physical gratification above all else. “There’s no flirting,” explains Vixen. “There’s no foreplay. There’s no having to deal with the awkwardness of the do-you-want-to-have-sex dance that people do. It’s just there.”

Unsurprisingly, this “take it when you want it” ethos of free use appeals to a lot of people (the r/freeuse subreddit, for example, has 701,000 members), yet few people know the fetish exists. In fact, it wasn’t until last October that Vixen realized it was an actual fetish with a name, and although 32-year-old free-use lover Bryce has had fantasies like this all his life, it never occurred to him to input the words “free use” into a search bar — he’d just never heard the term. “I was really surprised to find out that there were free-use communities on Reddit and a bunch of porn about it,” he tells me. “I think most people fantasize about there being no barrier to sex, or about being consensually used at-will, but it seems like it hasn’t really been widely discussed until now.”

To wit, interest in free use does seem to be growing. Vixen says at least 75 percent of the traffic she gets to her OnlyFans channel comes from r/freeuse, and in their sub’s “about” section, the mods mention that they’ve noticed more discussion and openness about the fetish recently. That could just be because more people are discovering that their long-held desires have a name, but it could also have to do with the way the fetish quells the exhausting rigors of, you know, being alive. 

“I think the growing stress of everyday life plays a role in this fantasy for a lot of people,” Vixen explains. “As you get older and you have more responsibilities, sadly, you do have less of a sex life. Add to that the whole death and dying in a pandemic thing, and you can see the appeal of wanting something that’s just effortless and physically gratifying.”

So far, that dynamic’s worked especially well for her and KinkShame because they’re platonic roommates who love to communicate about sex. Their free-use dynamic started last fall after Vixen moved in with him and their respective quarantine horniness became too much to bear. And while they already had a base level of intimacy from dating years earlier, they’re essentially nothing more than each other’s friendly fuck toys. It doesn’t hurt that Vixen has an especially high sex drive, which makes it easier to get into sex once it starts happening. 

“I’m lucky in that there’s almost never a time I don’t want it,” she says. “I have to be really emotionally out-of-whack to say no. That makes the free-use element pretty easy for us.” 

KinkShame agrees. “I like the fact that she can just freely drag me into things,” he tells me. “On the other hand, when I do randomly have the impulse to have sex, it’s nice to just say to her, ‘Hey, I need you over here.’ It removes the social difficulties.” 

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of romance-filled free-use relationships where emotions, seduction and big relationship feelings are involved. Tons of perfectly in-love people freely use each other and have otherwise “normal” relationships; it’s just that there’s a built-in agreement that satisfying each other’s sexual urges on a whim is part of their overall intimacy and dynamic, whatever that means to them. 

Bryce, for one, would love a free-use partner he actually has feelings for. “Part of what I like about this is the idea of fulfilling someone’s fantasy of being used,” he says. “I could definitely do it casually, but because there’s so much trust and communication involved in something like this, I feel like it would be hotter and easier with someone you’re already into. There’s more tension when feelings are involved.”

Therein lies the free-use kicker: While many people might assume that “using” someone is degrading or dehumanizing — and in some cases, they’re right — it can also be an intimate, emotionally connected thing you do with someone you care for. In Bryce’s case, he wants to show someone how far he’s willing to go for them by using them or being used; it’s the trust and honesty about each other’s desires that’s appealing, not just the inherent appeal of fucking someone the moment the mood strikes. 

Still, nearly every person in a free-use dynamic has hard limits regarding things they can’t and won’t do. Vixen’s nixed sex during cooking because she doesn’t want to “slip, fall and take a hot frying pan to the face,” and KinkShame’s completely uninterested in BDSM. Anal is off the table for now, too, at least until after Vixen does some training. Bryce has video-edit deadlines he has to take care of every now and then — were he in a 24/7 free-use relationship, he’d build in time to focus on getting his work done so he could “still be horny and a functional human.” 

In this way, then, the “free-use” aspect of the fetish isn’t actually “free” — it only pertains to what the people doing it have consented to. Crucially, that consent can be revoked or re-negotiated at any time — with a safeword or otherwise — even if it was granted earlier. “I love giving wake-up blowjobs and he has my blanket consent to do that, but if I don’t want one, I’ll just tell him, ‘Don’t do that tomorrow,’” says Vixen. “We talk before, during and after about what we’re okay or not okay with. There’s constant communication.” 

That, of course, is what differentiates free use from rape. Because the partner getting used isn’t always enthusiastically responding — or is often asleep — there’s a misconception that it’s abusive and non-consensual. But with proper consent, it shouldn’t be. “The difference is that you’ve given your partner blanket consent for a range of activities beforehand,” explains Vixen. “You’re never not talking about what’s okay and what’s not. It’s a constant process of checking in, and ideally, it’s something you both really want.” 

On that note, Vixen stresses that even if someone’s into free use, you don’t have carte blanche to touch them whenever you want. “I get messages from people all the time who expect me to be like this with everyone,” she says. “But just because I make free-use porn doesn’t mean you get to touch me in real life. There’s a line.” 

As long as KinkShame stays within that line, morning blowjobs it is. 

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