Unresolved Sexual Tension

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See also: RST, Eye Sex, Horniness, Pining, Slow Burn
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UST is an abbreviation for unresolved sexual tension (or sometimes unrequited sexual tension) between two or more characters.

It often involves a character undergoing angst (and possibly a lot of pining) with the belief that another character doesn't share their feelings, or involves characters expressing such tension in an alternative way, such as anger, denial, or even 'kisses that don't go anywhere'. Such tension can be in the realm of a het-oriented fanwork or a slash-oriented fanwork.

In canons with a visual component, such as movies, TV series, or comics of various types, UST may be indicated (or made up out of) heated gazes or longing looks.

The term was reportedly coined by a fan named LAG.[1]


In The X-Files fandom, UST most commonly stands for unresolved sexual tension and often led to RST, or resolved sexual tension. For many Mulder/Scully shippers, UST was a favorite device both in fic and on screen. UST was such a big part of the fandom that the Gossamer archive suggests using UST as a possible keyword for fic headers.

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  1. ^ "Unresolved Sexual Tension--refers to the undercurrent of romantic and sexual attraction between Mulder and Scully, something neither of them will acknowledge. UST does =not= (necessarily) have to be Resolved, at least not in the near future. This definition is not a Final Word, but to give people a common definition for basis of discussion. First used by LAG" -- Weekly Post: Acronyms explained! , November 18, 1994