Food for Thought: “In Defense of Casual Sex”

From Psychology Today comes an article called In Defense of Casual Sex, which has this to say:

The truth is, long-term relationships or marriage do not guarantee a satisfying emotional life or sexual intimacy. Everyone knows someone stuck in a barren marriage, whose members have lost their autonomy and in which sex has disappeared. Brandon’s assertion that people do not belong together forever is correct, but too many of us fear facing that truth or consider alternatives to that permanence.

There are times when casual sex actually deepens one’s self-knowledge. With intelligence and clarity of purpose, casual sex is more than instant gratification. By openly exploring our fantasies and true desires with different partners in a way that may not possible in a committed relationship, we can transcend our inhibitions. With each new encounter we can discover buried parts of ourselves and in time experience the totality of who we are. We can even experience profound, revelatory moments that unravel our past and show us things we never knew about ourselves. We can satisfy unmet needs by embracing those aspects of our sexuality that are deeply meaningful and we can choose to let go of those that no longer have importance.

Many of the comments to this article are about what you’d expect given a society that condemns casual sex. A number of them comment on how it is still possible to have satisfying sex in a marriage, if you’re lucky enough.

I’ve always found the notion that having a long-term relationship that involves good sex is a matter of “luck” to be a bit strange. Here’s my reply:

I was married for eighteen years, and right up until the end we were still having awesome, mind-blowing, incredible sex…

…but luck had absolutely nothing to do with it.

When sex gets boring or monotonous in a relationship it is not because “that’s just what happens if you don’t get it lucky.” It’s because the people involved have chosen to allow it to.

They might not have even been aware that it was a choice, but make no mistake about it–it was. People have the sex lives they choose to have.

There are many reasons why people choose to have lousy sex lives. The most common reason is that they simply won’t talk about sex in a mature, honest, direct fashion. It might be because they are ashamed of sex, or too shamed to talk about their sexual fantasies; it might be because they are frightened that their partners will think they are “too weird” or “too slutty” if they talk about sex; it might be because talking about sex feels awkward and they would rather have lousy sex than do something that feels a little awkward; it might be because they want to find “just the right time” to talk about sex, and that magical time never comes…but at the end of the day, they choose not to talk openly about it, so they don’t have good sex.

People also make choices to believe ideas such as “if my partner really loved me, ho/she would just know what I wanted.” Or “If we do anything that’s ‘weird,’ that means we’re bad people.” Or people choose to value conformity with some kind of idea about what sex “should” be over good sex. Again, these are all choices.

Good sex is NEVER about being “lucky.” It is ALWAYS about choices.

I have had sex in long-term relationships. I have had casual sex. Casual sex can be good or bad, and relationship sex can be good or bad. Good sex doesn’t depend on the kind of relationship; it depends on the honesty, communication skill, and openness of the people involved.

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