Is casual sex a way to find ourselves? Are healthy hookups possible? Barbara Buck explores the playful, beautiful side of lovemaking outside a relationship.
I’m a serial monogamist. What I mean by that is I tend to always be in a relationship. I never try to find one, it’s just that they seem to fall in my lap without me having to do a thing.
I’m not into dating and never have been. Most of my boyfriends started out as friends, or I met them through acquaintances or work and we hit it off. As a result, I rarely had casual sex, and if I did, it was a “friends with fringe benefits” kind of thing.
I’m also a very spiritual person, and I never felt that hooking up with a virtual stranger could be in line with my idea of conscious dating. I thought that the new norm of sex outside of a relationship was a little sad and lonely-feeling. There couldn’t be any intimacy or spiritual growth in the act of banging some random in the back seat of a car, could there?
When I found myself single in my 40s, I realized that the dating landscape had changed significantly. Everyone was finding partners online. My sister met her husband through a dating site. My happily single friends were blissfully unclenching old “hookups are for hos” ideals and waking up sticky and satisfied next to men or women they’d barely just met.
My first reaction to all of this was to decide that the dating world was slowly turning into a bad porn film, but after giving in to my curious nature and trying it out for myself, I changed my mind about casual sex.
I found out that hooking up can be a liberating and healing experience if you do it right.
Even though sex outside of a relationship has become normative behavior, especially with Millennials, there is still a pervasive viewpoint that people who sleep around are insecure sluts with low self-esteem who have no ethics. Men who have sex with a lot of women are chauvinist jerks, and women who do the same are just trying to trap a boyfriend.
There is also a ton of pressure on young people from older generations to find a partner, settle down, and start popping out babies as soon as possible. Monogamy and marriage are the ideal standard, and anything else is frowned upon.
It seems silly, though, considering the high divorce rates and unhappy relationships out there, to keep pushing this idea. Maybe going a little wild before settling down is a smarter choice.
Casual sex can help us figure out what turns us on, how to share mutual pleasure, and how to be more comfortable with our sexuality.
It can also help us release any guilt that we’ve been carrying because of religious or societal beliefs. This is especially true for women and the LGBT community. When we hear the message that our sexuality is sinful or unnatural, we can feel that our choice to experience pleasure from it is shameful.
Sex-negative conditioning is a big deal because it encourages the idea that we should deny a part of ourselves that needs nurturing. When we choose to receive pleasure for no other reason than pleasure’s sake, we can reclaim the pieces that we’ve been told don’t deserve love.
If you think about it, sex is the purest form of creative energy. Everything biological, from plants to animals, makes new things with it. Human beings have the added benefits of using it to create joy, healing, and spiritual and emotional connections. Even the basest of encounters can give us an opportunity to evolve.
If we want to have meaningful, fulfilling sex, then it’s important to lose the ego. When we use it to satisfy an emotional need to conquer or control, because we are under pressure, or to fill a void, we can get into trouble and create an addiction. It can cause as many issues as sexual repression does if we aren’t careful.
If you want casual sex, or any sex for that matter, to enhance your spiritual growth, it’s important to bring playfulness into the experience. One of the best things about hooking up is how easy it is to do that. You aren’t bringing any conflicts or manipulative tactics into the picture. You can have fun without an agenda.
Playing the field helped me see myself a little more clearly. I realized that as I aged, I made the choice to play it safe more than I used to. I relied on outside approval and societal norms to shape who I had become. I passed judgment on myself in ways that were surprising to me when I saw them.
Once I recognized these things, I took the steps to change them. I became less inhibited. I also realized that, while hooking up can be a fun and meaningful experience, I prefer sex within a monogamous relationship.
I can honor the introvert in me that prefers fewer, more intense relationships, without being concerned that I’m trying to stay within the confines of societies idea of what’s acceptable.