Monday, February 26, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex

You know all that stuff I was saying about dating, where I sagely explained how I was approaching things the "right" way, meaning lots of dates and no sex? Crumple all of that up into a tiny little ball and toss it out the window. I'm back to thinking maybe, just maybe, if both people are on the same page, then you can go ahead and sleep with them outside the context of a committed relationship without either one of them getting hurt. Or, more precisely, I'm back to thinking that I could go ahead any sleep with someone outside the context of a committed relationship without getting hurt. In addition, I think it might be, um, satisfying.

One of the things that's prompted this about-face is that, for some reason, I simply do not feel emotionally wrapped up in this whole dating thing. I've questioned myself long and hard about this, and I swear I'm being honest with myself. Where before I used to obsess about the men in my life, now there's ... almost nothing. They have female friends, fine, no problem. They've been to strip clubs and burlesque shows and they had a nice time? Potentially sexist but as long as they're respectful, fine. They're super hot, big flirts, and have tried to sleep with me on multiple occasions (as I imagine they have with many other women)? Not a problem. They're away on vacation, have texted me a few times, and might call me to go out when they get back into the states? I'm not stressing about it, and I'm certainly not texting them, unless I'm texting them back. What the hell is happening to me?

I guess I'm really talking about two separate issues. The first is the ability to be casual about the dating thing, and to not take it all so seriously. I think I'm doing an exceptionally good job at that, and the way I can tell is that I literally do not care. Not that I'm not excited when a boy is sweet to me, because of course I care about that. But, if they don't call or communicate, I don't get concerned. I'm not filled with anxiety. I don't feel hurt. I just think, "Ok, they're not into me, and that's cool because I'm not into them." Instead of spending time worrying about whether they're into me, I just chill out, do my own thing, and assume that if they're into me they'll figure out a way to demonstrate it. Similarly, if they're not into me, they'll figure out a way to demonstrate that too.

This is a staggering change from the emotional turmoil I was in while dating EXBF. Who knew that I would feel far more emotionally secure while single and dating, than I did while in a committed relationship? (Of course, if it was a good committed relationship, that would be a different story). On that topic, I'd also like to add that there were possibly 1,000 things that EXBF did that should have made me realize that he just was not that into me, including repeatedly saying that he wasn't good enough for me. If someone really believes that they are not good enough for you, and they keep saying it and treating you poorly, maybe you should take them at their word? Despite his protestations of love, his actions spoke volumes, and I just kept hoping things would change. Silly Buttercup, trix are for kids, not grown up women. Boys Don't Change. Please, for the love womenkind, remember that lessson. It's true!!

Getting back to dating, my current blasé attitude would probably change if I started really liking someone, and of course none of the above applies to guys who are jerks. Spending any time with dogs, let alone being sexual with them, clearly can lead to no good and isn't worth any woman's time. By the way, that book, "He's Just Not That Into You," by the writers of SATC, is a quick, funny read, with several nuggets of dating wisdom. I'd recommend it if you want a quick window into the (worst of the) male mind, or if you want to remind a friend that a married man by definition is just not that into her. If he was into her, he wouldn't be married.

The second thing I'm talking about is whether dating can still be casual if you throw sex into the mix. I'm not talking about bad casual, I'm talking good casual, where no one gets hurt and everyone's happy. I respect women, including myself, as strong sexual beings, and if we want to have sex, and if we do it safely to protect ourselves and others, then of course we should be able to do it. But, in this cut-throat world of New York dating, where we're told ad nauseam that they're tons of single girls for each straight single guy, where the men assume they should be treated as kings as they move from one girl to the next, and where there's an expectation that when you meet someone they're probably involved, on some level, in something (blah, blah, blah, you've heard it all before on SATC), it had seemed to me like sex was a door too risky to crack open. But, now I'm not sure.

Is pure sexual pleasure, without any emotional strings possible in the context of casual dating? And, is it worth it? What do you think?

9 comments:

MaryP said...

I was in my early thirties when my first marriage ended. I was absolutely NOT interested in a serious relationship right then, but that didn't mean I didn't want sex...

I loved dating, and for two very satisfying years I enjoyed just the right amount of what I called Happy-Friendly Sex. I wasn't desperately leaping from one bed to the next. I had to like the men, I wasn't having sex with strangers, but I wasn't looking for deep and meaningful, either. Love and commitment were not on my agenda just then.

I don't know what the dating scene is like in New York, so I can't speak to the ratios and the relative desperation of women there, but I never had any trouble at all finding fellows to date, and, after all my years in a disrespectful and then abusive marriage, I wasn't about to put up with any nonsense. I like sex, but I value my self-respect more.

You know what? There was no shortage of men who were attracted to my confident, cheerful, take-no-shit sexuality. I had a lot of fun. Fun, fun, fun.

Which was the point of it for me, back then. A couple of years of that served as tremendously effective therapy to wash away the preceding decade of dreariness. After a couple of years of frivolity, I was ready for something more substantial.

I've been with my partner now for about ten years, and I'm very happy. Do I regret those frivolous years? Not for a second. They were good for me.

Waspgoddess said...

All I know of NYC dating I've learnt from SATC. (Is it true... are there real modelisers in the city?)

I have a pretty laid back attitude to sex I guess. Forgive me for being a stereotypical Swede, but I don't see the point in agonising over what's supposed or not supposed to happen at dates 1, 2 and 3 etc. Relax, if you fancy each other why not? Providing you go into it with your eyes wide open that is.

So, who is he?

SisterFriend said...

Buttercup,

I really appreciate your honesty in putting this question "out there". In my experience, there really is no such thing as safe, uncommitted sex. No matter how much I might tell myself that I don't care or I won't be hurt, sex is a very bonding thing between two people. If I sleep with a man, I WANT him to call. I WANT to see him again.

The other thing to consider is that STDs are out there running rampant. A condom cannot protect against all of them. And condoms are not 100% effective, anyway. I know it's not fun to think about, but HPV and Herpes virus can be transfered, even while using a condom.

My advice, don't have casual sex. It opens the door for a world of pain.

I think you'd be better off giving yourself plenty of time to heal from your last relationship, and then look for something more meaningful and committed.

InterstellarLass said...

If it's a monogamous, trusted friends-with-benefits type of relationship, then I think that's a good scenario. But I've never personally been a big fan of the casual one-off. For me, there's too much emotionally at stake. Even when you tell yourself there's not.

Sparky Duck said...

ok, it is possible. In between wife one and wife two, there was a booty call friend. However, we were not dating at all. We found each other stimulating mentally, but physically there was not much. But she was a she and I was a he and needs were needs and it worked for a while.

However, sex from a date will have some emotional attachments, no matter how blase you say it is.

Gypsy said...

My answer? Yes. Absolutely.

But that doesn't hold true for everyone. In fact, I'm not sure it even holds true for most people. Women especially seem inclined to get wrapped up, whether they want to or not. Many of my friends in college tried to approach sex in a more carefree way and failed miserably, always investing too much and feeling remorseful. They found they always had a motive.

When I was footloose and fancy free, I had no guilt whatsoever about satisfying any needs I had, provided they were with someone I was genuinely attracted to, and provided they knew the score up front. I wasn't about toying with anyone's affections or game playing. Just two people with a need, respectfully fulfilling that need.

I've never held sex up as needing to be an intimate, emotion-filled act. It can be, most definitely. But it's also a physically satisfying act that doesn't have to have any deeper meaning attached to it.

Sometimes a fuck is just a fuck.

Buttercup said...

It looks like Waspgoddess and Gypsy are fully supportive of MaryP's "happy friendly sex," and that Sparky and Lass might be, but with reservations. It's a tricky subject, especially as it's complicated by the reality of STDs that Sisterfriend mentions.

I guess I think it is possible, as long as both people are on the same unemotionally-tangled page, and the reason I could even consider it now is b/c I feel so emotionally unentangled. But, even feeling emotionally-unentangled, I suspect that sex would still make me feel vulnerable, although I'm not sure.

The big thing that I'm concerned about, beyond the emotional issues, is actually the STD issue. Unless you have a piece of paper, you really don't know with 100% certainty (and often your potential partner doesn't know either unless they have a paper).

Sparky Duck said...

on the STD Tip (yea Im hip) just remember that you should be careful. And, the chance of catching an STD from a loved partner is just about the same.

Willow said...

Buttercup,
I've been reading your blog on and off now for about a year, and enjoy reading about another woman going through all of lifes quirky ups and downs. So much so that I am attempting my own blog (we'll see how it goes). The big difference in our experiences is small town vs. NYC.

I do believe that sex can be had without emotional attachment, that it can be had for fun, fun, fun. I know because I did it for years, almost 17 to be exact. I did have some long and loving relationships in that time, but I also had fun, whenever I wanted.

It wasn't until this last year, that I realized that I could no longer "just have sex". It began to feel like I was giving pieces of myself away. Eventually all those little pieces were tearing a hole in my self-esteem. I have been single and celibate for almost a year now, and it's not that bad. Lonely sometimes, yes. But still better than losing pieces of myself.

I do think that every woman should travel down the path of "just sex", as long as they protect themselves of course. It can be empowering, but remember there is always a flip side. Times when it can feel like you've given your power away to some one who does not appreciate you, or possibly even know you!

So Good Luck Buttercup!
Go have some fun, fun, fun!
I know you'll be safe, you're too smart not to be!

Nice meeting you!

Willow