A few months ago, I wrote a post about how annoyed I was by the phrase “casual sex,” which to me seemed like an oxymoron. Sex was a sacred, spiritual, magical, glorious thing, I argued. Even if I had sex with a stranger or a one night stand, it was an act I never imagined I’d engage in nonchalantly or “casually.”
My feelings have slightly changed since then.
While wikipedia defines “casual sex” as “sexual activities outside of romantic relationships that imply an absence of commitment, emotional attachment, or familiarity between sexual partners, dictionary definitions of “casual” include “done without much thought, effort or concern” and “seeming to be indifferent to what is happening, apathetic.”
I no longer have any problem with phrase “casual sex,” as wikipedia defines it. I don’t think sex has to happen within the context of a committed, emotionally attached or familiar relationship to be “good.” In fact, I now believe that commitment, emotional attachment and familiarity, can eventually cause sex to be not so good. The more familiar someone is, the less passionate and excited you’re going to be about them, right? Isn’t that only natural?
What I had was a problem with those two dictionary definitions of the word “casual” – “done without much thought, effort or concern” and “seeming to be indifferent to what is happening, apathetic.” To me, that sounds a lot more like the kind of sex a couple whose been married for years might engage in – the “been there, done that, boring, old news… yawn” kind of sex.
On the other hand, sex with strangers – with people whom you may never see again – is often the opposite of “casual.” It can be exhilarating, breath-taking, adrenaline-rush-causing, terrifying, wonderful or terrible, but one thing it’s not – for me anyway – is something engaged in with apathy and indifference.
So, I’m trying to look for a word to describe the kind of sex I’ve been having with the “shy” Appalachian mountain man, whom I will refer to as Matthew from now on, because “casual” definitely doesn’t seem to fit.
I had almost an immediate crush on him, just based on his long hair and beard, his friendly eyes and smile in his dating profile pictures. After a couple of dates with him, I was even more drawn to his slow, calm Southern style and accent, and his gentle demeanor. He didn’t say much those first couple of dates, but the things he did say revealed his sharp wit and deep thinking. Before our third date – which was planned after what seemed like much reluctance on his part, maybe from lack of clearly stated intentions on my part – I just came out and said – “Matthew, I want to know what it feels like to have “casual sex” with someone. Would you be interested in experimenting with me?”
In not too many words, he obliged. He arrived at my house at the appointed time one evening, we had wine and awkward conversation, and at some point we made our way toward each other on the couch. A slow, gentle kiss turned to passionate kissing, and next thing I knew he pushed me onto the bed (that might just be my memory getting creative) and ravished me. It felt unreal, like a dream. I hadn’t experienced that kind of passion since the day after mine and Brad’s first kiss. The day he snuck up behind me in our apartment building’s laundry room, threw his arms around my waist and kissed the back of my neck, before carrying me down the hall, throwing open my apartment door and tossing me on the bed. That day was more than five years ago.
Matthew and I have met up three times now for what most would call “casual sex” – in the sense that we do not know each other that well, we do not have an emotional attachment to each other (if he never called again, I would not cry or be hurt) and we have made zero commitments to one another. But, in contrast to what many may think, this lack of commitment, attachment and familiarity, makes our connection no less meaningful, no less intense, no less… magical.
In fact, the no-expectations, no-strings-attached approach we’ve taken has made the experience all the more riveting. Without the “does he really love me, how long will this last, will he marry me” monologue running through my head, I’m free to truly live in the moment and revel in every exquisite sensation. I don’t live in the future any more. I treat each moment like it could be the last.
I’ve been tempted a few times to wonder – “What comes next? How many times will we meet before he stops calling? Will it ever grow into something more than sex? Will we form some kind of emotional attachment? What would we do if we did? How would that fit into my current day-to-day life?”
After the sex the other night, we lay there holding each other tightly for what seemed like several minutes. That’s never happened before. Usually, he’s in a hurry to throw his clothes on and make a quick, abrupt exit before Brad gets home. I was tempted to wonder what it meant – “Why is he staying? Why is he holding me? Or maybe I’m the one holding him? Is he getting attached? Am I getting attached?” But then, I stopped in my tracks, cut the strings and brought myself back to the moment.
He told me he started talking to another poly girl recently. It’s easier this way, he said. “Girlfriends are too much work, too much heartbreak.” I didn’t ask for any details. For the moment, I’m enjoying connecting with no strings attached far too much to mess it up with details.