Added: Akeem Hong - Date: 04.09.2021 12:19 - Views: 31019 - Clicks: 8460
Around , casual sex once again hit the headlines. From sex-friend flicks like No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits , to vaguely censorious journalistic deep dives and scholarly analyses , pop culture was obsessed with no-strings-attached sex.
Young women were, the breathless reports detailed, having more sex without romantic commitment—and some of us were even liking it. I arrived on campus armed with a pair of high-waisted khakis that made my ass look sacred, some great lipstick, and a newly minted birth control prescription. I was young, I was horny, and I was not going to let antiquated things like relationships get between me and the liberated feminist orgasms I was sure characterized college. Sure, college brought plenty of no-strings-attached sex.
But it also brought the pervasive feeling that those same strings were snaking back around to strangle me and the young women I was friends with. Ten years and several reckonings later, our public conversation about sex has, thankfully, evolved beyond breathless campus-hookup think pieces. On one hand, many of us do want sex without necessarily wanting a romantic relationship, either for periods of time or as a longer-term choice.
But we are, first and foremost, human—with all the power imbalances, messy feelings, and bungled boundaries that entails. How can we enjoy mutual pleasure, when sex itself is characterized by deep inequalities, like the prevalence of sexual assault and a gaping pleasure gap? In truth, having genuinely respectful casual sex does involve some deep emotional engagement: It requires us to be real with ourselves, to articulate what we want , and to communicate clearly and respectfully with our partners.
Allow me to rain on your parade: Sex always comes with strings. None of us is a perfectly autonomous sexual being free of obligations to others. We are interconnected. We are formed by the contexts we live in, and by the racial, socioeconomic, and gender inequalities that shape our societies and ourselves. It is, instead, an interaction where you are both giving and receiving sexual pleasure in an egalitarian way, without necessarily having to commit to each other in the context of an emotionally deep or long-term relationship. That means that men who sleep with women have a particular obligation to consider how their behavior may affect their partners by, for example, educating themselves about sexism, consent, and sexual trauma , and being proactive about contraception.
The same introspection applies across different kinds of power. So before heading into an NSA situation, do some soul searching: What are you really trying to get out of this? Are you looking for someone to love, support, and pleasure you, without you having to put the energy into reciprocating? In some ways, it can be more difficult to set boundaries in NSA sexual relationships than in more emotionally intimate partnerships, since we walk a delicate tightrope between being kind and present, yet keeping parts of our emotional selves removed.
Establishing these boundaries in a respectful way takes communication, and especially clarity about intention. Being upfront about what you want from the beginning can help prevent any hurt feelings. It can take courage to be real when what we want ends up being different than we initially expected. You may begin wanting something casual, have a great NSA interaction, and end satisfied. But you may catch feelings, or what you want may change.
It can take courage to be real with ourselves and our partners when what we want ends up being different than we initially expected. When it comes to making our partners feel respected, seen, and heard, what happens after sex is often as important as what happens during. But if you do, and they reach out, for the love of all that is sacred: Do not ghost.
Yes, turning people down can feel uncomfortable. Yes, it requires emotional energy. But you are a grownup. And that is what grownups do: We put on our adult pants, break out our emotional intelligence, and send politely worded text messages telling casual sexual partners we no longer want to touch their genitals. The exception to this, of course, is if that person has harmed you, or has in any way overstepped your boundaries.
Your wellbeing always comes first, and you never have to engage with someone who has violated your safety and comfort. People with vaginas spend far more money on contraception than those without, and more often bear the responsibility for safer sex in relationships.
Buy the condoms. If your partner needs emergency contraception, split the bill—or foot it entirely, as compensation for the cramps that the person with a uterus is likely going to feel. If your partner becomes pregnant as a result of your interaction and tells you about the pregnancy, support their decision; if they choose to have an abortion, offer to help pay. In these days of social distancing, joyful, casual IRL sex— the sweat! But for many quarantined daters, sexting and video chat have come to the rescue. When it comes to sexy time online, consent is, as always, key.
It can for sure be tricky to figure out a smooth transition from texting about your sourdough starter to texting about where exactly you want to put your flour-coated hands. And remember: Nobody wants an unsolicited picture of your junk.
The worst thing that can happen is they say no, you feel a little embarrassed, and the sun rises again tomorrow. We are already in community with one another. We are neighbors and lovers and acquaintances and friends. And just like we can take care of our neighbors without moving in with them, we can take care of our dates without committing to a relationship. Every time we sleep with someone, we have a shared experience. In that sense, the trick to having respectful no-strings-attached sex is to remember all of the ways in which we are already connected.
Reina Gattuso is a feminist journalist covering food, sex, and politics. Share: Facebook icon Twitter icon. Swell in your inbox, every week Newsletter Up. More from Do It Better. Here are ways to share your desires with your new partner. Get more like this in your inbox Newsletter Up . Close Icon Sexual wellness stories in your inbox, every week. Newsletter Up .Sex with nostrings attach
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