The below post was written by youremywaterloo over at Reddit’s r/sex sub. All credit goes to him in asking a question that many people seem uncomfortable with. This is being posted with his full knowledge and consent.
Okay, so call me prudish, but…
I’m eighteen years old, male, not particularly religious, usually pretty liberal and I really feel like I’m missing the point of casual relationships. I just don’t get it. And this isn’t one of those superiority things because I don’t feel like I’m any better off for it… I just don’t understand.
My friends – who mainly fall into the 17-20 age bracket – are all very much into casual sex. They base a significant part of their life around Tinder, they go out with the sole intention of hooking up in pubs and clubs, they all sit around and talk about ‘how they did’ afterwards. I’m beginning to feel like I’m the only one who thinks there’s something a bit… twisted(?), perhaps, about instigating all these ‘single-serving relationships’ with the intention of discarding them and starting again in the morning.
And this isn’t slut-shaming. This seems to occur in men as much as it does women, and I’m starting to think it’s just a societal thing that I’m not really in touch with. I’m not particularly prudish, believe it or not; I’ve been in several sexual relationships, but all the intimate stuff generally tended to come after I’d got to know the person a bit. There’ve been a couple of times I’ve got drunk and ended up getting off with someone I’ve just met, but there’s something about it that just feels… dirty. Without any intention to even speak to said person again, it feels a bit like I’m using them in a way… and perhaps that’s where my issue lies with it.
My ex and I often argued about this. She saw sex as quite a, uh, secular action, for lack of a better word – very much just a means of gratification without anything romantic or, ugh, ‘special’ about it. It was something to do. She’d had multiple one-night stands and, not placing any real importance on sex, didn’t have an issue with sleeping around behind my back. Anyway, point is, I regarded it as quite an important part of our relationship; I guess intimacy defines a relationship as something more than just a normal friendship in part. We ended up breaking up after she cheated on me (haha) but as I looked for reassurance online that it wasn’t just me who felt this way, I was pretty shocked by the response I got. It seemed to justify what she’d done.
There’s a girl at my old college who I used to see for a bit, who, when I left, had slept with 29 people. She’s about to turn 18. She did it, she said, because she had no self-esteem and hooking up made her feel better about herself. And, as far as men are concerned, there are a group of lads I know who treat it like a competition – every time I see them they’re bragging about how they’re now ‘on 13’ or ‘did’ so and so or whatever. I think if there was something honest or positive about the idea of sleeping around a bit, I might get it, but every story I’ve heard seems to contort or twist or objectify and I’m sure I must be missing something here.
I’m not jealous and I’m not being self-righteous. Even now I’m quite weary that I’ll either be called sanctimonious or utterly pathetic for this post. All I’m asking is is the promiscuous lifestyle really as ingrained into the culture as it seems and what do people – or what do you, rather – see in it (especially by contrast to a relationship)? Is it worth it?
Cheers for bearing with
But then, perhaps predictably, he was criticized by those who felt he was denigrating their life choices and did his best to explain what his purpose was in posing the question in the first place.
Okay, so this was my first Reddit post and I’m quite surprised by the reaction it got. I noticed this morning that a new post in ‘sex’ popped up criticising this one and saying how it wasn’t ‘sex positive’. I, in my shut off, inexperienced little world, am not very familiar with the term, but from what I gather it seems to be promoting the idea that consenting people have the right to choose and shouldn’t be judged for what they do in the privacy of their own homes…
As far as I am aware, at no point have I “insinuated” that there’s anything wrong with casual sex. I’m sorry if it’s been interpreted like that but, fortunately, the vast majority of people seem to have taken it as it was intended – that I feel (currently) quite happy seeking out relationships rather than causal stuff, but that I wanted to get a better, broader idea of what other people thought about it.
Plus, if I personally feel ‘dirty’ engaging in casual affairs, is that so wrong? I never said I think other people are dirty for doing so… I was saying that something about it didn’t quite feel right when I did it.
Anyway, my issue with my ex isn’t because she was into casual sex. I do understand that there’s a difference between enjoying no-strings sex and being a cheat. I wasn’t questioning the loyalty or morality of people who have casual affairs. She was just an awful person, which wasn’t necessarily because of her views on sex. That bit was just trying to understand the link – if there was one – between her apathy towards all sex and what happened. And, additionally, if there was a link between apathy and casual sex. Which, for the most part (cf “hollow” “empty”), it seems, there isn’t. Good to know. This was the point.
Furthermore, I think it’s quite clear to anybody who bothered to read this post and its comments that I didn’t write this just to confirm or gather support for my own beliefs. The purpose was to gain an insight. I do one thing, some people do another thing, I wanted to know why. That’s it.
I wasn’t saying that all people who have casual sex are twisted or broken or in some way damaged, either. I gave two examples of people I know as to explain why I struggle to see the appeal, though I’m fairly sure that I was quite open in expressing my naïvety from the beginning. This hasn’t been me preaching my views or criticising anybody else’s; it’s just been a good insight into opinions and reasonings that I might not personally be able to understand without hearing it from someone else.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their comments, most of which have been very honest and direct in answering my questions. I’m a teenage boy – at times, it can seem like all anybody wants to do is have sex for the sake of having sex. What I’ve learnt from this – what I was hoping to learn from this – is that not only are there still people who share my viewpoint, but that there are others who don’t for their own equally valid reasons. I was worried, I suppose, that sex was becoming colder, less important, but having some real experiences has shown that nobody really seeks out manipulative emotionless sex, and that people just seem to go about achieving whatever it is that they stand to gain from sex in different ways, whether it be for the emotional side of things, the physical side of things or something else.