My wife and I have both come to the conclusion that we are not real fans of having casual sex by the conventional definition, i.e., sex with persons with whom we have no ongoing relationship. Now, that’s not saying we haven’t done that once or twice in the past year, because we have. But, those times were “just one of those things”. The point is, we don’t go looking for that kind of sexual encounter. I’m sure part of that is that we are both over 50 and neither of us have that burning imperative, when we go to a swing club or party, that we must have sex with someone new. And it’s not that we think such casual sex is wrong or as some put it empty. It’s just not for us.
On the other hand we certainly don’t believe that sex should be reserved for relationships that are deeply committed either. I am quite sure the myth of the specialness of sex is an outgrowth of property based monogamy (with women being the property). It became codified into nearly every religion that has a professional clergy as a way to maintain social stability and thus the clergy’s social position. Even though this myth is still perpetuated via self-identified secularists in psychology, it does not derive from real science but from the desire to justify what they already believe by using unjustified cause-effect statements.
The position that my wife and I are comfortable taking is the proposition (that I’ve made before) that sex is a normal and positive part of adult social relationships. In other words, sex is for friends. In our post tribal world, most of us have precious few people to whom we can go to when we have a joy to share or need comforting in our sorrow. I don’t mean the new “Facebook” meaning of friendship, but a real relationship of trust and caring. A friend is the person that you don’t need to put on for and don’t expect them to put on for you. Perhaps the best definition of friendship for me is that person for whom I don’t have to clean the house if they come over.
Friendship is all about shared experiences and mutual support. As humans one of the best ways to do both is through physical touch, skin touching skin. Sexual touch is the most complete version of touch, which makes it a natural activity for friends. Sexual sharing is all about skin on skin touching, full body skin on skin touching.
One may counter that sex is mostly about erotic passion and release. I would disagree. Perhaps my age is showing again, but the most important thing about sex is not the erotic passion and release of orgasm. The most important thing about sex, it is skin on skin touching. If orgasm is all someone wants, masturbation is a more sure way to gain orgasm than any other, but no one can get the deep pleasure and sense of serenity that full body skin on skin contact provides via masturbation. When I’ve taught about sexuality, I use the analogy that a full sexual experience is like a symphony. It has multiple parts including an opening (often with surprises), and a slow building section that can be either sensuous or relaxed, a rhythmic center, a climax then a quiet reflective post climatic refrain. Sure it is possible to listen to the climactic three minutes of the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture over and over, but by doing that you rob the music of its real power. Or perhaps more accessible to some readers, if you just watch saw the last scene of the Les Misérables, it would have nice music but it wouldn’t bring forth tears because there was not the preceding build up.
I’ll offer two recent examples in our life. My wife has a very good friend who has been in a relationship for years. They have talked about having sex on and off and have yet to actually have penetrative sex, though they have done many other things. Last night she met him for drinks and they again discuss having sex, this time she’s concerned about his very large penis…and a little excited. My guess is she and he will do it soon. That won’t change their relationship; they are good friends now and will be afterword. A second example is a friend of both me and my wife. She’s had several dates with him a few years back but it didn’t go anywhere. He is in mid-life like me and is experimenting with new things like cross dressing. He wanted to find out what is like to play the female role with a man. Last week we got together and has exual play about an hour. He found out that having oral sex with another man is fun, but no life changing experience. We left friends, and neither of us climaxed. It was just casual sexual pleasure.
With that background, I contend that sexual interaction is, or should be, a normal and positive part of adult friendships.
With this in mind I offer the following definition of “Casual Sex”
Casual Sex: informal sexual interaction of a caring, but casual, nature between persons who have an ongoing mutually supportive relationship (philia), but are not romantically involved (amore); mutually pleasurable sex between friends where their relationship is not defined by that the fact they have sex.