Can You Have Meaningless Sex While You’re Looking for a Long Term Relationship?

Can You Have Meaningless Sex While You're Looking for a Long Term Relationship?

Dear Evan,

If you’re looking for a long term relationship… can you just go back to having meaningless sex until you find one? For the past couple years I feel that I’ve been so focused on doing the right things to attract long term relationships that I’ve lost touch with my vixen playful side, or at least hidden that side until I’m in a relationship. I feel like I’m going through a phase where I just want to have some hookups or just get LAID and go out with guys just because I’m attracted to them and because I CAN. Would that be totally backtracking? Will men still take me seriously if I “go there” right from the beginning? Lately I just don’t care HOW it’s perceived, I just want to have some sex with a hot sexy guy. Melanie

Dear Melanie,

Like I said in a post from last week, rules are rules for a reason. You can choose to live by them, or you can choose to break them, but, for the most part, the results they produce are going to be somewhat predictable. So, as a rule, will men take you seriously if you “go there” right from the beginning? No, they will not. That’s where the whole idea of making a guy wait until he’s your boyfriend came from.

Men are usually sexual hypocrites who push you to have sex quickly and judge you for having sex quickly.

Men are usually sexual hypocrites who push you to have sex quickly and judge you for having sex quickly. Indulge them and you are unlikely to inspire confidence that you are “different” and that you don’t do this with “every” guy. I’m not saying it’s fair or right. I’m saying it’s real.

However, you know that, Melanie. What you’re concerned with is strictly feeding the beast that is your own libido. And frankly, I’m all for it. There is absolutely no contradiction between wanting to have some exciting, hot sex and wanting to find true, everlasting love. Both desires live within you and shouldn’t be ignored. I hooked up with a LOT of people on my way to marriage; some turned out to be girlfriends, most turned out to be random. I would never judge you for doing the exact same thing I did for ten years. BUT, (oh, come on, you knew there was going to be a ‘but’,) there are two things that merit your attention:

Every second you’re investing in the wrong guy is a second you’re not looking for the right guy. It’s not that there’s anything bad about playing around on the side while you pursue a relationship, it’s that if you’re juggling one or two booty calls on Tuesday and Saturday nights, when exactly are you making time for the potential keepers? That’s right: you’re not. The time and effort you put into pure sexual relationships could potentially be channeled into something that is, in the long-run, more productive.

You may want to be able to handle meaningless sex more than you’re actually able to handle it. It’s easy to theoretically have meaningless sex. It’s different when you’re intoxicated by the presence of a man, when you crave his touch and his attention, when you’re under the influence of oxytocin, which chemically bonds you to a man after intercourse. These are very real, very biological reasons that makes it far more difficult for women to sleep around. If you think you’re immune to these feelings, look back on your life at your more promiscuous days.

Every second you’re investing in the wrong guy is a second you’re not looking for the right guy.

Were you happier?

Were you feeling better about yourself?

Did you end up falling for some of those guys in spite of yourself?

History tends to repeat itself, and only you can answer whether you’d actually like it to. All I can tell you is this: if you have an itch and you need to scratch it, go ahead. But if you keep scratching that itch over and over, eventually, it’s going to start to hurt. Take care of your libido, Melanie, but don’t lose sight of your emotions in the process.

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  1. 21

    Go for it!!!! I do it on occassion without any problem. I am happy and much more less stressed when I am getting some____! For me, guys I choose are ones that I have no thoughts about having a long term relationship with, but the sex is good and we treat other well when together. Its generally dinner, drinks and hot sex. Some are much younger or live far away. It allows you to be much less uptight when you are looking for the long term relationship and your focus is clear. So less desperate. A few were guys I have known for years and once it was a new young fellow. I don’t do daily and the frequency is less than it would be if I was in a relationship. No droughts her! Lol :O

  2. 22

    Why are we assuming that she meant casual sex with many men? Maybe she meant that she had a mutually consenting partner who she could have safe and fun sex with – but for whatever reason – wasn’t a situation that would turn into a long term relationship.
    I think this is completely sane, and may even HELP her cause, by tempering the oxytocin effect so that when you do meet a potential LTR, you will have your wits about you.

  3. 23

    There are so many points I want to make about this post!!! Firstly, I cannot believe what a crazy country the USA is!!!! I live in the UK and this attitude that a woman will be taken less seriously if she has sex early on just isn’t commonplace! I have never in my life come across this double standard outside of TV dramas set in the 1950s and I am 27 years old and know lots of people! I don’t doubt that there are people in the UK that have these attitudes but I’ve never met any of them!

    Personally if I was living in a society in which a significant proportion of the male population thought less of a girl if she was prepared to sleep with them too early on, then doing just that would be the obvious screening mechanism! I have high moral standards when it comes to men, and, quite frankly, someone who thinks less of me for doing something he sees nothing wrong with doing himself needs to be eliminated from my pool of potential future partners a.s.a.p! That kind of man is not the type of man I want my kids to spend their weekends with!

    So I would say to Melanie: if you want your future long term partner to be a Neanderthal sexist hypocrite lacking in both intelligence and moral integrity then I suggest delaying sex with the men you see as potential suitors. If you want to meet someone with a more developed sense of morality who sees women as equals and who will treat you with fairness then I don’t think it matters when you first sleep together. Do it as soon or as late as you yourself want to. I know plenty of couples who had sex on their first date and have nevertheless been together for 5 years or more, 10 in a couple of cases. I always have sex early on and this has never stopped men falling in love with me. The only reason not to do this would be if you yourself fall in love unusually frequently or easily.

  4. 24

    I find Melanie’s letter a bit perplexing. I am hoping to someday have another great long-term relationship, but that doesn’t mean I am abandoning my playful side. I don’t have to be in an LTR to come out and play. I am not interested in meeting strange or familiar men simply for a detachable one-night stand or hookups to release my wildcat or rush into sex, despite my urgings. They make toys for that. 😉 I do not trust those situations on so many levels, including protecting myself from disease. Yet if I’m dating someone on a regular basis and it’s obvious we click, then I am willing and wanting to go there. And whether or not the dating at that point would lead to an LTR would remain to be seen.

    In response to her question … yes! A lot of guys won’t take her seriously, but why would this concern her, if she’s hooking up with them for only a sexual release in the first place?! It sort of sounds like she wants her cake and eat it, too. Perhaps she’s afraid that she will bang a hot guy one night and unexpectedly fall for him, but he’ll just see her as used goods and not LTR material. Be careful what you wish for.

    Some of the comments on here are really interesting. Regarding oxytocin, they have recently done studies on the role it plays in sexual arousal and orgasms for both sexes, and it’s interesting. When I stop to think about it, the feeling I have after an orgasm during sex (no toy necessary) is similar to the feeling I experienced after giving birth. Hmmm.

  5. 25

    My 2nd point: I think Melanie may be thinking more about having a sex life separate from her search for the one which I personally think is a good idea. I have had a series of friends with benefits over the last few years but found myself with no source of sex around about the time I first joined an internet dating site. I found that when I wasn’t having regular sex my judgement became clouded. I’d find myself getting involved with men I instinctively felt I wouldn’t fall in love with just because it was harder for me to pay attention to my instincts given I was craving sex.

    Now I have found myself a new FWB I am finding it easier to make better judgements about who would make a suitable partner and who wouldn’t. It is far easier to turn down someone who you are immensely attracted to but nevertheless suspect you will not fall in love with if it hasn’t been 6 months since you had sex and if you know that your next opportunity to have sex won’t be 6 months away! Again though, obviously if you are prone to falling in love easily then the FWB route is possibly not the best one!

    Personally I’ve never had any problems with falling for FWBs unintentionally. I’ve had 4 guys over the last 3 years with whom I’ve had quite intense sexual relationships. All have been good looking, funny, interesting, intelligent, succesful, kind, alpha males whose company I have loved and who I have been immensely attracted to. I am still in touch with all of them and would consider 2 to have been amongst my closest friends. I have enormous respect for these men and they have a lot of respect for me. Two have dropped everything to help me out in hard times on a number of occasions. But I have never been in any doubt that I would not fall in love with any of these men and presumably they felt the same about me. I think for a lot of people, women included, love is just incredibly rare. It always amuses me when men talk about women being less able to “compartmentalize”! They seem to think that just sleeping with an attractive man is enough to make a woman fall in love!!?? IF only it were that simple!?

    In fact, I read that there has been a fair amount of sociology research done that has shown that men actually fall in love more quickly and more easily than women! I may find out more about this research and post again with it, I found it interesting!

  6. 26

    I have had one night stands that I walked away from without any problem at all.
    Men tend to over-estimate how many women cling to them just so that they can brag to their friends.
    When men do this, they look as pathetic as a woman who does cling.

    And Paul, your binary world sounds very practical.
    You know what else is practical?
    An ad for tube socks in a Sears catalog.


    It is true that true love takes a lot of work and luck. But don’t live your life in fear. Don’t let the terrorists win!

  7. 27

    And my take on the oxytocin thing: I have read about this before but have absolutely zero experience of it in the context of my own sex/love life. I never feel any differently for a man immediately after sex, there is no crazy hormonal explosion! This proves nothing although I do suspect that if this is my experience then there will almost certainly be millions of other women out there who similarly have no experience of the mysterious oxytocin high! Whether or not we are a minority or not I have no idea!

  8. 28

    I’ve been exactly where Melanie is today. I get a lot of attention from guys 10-12 years my junior on-line, and while that’s not what I’m looking for in terms of a long-term relationship (I’m 41), the lack of finding someone suitable has led me down these paths a couple of times for exactly the same reasons. I think as long as you go into it knowing exactly what your expectations are and knowing “This isn’t the one, but it’ll be fun for a weekend”, it can be rejuvenating to be found attractive, and put a little zip in your step. Even if you do find yourself becoming a little emotionally involved, to be honest, how long would that last for someone you’ve only met once? A week? 2 max. Hate to say it, but a couple of years on, I can barely remember their names…..

    If you go into it knowing that he isn’t “the one”, it’ll give you a boost and (I’m not suggesting AT ALL Melanie is this before everyone jumps on my comment) but it can stop you feeling so desperate, so that when you do find “the one”, you are full of confidence, and not putting yourself over as clingy and ‘grateful’ for the attention.

  9. 29

    Oh Honey! You got me dying here with everything you’ve been writing. LOL!!!
    –“I also discovered that, apparently, rats with oxytocin deficiencies are statistically more likely to develop adult-onset diabetes. Interesting

    So, yeah, until I find some quality medical sources that say otherwise, I’m calling a big urban legend on the whole oxytocin thing.”

    Good job with the research.

    I never quite bought the oxytocin idea because I’ve slept with a few men I realized I didn’t really like later on. Where was the oxytocin there? More like anti-oxytocin. I wish it had been there before the initmacy. On the other hand, good sex with someone you are highly attracted to can keep you coming back for more. Shrug.

    Sounds to me that Melanie has already enjoyed casual sex and doesn’t need *warnings* about it. Particularly from Paul. Evan covered all the bases regarding attachment/time spent/etc. Only suggestion I have would be to try to keep the “casual” fishing pond separate from the “looking for serious” fishing pond. If she’s meeting guys from online, not the same neighborhood, that shouldn’t be a problem.

  10. 30
    Curly Girl

    Honey, I just love you!!!

    I think oxytocin is getting majorly slammed on this board, with only the guys opting for its power over the female decision-making process.

    I do get emotionally attached to the guys I sleep with (usually one at a time and for awhile each, to be clear–don’t want to be accused of being a slut!), but I don’t attribute this to any sort of biochemical. I consider it a human thing, and a good human thing at that. I also get emotionally attached to the places I have lived and visited, songs I hear, clothes I own, books I read, movies I see, food I eat, coworkers, and pets. But none of these things have given me orgasms (except for the coworkers I have slept with, a very small subgroup, though not as small as I wish it were).

    There is a difference between feeling an emotional bond and being a stalker. Emotions and sex together are nice–like a lovely breeze that touches your face.

  11. 31

    Thanks, Jennifer, Selena, Curlygirl, everyone.

    It seems there are two possible explanations for the women slamming oxytocin and the men believing in it:

    1. women don’t want to believe they’re slaves to their hormones
    2. men want to believe that women are slaves to their hormones

    Oh, wait, I forgot….

    3. We’re all human, and flawed – just as likely to not grow attached when we should as we are to grow attached when we shouldn’t.

    Yeah, I found the bit about the rats and obesity to be FASCINATING – I’d love to know whether the rats were genetically predisposed to oxytocin deficiency or whether they just weren’t cuddled enough when they were baby rats 🙂

  12. 32

    Melanie – I’d say cut all this Oxy-whatever crap – I’m European, not American – which maybe explains it – I don’t do for all this over-analysis – we don’t do that in Europe – it’s just sex. As I said earlier, as long as you got your ducks in a row, and you know why you’re doing what, then go for it. As long as you don’t think he’s “the one” – and for God’s sake don’t fall into that trap, because he won’t be. Have a ball, don’t get involved, and the joy of having slept with a man who finds you attractive will raise your
    spirits no end – more so if you are detached – see my previous email before reading these pious emails. I’m with ya girl – go European!

  13. 33

    By the way, that’s why I get attention from men 10-12 years my junior – might be weird in America, but not in Europe – we are somewhat more flexible, and a woman in her 40’s is definitely in her prime………to a man of any age…….

  14. 34
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    Great post, and great answer by Evan. My only recommendation is for just to make sure you are being honest with yourself and your partner about it all:

  15. 35

    Moving to Europe.

  16. 36


    Read a book called “The Happy Hook-Up: A Single Girl’s Guide to Casual Sex.” It’s a really, really good guide for how to engage in enjoyable casual sex while protecting both your health and your heart.

  17. 37
    Curly Girl

    Agreed, Sunflower! My guy is European and a lot of the stuff on this board would just make him laugh–the idea of someone being “marketable” (or not) as a prospective partner; all this stuff about gender roles (he’s a fantastic cook, he cleans, has excellent taste in decor and clothing–and this is just normal for him, not some gender anomaly); and all this anxiety/pressure about marriage.

    Another interesting difference stemming from his Euro background: He also expects people to exercise (biking, walking–not nec. the gym) and eat healthfully (fruits, vegetables–no processed foods or many sweets) as part of an aesthetically pleasing life, not for weight management. If a guy is overweight he isn’t considered attractive, no matter how much money he has. And the American preoccupation with money is also off-putting to him (and to other Europeans I know).

    He’s really quite fantastic, and I am always learning from him.

  18. 38

    @Honey post #1

    Wow, your BF sure got a lot from what he considered to be a throw-away “practice date”.

  19. 39

    @Selena post #35

    Want to share a plane ride?

    I’ve often felt more European than American except for the warm juice/soda/beer thing and the fugly little cars. They seem to have everything else about right.

    1. 39.1

      Steve –

      I’d move back to Europe in a heart beat. Count me in : )

  20. 40

    @VAL #26

    LOL!! ( no disrespect Paul ).

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