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. 41

    I think I, as well as most every other American man, would be happy if someone told us from now on that American women could and would have casual encounters with no attachments.

    Having said that I think some of the women here protest too much.

    All of my life, I have heard no shortage of tasteless jokes and complaints about how women *tend* to become attached after casual encounters.

    I don’t hear those complaints and jokes about men. The only time I have seen those situations with men has been with inexperienced, geeky and sensitive men.

    Not all apples are round and are the same shade of red, yet the generalizations that apples are round and red fruit is useful.

  2. 42

    @Selena #35- no need to move to Europe. Despite the huge sweeping generalizations being made, not everyone in the United States is as uptight and puritanical as some of our European neighbors seem hell bent on believing.

  3. 43

    Sorry folks but there is way too much diversity in the States and in Europe (regionally, culturally, economically) that affects attidues and thinking on sex and relationships for me to be able to get on board with all of the ‘all eurpeans view sex like this’ and ‘all americans view sex like this’ viewpoints that get expressed.

  4. 44

    @ Steve #38 –

    Yes, he certainly never expected to find someone like me on his first date in 4 years! He told me later that he was sort of disappointed at the time because he’d been looking forward to dating around, but followed up by saying, “But I’m not stupid. I know there aren’t girls like you out there. I knew you were a keeper!”
    .-= Honey’s last blog ….Revelations Part II: What He Said, and The Plan =-.

  5. 45

    @Jennifer #43

    But if we stick to facts the discussion will end and where will be the fun? 🙂

  6. 46

    @Steve#44- LOL..very true!! Okay, my serious face is back off now 🙂

  7. 47

    @ Ava, #47 –

    He moved 130 miles away 5 days after our first date for a summer internship, and didn’t move back to the city where we were going to school for almost 4 months. He disagrees with my assessment, but I just don’t think that there would have been enough momentum for the relationship to last until he got back if we weren’t driving back and forth every weekend to get busy!
    .-= Honey’s last blog ….Revelations Part II: What He Said, and The Plan =-.

  8. 48

    Honey #1
    “The BF and I had sex on our first date and I think if we hadn’t, there’s no way we’d still be together.”

    Why is that?

    This is very interesting. Hopeless romantic that I am, I’ve never been into casual sex, even when I was much younger (now late-40’s), and I’ve thought the whole oxytocin phenomenon was why. However, I do think psychological and social factors come into play as well. The people I’ve slept with were always ones whom I thought I could have a serious relationship with. Often, though, I didn’t find out until a few weeks or months later, that there was no way it would work. So I’ve tried waiting and getting to know someone better before sleeping with them (still didn’t work), and now I’ve decided that even if I do have sex, it doesn’t necessarily come with a big commitment right away.

    I may have worried that a guy would think I was “easy” if we had sex quickly, but ironically, I now realize that in the past, I’d been too easy as far as giving my heart and my commitment too soon. And I didn’t get respected for THAT! So while I’m still not likely to sleep with people I don’t really care about, I am going to temper my desire for a big commitment right away. A man has to prove to me that he’s worthy of that honor.

    Having said all that, it sounds like Melanie is more concerned about her own fears about being loose or slutty, then what a guy she’s just using for sex really thinks. She says “Lately I just don’t care HOW it’s perceived, I just want to have some sex with a hot sexy guy”.

    I say go for it, use a condom, take it for what it is, and enjoy!

  9. 49

    We’re off! Let’s tour the continent and see which country appreciates 40-somethings the most!

    I don’t find the US to be puritanical and uptight at all. Quite the opposite actually. The moving to Europe comment was in response to being over 40. It can get tiresome reading the perceptions regarding people over 40 on this blog. Though in the main that seems to pertain to online dating. Thus far in offline life, I’ve had no problems being an over 40 never-married woman.

  10. 50

    Yes Honey,

    I’m curious too. Why do you think you and the BF would not be together if you hadn’t had sex on the first date?

  11. 51

    Steve, re: protesting too much

    I’ve never gone looking for a casual encounter. Usually how it went would be I started dating someone, got to know them somewhat and slept with them within a week or three. More often, I knew the person a little bit before we started dating. Within a few weeks, 2.5 months at the outside, it would become clear that either he wasn’t into me, or I wasn’t into him. Unless of course we fell in love and that happened a few times.

    It’s those short term relationships that I consider “casual dating/sex”. Sometimes I did start feeling attachment, sometimes I didn’t and ended it. What I’m trying to say, along with some others that have commented, is that for women sex=oxytocin=bonding is a fallacy. If it were true, we would have bonded with everyone we ever had sex with. We didn’t. Attachment was a combination of factors, not just sex.

    Curly Girl described this very well in her post #30.

  12. 52
    Curly Girl

    Re: Euro v. American to Jennifer–speaking generally and anecdotally, of course. I find outside the U.S. (Europe, Asia, S. America–can’t speak of anywhere else) that people eat food that they make from scratch more often than they eat processed food, and that they don’t like the U.S. processed food. It has a lot of salt and sugar in it, which they taste immediately. The northern Europeans I know especially are very into outdoor exercise but aren’t into health clubs–seems to be a big phenomenon in the U.S. but not nec. elsewhere–and these people are all very thin. The Europeans I know do make the connection between what you put in your body and how much you exercise and how your body looks, and it’s no secret that Europeans have always been critical of the rate of obesity in the U.S. Of course, these habits are changing as U.S. ways of doing things spread throughout the world–esp. in consumer goods and foods/beverages. And now they’re developing the same problem…

    I do believe that our ideas re: dating and mating are influenced most by the media and by our families. I’ve had relationships with 2 guys who grew up in countries where p*rn was outlawed, and their ideas of women and s*x are different in similar ways, I have to say it (better, in my view). These particular guys were really turned off by it, but I’ve known other guys from these same two countries who became very addicted to it once they had access. So it’s all very interesting–cultural differences.

    A lot of what we think is “the way it is” really isn’t the way it is. It’s the way we in this subgroup of humans do it. And we all seem to spend a lot of time (esp here in the U.S.) trying to defend why our way is the way (oxytocin! testosterone! hard wiring! thousands of years of evolution!).

  13. 53
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach

    This letter is hitting a nerve for a lot of people. I can tell you about my dating journey Melanie. I always did the right thing. I waited to get a know a guy first. I observed his actions to see if he showed consistency and the ability to follow through.

    Then one day, I got sick of it all and decided to have fun. Romeo, as I call him fondly, was #28 of the 30 men I dated to meet and marry my husband. He was a delicous bad boy who was all wrong for me. I decided to go for it, have fun and when things went sour (which was inevitable) I promised myself to get out.

    It was fabulous and I look back with absolutely no regrets. I learned I could be vulnerable without losing myself. The next two guys I met were both excellent candidates whom I connected with at a deeper level. I chose my husband, #30, and we’ve been happily married since 2000.

    Dating Romeo, most definitely Mr. Wrong for me, was the right thing to do. If you know what you need and promise yourself not to get lost, go for it and enjoy! If not, follow Evan’s advice closely which is exceptional and on target.
    .-= Ronnie Ann Ryan – The Dating Coach’s last blog ….Dating After Divorce: Why Do I Attract Con Men? =-.

  14. 54

    can you just go back to having meaningless sex until you find one?
    Of course, if a such thing as meaningless sex exists .

    For me, sex always has meaning, even if it is only to measure up to other people my age.

  15. 55

    I would say that during my promiscuous days I was more excited and felt more alive, perhaps, but ultimately I did not feel loved or appreciated. I was really glad to see this post today because it affirms for me that I did the right thing last week.

    There was this foreign man I met about a month ago who was very exciting because he was confident enough after a group dinner I attend to walk all the way across the room at the end of the evening and introduce himself to me. Well, some folks went for drinks afterward and he insisted I come… again, he took the initiative, which is always exciting for me, I think because it seems like American don’t know how to do this. Sorry, it’s just how I feel, because I’ve spent a lot of time abroad to experience the difference.

    Anyway, the following week he called me for lunch, and things got rather physical (in the car, I might add!), which was a red flag that he was married. Otherwise, I’m sure he would have at least tried to get me to his place. Afterward, I let him know in an email responding to one from him that although I enjoy sex as much as anyone, I felt things had gotten physical too fast and that I didn’t even know if he was single because we hadn’t discussed it.

    He wrote back and fessed up that he wasn’t single but that things weren’t good in his marriage and he wanted to have fun and that he hoped to explore that with me. I wrote back and told him that although it was somewhat of a bummer and that I loved the confidence of foreign men, that I was looking for more. I told him that I feel men in unhappy relationships should deal with their lives head on and that having an affair with another woman was not the solution. Anyway, I feel proud of myself, because there is a time when I would have gone for the sex and for his “powers of seduction.”

    1. 55.1

      As an American man, I entered college as a virgin, yet was told that every man is capable of being a sexual preditor.   That was University cultire in the 90’s.   So, many men aren’t assertive bc they’re repulsed by the idea of being a sexual preditor.   Thanks feminism.

  16. 56

    To Sunflower #28, I understand what you have shared, but I have a different view in that while I agree that great sex can put an extra bounce in your step, I do not believe that if it’s lacking, you will feel so desperate that when you meet the one, you will come across as clingy and grateful for their attention. This all comes down to the kind of woman you are.

    I think there are lots of women who have slept with a man for purely a sexual release and they still came across as grateful and desperate. Another POV, if you are considering this situation, one could say you’re already desperate for a man’s attention, and very desperate, based on your actions. And the guy may think you’re grateful for his assistance.

    True and lasting confidence comes from within and is most satisfying and sustaining based on achievement. While we all want to feel desired and attractive to the opposite sex, this is possible without hookups.

  17. 57

    To Sophie, I find your comments that most interesting of all. You write, “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!”

    My interpretation of what you are saying is that if it’s been longer than six months without sex, the physical attraction and temptation is stronger and thus, would make you feel that you might fall in love with the wrong person. You share your history about FWBs, but didn’t they begin and are they not sustained based on a physical attraction? And how do you know you would likely be falling in love with the wrong person?

    BTW, I like your observation about the double standard, and your response.

  18. 58

    Selena – LOL.

    I am a bit perplexed by the letter and some of the responses – what’s to say a casual sex encounter can’t turn into something more? By definition if it’s a casual encounter, how would either one of the participants definitively know that feelings wouldn’t develop over time? I’m not talking about oxycontin-induced feelings but it is possible that the OP and a “hot, sexy guy” could eventually get to know each other and end up both developing feelings for each other. Several of these posts seem to suggest the “guys I would only sleep with” guys and “potential relationship” guys – why do they have to be mutually exclusive??

  19. 59
    Curly Girl

    Rose: Interesting story. That’s a good point you’re alluding to, there. It’s hard to sum up the differences between cultures because you feel or notice them in a subtle way first, before you can articulate them.

    Here’s how I’d put it (again, speaking generally):

    1) Euro guys take more care with their health, appearance, and their living space; they exercise for health and enjoyment rather than to look cut; they know how to cook, clean, dress, and take care of clothes.
    2) They expect women to be as sexual as men are and pre-/extramarital sex are just what people do, both men and women, in equal measure. So this idea of a woman being a “slut” or her sexual activity affecting her mating prospects is very American (though I do wonder if it didn’t have its roots in Victorian England and the Virgin Queen there–so maybe it’s a phenomenon of
    English-speaking countries? Not 100% sure–but it would be a strange idea in France, Italy, Eastern Europe, etc). Also, not sure why, but the idea of women and aging is different, too, as someone pointed out, and so the whole “marketing” idea re: relationships would just be weird to them.
    3) People don’t move around in their careers as much, and in many countries you pretty much stay in whatever family profession/class level they were born into. So the American preoccupation with “getting ahead” and “making more money” and competing in that way is also strange and considered crude. (This is changing.)
    4) There is more homegeneity in regions there, so you see a lot of ideas, customs, habits in all aspects of life that have a decidedly regional or national flavor–this seems strange and maybe even bigotted to Americans, who have to deal with diversity and inclusion on a daily basis.

    Again, all of this is changing rapidly as globalization spreads new ideas, products, etc. around.

    I suggest that the OP go have a fling with a Euro guy–she’ll have a great, sexy time of it, he won’t think she’s a slut, and she won’t be tempted into fantasies of a forever relationship with him because he’ll probably be going back to his own country to settle down. (A couple years ago I had a gorgeous Turkish neurosurgery resident almost 20 years my junior ask me to be his fling while he was in the U.S. He was afraid, he said, in a situation like that that he would get emotionally attached–no mention of any biochemicals, mind you–he is one of those “odd” guys who also feels emotions during sex–but he said that he needed sex, I needed sex, so why shouldn’t we? I had a guy, but I loved that he was direct about it and respectful. If I were in a different place in my life….yowzah!!!)

    So, go for it, I say. Many yummy solutions to this particular problem!!!

  20. 60

    TO clarify – I understand that someone would most likely be put in the “just for fun” category if he/she is married, lives across the country or if the two people have differing religions. But I’m curious, for what other reasons would one discount someone as “not relationship potential” right off the bat?

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