The people we most love do become a physical part of us, ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.
—Meagan O’Rourke, “The Long Goodbye”
The concept of casual sex has always eluded me. Although I came of age in the 1960’s when people considered sexual experimentation a sign of a woman’s liberation and wisdom, I had trouble getting with the program. From the start, I intuited the mystery and power of sex and proceeded with caution.
Sex for fun and pleasure; sex as a haven from loneliness; sex to forget; sex to feel wanted; sex to fill the emptiness, to satisfy the yearning; sex to dominate or to be dominated—I recognized all were possibilities. I tried to give experimentation a go, but, temperamentally, it was never a fit.
With a passionate, adventuresome, but also a devotional character, I sometimes feel like a cross between Carmen and Teresa of Avila. I harbor a wild, deep, curious sexual nature that also connects readily to my spiritual instincts. I cannot help sensing something irrevocable and sacred in mingling myself with another human being
Something profound opens in sexual love; something beautiful and tender; vast and unknowable; alive and mysterious flows between two people that compels respect and awe. After I married, most often sex was like prayer for me, a Dionysian, ecstatic prayer where I lost and found myself in the mysteries of two becoming one. Blessed with many transcendent sexual experiences, I see now how I became somewhat full of myself, inflated by the spiritual openings that came with sexual love.
The Superglue Metaphor
Spending so much time in “the realm of the gods” a term used in Buddhist psychology to describe blissful states, I even came to fancy myself as a kind of daikini—a sort of muse who guides her mate into erotic mysteries. Needless to say, being abruptly abandoned by my long-term partner deflated those delusions rather quickly. But the deflation and devastation that followed also deepened my reverence for the power of sexuality, as well stirring many questions.
There is so much we do not know about intimate relationship. We do know, however, that sex is an exceptionally powerful bonding agent. Some say it acts like superglue, and I must agree. I have come to believe my early intuitions were to right, no matter how detached we try to be about it, there is no such thing as casual or uncommitted sex.
To continue with the metaphor, when you glue two sheets of paper together and attempt to pull them apart, both sheets tear with shredded pieces of each still attached to the other. Energetically, sex binds us to our partners in ways like this that we hardly acknowledge or understand.
I realize the suggestion that sex creates enduring ties is not a popular idea. Acknowledging that we may be forming bonds that will stay with us long after our partners are gone puts a major crimp in the concept of sexual freedom. . . . to be continued.
That’s an interesting idea, Sandra. I, too, had similar misgivings about my engaging in permissiveness during the sixties. Perhaps unwanted pregnancies can be seen as symbols or metaphors for the aspects that stay with us. Thanks
Wow, yes, and maybe this is why women are more sensitive to these truths too.
Popular or unpopular, this is true for me, as well. I don’t understand how any one enjoys “casual” sex…..I imagine they are not “all” there and with a shielded heart, there is no real intimacy. I’d rather just pull out the vibrator!
I know what you mean, Fran!
Of all the sexual experiences I’ve had, the casual ones were the least satisfying. In fact, I can’t imagine ever wanting to have casual sex again. So, this begs the question: what IS sexual freedom? Is it really a plethora of uncommitted sexual relationships, or is it more about my ability to live and express my unique sexual essence, regardless of whether I am in relationship or not?
Thanks for this, Iris, makes me think how when I am in open and deep relationship with life itself it is soulful and erotic.
Thank you, Iris and Sandy for this exchange. From my experience, it is when we are in that “soulful and erotic” space with life on a daily basis that we might recognize the one we could share that with.
I thought, I was the only one who did not believe in non existence of casual sex. Glad to know it is a fact. Wonder how people can get easily detached after having sex involved relationship. As rightly written it surely tears apart a part of both individuals involved!!
You shared what I think may be true for most of us, yet we may not have the words to express it so eloquently or in the depths that you have described. Thank you for your insight, honesty, and vulnerability.
This is so interesting to me. I had a three year relationship with a woman who had been married three times and had had at least five deep, years-long relationships like the one I had with her and countless one-night-stands. She was the victim of child abuse by her father and I’m sure this had something to do with the fact that she just always felt she needed the freedom to leave when she wanted. So, for her, she has fallen deeply in love many, many times and always takes away something from those relationships but my question is ‘how many is enough’? or, ‘how can one person store so many deep, deep emotions with so many people’?
What “falling deeply in love” means to one person may not be the same as for another. Also, I wonder how the men she has left behind are faring. It sounds as if you are still trying to make sense of the relationship, and I am sorry if it is haunting you. I believe the best we can hope to do is be as honest as possible about our own experience and try not to hurt one another.
It’s been great following your posts. Thanks so much for them.
Hope to stay in touch,