Monday, July 13, 2009

The Curse of Casual Sex

I'm never sure the motivations of people forwarding me some things I get in my inbox, but a link to a story over at DH Blog entitled "The Curse of Casual Sex" interested me:
Although sexual sharing clearly need not flow from love—indeed, it can just as easily be motivated by hatred or the desire to feel powerful or attractive—it is only through an act of deadening oneself to one’s feelings to some degree that one can fail to experience any emotional consequence of a sexual encounter. The payoff of deadening one’s feelings, of course, is immediate gratification of a powerful, instinctive urge with no further thought needed. The cost of deadening one’s feelings is a diminished capacity to feel anything and a consequent difficulty initiating and maintaining intimate relationships that require one to be in touch with one’s own and one’s partner’s feelings. This fact should give pause to those who indicate in their dating profiles that they are seeking a long-term relationship but are willing to hook up or play around in the meantime. When you habitually deaden your feelings to treat the intimate sex act as something casual, you create an emotional habit that in time becomes a personality style that may be impossible to turn on or off at will. Those who claim they are not interested in long-term relationships often have been so damaged emotionally already by loveless, “casual” encounters and disappointments in love, that they simply stop trying and convince themselves that they don’t really need anyone special. Being unwilling or unable to love certainly is a curse in my book, and Freud considered this a key symptom of mental illness. (“Zu lieben und zu arbeiten,” “To love and to work,” was Freud’s definition of mental health.) In a culture that glorifies casual sex, as popular gay culture does, it should not surprise us to find some form(s) of mental illness normative.
I would say this was one of those, "Barry, you're sleeping around too much these days!" emails I occasionally get from friends/acquaintances that I ignore, but it came from someone that... well, let's just say they don't come from a place to judge me nor my behaviors. :-) Regardless, it's worth a thought, and I am, as always, curious as to your thoughts.

A lot rings personally true in this article, but I'm not sure how much I wish to disclose, so I'll just let y'all talk.


The Seeker said...

All I can say is, it makes sense, and it makes ya think twice in a way...

Jeff Elrod said...

it does make sense, but personal experience pushes me to disagree to the extent of emotional "deadening" that casual sex causes.

whatever tryst or liaison i may get into outside the confines of a monogamous relationship, i'm still nervous with the ladies who've not been relegated to "casual" status, either by themselves or by me. i'm nervous when i first meet them, when we go on our first date, the first time we kiss. there's an emotional underpinning to those nerves - in my case, there's often far too much of one. in the end, i want to love and be loved, and i fear that something i do along the way will impede the progression of emotion to that level. those worries aren't really there with more recreational hookups, but that doesn't mean there's no emotional component to them.

it's not become easier for me to separate emotion from more casual encounters. i think the emotional energy is still there, it's just directed through different channels. quelling self-consciousness, temporary happiness, etc., take precedence over concern for the other's emotional well-being and desire for lasting romantic synergy.

maybe that's just me though.

Anonymous said...

If you develop a reputation for "casual sex," guys interested in something more will put their guards up. Interest on your part will be interpreted as interest in sex only. It will be assumed that, even were something of a relationship to ensue, you would quickly and easily move on when a bit of difficulty enters the picture.

I am all for people making their own choices, so this is not judgment -- just things to think about when deciding what is truly important to YOU, and what YOU really want out of life. Kind of like sitting down to savor a sweet treat from that special bakery, vs. junk sweets from vending machines or wherever, and on the run...