These days, I’m having quite a lot of casual sex. Despite being unsure about it before, I’ve discovered it’s actually very healthy for me. I think getting into casual sex was one of the surprisingly best choices I’ve made in the last year.
When I first started getting into relationships, about six years ago, I became what you would call a serial monogamist. I had many, short relationships, and in each case, I was in love. The relationships were intense but usually burnt out quickly because of some incompatibility or another.
In this time I think I had one encounter you might call a one-night-stand. Even with this one, I found myself being very loving in a way that weirded the other person out — who obviously had a lot more experience with casual sex than me. I’m sure I would have gotten into a relationship with her if she had wanted it.
Later, I chose to become polyamorous, opening up to having multiple committed relationships at a time. Actually, under my polyamorous philosophy I was free to be romantic or sexual in any way with people other than my current partner(s). This did serve to change my perceptions of relationships a little. When you’re polyamorous you know the Hollywood model of relationships isn’t for you, and that gives you the chance to challenge other parts of the formula besides monogamy itself. Even so, I was still mostly either fooling about or getting into serious relationships; I didn’t have much in the way of casual sex.
Moving to Berlin gave me the opportunity to try something different, though. Here, I found out about sex parties. I was at first both interested and scared. I asked myself if casual sex could be really for me – don’t I prefer sex with love? Don’t I tend to fall in love with anyone I have sex with, anyway?
It took me a year or so since finding out about sex parties to have the bravery to go. I soon found out that my slightly brazen attitude was an asset in these parties, and I hooked up pretty quickly.
Amusingly, as me and my hook-up got onto a mattress in the dark room, she said, “Are you Sophia?”. It turned out we had talked on OKCupid – a dating site – and had even been trying to arrange a time to meet up at some point before getting sidetracked. She was a 99% match with me according to the website algorithm.
I had a great fuck that night. Then, we rode the metro back home, sharing the same train for a while, and we had a great conversation. We talked about what sort of sex we’d have “next time” and made plans to meet.
We met once more. It was cool, though we didn’t have a chance to fuck that time. But I felt really connected with her. I started to really fall in love hard.
Then, she stopped replying to my messages. I called her, but she didn’t answer the phone and didn’t call back. After a while I got more insistent; I was beginning to get the idea but I needed to hear her say it in order to have closure for my feelings. She finally wrote me an angry-sounding message saying she didn’t like to have purposeless phone conversations (how did she decide that I was calling her purposelessly?) and I was forced to write her a long message online for lack of a better option.
As expected, it turned out she had suddenly stopped being interested in me: apparently she didn’t have time for new connections in her life, which I certainly wish she would have told me before she had started out acting so open to just that.
That whole process spanned a couple of weeks. That last week or so of not receiving her messages had been torture for me. It took me a long time before I got over that heartbreak, and consequently I was even more worried about trying casual sex again. Was I just unable to have casual sex without falling in love? Was I setting myself up to get hurt?
Six months later, I decided that despite my fears I wanted to give casual sex another go. I went to a sex party again, this time having some great sex with a woman who was trans like me. It was my first time with another trans woman and it was an experience that I found very affirming for many reasons. I felt euphoric throughout the experience and afterwards, and at my suggestion we stayed in contact. We met up a few more times, being intimate and even somewhat passionate, but we didn’t fall in love.
You see, as I’ve explored casual sex more and more, I’ve found that there is a sort of “grey area” between what you’d call a relationship and what you’d call “just friends”. Most of the time – well, as far as I can tell all of the time – I’m feeling warm, positive, euphoric feelings towards the person I’m having sex with; it’s never a cold, mechanical thing. Indeed, I don’t think I could enjoy it if it were.
These euphoric feelings aren’t so different from the feeling of being in love. They’re just a bit less strong than full-blown love. I usually want to see the person again, and I think the sex we share brings us closer together. Just, maybe not that close. But I can’t really tell you where this feeling ends and being in love begins. It’s a gradient.
I cuddle with my casual sex partners; kiss; hold hands; share feelings. It’s all the sort of things which I might do in a relationship, just without so much commitment or attachment.
In my time having casual sex — asides from my first disastrous experience — I think I’ve fallen in love with just one of my sex partners. Despite it being one-sided, I don’t regret falling in love with her: she was a beautiful person and totally worth falling in love with. And, she was sensitive to my feelings, and let me down in a way that hurt far less than the first time.
And I’ve found that casual sex has been really good for me. For the first time in my life, I felt like my needs for intimacy were fulfilled while in only a long-distance relationship, or, more recently, while single. I felt like I didn’t need a partner to be happy.
By the way, I refuse to believe that I need to grow out of my need for intimacy: I’m human and like all humans I need food, air, and closeness to other people. I don’t think it was wrong that I previously believed my happiness depended on having a partner. I just didn’t know how to achieve adequate amounts of intimacy any other way.
Now, I depend less on any single person, because I can still be happy without them. This gives me a lot more freedom and also helps make my romantic relationships a bit less clingy or dependent.
I actually didn’t last too long outside of a romantic relationship, though. Someone new appeared recently and I flowed with it. I sort of wanted to further explore this feeling of being happy with no relationship, but I think it’s not worth sacrificing this new connection just for that.
Interestingly, I remembered recently that some time ago I had cast an intention (using the metaphysical concept of intention-manifestation) that stated that I was going to always have a partner and never go long without one. This was a good idea from the perspective I had when I made it, because intimacy is very important for me and I didn’t know how to get it any other way than through a relationship. Now, though, I would not have necessarily wanted to manifest a new partner so fast; I was happy exploring the place I was at and this new partner came a bit sooner than I would have chosen if I had been consciously making the intention. So I decided to let that old intention go. In the future, if I break up with my current partner, I will probably spend some time single before using intention-manifestion to bring someone new into my life.
Oh, and while we’re on spiritual or New Age topics, I just felt like I had to address the way some New Ageists deal with sex.
I read in a few places that sex “leaves an energetic trace” on your aura for “seven years”, and that you should therefore only share it with people you are in a serious relationship with. For a while, I tentatively believed in that concept, and I guess that caused me to be more wary of casual sex.
Now I am certain that that is bullshit. I am rather sensitive to energies, so if casual sex was doing me harm, I’m certain I would sense it. Instead, I’ve only become happier and energetically more healthy since I’ve started engaging in casual sex. I’ve come to the conclusion that as with many other things, in this case the spiritual community is just wrapping up unconscious Catholic prejudices with a shinier, New Age wrapper. Incidentally every time the spiritual community seems to talk about sex it’s heterosexual sex and usually also with spiritually-branded 1950s gender roles. So, screw that. When the spiritual community starts talking about queer feminist sex-positive body-positive trans-, POC-, and disability-positive sacred sex, then I’ll listen.
Anyway, to sum up, casual sex has turned out to be very healthy for me and I’m glad I explored it. For me it’s not a cold, mechanical thing, it’s still euphoric and intimate and amazing, it’s just a bit less attached – well, more casual – than relationship sex is.
In case you’re wondering, by the way, almost all of my sex partners have been women. I suspect that if I were more often into men this article would have read a bit differently. Sadly, I suppose there would be more safety considerations to take into account. I can engage in casual sex quite joyfully with women as I know it’s unlikely I’ll be raped or pressured. With the need to make sure someone is safe before you have sex with him, I suppose casual sex would not be quite as fun.
I’m also a trans woman, as mentioned above, which means in my case that I used to live as male and was taught by my peers that having casual sex is good, even a victory, rather than shameful. Interestingly, after two and a half years living as a woman I have started to pick up the subconscious sense that my sex life might be a bit shameful. But still, it’s relatively easy to keep that at bay, especially with the sort of friends I surround myself with. I suppose for a cis (non trans) woman, that might be a little harder.
Being polyamorous makes it easier, too. Firstly because I can have casual sex even when I’m in a relationship, and I don’t have to worry about cutting my sex friendships short if I start a relationship. Secondly, because most of the people I hang out with are poly, and I know they won’t ditch me as a sex friend as soon as they start a relationship. I think this also makes us free to be a bit more intimate, a bit less cold and mechanical, even if we’re not having a full relationship with each other. This is because we’re not always doing things with a background awareness of our arrangement needing to be temporary.
Still, even if you’re not someone who was brought up as male, and you’re not interested in women, and not poly, casual sex might be a good choice for you. All I can say is give it a try if you feel like it. It’s rather fun and rather different to how I used to imagine.