Casual Sex - Discussion

sweetmama

New member
I am in my first poly relationship, and though I am wired fairly mono, I’m finding that I really like a lot of aspects of polyamory. I love the openness and am really enjoying getting to know my boyfriend’s other girlfriend and her boyfriend, and even sharing about other people we are interested in or dating. I’ve had very little jealousy in that area at all, despite what I expected going in.

However, I am struggling with a strong discomfort (not sure jealousy is the right word here) over some casual sex/nsa type encounters my boyfriend has had since we’ve been dating, and more generally the number of people he is involved with. It just doesn’t feel good, and on some level I feel like it devalues our relationship.

I’m trying really hard to just sit with it, stay open, and look at this intellectually, identify my insecurities, etc. I’ve read Ethical Slut. I’ve read through the articles at xeromag. I’ve read through posts here. I’ve talked to my boyfriend about it and shared how I feel (he’s been very supportive , opted out of an opportunity recently, and essentially given me veto power though I’m not comfortable using it at this point). But for now at least the discomfort is there and fairly strong.

I’m wondering if anyone can share their perspective on casual sex, or how It has played into your relationships, or anything else that might help me sort through my feelings and find some peace around this issue.
 

MonoVCPHG

New member
That's easy..casual sex is not a part of my relationship. It has no place in "my approach " to multi partner relationships.
 
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Ceoli

Guest
What sort of casual sex/nsa encounters are you talking about? Are these more like one night stands with people he doesn't really know or is it more like having a some friends or other people he knows that he plays with from time to time?
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Hi SweetMama,

Outlooks on sex are a very personal thing. In time you will find your own. It's good that you're exploring as many aspects as possible - you'll understand better what feels 'right' to you and not have to theorize.

My opinion - 'casual' sex is no different than casual dining :)
At least in terms of where it fits in a relationship. The only discomfort I would have is making clear everyone is on the same page with health concerns. That's a given.
But what matters most is that you and your SO are talking and sharing your feelings & experiences about how it evolves. Because it IS likely to evolve over time. Both your attitudes about sex will change as your life changes - with stress, possible children, social/professional circles - lots of reasons.
I'm one who happens to believe that sex is 'just sex' and as long as it's kept in that perspective it's a lot easier to talk about where it fits in. It disconnects a lot of emotional reactions that cloud good judgment.
Where a lot of people get into trouble is when they can't disconnect sex & love - then the waters get very murky.
It's a perfectly natural biological desire and to me should be treated the same as where we'll eat tonight & what's on the menu !
And not to imply for one second that sex can't be MORE between certain people. But that's another subject altogether.

GS
 

sunnydee

New member
However, I am struggling with a strong discomfort (not sure jealousy is the right word here) over some casual sex/nsa type encounters my boyfriend has had since we’ve been dating, and more generally the number of people he is involved with. It just doesn’t feel good, and on some level I feel like it devalues our relationship.

Hard to tell from this what you are having an issue with. For instance, does the number worry you because of the exposure/health concerns it raises or are you, deep down, maybe, making a moral judgement about it? Nothing really wrong with that, but it would be worth your notice.

I know, for me, it's absolutely certain that my relationship, whatever it is, with one person, does not devalue my relationship with another. They have nothing to do with each other at all. For me, that's one of the essential elemental truths about being poly. I have found in talking to new polyfolk that once they have experienced that reality for themselves they are more comfortable with the poly relationships of their partners. (In other words, if you get a chance to feel attraction/love/whatever to someone else and can feel that it does not diminish your feeling for your boyfriend, you might feel more comfortable with his relationships.)

This is not to say, of course, that one relationship can't diminish another, but that's a different dynamic and a different discussion.
 

sweetmama

New member
That's easy..casual sex is not a part of my relationship. It has no place in "my approach " to multi partner relationships.

This has my general philosophy toward sex in general in the past. I’m a lot more relationship oriented and usually connect sex and intimacy. Until very recently I never imagined any relationship in my life might have room for casual sex. But then I’m experiencing (and enoying) all kinds of things that until recently I had never imagined could be part of my life.
Can you explain a little more about your own reasons for making the choice you have?

What sort of casual sex/nsa encounters are you talking about? Are these more like one night stands with people he doesn't really know or is it more like having a some friends or other people he knows that he plays with from time to time?

Both. He has one (and potentially more) fwb/casual dating friends. He has also had a one night stand with someone he met online. And I imagine there are all number of possibilities in between that he would consider.

Hi SweetMama,

My opinion - 'casual' sex is no different than casual dining :)

I'm one who happens to believe that sex is 'just sex' and as long as it's kept in that perspective it's a lot easier to talk about where it fits in. It disconnects a lot of emotional reactions that cloud good judgment.
Where a lot of people get into trouble is when they can't disconnect sex & love - then the waters get very murky.

GS

I think my boyfriend is of a similar mind. He can separate sex and love and is comfortable enjoying sex the same way he would any other recreational activity. I can understand this perspective intellectually, but on a gut level sex and emotions are still very connected. So I’m able to understand and respect his sexual encounters with people he is emotionally involved with, but have a hard time making peace with those that are purely recreational.

Hard to tell from this what you are having an issue with. For instance, does the number worry you because of the exposure/health concerns it raises or are you, deep down, maybe, making a moral judgement about it? Nothing really wrong with that, but it would be worth your notice.

I know, for me, it's absolutely certain that my relationship, whatever it is, with one person, does not devalue my relationship with another. They have nothing to do with each other at all. For me, that's one of the essential elemental truths about being poly. I have found in talking to new polyfolk that once they have experienced that reality for themselves they are more comfortable with the poly relationships of their partners. (In other words, if you get a chance to feel attraction/love/whatever to someone else and can feel that it does not diminish your feeling for your boyfriend, you might feel more comfortable with his relationships.)

This is not to say, of course, that one relationship can't diminish another, but that's a different dynamic and a different discussion.

My concern is not so much about health concerns as I trust that he is making good choices in that area. I suppose there is an element of moral judgement involved. I am still trying to figure out exactly what my underlying beliefs are in that area and why I’m feeling so strongly.
“I have found in talking to new polyfolk that once they have experienced that reality for themselves they are more comfortable with the poly relationships of their partners. (In other words, if you get a chance to feel attraction/love/whatever to someone else and can feel that it does not diminish your feeling for your boyfriend, you might feel more comfortable with his relationships.)”
I have not quite made the step towards getting involved with someone other than my boyfriend, although I’m open to the possibility. I do, however, fully accept that it’s possible to be attracted to and/or love someone without it changing how I feel about my partner. I am totally comfortable with his emotional relationships and the sex they include. It’s the negative gut level reaction to casual sex that is causing the trouble for me. I know logically that the same principle should apply – what he does with one person has no bearing on how he feels about me. But as I think about the list of people he is involved with, and the element of casual sex included in it, I still feel like somehow it makes what we have less meaningful. I’m still not totally clear on those feelings or where they come from. . .the heart of my problem, I guess.


Thanks to everyone for all the great replies!
 
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MonoVCPHG

New member
This has my general philosophy toward sex in general in the past. Can you explain a little more about your own reasons for making the choice you have?

My journey has taken me the other direction. I was always the person preaching the concept of sex just being a physical activity to be enjoyed like skiing...more hills meant more fun and experiences...I had a massive shift in my own relationship that is a complete turn around for me...for me...for me...for me...so no one tries to engage in a long debate ;) I don't try to convert others to my opinion or want to change my own.

Here's a link to the sharing of my discovery.

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=493

Take care
Mono
 

redpepper

New member
...He can separate sex and love and is comfortable enjoying sex the same way he would any other recreational activity. I can understand this perspective intellectually, but on a gut level sex and emotions are still very connected. So I’m able to understand and respect his sexual encounters with people he is emotionally involved with, but have a hard time making peace with those that are purely recreational.

I am worried that you think to have the same approach as you boyfriend does towards sex. You don't at all. You can stand fully in your own belief about it and feel proud of who you are. We are all different and there is a wide continuum of comfort levels where sex is concerned...

It really kind of bugs that anyone would try and convince others out of their comfort zones in regards to sex... as if they have the monopoly on what is best for others... I see this kind of thing often right now in my life and it might not have anything to do with yours.

Just be rest assured that there is no need for you to change and put yourself in danger if you feel that you would be compromising your values. What is the most important thing is that you feel undamaged and mentally healthy. If you don't feel like that with your boyfriend then it may be time to take a good long look on whether or not he is worth spending great amounts of time with anymore. Perhaps he is best as a FWB, and intimate friend, secondary, tersiary... who knows maybe there is someone out there that has the same values as you do who would be pleased to devote his time to you in a way that you understand. I see nothing wrong with that.

I personally feel physically ill when it comes to some kinds of casual sex. I think that far too often the precious nature of being close to someone is destroyed by casual fucking. To me, and in my experience, the line between appreciating women, their bodies and their personality and nature and giving them a good fuck because it would be fun to get off in some chics hot body, is far too close. The line is blurry to me and I fear it sometimes.

As we have gone over in other threads, and as I have said before I think that women forget that they need to check into their bodies, their minds, their values of themselves and their loves. How they feel about the person that is pursuing them (are they charming me because they want to get laid? or are they actually caring about me) and whether or not it is all around a good idea to have sex with this person in terms of their other relationships.

It sounds like you are soul searching. Good luck with that... I wish for you to stay true to yourself first. Then it will be the right thing, always.
 
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polytriad

New member
That's easy..casual sex is not a part of my relationship. It has no place in "my approach " to multi partner relationships.

He can separate sex and love and is comfortable enjoying sex the same way he would any other recreational activity. I can understand this perspective intellectually, but on a gut level sex and emotions are still very connected. So I’m able to understand and respect his sexual encounters with people he is emotionally involved with, but have a hard time making peace with those that are purely recreational.



My concern is not so much about health concerns as I trust that he is making good choices in that area. I suppose there is an element of moral judgement involved. I am still trying to figure out exactly what my underlying beliefs are in that area and why I’m feeling so strongly.
“I have found in talking to new polyfolk that once they have experienced that reality for themselves they are more comfortable with the poly relationships of their partners. (In other words, if you get a chance to feel attraction/love/whatever to someone else and can feel that it does not diminish your feeling for your boyfriend, you might feel more comfortable with his relationships.)”
I have not quite made the step towards getting involved with someone other than my boyfriend, although I’m open to the possibility. I do, however, fully accept that it’s possible to be attracted to and/or love someone without it changing how I feel about my partner. I am totally comfortable with his emotional relationships and the sex they include. It’s the negative gut level reaction to casual sex that is causing the trouble for me. I know logically that the same principle should apply – what he does with one person has no bearing on how he feels about me. But as I think about the list of people he is involved with, and the element of casual sex included in it, I still feel like somehow it makes what we have less meaningful. I’m still not totally clear on those feelings or where they come from. . .the heart of my problem, I guess.


Thanks to everyone for all the great replies!

1+ on what MONO said.

It sounds like you need sit down and decide what you want. When it comes to things like this you have to have definitive and solid ground to stand on. This will make it easier for you and your partners to see those lines and decide if they can deal or not. nothing sucks more is gettin to know someone under a one premise of one thing then having to decide then if they can deal. Some things are bound to happen like this but the is one of those things that you should be clear on with yourself first.
 

sweetmama

New member
Here's a link to the sharing of my discovery.

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=493

Take care
Mono

Thanks for the thread link and for sharing your perspective. It seems that you and I have a lot in common so I always enjoy reading your thought process.

I am worried that you think to have the same approach as you boyfriend does towards sex. You don't at all. You can stand fully in your own belief about it and feel proud of who you are. . . .

It sounds like you are soul searching. Good luck with that... I wish for you to stay true to yourself first. Then it will be the right thing, always.

Thanks for bringing this up. It is definitely an area where I need to stay aware of my own personal boundaries and make sure I'm not compromising anything at the core of my self or belief system. I am doing some soul searching for sure in the hopes of finding out if this is in fact one of those core values issues or if it's just another of those things that's been programed into me. Over the past few months I have been shocked repeatedly by how many new things I am learning about myself and how many things have changed in terms of my outlook. Things that at the beginning of this process I was completely certain were just part of who I am turned out to be something else entirely. So in the interest of exploring my feelings and figuring out exactly what my beliefs and boundaries are and why I have them, I am willing to sit with the discomfort for a while.

polytriad:

I agree, defining boundaries is key here. As this is my first poly relationship, and still a fairly new one, it is a work in progress for me. It just isn't something I've had to think about until very recently. But I can certainly see how it complicates a relationship to start out on fuzzy terms boundary wise. The last thing I want to do is put my boyfriend in a position where he feels pressure to change or accept boundaries that don't fit with his needs because of an attachment that has already formed. But like most of life, this adventure into polyamory wasn't exactly expected, so for now I'll have to work with where I am.
 

Vexxed

New member
What sort of casual sex/nsa encounters are you talking about? Are these more like one night stands with people he doesn't really know or is it more like having a some friends or other people he knows that he plays with from time to time?

I think this is a good question that Ceoli asked. There is a percentage of people in the local poly community that have more lovers. Also, some of them seem to have more casual sex with friends. As of yet, I don't know who is friends with benefits or not, but I know that I've seen some casual sex go on at a poly group party. In this case, they were all friends at the least, and no new people were in the mix. Hooking up with new people too frequently is more dangerous, obviously, and I can see how that could make a relationship feel degraded.
 

DrunkenPorcupine

New member
My wife has lots of casual sex with various partners. We're in an open relationship but I do not consider her poly because, like your boyfriend, she does disconnect sex and intimacy and love.

As she's been doing this, I find that I'm less and less interested in her sexually. I agree with you entirely. For me, sex is an experience, a joy. The twitches and the shudders and the changes in rhythm reveal things to me about my sexual partner. It's a form of deep sharing, an expression of intimacy and safety and surity. When I was strictly monogamous, I would have sex with my wife and I would get some of this, but it was pretty clear from her feedback verbally and physically that she wouldn't. For her sex feels good and that's pretty much it.

When we have such very different feelings about sex, I find it's less about sharing and more about getting off. And if I wanted to just get off, I'd masturbate.

That said, I don't think this is damaging our relationship. Just as couples disagree about finances and housekeeping, we disagree about sex.

The greatest things about my personal journey into polyamory are 1.) The realization that no person needs to fill all of the roles of my formerly monogamous relationship. Indeed, people being so varied and unique, I don't think any person COULD do that and still appeal to me as a vibrant, lovable individual. 2.) That any disagreement or issue can be shared and worked on within our relationship. Being in an open relationship makes issues rise to the surface pretty quickly. Years and years of subtle resentments and irritations come to a head in a matter of weeks or even days when competition for time and affection are added to a relationship. It's been almost entirely positive for me since it allows and demands that we address issues quickly and honestly.

So while I suggest communication with your boyfriend like everyone else, I also suggest some earnest soul-searching about your own values and what it is that you're expecting and needing from him. You might find that he's simply too different and incompatible but you might also find a freedom in letting go of certain relationship roles because they don't need to be present in every partner.

My two coppers. :)
 

Vexxed

New member
The greatest things about my personal journey into polyamory are 1.) The realization that no person needs to fill all of the roles of my formerly monogamous relationship.

Suppose that one of them is a very exciting and entertaining partner, and that you feel captivated by that partner because they keep you engaged in conversation. Then, on the other hand, your other partner does not engage you as well.

Could you then find being with the less entertaining partner to be equally satisfying?

I think that some people would overlook that spending time with one person is less satisfying and that they would still date the less satisfying person because dating that partner is somehow gratifying to them.

What say you to that?

Secondly, I hate that we can't be seen as "great" in the ways that we'd like to be seen as great. We aren't the judge of that. We can't read their minds either. We may never know the truth as to how good we really are at cetain things.
 

DrunkenPorcupine

New member
Suppose that one of them is a very exciting and entertaining partner, and that you feel captivated by that partner because they keep you engaged in conversation. Then, on the other hand, your other partner does not engage you as well.

Could you then find being with the less entertaining partner to be equally satisfying?

Yes, for all of the reasons that I care about the other person. That's more or less what I'm saying there, is that I value each relationship for what it IS rather than some ideal of filling all of those various roles.

I think that some people would overlook that spending time with one person is less satisfying and that they would still date the less satisfying person because dating that partner is somehow gratifying to them.

What say you to that?

I think there's something wrong with the relationship or you if you start comparing them when you previously didn't. I could find a more interesting conversational partner down the road, but her presence doesn't detract from what is already there with people I'm involved with.

People don't become "less satisfying" to me because someone is better suited (by my definition) at a specific thing. My relationships take in a whole, complete person and everybody is so unique and different that it wouldn't be possible to compare them side by side in that manner.
 

Vexxed

New member
Thanks for replying to my questions Dporcupine. I was verging on thread jacking there, so I won't reply with much.

Back to casual sex...
 

sweetmama

New member
My wife has lots of casual sex with various partners. We're in an open relationship but I do not consider her poly because, like your boyfriend, she does disconnect sex and intimacy and love.

As she's been doing this, I find that I'm less and less interested in her sexually. I agree with you entirely. For me, sex is an experience, a joy. The twitches and the shudders and the changes in rhythm reveal things to me about my sexual partner. It's a form of deep sharing, an expression of intimacy and safety and surity. When I was strictly monogamous, I would have sex with my wife and I would get some of this, but it was pretty clear from her feedback verbally and physically that she wouldn't. For her sex feels good and that's pretty much it.

When we have such very different feelings about sex, I find it's less about sharing and more about getting off. And if I wanted to just get off, I'd masturbate.

That said, I don't think this is damaging our relationship. Just as couples disagree about finances and housekeeping, we disagree about sex.

The greatest things about my personal journey into polyamory are 1.) The realization that no person needs to fill all of the roles of my formerly monogamous relationship. Indeed, people being so varied and unique, I don't think any person COULD do that and still appeal to me as a vibrant, lovable individual. 2.) That any disagreement or issue can be shared and worked on within our relationship. Being in an open relationship makes issues rise to the surface pretty quickly. Years and years of subtle resentments and irritations come to a head in a matter of weeks or even days when competition for time and affection are added to a relationship. It's been almost entirely positive for me since it allows and demands that we address issues quickly and honestly.

So while I suggest communication with your boyfriend like everyone else, I also suggest some earnest soul-searching about your own values and what it is that you're expecting and needing from him. You might find that he's simply too different and incompatible but you might also find a freedom in letting go of certain relationship roles because they don't need to be present in every partner.

My two coppers. :)

DP, thanks for this. I see a lot of truth for myself in how you approach this issue. Letting go of some of the mono beliefs about requiring/expecting your partner to be everything or fit some predetermined role does allow for a certain freedom to accept them just as they are and love them for it.

While I may never be a casual sex person, and will probably always have a certain level of discomfort about casual sex in general (although I'm learning to watch my nevers as they seem be coming back to haunt me. . .in a good way so far) I feel like there is the possibility that really embracing more of a poly lifestyle rather than just being a mono person in a poly relationship might create an emotional space where I am more comfortable with my bf's different approach.

Another thing I got from your post, if indirectly, was that I realized that what my bf does in terms of casual sex really isn't affecting our relationship. Unlike what you've described in your relationship, I don't feel at all that he is disconnected emotionally when we have sex, or that his ability to separate love and sex carries over into our activities. Any disconnect that happens would be because of my own internal struggles rather than something inherent in his approach.

I think this is a good question that Ceoli asked. There is a percentage of people in the local poly community that have more lovers. Also, some of them seem to have more casual sex with friends. As of yet, I don't know who is friends with benefits or not, but I know that I've seen some casual sex go on at a poly group party. In this case, they were all friends at the least, and no new people were in the mix. Hooking up with new people too frequently is more dangerous, obviously, and I can see how that could make a relationship feel degraded.

In my rather limited experience with the poly community I have observed something very similar to what you're describing. It seems to be a pretty tight knit group where the lines between friendship, sex, and romance seem to blur quite a bit and there is sharing back and forth so that it's not all that uncommon to date your best friends wife or your girlfriend's ex husband. At first I found this dynamic a bit strange, but as I've seen it in action and gotten used to the idea, I do feel a certain safety in keeping it all in the family so to speak.

Generally it has been the times that my bf hooks up with someone outside the group, or someone I don't know of, that I get most uncomfortable. Partly, as you point out, because bringing in someone new ups the level of risk. But also, because for me at least, the more info I have the better I feel. When I know the person, or at least know of them and have some background on the connection/dynamic involved I tend to feel much better. Hearing my bf talk about why he's attracted to someone, or what their interactions are like lets me see those parts of him I love and appreciate coming out and find that sense of compersion rather than getting stuck in some imagined scenario of my worst fears.



Thanks again to everyone for all the great responses! It's helped a lot in my process of sorting through emotions and figuring out what I need. I'm not done yet and probably will never be "done" but I'm feeling better about things and making more sense out of what's going on.

:)
Sweetmama
 

GroundedSpirit

New member
Generally it has been the times that my bf hooks up with someone outside the group, or someone I don't know of, that I get most uncomfortable. Partly, as you point out, because bringing in someone new ups the level of risk. But also, because for me at least, the more info I have the better I feel. When I know the person, or at least know of them and have some background on the connection/dynamic involved I tend to feel much better.
Sweetmama

This is an important point. One I take for granted but it made me stop and think how much this may be understood and discussed across the board in all relationships ? It's connected to basic safety/survival mechanisms. And it made me wonder how much weight this fundamental human trait is given when trying to navigate multiple relationships. It's ONE thing to trust a current partner's judgement in relation to yourself - quite another to make the leap of trusting them to weigh out various concerns you might have with a 3rd party who you have no knowledge of.

This is a bridge we crossed long ago so as I say it's kind of taken for granted here. We both acknowledge that the other needs to have some space and time with a 3rd person before we can have any consensus on whether we all feel the required safety. Everyone has abilities to pick up (read) different cues and we make a point to sit down and discuss each persons perceptions and proceed accordingly.

But I wonder if everyone does something similar ? I can see the potential conflict there in those who are prone to need a high level of 'independence' and 'blind trust'. I wonder if this causes unnecessary conflict & discomfort.

GS
 

redpepper

New member
casual sex discussed.

http://www.alternet.org/sex/145975/is_there_really_a_backlash_against_casual_sex?page=1

I'm a stinker for bringing this up I think, as it has been cause of heated debate in the past, but, I saw this on our local poly groups FB wall and wrote the below... I was disappointed that no one wanted to discuss it further, so I thought I would see if anyone here wanted to... this is what I wrote.

"I love that this article is so much about choice and awareness of what we do sexually. Not following a trend so much as to be good to ourselves sexually and therefore psychologically.

I love this question...

"Whoever thought sex-positive feminism was supposed to mean a life like Sam Malone's on "Cheers"? Endless hookups, and rejection of relationships, all while wearing stripper clothes?"... See More... See More

one I have asked myself often (in a way) as I don't feel I fit sex positive or sex negative. I have a hard time with both.... just asking this question makes me rest easier that at least others ask the same thing.

I love the last paragraph.

"We’re not caught between the liberation of the last decade and the conservatism of the new one. Neither endless hookups, nor the tyranny of monogamy-or-bust was ever supposed to be the way to go. Real feminism is always supposed to be about choice."

Yay, This is what my die hard bra burning feminist mumma taught me...!!! Agree entirely."

Anyway, what do you all think?
 

korindino

New member
Honestly, I think our culture has reached a decent balance, where we generally accept whatever people do behind closed doors, so long as they thought about what they were doing and were self-aware enough to know that it was right for them.

I had a casual sex buddy for a while in college. I told my friends about it, introduced him to a few even, and no one ever said a thing about it. Honestly, it's not that they didn't care; they just knew that when I was working two jobs and taking classes full time, I didn't have a whole lot of time for relationships and I desired the stress release that sex provided. I never felt judged for the fact that I just wanted sex, and I got it.

I know I'm not sex-negative, I'm fairly sure I'm sex-positive. Basically, I'm all for people getting it on whenever, as long as what they're doing is safe, consentual, and conscientious. Being sexually self-actualized is important, and once you've taken the time to understand yourself, your motivations, and your needs, there really isn't a whole lot limiting you but your own conscience.
 
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