Following last week’s post about biting dogs and do overs, I’ve been doing some soul-searching and navel gazing. The same(ish) gnawing doubts have resurfaced around the intentions of this man, despite the fact that he’s overseas. I’ve re-examined the events of the week and realised I missed key inconsistencies between words and actions, as well as things in his conversations with me that just didn’t add up. I glossed over those red flags because I got swept away. I am – after all and to my detriment – quite the romantic. I want to believe that I can have that An Officer and a Gentleman moment Hollywood has promised us! What girl doesn’t?
But my life isn’t a Hollywood movie. Not even close. There will be no man who, on realising the error of his ways, strolls into my cubicle and sweeps me off my feet with his promises of that Happy Ever After, Fairy Tale Ending. But what I have worked out is last week’s particular episode wasn’t so much an interesting plot twist as me needing to learn a valuable lesson. About myself.
Coincidentally over the last couple of days, one of my favourite dating and relationship advice websites – Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue – has posted a number of articles that could have been written specifically for me. One of these posts was about casual sex being not so casual for some people (raises hand). She says quite rightly that:
Just because someone wants to have sex and you haven’t had sex in a while or you happen to feel horny, it doesn’t mean that you have to oblige that person or follow your libido, especially if by doing either of these things, you end up negatively affecting your overall well-being.
And that’s what happened the first time I slept with this man. And the second. My physical needs may well have been met, but – as I now realise – to the detriment of my emotional and mental well-being. Clearly, this is a Big Issue that I need to get sorted because when I read this, I had – to quote Oprah – a light bulb moment:
If the emotional and mental consequences of a casual sex encounter are going to linger for considerably longer than the duration of the encounter (from arranging to completion), it’s best to decline.
So, in the interests of my emotional and mental well-being, I’m going to decline any future iterations of any and all potential hooking up situations. With anyone. In fact, I’m going to make a pact with myself, and it is this:
Regardless and irrespective of the circumstances, including amount of alcohol consumed and good times being had and promises of what could be and how nice a kisser someone is and whatever exotic location I am in, I will not sleep with anyone I haven’t dated for at least two months.
And I need to make this pact with myself now, while I am thinking straight and have full control of my faculties, because:
1. For me, casual sex is short-term gain for long-term pain.
There’s such a thing as delayed gratification – being able to listen to yourself and recognise your own needs, values, expectations, opinions, and feelings, and postponing instant reward for a later one. ~ Natalie Lue
Yes, I may have had a few hours of physical contact of the instant gratification kind, but the amount of time I spend thinking and second-guessing and analysing the event afterwards voids any instant gratification I may have experienced. It’s not simply a case of set and forget. Sex is not just a physical thing for me, never has been. I can’t simply scratch an itch with someone, and the itch goes away, and then I’m all cool and insouciant about the scratcher. For me, the itch turns into a more serious malady that needs more care and respect than the scratcher was probably looking to provide in the first place. Not fair to them, not fair to me.
2. My sex drive is not a good judge of character.
Let’s also remember that sexual intimacy is not the same as emotional intimacy and that sex drives have no judgement skills…. This is also a good time to remember not to scratch the loneliness itch (or stress, boredom, or even hunger itch), with the wrong scratcher. ~ Natalie Lue
In my general day-to-day life, I am a pretty good reader of people. I can sort the wheat out from the chaff, who’s on the level and who’s not (I didn’t recognise a sociopath once, but that’s because I’d never met one. Now I can spot one at 50 paces). It’s a survival skill that has been honed and sharpened and polished to the point that I am rarely wrong about someone. Unfortunately, this skill takes a hiatus once my libido sits in the driver’s seat, and becomes blunted and dulled and blurred and bent out of shape. There are questions that I should ask, but invariably don’t because Libido has shut down Good Judgement. Who is this man who I am allowing intimate access to my body? How well do I know him? How do I know he will treat me with the respect and care I need before, during and after? The truth is: I have no idea – not a clue – and it’s a risk to my emotional well-being. A big one.
3. Although it seems like it at the time, sex is not intimacy.
It’s better to defer having sex until you’re either in a better place emotionally and trust you to handle the consequences irrespective of the outcome of the involvement, or waiting until you’re in a situation where you can experience emotional and sexual intimacy together. ~ Natalie Lue
Call me Captain Obvious, but sleeping with someone does not mean they respect, value or care about me. In fact, when I sleep casually with someone, I invariably become a throw away, disposable item – the opposite of what I want for myself. I want and need to be able to build trust, to create something special and beautiful and fulfilling with someone. Intimacy is what I yearn for, and intimacy takes time. And care. And nurturing. And mistakes. And forgiveness. And understanding. And vulnerability. Casual sex is a poor substitute for that deep connection. And a deep connection is what I yearn for. John Legend says it best:
4. I need to know that I’m getting a good deal.
If he said: “Actually, all we’re ever going to do is maybe shag a couple of times a week – if that – and meet up for the occasional lunch with texts and emails thrown in inbetween,” you might think it was a bum deal and opt out. ~ Natalie Lue
Casual sex – by its very nature – precludes any deep discussions about hopes, dreams, fears and expectations. Sure, you might exchange numbers, and talk about “totally doing it again sometime” afterwards, but the chances of building something meaningful and long-term out of something that is supposed to be meaningless and short-term are pretty slim. It’s a mirage, a pipe-dream, a house of sand and fog. I want to sign up to something that is real and solid and ongoing. That’s the deal I want. Casual sex means that I don’t know what sort of deal I’m signing up to, because I don’t know the person. But what I do know is hooking up means that I lose my personal power, give myself head fucks and end up feeling quite ripped off.
I have not discussed – or had the opportunity to discuss – my thoughts and feelings with this man because he is overseas. I did send a “light and airy” text asking him how his trip was a week after he arrived. He read it, but hasn’t responded. Nothing. Nada. Zip. This, in and of itself, speaks volumes and tells me I have made the right decision. For me.
After *another* failed foray into the world of love, I have updated The Pact I’m Making with Myself here.