I am a single man in my early 40s who was raised by loving parents to take love (and sex) seriously. As a result, l get emotionally attached to the women I have sex with and, so far, have had only two long-term, monogamous relationships. Before I can commit to another serious relationship, I feel I need to experience casual sex – at least once in my life – with a woman who is also looking for just that. So far, my efforts haven’t been successful, and to become more confident, I feel I will have to continue to “practise” approaching women and asking them out. I understand that women want to feel special (so do men, for that matter), but with every consecutive attempt, the women I approach obviously become less and less “special” and I feel I am violating my “moral compass” by approaching one woman after another. How do I solve this?
If it makes you too uneasy, stop. Celebrate who you are, and your fine ability to merge sex and love. You will be envied by others who complain that they want to have a long-term relationship, but can only manage casual sex.
Trying to force yourself to act outside the precepts of your core morality can lead to shame and disappointment, but if you really want to experiment with more frivolous coupling styles, it should be possible to do so without losing your essential values.
For example, it is not necessary to hurt or objectify a person in the process of having casual sex. Although there is always that potential with either a short- or long-term partner, you could try to enter into a brief erotic contract with a like-minded person who is equally open to experiencing sex based on sudden attraction and short-term lust. As long as that connection is fully consensual, it is a fair agreement and no one should have to sacrifice personal ethics – but the trick is to find such a person and make that mutually clear from the outset. Some phone apps cater for people looking for a brief “hook-up”, with the implication that sexual immediacy, brevity and relative anonymity are mutually agreed terms. And, paradoxically, some people find love through an initial casual-sex approach. But let’s not pretend that any sexual contract can be entered into in a fully predicable fashion. Whether making love to a stranger or spouse, sex can be psychologically precarious.