Earlier this week we talked about the joy of no sex. Today, I'm singing the praises of casual sex.
I've simply never bought into the idea that all sex must live up to the shining heteronormative ideal of candlelight and roses and true love (which, of course, will progress naturally to an engagement ring and a poufy white dress.) Now, I was always told growing up that "sex is what you do when you love someone." Well, yes. But also...no. Fun sex with your friends has its place too, and for me, having fuck buddies is one of the most enjoyable perks of being single, especially during dry spells between relationships, which is why my friend Jill often refers to them as "the dick in the glass case" (imagine a fire alarm: In Case of Horny Emergency, Break Glass and Grab Dick.) R. was my first fuck buddy. We'd met in college down South and moved to New York at the same time. We were always platonic friends and regularly swapped stories about our dating lives. He was--and still is--one of the most relaxed, casual and non-judgmental of my friends, particularly about sex. I could walk up to him and say, "So last night I was in an orgy with Daniel Craig, the Rockettes and some Shetland ponies" and he'd just say "Oh yeah? Tell me about it." But our friendship never turned romantic--we have very different lifestyles, and he's slender and boyish, which is not really the body type I go for. But at one point, many years ago, while in the middle of a dry spell, I was feeling horny, bored, and a bit at loose ends. When we were hanging out at my place one night, I turned to him and said, "So if I wanted to seduce you....?" He didn't looked shocked at all, just perked up and said, "Sure." So off we went to my bedroom. The next morning I sent Jill a message reading: "The glass case is broke all to hell." And you know, the sex was fantastic--made hotter by mutual curiosity and the fact that years of talking made us highly knowledgeable about each other's kinks. The next morning, R. and I went right back to being platonic friends. There was no weirdness about it at all. Or the next time it happened--three years later. Or a couple years after that. I used to joke with R. that he was my "rainmaker" because coincidentally, every time I had a dry spell and fucked R., I wound up meeting a new boyfriend soon after (once I actually met someone at a party R. held the following weekend). That's the key to having a good fuck buddy relationship. Easy come, easy go. Friends before, friends after. Yes, sometimes sex complicates or even dooms friendships. But it's not a given that it will. It took me a while to develop a taste for casual sex--in my early 20s I was less secure in myself and my sexuality, and had a harder time just enjoying sex for the physical pleasure. As I got older, and went in and out of many long- and short-term relationships, I was able to dump a lot of the "OMG, why didn't he call?" propaganda that had lodged itself in my head (Thanks, ladymags! Thanks, sitcoms! Thanks, frenemies!). Here's why: dating--and fucking--a lot taught me to quit putting emphasis on whether a guy is into me, and pay attention to whether I'm actually into him. Of course, society tells us that women aren't supposed to think of it that way; we're supposed to live for male approval. We've been coached to worry first and foremost about whether he wants to be with us. But sometimes, frankly, I didn't want a relationship--I just wanted sex. I didn't always want to be boyfriend-girlfriend with every man I was attracted to. A friendly, reliable purveyor of orgasms is a lot easier (and often more fun) than a serious boyfriend. So while I'm single, I'm going to have my fuck buddies for fun on the side. I currently have two fuck buddies. D. is a politician from the 'burbs who I've been seeing on and off for close to three years. We dated at first, but it became clear that he was way too into his career to ever be a full-time partner. But he's smart, tall, dark, handsome and...uh...tall all over. We're friends 100% of the time and when I'm not in a serious relationship, we're friends with benefits. A., the second buddy, is someone I met at a party eight months ago. We wouldn't make good partners--A's younger than me and too much of a loose cannon for commitment--but we make very good fuck buddies. I often meet him at his place at lunchtime for a quick roll in the hay. It's almost like getting a good massage--soothing, gratifying, and I'm back at work an hour or two later. I've had a few girlfriends take me to task over these relationships, as though I'm betraying Team Woman by not insisting on commitment. I've found that the people who most frequently condemn fuck-buddydom are women with a predilection for slut-shaming. One of my friends insists that I really should be trying to get these guys to commit--especially D, who she considers quite a catch: "If you just cool things off for a while...let him miss you! He'll see that what he really wants is a relationship." When I answered, "But I don't want a relationship with him." she looked at me as though I had two heads. I pointed out that for a variety of reasons, neither of my fuck buddies were right for me in the long-term. It would be ridiculous and frustrating for me--as well as insulting to them--if I acted like a "Rules Girl." and tried to manipulate them into committing. Those guys have their place in my life, but it is not as the future Mr. BeckySharper, and that is fine with me. This friend still can't quite believe that I'm happy having casual sex with my male friends. It seriously never occurred to her that casual relationships might have an upside for women. I'm not saying that every woman out there is tempermentally suited to having--or being--a fuck buddy. But in a sexist culture that tells us we should guard our hearts--and our vaginas--for Mr. Right, I'm saying that Mr. Right Now has his place in both...and you might not need to look far to find him.