I just had to share a few excerpts of an article by Lisa Dierbeck for Oprah.com that came out last week called “Confessions of an ex-sex kitten”. In it, Dierbeck explains, “I don’t believe in casual sex. It’s not that I’m opposed to it, it’s just that—in my own experience—no such thing exists.” As she continues, she’s not interested in sex unless it’s emotional; to separate sex from emotional intimacy is to engage in a sexual experience that is cold, empty, mechanical and even hollow:
Even the phrase "casual sex" has a hollow ring that bothers me. It's a contradiction in terms. Where's the casual part? I've thrown casual dinner parties, serving Chinese takeout on paper plates. I've worn casual clothes to plush offices on Fridays. But applied to relationships, casual is a code word for apathy. If someone says, "This is only physical," my translation is: "I don't care about you." Forget casual. The more accurate word is heartless.
Sex strikes me as too intense a venture to be taken lightly. Thrilling and uncertain, it involves baring your soul, not just tearing off your clothes. Because sexuality is a powerful, anarchic force over which we have little control, it's soothing to pretend it's no big deal. I used to be blasé about it. I treated sex like a swimming pool. Instead of hesitating, I always plunged right in…
…A sexual experience is unpredictable. Offering a rare chance to feel transcendence—an ecstatic state that transports people outside themselves—the sexual embrace has a strong spiritual side. Whatever happens, having sex with someone changes you.
This self-proclaimed former sex kitten explains her old lifestyle, growing up in the 70s in New York: “Outwardly, I’d become a bold, brazen adventuress who made a habit of propositioning men she hardly knew. I'd hand my phone number to a guy at a party, arrange to meet him on his doorstep, spend an hour or two in his apartment, and slip away. Every time I did this, I felt a curious combination of victory and devastation. I was afraid of something that I couldn't pinpoint, and I wasn't nearly as frisky and footloose as I acted. I was a confused young woman who had trouble trusting men."
As Dierbeck describes, her “swaggering bravado was a put on”, and she led a rather sad, disconnected life until she started acknowledging the emotional, spiritual and psychological impact of her sex life. As she points out to aptly, women today are under the pressure to conform to a “bed-hopping, no-strings ethos that’s in vogue. Now that the love affair has been replaced by the booty call, it’s fashionable to treat sex as something without weight or meaning. Our aggressively modern culture has chipped away at our collective faith in romance. Decades ago, 'The Joy of Sex' made history with its illustrated, step-by-step recipes for lovemaking. It was a useful, practical source of information, except for one colossal error. Unlike cooking, sex isn't a hobby. People aren't playthings. They're richly intricate creatures full of good and evil impulses, psychological conflicts and contradictions. Sometimes we insist upon a "casual relationship" to deny the uncomfortable truth: Sex is complicated. “
So what do you think? How do you “explain away” casual sex and sex with “no strings attached” to your sons and daughters today? I would love to hear from you, and for some help, check out our “having The Talk” resources here.