Updated: Aug 27, 2020
A Few years ago my wife and I both came to the conclusion that we are not real fans of having casual sex by the conventional definition, i.e., sex with persons with whom we have no ongoing relationship. Now, that’s not saying we haven’t done that once or twice in the past year, because we have. But, those times were “just one of those things”. The point is, we don’t go looking for that kind of sexual encounter. I’m sure part of that is that we are both over 50 and neither of us have that burning imperative, when we go to a swing club or party, that we must have sex with someone new. And it’s not that we think such casual sex is wrong or as some put it empty. It’s just not for us.
On the other hand we certainly don’t believe that sex should be reserved for relationships that are deeply committed either. I am quite sure the myth of the specialness of sex is an outgrowth of property based monogamy (with women being the property). It became codified into nearly every religion that has a professional clergy as a way to maintain social stability and thus the clergy’s social position. Even though this myth is still perpetuated via the modern secular clergy, psychologist/psychiatrists, it does not derive from real science but from the desire to justify what they already believe by using unjustified cause-effect statements.
The position that my wife and I are comfortable taking is the proposition (that I’ve made before) that sex is a normal and positive part of adult social relationships. In other words, sex is for friends. In our post tribal world, most of us have precious few people to whom we can go to when we have a joy to share or need comforting in our sorrow. I don’t mean the new “Facebook” meaning of friendship, but a real relationship of trust and caring. A friend is the person that you don’t need to put on for and don’t expect them to put on for you. Perhaps the best definition of friendship for me is that person for whom I don’t have to clean the house if they come over.
Friendship is all about shared experiences and mutual support. As humans one of the best ways to do both is through physical touch, skin touching skin. Sexual touch is the most complete version of touch, which makes it a natural activity for friends. Sexual sharing is all about skin on skin touching. It is just full body, genital included, skin on skin touching.
One may counter that sex is mostly about erotic passion and release. I would disagree. Perhaps my age is showing again, but the most important thing about sex is not the erotic passion and release of orgasm. The most important thing about sex, it is skin on skin touching. If orgasm is all someone wants, masturbation is a more sure way to gain orgasm than any other, but no one can get the deep pleasure and sense of serenity that full body skin on skin contact provides via masturbation. When I’ve taught about sexuality, I use the analogy that a full sexual experience is like a symphony. It has multiple parts including an opening (often with surprises), and a slow building section that can be either sensuous or relaxed, a rhythmic center, a climax then a quiet reflective post climatic refrain. Sure it is possible to listen to the climactic three minutes of the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture over and over, but by doing that you rob the music of its real power. Or perhaps more accessible to some readers, if you just saw the last scene of the Les Misérables, it would have nice music but it wouldn’t bring forth tears because there was not the preceding build up. However, it would be hard to imagine anyone attending to the whole musical where that last song that does not get a tear welling up.
With that background, I contend that sexual interaction is, or should be, a normal and positive part of adult friendships.
With this in mind I offer the following definition of “Casual Sex”
Casual Sex: (1) informal sexual interaction of a caring, but casual, nature between persons who have an ongoing mutually supportive relationship (philia), but are not romantically involved (amore); (2) mutually pleasurable sex between friends where the relationship is defined by something other than romantic or sexual attraction.