Like Wesley in Princess Bride, who spent years building up an immunity to iocaine powder, I’ve spent the past few years developing the ability to cheerfully and honestly have no-strings-attached sex and still be friends with that person later. I’m not talking about hookup sex or one night stands, which in my experience tends to be a bad idea even when it is fantastic (sometimes more so).
I’m talking about sex that is embarked upon in a reasonably sober frame of mind, and the terms discussed frankly, if briefly. Examples could include the quick ‘n dirty conversation between two friends: one admits he will never get over his ex, the other admits she will hump a lamp if she doesn’t get laid soon. A glance is exchanged, eyebrows raised and silent decision mutually reached. Longer negotiations sometimes happen between two people who don’t know each other well and have socially circled each other, so to speak, for weeks or months before determining that both can be trusted to be discreet and friendly about a night spent together.
There are two conditions for this type of sex:
1. It must be done with someone you know will still be nice to you afterward. At the risk of making wild generalizations, I highly recommend a man over thirty-five or a man who is not the smoldering hunk of burning love that everyone wants to shag. That latter type of guy may be too used to having to beat women off with a stick, automatically shutting down the next day to make sure you know he’s not interested (even if he is).
2. You must be able to let him go the next day with no hard feelings. Do not do this with someone you secretly adore, or have any likelihood whatsoever of falling in love with. Of course, you can still wind up being surprised by your own feelings–I certainly have been a time or two. I’m not advocating for deadening emotions or arguing there is even a way to do so. There is always a risk, but you can do yourself a favor by being honest about your motives.
The challenge is to balance postcoital courtesy with a lack of expectation. In this sense being a good lover is a truly Zen act, forcing us to abandon attachment. Most of us find it difficult not to want more sex with someone who is nice to us. It’s also challenging even for the most secure person to share one’s body, evening, imagination and bed with someone else and find the next morning that he still has absolutely no intention of falling in love. Even more alarming if you were already friends and are still just friends.
At the same time we as women are often guilty of focusing more on how he feels about us than how we feel about him. In other words a woman totally ambivalent about a man may be offended if he isn’t wild about her. It’s okay for you both to simply like each other, forever and ever, regardless of how much saliva you exchange.
And there isn’t necessarily any harm in having this sort of sex over and over again with the same person–in the old days that used to be called having a lover. Remember the old “Latin Lover” like Rudy Valentino (above), who brooded and had a lilting accent and kissed womens’ hands? Most of us find this sort of behavior a little silly these days, but that politeness and dare I say chivalrous approach made it possible for two people to enjoy each other’s company even if they weren’t suited for marriage.
Why is all this negotiation and assessment worth it, if it won’t end in a walk down the aisle?
Because there are times in any woman’s life when she isn’t in a relationship and yet isn’t looking for one. Sometimes we need practice, or recovery time, or to get our bearings in a new place. We shouldn’t feel like a slut to seek great sex outside an LTR, nor should we assume we have to throw back four jello shooters and take home a stranger to find it.
It’s worth it because, like all things that require a little willpower and a little courage, it can be fun.