This all started when I commented on someone’s Instagram post when they asked if Friends With Benefits could actually work out. Of course, there were a lot of mixed responses, but one that stood out to me the most was when someone said “yes…. if sex is the only thing that y’all hit each other up for.”
I agreed with that BUT I also added that while it could work, it also depends on what the act of having sex means to you. Humans complicate things so much, so sometimes in our most “casual” encounters, one or both parties may find themselves performing some type of emotional labor for one another, even though things are supposed to be “casual.”
This led me to do a little research on what exactly emotional labor is and how does it manifest itself in all my relationships–especially my sexual ones.
In simple terms, emotional labor typically refers to managing your emotions in a professional workplace. When you apply this same line of thinking to non-professional settings, you will see that emotional labor shows up in all types of relationships. Some examples of emotional labor looks like: awareness of mood swings, likes, dislikes, asking if you ate today, asking about your anxiety levels, asking about your day, stroking your ego, etc.
Furthering my research, I found two articles that confirmed what I already knew: it is majority women in heterosexual relationships that shoulder the work of emotional labor because we are supposed to be “naturally understanding and nurturing” while men basically can go through life and not deal with any of this because we don’t give nigga’s room to explore their emotions in a healthy way. By we, I’m talking about society at large and those of us who have internalized misogyny.
So Wassup With Casual Sex?
Well first thing’s first: What does it mean to be casual? From the dictionary it says: happening by chance; fortuitous, without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing, seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned.
So if that’s the case, then why do so many people end up in situationships? When it comes to sex in general, the mindset behind it is changing. It’s no longer a thing we do just cuz some of us might be married or some of us want to reproduce. People have sex for all types of reasons, and probably the most common one is because we want to.
So Where Do The Emotions Come In At?
Drake said in one of his songs that “We live in a generation of not being in love, and not being together. But we sure make it feel like we are together, because we are scared to see each other with somebody else.”
Whew chile. If that’s not the truth. Lemme turn that quote on its head by saying further, I think we live in a generation where we are too afraid of being vulnerable and to afraid to give and receive love, yet we want the emotional labor performed.
Not saying that you have to pick one or the other but aye, this is where things get complicated….
But Kia, Sex and Love Are Two Different Things.
Are they really? Or are they closely related? What does having sex with someone, “casual” or not, mean to you? Only you can define that for yourself. In my opinion, I think sex and love are closely related BUT you do NOT have to love someone or be in love with someone to have sex with them. Did I contradict myself? Probably so.
Or maybe not. Sex is so complex. Humans are too. Mix the two and shit becomes difficult.
But, if you are a person who engages in casual sex or wants to, you may be wondering what are some of the do’s and don’ts of engaging in this act with someone. A while ago on Twitter, I tweeted my theory that people may catch feelings for a casual sex partner because we have all been socialized to think that casual partners should be treated like trash emotionally. When someone develops emotional competency, it disrupts the status quo of what we’ve been taught.
Now of course… some good dick or coochie shouldn’t have you out here crazy, because then that becomes an underlying issue with your attachment styles and the ways you refuse to regulate your emotions. Some things to consider when it comes to casual sex are
- What types of actions should be avoided emotionally?
- Do emotions have a place in casual sex?
- What makes casual sex successful?
- What makes casual sex so layered?
So you met you a lil somebody that you wanna have sex with but you’re not looking for a monogamous relationship and they aren’t either. Yay for you!! To keep it successful, I would suggest:
Communication – This needs to be open and honest. When you share your body with someone, I feel like you deserve to know how many people they are fucking. Ask them do they plan on having sex outside of the arrangement? How often or when is the last time you and them got tested? How casual is casual? What is the frequency that you all want to see each other? Talk about these things.
Honesty – Be honest with yourself and each other when it comes to casual sex. Think about your reasons for even doing this, with this person. Make sure you aren’t settling for casual sex when you know YOU want more. If more is what you want and that other person isn’t on the same page, please move forward. Otherwise, you set yourself up for disaster.
Protect Each Other – Casual sex does not equate to carelessness, especially when it comes to our bodies. If you have sex with others outside of the original arrangement, the least you could do is use condoms or whatever. You don’t have to treat your casual sex partners like trash emotionally or sexually. Period.
If you want casual sex to be successful, you may want to avoid:
Stringing Them Along – Look, it’s not hard to tell if someone likes you and wants more. If you notice that, speak up about your boundaries and then GRACEFULLY make your exit. (because remember kids, ghosting them is not cool). Sometimes, we can get sooooo selfish that we string people along and have them in situations they don’t want to be in simply because we won’t establish and/or maintain boundaries. Y’all got folks out here performing an unbalanced act of emotional labor, because your mouth is saying one thing but your actions say something completely different. It is so many people out here to have sex with, find someone who is on the same page as you.
Emotional Labor – While you don’t have to treat your casual sex partner like trash, you also don’t gotta act like you’re in a relationship with them either. That means no cooking for one another, no cuddling, no spending the night at each other’s houses, no meeting each other’s family or friends, no dates. In fact, the only time y’all should even communicate is when y’all are deciding what day/time/location you all are going to link up to have sex. Dassit. Cuz its casual right? Why do you want all the extra stuff?
Being Messy – Nobody likes a messy partner, especially one that’s just supposed to be there for sex. Don’t bring drama into y’all situation. Don’t bring back STD’s, don’t bring them into a situation where you got a ex who can’t let go and definitely don’t approach nobody if you have a hard time being real with yourself and others. Just don’t be careless!
So, if you haven’t realized by now, I personally don’t think that casual sex is “casual” ……
Can it start off that way? Of course.
But why can’t it STAY that way? Because. Humans… we make shit hard.
You know how many times I’ve tried to be “casual” with a guy and then I find myself acting like his girlfriend???
As much as we try to avoid emotions, we forget that lust and desire are emotions, two necessary components when you wanna fuck somebody. We think so basic when it comes to emotions that we miss the key ones that even draw us to people in the first place.
Therefore, you can’t have sex WITHOUT emotions, however you can learn how to PROPERLY REGULATE them.
But as I said earlier, we can’t properly regulate our emotions if we have a hard time communicating them let alone admitting them in the first place. We’re afraid of being vulnerable. We’re afraid of not being liked back. We’re afraid of dealing with our own shit, so we use sex to distract us.
Is it possible to have a platonic sex partner who is also your homie, also someone you care deeply about, also someone you can go out on dates with, etc? Yes. As long as you two communicate those things.
Is good sex with someone probable cause to desire those things listed above? No. But also yes. Because regardless of what we call it, building things with people and learning all of their likes and dislikes is an intimate exchange of time.
Even being open and honest with one another when feelings change is hard.
The layers of casual sex is what makes things so complicated… Unless, of course you TRULY are a person who only hits people up or allows yourself to be hit up for sex and sex only. Which then I kinda feel like means you are suppressing an emotional side of yourself but if this practice is something that works for you and you like it, I love it.
Moral of the story
Always do what works for you. If you know casual sex is not your thing, don’t settle for it. If you know monogamy and sticking to one partner ain’t for you, don’t settle for it.
Emotions are more prevalent than we think, so even if you think you’re doing your best to avoid them, they’ll smack you in the face anyway.
Casual sex ain’t really casual.
Enough of me talking, let me hear what you think!
Have you ever engaged in casual sex?
Have you ever settled for casual sex with someone and wanted more from them?
If you are someone who prefers to engage in casual sex only, is it hard for you to find someone on the same page as you?
Are sex and love closely related or two different things to you?
Do you have difficulty admitting and talking about your emotions to your sex partners?
Have you ever been in a casual and fun sex partnership with someone and then one of you catches feelings? What is your next move?