There is a strong myth that sex is not a relationship, and we… well, yes, we passionately support that myth. Simply because it is very much true — sex does not need to be a relationship just because it has happened. Sex needs to be fun, as only then it, or any other activity, is freedom. We are very much inclined to reclaim that freedom from any kind of obsolete and toxic social narratives that insist that once it comes to a sexual play, you are not free to use your own body however you like. Nowadays, at last, sex is seen more and more as a plain activity, and activity does not, by definition, mean commitment. You might enjoy table tennis once in a while, but no way it implies that you must do an everyday tennis routine, or prepare yourself for a tournament, or be wearing a special hat, or anything. You might do all of this if you feel like it, but that is totally a matter of free choice.
Stripping sex of its fabled state as a commitment per se, we do, though, somewhat run into another myth that sex is never ever a relationship thing. You might have had this in your life: “Let us have sex regularly but no attachment please“, have you not?
Well, to have sex with no serious commitment, some brave people have invented apps like Pure and the awesome concept of a one-night stand. Amazing as it is, an ONS implies that you are only going to have “one night“ of joy before splitting your paths. While the actual pace does vary (anything from half an hour or a week in a row seems fine), the very concept on ONS is about it not being a repetitive event. Easy come, tons of fun, easy go — if we have accomplished something significant during the twentieth century, it is probably claiming this right to enjoy sex and life with no further obligations.
The tricky part starts when you feel like you want it again, with the very same person, and not like you have never met before. This indeed is an anxiety point — after all, you have accepted that no strings are going to be attached. Are you already breaking the agreement by feeling you need some?
Maybe, but it is not a place to feel guilty. Thanks to the Concented Yes culture — the only up-to-date sex culture whatsoever, prove us wrong — changing your mind is perfectly acceptable behavior. You felt like something and you both were up to it, but suddenly you recognize that it is not your cup of tea anymore? Easy peasy, just speak it out. The absolute right to say “no“ to any agreement you have previously reached is extremely empowering, as it gives you both the freedom to be yourselves, and the peace of being sure you are not going down the wrong way. As there is no reprimand for backing off, going on means that you are genuinely up to it. And that is, well, marvelous.
So, just like that, changing your mind is not a crime but a legitimate thing to do. Sure enough, your partner might back out of it in response — or not. Freedom also means freedom of outcomes, and that is fine.
There are a few points on the list that drive people scary here. First and foremost is emotional attachment. Let us talk more about it, as it is a highly misunderstood concept that got kind of heavily compromised up lately.
First things first: we are all monkeys here, kind of. Okay, a very, very sophisticated version of monkeys, and yet. We are hard-wired to get attached to each other since bonding is what our social instincts are based off. Being accepted by others is a highly fundamental part of our being (and well-being), and it is so totally crucial that being lonely feels exactly like physical pain, and just as traumatizing, science says.
Weird enough, the New Age led a violent crusade on the attachment phenomenon. The roaring sixties opened up a stream of oriental philosophies, one very hot one being buddhism that states (extremely simplified) that attachments bring expectations, and expectations bring eternal suffering, so let us not be attached nor expect anything from anyone, amen. That might sound gross applied to everyday life, but nevertheless — thank you, the Sixties, for bringing this in. Dubious as is it, it had helped a Sexual Revolution to arrive, nonetheless.
Back to modern times, even while we might enjoy stuff like the Headspace app, we are truly much into Pure. So why would all of this matter? The ideological shift towards individualism that had happened during the previous century is all around us, really. We, as a society, have learned to be each on our own, to recognize personal borders, to procreate them and to keep them healthy. Buddha was kind or right: being uncontrollably attached to someone or something or letting others become randomly addicted to you indeed leads to suffering.
Also, the obligation of attachment was sort of induced during the previous centuries: every member of society was expected to be heavily bonded with their community, work, family, etc, having little to no freedom of choice. This system of social obligations was dismantled just recently — and it was again the New Age that helped bringing it down for good, instead giving us the sweet fruits of being on our own.
Hey, wait then… Could we say that due to Gautama Buddha back then and a tricky chain of consequences, we now have a legitimate social option of ONS? Oh, that is Karma!
Having great personal borders is not about being all alone, obviously. Casually speaking, maintaining distance is cool, but one needs to come closer to others to dance, otherwise, life is no fun at all. Progressive as we are, we also never got beyond our neurophysiology, and, as humans, we hardly will.
Let us come back to the apes now. Neurologically, attachment is tied closely to the need of predictability. Once we fancy something, we need to know how available it is to us, or else. The vaguer the perspective of the event, the higher is our anxiety about it. This is so very basic that it applies even to how messy our apartment is — for our brain, messy equals unpredictable, and as we are positively attached to our place, having it cluttered often leads to anxiety and even depression, no kidding.
Now imagine something way more emotional, say, regular sex with someone you adore (having sex regularly with someone you do not adore will not be justified, really. Not by us). Most of humans are only likely be happy if this is also a predictable event, which means in turn that our expectations must be clearly stated and constantly mutually checked.
What happens when we begin to have mutual expectations? Well, nobody knows for sure, but we would define this as a commitment. Our ape brains craves for predictability in anything both emotional and perpetual, while as humans we need to have verbal agreements over our life events, and those agreements are naturally aimed into the future, not into the moment on now.
What is truly amazing about ONS, is that it is a life-in-the-now thing, an awesome fun challenge to both your conscious ability to be present. Engaging in it, we are morally prepared to let our buddy go when the night’s over — that is where that strong sense of healthy personal boundaries comes in handy.
So, what must we do when suddenly we feel like one night stand is not really a one night stand any more, that we’d love to get attached, if at least for a while? Keep calm, here is the list:
1. First things first, no shaming! It is as natural as life. No worries.
2. Now, let us run a check. Is it your typical thing that ONS leads to attachment, or has it never happened before?
3. Typical means that you might want to reconsider if ONS really fits your emotional demands right now. After all, there are a plethora of other options (here is massive and crazy pic to illustrate them all at once. Oh, so many choices!)
4. Rarely happened before means that hey, you are cool with ONS, but this might be a time for another kind of experience. A few questions to ask yourself before moving on:
a. Am I okay if the other side says no?
b. If yes, do I really have the capacity for any kind of commitment right now?
c. If also yes, am I fine if it still fades away in a short while?
5. If all is positive, you seem like you are good to go. Healthy relations equal healthy discussions, so just put it forward in a way that feels most sincere. Maybe mention a few things that you would love to encounter together that would make it a meaningful experience for you, so that other side knows what you are up to and what to agree on. And please, please add a note that you are okay with the other side saying No.
6. You did a great job, no matter the outcome. Have a cookie! And yupp, good luck if they say “Yes!“
And what if you are the one who, after a lovely ONS, have got a message like “Hey how about we get attached for a while“? That is life, too. Sometimes it changes rack. Here is the check-up:
1. Are you fine with it? If no, just politely decline. No blame, no guilt, no shaming. They have the right to desire it, and you have your right no rather not. All are cool.
2. Feel like you might give it a try? Well… Also consider number 4 and 5 from a list above, to make sure you will take chances safely.
After all, life is all about experiment. Have fun engaging!
You'll crave for more!
Ah yes. Once you are back to hookups, alone or with your new buddy, you know where to look. Just a reminder 🙂