Q. Is it bad to have friends with benefits? I am new to sex as of a year or so ago, and I’ve only had sex with two people. I am only eighteen, but the two people I’ve had sex with are not my boyfriends. Is it bad if I’m just trying to learn? And should the guy always be the one to teach the girl?
A. The short answer is no.
The long answer will also be no, with slight shades of grey and regular complications.
But the short answer? No. Always no.
I swear, there seems to be a new piece every week about the downfall of whatever generation needs a proverbial grilling at the moment. The bane of this generation seems to be women venturing into casual sex (as if no woman had ever had casual sex before the year 2007). Seems like every six months, we all witness the release of studies about women just beginning to have casual sex and how vastly radical that is, especially since men have been having casual sex since forever (never you mind who they were having that casual sex with). Oh, when it comes to trend topic pieces and publishing mishaps that may cause one to clutch at the pearls, I must confess, it does get rather tiring.
To be very frank, there is only one study that I care to mull over: Women are less likely to have orgasms during uncommitted sexual encounters than in serious relationships. It’s an examination that, thank god, admits that hookup culture isn’t the end all, be all, for sexually active women everywhere and in fact, argues that hookup culture (however you define that) is a pretty normal facet of most folks’ sexual lives. However, even while women are approaching the playing field with all intentions of having sexual experiences on their terms, they are still getting boned over by partners who aren’t interested in having them orgasm, for reasons that vary. Dr. Justin R. Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, suggested the following: “We’ve been sold this bill of goods that we’re in an era where people can be sexually free and participate equally in the hookup culture. The fact is that not everyone’s having a good time.”
Ain’t that the truth? While casual sex seems like something we can all take a swing at, women still tend to be stigmatized not only for having casual sex, but for speaking up on what feels good. Yes, sweet pea, the orgasm gap is just as wide as the pay gap. This does not mean that one should drop the casual sex. Oh no. It only means that in your search for good sex, of learning what it is you respond to and prefer, there are two things you should remember:
1. Casual sex is just casual sex. It is almost a neutral sum act, mostly one heavily laced with society’s neuroses on top. Only you get to decide if it is bad or good or whatever. It’s just for learning.
2. No one partner should ever be designated the teacher. Both of you, even while only casually linked through bumping your bits, have the potential to learn and teach one another. He might be able to show you this trick and that trick, but you could show him how casual sex can overcome the orgasm gap. Not only would this work in your favor, it might help start a trend for his future partners.
You do these things by learning and relearning your boundaries, by being bold enough to communicate what it is you need during sex, yes, even casual sex. Last I checked, casual sex counts just as much as not casual sex or real sex or fake sex, however you define sex. You use protection every time and you exercise that nugget of primordial wisdom known as your instinct when need be. You move on if you need to move on. You remember that your needs are important, too. You have sex with two guys three times a week or you have sex with one guy once every three months or you have sex with ten dudes this month. You don’t let people, especially those people who you sleep with, project any of their own hangups about casual sex on to you. Especially those people you sleep with.
You grow and you change. You realize that maybe casual sex can be a bad thing only when you fail to respect your own boundaries, whatever you decide those are. You recognize that your sexual needs will evolve. You respect that and try to give your time to people who respect that. Not people who respect modesty or double standards or what “should” be, but people who respect you.
You, like all people, find out what it is that makes you tick and own it, casual sex and all. There is no bad. There is no good. There is just you, trying to figure it out, short answers, long answers, the grey area and all.
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