The Sex Files with Emily Morse

Ask Emily: Is a Casual Sex Relationship Right for You?

Casual SexDear Emily,

About 5 years ago, I had a casual sex relationship with a man and it was the best sex I’ve ever had. We went on a few dates, but there was no intellectual connection. And that was fine, since neither of us were looking for anything serious.

Fast forward to now: I broke up with my boyfriend about a month and a half ago and recently texted my old booty-call asking if he is single. He is, but he mentioned that he is looking to change that. Now, I know we don’t have a connection, we will never have a relationship and we’ve both said we’re over the casual sex thing. However, I haven’t been physically satisfied for over five years with anyone except for him.

So my question is: what are the rules here? Will I be using him if I just want sex? I know he probably wouldn’t have a problem with it (he benefits from it too, after all) but if we are both trying to find something “real”, is this a waste of time?

Much Love,
Mixed Up in the Midwest

A:
Dear Mixed Up,
There are few things more intoxicating than finding really great sexual chemistry with someone, no matter what the relationship status. Normally, I would say that you’re overthinking it—great sex is hard to find and if you you click with someone on a sexual level, why not take advantage? After all, there is nothing wrong with casual sex between two consenting adults! Plus, since you just got out of a long-term relationship you might not be ready to jump into something serious right away. It might do you some good to have some hot, casual sex while you heal and process your break up. Normally I would say follow your physical instincts while giving your heart and brain a break.

However, there are a couple things that make this situation a tricky one. For starters, have you taken any time for yourself following your recent break up? I know that for a lot of us, our first instinct after a painful breakup is to throw ourselves into something (or at someone) new. While a sexy distraction isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you need to make sure that you’re also taking some solo time to process and heal.

Whether that relationship just fizzled out or ended with a big, painful bang, I recommend spending at least a little more time on your own to figure out what didn’t work in your last partnership and what you want moving forward. Who knows? Maybe after doing a little soul-searching you’ll discover that you’re perfectly fine entering into a friends-with-benefits situation. But just in case it turns out that you’re still mourning your last lover, you might have a lot of raw feelings that will just complicate whatever new thing you try to start—even if it’s just casual thing keeping you busy until you find Mr. Right.

The other issue is that it sounds to me like you and the guy in question aren’t actually looking for the same thing from each other. You’re leaning towards an ongoing FWB type thing and he’s looking for something a little deeper. Even if you decide that you’re ready for a light-hearted romp to help you get over your ex, what about his needs? He was pretty clear about how he’s trying to break free from a string of casual sex relationships and is looking for something real. Starting up a fling with you might actually hold him back from finding what he really wants. Would you really want to prevent him from meeting someone he connects with on all levels?

Now back to you. Ask yourself: in your heart of hearts, do you want to do the casual hookup thing while you mend from your recent break up? Or is it worth holding out for someone who has it all—the perfect sexual chemistry and the intellectual connection? Having the whole package is totally possible in a relationship. Before you have that convo with your F-buddy, take some time to figure out what it is you really want and need in both your love and sex life.

I will say that some people discover that playing around with a familiar person eventually leads to something more meaningful. Who knows? He could be in a totally different place today than he was in five years ago and you might find a connection this time around that wasn’t there before. But if you sit down for a chat and decide you still don’t want anything more than quick and casual, for now I would recommend you steer clear of starting up again with Mr. Satisfaction, especially if you know you only want some of what he’s offering and he’s looking for the total package.

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