The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Casual Sex

Is true love compatable with casual sex?




































(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:      Right now I want to welcome Jim to the phone. Jim, you�re having some difficulty with insecurity and trust?


Jim:                 Yeah. That�s one way of putting it.


Dr. Kenner:      What�s going on?


Jim:                 I�m in a relationship with this guy. It�s going to be almost a year now that we met, and for the first five months, we were just friends. Mostly because I kind of felt very friendly toward him and I didn�t want to have sex. I wanted to just keep it platonic at the time. That changed in December, just before my birthday. I opened up saying, �Hey, we�re both kind of promiscuous, we�re both very sexual people, but I�m looking for something romantic, but at the same time not necessarily monogamous.� Just something special, but where what we do with other people can still remain casual and what it is. But we have something special for each other. That�s been pretty much flourishing for the past, I�d say, about six months almost. The issue has come up though where he has a friend, which is something different, a little bit different to me. Not the same as a casual sex partner, but a friend, that he is now also having sexual attraction with. That is not sitting well with me. The whole thing about insecurities is that I�ve been working through tremendous insecurities from the beginning of this relationship because I�m a terribly insecure person. I�m terribly jealous and I fully acknowledge that about myself. I guess my thing now is because I am so aware of insecurities that I�ve had and still have, I don�t know if my concern, my focus on this issue with him and this other guy that he insists is casual, that his love is for me and that we�re still the special pair, and I don�t know if my doubt and my insecurity that eats me up inside, if it�s really just insecurity or if it�s more of a personal standard that I may have that maybe it�s just something that I�m learning. A standard and expectation that I have. I can�t tell if I�m just insecure and I don't want him to do it or if it�s something that I need to listen to and actually say, �Hey, wait a second. This isn�t okay with me.� I�m torn.


Dr. Kenner:      Okay, so what I�m hearing is your ambivalence. You�re trying to decide, what do I want in a relationship? That�s not clear in your own mind. That�s what I�m hearing. On one hand, you�re trying to structure a romantic relationship, more than a friend, but someone where you have a unique shared universe with one another. On one hand I�m hearing your hunger for that, what I would love in life is someone who means the world to me and I mean the world to him and we share a life together and we�re each other�s top priority, unquestionably. We can lie back at night, go to sleep, we can make love with each other, and we�re not torn, we�re not rattling with doubt. Correct?


Jim:                 Yes, exactly.


Dr. Kenner:      That�s one side of your ambivalence. The other side of your ambivalence is saying, �Hey, we�re both cool. We�re both adults. Isn�t it cool to just be able to be promiscuous a little? We met this way and we�re both enjoying relationships, sex, with other people,� casual sex the way you were phrasing it, �and why can�t we continue just having sex on the outside and having that confidence that we�re in the target of each other�s love circle.


Jim:                 Yes. That�s pretty fair.


Dr. Kenner:      What you�re asking for is a contradiction. You can�t have it both ways. And you will continue to torture yourself. I have yet to hear of a case where people wanting not just casual sex, but people wanting a romantic relationship where they are cherished, that of which is very unique, different than just a friendship, because you�re sharing the most intimate part of your souls. Notice I�m not even saying bodies. You�re saying it�s through you that I experience my own psychological mirror. You�re the one that makes me feel most valued and I make you feel most valued, and this is a treasure for both of us to have this relationship. If you then go and shake hands with somebody else, it�s not a threat. If you go and have a conversation, have coffee with someone else, it�s not a threat, as long as you give evidence to your partner that that�s all it is. But if you play around with getting between the sheets with another person, Jim, and having sex, it�s hard to just mutually masturbate � if you want to be graphic � or self-pleasure, it�s hard to do that without looking into the other person�s eyes, which means you�re connecting psychologically too. So I think that the basic problem that you�re having, and I�d love to get your feedback on what I�m saying, is that you�re asking your mind to accept a contradiction that you can both have sex with many people and feel unwavering trust that you are each other�s special person. We�ve got a minute left � tell me what your thoughts are on that?


Jim:                 Well, interestingly enough, to put it plainly, casual sex � when I say casual sex I�ll be straight out forward � we�re very casual and sometimes anonymous. I�m not going to paly around that. That has never really been a problem. We�ve actually played together with other guys and it�s never once been a problem. The first time it has become an issue for me is because this other person is becoming more than just casual sex. They�re actually becoming friends and still having sex, so that changes it for me. 


Dr. Kenner:      Here is the problem. Whenever you play around with casual sex, there are books for male/female partners that are called Not Just Friends. Whenever you play around with sex, you are dealing with intimacy. Maybe you can keep it casual with some people, but you�re always at risk of undermining your unique bond. And so that�s the fire you play with, with the lifestyle that you�re leading. Apart from other things too � you hear it all the time, I�m sure, the risk of AIDS and the rest. So, listen, thank you very much for your call and I hope it gave you some food for thought to explore that ambivalence, Jim.


Jim:                 Very much so. Will I be able to go back and listen to this?


Dr. Kenner:      Yes you will. If you hold on, I�ll talk to you after the break. 


Movie clip

Male:               You can�t leave yet. The doctor said it takes 48 hours to get that stuff out of your system.

Female:           I wonder how long it takes to get someone you�re stuck on out of your system?

Male:               I know how you feel, Ms. Kublick. You think it�s the end of the world, but it�s not. I went through exactly the same thing myself, and I was mad about it. But I knew it was hopeless and I decided to end it all. You know where I finally shot myself?

Female:           Where?

Male:               Here.

Female:           In the knee?

Male:               It was a year before I could bend the knee, but I got over the girl in three weeks. Still lives in Cincinnati. Has four kids and gained 20 pounds. Sends me a fruitcake every Christmas.


Dr. Kenner:      And we�ve all go through those experiences where someone that we love or we value tell us that they no longer value us. Then we feel discarded, tossed away, just useless. And that�s when we�re at high risk because if you draw the conclusion when someone breaks up with you that there�s something defective about me, that there�s something fundamentally wrong with me that I don�t know about and that this person knows about, that�s going to cause the most pain. But if you say, �I know my good characteristics and I know there are things I want to work on and maybe they messed me up in this relationship a little bit. Maybe I can work on those and improve myself, make myself more lovable, so that the next relationship I will be even stronger and I will enjoy living with myself, whether or not I find a partner,� that�s a much better outcome.