I find myself repeating like a broken tune
And I’m forever excusing your intentions
And I give in to my pretendings
Which forgive you each time
Without me knowing
They melt my heart to stone
And I hear your words that I made up
You say my name like there could be an us
I best tidy up my head I’m the only one in love
I’m the only one in love”
Can sex really ever be casual? Are we ever truly capable of reaching the ultimate physical level with a person and not feeling a thing beyond an orgasm? If so, does this make us less humane or immoral? Should we feel attached to someone we make that level of a connection with or is it acceptable for two people to use one another for sexual gratification and pleasure without intentions on either end of it ever going further? What happens when one person falls in love?
All these questions constantly come up in my life either in my own head, in various social mediums, or from friends of mine wondering the same things we all really do. We all love sex, if it didn’t feel good people wouldn’t do it other than for procreation and it is totally natural. However, how much of the emotionality tied into it is psychological and is any part of it is physiological? Evidence shows it is a bit of both.
There is a natural hormone in the human body called oxytocin. Oxytocin is best known for roles in female reproduction:
- It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor, and
- After stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding.
Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasms. The relationship between oxytocin and human sexual response is unclear; however, at least two non-controlled studies have found increases in plasma oxytocin at orgasm – in both men and women. Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security around the mate. Many studies have already shown a correlation of oxytocin with human bonding, increases in trust, and decreases in fear.
One study confirmed that there was a positive correlation between oxytocin plasma levels and an anxiety scale measuring the adult romantic attachment. This suggests that oxytocin may be important for the inhibition of brain regions that are associated with behavioral control, fear, and anxiety, thus allowing orgasm to occur. In a risky investment game, experimental subjects given nasally administered oxytocin displayed “the highest level of trust” twice as often as the control group. Since it has found to increase trust and reducing fear it is believed that the chemical may be responsible for the feelings of trust, attachment and “love” after having sex with someone, mainly in females since it is a reproductive hormone. So ladies, you aren’t actually crazy, you are just female if you feel like you’ve fallen for a guy quickly. This is yet another reason to hold off on sex until you get to know a guy or you could get attached to a douche and waste months of your life like I have sadly too many times.
Ok, enough of the science lesson, let’s talk experience. I have written a number of times about Lust vs. Love and how do you know when it’s real and when it’s just a phase. Oftentimes you start hooking up with someone with the intent of it being a casual, sporadic, and fun thing; yet, it evolves into something of meaning for at least one of the individuals, usually the female. She begins to have feelings and fall for him, while he has her on a rotation with a number of other girls or thinks nothing much of her. Obviously this does not happen with every casual sex relationship but many hook-ups also come with an accompanying friendship and it is easy to blur the lines between friendship and feelings.
While two parties can enter into an agreement of casual fun sex or a “friends with benefits” scenario where promises are made to keep emotionality out of the mix, we cannot help but develop feelings. It is both a chemical, physiological response and a byproduct of spending time being that close to someone. If two friends are hooking up but also hanging out, a relationship forms whether or not the parties involved choose for that to happen. Some people are better at remaining detached and may have feelings but choose to ignore them because they do not want the complications and obligations in life that a relationship brings. Others may start to fall for their eff buddy and begin to believe that it is becoming something more while their partners are just not interested.
It is hard to tell if your sex friend is into you as something more than just that because all the tell-tale signs go out the window. Normally you can tell if a guy likes you buy the way he looks at you, body language, his proximity to you during conversation, even the tone of his voice. Girls just know when a guy likes them. Plus things get more defined when the girl is asked out on a date. With the “friends with benefits” scenario, all of this is skipped. There is an obvious attraction and likely a friendship so technically the two would be a good fit for a relationship; however, for some reason both parties are not looking for something serious at the time of initiation. Some common reasons for entering into such arrangements would be a busy work schedule, fear of getting hurt, a recent breakup, or disinterest in serious commitment. So, for whatever reason two people engage in casual sex and assume they can remain otherwise platonic.
Another form of casual sex is the post-bar hookup. How often have you gone home with someone after a night of drinking but actually turn out to like the person on some level so you exchange numbers and continue to hook up with them? You may have met under very casual, heat of the moment circumstances; yet, a relationship can still stem from this. The post-bar hook-up turned serious-committed-relationship is not a myth as they occasionally do work out. Don’t ever go into such an engagement with the notion that it will go somewhere because the majority of times it will go nowhere other than wherever you two do it that evening. There are exceptions every once and a while and these can turn into something more; however, only rarely does that happen.
So, back to my initial question. Can sex ever really be casual? Can we ever have a strictly platonic sexual relationship in which emotionality is removed and only physicality remains? I would guess that some guys can do this but I have never met a girl capable of it. I am really curious to hear examples and opinions so please feel free to comment or submit a follow-up article to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.