Friday, May 10, 2013

What's So Bad About Sex?

I'm back!  Sorry it's been so long, but I've been dealing with exciting changes at my youth center as well as finishing up my finals.  It looks like I've got three As and Two Bs for the semester, and considering how terrible some of my classes were, I couldn't be happier!

So today, I was at a bit of a loss about my subject.  I thought I might write about how my body issues seem to have disappeared since I started running two months ago.  But I'm sure that's been done before and while there are some feminist implications there, it doesn't have much to do with being queer or atheist.

So I thought, "What about sex?"  It's always a good subject and I've been thinking about it lately.  But not in the "I'll be in my bunk" kind of way, but rather the "why do I feel guilty?" kind of way.  To back things up a little bit, I should remind you that my relationship is a "monogamish" one.  Meaning, we're completely committed to each other emotionally and romantically, but a little bit of sexiness outside the relationship is fine as long as we're both cool with it.  Until relatively recently, this was more of an intellectual idea than a practiced one.  But lately I've fooled around with a girlfriend of mine from time to time.  We both get a way to release our bisexuality, enjoy someone a different gender from our partners, and have a great time.  And both our partners are totally cool with it, maybe even turned on by it.  So everyone is happy, right?  

But it seemed like I would always feel guilty the next day.  I felt like I had cheated, even though this was allowed in our relationship and therefore not cheating.  And then, to top it all off, I'd have these weird suspicions that I wasn't bisexual at all, just a lesbian.  I'd worry that having fun with another girl would somehow send my totally awesome relationship with my future husband crashing down, leaving me alone and miserable.  And these thoughts would cycle through my head for a few days or more until I would calm myself down, only to then worry if I was just rationalizing my behavior.  Round and round I'd go, until I finally had something more important to worry about, like school.

This time, though, I did something different and talked about my concerns.  Novel concept, right?  I talked with my partner about my guilty feelings and he swiftly brought me back to reality.  And after that, I talked with my friend Caitlin about my fears of being an in-denial lesbian.  And she reminded me that, while I might be more attracted to women in general than men in general, lesbians usually don't have "exceptions" that they love to have sex with, stay with for three years, and plan on marrying.  So in the space of a day, all of my silly worries were fixed and I learned to breathe easy and appreciate what an awesome life I have.  

I began to wonder where these feelings came from in the first place.  My partner had never implied that he felt wounded or rejected by my girl-on-girl adventures, only disappointed that he couldn't watch.  And as much fun as I have with my girlfriend-with-benefits, I have absolutely no desire to pursue anything romantic with her.  She's a great friend and I like to hang out with her whether we're talking or fooling around, but that's as far as either of us want it to go and we're both really happy with our men.  So what was I worried about in the first place?  I think it might have something to do with our society, heavily influenced by religion, conflating sexuality with love and commitment.  Not only is it possible to have sex without loving someone, or love someone without desiring them sexually, but maybe separating sex and love can actually make a relationship stronger.

I remembered the most recent episode of Godless Bitches, when the ladies discussed how most people who claim "Marriage isn't all about sex" inevitably make their marriage all about sex.  By manipulating someone to marry you for sex, you are making the marriage all about sex.  Could it be that cohabitation, being sexually adventurous, and separating emotions and commitment from sex can actually make a relationship stronger?

The reason why my relationship works so well is how we communicate.  There is nothing we can't discuss, no taboo subjects, and no hasty, irrational proclamations.  We talk about "ground rules" for our relationship, what kind of future we hope and plan for, what turns us on and what doesn't, and even when we disagree we still respect each other.  We trust each other completely.  And while we had a ground rule of "other girls don't count", it wasn't until I went back to communicate and double-check that I could relax about it.  But in a rigidly monogamous relationship we would have repressed any sexual feelings to anyone except each other.  This would either cause someone to cheat or someone to build up resentment.  Either way, it probably wouldn't be communicated for fear of destroying the relationship and thus things would spiral out of control and crash.  

Years ago, whenever I heard someone say that humans didn't evolve to be monogamous, I thought they were just trying to excuse their promiscuity.  But now, I see that the choice doesn't have to be black and white.  It's totally possible, maybe even healthy, to find a happy medium.  To have a secure, loving, stable partner who supports you and understands you, and an occasional outlet for our primitive instinct to spread our genetic code elsewhere.  Is it really possible to have your cake and eat it too?  I hope so.

There's so much more to this subject, especially as it ties into religion and patriarchy, but I think this is a good place to stop for today.  What are your thoughts?  What works for your relationship?

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