As a woman who has always been interested in sex, I never had - even before I became sexually active - any doubts whatsoever about my ability and willingness to actually do it. “Is sex a bad thing?” - that moral dilemma that has afflicted so many of us at some point or the other was never a real concern. My teenage thoughts, of course, equated sex, with sex with someone I loved. And I was happy to lose my virginity to a guy that I was - however misguidedly - madly in love with. It was only when that relationship ended that I first thought about having sex with someone I was not emotionally involved with. I was 22. Luckily for me, I didn't have to make a decision right then. I soon fell in love with someone else, and sex again became part of the whole relationship package.
I was 26 by the time I seriously started considering sleeping with someone outside of a relationship. I'd broken up with a boy who turned out to have been straying for quite a while, and I was too vulnerable to plunge straight into another relationship. I needed time - a lot of time - to get back on an even emotional keel. But I didn't want to collapse out of sexual frustration while that happened. And there was also an element of "If he can do it, why can't I?" to it - not the cheating bit, but the ability to find physical pleasure and satisfaction with someone else, regardless of emotional intimacy. Besides, you know what they say: the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
Now that I had decided to embark on the path of a casual fling rather than a relationship, I decided to be methodical about it. I forged a flirtation with someone with the express purpose of having a brief, sizzling affair him. He was a nice enough guy, but not someone I’d ever consider being in a relationship with. (Lest you judge me for being harsh, let me assure you that all he wanted was to get laid.) But when push came to shove, and I headed back with him to his place for after drinks on the designated night, I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t really “morality” holding me back - it was the sudden realization that I was really drunk, and drunk decisions aren’t the best ones, ever. Despite his anger and annoyance about me “ditching” him at the last moment, he drove me back home.
The next morning, I was glad I hadn’t done it. He was a new-girl-every-week kind of a guy, and I didn’t know where his penis had last been. I was lucky to not have to worry about disease. And I was lucky that he had turned out to be a “gentleman” - I was pretty far gone with alcohol, and I don’t think I would have been able to put up much of a fight had he been the kind of guy to force the issue. And therein lay my lessons: a) to not do it with complete strangers whom I couldn’t really rely on to be truthful about screening tests - when did he take it, what was the result; b) to not do it when I was not in complete control of my senses.
I finally ended up sleeping with a friend’s brother, someone I had known for several years and I both trusted and was fond of - and it was great. He was genuinely happy to go to bed with me, and I felt both sexually satisfied and liberated.
There wasn’t the slightest possibility of a relationship with him, though. Not only was he my friend’s brother, but also a few years younger than me, and taking anything forward would probably have landed all of us - me, him and my friend - in the kind of sticky, complicated situation that no one wants to get caught in.
The next few sexual partners I had - those were flings too. They were not one night stands, but they definitely belonged more in the “affair” than the “relationship” category. Not because I was just looking to get laid, but because these were people I found attractive and interesting, and at the same time did not see a future with.
Before you judge, here's some context. One of them was fourteen years older than me and had no interest in ever getting married. But he was intelligent, charming, someone whom I loved talking to and just spending time with. The sex was secondary to our interactions. Another guy - I met him when he was on sabbatical in my city. He was perfect for me - except that at the end of the month he was going back to his PhD in the US, and mine isn’t a career path that will allow me to abandon everything I have worked for to run after a boy in another continent. What was I supposed to do in these situations? Just ignore the attraction I felt for these people, ignore the attraction they felt for me too? Ignore the possibility of a human connection, no matter how brief?
I know a lot of people are going to say: “Yes, you should have ignored it.” Why, I ask you. After all, I was (still am) a consenting adult - so were (and are) they. What business is it of anyone else’s whether I have a fling with someone or marry him or whatever else? As long as both parties concerned are single, and what they choose to do together isn’t going to affect the lives of other people, really, why does the exact nature of their relationship matter to anyone else?
And it’s never been about just sex for me. Once I realized that my relationship with my cheating ex did not have to define me forever, I decided to open myself up to the world again. I live, I feel, I act on those feelings. And even if my interaction with someone is a short-lived one - a fling rather than a conventional, committed, long-term romance - it is still precious to me. The guys I mentioned? They are both people I still care deeply about. And I consider it unfortunate that circumstances were such that I did not have the chance to pursue something more lasting than what I had with them.
I did get into a committed relationship after that. The completely traditional, will-get-married-in-a-few-years kind. It didn’t work out, though, and we broke up after a couple of years of being with each other. We were good together, but eventually we wanted different things out of life. And had we stayed together, we would have ended up making each other deeply unhappy. So we went our separate ways. He’s engaged to someone else now, while I’m single again.
I am not opposed to commitment; I actively seek it, in fact. There is nothing I find more rewarding and satisfying than being involved with someone with whom I want to share a deep, abiding love, someone with whom I want to build a life. But it looks like it isn’t happening for me just yet. Until it happens, though (and I hope it does at some point, that I find my person), I refuse to shut myself off from whatever else the world has to offer. And if it’s a fling, so be it.
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