“It’s just sex,” I said to my friend as we sat in my kitchen over a coffee.
She rolled her eyes and gave me a look that said, suuuure it is.
“I know he doesn’t want a relationship, but I can separate the two.”
A few months ago, I ended a long situationship after finding out the guy wasn’t looking for anything serious. I’d been proud of myself for calling it quits. I knew what I wanted and deserved.
And then a few weeks later we were meeting up to return a few items of clothing we’d left at each other’s places and then the next thing I knew we were back in his bed.
Shit, I thought. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
I told myself that sex was just sex. I knew that Zach didn’t want a relationship, so now that it was obvious what this was, I wouldn’t get attached.
But can sex ever be just sex—even when we’re clear about our intentions?
The Chemistry of Sex
There’s a reason sex feels as good as it does. When we engage in sexual activities, oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” is released.
Not only that, but sex is a natural painkiller. It releases endorphins, relaxes our muscles, and releases any tension or stress that we may have been holding in our bodies.
It’s no wonder we get hooked after we’ve been intimate with someone.
But just because sex feels good, that doesn’t mean we can’t engage in casual sex and not get emotionally attached to someone.
Maybe sex can be just sex. If we can acknowledge where these “good feelings” are coming from, accept a situation for what it is, and set boundaries with the person when we’re not together, then I do believe it’s possible.
How Can We Know What We Really Want?
A few days before, I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, when I got a text from Zach asking how my day was.
We started texting back and forth a little. I found myself grabbing my phone the second I heard it vibrate against my mattress. I’d smile when he said something funny.
When we’d go a few days without messaging or weeks without seeing each other, I was able to detach from the situation. I wasn’t actively thinking about him. I felt like I was in a better mindset, focusing on myself, my goals, and getting my health back on track.
I’m totally over it! I’d say to myself.
But then Zach would ask to meet up and I’d find myself wrapped up in it all over again.
So as I sat there and tried to convince my friend—or rather, myself—that it was “just sex,” I knew I was lying.
This five-month-long situationship that had now turned into not-so-casual sex, was not what I really wanted.
If we want to know whether or not we’re okay with having sex that is just sex and nothing more, we have to be really honest with ourselves first and foremost.
- Are you sacrificing your needs?
- Do you secretly hope the relationship will turn into something more?
- If they turned around and asked you for a relationship, would you say yes? (If so, you are accepting less than you deserve.)
- Are you holding yourself back from meeting other people?
- Do you feel anxious, insecure, uncertain about the relationship when you’re not together?
- If you saw your friend in a similar situation, would you tell them they need to end it?
These are just a few ways we can check in with ourselves and know if we’re in a situation that isn’t right for us.
There have also been times when sex is just sex, and it’s been great! But almost always there was no history with the person, and we were both in a place in our lives where we weren’t looking for anything more.
For a second time, I ended the situationship with Zach. We still chat every now and again as we want to remain on good terms.
Sex really is like any drug: it takes some time to wean ourselves off it.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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