Sex is love’s fast-forward button. If you’re normal, you’re going to fall in love with the person you’re sleeping with, sooner or later, whether you like it or not.
“We’re just fuckbuddies, John; it’s casual. You know, friends with benefits.”—that’s what my 19-year-old student said to me, with the endearing confidence of a kid who’s just gone to the corner store by himself for the first time. Two weeks later he was crying in my office. Heartbroken. Devastated. I’ve seen the same thing a thousand times. And there’s a simple reason for it: sex is love’s fast-forward button. If you’re normal, you’re going to fall in love with the person you’re sleeping with—or they’re going to fall in love with you—sooner or later, whether you like it or not.
As Aristotle well knew, it takes awhile to get close to a new friend, even if the two of you hit it off like crazy the first time you meet. My guess is that it takes, on average, about a year for genuine intimacy and closeness to develop between new friends, unless the two of you share some sort of extreme experience (e.g., getting kidnapped together at gun-point by terrorists, getting trapped in an elevator for hours during an earthquake, fighting side-by-side in the trenches of a faraway war, talking on ecstasy for ten hours straight at a Baltimore rave, etc.). By contrast, if you’re sleeping with the same person, you can attain the same level of intimacy in less than two weeks! That’s why I tell students in my “Love and Friendship” class that sex is love’s fast-forward button. Whether you like it or not, the two of you are going to get very close, very fast: it’s inevitable and irresistible (if you’re normal)—only the sociopathic seem capable of resisting its siren song. The feelings we develop for someone we’re sleeping with are real and powerful and intense, as is the attachment, the craving, and the newfound neediness. One day you wake up and realize—perhaps to your horror—that your connection to this person has—seemingly overnight—come to constitute a kind of natural fact, like gravity, climate change, tropical hurricanes, and the Montreal winter. And, like all natural facts, it can’t be explained away by simplistic Sex-and-the-City sophistry. We forget this at our peril.
—John Faithful Hamer, From Here (2015)
Photos courtesy of the author.