Dirty Talk: Feeling out whether sex, relationships are mutually exclusive
Phoebe González, Columnist
November 29, 2012 •
Hello, lovely Wildcats.
I come to you today to discuss something a little different from what I have in the past. I need to disclose a tidbit about myself: I am in a relationship. I have been since long before I started writing this column, so I guess I've been writing to you all from a specific perspective, that of a lady who is not in fact single and therefore not going out and having lots of no-holds-barred (safe and consensual!) sex with different people.
This is not a confession, but rather a clarification. I'm in a great relationship and I have a lot of good sex. But this is in no way what I would have predicted for myself nor anywhere near what I wanted in high school. Relationships, sex and I have had a bit of a tumultuous run. When I started dating and hooking up with people, I was convinced sex and relationships were always supposed to be related. If you were having sex with someone, you were probably dating them, or you should be. But then that didn't seem to follow when I found myself occasionally making out with people I had no intention of dating, and I never felt bad about that. I thought maybe I should, but I didn't.
When I finally did enter into a relationship, we did everything by the book. We dated for three months, slowly progressing in the kind of sexual activity we did, we said "I love you" and then we started having sex (as in a p-in-v type situation). But the sex was consistently not so great. But wait, I thought, I did everything right! We're dating! I've met his parents! What's going on?
So when that relationship ended (surprisingly not so neatly), I was ready for sex minus all the aspects of a relationship — no love, no commitment. I felt great making my own sexual decisions without having to worry about judgment, and I found my voice in the bedroom. However, as I've said before, the best experiences (and the most orgasms) came from being with someone who legitimately cared about me — not in the way a committed boyfriend would, but in the way a friend with my best interests at heart would. The only catch was being with someone I cared about raised the stakes. Things were trickier, but somehow more satisfying.
That was when I calmed down about relationships and sex – of course there's a correlation! But good sex exists outside of relationships and great relationships exist without lots of sex. It depends on approximately a million things, including but not limited to: your sex drive, your chemistry with your partner, your comfort level with dating or just hooking up.
I arrived at Northwestern last year having experienced both sex in relationships and sans relationship and determined all I wanted was non-commital sex. However, I hooked up with my current boyfriend the first week of school. We floundered for a while, but now here I am in a real relationship — and I mean real. We play it by ear, try new things and genuinely like each other, which is all I can ask for right now and all I want.
If this all comes off as rather glib, I tell these stories in a less serious way than they were experienced. My point is this: Only you can determine what you want and need from sexual encounters and relationships — and figuring out what you need is a b****. It takes lots of trial and error and a willingness to get dirty (literally or metaphorically). The decision I made might be (and probably is) wildly divergent from the one you make, but maybe my history will encourage you to figure out your own feelings about the intersection of sex and relationships.
So here's where we leave each other this quarter. It's been wondrous. Please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy coming!
View a larger version of the info graphic above this story.