Print Edition: June 18, 2014
The issue before last, the sex column was authored by Advice Mallard, entitled “Sex with a side of intimacy.” Mallard made some good points, but I think there are several that can and should be expanded upon.
This is part of the reason I offered to take on the sex column, if only for a couple of weeks: I think the conversation Mallard opens is in need of another voice — not in opposition, necessarily, but at least to serve as a counterpoint.
For those of you who didn’t read it or don’t remember it, Mallard touched on a couple of important points — any relationship we pursue as humans is in search of connection, be it sexual or platonic. Ultimately, Mallard states that the best connection we can hope for is when sex meets intimacy and fireworks ensue. Mallard says intimacy is required in a sexual relationship for that certain bang, and without a connection between people as well as bodies, you’re looking at a ball game without the home run.
As someone who has been in a steady relationship for the last few years, I agree with many of the things Mallard says — recognition of the varied meanings of the word “intimate,” the value in finding someone to share more than your body with, and the important (if not entirely relevant) urging to the reader not to sell themselves short when searching for a mate. I enjoy being in love with one of my best friends, and all the benefits that spring from that. We can talk about almost anything. We support each other in a variety of ways. We are, in many senses, intimate with each other. My mind is consistently blown that, in this strange wide world, I managed to find a human who loves me just as much as I love him. A good part of our relationship is composed, as Mallard suggests, of the sweet moments — waking up together, cooking for each other, talking until two in the morning, discussing the things that delight or terrify us.
On the other hand, I absolutely have to note that this tried-and-true recipe for relationship bliss would not be complete without a generous portion of sexual activity.
Mallard’s right: you need a connection for a rousing bout of afternoon delight to blow all the circuits. But what that connection looks like is completely up to the user.
There is no one on this planet who can dictate the correct or incorrect circumstances to have sex other than you. That may mean a serious relationship sans sexual relations. That may mean a series of one-night stands. That may mean ongoing flings with a couple of friends. That may mean a body-and-soul-and-mind attachment to a specific human that you happen to love the fuck out of. The important part is that you decide what works and what doesn’t. Don’t let anyone shame you into telling you what is or isn’t right.
For me, personally, at this point in my life, the inclusion of sex is an indispensable part of my relationship. Partaking in good, satisfying sex is like having someone scratch an itch you can’t quite reach yourself. Masturbating can serve as a temporary substitute, but as 14-year-olds everywhere can attest, it’s no replacement for the real thing.
In my experience, sometimes a body just needs a good fucking. You might not be able to put a finger on it, in the same way you might not realize how much tension you carry in your shoulders until someone gives you a massage. Aha, you might think, as someone squeezes their thumbs into your shoulders. That’s what I needed. Sex can be just like that. Why do you think the stereotypical sex cry is usually a variation of oh, yes, god, please, yes?
While Mallard says a one-night stand is bound to end in a walk of shame and an existential crisis sooner or later, I have a hard time believing that to be true for everyone. The fact that one-night stand culture exists and is recognized as a cultural interaction proves that a decent portion of the population pursues it and continues to pursue it. For some people, one-night bed-sheet bonding works out just fine. Their bodies need a good stretch, a good scratch, and that’s the solution that works for them.
Personally, I don’t foresee breaking up with my human any time soon, but I’m not sure how long I would last before really, truly requiring a good fuck should we part ways. I’ve never had a one-night stand, but I could 100 per cent see myself pursuing one. I guarantee that my body will be ready to get back on the horse long before my heart will, and sleeping with strangers seems like a reasonable solution. After all, sleeping around with people you already know runs the risk of complication far more than an in-and-out operation. Having a one-night stand with someone you never, ever intend to see again seems like a fine solution — it’s only entering that scenario expecting another sort of intimacy that stands to hurt one party or another.
Mallard counsels taking care of both heart and body when searching for intimacy, a sentiment I hope to emphasize as well. I just hope to clarify that the two don’t always have to be sated by the same action, and that you should never, ever feel guilty about the way you choose to tend to your desires for intimacy — no matter what sort of intimacy you’re in the market for.