No-strings sex

Men who enjoy casual sex have always been tolerated. So why are women labelled when they do it?

Fact of life number 20562: some women enjoy having sex without being in love. Unlike the girls conducting business after hours on the city's street corners, here there's no monetary exchange, no promise to leave wives, girlfriends or significant others, and no time wasted on wishy-washy declarations of love and unfulfilled proposals of marriage.

While men who enjoy casual sex have always been tolerated, female sexuality has often been under the control of everyone but the woman herself.

The one-night stand
The amount of time between "girl meets boy" and "girl beds boy" may be weeks, months or many years for the patient, the pious or those who've picked a man who can't raise the rands for lobola. But in the case of lust at first sight, it's only a matter of minutes, perhaps hours, before the law of the jungle takes over. In this kind of casual sex it's understood (or it should be) that no phone numbers will be exchanged and that come daybreak, there'll be no hard feelings.

The downside
Guilt may arise the morning after the night before. Says Johannesburg psychiatrist and sexologist, Dr Bernard Levinson: "I hate guilt! Take responsibility for your actions, and make sure you use a condom. Whatever you did, you did. It's your baggage."

The upside
Men adore being objects of lust. Says Brendan Cooper, UCM Editorial Director: "It's so rare to have a straightforward, upfront come-on from a woman that I imagine most men are really chuffed by it." But can a man look at a woman with respect after such a fling? "Why should women be looked at differently because they enjoy sex too?" he asks.

The hunter-gatherer
Whereas a one-night stand is often coincidental, or the result of spiked punch at a party, there are women who set out to count their conquests with as much relish as any man.

Yet there's a huge difference between an unattached woman enjoying casual sex as and when circumstances permit, and a woman who requires sex continually in order to feel whole, no matter who she has it with.

The downside
Sex with no strings attached may sound idyllic, but it does have its drawbacks. Hunter-gatherers aren't always happy.

Says Dr Levinson: "They're seeking orgasms that evade them, a sense of completion that fails every time. It's a deep-seated problem that doesn't do well in talking therapy and may need medication of sorts."

The upside
Being able to express one's sexuality outside a relationship is certainly a plus if love remains elusive for a long time. If you fancy a guy and long to see him naked in your bed, behaving like a hunter-gatherer is a fast track to passion. Is there a tried and trusted method of doing this?

"Yep," says Cooper. "All a woman has to say is: 'Get your jacket, buddy – you just pulled."

The shag buddy
It's an intriguing idea to have a man on call in the event of horniness, someone who'll kiss and not tell – but how easy is it to separate the performance from the performer?

Says Dr Eve: "You can bet on things getting confusing the morning after. Sharing yourself physically with someone is intensely personal and intimate. Expect to feel your body shift a little as it integrates this new person into itself."

There's a strong chance of feeling empty or used if the only post-sex pillow talk is about when you'll meet again for a repeat session. Perhaps one of the partners is secretly wanting something more. "In my experience, there are few women who don't have a measure of hope that this one will be the Prince," says Dr Eve. "Casual sex is hard on the heart."

The shag buddy system has the advantage of tiding one over until better days. Says Dr Eve: "Many women find it easier to be sexually satisfied with a near-stranger than in a relationship. When there's no relationship pressure on them, they have less to lose and can risk asking for what they want sexually – so they feel more assertive and powerful."

What do men think?
The opinions of men are varied on this count. Some are happy to have sex served on a platter without having to buy flowers, dinner or diamonds. Some blatantly apply double standards. After all, it's good for them to find a woman who's up for it without too much persuasion, but would they really want a relationship with her?

Dr Eve feels that casual sex can be fun if it's a phase – not a lifestyle. "This is a choice adults have a right to make," says Dr Eve, "but it carries the need to take responsibility for protecting your body and mind."

Is it at all possible to have casual sex and not feel any regret after? Are you a woman who is comfortable with her own sexuality? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

- True Love

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2014-12-19 00:00
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