There’s this idea of “meaningless sex,” that sex can be “just” sex.
But if Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake couldn’t pull it off in the 2011 romantic comedy “Friends with Benefits,” I’m pretty sure it can’t be done.
The concept of meaningless sex can go hand-in-hand with hookup culture.
People seem to think that they can separate the physical, somatic, chemical parts of sex from the mental, emotional, interpersonal parts.
The idea is that you can have sex without all the fuss and complication of emotions.
The formula is as such:
First, find someone on Tinder or at some frat.
Then, take them home.
Then, sleep with them.
And then, the next day, go on with your life as if nothing happened.
But, something did happen.
You took someone to your home, you trusted them with your naked body. Then, you touched them, were undeniably intimate, and it was great (hopefully)!
What if that person was a stranger? How does that take away from the “meaning” of sex?
It’s all the more remarkable that you were able to experience such a vulnerable act with that person, considering you have very little reason to trust them with your intimacy.
It’s easy to see sex as all-or-nothing. It is commonly said: “Oh, it was just a one night stand…I’ll never see him/her again.” What is contrapositively said is, “I think I’m in love, I want to be with this person for the rest of my life.”
But can there really be no in between? How about, “I’m not sure whether it’ll happen again or not, but last night was really special, and I’m glad it happened.”
Hookup culture seems to scare people away from over-commiting, as if cherishing an experience requires a commitment to it.
No one wants to come off as clingy after a one night stand. For instance, I toured China one summer and really embraced my time there. I’m obviously not going to move to China, but I found meaning in my experience.
There should be a way to appreciate some casual sex without taking it to an extreme.
I suppose the problem is that sex is anything other than a meaningless, animal act that introduces the complications of emotions. It introduces jealousy, insecurity and risk. Those are really scary things. Even with those words, I can feel myself getting defensive.
But don’t forget—the good comes with the bad. It’s only a risk if there’s a potential reward, right? I remember a discussion with my sister in which she said, “But sex just isn’t as good when you’re not in love.”
In my mind, the point is valid.
More importantly, I think she understands that sex is just as much about the emotions and the mind as it is about the body. The more acts of love there are in sex, the better it can be.
This doesn’t mean you have to be in love, just that you ought to have some. Call me a hippie, but I really believe that you can find something to love in anyone.
Also, if you get as far as hooking up with someone, you’ve already found something to love about them. Focus on that, hold it close and cherish it during sex, instead of denying its existence.
Doing so shows a greater respect for your partner as well as your time together.
And, in the end, the sex will be better and even more fulfilling.
Armstrong is a member of the class of 2016.