I use the phrase ‘friendly sex’ because the term ‘casual sex‘ is cliché, and leads to confusion. I suggest a lovers friendship in consenting pleasure is better when we include higher qualities in the affection. These qualities are not a function of time, they can happen quickly, slowly, or not at all. More on this later. Such love exists outside of what many of us know from past experiences and lack of experience limits our understanding – but not our capacity. We often hear love reduced to an equation that amounts to getting what we want. Such ideas bind love to our thinking and past understanding.
Sex, like rain, can happen as a deluge or a morning mist. Much of the sex that happens has more to do with the people around us and the circumstances including our bodies at the time. In a free love community, sex might not happen, but it is certainly welcome and that makes sex more possible. I contrast a lovers friendship in open sexuality with playing a game to have sexual adventures. I would like to illuminate the hidden costs of being a player. When I say player, I mean one who is willing to deceive to have more sexual experiences and this includes lies of omission. Players can be male or female, straight or not. The word player suggests both a game and winning and this is more than mere poetic analogy. In a game, others are often viewed as opponents. When a game is won or lost, it’s over.
In contrast to a lovers friendship, if we are accustomed to playing the game, or worrying that others might be playing their game, we’re tempted to play as self defense.
We risk missing what’s important when someone is NOT playing a game. Oranges are orange, but not everything orange is an orange. A lover and a player have much in common, including sexual desires, to confuse the two is understandable. I know a man, pushing seventy years old, who once lamented, “if I didn’t lie to women, they wouldn’t give me anything.’ The statement is NOT true, but he thinks it is and that matters. Such attitudes are common and they tempt us to suspect we are being played when another is being truthful. We don’t want to be fooled so, like the man above, we become more or less pessimistic. The attitude smacks of politics. A cunning player even uses our pessimism against us, hence the statement below.
‘The most assured and insidious means of dissimulation is to speak the truth.’
Otto Von Bismarck, 1815 -1898, Chancellor of the German empire
I interpret the Chancellor to mean – When we are on the game board, we don’t see people, we read people and we read them according to the rules of the game. When we habitually expect lies, the truth seems unlikely or part of a bigger deception. We are victims of self-fulfilling prophesy that views all sex as a game. Herein lies a distinction I like to make between an invitation and a seduction. Invitation welcomes discovery and seduction provokes imagination. I’m not talking about teasing or dirty talk. I’m talking about deceit as power to manipulate others and changing the direction of their lives. This is different from playing like someone’s daddy and calling them a naughty little slut. The power of any con artist lay not in his or her ability to lie but the power of the listener to feel what they imagine. Our mind communicates to our bodies through impulses, not words, that is why what we think, affects how we feel regardless of the truth.
Some might say “what does it matter if all we want is the pleasure. If we pretend at being loving it still creates possibilities for good things.” I think this rationale for deception misses something important. When we manipulate our lovers, they are a means to another end. But our affections can also be worth having for their own sake, they are part of a good life, even if the affection leads to nothing else. To mistake a means for an end is to miss the end because we think we already have it.
Now let’s use imagination as a tool to bring out real values hidden behind our old ideas. We will imagine some lovers. Below I’ll make bullet points looking at what we value to show why I say some affections are better especially a lovers friendship. In each pair of events, the value improves as a whole because something made it a better whole. Also this need not be limited to two people, it could be any number.
- One person loves another but the love is not returned. That love is good.
- Two people share in mutual love. That love is better.
- Two people share love mutually but the love is built on a deception. The love is still good but threatened by the truth.
- Two people love each other and the love is undeceived. That love is better.
- Two people love each other, do not deceive each other and one speaks the truth. That love is good.
- Two people love each other, do not deceive each other and both speak the truth. That love is better.
- Two people love each other in the truth but neither has the freedom to come and go as they chose or love others in a similar way. That love is good.
- Two people love each other in truth and both have the freedom to come and go and love others in a similar way. That love is better.
Note: When I say truth, I do not mean an absence of mistakes. A truthful person will admit mistakes once they see them.
Like a tree that sprouts and gains branches and then leafs out and blossoms finally to produce delicious sweet fruit. Each part is different but is part of the tree. Contrast this growing blossoming whole tree above to a blossom cut off a branch or to a Bonsai tree that is root-bound and remains forever stunted. A beautiful woman’s nose is part of her, if we cut off her nose, she is not beautiful anymore, but that doesn’t mean the beauty resided in her nose. If we imagine her severed nose, that is not beauty. The nose is part of a beautiful whole but beauty is not part of the nose.
If a player believes pleasure is the only end, they will have no access to what is more valuable. It will be as if what is better doesn’t exist. I am NOT saying the game does not have pleasures. Since other qualities can exist along with pleasure as part of a good life, to miss them, especially if good fortune makes them available, seems a tragic mistake. The good news is, nothing forces us to make this mistake and if we can get off the game board, we can see what good things life actually offers us beyond the game. It may not look like anything we’ve previously imagined. Does our universe include good things beyond what we can imagine? Considering how big the universe is, I think it is not only safe to say yes, we should say yes emphatically. When beautiful affections like a lovers friendship make us glad to live; glad we didn’t miss our chance, we are able to share that happiness and gratitude in many ways with others.