I love one-night stands. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about when you bring a stranger into your house and get naked with them, but I love it. I love fucking someone and then kicking them out of my bed and never talking to them again.
I love relationships, too, don’t get me wrong. All the sex I’ve had in the past six weeks has been with the man I’ve been dating for over a year and a half. (I’ve been busy, OK?) However, almost all the messages we get tell us that sex is about love and knowing someone deeply, and when you do it any other way, you’re just fulfilling an urge, a bare step up from masturbation, and that you should be hoping you’ll fall in love with the person by the end of it anyway. I’m here to explode that notion. Sex with someone you love is awesome, but you already know that. I’m here to tell you why sex with strangers is also really awesome.
Sex is a deeply spiritual experience. I was going to add “for me,” but it’s spiritual for everyone in some form or another. Sex brings us into the present, grounds us in our bodies, invites us to let go of our demons and our insecurities and embrace the most radical pleasure and love the universe has to offer. That’s what religion tries to do, too; it can just take longer.
But wait, you ask, aren’t we talking about sex with strangers? Surely sex with a stranger can’t be a religious experience! You don’t even know each other’s last names, much less love each other, and it’s so tawdry. How could that possibly lead to moments of enlightenment?
First, you have to release the shame about casual sex. “Just sex” is an awesome thing. You already think so or you wouldn’t be doing it; however, you’ve got centuries of societal pressure built up telling you sex is only for loving, married people -- so you still, deep inside, think you’re doing something wrong. You’re not. You’re doing something different.
When you love someone, having sex is about mushing your bodies together because you want to mush your souls together. It’s about making the other person feel awesome because of how awesome they make you feel. It’s about getting to know someone’s deepest secrets and telling them yours because you trust them so much and you want to be that close. Casual sex is none of that.
Casual sex is about worshiping the human body apart from the personality that inhabits it. It’s about being whoever you want to be, for the few hours you spend with someone who is also wearing a mask. This is Platonism, reaching up to the Forms above and bringing them down to project on to a human.
When I’m with a stranger, I can ignore the parts of myself I haven’t yet figured out, and live in to my most confident, centered self. I appreciate the people who know me deeply because they help me face my brokenness with love. To a stranger, though, I can be whole, even if it’s just on the surface.
Clint Seiter, a gay Buddhist, calls this Archetypical Sex (as opposed to Intimate Sex). He says:
"Archetypical Sex seeks to transcend, to connect and identify with a concept greater than our personal selves. The partner loses his own personality and identity and becomes an ideal of the Male. In successful Archetypical Sex, the egos of both partners can dissolve into the act of sex itself. Archetypical Sex is a form of worship to a principle of beauty momentarily incorporated within the body of a partner."
And it’s goddamn empowering. Getting some brand new person to think you’re hot enough to fuck is a great feeling. Discovering something that makes this person writhe or moan is always exciting. Sure, sometimes you end up with an awkward partner or things go wrong, but that’s part of the gamble with casual sex.
Sometimes you get a near-virgin, sometimes you get a licensed sex therapist. No matter what, when you’re done, they can leave your bed (or you theirs) and you can delete their number from your phone and never have to deal with the challenge of becoming real people to each other.
On first dates, I tell people that I’m capable of two ends of the sexual spectrum: one-night stands and long-term relationships. Either I fall hard for someone on that first date and we enter a months-long period of having regular sex (and spending time together with all our clothes on, of course), or I take the person home with me, fuck them and never speak again.
These are the two most loving options. The first love is obvious, but the second is equally sacred. Rather than letting my ego get in the way and find a million reasons to dislike someone, I dissolve myself in the moment and experience the archetype in a stranger.
Try it next time you’re heading for casual sex. Tell me it’s not awesome.