Love at first...shag?

I'm not often at a loss for words. I am often gobsmacked by unexpected brilliance, but that's the whole point of brilliance, to smack you across the face and make you sit up and take notice. That's not what I'm talking about.  I mean I am rarely struck dumb.  Come now, I have too much to say, on damn near everything, irrespective of whether or not I actually know anything about anything.  So you can imagine my surprise last week when a reply from Ann* left me speechless.  This is not an exaggeration, for the record, I truly had no response to what she said...

I asked:
My next question should then be, did you shag with him with the idea that it could possibly blossom (always wanted to say that) into a relationship, or was it simply a shag because you both wanted to and could? For the record, either answer is perfectly acceptable (\o/), I'm just trying to get a better idea of where your head is/was at. Did you talk about relationships prior to the shag?
She replied:
I prefer my hook ups to bloom into relationships. I have been accused of reversing the process, hookup-> relationship instead of relationship->hookup.
It took me three days to formulate a basic reply, in my head:

And why, you ask, was I struck dumb?  If you've read any of my sewer tales you may have picked up on my, umm, aversion to looking for love in between the legs of another.  I've said it, many times, don’t have sex as a means to the end that is love.  So for me to find someone who is a firm believer in said practice here, on my front page no less...  It's like I stumbled upon a pink unicorn in my living room.  “What in the actual fuck?” I exclaimed, Katt Williams expression on my face.  Understand me, it's not that I object to this choice, whatever rocks your boat is my motto, no?  It's that I don’t understand how she ended up here, amongst the deviants looking for a good shag and not much else.


Incidentally, how many more of you unicorns are out here lurking in my closets?  Reveal yourselves...  No really, reveal yourselves, I'm curious.  I am, really.  I won't give you a hard time, this is more of an educational head count, for me, she adds, looking away in what can only be described as a very suspicious manner.

Looking for some education
I made my way into the night
All that bullshit conversation
Baby can't you read the signs?
I won't bore you with the details baby
I don't even want to waste your time
Let's just say that maybe
You could help to ease my mind
Baby, I ain't Mr. Right

But if you're looking for fast love...

After a couple of days, the shock wore off and I got to thinking, perhaps I'm too jaded (I am, no?). What if casual sex really can lead to a meaningful relationship, love, happiness, all that stuff?  My first impression was this may be an age thing, where younglings shag first and stick around long enough to ask questions later, and the older you get the more hesitant you become, for a myriad of reasons.  That theory made sense for about two minutes, until I recalled having a conversation with someone older than me about their messy relationship with an idiot who was originally supposed to be just a one night stand.  It's clearly not an age thing.  My next theory was even better, it's that we've gotten more liberal, sexually, thus we're having more no strings sex even as we still look for strings.  Problem with this theory, if we're looking for strings, then doesn’t that mean the sex automatically is not no strings sex?  Put differently, if you have no strings sex, and then catch feelings and want the bloody strings, was the initial sex really sans strings?   Does it matter, in the grand scheme of things?  That, my lovelies, is today's 67 bob question.

I have to issue a disclaimer at this point and state my bias upfront: I think this is all bollocks.  Bollocks.  I'm writing this post with one eye, which is to say I'll be shaking my head vehemently, scoffing at the scientists and 'It worked for me!' essays I shall no doubt have to quote.  Wait, don’t click off in a huff just yet.  Inasmuch as I am not a believer, this is the one time I will be extremely happy to disabuse myself of a few misguided notions, if only so I can have more sex with new people, instead of wasting time on silly preliminaries like tedious questionnaires, plans and such.  There's also the possibility that I'll finally prove to all you unicorns (I see you...) once and for all that the horn thingi on your foreheads is an illusion.  Win/win either way, no?  Probably not.

Because I know there is that one genius smartass who'll rock up pale chini and start a discussion on the proper meaning of 'casual sex', definitions.

Wikipedia takes romance out of the equation:
Casual sex are certain types of sexual activity outside of romantic relationships that imply an absence of commitment, emotional attachment, or familiarity between sexual partners. Examples are sex in casual relationships, one-night stands, extramarital sex, prostitution, or swinging.
My problem with this definition is the absence of attachment or familiarity bit, because that implies that casual sex can only be had with a stranger.  Also, lumping one night stands and prostitution together is not helpful, but maybe that's just me.

Urban dictionary makes it simpler, as always:
Having sexual contact with another person with no plans on furthering a long term/committed relationship with that person.
Simple, no?  Sex without future plans.  Sounds about right.

Or not, as the lovely shrinks at Psychology Today explain:
Because human sexual behavior(sic) is so various, the phrase "casual sex" turns out to be a most treacherously roomy category. Casual sex" applies indiscriminately to one-night stands, playful sex with a friend-with-benefit's, exploratory sex with an acquaintance or roommate. It describes some sex between long-married couples, some open marriage encounters and masturbation (with or without porn or phone sex). It can be accurately applied to sex-junkets in colonized countries, adventures arranged on Web dating sites or swingers clubs...
(Random question, what the hell are 'sex-junkets in colonized countries'?  Every so often I suspect some of these wazungus I read are undeclared racists.  Don’t laugh at me, these buggers are devious, hiding their imperialist tendencies under a cloak of advanced knowledge.  That was a detour.)  The gist of that article is simple, your definition of casual sex depends almost entirely on your personal bias, which in turn means that what I consider casual sex may not be what you consider casual sex, which in turn means any definition I attempt here will be subject to lengthy discussion with aforementioned smartass in the comments section.  I know, the shrinks always complicate everything.

Casual sex is an umbrella term that encompasses many forms of sex that are similar in the fact that they do not involve committed relationships. This can include one night stands, friends with benefit's, and swinging. Other terms that are used to desribe(sic) casual sex are no strings attached sex and hooking up.
This is the definition I'm using today, from the sexy people over at Kinkly, sex minus commitment.  This covers everything from Friday night fungas to booty calls to Freddie Jackson 'Rock Me Tonight' sex with the ex to your biannual orgy with six of your closest friends; it's all casual, until flags are planted and declarations are made.  Yes?  Yes.

Now as it turns out, the term 'hook up' is not synonymous with casual sex. I assumed it was, but apparently the Americans who coined the phrase insist it isn’t.  From the earlier Wikipedia page:
A hookup (colloquial American English) is a casual sexual encounter involving physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment; it can range from kissing (for example, making out) to other sexual activities. Hooking up became a widespread practice among young people in the 1980s and 1990s. Researchers say that what differentiates hooking up from casual sex in previous generations of young people is the "virtual disappearance" of dating, which had been dominant from the postwar period onwards. Today, researchers say, casual sex rather than dating is the primary path for young people into having a relationship.
Where I assumed that the hook up meant no strings sex, and it sometimes does, it might be that same hook up is this generation's (I mean people in their teens/20's right now, the generation that grew up with FM radio, yaani, not me) way of getting to know someone, i.e. dating, but without the date.  

Yes, I can see my flawed theories beginning to tumble down.  Stop smirking.

Looking for some affirmation
I made my way into the sun
My friends got their ladies
They're all having babies
I just wannna have some fun
I won't bore you with the details baby
Gotta get there in your own sweet time
Let's just say that maybe
You could help to ease my mind
Baby, I ain't Mr. Right

But if you're looking for fast love...

Despite this definition, I can't help wondering if perhaps they've got it wrong.  Thing is, older people inevitably try to impart their own meaning when they don’t understand what's going on.  That's why all the magazines now have way too long articles on how 'hook-up culture' hurts young people, young women in particular, often along the lines of 9 Ways The Hook-Up Culture Is Ruining Love As We Know It (don’t bother with that list, unless you're sanctimonious and/or prudish).  It's not that us geriatrics oppose casual sex, or that we didn’t do it in our misguided youth, it's just that (cue melodramatic clutching of pearls) we think it's making these kids numb to real relationships (gasp!).

Shock on us oldies, then, when research shows us that:
Specifically, boomers had an average of 11 sexual partners as adults, whereas those born in the ’80s and ’90s had eight. Gen-Xers, who came in-between, had an average of 10 lays.
Yup, younglings are less freaky than my geriatric ass. Woobloodyhoo. Unrelated, this explains so much...
“If you’re the sort of person who likes casual sex, then having casual sex will probably make you feel better about things. If you're not, it won't.”
Sounds legit, no? Wait for the best bit...
Relationships that start with a spark and not much else aren't necessarily doomed from the get-go, new research suggests. Couples who became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship ended up just as happy as those who dated and waited.

I can see all my unicorns doing a wee dance of joy right now, smug rainbow-tailed bastards...

My people, turns out I've been wrong all along. You can find love in between the legs of another:
In an analysis of relationship surveys, UI sociologist Anthony Paik found that average relationship quality was higher for individuals who waited until things were serious to have sex compared to those who became sexually involved in "hookups," "friends with benefit's," or casual dating relationships. But having sex early on wasn't to blame for the disparity. When Paik factored out people who weren't interested in getting serious, he found no real difference in relationship quality. That is, couples who became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship ended up just as happy as those who dated and waited. [emphasis mine]

"We didn't see much evidence that relationships were lower quality because they started off as hookups," said Paik, an assistant professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "The study suggests that rewarding relationships are possible for those who delay sex. But it's also possible for true love to emerge if things start off with a more 'Sex and the City' approach, when people spot each other across the room, become sexually involved and then build a relationship."

Before you start waxing romantic, read the fine print...
So if not the context of sexual involvement, what is behind the lower quality scores for relationships initiated as hookups? Paik points to selection: Certain people are prone to finding relationships unrewarding, and those individuals are more likely to form hookups.[emphasis mine]

"The question is whether it's the type of relationship that causes lower quality or whether it's the people," he said. "The finding is that it's something about the people."

People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hookups, and to report lower relationship quality. Through the acquisition of partners, Paik said, they begin to favor(sic) short-term relationships and find the long-term ones less rewarding. It's also likely that people who are predisposed to short-term relationships are screened out of serious ones because they don't invest the time and energy to develop long-term ties, Paik said.

What they're saying is the nature of the relationship depends on the people in said relationship. Sounds obvious, but it's not always that clear, is it?  Simply put, odds are either you or your casual partner, or both of you, are uninterested in commitment, which is how you ended up casually shagging to begin with.  Which means, there's no guarantee that casual sex will become anything more, not unless both parties are actively looking to get into something more meaningful.  I clarify this bit because it's often the cause of possibly the number one agony aunt question in this age of random shags, “I've fallen for my fuck buddy/friend with benefit's/no strings shag, what do I do?

But if you're looking for fast love
Fast love in your eyes
It's more than enough
Had some bad love
Some fast love is all that I've got on my mind...
I figure if anyone knows anything about casual sex, then it's George Michael.  One could even argue that he is intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of the random shag.  Ahem.  He also knows a fair share about unrequited love, and love that doesn’t work out as planned, if his music is anything to go by.
In the absence of security
I made my way into the night
Stupid cupid keeps on calling me
And I see nothing in his eyes...

Listen, I'm usually quite happy to take the scientists at their word, but not today.  If there's one thing I've learnt in this my peculiar life, it's that casual sex is just that, casual.  That doesn’t mean it's bad, or meaningless, or boring, or something to avoid, it's just casual.  Frankly, I think that's what makes it so good, when it is good.  (When it's bad it's always the twat's fault.  Default position unless proven otherwise, yes? Yes.)  Thing is, this is what works for me and my issues, so feel free to ignore me and do your own thing.  Can't hurt, can it?

Can you form a relationship from a random shag?  It would appear so.  Does it matter how the relationship began?  It would appear not.  Will said relationship last?  That's entirely up to you, my lovely little unicorn.