The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Sex, intercourse, lovemaking, or even bonking, are all words we frequently use to describe the act of pleasure we get from “doing it” with another person. Regardless of the name you choose to describe it, such an event, alongside the right or wrong person, can be either very intriguing or very annoying, respectively. Some say sex is the defining thing in their relationship. The chemistry can be good, but if the sex is bad, it’s over, and viceversa. The relationship may be toxic, but the sex is so good that it cancels out any problem the members of said relationship may be experiecing. In any scenario, whether we want to admit it or not, sex defines how long or short a relationship could be. Even in hookup culture, good sex could mean another go at it with same person. However, there are so many definitions of “good” sex that it can be hard to keep track of it. Therefore I ask the question…have our expectations surrounding sex actually shifted through time?
After the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sex almost became something of value; a reward even. However, between my experiences and hearing about a few others… sex has become something full of expectations that perhaps just weren’t there before. Has the social distancing made some (if not all) of us more attached to the idea of having sex in order to achieve a romantic realization rather than sexual fulfilment?
The main issue with sex is that it is usually left for romantic moments. When developing a serious relationship with someone, sex is what could make this couple official. In some cases, it is also a factor that can ultimately make or break the relationship. Therefore, as the moment approaches, the whole idea of actually having sex arrives in the presence of a sometimes excessive amount of expectations. And thus you believe that every single detail, including where you are going to engage in the act (the physical location), the things you did or were done to you during the process, or even your size, your body and how you choose to use it is subject to evaluation. I’ve heard stories where people are made uncomfortable because of something as apparently superficial as how the room where the deed was done was painted, and others whose intercourse was ultimately ruined because they did not say “I love you” or scream in pleasure during the act. It’s those unnecessary high expectations that we set for the act that set us up for major disappointment. Whenever we’re talking about sex, it’s essential that we don’t confuse our expectations with our needs. They are not the same. We might enjoy the act and what the other person has to offer, but because of our expectations of size, body and scenery, we end up having a negative (and sometimes, really unfulfilling) sexual experience.
That first time you decide to fully open up to your special someone is something that is bound to be nerve-racking and full of mistakes. You are not just opening up about feelings, you are being your complete vulnerable self with this one person. That first time should not define your decision to stay or leave; but, unfortunately, its influence to do so can be pretty significant.
In another perspective, sometimes having sex on the first date or doing similar things to quickly fall into the relationship leads to even bigger expectations. While I support small expectations to avoid big disappointments, the earlier you embark on sexual encounters while meeting someone, the more likely it will be for you to develop sexual expectations every time you meet up with this person. After I went on a date that led to sex, every time we saw each other since, there was a pressure that something sexual had to happen (mind you, we were very confident with each other by this point). And when said “something” didn’t happen, it was pretty evident that there was some tension and awkwardness present during our interactions, as if one of us did something wrong. Things take time; the more we rush into things, the quicker things could fade out without having to. I have, however, heard of couples that went for it on their first date and have actually turned out great. Once again, every person, relationship and sexual interaction is completely different.
It’s important to understand that expectations almost always lead to pressure. And while we deserve a bare minimum, as Jessie Ware said best in Save a Kiss: high anticipations are an emotional trap. Therefore, how do we manage what we expect, want or even need for sex? Specifically, how do we communicate what we want without sounding demanding or needy? It truly is a matter of communication; if the person you are about to do it with is not willing to negotiate what works for you and only achieves pressure instead, get dressed and run.
Besides it being my favorite, casual sex allows you to skip all the emotion, drama and questions. It goes straight to the point: no feelings, no attachmentーjust fun and pleasure. If things don’t work out that first time, there are no feelings or strings attached. Casual sex helped me to not only explore my sexuality but to define what are the things I like during the act. How can you expect yourself to be ready for someone and their sex expectations if you don’t know your own? There are so many weird perceptions of casual sex; but, before deciding to take anything serious with someone, casual sex must be a thing in order for you to explore what do you enjoy. Of course, casual sex is not an excuse to be irresponsible. Protection, STD tests and overall hygiene are things that you should not only expect from any of your partners (regardless of your or their sexual orientation); but rather, demand.
However, you must be careful with who you decide to keep things casual with. In any type of interaction that will lead to sex, communication is important. I’ve stumbled upon people who are in the casual sex game, but are not looking for casual sex. Therefore, they will expect something romantic of the act when in reality that is not what is supposed to be happening.
At the end of the day, casual, serious or any type of sexual encounter requires an understanding that your expectations must be met with the other person involved as well. In order to be able to manage and please someone else’s expectations, you must know yours so you are not left hanging. Expectations are not a bad thing, but an excess of such can lead you and your sexual partner to feel constantly unpleasant. It is important to understand that the act is not totally about you, and the key to being able to get your expectations across is to understand the ones of the person you are going down on. Sex does not have to be complicated, so let’s not make it so.