There’s talk in the air – particularly among my 20-something LGBT clients – of “sex as sport”. What does this mean? From what I hear, it’s about sex as an activity, like tennis or baseball…just for fun, good for exercise…no muss, no fuss…and no emotional drama. This is what I call “sex lite”. Sex without commitment, emotional drama and seriousness.
Is this a good thing, or a step down into unhealthy relationships? I think neither. Let’s not oversimplify sex; it’s a supremely rich, deep and complicated activity involving three key aspects of yourself: your mind (thoughts), heart (emotions) and genitals (libido). Each of us has her/his unique way of “mixing” these three together in our sex life.
Instead of judging and condemning “sex as sport”, why not be curious about it. [Of course, I am assuming that all “sex as sport” is safe sex. Otherwise, that’s “sex as stupidity”]. For example, here are some ways it might work for you. “Sex as sport” views:
Sex as playful: it helps you get out of your ultra-logical side and let yourself go, be a bit uninhibited …maybe even surprise yourself. Playfulness is an aspect of being childlike (not childish); playfulness helps keep us youthful, spontaneous and carefree. It’s a good antidote to stress, anxiety and panic.
Sex as an escape from reality: sometimes, when things really suck, it’s good to have an escape. Sex (whether its solo or with a partner) can be a good temporary escape from your problems and woes.
Sex as conquest: for some folks, the thrill of the chase and the excitement of “conquering” someone is a big part of “sex as sport”. This kind of sex is often about feeling powerful, hot and sexy. It also has its “dark” side, which is more about exerting control over others. When your life feels out of control, being the “dominant” person in sex can help you feel more in control, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
Sex as a boredom filler: who among us hasn’t been bored and considered sex as an option? In some ways, sex is right up there with food in this department. The downside? it’s a temporary fix for a permanant problem.
Sex as a self esteem boost. I had a client tell me recently: “She told me I was hot…it was just what I needed, ‘cause I sure was feeling old and ugly.” Again, the main problem with this is that once the sex is over, where is your self-esteem now?
Sex as a reward: As one client told me, “I’ve been so good, now I’m gonna have a cute little muscle boy for tonight”…and he did. And he felt good, for awhile.
While “sex as sport” can give us short-term relief for a variety of life’s problems, these problems don’t go away just from having great sex. By the way, I don’t find “sex as sport” to be a predominantly male phenomenon: based upon conversations with my lesbian clients, there seem to be just as many “players” (or “playas”) of the female gender as there are males.
There is nothing intrinsically “bad” about “sex as sport”: you can use it to make your life more stimulating or you can use it to avoid emotionally connecting with people. If you’re afraid to meet, date and make love with someone whom you could really get to know (and love), then “sex as sport” with the newest hot boy/girl on your radar may be a diversion from working through your obstacles to a deep, rewarding, long-term relationship.
I admit to a bias: I believe that the absolute best sex involves your mind (psychological arousal), your heart (emotional connection) and your genitals (sexual energy). When you get all three working together: the possibilities for deep, amazing, mind-blowing sex are amazing.
While “sex as sport” can be great fun, there’s a lot it doesn’t offer. Many of us want someone to cuddle with at night, wake up in their arms, laugh with them over breakfast, and kiss them goodbye before we leave for work.
If “sex as sport” appeals to you, I recommend that you consider it as a rich, calorie-laden dessert to be enjoyed now and then. However, if it becomes the “main course” of your sex life, you may be using it to avoid the vulnerability of a relationship with more depth, openness and complexity. If that’s the case, try having “dessert” a little less often and explore bringing more of your heart into your relationships – sexual and otherwise. Perhaps then, “sex as sport” can evolve into something even better.