Promiscuity: Choice vs. Obligation [Sexy Time]

Even though I spend a lot of time thinking about sex (both intimately and in the larger, societal sense), it wasn’t until recently that I consciously distinguished between different types of promiscuity. I noticed that some people’s promiscuity makes me uneasy, while others’ barely registers on my radar. I realized that the difference in my perception lies in whether or not someone’s heightened interest in casual sex is borne out of a sense of obligation or whether or not the person is truly enjoying himself or herself.

Being promiscuous by obligation means that you’re not as discerning as you should be. It means that you feel like you can’t say no, or that you don’t have the right to say no. It manifests itself in risky decisions that put your health in danger (i.e., not using protection) or hopping into bed with people you’re not even attracted to when you’re six shots deep. It means that there is something in your brain telling you that you don’t have any agency, or that the only value you have is sexual. You feel incomplete if you’re not having as much sex as possible. Maybe you’re incapable of orgasming with a partner. This may be the result of something as serious as sexual trauma, a consequence of dangerously low self-esteem or a desperate desire to fit into the “hookup culture” mold.

In contrast, if you’re promiscuous by choice, you take care to be safe, relish the opportunity to have tons of diverse experiences, and have a sex-positive outlook on life. You don’t need to have sex to feel attractive. You can go out with your friends and not feel compelled to end the night in bed with someone else. You have standards that you don’t lower just for the sake of sleeping with someone. Your promiscuity isn’t an integral part of your personality – it’s essentially a hobby that you enjoy.

Hooking up, above all else, is supposed to be fun and pleasurable. If it’s not, you need to examine why. Whether you should seek therapy or whether it’s an issue you can work through on your own or with friends, don’t continue to indulge in behavior that isn’t good for you.

Jasmine is a graduate of Northern Arizona University who moved across the country to the Washington DC area for the politics and stayed for the cupcakes. She’s into working on her fitness, collecting nail polish, devouring current events, being the only person who still watches Gossip Girl, and relentlessly tweeting @itsajasmine.

[Lead image via Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock]

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