Sex with friends

Original in Russian: https://naprienko.blog/2019/04/06/sex-with-friends/

Throughout all my life, I thought that a good relationship is when you met, you liked each other, you have common interests, you communicate a lot, respect each other’s goals, come together, fall in love, and then, depending on your preferences, you might have children, but in general, you live together, love each other, nobody cheats on anyone, in simple words, a traditional idyll.

However, reality sobered me up a bit.

First, people often move

People change schools, universities, stages of education, work, and just the cities in which they want to live. I keep in mind a typical path: school — bachelor — master / postgraduate / work. Even in this simple case, we can be thrown through life from place to place until we are thirty years old.

I lived in Krasnoyarsk until the age of 20, then I lived in Moscow for two years, and now I have moved to California. Now I am 22, my graduate school will end in 4 years. Then, probably, I will be a postdoc for a couple of years, and then another postdoc (as often happens now), and then I can get lucky, and I will find a “permanent” job at some university. It is possible that up to 30+ years I will not stop in any place for a long time if I continue to pursue career (and academic) goals.

If at any moment before the “permanent” position I decide to start a relationship, then I will have to either compromise with my ambitions or have a distance relationship. In the first case, it is impossible to pursue my goals, while in the second, the opportunity to live together is lost. The idyll is falling apart.

Secondly, sex

Usually, people hold one of two conflicting points of view. Either sex is a sacred connection, or sex is a pleasant exercise — from spiritual unity to an intimate handshake. No spectrum. But everyone agrees that sex is great. If a person is open to pleasure, and partners are willing to help each other, sex is great.

Notice that it is written “sex” above, and not “sex with someone with whom you are planning to be together, but not before the third date.” This is a snag that is infinitely far from wholesome people. They just cannot consider sex as just one of the things that people do. For them, it’s too intimate and important.

Sex, if you think about it, is not very different from any other human activity. We talk, play games, hug, clap each other on the shoulder, kiss, do massage, work on the project, look each other in the eye, have sex, hold hands, tell secrets, meditate and sleep in one bed. For some, sleeping in the same bed with someone is a more intimate thing than a passionate kiss. And for someone to talk heart to heart is more difficult than having sex.

And, of course, different people are better or worse at sex (just like at anything else.) Wholesome people immediately argue that they enjoy only their beloved partner whom they trust, and they can’t get pleasure from casual sex. In practice, however, good sex is good sex, nothing more.

Thus, if we have sex only with our partner, we lose the opportunity to experience a lot of positive emotions. With the same success, you can limit yourself in any other activity and not get a new experience, feelings, and pleasure from interacting with different people who are not similar to each other. People are good at different things. With someone, it is better to talk about philosophy, with someone to play music, and with someone, it’s better to have sex. This is normal.

Solution? Questions…

But what do you mean? Until thirty years, do not start any strong relationship? Do not come and plan a life together? Do not think of partners as potential spouses?

Well, what if… yes?

Let’s assume for a moment that we don’t want to have children. Why do we have this tendency in us to search for a single and unique partner who “serves” us, and we — to them? Where did the idea that a partner should be only one come from? What makes us split our graph of human relations into pairs?


There are 12988816=3604*3604 ways to decompose 8×8 graph into such pairs, by the way.

Why don’t we treat partners the way we treat friends? I know that if I come to Moscow or Krasnoyarsk, I will meet with my old friends as if nothing had happened, and we will spend time together. Why do we deal with partners otherwise?

We get partners where we live. And if we move, we will treat them the same way we treat old friends. If we go back or travel, we can meet them and have a good time again.

But in this formulation, it is not clear: what is the difference between friends and partners? Perhaps our orientation and sympathies shorten the list of possible intimate connections, but we can have intimacy with everyone we like! Why don’t we do this? Why not make intimacy, intimate relationships and sex a part of friendship? Why do we need these artificial restrictions at all?

I like talking with some friends and having parties with others. Some support me, while others inspire by their example. With one, I can sit in the kitchen all night, and with others, I would prefer to have sex and cuddle. And all these sets intersect differently!

We make new friends in new places, but we remember and value old friends. We can add to the definition of «friendship» a new feature, and nothing will change. But everyone will get more pleasure. Right?

Our trouble is that we have ignored and thus feel insecure in the enormous spectrum of love which lies between rather formal friendship and genital sexuality, and thus are always afraid that once we overstep the bounds of formal friendship we must slide inevitably to the extreme of sexual promiscuity. — Alan Watts

Let’s have sex with friends! — Yaroslav Naprienko.

And if we want children?

Why in psychology is it considered that a “complete” family with a mother and father is the correct ideal, and everything else is not very much? Nowadays, children are born by people in same-sex marriage who do not adhere to standard gender roles. They do not have a «mother» and «father», but simply two people raising a child.

And what’s wrong if a person brings up a child alone? Suppose a girl decided to have a baby. She made savings (just as she would for a car, apartment, education, or trip), found a partner, agreed with him, they conceived a child, she gave birth and began to raise her child.

There are enough services in the world that allow raising a child alone. Many families hire nannies even in «full» families. You can raise a child yourself. In the end, many single mothers raise their children themselves. Why is this generally considered bad?

I have never studied this part of psychology, but I easily assume that the role of mother and father in the family is conditional and social. It is important for the development of the child exactly as long as it is considered normal in society. But if a parent has a strong opinion and acts in his own way, they can raise their children themself.

We do not need a partner to raise children. Yes, it is convenient. And generally accepted. But there is no need for this. Children can be raised independently. Right?

A bit of criticism

One of the most powerful arguments against the above, which I can come up with, is a comparison of quantity and quality. It can be said that in “real” relationships, in which people do not cheat on each other, live together and all this, one can achieve unprecedented closeness, which cannot be achieved if sharing intimacy with different people. For example, simply due to lack of time. And this quality is not overlaid by quantity. Ten semi-close people will not bring such pleasure, as one really close person.

But doesn’t friendship work the same way? Why do we make many friends instead of one very, most beloved and important friend? Why not stick to quality instead of quantity in friendship? Perhaps that is why people separate relationships and friendship. We cannot claim full-time friends, but … we also cannot claim full-time partners! Where did this egoism come from, which makes people limit their partners and control their lives?

I admit that an incredible quality can be more pleasant than an incredible quantity. But I can easily assume the opposite. In the film “Her”, artificial intelligence loved hundreds of people at the same time, arguing this as follows:

  • Samantha : The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love. I’m different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love you more.

And I find these words logical. The more we love, the better we can love. We see features and weaknesses in different people, we begin to appreciate more than everything that each person does for us, because we know how it happens in other love relationships. The more we love, the better we get it. We learn to experience emotions and feelings just as we learn to be friends or to talk.

People say it’s good to be in a bad relationship. I argue that it is helpful to be in any relationships. We can learn in them things that we will use in communication with future friends / partners in our life.

So what?

That’s it.

It may not be necessary to choose one single partner. You can get intimate relationships and sex with different people. You can live with friends, partners or alone. You can have sex with friends, and you can play football with them. You can be less jealous, and angry, and love, trust, and share more. And, perhaps, by filling out our relationship graph in a more dense way, we all get more love, intimacy, and feelings, and everyone will benefit. Yeah, that sounds a bit hippie. And what’s wrong with that?

I wrote this post in one sitting and did not say anything about my life and did not advise anything. Actually, I ask! If you have a strong opinion on the topic of relationships, write me, please, I will be happy to discuss.

Telegram: @naprienko
Facebook: Yaroslav Naprienko
Mail: naprienko@stanford.edu

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