Should I have a fling or continue my not-quite-vow of celibacy ?
March 10, 2016 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I have met a man who I think *may* be open to this & who is moving in 2 months - but I recently promised myself no casual sex/relationship only. What would you do?

This is a bit pathetic but I've convinced myself it's an important decision or something.:

I split up with my ex 1 1/2 years ago (I was in a constant stream of relationships for 9 years before that!) so having a break was nice. During a period of about 9 months, I slept with 3 guys, no strings, so much fun! Well, mostly fun.

I've been working hard and putting effort into nurturing my relationships (friends & family), but not much dating. I met a guy through my friend & he made dinner for us (great cook!) although my friend made it clear during this she was sort of trying to set us up. He is here temporarily, before heading home to his native country. During the evening we got quite flirty, touching each other a lot & at the end of the night he wrapped his arms completely around me & held me, so I felt like he was giving me the green light. I decided to leave, thinking it would make me cheap and actually thought "I'm not like that anymore."

Anyway, my sex drive has sky rocketed lately! I've been on a health kick/getting fit, so this may be part of it. Just by chance we ended up in the same place at the same time recently. He asked me to meet for coffee, but I had to reschedule. Now, we are talking about cooking together in his home & seeing a film after (he lives right next to the cinema...). It was me that suggesed this too!

I am thinking that if I make a move on him he will not turn me down. But should I make a move? Or stick to my resolve to only be a relationship type gal from now on?. I almost feel determination/pride about not sleeping with anyone casually for 10 months but I also feel this is sort of ridiculous. Who knows when I'll meet someone I like enough to be in a relationship with again?

Finally I really enjoy his company & would be sort of sad if we just had some one night thing and never saw each other again, especially as we hang out with mutual friends sometimes.
posted by Ariel432 to Human Relations (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Who you choose to have sex with is an important decision. I support your decision to not sleep with him. You are making healthy choices right now, keep up the good work!
posted by myselfasme at 12:13 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

So if you don't have sex with him you'll be sticking with a plan you made for your own good but won't get laid (which was the plan anyway), but if you do have sex with him it would have a negative outcome?

That's pretty much the definition of no.

And as a stronger metric, yes: having to ask the internet this question means you are not emotionally or intellectually in a good place for this.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

During a period of about 9 months, I slept with 3 guys, no strings, so much fun! Well, mostly fun.

How did you feel after you slept with these guys? Be honest with yourself. Were you pining for more (not necessarily with them)? Did it make you feel better or worse about yourself? Lonely? Why did you stop sleeping with no-strings-attached guys? I don't know that your feelings would change significantly if you sleep with this guy, given that it has to be NSA.
posted by desjardins at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2016

Finally I really enjoy his company & would be sort of sad if we just had some one night thing and never saw each other again

But that's essentially what is going to happen, right? Except that it could be several one night things and then you'll never see him again.

If you only want sex within a long term relationship (which is a perfectly reasonable thing to want) then you obviously should not have sex with this guy. If you are fine with having flings then have a fling. But, if you are fine with having flings I do wonder why you decided that you weren't fine with it and resolved to stop doing it.

If you asked Dear Metafilter. I used to eat meat, but I decided for my spiritual and physical health that I would stop and I've been very proud of that decision. Should I have a hamburger for lunch? There is a place down the road that would probably sell me one.

I'd answer "no" and advise you to come to grips with why you became a vegetarian in the first place.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:20 PM on March 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: desjardins - I was living abroad, in an expat community where casual sex seemed more of the norm. Since coming home, I have "got serious" about life & sort of snapped out of it. 2 out of 3 experiences were positive (no regrets). Actually, the one that wasn't so positive was probably the best at the time - it was how he behaved after it that was odd, he wasn't comfortable with casual sex. So, I was happy with the act, but unhappy with his behaviour afterwards. Strangely enough, we are now on friendly terms at his initiation.

On one hand, I do want to keep to the not-quite-vow. On the other - I do want to sleep with him. Arg
posted by Ariel432 at 12:22 PM on March 10, 2016

You are going to feel super proud of yourself if you stick to your plan, right?

Are you going to feel super proud of yourself if you have sex with this guy? No, you are not.

~Who knows when I'll meet someone I like enough to be in a relationship with again?

If you've been in relationships for 9 years straight already, I am going to guess that they answer is "as soon as you are actually ready to be in one again". Don't stress out about this part.
posted by ananci at 12:22 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sometimes I work through these situations by weighing potential future benefits/regrets.

Since you talk about working out, I had this one mantra that always got me out the door: I will never regret working out (ever), but I very often regret not working out.

In this situation, how do you weigh the potential benefit/setback ratio? In my mind, I would think something like this: I see a potential setback to a one night thing (which you bring up), but on the other end of things, I can have a meaningful night together not having a one night thing. For some people missing out on good sex might be a setback to weigh in, but that pressure can sometimes diminish the value of non-physical time together, which has its own inherent merit to consider.

That's how I would do it anyway, everyone is different and puts different weight on different variables, but I find that it really helps to say what thing one definitely does not want to regret in the future, and consider whether it's possible to maximize the good on the other side of the equation without similar regrets.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:29 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you do end up sleeping with him because things get carried away on a date, don't beat yourself up for it. It's like being on a diet or going to the gym - falling off the horse once doesn't mean you have to give up on the whole plan, you just get back on the horse.

Also, you could end up having a relationship with this guy, for the 2 months. I've quite enjoyed those kinds of relationships, a bit bittersweet that they've got a finite lifespan, but that can be pretty freeing too. No worrying about whether this relationship is going anywhere, just having fun while you can.
posted by lizbunny at 12:30 PM on March 10, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think you are jumping the gun here. There is a great deal of grey zone between "sex" and "not sex."

I don't see any reason you can't let him know you really like him, but you are not interested in casual sex and you would hate yourself if this were a one night stand.

There is no reason you can't make out and have a good time and not go all the way on the first night and also not slam the door shut on the guy because of some vow of celibacy.

I mean, you know, relationships start somewhere. They usually ramp up a lot slower than one night stands. Who is to say this doesn't have the potential to be a relationship?
posted by Michele in California at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

Wow, lots of negative comments here! I'm not exactly clear on what your reasons were for deciding you were done with one-night stands, but I think in your situation I would consider what those reasons really are and whether you feel like they apply to this particular situation. I would not follow the vow ONLY because you made a vow and you randomly want to stick to it. If you end up deciding to see where things go, you don't have to go into the night with the attitude that SEX WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN. You can just...see where things go and decide what you're feeling in the moment. I agree with what Michele in California said that you guys could have a fun time without necessarily having certain kinds of sex.

Finally, I will say that a time-limited 3 month relationship in my younger years is a fond memory at this point, now that I am all settled and married. We knew we were basically wrong for each other and there were situational factors that meant things could not last beyond a certain point. But those 3 months were still really fun and nice, and it was definitely beyond "one night stand" even if it was not lifelong. I wonder if this guy could be in that in-between state where it's not going to lead to marriage due to outside circumstances, but could still be a relationship?
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:42 PM on March 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

I just me-mailed you
posted by JenThePro at 12:54 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

thinking it would make me cheap

Having sex doesn't make one cheap and it's OK to decide to not have sex (casual or not) for a while and then change your mind when you meet the right person.

Finally I really enjoy his company & would be sort of sad if we just had some one night thing and never saw each other again, especially as we hang out with mutual friends sometimes.

I think the more important thing is that there's a two month limit no matter what. If having sex with him will make you upset when he leaves, I'd stay away from it. But from what you've said, it sounds like a short term thing is something that you've handled successfully in the past. I generally fall into the it's better to regret the things you do than the things you didn't camp. There are many pleasures in life and I survive without sex, but my life is happier with sex in it and there is nothing that can take its place.

If I were you, I'd have the awkward conversation and see what he's interested in rather than just guessing and go for it if you think neither of you will get hurt.
posted by Candleman at 12:58 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you are hanging out with him socially and you sleep with him, this is a relationship! Just a short one, if you decide not continue it after he moves.

I don't understand why you are setting yourself up to feel badly about something that's not bad. If he did not want to hang out with you or wasn't nice to you generally, than of course don't be intimate with him. That goes for anyone!

You can not control how people you are dating act. That's not your fault.

ProTip: Not having sex won't make a mature adult into a user or an asshole, or just someone too insecure to cope with your feelings. go slowly might weed some of those folks out, but that's about all you can hope for. Users and selfish folks especially like to pretend they are normal people, emotionally underdeveloped adults are easier to spot off the bat. None of this makes you a slut or deserving of poor treatment, if that's what you are worrying about.

Not exactly an answer, but I hoped it helped. Live a full life, however you define it, that's the best you can do.
posted by jbenben at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

thinking it would make me cheap and actually thought "I'm not like that anymore."

What made you feel cheap before? What were you like that you don't want to be?

That's what you want to avoid. If that includes avoiding sex, then avoid it.

That said:

moving in 2 months

I don't know if I'd worry too much about this. Some of the relationships I look back on with the most affection and treasure most at this point in my life were short ones with a months-limited lifespan. Short (and even casual) doesn't have to mean that there isn't a real personal connection. And if you're feeling a connection with this guy, I don't see why you shouldn't explore it, within any limits you choose.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:04 PM on March 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

The guilt you would potentially feel drives you to ask us this question (in hopes it's no big deal).

But it is a big deal. To you. And once you do it, you can't undo it. Deep inside it seems you know allowing this to happen would be a step back in life. You feel this because of maturity. When one is faced with this, the safest, wisest, decision is to not do what you're tempted to.
posted by Tanzanite at 1:11 PM on March 10, 2016

10 months celibate? Hot guy? Hell yes have sex with him.
posted by biggreenplant at 1:22 PM on March 10, 2016 [7 favorites]

A vow is a vow and temptation arises sooner or later. If you want to keep your vow, then don't do it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:27 PM on March 10, 2016

I'm getting kind of a sex-negative/approaching slut shaming vibe from a lot of the responses in here. A lot of people are assuming that OP was left feeling ashamed after having casual sex, or that she was secretly wanting a "real" relationship the whole time. I get that sex is a Big Deal for many people, but it doesn't have to be and it seems like it isn't for OP. It sure isn't for me. When she describes previous encounters as being "mostly fun," I think a lot of you are assuming that the non-fun ones left her crying in the shower for hours afterward or some other stupid trope from the movies. I'm willing to guess it was more like, "Oh man, Marvin really had no idea what he was doing! My time would have been better spent watching Netflix with my cat, but what can ya do?"

So here you are, having made this decision for seemingly no concrete reason. And that's okay! But it also means that you can chuck it out the window without convincing yourself that you should feel bad about it. You say you'd be sad if you had a one night fling and then that was it, but I imagine that it's equally likely that you two get together for your next date and not have sex and then things fizzle out after that for whatever reason. Might you also be sad if this chap leaves forever and you never get to know how much fun you could have had together?

Another thought: I do think that the vow might be making you want to sleep with him more. Because it's naughty! And you said you wouldn't do this but damn, think abut how good it could be! So maybe think about that and whether or not that's affecting your perception of things.

But if you want a concrete answer, here's mine: I'm on Team Slut here. Enjoy life.
posted by kitty teeth at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2016 [10 favorites]

I don't see any sex-negative here. They could have chosen a vow around eating, television, whatever. Sex just makes everyone amp up.

I would revisit the 'why' of your decision. What is your goal, how important is it, how will you feel if you achieve it, etc. If those goals have a value that worth more than a fling, great. You are on your path. If they don't hold up, then you just need to refigure things.

I am curious about why he is immediately put in to the 'fling' possibility and not the 'committed relationship' possibility (unless the moving away is a forever dealbrealer.) What might it be like to just get to know this person better before he leaves? Like someone up thread mentioned, there is a huge(!) middle ground between a one night stand and running to the altar.
posted by Vaike at 3:08 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

A lot of people are assuming that OP was left feeling ashamed after having casual sex, or that she was secretly wanting a "real" relationship the whole time.

With all due respect, you're making the same assumptions on the other side.
posted by Tanzanite at 3:10 PM on March 10, 2016

The fact you don't want to have casual sex doesn't mean you shouldn't go on a date with him. From your post it seems you like him, so why not meet up and have fun? Who knows where it leads, you migt become just friends anyway. Just enjoy the connection you have and remember there is also a lot of fun to be had without sex being on the table :)
posted by leopard-skin pill-box hat at 3:16 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you were perfectly okay with doing it, you wouldn't be asking internet randos for their opinions.

You're horny, the guy is nice, there's chemistry and if you hadn't decided that you didn't want to have casual sex anymore you'd be all about it. But 10 moths ago you knew you wanted more and decided that no matter how horny you were and how nice he was, that you weren't down with casual anymore.

Sometimes our resolve slackens. Sometimes we're vulnerable. If he wasn't moving, but he told you that he wasn't interested in a relationship, would you still want to have sex with him? I'm thinking no. But because he can't control when he's moving, it seems like the loophole you're looking for.

I might go for it, but I like sex and I don't have issues about having a casual relationship knowing that I'd stop it in a heartbeat for the opportunity for the monogamous relationship I really want.

So I might say to this guy, "I like you and I'm attracted to you. I'm looking for a monogamous relationship. Since we can't have that with each other, I might want to have sex with you every now and then, but know that I'm saving my emotional investment for a relationship that's good for the long haul."

Then do what you want. Having casual sex doesn't make you cheap, so long as you can keep a cool head, and not fall for people with whom you have an NSA agreement.

Frankly, I found as I progressed that I wasn't horny for sex, I was horny for intimacy and I stopped having casual sex.

So really think about what you want, and what you can handle and decide accordingly
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:22 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think it's pretty clear that you do want to do this but you're getting tripped up by this "vow of celibacy" that you made to yourself. It's not like the guy has made a move that you're deliberating turning down -- you're considering making a move to instigate a fling and you're wondering if you would be betraying yourself, right? Well, fortunately, since you wrote the rules for yourself, you can also rewrite them! But you'll have to figure out what you actually want, and not just what you think you should do.

Also, I have personally done the fling-with-an-expiration-date thing and I had no regrets. In fact, I learned a lot about myself in the process, and even though one of those things was "I cannot do this to myself ever again," it was a valuable, fun, 100% unregrettable learning experience. If you're open enough to this possible fling that you're kinda-sorta asking the Internet for permission to pursue it, I think it might be a valuable learning experience for you, too. Maybe you need to give in to a temptation like this for once to figure out if it's something you can do in the future? HOWEVER, if you are tempted by this but you are honestly sure you're going to regret it, then don't do it...but there's something about the way you write your question that makes me think that's not going to be the case for you.
posted by phatkitten at 4:35 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Like kitty teeth, I am sensing a lot of sex shame in this question — not necessarily in the responses (which I think are directly influenced by the tone of the question) but in the question itself.

"thinking it would make me cheap"

There is nothing about sex, casual or otherwise, that makes anyone cheap. Doing what YOU want with YOUR own body, regardless of whatever society or your upbringing says you should do, is the most empowering thing in the world.

"I'm not like that anymore"

You need to figure out why you made this celibacy vow in order to decide if it's actually really serving you. Is this something you are doing because you feel like you should? I'm sensing that you believe people who have their shit together don't have casual sex — but the two things are not interrelated in any way whatsoever. Now, if you made this celibacy vow because having casual sex was not working for you life for some reason, then you already know the answer to this question.

My opinion? Life is short. Get rid of what's not serving you, whatever that may be.
posted by Brittanie at 2:51 AM on March 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

My feeling is, when in doubt...just say no. This holds especially true for matters of the heart and loins :)

Trust your gut on this one.
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 4:27 PM on March 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

There is nothing wrong with deciding to not be celibate, or to take a break from being celibate, or to make an exception to your celibacy. But you need to be OK with your reasons for doing so. (For the record, I am celibate but I don't see it as a "vow" and that makes navigating this type of thing a lot easier. I'm not "breaking" anything if I choose to change my behaviour, there's no morality attached to questioning my stance, I can just be like "ok do I REALLY want to?" and surprisingly enough the answer is still usually "no".)

It sounds to me like you're dealing with some shame around casual sex and that makes me worry that having sex with this guy would not make you feel that good afterwards. If your decision to be celibate is based in a sense that casual sex is morally bad (or morally less good than sex in a committed relationship), then casual sex will... still make you feel bad because you still have that association.

If you're celibate because you would much rather be in a relationship than have casual sex, that's a bit more complex. Don't try to make a casual sex partner out of someone you would like to date long term (especially if you're looking for monogamous commitment). That said, this scenario sounds like you could end up in some kind of casually dating and having sex arrangement for the next few months, and that could be a lot of fun - if that's what you want. If it's not what you want, then you might not want to proceed and you might be a little disappointed about that, and that's OK. You're not the first person to be like "hmm I would but not under these circumstances".
posted by buteo at 7:27 AM on March 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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