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Intimate pleasures

Sex without emotional intimacy may centre around at least one partner’s commitment issues. But as Aruna Rathod finds out, more and more people around the country are taking to unbridled relationships. we try to understand why.

A joint holiday with another couple changed Sheela Panjwani’s life. She found her husband in bed with his friend’s wife. “I was devastated. But upon confronting him, he merely justified his act, saying that I was not good in bed; hence, he said, he had always sought satisfaction outside our marriage,” narrates a still shocked Sheela. The only consolation, as Sheela saw it, was that he didn’t want to end the marriage. Her husband claimed the ‘casual sex’ to be a mere physical need he was satisfying outside their marriage.
Interestingly, the trend of seeking casual sex is not something specific to men; married women, too, indulge in it. With permissiveness on the rise in the modern world, teenagers and men and women feel no qualms about indulging in sex without emotional intimacy.

Close encounters of the sexual kind
Most physical relationships stem from attraction, libido or just seeking companionship and sex for pleasure. Poorva Shetty, 22, used to browse the internet looking for her future husband. Before she knew it, she got chatting with strangers and started meeting them. While the conversations started off about ‘getting married’, it always ended up in sex. It soon became a habit for her to chat and meet men and indulge in physical pleasure.
The need for sex is biological, for human beings have an innate need to be touched. “A touch or caress releases a hormone called Oxytocin, which has a soothing, relaxing impact on the mind,” explains
Dr Kanan Khatau Chikhal, who is a clinical psychologist and counsellor based in Mumbai.
Malini Shah, Senior Counsellor, Aastha Chrysalis, a Mumbai-based centre for transformation through faith, also adds to this perspective. “Today, it is common for married couples to indulge in non-committal sexual relations outside their marriage, illustrating a different value system, with little or no place for remorse in it,” she says. “Sometimes, the desire stems from sheer boredom and their partner’s indifference towards satisfying them or their inability to be innovative in the bedroom.”

Condescending adults
“Sexual relationships have the potential to make us aware of our incompleteness, and we attempt to unite ourselves physically in a state of experience called orgasm—a state of bliss. But orgasms are short-lived; so we transform into eternal seekers of this unifying experience, hoping to feel complete with our partners via this encounter. But it is only when we love and accept ourselves for who we are that we can feel complete,” explains Dr Chikhal.
Take the case of Seema and Dheeraj Mehta, who have been married for 15 years. They both secretly felt their sex life was monotonous, dying a slow death. While Dheeraj sparked his libido by having
an affair with an exciting young girl, hiding it from his wife, Seema began dating, and eventually sleeping with, a young lover who was smitten by her. The marriage went on, even as both the partners stole away to indulge in their respective sexual escapades. But the guilt got the better of Seema, and she had a nervous breakdown. “While the attention and the novelty of the act may have seemed pleasurable to her at first, Seema adhered to the old school of thought,” explains Malini. “And being a follower of traditional value systems, Seema couldn’t handle the strain and guilt of lying to her husband.”

Signs of the times
Infidelity apart, some men and women prefer sex without attachment, or the no-strings-attached arrangement, for its ‘non-binding’ status, emotionally and psychologically. Vivian, a 35-year-old textile designer, is not keen on marriage, as her job takes up most of her time. She got into a relationship with her boss. She is candid when she says that sex is not only for married people.
“I am only human; why can’t I have an arrangement that works for me? Convenience is the key to this arrangement, and it suits us both,” says Vivian.
Over time, however, having an affair or indulging in casual sex seems to have become a ‘faux status symbol.’
“A lot of television shows promote these types of relationships, and thanks to various dating sites and chat rooms on the internet, it is becoming easier to find a sexual partner today,” observes Malini.
But Dr Chikhal cautions against similar emotional distancing. “Distancing starts with not being understood by one’s partner in one’s relationship, and spills over from a lack of emotional intimacy to
a lack of physical intimacy,” she says. “From thereon, it affects the trust in the relationship. So we must address this need to connect, or it can turn into greed for more and more of such empty ‘conveniences’.”

Pitfalls of sex without intimacy
– In the case of committed partners, even a no-strings-attached affair can lead to irreparable damage in the relationship, especially if there are children involved
– Higher risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases from frequent casual sex partners
– Chances of blackmail may be high in such circumstances, especially if one likes to frequently indulge in casual sex with strangers; the resulting trauma has been known to send some people into attempting suicide
– You could end up being filmed and this film can be circulated for enjoyment causing harm to your self-esteem and your psychology; social-networking sites are easy outlets for such films
– One of the most severe consequences of casual sex, especially for women, is the dangers of unwanted pregnancy, leading to guilt, shame and mental trauma

Deal with it
We all feel attracted to strangers, friends or colleagues at work, but it may be prudent for one to know where to draw the line and operate within limits. “The best kind of relationship is one where the emotional connect and bonding is strong enough to sustain any challenges,” advises Malini. “For this to happen, one has to invest time and create good emotional ties with one’s partner. If you feel attracted and drawn into a situation, try and remind yourself that it is momentary and heading that way can create a lasting eclipse on your self-esteem, family and work.”

Rajendra .

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