Paying for Sex in a Relationship: Cash or Credit?

No, this probably isn’t about what you think it’s about. This piece has nothing to do with prostitutes (male or female). It doesn’t discuss the finer points of pimping for your partner in the big city. It also doesn’t define the level of financial outlay (dinners, gifts, flowers, etc.) necessary to get the object of your desire to go to bed with you. This piece outlines the different ways that couples justify (i.e., pay for) the sex in their relationship.

This piece does not apply to couples who are engaging in sex purely for the pleasure of hormonal discharge. The world will always have room for the simple act of getting off.

While it is certainly true that beginnings are tenuous times, the transition from friendly outings to serious dating can be surprisingly quick. Simple activities like a sharing of drinks, dinner, or a walk on a sunny day can get two people comfortable enough with each other to go into Pursuit Mode. Eventually, sex will become an issue to deal with. There a huge list of reasons why couples decide to have sex. In general, these reasons fall under the following two categories: Intimacy, and Passion.

For the hell of it, I will try to explain this behavior by explaining these Why should we have sex? categories in common financial terms. Skeptical? Read on.

Passion is Credit

Passion is like a credit card account. When you have the intimacy (i.e., cash) to back it up, using it is fairly harmless. However, when you can’t pay your credit card bill, the interest can get quite expensive, and possibly leave you bankrupt.

Don’t get me wrong: passion is an infinitely good thing. Unfortunately, it can be deceptive, seductive, and (if you’re not careful) unforgiving. Luckily, we humans have plethora of societal inhibitions that prevent us from having sex. Sex between you and that gorgeous creature walking down the street doesn’t seem realistic because you don’t know that person at all. Sex between you and your cute neighbor seems equally unattainable because, while you know a bit about the person, you don’t have an intimate connection with them. Light the fires of passion between you and either of these two humans, and all bets are off. Sexual passion is instinctive, almost visceral, in nature. When passion burns, the lack of intimate knowledge regarding your partner is forgotten. There is only thought of where?, and how soon?.

If a couple lacks intimacy and “buys” sex purely based on passion (i.e., a credit purchase), they usually don’t think about the chunk of interest will accrue between now and tomorrow morning (sexual finance charges grow quickly). The passion that put the couple in bed wanes during the hours of sleep. When your eyelids finally open, the onslaught of MAP (Morning-After Panic) ensues.

You wake up naked in a strange bed, in a strange house, with your arms and legs tied in knots around the arms and legs of a strange partner. You lie there, tense, wide-eyed, wondering how you got into such an intimate position with this . . .this . . . this person. The events of the previous evening come back in an ever-more-embarrassing rush and your quick-to-react neurosis start sending panic-filled messages to the rest of your body.

When your terror finally allows you to move, you sneak out of bed, hoping your partner doesn’t awake to find you skulking away in your matted hair and/or smeared makeup. You move to the front door, trying to silently dress yourself in front of the body who sleeps blissfully ignorant of your clandestine exit. In Hollywood productions, this never works, and one person inevitably runs half-naked out the front door, while the other calls after them from an upstairs window or balcony, “Wait! Come Back!”

Therein lies the problem with passion. It is only a loan against the intimacy you really want and need. To paint a different image, consider this: if intimacy is a staircase to the next floor, passion is a rocket you strap to your back. If the rocket runs out of fuel, well, there you are . . . .

Intimacy is Cash

In affairs of the heart, intimacy is like good ol’ hard currency. Everybody wants it, but most people are reluctant to give it away. If you spend it foolishly, you feel like you’ll never get it back. I think we would all admit that, while everybody likes cash, nobody likes to exhibit the patience necessary to save it. When patience is not an option, and a couple decides that they simply “have to have it,” they end up with the credit purchase (i.e., passion) described above.

The typical morning-after bed is an wonderful scene, but it requires intimacy to appreciate. You lie there with your lover in drowsy repose, basking in both the heat of each other’s bodies and the warmth of the memories from the previous night. Most of your neurosis and fears of vulnerability are forgotten, largely because this level of intimacy seems more like the next logical step, and less like a jump off a tall building. You’re only slightly worried that you may have snored, or drooled on the pillow. You don’t feel uncomfortable about getting out of bed and standing naked in front of your partner in the bright light of day. Messy hair and smeared makeup are reminders of the evening past, not reasons to hide your head.

An intimate morning after can also include a multitude of bonus activities. First the couple must decide whether there’s a good enough reason to get out of bed. If so, there’s the issue of getting clean (shared showers do save water). Then there’s the issue of breakfast (perhaps going out for brunch). All of these activities are galvanized by the events of the night before. The intimacy makes these follow-up moments possible, the sex simply makes them sweeter. (Pay close attention to that last sentence.)

What We’ve Learned . . .

The next time you’re in a budding relationship, and issues of sex come to the forefront, ask yourself how you plan to emotionally purchase the impending sexual act(s). So, my friend, will that be cash or credit? Oh, by the way, Emotional Endeavors, Inc. does not accept personal checks.

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