Yes, of course. And a woman too if she intends it to be that way. But we are guessing your question is not expecting a one-word answer. And rightfully so. The question “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” holds in itself either a desperate annoyance – a sort of a “how could he?” or it could be genuine curiosity about the workings of the human mind, particularly the male mind in this case, in relation to casual sex.
The assumption that men are opportunistic and women are selective when it comes to who they sleep with is based on general observation. What has scientific backing is the fact that men and women are wired differently when it comes to sexual acts. Men find it easier to compartmentalize physical intimacy and emotional connection into separate boxes, unlike women.
We have brought on board relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmayaa (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, REBT, etc), who specializes in different forms of couples counseling, to resolve this conflict, or to quench this curiosity, whatever may be your intention.
Can A Man Sleep With A Woman Without Developing Feelings
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Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings? Yes, he can. While both the genders can engage in casual sex if they want, it is observed that it is easier for men to let a casual relationship stay casual for longer. “Girls get friend-zoned too. [The] only difference is the guy will still sleep with you” – 4 years ago, this tweet caused a ripple in the internet world. The tweet effectively captures the sentiment of “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?”
Shivanya says, “Women are wired to seek emotional connection in the sexual act even if they started out casually. They gravitate toward emotions and heart-centeredness. On the other hand, men are wired to connect visually.” Shivanya also explains, “It is a common observation that a man’s body can react sexually merely by the sight of a woman. Whereas it is not so common for a woman to want to sleep with a man solely because she saw a man who appealed to her senses. Women tend to need at least a little more for that attraction to develop.”
For men, the sexual act in its essence is about the regular release of sperm. Combine that with the basic preoccupation of a male with spreading their genetic material as widely as possible, men’s bodies are wired to make the sexual act easier and far less complicated.
For women, it is the other way round. Even the things women want during sex are different. The female preoccupation in the entire animal kingdom is to be as selective as possible about who she chooses as her mating partner to be able to birth the most perfect baby, the “fittest” from the “survival of the fittest” theory. This makes the sexual act less straightforward for her. This difference is at the root of men’s and women’s behavior surrounding sex.
This doesn’t mean that men cannot develop feelings with the person they sleep with. Or that women must fall in love with everyone they get intimate with. These generalizations are for the sake of analysis and understanding. Any person can find it more difficult or less difficult to navigate casual sex, regardless of their gender.
Related Reading: Casual Dating — 13 Rules To Swear By
Understanding Casual Sex And Gender
What differentiates a relationship from casual sex? The answer is commitment. Consensual sex that happens outside of a romantic relationship without any commitment is what makes sex ‘casual’. But this does not mean that casual sex in itself is to be taken casually. Understanding what it is, what are its pros and cons and how to manage one’s emotions when causal sex is concerned is a healthy practice.
In the context of the discussion of our main question “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?”, we would like to emphasize that anyone can choose to engage in casual sex. How effectively they do it, causing the least hurt for everyone involved, has much to do with their individual understanding of the nuances of navigating casual sex and less to do with their gender identity. Similarly, a casual relationship can turn serious for either of the partners involved.
Shivanya says, “It’s not right to presume anymore that only men want it or desire it. Women and non-binary people of all age groups are indulging in casual sex. Married or unmarried, with more independence, people are becoming more comfortable and getting rid of their shame and guilt or self judgment. It’s just that it is less talked about considering the lesser representation in the media. And vice versa.”
Not only is the representation in the media of people who are not men inadequate, but whatever there is, aims to maintain the status quo. This means, men’s desires are treated more liberally, and the desires of other sexes are chastised. Men’s backs are patted. “Lover boy”, “ladies-man”, and “casanova” have an appreciative quality that boosts a man’s ego. Whereas women are shamed and name-called. This policing by society ensures that our assumptions of men’s and women’s attitude toward desires and casual sex remain unchanged.
1. Why does one engage in casual sex?
The question “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” requires us to look at why people choose casual sex at all. If you think you are a victim of a sexual relationship without feelings, understanding what must be going on in the mind of the other person will allow you to avoid taking the issue personally. It will also help you understand why you still choose to be in a relationship that is clearly non-committed. This objectivity will help you decide if you should or shouldn’t be in a relationship without feelings.
There could be several reasons why people choose to engage in casual sex. Shivanya says, “It could be purely for sexual excitement, exploration or gratification. Someone might be looking for a thrill in the face of monotony in a happy long-term relationship. Or it could be because they want to escape reality, trying to navigate through a broken relationship, healing a part of their lives. Some of these are very complicated emotions which may cause hurt.”
Shivanya adds another reason to this list. She says, “Some people engage in casual sex because they do not desire deeper intimacy or are commitment phobic. This could be because of fear of rejection, or abandonment, or fear of responsibilities.” This brings us to an interesting counter-view. It is also possible for people to seek affection and intimacy in a casual relationship. Casual sex is often misunderstood to be absolutely and only driven by carnal desire. But, the fact that people do engage in foreplay, conversations, spending the night, and cuddling even in casual encounters is indicative of their search for intimacy.
Related Reading: What Is A Serial Dater? Signs To Look Out For And Tips To Handle
2. Pros and cons of a sexual relationship without feelings
Hook-ups, one-night stands, a friends-with-benefits situation, no strings attached, call it what you may, casual relationships have many advantages. The “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” worry can indirectly benefit from a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of casual sex itself.
|1. You learn about yourself, what you like or dislike, how you like it, what are you good at, what you enjoy
|1. Health and safety concerns – You expose yourself to sexually transmitted diseases. Be extremely mindful of healthy sex etiquette. Use protection. Regularly get tested for STDs
|2. You gain experience and become better at it. There isn’t a better teacher than time and experience
|2. Emotional baggage may get in the way and make things complicated
|3. Sex is great for physical and mental health. It works wonders for stress relief
|3. You might fall for someone who hasn’t fallen for you
|4. No commitment means fewer expectations. You also save time
|4. You might be using casual sex to avoid dealing with an issue that needs your direct attention
|5. No responsibilities that come with a committed relationship
|5. No benefits that come with a committed relationship
“He Sleeps With Me But Doesn’t Want A Relationship”– How To Manage Your Feelings In A Casual Sex Relationship
“He sleeps with me but doesn’t want a relationship.” Does this resonate with you? It is possible that you slept with someone casually without asking for a commitment. You thought you could handle this sexual relationship without feelings, but you are being proven wrong. While you have begun to look for something more, your sexual partner hasn’t and that has begun to bother you. Such a situation can make you feel like the key to your happiness lies with someone else, and there is nothing you can do about it.
This feeling of lost control can be helped if you begin by looking at what it is that you were seeking in the sexual relationship in the first place. Shivanya advises, “Casual sex without self-awareness, or self-discipline or self-control, can make it very difficult to reap its benefits while avoiding the negative effects. That awareness of ‘why am I doing this’ has to be there.”
This will help you decide if a casual relationship is indeed right for you. If it is, this introspection will help you realize why exactly do you mind that your sexual partner did not or has not developed feelings for you yet. Do you really want to pursue a serious relationship with them because you like them, or is this about yourself? Are you seeking validation through the “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” question? Is their disinterest making you feel rejected? The answers to these questions will give you some much needed perspective on your emotions.
Regardless, here are some steps you can take to ensure casual sex remains pleasurable for you. And in case you do start to get the “feelings” you so want to avoid, here’s how you should navigate them.
1. Know that it is okay to have feelings with casual sex
It helps to know that what you are feeling is also a body-led emotion. Physical intimacy causes the body to release the oxytocin hormone, which makes you feel affection for the person who you share the act with. So, do know that it is absolutely normal to feel the things you are feeling. In fact, your body might be forcing these feelings on you and they possibly do not mean much.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that this is your only chance at love and that if this person doesn’t share the same feelings for you, it is the end of your world. We have answered “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” through varied angles. But can a woman casually get physically intimate with someone but still get some feelings? Yes! It is absolutely normal.
2. Have some boundaries or rules established
If you are into a one-time thing, have some rules set for yourself. Know what you can and can not safely take without developing feelings. Shivanya gives a few examples of such healthy emotional boundaries. It could be the amount of time you spend with the person or the number of times you engage with them. Or, it could be the things you do with them. It could also be about how frequently you want to engage in casual sex. “I will not indulge with the same person repeatedly in a short period” could be one of such rules as per Shivanya.
If you are into a serial casual encounter with the same person such as a friends-with-benefits situation, discuss your boundaries with that person. Have them discuss theirs with you too. Honor each other’s boundaries to a T.
Related Reading: What Do Guys Think After You Sleep With Them?
3. Be honest in a sexual relationship
Keep a check on your emotions. Engage in the relationship with a sense of self-awareness. Be in sync with yourself. If you develop feelings for your partner, be honest about it and lay it down straight. Don’t waste too much time wallowing in grief about the feeling of unreciprocated affection.
If you are honest, not just with the other person, but also with yourself, you will not ignore the initial pang of emotions you feel. Following self-love tips will help you take your needs seriously. It will become easier to express your emotions, have a no-contact rule in force, and establish distance between yourself and them.
4. Take a break
If you do end up with serious emotions that you are finding difficult to shirk off, take immediate control of the situation and take a break. From that person and the sexual relationship, as well as from casual sex itself. It is time to reevaluate your feelings toward casual sex. Maybe you have begun looking for a serious relationship.
Remember self-awareness? It is time to become aware of your changing emotions. Maybe something deep-seated has surfaced in the last connection you had. Or even generally speaking, you might have developed the desire for something more serious very recently. Be kind and accepting toward your emotions and needs. Take a break. Get in touch with yourself and give yourself what you need.
If these issues are seeming beyond the scope of self-management, do not shy away from seeking help. Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is here to help you understand yourself better.