Zero Sum?

In my previous post about competition among women, I did not talk about the assumption of sexuality as a zero sum game. If I have sex means that you don’t get to, then of course the pursuit of sex and sexual/romantic partners and the policing of sexuality becomes a hyper-vigilant and competitive dance.

Another interesting illustration of this was an email J and I received recently from a couple we had met a week or so ago. We had met them for drinks, and decided that although neither of us were attracted to either of them, we would definitely socialize with them more at our swingers club. They were on a trip to Portland and were only here for another week or so. After a few days and another email to them, they finally got back to us saying that they didn’t want to have an awkward time with us: they were uncomfortable thinking about “just” socializing with us, us introducing them to some of our sexy friends, and then what might happen if they hit it off with our sexy friends… wouldn’t that make us feel bad?

Reading their email made me cringe, laugh, and feel badly for them. To go through life assuming that sex is a zero-sum game is sad to me. I have experienced this in other areas of my life, too: money, good luck, love, happiness. The framework of a zero-sum game doesn’t make me feel good. Ever. It creates anxiety, frantic stress, and sadness.

And the truth is: life is not zero sum. The more we give, the more we get. Sex included.

There are always loving people in the world who will be there for us, but only if we plan on it. Expecting less love and competition in romantic and sexual partners means we will act in accordance with that belief and inevitably have interactions that prove to us that life is a competition. Expecting a flourishing of love and sex, of happiness and real wealth in human interaction and connection, means we will experience all that those connections can offer.


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