Casual vs. “Intimate” Sex. Also- Performance Issues

I was inspired to write this post after speaking with a close “sexy friend” about what we were looking for in the lifestyle.  We were discussing the distinction between sex that is strictly based on a physical connection to the other person versus sex in which the people have some sort of connection besides a strictly physical connection.  I am trying very hard as I write this to not use language that seems to judge the inherent worth of these two different scenarios as I think that both can be great so long as it is clearly communicated and understood by all involved partners.  However, what I currently want out of this sort of “lifestyle” is both friendship and sex and I do not feel that I would ever be likely to enjoy a strictly physical encounter nearly as much as I would enjoy an encounter with someone that I was both physically and mentally attracted to.
A major part of sex for me is about pleasuring the person that I am with and while I would still get enjoyment out of pleasuring another person whether or not I knew them well, I do not think that it would be as satisfying for me if I did not know (or plan to know) them intimately.  Another aspect of sex for me is about the increased intimacy that I am able to share with people who I like; the great part about “sexy friends” is that I am able to know them both as friends and as lovers rather than one or the other.  This gives me the added flexibility of being able to share myself intimately with people that I already know and like.
Also necessary to include in this post is that K and I have only had one casual encounter with a couple and two casual encounters with singles; the point being that we do not have a lot of experience with “casual” sex.  Of these experiences the one with the couple was quite satisfying although we were slightly disappointed that nothing more ever became of something that seemed to be a good thing for all involved.  With the singles the sex felt good physically but it was certainly not “intimate” in the sense that it was merely about having one fun (and safe) evening with other consenting adults but it never materialized into anything more.  There was nothing “wrong” with this sex it just was not anything besides a good physical feeling with new and attractive people. 
I do not want to come across as criticizing “casual” sex as most of our experiences have actually been quite satisfying, but I guess what I am trying to get at is, sex is just sex unless there is something else underlying the sex that adds to the feelings associated with sex.  It is completely fine to have “casual” sex but for me I have to recognize that it may not live up to my expectations when it is with someone that I do not know very well and it is not going to be an ongoing thing.  My theory on this is. . . why end a good thing just because it is not new?!  The trade off in decreased excitement and newness is well worth the benefits of the increased satisfaction that I get from giving and receiving pleasure from someone that I am able to connect with as a friend.
Lastly I would like to discuss some performance issues that I have had since beginning our open relationship.  The reason that I want to discuss performance issues in this post is because the only time I have ever experienced performance issues is with a brand new non-vanilla partner. 
As a healthy, 22 year old that does not drink, performance issues were a completely foreign concept to me prior to this lifestyle. L OK, truth be told, I am not THAT sad about this because I recognize that it is a normal and natural part of being involved with new people that I (sometimes) hardly know.
When we were first beginning to open up our relationship I was very turned-on by the thought of being with new partners but when it came right down to doing stuff with other people, I did not feel turned on at all.  I didn’t feel turned-off at all; I just was not sexually aroused AT ALL.  When we began playing for the very first time with our first couple, I was sexually aroused but only so long as I was with K.  (Aside: This other woman, like all the women we play with, was absolutely gorgeous and it is an empirical fact that she is attractive J).  However, despite how attractive this woman was, I just did not feel sexually aroused.
Performance issues have since come up several times but 1) I have gotten better about knowing what works for me in order to avoid them and 2) they are almost always the first or second time that we play with a new couple.  I still cannot explain exactly why performance issues arise because I feel comfortable, happy, excited, and relaxed but I know that sometimes things just do not work!
I have since come to learn that performance issues in “the lifestyle” are quite common for beginners.  (Thankfully I was told this by the man from the couple that we played with our very first night we did anything and he reassured me that it was totally normal and common- THANK YOU J!) I can not explain why performance issues come up or how to avoid them but Dan Savage has actually referred to some studies in which it has been found that men, despite the common conception, are actually more comfortable with partners they know whereas women are able to be very sexually aroused by new partners. 
A related reason I think that performance issues have come up for me in “the lifestyle” is because the transition from a casual evening and conversation to sex is often very abrupt and. . . somewhat awkward.  This is quite different than “vanilla” sex in which things happen slowly and the transition from hugging to kissing to making out to touching to. . . well you get the idea, happens more slowly and naturally.  This is not to say that I do not like the abrupt transition from conversation to sex because, I actually do; we all got together for a reason and we may as well play at some point assuming that everyone is on-board and thinks that it would be fun and fulfilling.  However, this abrupt transition has the potential to bring up performance issues for me because it does not give me the chance to become slowly aroused in a more “natural” way. 

To wrap up, casual and intimate sex both have pros and cons and we have had great experiences with both types.  However, if given the option I would choose a lasting and meaningful friendship that also includes sex because it allows me to have 1) variety, 2) great friendships, 3) less/no performance issues, and 4) ongoing good things!

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