The culture here in America has developed some unfortunate blind spots with regard to sexual mores and needs.
"Blind spots" may be a bit coy - it is almost the entire range of sexual possibility that is ignored!
It seems to me that the only generally "acceptable" intimate activities are those that fall into one of two categories - either one night stands or relationships that are supposed to be headed towards a permanent emotional commitment of some sort.
One night stands pass the acceptability test because they can so easily be classed as "mistakes" or ignored as momentary lapses in morality. In truth they are usually a huge waste of energy, the energy invested in seeking them out, in determining whether the partner will respond, and in the emotional aftermath. They rarely pass the litmus test for healthy sexual interactions, and quite often, due to the process by which they take place, which is often a fabricated attempt to duplicate the thrill of "love at first sight," will result in a difficult process of adjustment for one or both partners.
At the other extreme, any ongoing series of sexual encounters is only acceptable if there is a "name" for the relationship, whether it be "going steady," "engagement," "marriage," etc. This is equally disastrous due to the forcing of relationships based on temporary mutual passion, attraction, or excitement into a framework where the two people try to get and sustain most or all of their emotional needs with each other, for an indefinite (and supposedly perpetual) time period.
So what is missing?
The entire range of possibility in between these two extremes!
Now, of course the two cases that are described above have their place. The pair bond in humans can be a wonderful, powerful, and fulfilling arrangement, when it is based on solid foundations (not the sort of thing that can be determined by "dating!"). One night stands can be so appropriate at times, especially when shared in a mutually understood condition of transience, as when one person is far from home, or when the bulk of the sexual tension is based on newness or differentness.
Beyond these two cases, however, there lies a realm of healthy sexual relationships that cause no harm, bring plenty of pleasure, and can lead to good friendships or at least good memories.
Some people are good together in bed, and perhaps get along reasonably well, but are ill-suited to a lifetime of interaction. They may have fundamental disagreements in some areas that will tear them apart. One or both may be emotionally incapable of bonding well, in general or with the other partner specifically. Their careers may promise to separate them. Their social circles may be too different to ever mesh well.
It is so much healthier to take a partner in bed who knows what you want and knows what they want and proceed from there. If the arrangements work well and the company is good it may last for years, without ever causing either of you to wonder if you are "in love," or getting overly concerned with living arrangements. It may last a few weeks, a few days... the end may be gradual or abrupt, but so long as it is communicated as clearly as the beginning then it should be a positive experience in both people's lives.
© Huw Powell