First off, I'd like to put on this the caveat that this term might be something I heard somewhere from someone else, or on TV, so I'm not claiming to be original. I'm also not claiming that this is a very good metaphor for what I'm trying to do, but it seems to be sticking with me, and it's fun to say, so I thought I'd post on it to let everyone in on the new phrase I'll be using rather frequently.
So, in a previous post, I talked about my evolving ideas on "casual sex". The more I think about it, the more I know I don't really want any one-night stands necessarily. If I met someone I really was attracted to but who either didn't want to date me or who I didn't want to date but that I did have the opportunity to have sex with, I'm not sure I'd pass it up. But DATING for me right now is a very open proposition. The way I've been thinking about DATING is that it is SEX IN A BOX.
Definition Time. SEX IN A BOX: This is a mutually beneficial sexual (and probably platonic) relationship that is non-monogamous, non-exclusive, open, honest, safe, and sane, with both partners being in agreement to the terms and conditions of the arrangement. Part of the box is the rules and expectations that each person has/needs for the relationship to work. This includes how much, or how little contact each partner expects to still feel secure and not used, how affectionate and couple-like the people will act in public (and, I suppose, in private as well), and what feelings/emotions/actions keep the SEX IN A BOX from being a full-blown exclusive romantic long-term relationship. The other part of the box is that (optimally) the relationship can easily be contained, sex aside, put up on the shelf, when one partner needs to because other obligations (family, job, school) need all of that person's attention, but without the other partner feeling like they are being betrayed or neglected. Also, the other partner is not obligated to take on the burden of their partner, as they would in monogamous romantic relationship. Obviously, I feel like I would treat everyone and anyone that I had this kind of a relationship with as I would treat any friend- helping when requested and as possible, "from each according to their ability and to each according to their need". These people are/should be people that I respect, care for, even perhaps love or am in love with. I just don't require, or even want, sole right to their body, romantic attention, and love, just as I do not want to grand them sole rights to my body, romantic attention, and love. I also know that I personally can't afford to love myself to a long-term relationship.
I know this sounds a great deal like FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. Maybe. But I've usually found that FWB is either a nice term to cover up having casual sex with someone or a nice term to cover up the fact that you are having sex with someone you would really like to be in a long-term romantic relationship with, but you can't them to agree to it. Also, I am trying to construct a more open and honest way of dealing with having non-monogamous multiple sexual relationships that are clearly defined and arranged so that it is easier to navigate them.
But this also leads me to further thoughts on what I define as sex. When relating my escapades to Mon Parrain upon his return from a business trip, I told him that I'd had sex with two people and fooled around with two others. But when I went on to describe these encounters he, very astutely, challenged my hetrocentric views of what qualifies as sex with whom.
Mon Parrain: So when you were with the woman, what was just oral sex and digital penetration, you call that sex, right?
Mon Parrain: But the only time you call it sex, when you're wiht a man, is when there's intercourse....?
Me: Mmmm, I see what you are getting at.
Mon Parrain: It seems a rather hetrosexist, penis-vagina penetration-oriented way to view sex.
Me: (Pause) Yeah, my good friend Miss Kee has pointed this out to me once or twice as well.
Mon Parrain: Here is how I define sex. I call it sex if either both people have all their clothes off at the same time and/or if there is oral sex. If neither of these things happen, then it is just fooling around.
Me: (Pause) Ok, so I've had sex with four people since you.
Mon Parrain: Well, I didn't get a chance to have sex while I was gone but I'm glad one of us did.
Of course, not every date I go on will lead to sex and not every romantic dating encounter will lead to SEX IN A BOX. Even if I clicked with that person, many people want long-term relationships or at least require exclusivity and monogamy. While I think a SEX IN A BOX relationship could be long-term, it doesn't necessarily have to be (and I suppose it depends on what your definition of long-term is as well), but it obviously won't be exclusive or monogamous, unless just by default, because I or one of my partners can't find or doesn't want another partner. Plus, I don't want too many boxes. I can barely handle have half a dozen friends and a dozen or so acquaintances at one time. Maybe that's why I like that one SEX IN A BOX lives close enough to visit regularly but not in my homecity and a potential DOM IN A BOX lives very far away but visits my homecity on business. Well, we'll see how this little experiment of mine works out.