General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Why can't we sleep with whoever we want?

Asked by nikipedia (27531points) April 4th, 2009

I stole this question from daloon in this thread. I think it’s a very good question. Why do we bother with jealousy? I don’t see any benefits to it. Wouldn’t it be better if we all just moved past it? Is that possible? If so, how?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

80 Answers

kevbo's avatar

You’ll have to get the abstinence educator in Socorro, NM to stop crying “but what about hearts and minds!”

(I’m sure that’s a universal talking point, but her Sally Struthers manner popped up with your question.)

Ito's avatar

Yeah, why do we even bother having emotions? Lets just go ahead and all get frontal lobotomies, that should make everything better…

oratio's avatar

Because it’s in our genes and instincts. Cross your instincts, and you get problems.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t think it’s just an issue of jealousy. If you choose to be monogamous, then having sex with someone else is cheating. It’s not just jealousy, it’s pain you feel. You’re hurt that a loved one could betray you like that. I think jealousy is on the totem of emotions you will feel, if cheated on though.

nikipedia's avatar

@lto: Ablating your prefrontal cortex would not remove your ability to experience emotions. It would most likely yield generalized emotional dysregulation as well as impaired executive functions and working memory.

AstroChuck's avatar

I do. Luckily for me, she happens to be my wife.

VzzBzz's avatar

I do. I sleep with people who seemingly measure up to my standards of physical and character attractivness.

ru2bz46's avatar

Because we’re human.

Some species, say chickens for example, run around and have sex with the best rooster in the yard, or they have sex with all the hens in the yard they can get. It is their nature.

Others mate for life, like swans. It is their nature.

Some people are like chickens, and some are like swans. When a swan-person and a chicken-person get together, the swan-person is going to be hurt when the chicken-person follows their nature.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have always thought that jealousy stemmed from the idea of ownership—she is my wife, he is my boyfriend is the prevailing attitude, and I think that has a lot to do with maintaining the patrilineal family before the age of DNA testing.

However, jealousy and the pain of being betrayed are true emotional experiences, and you cannot dismiss the reality of how your actions affect others. But these are not objective truths. These issues are negotiated between individuals, and everyone’s idea of cheating and betrayal will be different.

Personally, I think I could be okay with my wife being physical with someone else. I know she loves me and I know what we have. And even if my belief in us turned out to be false, I love her enough to let her go if she were to be happier with someone else.

AstroChuck's avatar

Shhh. You guys know that my wife is sometimes on this site, right?

asmonet's avatar

Chuckie always makes me smile. :)

essieness's avatar

Interesting question. If we weren’t taught that monogamy is the right thing to do, it would be totally different. It’s a societal thing. We put labels on people, just like @tinyfaery said. ”My boyfriend, my wife,” and so on. When I really think about it, I don’t understand it. Free love has always sounded more appealing and natural, but apparently it doesn’t work, or we’d be practicing it.

fireinthepriory's avatar

We evolved to be really uptight about being cheated on because, for men, if you’re caring for someone else’s kids, you’re being screwed out of your evolutionary fitness. For women, if a guy is giving someone else some of his energy and attention and not you/your kids, then you’re not going to be as fit as you could be. There’s also a biological reason why we have an urge to cheat – guys are wired to increase their fitness by leaving as many progeny as possible, while women are wired to sleep with the most attractive men they can find so their kids can leave a ton of progeny, whether or not that guy is the best “provider” (who will be the one they’ll want to “marry” or whatever it was those crazy cro-magnon couples did.)

That’s why humans are socially “monogamous” but a lot of the time, we actually are not.

These deep genetic influences on our behavior have shaped our society’s views of morality, leading to the types of thing that @tinyfaery and @essieness were saying. Cool, right?

Anyway, at this point, what with birth control etc, we shouldn’t be as upset as we are when our partners aren’t monogamous. I know a few couples who aren’t (as an agreed-upon rule), and for some of them it works fine, but sometimes one partner gets caught up in a jealous rage, even when they’ve agreed to it and they themselves didn’t expect to. It’s a hard thing, trying to combat your biology. We evolved in a society that was a LOT different than the one we live in now, but our genes haven’t caught up yet. :)

oratio's avatar

@essieness I don’t think the pain and crushed heart of a betrayed person, feels it because he/she has been taught it growing up.

I you feel like that, I don’t really see you having much of future family life. But there are people who don’t want that, and is happy like that as well.

essieness's avatar

@oratio “I you feel like that, I don’t really see you having much of future family life.” Wow

I think that’s a pretty judgmental and close-minded statement, especially when you don’t know me at all. I thought about justifying my statement, but… nah. I can see where this will go and frankly, I don’t have time to deal with it today. You have your opinion and I have mine. Please refrain from speculating about my “future family life” as you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to my personal affairs.

oratio's avatar

@essieness Absolutely not. I apologize for hurting your feelings. It was a bit harshly put.

Then again I don’t see how sleeping around will work with building a family. But people show remarkable ingenuity sometimes. You might have experience I don’t have.

essieness's avatar

@oratio “Absolutely not” what? I don’t understand how that fits in with the rest of your statement.

aprilsimnel's avatar

My answer to the Q: You can sleep with whomever you want, provided they want to sleep with you and you’re both prepared for whatever consequences will come once you’ve, er, come.

I think consenting adults are free to create whatever relationships they think they can handle, and if both adults are on the same page from the get-go, so much the better. But it’s usually a lot of negotiating, whether we realize it or not.

Wildman's avatar

Fear of deceases

oratio's avatar

@essieness “you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to my personal affairs”

asmonet's avatar

@Wildman: lols. diseases, much?

ninjacolin's avatar

i think it’s something we could learn to do as a society if we wanted to.
as usual, though, the work involved in getting to that place is the major drawback in itself.

i image jealously would be UP and then people would complain that it can’t work because they’re too jealous and many would get diseases at first from the promiscuity of it all and.. all kinds of learning inertia.

but after a long battle and a few deaths.. i think it could workout.

essieness's avatar

@oratio For the record, I never said I sleep around, I was simply adding my opinion to the discussion. I happen to be in a long term, monogamous relationship.

mitten13's avatar

you can sleep with whoever you want

oratio's avatar

@essieness Good. I am happy for you. I still don’t see how we are conditioned into living monogamously. But you might be right. The mormons seem happy. So does a big bunch of arabs. I might be totally wrong. Maybe my ex should have had us both. He played guitar, I sing. It could have been a win-win.

essieness's avatar

@oratio I’m sorry your ex did whatever he or she did to you. If my assumption is correct, and you’ve had your heart broken by a cheater, then I can understand why you have the point of view that you have.

augustlan's avatar

Open relationships can and do work for some people. I think it takes a huge amount of love and trust to pull it off, and most of us just aren’t there yet.

oratio's avatar

@essieness Ah well. Live and learn. It’s gone some quite some time so it’s not painful anymore. It mostly pisses me off now and then. Let’s not argue more about this.

Wildman's avatar

I am clean.The fear is contracting.

Mr_M's avatar

A lot of people have friends with benefits who they have sex with for the pleasure of the experience. All parties know no strings attached and it works.

There are married couples aka “swingers” who have sex with other married couples no strings attached.

It’s not a far-fetched concept by any means.

Kelly27's avatar

You can sleep with whoever you want, granted they want to sleep with you as well. What stops you from doing so?

EDIT: I see this answer has already been given but I will leave it here anyway

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I personally have a hard time of the concept of sex without trust. Not that I have a hard time of grasping the appeal of the idea for others, but for me, the two go hand in hand. I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this perspective. So perhaps it’s a compatibility issue that normally does not get addressed, but should. Knowing whether or not sexual intimacy is primarily a physical or psychological need is an important component of commitment to another person.

fireside's avatar

Augstlan and AlfredaPrurock hit on the word I had in my mind as I scrolled the thread.


Sex is still fairly intimate for most people and that level of intimacy comes along with other intimate exchanges such as confidential conversations. If you have a level of trust with someone, and they seem to have that same level of trust with many other people, then you wonder if they are sharing your intimate conversations with others.

Obviously, there are plenty of people who view sex as a purely physical act and don’t really open up their emotions or inner thoughts to others. But I think on the whole, most people are really looking for the trust factor more than the orgasm.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’d venture to guess you weren’t part of the “summer of love” movement, or you didn’t ‘get’ the lessons from that. We discovered there is no such thing as ‘free’ love. Every encounter has a cost, and a consequent reward. If the rewards outweigh the cost, it works, but in the case of ‘free’ sex, the rewards are fleeting and the cost is prohibitive.

tinyfaery's avatar

What is the definition of “free sex”? Anything that doesn’t require cash?

fireside's avatar

nah, you still gotta buy them dinner : P

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery It’s what some people ungrammatically and euphemistically call “sleeping with whoever we want”. I personally have slept with many different people throughout my life, and I do mean sleep, but I don’t think that is what mikopedia meant.

eadinad's avatar

You can sleep with whoever you want. The question is not, “Why can’t we?” but, “Why don’t we?”

And there are multiple answers to that question. Jealousy, yes. Fear of disease or pregnancy with someone you don’t care about. Fear of a reputation. Fear of harming your relationship(s). Being hurt emotionally or becoming jaded/apathetic by the practice of casual sex. And so on. There are many more, and are probably different, or in different combinations, for everyone.

Everyone who doesn’t sleep with whoever they want, that is.

janbb's avatar

I’ve studied utopian communities some and also have some indirect knowledge of the communes of the 60s. It does seem that although many of them were based on the idea of free love and sleeping with whomever you want, a number of them broke up because of hurts and jealousies. (Except for the ones like the Shakers that were based on celibacy and broke up because of that.) It seems to me that, as people have said, most sex implies a certain amount of intimacy and trust, and that at least serial monogamy is generally a more comfortable relationship model for most people. That said, if you and your partner or partners want to negotiate an open relationship, go for it and deal with the consequences.

Facade's avatar

Because it’s disgusting.

nikipedia's avatar

@Facade: What is? Sex? It can get pretty messy. But like, awesome messy.

Facade's avatar

@nikipedia Sex is beautiful. Sex with multiple people is is disgusting.

nikipedia's avatar

@Facade: I don’t understand. Is it like when you eat too many oreos?

asmonet's avatar

Hahaha, niki I love you.

Facade's avatar

@nikipedia Oh, definitely.

nikipedia's avatar

@Facade: Okay, cool. But like, if other people really enjoyed eating tons of oreos, I probably wouldn’t walk around telling them it’s disgusting just because I personally don’t enjoy it. Just a thought.

@asmonet: back atcha!! <3

Facade's avatar

@nikipedia You wouldn’t? Oh, ok.

asmonet's avatar

I could eat an entire mountain range of Oreos.
Especially, if there was always milk to be had.

asmonet's avatar

That was entirely literal.

ru2bz46's avatar

@asmonet ;-) Good save.

fireside's avatar

Now I’m confused, are we talking about having sex with as many people as you want all at one time?

If so, I would think there is a lack of attention you can give after adding, oh say, 3 or 4 people to the mix.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@fireside, having “no strings attached” sex, regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not. Like shaking hands.

fireside's avatar

Eww, I hope they wash their hands before shaking mine.

wundayatta's avatar

In a lot of the free love communes, it was the leader who got to sleep with all the women, and the other guys got to sleep with the person the leader told them to. I’ve heard a couple of stories from a guy who grew up in the commune. His mother conceived him there. I’m not sure if he knows who his father is.

The original question here was in the context of a guy who had a fiance, and he had a one-night stand with a woman who didn’t know he had a fiance. What I was thinking was that if they wanted to sleep together, and he wasn’t married, and they both wanted to do it, why is society so bothered by it? The answers here have pointed out many of the reasons for that.

I’m not sure how many cheaters are out there, but I’m pretty sure they all hew to the party line, and are it’s most vociferous defenders: cheating is bad. I would never do it. And in the secrecy of wherever it is they do it, they have at it. If you’re going to cheat, you want to look innocent, and you have to do it in secret.

Sometimes I wonder how people can get away with it. Don’t their spouses wonder why they are away so much? Is it a case of there are none so blind as those who will not see?

ru2bz46's avatar

@daloon In my case, she got away with it because she had no concept that it was wrong (just that I wouldn’t approve of it), so she didn’t get a guilty conscience, and she didn’t work, so she went to his place while I was at work, or she’d hook up while out of town visiting parents, etc.

Kraken's avatar

Because you are not the king.
See video for further clarification.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think their spouses want to trust them, so they create plausibilities and are good with that. The awfulness of knowing, and the collateral devastation that it brings, can be so overwhelming, that dealing with it can only happen when you feel that you are in an upper hand position. I am speaking from first hand position here. not only is he cheating on me, but he’s also cheating on the person he’s been cheating on me with. I’m not supposed to know it but do

The worst is when there are mutual friends who are enablers of the cheating. Sometimes you have to appear blind, in order to achieve control over the situation. When you are being cheated on, you have no control over the relationship. Leaving is not always easy, for emotional, practical or financial reasons. And cheating makes you wonder, do cheaters cheat on all promises?

Jack79's avatar

You can sleep with whomever you want Niki. I couldn’t care less. Now, if you were someone I cared about (eg my daughter), I might want to have a say in it, in the sense of checking that the guy is good for you, won’t hurt you etc. And if you were my girlfriend, I’d be wondering why you are sleeping with him and not me.

Having said that, I’m pretty cool about these things, or as cool as anyone my age could be. I’ve always said that there are worse things one can do to a fellow human besides cheating, and I’ve had them being done to me, so being cheated on is the least of my worries.

I guess that a big part of it is the sense of betrayal, the lies that come with it etc. I wouldn’t really mind it if I were away for a month and my girlfriend felt lonely and had a one-night stand, and then told me about it. It has happened once in the past and I didn’t care that much.

ru2bz46's avatar

I’m with you on all counts @AlfredaPrufrock. :-)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

The documentary on sex appeal that ran on the Discovery Channel goes into monogramy; it’s really interesting. There are differences in how humans are hardwired on this subject, as I think these questions point out. It’s an important issue to talk about early in a relationship.

Wildman's avatar

No such thing as free sex,at least not from the male point of view.Must take her out,get to know her and or buy drinks,food etc.If married it is even more expensive.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@Wildman, And from the female perspective, the price of sex is always, despite birth control efforts, pregnancy or health issues. Birth control can and does fail. Guys can have STDs and not know it, and pass them along. Undetected STDs can have residual effects on a woman’s reproductive health.

Wildman's avatar

OK,I see.Thanks

ru2bz46's avatar

@Wildman Divorce is even more expensive than marriage…

cwilbur's avatar

Sex is better when it goes along with emotional intimacy. I don’t see monogamy as an issue of physical intimacy so much as an issue of emotional intimacy. It’s difficult to be emotionally intimate (and thus vulnerable) with many people, and so you limit the people you let get that close to you; and then if you can have mediocre sex with relative strangers or good sex with close friends, why would you choose mediocre sex with relative strangers?

In other words, we can sleep with whoever we want. It’s just not nearly as satisfying.

augustlan's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock He’s cheating on his mistress, too? He is the very definition of a cad.

Wildman's avatar

@ru2bz46 That is right plus child support and then you are going to meet another companion!No wonder the economy is spiraling downward!Your (ru2bz46)sounds great for a car license plate,I like it.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Wildman Yeah, license plate was the concept.

mamabeverley's avatar

HIV and STD’s They terrify me!

DREW_R's avatar

Hey, I have. I love my wife very much. Yet we each still have the others go ahead to sleep with whom ever we please. COMMUNICATION actually works.

Grisaille's avatar

Crap, am I late to the party?

CMaz's avatar

Because it is all about control.

Bouncing from partner to partner lacks that. You as does your partner wants to fee they are #1. Unification is a good thing.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

If you are good enough, you can. ;-)

sliceswiththings's avatar

If I were to only have sex while in a loving relationship, I would be waiting a long time, since there are no dateable guys at my school (the real world is now just six months away).

I don’t want to waste my sex drive by NOT sleeping with people. Therefore, I kind of DO sleep with whoever I want. I imagine it will be nice to sleep with someone I really care about one day, but in the meantime I’ll take what I can get.

Bear in mind, I don’t sleep with strangers. I sleep with people, friends, who I’ve known for a while and literally want to sleep with. I go on the When Harry Met Sally assumption that all male friends want to nail me. Rash, I know, but I can tell the ones that do. I want to sleep with them, they want to sleep with me, neither of us want to date, so why not have fun?

In terms of getting hurt, I would never hook up with someone who I knew was romantically interested in me if it was not mutual. I pride myself on resisting the urge to sleep with guys that are into me because I wouldn’t want to hurt them (thinking of one in particular). I am careful of “women’s health” issues and I haven’t run into any problems.

GingerMinx's avatar

You can sleep with who ever you want so long as they are an adult and agree to it. Who said you couldn’t?

Coloma's avatar


lolol…that was very cute. Chicken people & Swan people! I like that! hahaha

TheOnlyException's avatar

I think it springs from morals and knowing what is right and wrong.
Its what separates us from the rapists. :-/

Joybird's avatar

The issue is FEAR….fear of losing your partner to a competing suitor and of loosing whatever resources that partner bought into the relationship…..fear of disease….fear of conflict.
This isn’t about morals. It’s more about people trying to protect bloodlines, property states, alliances, and similar types of things. It’s about people being viewed as property to whom you have exclusive rights by contract.
To serve one’s own emotional intimacy and physical intimacy needs against these things is labeled as selfish although that might not be so in reality.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther