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Uncommitted Couples Having Casual Sex:
A Recipe For Heartache & Trouble

Dear Dr. Matt,

My name is Shawntel. I'm age 32 and single with no children. I live in Princeton, New Jersey. I have an issue that is honestly embarrassing to discuss with people that are close to me. The issue has basically boiled over because of one specific incident. I need to clear my head and move forward.

I've been living with a man for a year and a half. He initially moved into my home under a strictly platonic financial arrangement. I started to sleep with him 6 months after he moved in. He's made me no promises, and in all fairness he has kept the sex casual.

Recently there has been so much snow where I live. The last snow storm dropped an unbelievable 19 inches. That day, my roommate left while I was shoveling the snow by myself, then returned 4 hours later. He didn't ask if I was OK or if I needed any help. When he returned, he went to his room and some ate food he'd bought. He remained in his room until the late night. His avoidance of me was obvious, because we're usually buddies who eat, cook, and watching TV together.

At first I was OK emotionally, feeling that he doesn't have to do anything for me; yet I became more and more agitated as I thought about it. I would've been satisfied with even a small acknowledgment from him on how difficult my day had been.

I withdrew about a week and a half, feeling that it was better not to start a conversation with high emotions. So I waited.

Tonight I approached him hoping to resolve the situation. Instead it became worse. I tried to be fair telling him that we cant always give fully and I understand that, but sometimes if all we can give is a word of encouragement then that is enough. I tried to be calm and fair, I can't judge exactly how my words came across, but I wasn't trying to beat him up, just help him see my perspective.

He took it badly, He called me an unbalanced, ungrateful person, telling me that he's not a mind reader, and I should've asked for help, he's done things for me in the past which I fail to acknowledge, he didn't tell me to shovel the snow all by myself, I shouldn't have done it, I'm cheap—I should've paid someone to do it (I'm so broke at the moment that I couldn't  do that).

Note from Dr Matt: This next paragraph has Shawntel re-living an argument in her head and then writing it out for me to read. Typically people will write out the Story of the argument for others to read, as evidence of How they were reasonable in the emotional altercation, and How the other person was unreasonable. Here, Shawntel is constructing a Justifying Story — a Story that ironically points to her own betrayal of Truth. Why so? Because Shawntel has a need to tell this Story, this is evidence that she is Stuck in the Story, wrestling with inner conflict, and not at peace. When we live in harmony with our own sense of Truth, we will have no need to tell Justifying Stories and we feel peaceful emotions — as opposed to BRIAR Emotions.

Nevertheless I told him no one came around to shovel (they didn't), he insisted that wasn't true. Then he told me I wasn't talking to him that day anyway (not true we were up until 3am the night before watching movies together) I called him a liar and told him he was trying to justify his actions by making up a lie. He walked away. An hour later, he came back and I opened up the conversation again. He told me the whole conversation was stupid, that I have no perspective on myself. I told him that may be the case but it still doesn't make my thoughts on that day completely wrong. He called me ungrateful over and over and kept telling me again that I'm cheap and I should've paid someone to do it. I told him I would respect him more if he came out and told me not to expect anything from him. He said, "I'm not that type of person", but I said , "you are", In the end he said "where do we go from here?" I said I may be unbalanced but I have enough perspective to know that I have no business having any expectations of you. From now on, you can be sure that no matter what happens, I do not expect any help from you. He remained silent and walked away.

Ultimately the situation is out of control at this point. I wanted him to acknowledge me as someone who is important to him and to apologize for giving me the impression that my well being was not important that day. That's an apology which I'll never get.

I can't tip toe around with all this tension. There seems to be no way to fix this situation. I'm still angry and so is he.  I would question myself if I asked him to move out, would that be fair? I just need some outside input on this. I doubt myself. I question if I should have taken the issue to him at all. Have I been unfair to him?

Thank You for reading this, and I hope you're are able to respond.


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Stuck in the Story: Having Casual Sex with a Married Man

Hello Shawntel:

You have written these words: "I called him a liar and told him he was trying to justify his actions by making up a lie."

Bingo! That is most likely what he was doing. And the very act of "Justifying," points to his personal betrayal of truth.

You also write "in all fairness he has kept the sex casual."

When you climb a ladder that leans against the wrong wall, no matter how high you climb (and think you're making progress), your eventual destination is inevitably off, and your apparent progress negated

The Creator put the possibility of euphoric feelings in our bodies for a purpose: That committed couples might celebrate their love, and thus intimately bond together more deeply.

When uncommitted individuals have casual sex, trouble is soon to follow. You see, a woman who shares her body in the most intimate way, hopes that the intimacy will mean something.

You had hoped that since you are "buddies" and having "sex," your roommate might care enough to says a few kind words. I can hear your hope that he might care in these words: "I wanted him to acknowledge me as someone who is important to him."

Since he didn't acknowledge you, and failed to show consideration for you, he has exposed his true intentions toward you: You are being used for his sexual pleasure. And possibly you are using him too, as you have kept your sex with him, "casual" — as opposed to being an intimate expression of total committment and love.

Again, you were hoping that he would care enough to notice what needed to be done, due to the heavy snow storm. He really didn't need to "read your mind," he needed only to see 19 inches of snow on the ground outside. And in the end, he treated you as he did, because he doesn't really care about you (at the same level of as commitment love-makers do). His reactions are consistent with him keeping the sex between you "casual." That is the deal you bargained for:

You are now reaping a harvest according to the seeds you have sown.

Why should anyone make a firm commitment to another person? A commitment so strong that he or she is willing to announce that commitment, and love, to the whole community?

Part of the answer is this: Because only within the bonds of a committed relationship, can you enjoy something more than "sex" — you get to experience the euphoria of celebrating a love that is mutually felt and completely committed. This celebration of Love is many times more wonderful and satisfying, compared to casual sex.

Here's another part of the answer: The Creator intended that sexual Intimacy should be reserved for committed relationships only. Why so? Because sexual intimacy sometimes brings babies into the world, and it is absolutely unfair for new born babies to have parents that aren't committed to one another. It's like building a house on a faulty foundation — the house will eventually fall.

So, your house has fallen. It couldn't stand in the first place, because the foundation was faulty. What to do from this point?

You need to take care YOUR SIDE of RESPONSE-ABILITY. (If I were talking to him, I would advise him to do the same.) You can only make decisions for YOUR LIFE. And because he has no commitment to you, he also has no accountability to you.

This will get you pointed in the right direction, and suggest the RIGHT WALL against which you might lean your ladder, and commence climbing. You might also see if you can get Unstuck from your Story: (he needs to do this as well, but I'm not talking to him, only you)

Good luck,

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

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