Using Sex as a Boyfriend Screening Tool

Posted by Michael Dale Kimmel in lgbt 03 May 2015
photo by Kevin Tachman for nymag.com

photo by Kevin Tachman for nymag.com

Dear Michael:

I have a dilemma.  I am looking for a boyfriend, but not too seriously.  I am enjoying great sex a lot of the time and meet most of these guys on-line.  I think that having sex with a guy is a good way to “screen him” to see if he is potential boyfriend material.  If our chemistry is good in bed, then that tells me to go ahead and get to know him better.  If we’re not good in bed together, why consider him as boyfriend material?  My friends disagree and say I’ve got it backwards.  What do you think?

Checking them out in LaJolla

P.S. We love your column in Gay San Diego 

 

Dear Checking:

Thanks for the kind words. Now, let’s address your problem. It doesn’t seem like you’d be writing to me if your “system” was really working for you.  Also, there is a contradiction in what your Email says: you are looking for a boyfriend, but not too seriously.   What does this mean?  It could mean that you are leisurely looking for a boyfriend, taking your time, enjoying the process, etc.  Or it could mean that you have some inner conflict going on, e.g., part of you wants a boyfriend, part of you doesn’t.  Part of you just wants good sex, part of you wants more.

From my work with my clients, I have observed that making sex the most important element in a “boyfriend screening system”  rarely works.  Here’s why:  most long-term couples, looking back, tell me that the sex was okay at the beginning, but got even better as they got to know and trust each other.  Some couples I have seen, happily together for over twenty years, even said that sex wasn’t so hot at the beginning, but that they really LIKED each other and wanted to get to know each other based on that.

So, what is really most important to you in a boyfriend?  Is it great sex, intimacy, really liking each other, a sense of humor, shared goals, common interests?  There are no right and wrong answers, my question is to help you flesh out what matters to you and to be clear about it so you know how to proceed.

Your “system” may let you down if you meet someone fabulous but the initial sex isn’t as great as the rest of your connection.  For many people, sex needs time to develop into something really fabulous.  A majority of us have better sex when we really know our partner well:  what he likes, how and when he likes it, what turns him on/off, if he likes to talk much (or not), when and if he wants oral sex, anal sex, body contact, wrestling around, kissing, hugging… YOU KNOW!

If what you really want is to just have fun, then go to it!  As long as you have safe sex and nobody gets emotionally or physically harmed, go forth and enjoy all the wonderful men (and/or women) out there in your beautiful city.  However, if what you really want is a boyfriend, then sit yourself down and come clean.  Try this, experiment:  make a list of the qualities you want in a boyfriend:  be honest, this list is for your eyes only.  Then describe how you want the relationship to be (ideally).  Next, sit with this for three days.  Don’t do anything about it, don’t tell anyone about your lists.  Just let them “percolate”, as my grandma in Ohio used to say. After three days, look at your lists and see if you still feel that way.  Feel free to add to or change them.  Many of my clients have found this process useful in getting clear on what they really wanted from a boyfriend (or girlfriend, or both!)

Most people Email me because something that they’re doing isn’t working for them, if it were, they wouldn’t be contacting me.  Often what we do doesn’t work because there is a dualism in our thinking:  I want THIS, but I also want NOT THIS.  I want a boyfriend but I am not willing to commit to all the work, time and commitment that developing a relationship with a boyfriend requires.  I want something there for me 24/7, but I also want to be able to have lots of sex with different guys when I feel like it.  We can’t have both THIS and NOT THIS when they so clearly conflict.  This is why so many people tell me they’re “stuck”.  Usually, they’re not being honest with themselves.

Getting clear on what YOU really want will help you move ahead and create it.  Using sex as a “boyfriend screening device” (my term, not yours) has its limitations.  It ignores the many other qualities of a potential boyfriend that may, in the long run, outweigh the sex.  And, for many people in committed relationships, the sex gets better as the love (and the LIKE) grows stronger.