Asking for a friend

Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities.

Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities. Click here to anonymously submit questions regarding sex, relationships and sex education. 

Question: “Is it wrong to have sex with two people in the same day? It's safe sex, consensual and all parties are single.” — Gina

Answer:

Dear Gina,

As far as I’m concerned, you’re thinking about the situation critically and, I’m assuming, advocating for yourself since the sex you’re having is safer and consensual — I say “safer” because there is no “safe sex,” as there’s always some level of risk involved.

As long as everyone involved is physically safe, happy and on the same page, I don’t really have any qualms about having sex with multiple people in one day — for some people, that might be the norm, which we’ll talk more about later. If everyone is at a proper understanding, then it should be clear that you’re not participating in, or promising, a monogamous sexual relationship to either person.

You haven’t indicated that you’re in a non-monogamous relationship, but I feel that this is a good opportunity to talk about how sex fits into casual or non-monogamous situations. All relationship constellations or levels of commitment should have some negotiated agreements regarding what’s acceptable.

The people involved in your sexcapade don’t necessarily have to be single to be a part of this dynamic ethically. Someone being open or poly would mean they are not single — which is why sometimes referencing “single” as a marker for this situation is limited.

But, I understand that you are trying to explain that you are being mindful of everyone involved in regards to fidelity; it’s great that you’re thinking of how your actions could possibly relate to the other people’s relationships.

Regarding ethical non-monogamy, I’ve seen some wonderfully functional polyamorous and open relationships that would allow for someone in a relationship to be a part of your sexy adventures.

Maybe non-monogamy is something you would enjoy if you’ve enjoyed having multiple sex partners. If that’s the case, I would recommend reading “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino and “The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy.

“Opening Up” feels more tightly written and it offers deeper focus on the emotions within different types of arrangements. However, “The Ethical Slut” offers really valuable information that is more sex-focused through an accessible, sometimes repetitive writing style.

If you’re not interested in the homework or don’t have time for it, I have some thoughts I am willing to share about evaluating whether a sexual situation is right or wrong — keep in mind that this is what works for me.

My focus is on health, enthusiasm, communication and consent. These are all tangled together, but I will do my best to explain them:

  • Health means that I’ve thought about what the risks are, everyone understands and there are negotiated methods of contraception and protection that will be used. This is something that is best established before you’re about to have inter- or outercourse.  

  • Enthusiasm means it’s not just a passive consent, but an active “hell yeah.” Being on the fence about having sex with someone is not a “yes,” and it doesn’t bode well. Enthusiastic consent — even after communicating the less-than-sexy logistics — is very important to me and often revealing of the other person or people involved.

  • Good communication means everyone involved understands health, boundaries and intentions. I can speak and be heard, as well as demonstrate active listening — especially in regard to something that I’m not hoping for. For example, if I hear that someone doesn’t want to do x, y and z — but I really wanted to do y and z — I respect their wishes and re-evaluate. The same goes for the other person; if you do not feel respected, I do not recommend having sex with that person.

If I can evaluate a situation and feel good about the health, enthusiasm and communication of both parties, I feel like I can confidently consent to the experience with the other person. If I were to not uphold these values, I feel like I wouldn’t be advocating for the quality of my sexual connection or my sexual health to the best of my ability.

If you have communicated your intentions, health and boundaries to each person, then I feel like you’re on a great track. If you’ve advocated for your pleasure and safety too, all I have left to say is, “Go Gina!”

Yours truly,

Dana

Photojournalist and Sex and Relationships columnist

Dana is a photojournalist specializing in long-format storytelling — particularly regarding gender and social justice topics. She is the Daily Emerald Sex and Relationships columnist. This is her third year at the Emerald.