As often is the case, a dinner conversation can be the fodder for a good column. At dinner with my wife and a female friend we were talking about how the sexual habits and views of sex have changed so very much in our lifetimes. When we were young, the words “hook up” or “hooking up” simply met meeting a friend. Now they mean having sex. So, it’s no surprise that the “friends with benefits” idea would extend further than simply a consenting couple having sex now and then. Now there are “arrangements” where financial terms are discussed up front in exchange for sex.
Some dating websites cater to those interested in extra-marital affairs. There are sites like Tinder where you choose a “match” almost exclusively by photos and a minimum of text. And there are the mainstream sites such as eHarmony (which I didn’t like AT ALL), JDate, Match.com and others that operate as mostly traditional dating venues. But, with some sites such as Tinder, you will see women who seek those “arrangements” and are explicit in wanting a “Sugar Daddy” or “Arrangement.”
Both are fascinating twists on the oldest profession in the world and I would bet that all the women that post such “ads” for a Sugar Daddy or Arrangement would bristle at the notion that they were acting more or less like a prostitute. After all, aren’t all relationships really “deals” or as our own therapist says, “Let’s Make a Deal?” Indeed, most marriages have implicit if not explicit “arrangements” and understandings within their vows.
In Judaism, it’s traditional to actually sign a religious marriage contract – called a Ketubah — that lays out the responsibilities of the husband and wife. The contemporary equivalent of the Ketubah is the Pre-Nuptial Agreement. So, why is it really any different if a woman is willing to exchange some sexual favors for the rent?
Well, for one thing – and it is VERY important – there is marriage involved in both the cases above whereas the women looking for an “arrangement” often don’t even care if the man is married as long as he meets “her terms!” Marriage IS more than a piece of paper. It’s a societal more that has existed for centuries and ONLY in my lifetime has it been torn asunder and rendered meaningless in many circles and political discussions.
Is a woman being very up-front about her (financial) needs much different from a woman dating a man and making “requests” (aka “demands”) of him for certain gifts and favors? Is it really wrong to be so direct as to ask for a specific gift or money in exchange for sexual favors if one is doing the same without “specifics” in a dating relationship?
Has our culture just become crass? We see Beyonce do an entire album about sex and no one bats an eye. She is a role model for many young girls and women and she espouses open sexuality in her music, as do so many of her peers in music, film, and television. Any notion of sexual sanctity being reserved for marriage is really so very old-fashioned, isn’t it?
Most men – especially when dating – are after one primary thing. Yes, there are those oddball men that actually desire something more lasting such as a long-term monogamous relationship or, gulp, marriage and children. But for the others, what is wrong with knowing what IT is going to cost for that “primary thing?”
Let me be very clear about how I feel about all this. While I’m asking all these questions, I am quite unhappy about the rampant sexuality in our society and casualness of it all. These “arrangements” demean both men and women and reduce our intimacy to a business deal with no sense of propriety or value for society as a whole. It’s cheap. It’s dirty. And, I don’t like it.
I worry about my boys and their relationship futures. Will they marry? Do they even care about marriage? At 21 and 18, it’s too early to be posing that question or putting ANY parental pressure on them in that department. I see the influences in their lives in media and this changing attitude of reckless carelessness towards sex and it concerns me.
How would YOU feel if your daughter was advertising for an “arrangement?” If you found out, what would you say to her and how would you react to her casual disregard for any of the societal traditions that YOU grew up with? If she called you “old fashioned” and “boringly traditional” and she were 21, what would you say or do?
I’m glad I don’t have daughters. God was kind to me given I know male nature SO WELL. Please let’s have some dialogue on this and please share your thoughts…