"Who are you sleeping with?"
"But, Carrie, he was such an assh*le to you!"
"No, not really... Look, Big and I, we just have this... physical... thing."
In season two of "Sex and the City," Carrie Bradshaw attempts to justify to her friends why she is seeing Mr. Big again, despite the fact that he treated her like total crap the first time around.
As the show's protagonist, Carrie is painted as an independent woman who writes down her feelings for a living, and through this, does her best to logically navigate her mind. But, despite Carrie's attempts to see men and relationships objectively, emotion always triumphs -- especially when it comes to Mr. Big.
She flat-out credits her undeniable longing for him to something as primal as their sexual bond, among other attributes of his. Still, the sex is what makes their relationship stand out from all her others.
"Sex and the City" may not be the best litmus test for a lot of things, but it does hit the nail on the head of one theory: The power of an intense physical chemistry could be enough to leave even the most strong-minded woman completely helpless.
Good sex isn't the only thing that's important in a relationship, but it's definitely a barometer for what goes on in one. Once we've had the best sex we think we'll ever have, we become victims to our bodies.
If you don't believe me (or Carrie), just ask science. In an article published by the Daily Mail, Dr. Arun Ghosh claims,
"A key hormone released during sex is oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone.’ This lowers our defenses and makes us trust people more."
The article goes on to say,
"The problem is that the body can’t distinguish whether the person we’re with is a casual fling or marriage material ... so while it might help you bond with the love of your life, it’s also the reason you may feel so miserable when a short-term relationship ends."
Critics argue that Carrie is weak, and downright stupid for taking Big back multiple times. But the critics' blame is misplaced; it's not that Carrie is flawed, but rather, the system itself is flawed.
Once we have, not just good sex, but amazing sex with someone we love, we relinquish all control. Carrie had the best she'll ever have, and it's not only emotionally impossible for her to move on, but also psychologically and physiologically impossible.
It can be said that every other man Carrie dates is simply a way to distract both her mind and body from Big and the feeling he gave her, which she knows she will never be able to achieve with anyone else.
I have one friend who told me she always cries after having an intense orgasm. Another friend only has intercourse once she is promised a committed relationship. I can personally attest to the fact that I have much more clarity when I am not intimately involved with my friend-with-benefits.
Charlotte York says it takes half the time you dated someone to get over him; others say it takes an average of three months to fully get over someone. But, if your body literally becomes addicted to the sex with one person more intensely than it does with anyone else, you may never get over that person.
After having "the best," which, for me, was two years ago, I find myself still second-guessing every romantic endeavor when it comes to having casual sex. The truth is, no one has matched up since, and no one matched up until him.
So, every intimate encounter merely feels like a waste of time because my brain only wants to remember the intensity of the feeling he gave me, and it's left little to no room to store feelings induced by other men.
I constantly wish I had never met him, that there wasn't this nearly impossible standard to which other men will have to live up.
It's alarming to see myself caught up in the grips of something so intangible, and I understand why Carrie chose who she chose. Besides, if the sex isn't mind-blowing with the partner you choose, then what distinguishes the relationship with him from one with a platonic friend?
And, so, I'm faced with these questions:
Should independent women sacrifice momentary gratification with the sole intention of emotionally protecting themselves, by refraining from mind-blowing, casual sex? Or should we take a page out of my friend's book and only choose to be intimate with men once they've said "I love you?"
(Keep in mind, women still run a risk of feeling miserable by choosing the latter option, but the risk of fall-out is much lower than the one produced by the former option).
I do know one thing: For those of us who have already had "the best" in a relationship or fling that fell apart, there may be little hope on the horizon.