So yesterday, the New York Times got all upset about how OkCupid means that dating is over. OVER, you hear? Pour yourself a glass of wine, resign yourself to dying alone and being eaten by your nineteen cats, single people! There’s no hope for you!
Apparently it’s all the fault of “hookup culture.” Because being okay with sometimes having casual sex means that you have no idea how to say “Hey, would you like to go to dinner this Friday?” and then make conversation over some spaghetti. That’s all dating is; talking to and getting to know someone. Millenials are absolutely capable of doing that. The fact that they aren’t doing that as much as some people would like does not necessarily mean that young people are trapped in a sea of meaningless sex and can’t escape to Proper Relationship Island.
What’s more, I am so sick of the media painting casual sex as this horrible, soul-destroying experience that will turn your sons into flaky sex pigs and your daughters into consumptive French prostitutes. Because you know something? Casual sexual relationships can be really awesome and fun! Yeah, I said it. I have been there and done that, and three cheers for hooking up!
Let’s get this out of the way: Casual sexual relationships aren’t everyone’s thing. That’s totally fine. But there’s also nothing shameful, degrading or wrong about them. Consenting adults having fun naked times together is awesome–as long as you treat the other person properly. And this, I think, is the problem that a lot of people experience with “hookup” relationships: they don’t know how to behave or treat each other. Are you friends? Nodding acquaintances? Do you act couple-y? I know that I’ve struggled with this a lot in the past. There really aren’t many social scripts for interactions with people you occasionally bang!
Allow me to proudly present Alle’s Ethical Guide To Casual Banging. This is how I treat the people I see naked, and how I’d want them to treat me. It’s served me well so far. Consider this everything you need to know to prevent yourself from accidentally being a jerk, or allowing someone else to be a jerk to you. It’s all about being considerate and treating people right; about being ethical, if you will. So without further ado…
Address your own issues with sex and sexuality
(This part is gonna be reeeeeal heteronormative. Bear with me.)
Repeat after me: Women who have sex are not whores. Sex does not erode our “worth” because women are not antique coins. It does not mean we don’t have sufficient self-respect, or that we have issues, or that we’re desperate to hook a man. Sometimes it just means we want to get laid.
I am not just talking to men here. We ladies are sometimes very judgmental about other girls “being sluts” and that shit has GOT to STOP. If an adult woman wants to take a guy home for consensual banging, it’s her business. The only thing you should ever have to say about it is “Have fun, be safe.” That’s it! No talking shit, no drawing lines between “good girls” and “whores.” All that does is reinforce the belief that women who have sex are bad or damaged in some way, or that they are incapable of making decisions about their sexuality. Being judgmental about other women brings us all down.
Likewise, guys. If a woman is having sex with you, YOU are also having sex with HER. You don’t get to say things like “Oh man, what a giant whore, she banged me right away” afterwards as a means of depersonalising the situation. Because YOU ALSO banged her right away, and you don’t think YOU are a giant whore, do you? Get the double standard out of your head. Women are capable of making rational choices about sex. Deal with it.
Like the person/people you’re sleeping with
You should not dislike or feel contempt for the people you’re getting naked with. You don’t have to be truly madly deeply IN LOVE with them, but you must like them as a person. Casual sex doesn’t mean you get a free pass to hatefuck someone intolerable or someone you’re embarrassed by. All that will do is make you feel bad about yourself in the end.
Don’t put up with bullshit because the sex is good
Treat the other person/people you’re banging well, and expect they’ll treat you well in return. Don’t let them be a dickhead to you and justify it by saying “Well, the sex is good.” No sex is so good that it’s worth being treated poorly for. Period.
Be honest and upfront
Let the other person know what you want. This can be as simple as saying “Hey, can we keep this as a just sex thing? I’m not looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner” or as complicated as saying “I’m really enjoying getting to know you, but I’d like to keep this casual. You’re free to see other people, and I care about you. A serious boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever situation just isn’t what I’m looking for right now.”
If you know you’re not going to be monogamous, be clear about that. If that’s a dealbreaker for the other person–or if they only want to have sex within the confines of a serious relationship–then it’s a dealbreaker, and you go your separate ways.
Be honest about what you want (I)
Don’t lie to yourself. Look, it’s not 1893. You don’t have to get into a serious relationship with every person who sees your genitals. If you want to keep things casual with another consenting adult, it’s totally okay. You don’t have to do mental gymnastics to convince yourself that this person is your soulmate when what you’re really after is their sweet, sweet body.
Obviously relationships can change over time. But if you have to lie to yourself about the nature of what you’re doing right here, right now…it’s probably an indicator that you’re not REALLY okay with it. Soul-search accordingly.
Be honest about what you want (II)
What do you do if one day you end up having Special Feelings for your sex friend? Be an adult and tell them. Don’t keep it bottled up and hope it goes away, because that has never once worked in all of human history Having feelings is okay. Humans are humans and sometimes we get moony over people we see naked. Tale as old as time.
If you’re mature enough to have sex, you’re mature enough to talk about your feelings. Nobody can promise that the other person will return those feelings–but being honest and brave will produce much better results than being scared and silent.
Don’t lie to get what you want
A pox on people who lead others on with talk of a future that will never come and promises that will never be fulfilled. A plague on people who say “If I just don’t mention that I don’t want a relationship, it’s his/her own fault for assuming that I do.” Outright lie-telling and lie-telling by omission to get laid is a fucking blight on humanity, and it needs to be stopped. And the only way to stop it is by being a straightforward, non-manipulative person.
Look, I get the appeal of manipulation. You get something you want AND ALSO you get the thrill of being smarter than someone else. But why bother manipulating people (so much work!) when you could get the same result EASILY by being honest? If nothing else it’s working smarter, not harder.
Mostly, though, you shouldn’t do it because people don’t like to be lied to and manipulated. Not for any reason, but especially not so that someone else–probably someone they like–can have an orgasm. Getting naked and squishy with someone is an experience that always leaves one slightly vulnerable, and nobody should have that vulnerability exploited.
Establish and respect boundaries
Talk about what you want and what you don’t want. Talk about it WITH WORDS, FORMED BY YOUR MOUTH, SO THAT THE OTHER PERSON HEARS THEM. Do not go on auto-pilot and assume that the other person can read your mind, because they can’t. They never will. And expecting them to somehow intuit what you want sets up up for tears and bad times.
For example, how much emotional intimacy is too much or not enough? How often do you want to see each other? Are you looking for something in particular in the sack? What are your sexual boundaries? Are you both having safe sex (please say yes!) and when were you last tested for STDs? Will you be friends on social media? Do you tell your friends about each other? How much do you want to know about the other people they are seeing? This list can go on and on, because even casual relationships are complicated. It’s the human condition.
I know that establishing “ground rules” ahead of time seems really unsexy and awkward. And it is, a little, but ask yourself what’s worse: talking about stuff ahead of time, or freaking the fuck out because they’ve posted a picture of them kissing someone else on instagram, or finding out they’ve been banging a bunch of other people without protection?
Seriously, this is the most important part. Sex is so much fun! Enjoy your body, enjoy the other person’s body, be respectful, be safe and have a blast.
And now I want to hear from you! Am I right? Am I wrong? Are you a fan of keeping it casual, or not so much? What’s your best ethical banging tip? Tell me in the comments or on twitter!