I was not a slut in college. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of guys I’d slept with before my last (long-term) relationship.
I remember being maybe 20, maybe 21 years old and talking to an older gay friend of mine. I was lamenting how much I wanted a boyfriend and how I couldn’t understand how all these guys just wanted to hook up. And, more specifically, how he could profess to want a relationship but also troll for hookups at the same time. Wasn’t that a conflict of interest? Or intent? He explained that while he very much wanted a boyfriend, he also had an active libido, and had needs that needed to be met in the meantime. Starry-eyed me didn’t quite get it.
Fast forward 4-5 years to me in a loving, committed, mostly sexless relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we’d never had sex. I had some of the best sex of my life with my ex. But as relationships tend to do, ours had reached a point much closer to best friends/roommates than romantic partners.
I wanted sex.
And after my ex and I broke up, it was the first thing I looked for. Fresh out of a many-year relationship, I was not ready to jump back into something serious. I did want to get some ass. And as a gay man, I took full advantage of the wide array of technological tools at my disposal to that end. And it worked. I had lots of sex. Some good sex, some really bad sex, mostly okay to moderate sex.
When you are sleeping with random people you meet on an app or the Internet, there is very little grace involved. There is one goal at hand, and everything else is a roadblock to achieving that goal. Your body becomes a product listing on Amazon, which buyers scan and discard if they see any flaws. Things you could overlook in a person you admired for others reasons are dealbreakers in this arena. I am not placing myself above this. When you’re only looking for sex, you want to have it with someone you find… sexy! And with the immediacy of hookups, the physical trumps all.
The result is a lot of shame, self-doubt and frustration mixed with a moderate amount of mediocre sex. Yet, the drive remains. We are humans. We are hard-wired to want sex. It’s natural! I am not ashamed of this. I will not apologize or accept people’s judgement for wanting and enjoying casual sex. Slut-shamers be damned.
Fast forward again to today. It’s been quite some time since my breakup, and I’m ready for a relationship again (see also: drunk on OkCupid in my previous post). But while I work on that, I also want sex. My body has needs. And hookups are the quickest way to meet them.
When you start engaging in casual sex, you make a lot of decisions — some conscious, some not. Will I post/send naked photos of myself? Will I sleep with people I know, or who know people I know? Will I tell people my full name, what I do, where I live? In many of these cases, I chose “yes.” I also had to accept the fact that this also meant I may one day run into someone I’ve exchanged photos or hooked up with at a friend’s party or at a work function or (gulp) on the Facebook friend list of a potential boyfriend. And while I chose to accept that reality as part of the deal, it’s still somewhat terrifying.
My hope is that the (proverbial) person I’m interested in would understand that. He, too, may have a backlog of experiences that are waiting to come to light. Not surprisingly, a lot of the guys I see on OkCupid looking for relationships are the same ones who are in other places looking for sex. How can I judge them for that? I am doing the same thing. And I hope at the very least, a potential partner would be able to respect that. If he can’t, is he really someone I want to be with?
I finally understand what my friend told me years ago, when he was my age . Yes, I want a boyfriend. Yes, my body wants sex in the meantime. Yes, it’s complicated and messy. But maybe, just maybe it will all work out in the end.