We're at a point where dating has become a very loose term. If it can truly mean anything at this point.
It could mean you're going out for meals in public, or you could just be two Millennials, f*cking and texting.
If I've learned anything about my year of casual sex, it's that no one really knows what it means. Some people think that sex, by definition, is the opposite of casual. It is the most intimate thing two humans can do. Others have no problem separating their physical feelings from their emotional ones.
So, what do you do when you want sex, but you don't want to get emotionally involved? While I know many people who enjoy booty calls, they're just not for me. If I have sex with someone to whom I have absolutely no emotional connection, I'm kind of just phoning it in. It doesn't do anything for me. I'd honestly just rather watch Netflix by myself than fake an orgasm with some random guy from Tinder.
It's not a coincidence that the guys with whom I've had the best sex are the ones I also like as people. We get along, we make each other laugh, we are interested in each other's lives, we can go out for meals in public and have things to say to each other, and wait… this is still "casual" right? Wrong.
When casual sex starts to turn into "friends with benefits," or anything in that category, I've found that, for me, it's great for a short period of time, but it has an expiration date. And, at some point, it either needs to progress or stop.
Casual sex can be respectful, but it requires honesty, communication and the strength to walk away when you realize someone is unwilling to give you what you want.
Here are five things I've learned about casual sex during my year of trying it out.
1. I only craved commitment from guys who couldn't give it to me.
After a series of disappointments, I had no choice but to examine the role I was playing in all of this. I started to notice a pattern.
I'd meet a guy, we'd hit it off, and just when I started to feel like I could trust him, he'd turn into a giant flake.
I would then blame myself for being stupid enough to experience human emotions. For real, what was I thinking?!
Once I figured out why I was choosing them, my entire perspective changed.
I realized the only time I wanted more of a commitment from a guy was when he showed signs of flakiness or emotional unavailability.
In other words, I only wanted more when I knew deep down I couldn't get it. I used to dismiss this as “pesky human nature,” until I realized it was because I am also the one who is emotionally unavailable.
Any time someone wanted more of a commitment from me, I freaked out.
For the last few years, every guy I dated gave some sort of disclaimer up top about, “Just getting out of a relationship,” or, “Not looking for anything serious,” or “really just focusing on his career.”
I would ignore this giant red flag and then berate myself for doing something to drive him away when subconsciously, I chose him because I knew he would eventually do that.
It turns into a cycle as well as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I go for guys who can't commit, they leave, therefore validating my misguided assumption that if I let someone in, I will inevitably get hurt.
This is called counter dependency, which I have written about before. It's a defense mechanism.
If we go for people with whom we know it won't work out, it hurts less than putting ourselves out there with someone it actually might work out with.
2. People can be flaky — and there's nothing I can do about it.
There was a time when I actually used to spend hours trying to figure out what a guy's flaky behaviors meant.
Why does he say he wants to hang out, but instead of making plans, just likes my Facebook statuses?
Why does he talk to me every day for a week and then go MIA? Because he has no intention of this developing into anything more than sex.
We'd have sex, we'd get closer, he'd disappear, I'd get confused, he'd come back, I'd let it go and repeat.
This persisted until I realized the only thing consistent about these guys was their inconsistency.
Now, the only flakes I want inside of me are in the form of cereal. Sorry, bro.
3. The faster it starts, the sooner it can end.
This is not always the case, but in my experience, when I've had sex with someone too quickly, all logic and judgment goes out the window.
I've found that we both get caught up in the excitement and the endorphins, and all of a sudden, I think I know someone because you've been texting for three weeks straight. But I on't know this person.
I just think I know the idea I've created of this person.
Sex can create an illusion of a relationship, but it does not lay the foundation for one.
When things move too quickly, it's like getting into a car and stepping on the accelerator.
All of a sudden, both of us are like, whoa, this is clearly not a sustainable speed.
Rather than pulling over and having an honest discussion, the guy tosses me out of the car and speeds off.
Then, I'm left there like, “But you drove me here, a**hole!"
4. People can pull back.
Not to be confused with the pull-out, the pull-back can be subtle, which is why I like to call it, “The A**hole Dial.”
Basically, it's the first time someone does something slightly flaky, like canceling plans last minute or “forgetting” to answer text messages.
This is just turning up the notch ever so slightly on that dial. It's just enough to throw me off, but not quite enough that I feel justified to be pissed off.
Especially when they come back and act like nothing happened.
Let me be clear, if I'm casually seeing someone, I do not expect us to hang out every night.
But, if I am sleeping with someone, I do expect an answer back within 48 to 72 hours. I expect that from people who I don't allow inside of me.
5. Demanding self-respect isn't "needy."
For some reason, I used to be under the impression that the opposite of "chill" is "needy." Why can't I just be a normal girl with standards?
My faulty belief in the past was that no matter how a guy treated me, if we weren't in an “official” relationship, my anger was not justified. I thought, "I mean, he flaked on me, but we're not together, so I don't want him to think I'm mad, 'cause I'm chill."
I've found that standing up for myself doesn't have to be as intense as calling someone 10 times in a row to call them a "piece of sh*t." It can be as simple as saying, "I don't appreciate when you people don't respect my time."
If you don't stand up for yourself, you're sending the message that people can get away with treating you without respect.
This post was originally published on June 9, 2015. It was updated on Sept. 6, 2019 by Hannah Orenstein.