The Sex Lives Of Single People

DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Sex outside of relationships can take many forms. There's just-dating-around sex, I-just-got-out-of-a-relationship sex, we-met-right-before-last-call sex, and so on. As women, we're often brought up on a sexuality-shaming rhetoric: Sex is tacitly accepted, but usually within the context of a relationship. But, what about all the times we're not in relationships? What then? We've all heard "Why would a man buy the cow, when you're giving him the milk for free?" — and it's a tired, old adage.
While there still exists a gendered double standard surrounding sexuality in the U.S., women's sexual autonomy is rapidly growing. We asked single women and men alike to reflect on their sex lives: how often they're having sex, whom they're having sex with, and (of course), how they feel about it. Ahead, 10 stories of sex and singlehood — the good, the bad, and the awkward.
Advertisement
1 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: Undisclosed
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“Since getting out of a long-term relationship a year and a half ago, five.”

How often do you have sex?
“Once a week for a few weeks when I'm seeing someone...which is every few months.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“Mutual friends/Tinder.”

“Coupled sex was almost always sober; single sex is almost always drunk. I’m actually not usually that interested in sex until I’m more familiar with someone, because I don’t feel comfortable being naked with a complete stranger. Single sex is definitely more exciting. Couple sex can get stale unless you really work hard at [it]... The best thing about being single is being able to do what you want, when you want, and not feeling obligated to spend your nights/weekends with someone.”
2 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 27
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“Two.”

How often do you have sex?
“Twice a week.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“Friends, mainly. I am not into casual sex at all. The emotional connection is not there with casual sex, which makes it very hard to relax and enjoy the experience. When I have casual sex or a one-night stand, I end up feeling insecure and depressed about how I could give my body away so easily.”
3 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 37
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Both women and men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
"Three in the past month.”

How often do you have sex?
“It really varies depending on whether I'm dating anyone and also how much I like them. Sometimes 20 times a month, but that's with the same couple of people.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“I meet them in real life. I've never used a dating app.

"I've been in several long-term relationships throughout my life, and some of them were great. I just always ultimately got a bit bored or felt hemmed in. I know many people might think it's time to settle down at my age or get married, but that's never been the kind of life I wanted. I still enjoy meeting and sleeping with new people. It's fun and exciting, and it doesn't get old. (I've always thought the best time to have sex with someone is the third time.) I've felt all sorts of things throughout my life around 'single' sex — what I consider sex outside a committed relationship. When I was younger, I knew I enjoyed casual sex, but I would always pretend that I 'never did this sort of thing' with anyone I slept with quickly. That 'I'm not that kind of girl' excuse that is, of course, the result of a culture that accuses women of being sluts when they exercise their sexual agency. But, as I've gotten older, I'm more at peace and confident about the kind of sex I enjoy. No more excuses."
4 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 30
Identifies as: Male
Has sex with: Women

How many people have you had sex with recently? “I banged 27 girls last summer.”

How often do you have sex?
“An average of 16 times a year.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“I’ve met people I’ve slept with online, in bars, parks, college campuses, grocery stores, buses, hardware stores, arts and craft stores, malls, fast food chains, libraries, bathrooms, eBay. Casual sex is fulfilling, not routine. My favorite thing about single sex is that it’s protected — no babies.”
5 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 24
Identifies as: Male
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“Probably four in the last month.”

How often do you have sex?
“Four times a month.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“Different sites online. OKCupid, Craigslist. Not Grindr. I like the concept of exploring sex as divorced from emotional connection. That's not to say I don't enjoy sex in a monogamous relationship. But, I've found that single sex has allowed me to deal with my inhibitions and hangups and learn to just be, to enjoy physical contact with another person, in a way that I've never been able to before. I have more agency now, and I know what I want and I go after it. I try to be non-judgmental — especially since I do this often. As someone who's had a lot of meaningful, monogamous sex, as well as single sex, I think that while they're completely different experiences, neither one is better than the other — and no one should be shamed for engaging in either.”
Advertisement
6 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 27
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently? “In the last three months I've slept with four people, repeatedly.”

How often do you have sex? “24+ times a year.
"Single sex is kinky. It tends to be more wild — probably because you want to make one hell of an impression. If I'm working Tinder and Hinge properly, I can book my weeknights with dates two weeks ahead. Last year, I probably went on 180 dates...some repeats, some not. The key is to have your first, second, and third date outfits picked out in advance, so you never confuse what you've worn with whom. Being single is very empowering as a woman, and can be a lot of fun.”
7 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 24
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Both men and women

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“Three people, since January.”

How often do you have sex?
“Once per week.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“Through mutual friends or acquaintances. Once, someone from my building. The only time I went home with someone I met at a bar, we ended up dating for four years.”

"Single sex is often not good the first few times; you don't know each other's rhythms. But, casual sex can be fantastic — as long as you accept the reality of the situation (you're not making up a relationship in your head, until/unless there is one), you recognize the reasons you are doing it (you like this person, you need sex now, etc.), and you're not doing it to be liked, or to gain power.”
8 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 29
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“One in the past year.”

How often do you have sex?
“A couple times per year, generally.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“They tend to be friends first. I'm all in favor of casual sex in theory, but tend to find it unsatisfying. It’s less emotionally intimate; it can be hotter or can be just awkward. I like not having my sex life dictated by another person's desires (in my last relationship, my ex wanted it much more often than I did).”
9 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 28
Identifies as: Male
Has sex with: Women

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“This year to date, two.”

How often do you have sex?
“Eight times per month.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“JDate. I’m over casual sex; I’m 28. I almost always need to have a drink before having casual sex. When I’m part of a couple, I know what she likes — and a mutual orgasm is obviously better.”
10 of 10
DESIGNED BY LY NGO.
Age: 26
Identifies as: Female
Has sex with: Men

How many people have you had sex with recently?
“In 2014, I've had sex with five people, two of whom were people I've slept with repeatedly in the past.”

How often do you have sex?
“It varies depending on who's in the picture — typically at least once a week.”

How do you meet the people you're sleeping with?
“I've met people through friends, out at the bar, and most recently, through Tinder.

"Single sex can be a lot more selfish, especially during one-night stands. I have a lot fewer inhibitions with someone I won't ever see again. Having been single more often than not in the last five years, a lot of the sex I'm having is made up of casual sex and one-night stands. Almost all of my relationships began with casual sex. I love being able to sleep with different people — the variety in my sex life is unbeatable by monogamous sex. As much as I love being in a relationship, it's a lot easier to be in a rut than when you're single.”
Advertisement