“All the good things, and the bad things, that may be.” - Salt-N-Pepa, Let’s Talk About Sex, 1990
I don’t write about sex. First of all because there are amazing writers out there who do it far better than I can (Gigi Engel, Maria Del Russo, Bobby Box), but also because it’s nobody’s damn business. As an internetty person I get to decide what’s public and private about my life, and in this house, sex is a closed-door, closed-Google Doc activity. That being said, I’m not sure what I’m about to say is even about sex. I think maybe it’s about love. I don’t want to have sex again until I love, and I am loved. From this point on, I only fuck with feelings.
I say from this point on like I made the decision while drying my hair this morning with a One-Step. But really, I’ve felt this way for a long time, and also haven’t had sex for a long time as a result. How long is both a private matter and something that we should probably just stop tracking as a personal stat. Honestly the stigma of the “dry spell” is obnoxious and completely ignores the importance of vibrators — and let me tell you, those devices deserve your respect.
The decision actually came (lol, how many times am I going to crack myself up while writing this), after the last time I had flat, feelingless, please-just-finish-and-Uber-home sex. I wish I could tell you it was the first time it had happened, but we’re all adults here. It was 100% not the first or only time it happened. The number of people we’ve slept with is also a personal stat that’s pure trash but I’ll tell you I could definitely do a trust fall into the number of men I’ve had emotionless sex with during my singledom if I trusted those men in any capacity.
I realized I was no longer someone who could have sex with a man who didn’t know my birthday, airplane seat preference, or how I take my coffee and still feel good about what had happened in the morning.
And that last time was it. I knew it from dyed brunette head to pedicured toe. I wasn’t going to have sex again until I felt something. A lot of something, at that. I’d probably known it for much longer, but that was the first time I admitted it to myself. I knew I couldn’t have any more sex without feelings. And what I really want, if I’m being honest with you Internet, is no more sex at all without love.
To be clear, have all the feeling-less sex you want, if it works for you. Casual, consensual sex is a wonderful thing and for many (many) years, I enjoyed it. I had years of sexual exploration and amazing sex without feelings and I don’t regret anything I’ve done. But there came a shift, and when it shifted, I realized I was no longer someone who could have sex with a man who didn’t know my birthday, airplane seat preference, or how I take my coffee and still feel good about what had happened in the morning. That doesn’t have to be you, this is me.
But I did it for years, because I was dating in a modern world where swiping is how you meet people and sex is how relationships start. I thought I should just stop being a prude and get with it or I was going to be alone forever, right? That’s what Tinder is, right? How dare I expect something meaningful to come from a place where men either ignore me or outright ask me for a (free) blowjob at 5 a.m. on a Sunday. This is the world we’re living in, dating in, fucking in. I’m the one that’s delusional for daring to demand emotional connection prior to giving someone access to my bed and orgasm. I’d better just deal with it, date with it, or I’m going to be alone forever. That was always the message I received: Change who you are, and what you want, or you’re going to be alone forever.
Then I realized I’d rather be alone forever than let one more man see me naked and touch me when he knows full well he has no intention of speaking to me again once he’s cleared my front stoop. But, he’s going to watch all my Instagram stories and text me in six months and actually expect me to subway to his place in the rain. I couldn’t fucking do it anymore.
I need to feel love first. Maybe I always did, I just ignored it. Because sex is fun, and attention is fun, and guys are fun, and if I can’t have love at least I’ll have fun. But why did I think I couldn't have love? Why didn’t I demand more of life and of myself and stop shaming my own sexuality for needing to feel not just wanted for sex, but loved too? I’m not shaming my sexuality anymore. I’m proud of it. I’m not denying it what it needs anymore, feeding it scraps of hookups with men I’ve had to convince myself to like because at least that’s better than a dry spell. Because it isn’t. Because for me and my sexuality, sex without love doesn’t count.
There is such a victory in allowing myself to say out loud that I won’t settle.
My sexuality is love. My sexuality needs to feel that a man wants me, not just sex. I’ve been ashamed of that and hiding that and denying that for longer than the internet needs to know about. There is such a victory in allowing myself to say out loud that I won’t settle. To start demanding more of life and of sex than I ever had the bravery to before. I’m not afraid of having less sex or no sex because I dared to live a truth. Just the opposite. I look forward to the kind of sex this truth leads me to. If I’m afraid of anything, it’s my truth, my self worth, and my sexuality never being something I’m proud of. But they are. I live a life in support of what I want now. I don’t see any shame in wanting and demanding a real bond before sex. And yeah...the other way probably involves having more sex. But I’ve discovered that my way feels fucking amazing, too.