Sometimes I get shit from people for having what they consider “meaningless sex,” as if it’s pure debauchery and you get nothing lasting from it. “It’s just so meaningless. Hedonistic,” said self-righteous friend #1. You can probably hear my exaggerated eyes rolling wherever you are in the world. And that’s simply not true. Just because something isn’t romantic doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Wow, so many negatives there.
Here’s the deal: meaning doesn’t have to be mutually derived. As long as it is consensual and entered into in the spirit that everyone’s there to have a safe and fun time, then hell yeah. I’m a firm believer in Meaningful Meaningless Sex.
I’ve had liberating-ask-for-what-I-want sex. The kind where you walk in the room, and you know what you want, and you look someone in the eye, and you say I want it like this. The “I want to see all your tattoos, and let’s drink some tequila” kind of sex.
I’ve had let’s lie around and cuddle, and then we’ll do some crazy stuff, and then we’ll meditate sex. I left feeling centered, reminded that sex is such a human act, and found myself affirmed in my own humanity in the process.
I’ve had I just need someone to make me feel pretty sex. Several rounds of just for the hell of it sex, because sometimes the meaning is simply physical satisfaction and a damn good time. I’ve had do it for the story sex. I’ve had let’s see if I like this sex.
And you know how much of it I regret? None. Not a night of BDSM, not a lazy afternoon in the sheets, not a well-that-didn’t-go-as-expected.
Because I learned from it. I got better at asking what I want. Hell, I learned what I want. I learned what lines I’ll draw from the start. I figured what I don’t like and got more comfortable saying stop. I’ve learned to catch myself when I’m looking for affirmation from others and instead seek it through myself.
Those things mean a lot to me. And maybe that’s not how you find meaning, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find mine that way.
Is it great to have emotional, eye-contact-y, feelingsy sex with someone? Hell yeah! That’s awesome. But that awesomeness doesn’t invalidate the positive experiences I can have through sex without all the feelingsy romance.
We get to make our own meaning.
And you know what? That is fucking awesome. Literally.
P.S. Got a question for Tinder Buttons? Ask away. My love life, your love life, whatever. The comments section is open, and I’m an open book. Well, blog.
The last time I had said I love you to someone romantically was years and years ago.
It felt strange as I murmured the words. It was a statement wholly unexpected on both of our parts. The surprise was unflattering.
He wasn’t necessary to my happiness.
But I liked having him around.
It’d been a short, whirlwind course of dating, marked by too many hours gazing into each other’s eyes and conversations about our dreams and our plans, our feelings about Romeo and Juliet and tireswings.
I wasn’t madly in love. But his existence made the world better, made my days a little sweeter, and for that I loved him. It was a simple fact, not a confession. It was never a secret, even from me, because the moment I said it was when I knew it.
I loved him for being unabashedly himself. For his passions, for his joy. For his willingness to be ridiculous for the sake of fun. For his ambition, for his compassion. For being a person who makes your life and the lives of those he meets a little more beautiful.
I was still embarrassed when the words slipped from my lips though. It’s nice to get to know something on your own for a while, to have time to turn something over in your mind. To let it be yours for a little while.
I blinked, things changed. He was headed out of town for the summer, I’m moving to a different continent in August. I was ok with goodbye hurting if it meant we had a wonderful time. I found myself wanting to suck every last drop, to get every last bit of fun and joy from our time together. He wasn’t, needing more closure and space than I, a sort of winding down period, which I respect, but certainly did not want or enjoy.
We spent our last day together with a game of him keeping me at arm’s length. Thanks to the wonders of disc golf, I mean that quite literally. Those discs are sharp.
These days, texts go unreturned or with a short reply. I had successfully moved into the being friends territory, but friendship doesn’t look like this. Friendship is genuine joy and caring. There are people I only talk to periodically, but there is such a warmth and a generosity of spirit when we do talk that it is clear that the friendship has not languished in the silence. Instead, the silence has simply been a chance for us to have adventures and thoughts and feelings of which we can speak together.
Here, I feel as something has crumbled. The distance resounds as if perhaps we’re afraid of each other, because real interaction might run the risk of resparking what had been, reminding us of the shining possibility that for a while there, we both so clearly saw. Or we might run the risk of hurting each other. Or a million other things that could go wrong.
And you know what?
It feels oddly satisfying to look at a pile of crumbles. To know that while it’s not what you wanted at the time, it doesn’t really hurt you, or your plans, or your dreams. To kick the dirt and watch it fly. To know that for all your inadvertent slips of the tongue, you never said anything you didn’t mean.
I always thought dating was something that happened when your life was perfect.
I’d be thin and absurdly pretty, with a well-paying distinguished job and a classy apartment filled with practical but comfy boho-chic throw pillows and exactly zero stuffed animals. I would wear contacts instead of glasses, having gloriously overcome my fear of things being near my eyeballs. And then love would find me.
In actuality, the stars don’t align. I still don’t fold my underwear, and I can’t wear liquid eyeliner. I wear my hair the same way I did when I was 8 (ponytail, slowly drooping over the course of the day). Sometimes my twenty-five year old face spontaneously erupts in acne. I still sleep with my stuffed snow leopard. His name is Sam. He’s every bit as snuggly as the day I got him in Kindergarten.
I’m chubbier than I’ve ever been, thanks to the depression (and carbs. God I love carbs.) that came with my OCD battle and now my OCD meds which cause weight gain.
Two months ago, I had to have a ping pong ball sized super glue tangle cut out of my hair.
I work two jobs, both of which I love, but neither of which are particularly fancy. At one, I still manage to push on the door you have to pull and then run into it like a bird on a cruel Windex commercial. Every. Damn. Day.
I never evolved into glamour, grace, or effortless charm like post-makeover Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries (though I have my moments). Clearly someone should have tied me to a chair with Hermes scarves more often.
There’s no magic timeline. At no point does the mystic love cuckoo bird that lives in your biological clock stick its scrawny little neck out and suddenly go “you’re a legitimate enough human being to date now.”
Because you’re legitimate already. Messy, ridiculous, not always pulled together you. Or even if you do have it all together, you don’t have to wait for some magical someday when your schedule becomes free and clear, or when you’ve done enough yoga that your tummy won’t be jiggly when you’re making out, or that you’ve mastered cooking and calligraphy and how to fold a fitted sheet without watching a youtube video.
You get to be you. And if dating/romance/love/like/monogamous handholding is something you want to pursue with someone, then you can. And if you don’t want to, that’s great, too! You do you! But know there’s no formula. You don’t have to wait to become perfect. You can enjoy meeting people and kissing people and dating people and all sorts of things at whatever point in your life you find yourself.
Show that screwy cuckoo clock love bird who’s boss, you lovable imperfect bad ass, you.
My first date with this gentleman found us walking to my neighborhood grocery store, hand in hand. We’d had dinner and drinks, and we decided to pick up some beer and continue the conversation by the firepit in my backyard.
We stopped at a bin of dollar toys, pawing through a sea of bizarre plastic walruses, snakes, and dinosaurs, delighting in a garish yellow sawfish and red raptors with teeny claws.
We moved on to the beer aisle as we discussed what to get, and he said let’s makeout in the beer cooler. I laughed, riffing on his suggestion that in fact that is what I’d waited for someone to ask me my whole life. A few minutes of joke swapping later, somewhere between the cases of Not Your Father’s Root Beer and the refrigerated case abounding with golden ales and IPA’s, he grabbed me and kissed me, right there under the gleaming fluorescent lights of my neighborhood Kroger.
Sometimes you happen upon someone who can make an ordinary moment magical, who can find fun and romance anywhere, who inspires Ron Swanson level dance moves, and who transform your embarrassing moments into hilarious stories almost instantaneously. Someone whose humor resonates with your own, whose taste for adventures matches yours, but at the same time, who brings out your own laughter and spontaneity on a whole new level.
Most importantly, these people remind us that laughter and fun can be intimate and romantic in their own ways. They bring light to our eyes and joy to our hearts, be it for a single evening or a year or a lifetime.
I’ll brave the chill of the beer aisle any day for that.
My boundary lines have been stepped on and crushed into oblivion so many times that I have built them into walls. The only way to get across how non-negotiable my boundaries are seems to be to let men run into them. Typically, they ignore my stating my boundaries, my warnings when I feel uncomfortable. They ignore every clear statement that they exist, seeming convinced that they alone hold some magic power that will force my boundaries to crumble before their greatness. They want to hold the key to my heart, so therefore in their addled mind my boundaries don’t apply to them.
Let’s take this example from a Tinder date I went on a while back:
I got home from a Tinder first date that involved watching our mutual childhood favorite musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, at his place, only to find text messages about how turned on he was and how hard his penis was. And I wasn’t happy about it.
Me: I mean, it was fun kissing you. Really fun. But trust me, if I wanted to know the current state of your penis I’d ask.
Him: Oh don’t be like that
Me: What, having boundaries?
Him: No, just don’t be so shy
Me: That’s not being shy
Him: Well sorry I’m so open thought you’d like it
So here he’s positioned the situation not as I have boundaries and he’s broaching them, but rather that he’s open and I’m by comparison closed. Open is deemed superior, and I’m somehow inhibited, and it’s up to him to open me up and get me to not “be like that.”
Let me make this very clear: The least inhibited thing you can do is to respect and name your own boundaries. That is the ultimate way to honor yourself as a sexual being.
When I say I don’t want to hear about your penis, I mean it. That doesn’t mean I’m shy or sexually inhibited. It means I don’t want to hear about your penis. I had had a nice evening. There was some hand holding, a little bit of kissing. I moved his hand a few times when it roved to places I didn’t want it to go. But all in all, a nice time.
However, I wasn’t at a place where I wanted to know about his arousal.
If I’m not at a place where I’m comfortable talking about intimate things with you, then pressing me to do so is only going to make me more uncomfortable. Attempting to manipulate me into doing so shows a total disregard for my feelings and my needs in light of your own desires and priorities. He did this several times, not seeming to realize that it wasn’t complimentary that he felt the need to tell me how turned on I make him but rather threatening that he cared so little about my boundaries in conversation. If he’s this dismissive via text, how bad did this have the potential to get in person if I went on a second date with him?
I should’ve realized this before this first date. When I had asked him if I should dress nicely or more casually, and he said t-shirt and panties.
I replied: You get that I’m not coming over to sleep with you right?
Him: Yes I know you’re not coming to spend the night or sleep with me if that’s what you meant
Him: I’m actually a good dude, you’ll see
Him: You mean seven brides for seven brothers isn’t a hint for sex? Lol
Me: You mean comments about my panties aren’t hints for sex?
Him: Was a joke! Sorry thought you saw it that way
Me: I get that you’re kidding, but when it’s someone you don’t know, it comes across as kind of like you have expectations or particular intentions but are trying to mitigate them with humor
Him: I get that and sorry, promise no expectations or intentions or plans other than watching a musical that I’ve known since I was like 7
I find it intimidating when someone assumes, or even implies, that I’m going to sleep with them. Suddenly a date is less about enjoying getting to know someone and seeing what happens and more about worrying if I’m sending the wrong signals, even if I’ve clearly spelled out my intentions for the evening, or how I’ll respond if and when he makes me uncomfortable again. I stop getting to function as a human being and become a sex object trying to regain her humanity.
If you care more about me as a sex object than you do about me as a person who needs to feel heard, to feel safe, then you’re not a good guy. Too often in my experience, when I call a guy out for objectifying me or making sexual jokes or comments that make me uncomfortable, the default comment is “but I’m a good guy.”
The “Good guy” identifier is an excuse to say whatever and then defend their delusions of what it means to be respectful using a self-applied label of who they think they “actually” are. “Good guy”-ness gets treated like a get out of jail free card. It’s a way of telling women that because I’m a good guy, I can lay claim to your body, objectify you, and make you uncomfortable, because I can’t envision myself as anything otherwise. Anything you confront me with that substantiates the opposite will fall on deaf ears, because I’ve decided I’m a Good Guy.
Being an actual good guy is more than “well, I’m not going to try to rape you. I’m not going to kill you, hit you, or drug you.” It is respecting someone else’s boundaries. It is making the effort to clarify those boundaries if you don’t understand them. It is consensual conversation, not only consensual actions.
I frequently find myself with the burden of deescalating the situation, of convincing someone that sexualizing me isn’t ok. Genuinely good guys don’t do that.
Real good guys don’t need to tell you they’re good. They establish their credibility over time. They build trust and understand that that takes a while. They become good guys in your eyes because they have been good to you, without expecting anything other than respect in turn.
Honestly, this is one of the hardest lessons Tinder has taught me: in my relationships and interactions, no one can advocate for me but me. As much as I can moan to my roommates and friends about frustrating conversations and they may commiserate, it’s up to me to stand up for my boundaries and champion myself. And sometimes, there’s only so much I can do. Sometimes you just have to walk away and know your own happiness and well-being are more important than someone you barely know.
Here’s to the real good guys. I’m glad you’re out there.
I remember being about 7 or 8, looking down in the bathtub, and being so excited! I had hair down below! I called it my “Teddy Bear hair,” convinced that somehow it was a magic initiation into the world of fuzzy things. Bears would love me! I could commune with nature! I sang little songs about my pubes, with extremely unimaginative lyrics. I would be the Disney Princess of pubic hair!
And then I grew up, inundated by a world of Cosmo articles that claimed to espouse equal-opportunity-pube choices, but in fact heavily emphasized the popularity of the Brazilian wax and its presumed superiority.
I had a man once tell me “I like my women shaved bare.” Oh, how nice. I missed that part where you own me just because I’m down to sleep with you.
But you know what? I shaved.
It was interesting and exotic for a few days, but the novelty was quickly overtaken by the incredible itchiness. I couldn’t wear any of my favorite underwear, because it caught on the stubbles like Velcro. Plus, I felt babyish. I missed that sense of bad-ass primal curliness that laid in wait between my thighs. I felt exposed, and not in a fun way. It may work for some women, but it definitely doesn’t work for me.
Worse, I realized I had let somebody else make that decision for me through the power of suggestion. I felt ill about it. Heck, sometimes I still feel ill about it. I didn’t speak up for myself and defend what I like. After all, if you’re lucky enough to sleep with me, you can just feel damn lucky to get to see my body in all its bad ass curvy splendor. You can take it or leave it, but I won’t change it for you.
Somebody else’s personal preference doesn’t trump what I want for my body. Ever. If I want to dye my pubic hair hot pink, look upon my work ye mighty and despair. Vajazzling? More power to me.
The one great thing to come of this is I realized it’s okay to experiment with my body my way. I don’t have to shave to know I like being unshaven. I don’t have to comply with someone’s standards to be sexy. And if that’s a turnoff for them, then that’s their problem, and I can walk away.
Society may condemn something about your body, and individual people may condemn something about your body, but nothing else matters but your relationship to your body. People can critique all they want, and while words may hurt, words don’t dictate my shaving regimen or how I interact with my body. In loving ourselves on our own terms, we open ourselves up to find people who will gladly do the same.
Disney Princess pube powers ACTIVATE!
(P.S. Everybody send their love to my mother, who still reads and supports my blog even when she has to deal with me being a sexual being or me talking about bizarre things! You’re the best, mom, and I love you heaps!)
I went on a date recently with a wonderful man of whom I’m quite fond, and as I realized he had no stories to tell my heart began to sink. My mind twisted and turned, trying to piece together his identity from the scraps I’d been told. There were no sweet inferences or revealing adjective choices. There is no reading tone or basking in an adventure or lack thereof if there are no words shared, no attempts made.
I adore stories. They are the stuff I thrive on. And when I tell stories, I feel like I light up, like a Christmas tree, or a birthday cake candle, or your favorite childhood nightlight just when the dark starts to get spooky. I’ll mock myself, share my lows and highs, my good choices and bad (sorry, mom, I try). So often it reveals who I am, frequently in a way that makes me feel very vulnerable and strangely relieved and almost uncomfortable.
It makes me really damn happy to make people feel something right along with me. It’s my favorite part of being a person; it’s being human together.
And I love people who tell great stories. It’s why I adore dating artists, writers, and musicians, people who are willing not only to lay claim to their stories but to share them. Sometimes I meet amazing people who do amazing things, and then they can’t manage to tell you about it.
I’d far rather someone be boastful and tell a story that will make me laugh than have no story to share. I’d rather share in your embarrassment than protect whatever overly perfected image of you my brain accidentally mistakenly concocted. I’d rather sit rapt while you attempt to tell a story and fail miserably. Be weak. Be human. Be vulnerable. I’d rather see who you really are than fall for some half-baked construction of you that is painstakingly crafted and story-less.
I know some people don’t have this inclination. We don’t all think of our adventures as small narratives etched in our lives. But isn’t it at least an adventure to try to tell a story at all? A story in and of itself, that you attempted and failed to tell a good story?
There may be no glory in them. Goodness knows, many of my stories cast me in a terrible light. But at least try. Try and fail, try and be ridiculous, stumble and falter as you regale highs and lows.