Tag Archives: sex

Meaningful Meaningless Sex

peralta-sexSometimes 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.

silenceI’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.

transformerI’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 witsexy-trainhout 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.


Sugar and Solidarity (Virgin Mary Days and Abortion Candy Nights)

Sometime in our senior year of college, my suitemates and I found ourselves talking about abortion. We came to two important conclusions:

  1. candy for dinnerIf any of us ever had an abortion, the others would buy her vast quantities of the candy of her choice (hereby known as “abortion candy”).
  2. You got to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the rest of the day.

Strange as this may sound, I took great comfort in this. I still do. For all the sugar and TLC absurdity, we broached a topic easy to talk about in abstract from a political vantage point but rendered taboo in every day conversation.

As we debated the merits of Reeses pieces, gummy worms, and snickers, surrounded by our leopard print shrine to Abraham Lincoln and a life-size cutout of Justin Bieber which we decorated with bras far too large for his cup size, I internally sighed with relief.

This conversation meant that whatever choice you made, you could count on your friends to be there with and for you. It meant that we could talk through our options. It meant we would never be alone.

Jesus is coming backSeveral of us had had that heart-stopping moment of realizing our period was late. We found ourselves calculating the date of our last sexcapade, becoming more stressed by the minute (and making ourselves more late in turn). For me when I haven’t had a gentleman caller of late, this turns what I call the Virgin Mary Panic. “Oh my God, I can’t be pregnant…can I? I mean, it happened to the Virgin Mary! Maybe it is about time Jesus came back. I wonder if Jesus would be a cute baby. Probably not.” I always found solace in the fact that goodness knows God wouldn’t pick me and in the span of a few seconds reverted back to the sane and reasonable “oh, I must just be really stressed.”

But even when it wasn’t Virgin Mary panic and in fact real panic, our brains clawing back to possible failures of our birth control methods of choice, there was a sense of being not alone as we sent good blood-tastic thoughts to whoever was late. And we’ve been lucky. So far, it’s only been stress and hormones toying with our bodies. But should the day come otherwise, we’ll be there for each other.

Jennifer Lawrence candyThe Abortion Candy conversation reminded us that should our birth control somehow fail, should we not be as vigilant as usual one night, should we find ourselves pregnant, our friends would be there as we figured out our course of action, no matter what that entailed for us. We had a choice, and in turn our friends had chosen in advance to honor and support our choice. Be there a baby or an abortion, we could talk to each other. We could be scared and overwhelmed together. We could be confused, relieved, happy, sad, or all of the above.

And we could eat candy together.

After all, there is a great strength in sugar and solidarity.

Shut Up about Your Penis (Boundaries and Good Guys, Self-Proclaimed and Otherwise)

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.

you can lookMe: 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.

Unfortunately I didn't have a fork.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a fork.

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
Me: Yes
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

it's not easy having a good time
The first date struggle is real.

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.”

Correction: In real life, the self proclaimed good guy is frequently an entitled prick.
Correction: In real life, the self proclaimed good guy is frequently an entitled prick.

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.

Multi-tasking: I get to be Hogwarts, McGonagall calling the shots to protect the boundaries, and the knights defending Hogwarts.

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.

The Disney Princess of Pubic Hair (my relationship with my razor, on my own terms)

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.

Tina Belcher bemoans waxing her leg hairs in Bob's Burgers magical episode
Tina Belcher bemoans conforming to society and waxing her leg hairs in Bob’s Burgers magical episode “Mother Daughter Laser Razor.”

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!)

Inconceivable! (Gratitude, the In Between Place, the Future of Tinder Buttons, and a Whole Lot of Princess Bride References)

inconceivableWhen I started Tinder Buttons, I would have told you that the idea of it having a meaningful impact was totally inconceivable.

Apparently that word does not mean what I think it means. Apparently that my words can help people is within the realm of possibility. To those of you who have written me and told me that you found comfort, that this articulated things that you couldn’t find words for, that you feel inspired or challenged or the better in some small way for reading: thank you. I am eternally grateful for your confidence in me, and for your taking the time to share your own words and your own stories.you keep using that word

Beyond my loyal cohort of readers, a number of gentlemen I’ve met on Tinder follow Tinder Buttons. It’s been interesting having some of my most vulnerable and ridiculous moments exposed for all to see, but especially to those to whom I typically try to show my best self. But what I’m realizing is that perhaps my best self is the vulnerable me. If someone can look at me, broken and bruised, utterly bizarre, brutally earnest me and still want to hold my hand while we sip coffee or teach me to meditate or wander an art gallery, then I’ve done pretty well for myself. I’ve done something right. (Don’t worry, I won’t let it go to my head.)

Several of the Tinder fellows have absolutely floored, reaching out with words of support, concern, and compassion in light of my last post. I had one generous fellow describe me as a warrior tonight and tell me he would gladly be my knight. Between that, a number of generous comments, and few absolutely heart-touching conversations with people in light of The In Between Place, I realized this:

it's not that badPeople want to fight my demons with me. Not for me, but with me. Being together, even if it’s only in spirit, even if most of our communion comes through the simple vehicle of words on a screen, makes it all not that bad. I don’t have to contend with the R.O.U.S.s alone. The Cliffs of Despair may hover ahead, but I have hands to help pull me up, and people to do the same for as well. Every fight we engage in means we’re one step closer to fulfilling our dreams, to our six-fingered-man. We’ll survive together, and we’ll reach our as-happy-as-we-can-make-it ever afters together.

Even in those darkest hours, when the bed seems most empty, when the shower walls seem to close in around us, when the tears or the anger have no end in sight, when the shrieking eels draw nigh, we are not alone. And the more we look into each other’s eyes and remind each other that we are and will gladly continue to be each other’s champions, the more stories like this will find outlets, and the more people will feel comfortable putting into words the moments they find most difficult.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your outpouring of love. For your stories. For your time.

Is this a kissing bookIt turns out this isn’t just a kissing story. It’s not a story of dating, or of romance, though those are certainly parts of the plot. It’s a story of so much more.

You’ve shown me that there’s a place in this great wide internet for Tinder Buttons, and it’s got some important work to do. Who would’ve thought a silly little blog about app based dating could take on such a role? Not I. But some of you did. So here’s to you!

Let's do this.
Let’s do this.

To those of you who’ve asked for more and urged me to keep writing, you’re on. To the Fire Swamp we go, my friends, and onwards like never before.

As you wish.

The In Between Place, or Where You Go (PTSD and the Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Written)

**Trigger warning** This contains descriptions of sexual assault and post traumatic stress disorder. If you’ve been effected by these issues, please read with caution and protect your heart and mind as you see fit.

Take a Deep Breath
Stay with me on this one if you can.

Sometimes I sleep with people, and every time I do, this lingers in the back of my mind. Sometimes I tell them some of this beforehand, sometimes I don’t. I was raped years ago, long before Tinder was even a twinkle in somebody’s eye. In fact, the few Tinder guys I’ve been involved with have all been very invested in the idea of consent. But not everyone in the world is.

With Tinder, I’m finding sharing this information about myself is something I’m increasingly debating with myself. Is it better to not freak someone out before hand and run the risk a negative experience, or is it better to tell someone and deal with the awkwardness of the amount of emotion embedded in this issue?

Thank you. I owe you more than I can begin to say. In lieu of words, here's a Gene Kelly gif.
Thank you. All of you. I owe you more than I can begin to say. In lieu of words, here’s a perfect and oh so relevant Gene Kelly gif.

The one Tinder gent I’ve told responded admirably, with a quick and earnest “I wish you told me before” and “if you ever want to stop anything at any point, just tell me. You can sit, we can cuddle, we can talk, whatever you want or need.” It was so encouraging and so edifying. I felt heard. I felt like this knowledge, these words were useful and fruitful, even for all their darkness. And that, combined with some feedback from some dear friends, gave me the courage to let go of this in the hope of helping others.

To date, this is hands down the most important and the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. We never know who in our lives has experienced sexual assault, who finds themselves constantly wary of triggers. Even standing by someone who has dealt with this can utterly rock our worlds and leave us reeling. If you find this powerful and think this might help people in your life-whether you know they’re survivors or not-please don’t hesitate to share this via any form of social media or directly to someone as you deem fit. There are handy buttons at the bottom of the post for your convenience should this be something you want to do.

Here's hoping Emma Watson is right. (All hail the queen.)
“If you truly pour your heart into what you believe in, even if it makes you vulnerable, amazing things can and will happen.” Here’s hoping Emma Watson is right. (All hail the queen.)

I am absolutely terrified to put this out on the internet, but I have this odd feeling that the more people who see this, the better. Someone out there needs this more than I need to hold on to it. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re crazy or alone in this, as I did for a long time. And I want people to have a sense, at least in some small way, of the lasting effects of rape.

So, without further ado, this is The In Between Place.

You feel betrayed by your body.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that you either have to warn every new partner you have about your trigger, or you have to play it fast and loose and hope it doesn’t happen. And sometimes, even the most well-meaning and well-informed of partners will still accidentally curve their hand around your wrist, and it’s over.

You’re gone, suddenly suspended between two times, two rooms, two moments, two sets of sensations. No matter how kind or loving the person you’re currently with is, no matter how much you know you’re safe, there’s a part of your brain hiding, screaming, back in that room, back in that bed where it happened. Your skin crawls.

Invisible hands pin your wrists to an unseen bed, even as kind arms hold you. A remembered whisper tells you to “stop resisting, you know you want it” even as you lock your thighs together.

Your eyes go blank, unable to focus on anything because the past is suddenly too real, too present, too overlapped for anything in your immediate present to hold you there.

A part of your brain reaches desperately for something concrete to hold onto as you feel yourself slipping away. You grip the sheets, you pull your hair, you tear at the offending skin on your arms, trying to find a sensation to ground you in the here-and-now, still finding only the there-and-then. The real world isn’t there anymore. This is supposed to be the new world, the new and beautiful and bright one with someone who doesn’t want to rape you “for your own good.” No one is saying “it’ll make you feel better” even as you curl up in a ball, even as you resist, even as you turn your head from proffered kisses and clamp your lips against snaking tongues. And yet you’re back there once again.

In the now you hear “where are you?” and “are you ok?” from a gentle, worried voice even as you can’t manage to respond. The voice sounds so far away, as if you were underwater and he above. His hand strokes your cheek, and for one crystal clear moment you see him, you feel him, you try desperately to hold onto him and to that feeling, only to fade back into oblivion. You feel guilty that you can’t tell him what your brain is doing, but you don’t even know what your brain is doing. There aren’t words for it, not now, not in this moment. There aren’t words anymore. Only fear and sorrow and rage and guilt exist. Your lips are frozen together as you try to keep the remembered screams and your present rage quiet. You’re mortified. You’ve never been so embarrassed, so ashamed, even as you know it’s not your fault, even as you can’t stop it, even as even as even as your brain circles again and again into terror.

In the present, someone touches your arm. “It’s going to be okay.” Your mind spins at the statement. False. No. No it’s not okay; it’s never going to be okay. It wasn’t okay then, and it’s not okay now because they have marked you, marked you deeper than just the skin they touched without permission, marked you deeper than the force they used as they slipped inside you, all of which they branded as some perverse kind of “love.” You, stupid and naïve, hopeful and hopelessly in love, let them tell you this was love. Over and over again, day after day, night after night, even as you couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Even as you hid in plain sight, avoiding their touch for fear it would once again end with you on the bed, confused and scared. It was your normal. It was your perfect relationship. It was your fairy tale made real. This was what it meant to be loved.

Years later, your skin is still not yours, your present is not yours. They didn’t just rape you, they robbed you. They stole this moment, and they turned your body and mind traitor. They’re gone, and supposedly you won, realizing the damage done, recognizing the monsters for what they were, walking away victorious, escaping, and still you sit here lost in the memory of moments you never wanted and cannot escape.

Everything moves slower. You can feel yourself scaring the person you’re with, who finds himself wracked with guilt that his touch has turned you, you his bright eyed exuberant bedmate, into this catatonic creature so far beyond his reach. Even in your fog the panic and concern in his eyes register with you, and it hurts, adding a whole new layer of pain. You feel guilty that he would feel guilty, coupled with the guilt that you have brought this into his bed, his bed that had been a joyous place until this moment, and the guilt that this has clung to your skin ever since those dark nights back then. You feel guilty that you’ve scared him so badly even as you desperately attempt to pry yourself from this waking nightmare and claw your way back to the real world, back to him. This is not your fault, you want to say, this is not our fault. Blame rests with the monsters of your past who tonight felt the need to hide not under your bed but in your very own skin. But the words won’t come, can’t come to tell him that, to reassure him, to reassure yourself.

You lean into him, grateful he’s there, letting his arms wrap around you as he desperately tries to hold you in the present, even as the invisible hands won’t stop as they coat your body in unbidden memories. You cannot shake them off, no matter how you reason with your mind and plead with your body. You are stuck in an unending loop, desperate to escape, to explain, to return. And all you can do is wait.

Avoiding the White Slave Trade in Midtown (or, My Safety Rules for Tinder Dating)

Mom: “You met his cats?! You went to his house? How do you know he’s not a white slaver?!”

Me: “Mom, I’m pretty sure that the white slave trade isn’t exactly flourishing in Midtown.”

For the record, the cats were absolutely fantastic.

That said, let’s talk safety. I’ve had a number of people ask me about ways to approach this crazy adventure that is online dating safely. Here are my personal rules, which continue to evolve as I explore the world of Tinder.

1. If someone makes you uncomfortable just chatting with them, trust that feeling. Sometimes that’s just being disconcerted or a bit wary or even bored. When you feel that odd little twist of a feeling that says “maybe you don’t want to do this,” listen to it. Be safe. Be happy.

When in doubt, channel Liz Lemon.
When in doubt, channel Liz Lemon.

You don’t owe someone your time just because you’ve talked to them and they were nice to you. Nice people can still make you uncomfortable. And that’s okay. Just because someone is nice doesn’t mean that’s someone with whom you want to spend time in person and go on a date. You don’t have to risk your happiness and comfort just to humor someone else.

The times I haven’t trusted that feeling I found myself stuck listening to a lot of masturbatory self-commendation and then got asked for a handjob in a parking lot. Um…let me think about that…no.

2. Always meet in public places at first. Always. I don’t care how hot his picture is or how nice she seems. There are plenty of hot, nice batshit crazy people out there (note: Why is guano particularly crazy? Is it for its super power fertilizing abilities?).

If the person you’re seeing can’t wait until you’ve had a cup of coffee somewhere to get you alone then you should be seeing red flags everywhere. If they’re insistent on meeting somewhere privately, take it as even more red flags, or you can whip out my favorite line, “but how do I know you’re not an axe murderer? :D” If they don’t back down or realize and respect that you have standards for ensuring your own safety, back away quickly. Seriously though, the smiley face has magical powers. It makes it less creepy, more funny. Trust the power of the smiley. Not the potential axe murderer.

Not the best way to end a date. Given the choice between a first kiss versus it puts the  lotion on its skin? I'll go with first kiss. Every. Single. Time.
Not the best way to end a date. Given the choice between a first kiss versus it puts the lotion on its skin? I’ll go with first kiss. Every. Single. Time.

Plus, there are plenty of awesome public places to go. Get creative, and think outside the box. I’ve been to drag shows, to eat my first oysters (it’s totally just an excuse to eat saltine crackers and hot sauce, and I am ALL ABOUT THAT), to hear amazing bands in very cool bars, to beloved local coffee shops. Private locations can wait until you’ve built some trust and feel confident you’re not going to wake up in a pit reenacting Silence of the Lambs.

3. Always have a point of contact. I often have two. One is my best friend; the other is actually my mother. I’ve recently decided I want to start using GPS on my phone to drop my mom a pin so she knows exactly where I am, and she always has an ETA of when I’ll be home, or I text if the plans change (I live with my parents. But that’s a story for another day). Even when I’ve been out with a guy before, and even if I feel perfectly safe, I’d always rather take the extra 30 seconds and do this. I’m absurdly naive at times, and I’m quick to give people the benefit of the doubt, even strangers. It’s a blessing and a curse. I continually have to remind myself that you don’t really know who a person is until their true colors start showing, and for some less earnest people, or simply shy people, that can take a really long time.

You don’t get brownie points in life for blindly trusting people. That’s not being nice to yourself. That’s simply not prioritizing yourself and your safety, and it’s being nice to someone else before you’re nice to you. And you deserve that much from you.

The feeling I get when I don't have to worry about not being able to call someone in the event of an emergency makes me do this dance!
The feeling I get when I don’t have to worry about not being able to call someone (or call a cab/get an Uber)  in the event of an emergency makes me do this dance!

4. Have your cellphone charger with you. My phone dies all the time. It’s been known to jump from 40% battery to 1% in a matter of seconds. Make sure you have a means of contact, and that even if your technology is randomly on the fritz you can still pull an E.T. and phone home.

5. Don’t have sex with someone unless you can comfortably talk about your birth control and your STI prevention plan beforehand. If you can’t feel comfortable asking someone when they last got tested, how can you possibly feel comfortable letting them take off your underwear with their teeth? If you can’t ask them to put on a condom, how can you ask them to put their finger in that spot that you really really like?

One of the most romantic things I’ve been asked is “are you on the pill?” Not even kidding. In my dream world, talking about birth control plans would make our hearts flutter and be seen as foreplay. Just imagine Marvin Gaye seductively singing “let’s get condoms” instead of “let’s get it on” when you go to get it on.

I'm all for having sex, but not getting pregnant OR dying.
I’m all for having sex, but not the getting pregnant or the dying.

6. That said, if you’re interacting with people sexually, take the time to get tested. I need to take my own advice on this one. It’s been about two months for me, and that’s too damn long. Even if you’re feeling super confident, take the time to give yourself and your partner peace of mind.

No one wants to end up crazy like good old syphilitic French painter Toulouse-Lautrec. Think how much more sexy art he could have made had he just been able to pop down to the department of health services and find out he had an STI before it made him nutty and then dead!

So those are my rules. They’re ever evolving. Some were gleaned from not so great experiences, others from “thank goodness I did this!” type revelations. Sometimes I break them inadvertently (mostly the forgetting to text my contact people in a timely manner). But these are the  best practice guidelines which have emerged from my time online dating, and the way I’d like to move forward. These may not work for everyone, and that’s okay. But as for me, this seems to be a good plan.

Got rules of your own or more ideas for making sure people stay safe when online dating? Feel free to share them in the comments, or get in touch with me using the new Tinder Buttons comment page or our email address at tinderbuttonsblog@gmail.com!