If I’ve learned anything about casual sex, it’s that no one really knows what it means. Sex, by definition, is the opposite of casual. It is actually the most intimate thing two humans can do. But as this generation continues to prioritize long-term relationships less and less, there is no denying that sex simply does not mean what it used to.
Sex can mean something different to every person. What’s casual for some might be more than casual for others. There is no “right” or “wrong” time to have sex with someone, and very rarely do things fall into the purely physical or purely emotional category.
This has been my main source of anxiety over the last few years. It’s a challenge we all face: How do we have sex without catching a case of the feels? And if we do catch a case of the feels, WHAT DO WE DO WITH THEM?
“But Katie, where do you gain all of this insightful knowledge and wisdom?” Well, that’s pretty simple. First, I picked a type. Ideally he is attractive, good at “the sex”, and most importantly, has raging commitment issues. Then I made the same mistakes for 2 years, spending hours analyzing text messages and justifying flakey behavior, until realizing, okay, maybe I’m doing this wrong. So after reading a selection of self-help books and listening to a substantial amount of Beyonce, I’ve learned a few things.
1. I Choose People With Commitment Issues Because I Have Commitment Issues.
Up until recently the only advice about dating commitment phobes out there was “avoid guys who are emotionally unavailable”. LOLZ. They say that like there’s another type. Joking aside, there are plenty of men out there who are very in tune with their emotions. (If you find one, please let me know, thanks)
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 allow myself to experience human emotions. I mean come on Katie. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! Once I figured out why I was choosing them, my entire perspective changed.
I realized that 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 “making a big career move”. 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 counterdependency. 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 with whom it actually might. In other words, it’s kind of like trading a broken heart for a paper cut. Paper cuts can be really painful & annoying, but they certainly heal faster than slicing your finger open with a knife.
I do realize that is not the most optimistic metaphor for relationships. Don’t worry, it gets better guys. Keep reading.
2. Stop Trying To Figure Out Inconsistent Behavior: There was a time where I actually used to spend hours trying to figure out what a guy’s flakey behavior meant.
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. Until I realized, the only thing consistent about these guys was their inconsistency.
When someone is being hot and cold with you, it is a sign to either call them out on their bullshit, walk away, OR realize that this is a pattern that WILL NOT CHANGE, so lower your expectations. It doesn’t matter why someone is going M.I.A. What matters is that you are wasting your time by trying to figure it out. When someone is inconsistent it means they either don’t know what they want, OR they do know what they want and don’t know how to communicate that to you, or perhaps they have multiple personalities.
That’s the thing about casual sex. You have to be comfortable with knowing that sometimes you’re just not going to get a direct answer or ever really know why things went wrong. You just have to know that regardless of what’s going on with them, you deserve someone who won’t treat you well one day and then treat you like you don’t exist the next. Don’t waste your time ruminating over what you did wrong or what you can do to get them to act the way you want them to. That is out of your control. All you can control is the amount of bullshit you accept in your life, and how you react to it.
My faulty thinking in the past was that if they really liked me, they would act differently. Here’s the truth. They were like this before you, and will be like this after you. It is not your failure if you don’t change this person. If someone isn’t ready to let you in, it’s not happening. Trust me, I have been on both ends of this. I have pushed someone away who I truly had strong feelings for. I have also had the same done to me. It sucks. But timing can be a mother fucker.
3. Relationships That Start Too Quickly Often End Abruptly: This is not always the case, but in my experience, when you have sex with someone too quickly, all logic and judgment go out the window. You both get caught up in the excitement and the endorphins, and all of the sudden you think you know someone because you’ve been “fucking and texting” for three weeks straight. As depressing as that sentence is, that is actually how I would describe most casual relationships. “Just a couple of millennialls…fuckin..and texting”.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun and exciting. And it may make you think you have “so much in common”, or that you have a good sense of who this person is. But just because a guy is sending you kiss face emoji’s and telling you how great he thinks you are, does not mean he has any intention of pursing a relationship. Sex creates an illusion of a potential 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 the sudden both of you are like:
Rather than pulling over and having an honest discussion, the guy tosses you out of the car and speeds off. Then you’re left there like “WHAT THE FUCK? YOU DROVE ME HERE YOU ASSHOLE.” Then you feel shitty about yourself, and are confronted with the dilemma of what to do WHEN (not IF, but WHEN) he slowly turns around to see if you’re still waiting there.
4. How To Handle The Pull-Back, Or “Getting Ghosted”: Not to be confused with the pull-out, the pull-back can be subtle, which is why I like to call it, “The Asshole Dial”. Basically, it’s the first time someone does something slightly douchey, like cancelling plans last minute or “forgetting” to answer text messages. Just turning up the knotch ever so slightly on that asshole dial. It’s just enough throw you off but not quite douchey enough that you feel justified to be pissed off. Especially when they come back and act like nothing happened.
Classic example, a guy I had been seeing for a little over a month asked me to meet up after my show one night. I texted him afterwards, “Hey just got out of my show. Do you want to meet in the Lower East Side?” This was on Friday night. Sunday night at 12am he texts me and tells me how his phone died on Friday night, and then he figured I was busy on Saturday since the last time we hung out I mentioned two of my college friends were in town.
Let’s examine this. Let’s say his phone did die on Friday night. I assume at some point he went back to his house where he has access to one of those charger things. As for Saturday, gotta say, pretty creative using the fact that I had tentative plans with college friends as a reason not to reach out. It’s almost like he was trying to frame his flakiness as being considerate of my time, when in reality it’s the total opposite. A very clever strategy which ended with him innocently reaching back out on Sunday as if not answering someone you’ve slept with for 2 days is acceptable.
Let me be clear, if I’m casually seeing someone, I do not expect that we will hang out every night. BUT, if I am sleeping with someone, I do expect an answer back within 48-72 hours. I expect that from people who I don’t allow inside of me.
This was both his way of testing me, and slamming the breaks on something that freaked him out despite the fact that he initiated it. Whether it is based on his own fear of something progressing, or simply a matter of jumping to conclusions about my level of attachment, it was all too familiar behavior.
There are two main reasons for the pull-back. First, it’s to indirectly communicate to you that this will not progress into a relationship. The second, is for validation. This is a sign of both immaturity and insecurity. When they pull-back and get a reaction from you, they feel validated. The fucked up part is that when they get the reaction they want, they pull back even more. The second they think you’re not thinking about them, they start chasing again. HUMANS BE STUPID.
5. There Is Nothing “Crazy” About Demanding Self-Respect: This is where I used to go wrong. 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. No matter what happened, there was only one way to react:
There is a way to communicate what bothers you without sounding “irrational” or “overly emotional”, which are other manipulative key words that are often unfairly used to dismiss whatever issue a woman has. The “crazy test” often comes immediately after the pull-back, where a guy will consciously, or subconsciously test your boundaries just to see what he can or can’t get away with. Let me stress, women can pull the same shit. I am simply speaking from my perspective for the sake of simplicity.
The last time this happened to me, a guy I was hooking up with invited me to a bar with his friends, where I clearly didn’t know anyone. Then he spent the entire night talking to other girls. I’m not the clingy type, so I was fine hanging out and getting to know his friends, but at a certain point, I was like “what the fuck dude?” I decided to leave, and on my way out some girl had her hand on his stomach, which was just awkward for all of us, for a variety of reasons. The old me would have said, “I mean, we’re not together so technically I can’t be mad.” Or worse, “If I get mad I don’t want him to think I’m crazy.” Fuck. That. Noise.
I decided I had to get over my fear of what he thought. I have no problem with him flirting with other girls, as we had not yet had a conversation about being exclusive. But I don’t need that shit to happen in front of my face. So when he inevitably texted me later that night acting like NOTHING had happened, I grew a set of balls and called him out. His text: “Hope you had fun tonight girl. My friends thought you were great”. LOL.
I told him that as much as I don’t need hand holding the whole night, I don’t appreciate being invited somewhere and then treated as if I didn’t exist. His response: “You seemed like you were having a good time! There were just a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while and I wanted to make everyone feel welcome.” YEAH, EXCEPT THE ONE PERSON YOU INVITED THERE. This is the classic “I’m going to play dumb and make you feel like you’re over-reacting” move. He then followed that with how much he loves hanging out with me but how he’s in a really selfish place in his life and isn’t looking for a commitment, as if me being upset about this meant I wanted to be in a relationship with him.
I said “This isn’t about commitment. This is about respect. I don’t have a problem with casual sex, but this is below the standards of what I deserve.” If I had spilled a drink on him and called him a piece of shit at the bar, perhaps he could have been like:
But confidently speaking up for myself in a calm, non-emotional manner is not the same thing.
The main lesson here, is stop caring about what he thinks. If you stick up for yourself and he still tries to twist it around, then he is a douche bag who does not deserve you. Who gives a shit how he frames it in his mind or to his friends? What matters more is that you know the truth. A lot of the time “She got too attached” is just code for “I couldn’t get away with whatever I wanted cause I guess she has standards or some bullshit.” Well if that’s called “crazy”, then I guess I am. I’d rather be that than a doormat.
The truth is, he was not acting this way because he is a bad person who was intentionally trying to hurt me. This was his way of indrectly communicating to me “JUST SO YOU KNOW I’M STILL FREE! I’M A MAN!”
Look out for Part II where I discuss more effective forms of communication, such as words.