Graphic by Hengjia Liu
For the first time in a long time, I am properly single.
No men or women in the line-up, and I’m actively trying to avoid “accidental” eye-contact with hot people in the communal kitchen.
As a result, I’ve been thrown into my obligatory post-relationship “hot girl” era, gifted with the freedom to find a super sexy hook-up in upstairs Moose.
Spoiler: I never do, nor do I think I ever will. I envy the people who find “the one” in the crowd; meanwhile, I’m too busy making sure no one tries to steal the sunglasses off my head. I wish I was different, but deep down I can’t get over my irrational fear that I’m going to wake up next to someone who starts playing The Joe Rogan Experience with their morning coffee.
On paper, casual sex sounds like a dream. I get to have fun with no strings attached and I don’t owe them a thing. But alas, trust issues exist. I nearly fainted when one evening in high school I had the honour of seeing the boys group chat discuss the intimate details of my sex life. In my experience, the men who I trust want relationships, and the men who just want casual sex are the spawn of Satan. I know it’s not all men, but sometimes it feels like it. Deep down, I’m aware that I have to work on actually maintaining eye contact with a man for more than 0.5 seconds before rolling my eyes if I want to hook up with him.
I’ve realised that I, like a lot of other women, want to hook up with someone mildly attractive who I can also have a coherent conversation with. We’re high maintenance, I know! Weirdly enough, those two broad criteria have been painstakingly rare to come across, and so emerges my current—unintentional—period of abstinence from sex.
It’s become clear that my big revelations post abstinence should be common sense, but when I see my gorgeous friends cry over men who wear skinny jeans with those ridges, I sense in some way people are a bit “sex crazy.” As a former people pleaser, it’s been groundbreaking to realise that you enjoy spending time with people you like… and respect! I find myself no longer needing to come off as “hot and sexy” to the guy outside the club talking about how he knows more about economics than his tutor—oh, and how he also has a crypto podcast!
If I’m being honest, it has been hard to position myself as the casual sex type rather than seeming like “girlfriend material” after years of people telling me how lucky I am that I get to date all these men. It’s now so easy to realise how toxic that validation is. “Oh my god, he organised something for her birthday and he also bought her a gift? She’s dating God himself!”
The thing is, if I have sex with a guy and he doesn’t immediately fall in love with me, I’m annoyed. If I have sex with a guy and he does immediately fall in love with me, I’m annoyed. Tell me how I am meant to win here? I realised that this was because I craved the validation of guys telling me: “You’re the only one I can really open up to.” Until I registered the fact that I was only there to make them feel special and solve all their problems. But it was totally worth it when I’d come home from a really tough day to hear: “Aw that sucks, babe.” I’ve decided I don’t need to maintain the I-want-to-listen-to-all-your-problems “dateable” character type when the person I’m talking to literally lacks basic empathy.
I want to be the girl who doesn’t care what any man thinks, but it’s easier said than done. The question is, why do I feel so unattractive now that I’m not entertaining these men? The answer is easy: people want to feel validated and admired. Just tell me I’m pretty and smart! I’ll admit it’s hard missing the fleeting validation of a guy on Snapchat saying “You’re actually hot aye.” But trust me, it’s not the end of the world when you leave the mid brunette man on read who you’ve been talking to for eight months and still haven’t met.
In the end, we actually have to think about ourselves and what we find attractive in a sexual partner. Not having sex has taught me that: 1. I should be able to exist without entertaining a man, and I can wait until someone I actually want to have sex with comes along, and 2. I can have sex with a guy, and leave the next day without a thought about how much he likes me. Give me a hot man with a basic moral compass and yes, I will have casual sex with him. Let’s hope that day is soon.
In short, I urge you to remember that pivotal pre-sex question: “Is he hot and sensitive, or does he just have a tote bag and a mullet?”