The End of Friends With Benefits

I’ve written a bunch on hook-up culture (here, here and here to start).

Each post receives a lot of play in the comments below (82, 105 and 118 comments to be precise.) Because every time I write about this, it’s some version of the same thing:

I was an active participant in hook-up culture for nearly 20 years.

I never judged women who did the exact same things as I did.

Numerous studies show that women (on the whole) don’t enjoy hookup culture as much as men, but yet they still participate in it.

They participate in it because they’re trying extremely hard to convince themselves that they do enjoy it. Or they participate because they feel they don’t have a choice. If this is what all the most desirable men want, maybe it’s just the cost of doing business.

This dissonance is what causes women so much pain and frustration – blaming men for having low standards for sex, instead of understanding that this is common and that the only person responsible for who you hop into bed with is you.

When I point these observations out, a conversation breaks out about slut-shaming and double-standards, when, in fact, the studies are merely reflective of women’s opinions on hook-up culture. Too often, women (my clients!) feel used, undervalued and discarded by men – mostly because they tend to associate sex with feelings, while many men will sleep with virtually anybody regardless of emotions or long-term intentions.

This dissonance is what causes women so much pain and frustration – blaming men for having low standards for sex, instead of understanding that this is common and that the only person responsible for who you hop into bed with is you.

Enter this piece by Leah Fessler in Quartz.

This paragraph powerfully sums up the internal ambivalence of the sexually liberated woman who has been forced to come to terms with the fact that she doesn’t like hookup culture:

“While there was a major gulf between my public self and my private one, the one thing that remained consistent were my politics. I told myself that I was a feminist, despite subjecting myself to unfulfilling, emotionally damaging sexual experiences. And I believed it, too.”

Fessler continues:

“It wasn’t just the social pressure that drove me to buy into the commitment-free hookup lifestyle, but my own identity as a feminist…The idea that sexual liberation is fundamental to female agency dominates progressive media. True feminists, I believed, not only wanted but also thrived on emotionless, non-committal sexual engagements…

While various academic studies tout the damaging effects of hookup culture, I came across them much more infrequently. Besides, the alternative seemed to me to be abstinence—an equally unfulfilling option. I decided it was time to ditch my antiquated desire for monogamy. As Taylor’s article suggested, I would “play the game, too.”

So she did. As do so many women who remain momentarily sexually gratified but feeling hollow inside – almost against their own wills. This isn’t a “conservative” position. This isn’t a 1950’s position. This is what studies show and women have continually told me.

This is what Fessler studied in her senior thesis.

“After interviewing 75 male and female students and analyzing over 300 online surveys, the solidarity was undeniable: 100% of female interviewees and three-quarters of female survey respondents stated a clear preference for committed relationships. (My research focus was on the experiences of heterosexual women, although of course many non-heterosexual relationships happen at Middlebury as well.) Only 8% of about 25 female respondents who said they were presently in pseudo-relationships reported being “happy” with their situation.

The women I interviewed were eager to build connections, intimacy and trust with their sexual partners. Instead, almost all of them found themselves going along with hookups that induced overwhelming self-doubt, emotional instability and loneliness.”

This all-too-common experience is why I have a job, for better or worse. It’s also why I’m going to articulate how you can still partake in physical activity without getting as hurt:

Stop sleeping with men who aren’t your boyfriend. 

Simply put: if he doesn’t respect your boundaries (that you won’t have sex without commitment) and he doesn’t step up to become your boyfriend (after around six weeks of foreplay), you cut him loose and move on.

No, it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good work-around for women who want to fool around without getting too attached. Simply put: if he doesn’t respect your boundaries (that you won’t have sex without commitment) and he doesn’t step up to become your boyfriend (after around six weeks of foreplay), you cut him loose and move on.

This is not the only way to handle sex, obviously. If you like hookup culture, I am not attacking you in any way. This post is specifically for women who are sick of feeling used by men and are trying to figure out how to date, have fun, and not get their hearts broken.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (101 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    Stacey

    although I would have liked a relationship in college, the truth is, I probably wasn’t ready for a good one. I wanted to hook up, to play the field, to have fun with different types of men. It wasn’t the lack of commitment that bothered me, but the lack of respect. The times I most enjoyed were the situations with guys who were my pals, wanted me at parties even if we weren’t hooking up, who invited me over for Sunday afternoon football, who took me along on ski and camping weekends. We enjoyed each other’s company, period. But more frequent were the experiences, whether it went as far as sex or not, after which it was abundantly clear that these young men had disdain for any woman who gave in to them, who also enjoyed indulging her own desires. It had nothing to do with me wanting commitment and everything to do with the way some men responded afterward. I still think it’s on men. I still believe that a good portion of women would enjoy themselves while exploring sex without commitment of the men didn’t turn into such a$$holes afterward. 20 years on, I don’t regret anything I chose to do. I do regret not expressing to those guys exactly how disgusting I found their sexist double standards.

  2. 2
    Valise

    I don’t feel the need to share such a personal part of myself with a situation that is so impersonal.

  3. 3
    CaliforniaGirl

    I have few male friends who are on Tinder, they say that almost all women are sleeping with them on a first date.  One guy told me that if he finds someone who doesn’t invite him over at the end of the first date, he would marry her. He is joking, of course, but they are also frustrated and don’t know how to react.. Younger girls send them naked pictures before they even met, invite them over and ask to bring weed or alcohol and they are good to go. One guy on Tinder suggested he would come over and if I have a bottle of wine in my fridge. I asked how many times it worked for him and he said almost every time. He was good looking and funny. Men don’t need to work anymore, they will swipe next and she will have sex with him on a first date and then he can text her once in a while and come over for a few hours.  I heard them say that if they don’t get sex on a second date, they never contact the woman again.

    It’s just sad and frustrating. Most of my single girlfriends are not even dating right now, because all they get are invitations to come over and if they have alcohol or weed the guy can enjoy. That’s LA.

     

     

     

    1. 3.1
      Serafina

      I have a friend that plays what he calls Russian Roulette of Tinder. He swipes right for everyone and whoever responds he will meet and have sex with. Male or Female. There seems to be a blur in boundaries and I blame it on the ease of which sex is so readily available. Instant gratification, but at what cost? You have NO idea how many people these people have been with. I’ve played the game. I’m stuck right now between wishing I had a monogamous relationship and continuing on my free love journey. I want to stop the ride, but I don’t want to wait to find someone I will never meet out in public, because my busy life doesn’t take me anywhere I can meet someone. I seem to have a closed for business sign on my forehead when I’m out, but meeting online allows me to meet and get to know someone a bit before I jump right in. I find the discourse of texts becomes foreplay. Am I happy? Marginally…..but I want more. I want someone I can spend time with. Get to know intimately. I want someone I can call when I feel like just hanging out. No one seems to want this anymore and I’m judged harshly by my friends and family for my choices. I am no different than any man, but the double standards exist. Men don’t want to try to build anything with me, because I’ve been playing the game. Most don’t trust me enough to know I’d stop if they are worth stopping for. This isn’t a survey…..it’s life.

      1. 3.1.1
        suzanne

        I agree with everything your going through im the exact same. Which is why im in a kind of lull at the moment ive stopped chatting to these kind of men and im doing nothing right now. Im not panicking about it just hoping il meet a nicer guy in the future.xx Best of luck.xx

      2. 3.1.2
        CaliforniaGirl

        Why would a woman sleep with every guy on Tinder? I don’t get it. What is the point?

      3. 3.1.3
        Just Saying

        Serfina, and the men you hook up with……You  trust them to stop if they they decide you are the “one”. They don’t expect you to stop because they don’t expect themselves to stop. Find better men and when you do, behave like you want and expect them to.

      4. 3.1.4
        Mr koolio

        If THEY are worth stopping for….you say this after complaining that you want a relationship….but you will only do this with those that are worth your time….and you fault guys for doing the same….really?

      5. 3.1.5
        Caroline

        Hi Serafina-your comment about double standards made me think. You say “men don’t want to try to build anything with me, because I’ve been playing the game. Most don’t trust me enough to know I’d stop if they are worth stopping for.” Honestly that’s not a double standard. It’s a double standard to think a guy who is pursuing you only sexually would want more if he could see you were “worth” it. Why would a guy or a girl want to try to build a relationship with someone who is showing you what they want-a sexual only relationship.? Why shouldn’t he want someone exhibiting they want something more like he does. I think someone said it in another post-you gotta be the kind of person you’d actually want to date. I think most people go through the phase you are. I don’t see anything wrong with it; it’s how we grow. Give yourself a break and step back to reflect. Decide what’s of most importance to you and proceed. If you stumble, try again. You’ll get there:)

    2. 3.2
      CSI

      Are your male friends very good looking? Super confident? Its just your read so many stories of how online dating is nothing but a wasteland of endless disappointment and rejection for most men.

      1. 3.2.1
        CaliforniaGirl

        They are good looking, yes, but it’s Tinder. Yesterday I asked one of the guys to show me his Tinder chat with girls, I wanted to see it myself. There were at least 10 chats with women and oh boy, everyone asked the guy to come over. Every single one. It was crazy. They also wrote that they have party favors and alcohol. What is going on with women??? I was repulsed, literally. My friend said that he has no incentive to do anything, they are all ready to have sex within half an hour after they meet.

        I think dating scene has changed dramatically in the last few years and longer I date, the more I think just to get more vibrators and a dog. 🙂

         

        1. Christine

          I was talking to a friend of mine about Tinder and was surprised at how many decent dates she’s been able to get out of it (had three dates last week).  Yes, the majority of messages were cheesy ones asking her to be their “Tinderella”–but there were decent ones buried in there too!   Given its “hookup” reputation, I was pleasantly surprised that there were still men who wanted to take her out on proper dates.

          I hope you don’t let a few shady people discourage you.  There are good people to be found anywhere, even Tinder.  I don’t think it’s time for vibrators and a dog just yet.  🙂

        2. CaliforniaGirl

          I met good guys on Tinder, my girlfriend met her current boyfriend on Tinder. I have a great friend I met on Tinder and through him I met amazing people I am friends with now. There are not only shady players there, but I got an impression that even those guys who don’t want to hook up, do it because that’s how everyone is telling them is supposed to be.

          Few months ago I met on Tinder a younger guy, he was out of a long relationship and he only slept with two women in his life and both were long relationships of 5 and 4 years. He told me that all his friends are telling him he has to go there and sleep with as many women as he can and here he was, on Tinder. He was very good looking, charming and a gentlemen. We kept in touch and after few months we went out to have a drink. It was a different person now, he was cocky, rude and assumed I will take him home and have sex with him, just because he drove 40 min to meet me. He even said that. Few months before he asked me in a cutest way ever if he can kiss me. I was upset, he was a good guy just few months ago but now he was a total jerk now.

    3. 3.3
      Mia

      I hear you. But I have had a very different experience. I’m also in LA was on tinder less than a year ago, went on a few lovely dates (did not have sex on any first, second, third, or even fourth dates). I was particularly interested in one man, told him I don’t have sex until we both decide to be exclusive. We dated for 7 weeks before we were intimate and we are currently in the process of falling in love. I found a great match on Tinder in LA, and met many other wonderful guys. I only had one bad date, he behaved kind of like a jerk, but I think he was just insecure and nervous and wasn’t a bad guy at heart. I hope you and your friends have better luck in the future. Its crazy, I know, but I assure you, it’s possible to meet great men on tinder.

    4. 3.4
      Mr koolio

      Lol you believe a guy is “frustrated” all these women want to sleep with him?  Lol…either he is lying, gay, or a big p___y.  How can you possibly believe that? Let me guess, he also tells you that when the girl gets naked he just leaves because he is frustrated ..

      ..right?  Doesn’t anyone’s dad tell.them what is up? I had boys, but if I had had girls, I would have told them exactly how men think.  And by the way, how men think and women think isn’t wrong or bad or anything… it is simply how we are wired . demanding that we all act exactly the same is ridiculous. Instead of trying change the opposite sex, why not take the time to try to understand how the opposite sex thinks and  how to make your partner happy and how to  tell your partner what you want.  Then,  things work out so much better rather than demanding that men” be more sensitive” or “stop needing sex so.much”  because that’s what you want.  And guys, take the time to communicate with your woman…and she wants to talk about something trivial for two hours …so what….that is the way she is and something she needs to do…so let her and engage her and then she will like you more and wAnt sex more….I doubt any of my comments will show up…because most of us were brainwashed by feminists and men who couldn’t tell them to miss off.  Have you EVER met a happy feminist?  Unlikely.  Why? Never gets laid.  It is true.  Stay koolio

    5. 3.5
      Nat

      I think Tinder and the people on it get an unfairly bad rep. 🙂 It doesn’t have to restrict u to hookups if u know how to use it, and it can be really really helpful for busy folks. I didn’t think I’d try it, but one evening I needed a last minute date to a party. That’s all I wanted. And I met a really sweet attractive guy who is pursuing me very seriously. We enjoy physical contact but he doesn’t push me for sex after I told him I’m not ready. He’s not perfect and neither am I, but we both feel lucky to have met each other.

       

      Personally I think these apps just help u find whatever u want more easily–whether it’s hookups or a relationship. Don’t believe the myth that most guys just want sex. I’ve found that most humans don’t wanna be alone, esp as they age. If u wanna find a rship (on Tinder or not), just be ur confident, lovable and authentic self, and let guys know ure not into casual sex, and some of those guys will try to have a rship with u.

    6. 3.6
      Jess

      send them my way! Haha I live in San Diego and guys here expect sex on the first date. And when I tell them no sex before monogamy they think I’m joking… then when I don’t accept their sexual advances they get mad at me!

  4. 4
    sophia

    I personally take issue with the “friends” part of “friends with benefits”. I think it’s a euphemism. Really, friends? Because, friends talk to one another (usually regularly), they hang out together, they show up when needed, they’re trustworthy, they’re concerned if they don’t hear from you, they may take you to a doctor’s appointment or “petsit”, yada, yada, yada. Maybe just my experience (been there, done that, done.), but I don’t quite see where the “friends” part exists in the “friends with benefits”.

    To me, it’s like having a PB & J sandwich, without the jelly. Kinda dry and unsatisfying….

     

  5. 5
    Britt

    I will admit to considering this sort of arrangement for the first time in my life at 35.  The arrangement would be with my ex-bf, with whom I parted ways only because significant family obligations forced him to move out of state.  He is not likely to return for 2-3 years, if then, and my own family obligations and job prevent me from considering a move (he moved to a place with no industry for what I do).  We have had a pen pal relationship for several months since he moved away.  Other men simply do not want me; I am cute but shy and have no idea how to flirt – all men from my exes to my boss/colleagues to my brothers recognize this.  In a relationship, I do a lot of things Evan and other men seem to desire…I’m a good and enthusiastic cook, I give great massages, and I am femininely submissive but highly sexual…but you have to get to know me in order to discover all that.

    My current ex is a good man, and he would be a true Friend with benefits – I know that if I needed his help, he would be here tomorrow.  To me that is worth a lot.

    Certainly there are drawbacks as mentioned in the article above to this sort of situation, but I suspect that at some point being rejected by another 25 or 50 men, or even kissing 10 more frogs, starts to equal or exceed the emotional and psychological damage of having a FWB.

    1. 5.1
      Christine

      I’m just wondering, what will you do if the ex (or you) meet someone you see long term potential with?  Would you then part ways with the ex, no harm, no foul?

      I don’t mean to pry and hey, you’re an adult who is free to do whatever she wants to do.  But at least from what I’m seeing, I’m just concerned that this FWB scenario isn’t what you really want, but just something you’d be resigning yourself to because you don’t think you can attain real love (?)

      Whatever you do, I just hope you think it through carefully.  I’ve seen single friends before think they can handle FWB–and the psychological toll ends up being more than they anticipated.  You sound like a nice person so I would hate for the same to happen to you.

      On the other hand, I also have to admit I know people who really can handle FWB.  However, they really didn’t want a committed relationship either.  They were happier with it since their goals weren’t in conflict with their actions.

      1. 5.1.1
        Britt

        Thank you for your thoughts Christine.  I am always impressed by your commentary, and appreciate your helping me think this through.

        Yes, the idea would be that if we find someone else local we would part ways amicably.  No this is not ideal, but before my ex I was single for years.  I eventually got into short-lived relationships with two different men mostly out of desperation and loneliness, if I am being honest.  I ended both of those after the men in question asked me to borrow money.

        I suppose my hope here would  to have an outlet for human connection that would be satisfying on its own (on a weekend by weekend basis), while also serving as something of a stopgap so I don’t just fall into something out of loneliness.  One night stands and such aren’t for me, but I am comfortable with my ex and we respect each other.  And who knows, maybe I’m so used to being alone and independent that an “arrangement” would be best anyway.

        Certainly taking my time to make this decision…thanks again:)

        1. Christine

          Thanks Britt, I always like your thoughtful comments as well.  You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and like this isn’t a decision you’ll take lightly.  The important thing is that you can be FWB with the ex without getting attached to him again.  The FWB situations I’ve seen fall apart when the parties involved aren’t on the same page.

          I also hope it wouldn’t detract from your search for love.  For me, personally, it would be very challenging to really open myself up to someone else, while still sleeping with another guy.You just have to think through whether you can really be available for someone else, while sleeping with this ex.

          In any case best of luck to you, am sure you’ll do the right thing for yourself, whatever that is.

           

      2. 5.1.2
        GoWiththeFlow

        Britt,

        Christine is so right about this:

        “I’ve seen single friends before think they can handle FWB–and the psychological toll ends up being more than they anticipated.”

        And this:

        “I’m just concerned that this FWB scenario isn’t what you really want, but just something you’d be resigning yourself to. . .”

        Many years ago I got myself tangled up with a guy where I slept with him without a commitment.  For him it was a FWB type thing, before the term had even been invented.  But for me, I thought I could be cool with it but I was really trying to use the sex as a way to create a stronger connection between the two of us.  Spectacular fail!

        Although being celibate is not ideal, having sex that makes me feel like sh*t inside is worse.

        Try working with a life/dating coach about your shyness and approachability issues.  You may not turn into the belle of the ball, but it may help you to open up enough to attract a man that will appreciate you in all of your uniqueness.

        Good luck!

    2. 5.2
      Adrian

      Hi Brit,

      I have found two strategies about over coming shyness in dating that I would like to offer you. One was written in a self-help book by a psychiatrist and the other was written in a dating book by an author with a psy.d. Afterwards I’ll tell you the thing they both agreed on.

      In both high school and college I was a social butterfly, yet I was really shy when it came to asking out the opposite sex. I had no problem approaching and talking to girls, just the asking for phone numbers and dates part that I froze on.

      Unfortunately the authors methods for overcoming shyness wasn’t that helpful for me because I had no problem just starting a conversation with a stranger of the opposite sex or flirting, finishing the deal was my problem. Here’s what they suggested:

      The psy.d’s strategy: Flirt with wait staff, checkout clerks, or anyone who is paid to be nice to you. The reasoning explained for this was that you can practice talking, flirting, and joking with a stranger while simultaneously holding on to the knowledge that this employee can not do anything to make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Also since they are paid to be friendly, you can make mistakes as you are learning to interact with the assurance that this person will not be rude or hurtful. An added bonus is that after doing this long enough, you learn to tell who is genuinely having a friendly dialog with you and who is just faking their desire to continue to talk to you.

      The psychiatrist strategy: This one is a little more hardcore, so maybe you should consider this one level 2 training; something you can graduate into after you get comfortable starting conversations and flirting with people who are paid to be nice.

      This tactic is to go to a park and sit on a bench (though I guess any place where you are forced to be next to a stranger in a serene environment works.) Once seated on the bench, you are to give yourself a quantitative amount of time that you will remain there. So lets say you know it is a busy park, so you give yourself a time limit of 30 minutes, or you are only available during non-busy hours, so you give yourself a time limit of 1 hour etc. Or instead of hours you can set your quantitative amount to a number of people of the opposite sex. The point is that you are there long enough for you to talk to every guy who sits down close to you. The author was in his 70s so if the park idea seems to outdated for you, you can modernize it by setting a goal every time you are in a line that you will strike up a friendly conversation with whatever guy is in line next to you. This also works because since you both are surrounded by other people in a crowded store or wherever, you don’t have to worry about not feeling safe

      What they both agree on: Both agree that these methods are not about getting dates, they are about forcing yourself to do something over and over until you are no longer paralyzed by fear. So repetition is the foundation to making them work. That’s how the human brain works, reward breeds confidence. If you talk to a dozen guys in a month, by month 2 you will start to forget what you were scared of to begin with.

      1. 5.2.1
        Christine

        Britt, I’d also like to just offer up encouragement that confidence can be acquired–and not just something you have to be born with.  Last weekend I met a friend-of-a-friend, who just has this air of confidence and instantly commands the attention of any room she walks in.  Men are like that “bees to honey” cliche around her, and just flock to her. It became a running joke among the rest of us girls, trying to guess how many (and which) guys would approach her next!

        Well, I was very surprised when I talked to her and she described herself as a very geeky, awkward and shy kid growing up!  She did something to go from that, to the “man magnet” she is now.

        And you don’t necessarily have to be beautiful either.  She actually isn’t as conventionally beautiful as other girls I know.  But, there is just something striking about her that grabs attention.  She’s like that line about Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind–about how she isn’t beautiful, but somehow makes men think she is!

        1. AAORK

          @Christine – my best guess is that the something you speak of is approachability. In my experience, many women seem to lack this trait nowadays. HTH.

        2. Christine

          Maybe you’re right about that.  I should add, this girl is very friendly and just has a way of putting people at ease.  Even after just a short time with her, I felt as comfortable around her as I do around friends I’ve known for years.  I can see how she’d seem safe to approach.

          I think it also helps that she’s attractive.  Like I said, she’s not the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known–but, she is attractive in her own right and presents herself well (toned physique and dresses nicely).

    3. 5.3
      Caroline

      Hi Britt-your comments were heart wrenching. I at one time was shy and am naturally introverted. It was quite painful at times and led me to make poor decisions in my relationships. I still have to fight the pull to not exert myself in social situations. While I believe Adrian’s thoughts were quite helpful; I had to start at the basics. Pushing myself to talk to other women was my first step (the idea of talking with some guy out of the blue was too much). Older people are almost always welcoming to a little comment or chat. But I think the “big” thing that really helped me was consistently making eye contact with people. You don’t have to say anything, just smile. My guy really noticed this on a trip we took to nola years ago. He couldn’t believe how many people just chatted us up or asked directions or asked if we could recommend restaurants, etc. Get yourself out of your phone, take the ear buds out (all the things we ladies do to avoid awkward moments). You just gotta begin. It will get easier and it will have a positive outcome on all aspects of your life. I’m a much better employee because I can communicate much more effectively. Good luck. You deserve a mutually loving relationship. 😊

  6. 6
    Michelle H.

    “Used, undervalued and discarded” is right;  100% right.  And you, Evan, are the one who taught me how to “Stop sleeping with men who aren’t my boyfriend” (via your book “Why He Disappeared”).  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  7. 7
    John

    I read an article that said STDs have sky rocketed since the inception of Tinder. I believe the figure was 700%. Yuck. I only have sex in committed relationships and I’m a guy! FWB is just a band-aid. I think I’m better off starving for sex. It makes me work harder to find a girlfriend when I’m single, instead of scratching an itch with someone I wouldn’t be in a relationship with.

    1. 7.1
      Deb

      John , do you have the link for that article? After casual dating for the last 4 years and reluctantly being part of the hook up culture, I’ve decided to give it up. Having been recently diagnosed with HPV was a wake up call for me , and I refuse to be so reckless with my body now. I plan on writing about my experience. I would love to read that article!

        1. Deb

          Thanks so much John!  I actually see it as a blessing, as it has made me reevaluate how I date now.  I will only be intimate with someone I’m in a relationship with. Good news also, I just found out it’s a mild form and may go away on its own.

      1. 7.1.3
        CaliforniaGirl

        You can get HPV from anyone. I got it 15 years ago from ex-husband. HPV is common, it’s like cold. 80% of women will get it at some point in their lives. There are worse things out there.

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          Yes, 80% of sexually active adults will contract HPV in their lifetime.  The issue is when they are infected with a strain that causes DNA damage in the nucleus of cells of the cervix and oropharynx (mouth and throat).  That can lead to oral and cervical cancers.  If a woman is young, the treatments to remove precancerous or cancerous cells from her cervix can lead to infertility issues.

          Most people who are infected with HPV won’t get the cancer causing strain.  But for those who do, the health consequences can be enormous.  And you don’t get to pick which strain you get.

        2. CaliforniaGirl

          You are right, I got the bad strain from my ex-husband and it caused a lot of health issues. He was a regular young 24 years old guy who slept with a stripper at the bachelor party before we met. And I never had HPV after we divorced and I dated and slept with guys. I am not saying you should not be careful but in my case it didn’t matter.

        3. GoWiththeFlow

          CG,

          It’s sometimes difficult to balance sexual safety issues with the normal human drive to connect through sex with another human being.  Everyone has to figure out where their comfort zone is and even then there are no guarantees.

    2. 7.2
      sophia

      Well said and good point about the walking petri dishes…..

  8. 8
    Carrie

    I live in a town of 65,000, that I did not grow up in. The women here, no matter what age, will have sex with whoever happens to buy them the most drinks at the bar. A lot of these “women” are in their forties, with kids, sleep with each others husbands and boyfriends. By doing that, they are more of a woman that their friends. I choose not to participate in one night stands as that is not for me, but how do you find a relationship when sex is available anywhere? There is no reason for men to get to know someone or to put themselves out there emotionally when sex is so readily available.

    1. 8.1
      Jess

      But, how many women truly go to bars and hook-up with people? To be honest, in my group of friends, not a single one has ever done that. Of all of the women that we have grown up with, I can only think of about 4 who hang out at bars AND get picked up by men.

  9. 9
    Sarah

    Yes, yes, wait until it feels right…even if it takes a couple of years! I was celibate for several years. Granted, I do not like the long periods of being alone BUT, you can be so productive in those alone times to find new interests/hobbies and improve on others. I have taken classes in Spanish, guitar, painting, jewelry-making etc. I am in a hiking group, do yoga, bicycle, and anything else to get out of the house.  If that doesn’t interest you much, get a puppy! They are a lot of work but the unconditional love you will feel and the positive chemical release is similar to having a committed relationship.  I realize its much different, but it still makes one feel good.  I have not always waited. It only took one time in a hookup that made me realize I hated it and never wanted to drive on that street again. I’m not saying you need to think like I do, or do as I  say. I just want to give encouragement for those that think its impossible to be alone for more than a year or so and not have sex. It is completely possible! And its not that horrible if you fill the time with other fun things. Additionally, you will be a much more interesting person when you find that right one.

    1. 9.1
      R.

      That’s exactly how I feel.  I’m obviously on this site for a reason, but there are so many other things we can do to nurture our souls.  I’m so glad to see your comment – it seems so obvious.  Hey, how about read a book, exercise, or pick up a new hobby??  There has to be a balance between searching for something external versus internal.

  10. 10
    WhatamIdoing

    After 15 years of being alone and celibate, I decided it was time to get back “out there.” I put a profile and some pics up on a free dating site and in the first 24 hours I received 125 messages. One was kind of a standout. I responded, we exchanged a bunch of messages and we set up a meet over drinks. I knew he was bad news the minute I met him – butterflies, heart racing, increased blood flow (you know what I mean!).

    We met on a Wednesday and right after our meet he texted to ask me out Friday. He was fun and sweet and cute and I couldn’t wait to see him again.  On Friday, we met over drinks and appetizers. At the end of the evening he walked me to my car where we kissed, and kissed and kissed and then moved inside. We made out for a while and then he asked me to go home with him.

    I declined – here’s the thing – in our conversation over drinks, in spite of my best efforts to steer the conversation to other topics, he kept talking about  all the “crazy” women he’d met online and I figured I was going to be the next chapter, no matter what I did.

    When I declined I laughingly told him he was the wrong guy for me – he disagreed; I told him I thought he was a “bad boy” – he disagreed. We parted and, as anticipated, I didn’t hear from him for several days.

    He sent me an early booty call the following Wednesday and, even though I knew better, I went to his place. We had great sex for hours, but he was kind of a douche bad in the morning and I knew I’d never hear from him again. No problem.

    Except since then, he keeps showing up! About a week after our “encounter” I updated my pics and profile on the site where we’d met. He viewed my profile every day for several days after that. I removed my profile from that site and set myself up on a couple of paid sites. A few days later he showed up on one of the paid sites, again as a frequent viewer of my profile!

    Then one Saturday morning a few weeks ago I stopped into my local Starbucks to pick up a coffee and as I was waiting for the barista to make my order there he was! I wouldn’t have noticed him at all if he hadn’t approached me and we ended up having an impromptu coffee. It was fun and easy and I got the vibe that he was into me, but alas, haven’t heard from him since, except for the continuing views of me on the dating website.

    I was sort of OK with a couple of NSA hookups with him, but the continued attention without any contact is making that a lot more difficult.

  11. 11
    Ruth

    This is true. Ladies, find yourself a rose quartz crystal pleasure wand and give sacred pleasure/white tantra a shot in the times that you are not seriously dating. You will not miss the hook up culture and you’ll cultivate a new and more powerful relationship with yourself and your body that will benefit your intimate connections you when you next commit to a worthy suitor 🙂 Power to all those who are refusing to partake in these experiences if they don’t sit right with you. It might be a culture, an epidemic, but we are all sovereign beings and the first crucial relationship is with ourselves.

    1. 11.1
      R.

      Wow.  Interesting suggestion! I just googled rose quartz crystal pleasure wand.  Thanks you for sharing.  Great comment.  I agree! Namaste.

  12. 12
    Mani

    If you find men who are just interested in hooking up, just avoid them. There’s no point in being frustrated that many men will take sex if it’s readily available.  It’s a reality. Weed out those men and find the good ones that are interested in pursing a relationship with you. The good ones are also out there. =)

  13. 13
    AAORK

    Reading this article reminds me again that practically every time something is written involving hook-up culture, ease of sex, avoiding commitment, etc., the rationalization for participating always seems to be some sort of “unspoken social code” or “social pressure”. The reality is that these types of problems (and SO many others) are fixable right now. Today. It just requires one thing: assuming personal accountability for your  own actions and not blaming external influences. Is this such a radical proposal these days??

    1. 13.1
      Ruth

      Exactly!! Great comment : )

  14. 14
    Helene

    I was single for a number of years in my 40s and a lot of the time had some sort of sex-buddy on the go. I found this worked very well and whilst not as good as having a committed relationship,  my view was that its bad enough not having a committed relationship withoput having no sex AS WELL.I did not have any problems with my sex buddies, but my approach was to keep the search for the relationship and the just-for-sex guys totally separate. That is to say,I would only have casual sex with guys I found cute and pleasant  but was not REMOTELY interested in having a relationship with. For me, this equated to much younger guys – “great body-no money” types. For a woman in her 40s there are lots of these young studs around who enjoy a no strings “this is not a relationship” thing with an older woman not interested in marrying them, so there is no lack of suitors. On the other hand, with the guys I was meeting on the dating websites, I had a very definate policy of “no casual sex” which was actually easier to carry out since I had my sexual needs met already. I had a soft spot for my young sex partners  – in an almost motherly kinda way – and I always found them very sweet, but I never spent a minute of my time wondering if they’d call again or not – it was all very stress free. If one orother of us did start “seeing someone properly” for want of a better way of putting it – then we would tend to let the other one know that we were seeing someone and simply stop hooking up for a while – sometimes the new relationship wpouldn’t wokr out and you’d get a booty call further down the line. There were noever any hard feelings and although it wouldn’t work for everyone, this separation between datable guys and cute but not datable guys worked very well for me. If dating is “business” then sex buddies are “pleasure” – just don’t mix business with pleasure!

     

  15. 15
    Tarnished

    Sophia @ #4 said:
    I personally take issue with the “friends” part of “friends with benefits”. I think it’s a euphemism. Really, friends? Because, friends talk to one another (usually regularly), they hang out together, they show up when needed, they’re trustworthy, they’re concerned if they don’t hear from you, they may take you to a doctor’s appointment or “petsit”, yada, yada, yada. Maybe just my experience (been there, done that, done.), but I don’t quite see where the “friends” part exists in the “friends with benefits”.
    I completely agree, and was very surprised to eventually learn that the term Friends with Benefits no longer means what it says. I’m in a real FwB relationship of about 10 years, and it saddens me that we don’t truly have a way to tell others what we are, now that FwB apparently just is slang for a booty call. We aren’t boyfriend/girlfriend, because that’s understood as a very different level of commitment than anything we want. We’re not the marrying sort, so we’ll never be each others fiancee or spouse. He and I are not simply lovers or sex partners, because we’re also best friends.

    We first met at a gaming table playing D&D, and had been “just” friends for almost 2 years prior to indulging in the (admittedly great!) Benefits aspect of our relationship. Nearly every weekend you can find us hanging out at the mall, seeing a new movie, having dinner, going hiking, or attending hobby conventions. We have visited one another in the hospital, picked up from the airport, driven the other home after a late night, cared for pets while they’re away. Heck, I’m living with him and loaning him money right now so he can pay his rent since he got fired a few months ago and only has odd jobs here and there. 

    Honestly, we really are friends with the added benefit of being each others clean, consensual, and casual sexual partner! I truly wish there was a term for what we are that doesn’t sully the awesome friendship we’ve cultivated.

     

     

    1. 15.1
      Just Saying

      Tarnished, sounds like what you have a more than a FWB situation. How would you feel if he turned around tomorrow and said he found someone else ? If you can feel happy for him, then yes, what you have is FWB. If you are going to feel let down after what you have done for him, then No, you are more than FWB.

      1. 15.1.1
        Tarnished

        If he told me tomorrow that he’d found someone he wants to be monogamous with, then I’d be surprised but happy for him. He’s still my best friend and a great guy, after all, and if he decides that a true relationship is now what he wants…well, he deserves to be happy.

        Now, will I be sad that we can’t have sex anymore and now I need to try and cultivate a new FwB relationship with someone else? Yes, but I think that is a healthy emotional response to giving up a sex partner of 10 years. I’d be worried about anyone who *doesn’t* feel a bit of loss in that situation!

        I find it interesting that you phrase the question as being let down “after what you have done for him”. I have never done anything for him that I didn’t want to wholeheartedly do. I greatly enjoy being the more stereotypically masculine one in our relationship, and just because he found someone else who demands monogamy from him certainly doesn’t mean I’d think of our time together as a waste of money or something. I do things/buy things for him because I love him and like to make him happy, not just because he shares sex with me!

    2. 15.2
      sophia

      Tarnished, curiosity is killing the proverbial cat here; may I ask, “do you love him?”.

      And I don’t mean “like a brother”!  😉

      1. 15.2.1
        sophia

        (Ignore the emoji, wrong emoji, sigh….)

      2. 15.2.2
        Tarnished

        Yes, I love him. I loved him prior to us sleeping together. But no, obviously not “like a brother” because we are intimate. If I thought of him as a relative, there would be no sexual attraction and we’d still be friends instead of FwB.

  16. 16
    Tarnished

    Interestingly,  neither of us has ever participated in hookup culture. Each partner he had previously tried to rope him in marriage, which he has never seen as male-friendly due to divorce laws. I dated a bit, but each time the guy tried to pressure me into sex waaaaaay before I was ready (my FwB is actually the only man who was respectful/understanding of my issues with sex, and he is still my first and only). He is what some would call a “beta” male, but that works wonderfully as I’m a masculine energy female.

    Ladies, you are in control of who you sleep with. Not all men are into pickup/hookup culture, but many are willing to be monogamous and casually committed. There *is* an in between!

  17. 17
    Lisa

    After a few hookups in my late teens I decided that this is not for me. However, I didn’t get emotionally attached to these hookups, I just hated it.

    Fast forward, 14 years, yes I am 33 years old now… I have again participated in various friends with benefits situations, very unwillingly though. I thought we were in the getting to know stage, and you know, after a while things just happen. Three times now men told me a few weeks later that they were only interested in casually dating me. I had to learn it the hard way that only because a man shows interest, even plans dates and calls you up to know how you’re doing it can still mean this is a friends with benefit situation.

    I used to be open minded and thought, well, let’s see what’s going to happen but soon learned that this is the wrong way to go. Nowadays I only do as Evan tells and would never get physically close to a guy unless he shows me he is being serious.

    I mean I don’t mind if we both tried to get to know each other from the start and really made and effort, and it didn’t work out. But beware of the guys who only want to play the field, prefer to do so with a regular partner though and don’t communicate that from the beginning.

  18. 18
    Kyra

    “… Stop sleeping with men who aren’t your boyfriend

    I agree with this and now implement this in my life. The sad thing is I am rarely asked out on dates and first dates never turn into second dates. Mostly because the men who take me out are expecting sex on the first date and, when they don’t receive it, never contact again.

    I haven’t had a boyfriend since 2006. I am 41 years old. Now that I choose not to sleep with any man who is not my boyfriend it seems I may be in for a lifetime of no sex. I’ll certainly have my dignity and avoid STIs, but darnit, will I be sexually frustrated.

    1. 18.1
      Emily, the original

      Kyra,

      I’ll certainly have my dignity and avoid STIs, but darnit, will I be sexually frustrated.

      Yes! You can have so much self-respect that you never have sex!  🙁

      1. 18.1.1
        Kyra

        Well, the alternative is searching for a sex partner every couple of months, having sex and, more than likely, never hearing from or seeing the person again because of the nature of hook-up culture and the idea that there is an infinite and available supply of sex partners out there. And, that starts to add up the number of people you sleep with each year to very concerning numbers.

        Trust me, I’ve had a lot of sex with a lot of men casually during the years I’ve been single. Now that I look back on it, it really didn’t serve much in my life. I thought it was fun at the time, but now… I don’t think fondly on those experiences because, as this article states, I’ve always desired a deep, loving connection with a man which would even greater enhance our sex.

        At this point, casual sex is an empty and hollow experience for me. I enjoy making love to someone I love and care for and that’s what I desire and will hold out hope to find that.

        I won’t settle for casual sexual experiences anymore that are emotionally vacant. I won’t place myself at risk for further STIs (I already have one – STI in the house. Holla!) because I have to find and sleep with new partners over and over again in this hook-up culture where people have difficulty connecting and creating long-term connections. I will see my body as the gift it is and bestow it to a man that truly deserves it.

        So, yea, you’re absolutely right. I’ll have an immense amount of respect for myself.

        1. Emily, the original

          Kyra,

          At this point, casual sex is an empty and hollow experience for me.

          I understand what you’re saying. I’d like something with more depth, too. However, I might be stupid and chuck all my principles for someone who really turned me on but was only offering casual sex, but since I can barely remember the last time that type of proposition was even on table, it seems I am upholding my self-respect by default.

    2. 18.2
      sophia

      Ironically (and sadly!) there are an incredible number of people married AND/OR not married, but in relationships,  who are also sexually frustrated.

      And you would never know it, from the outside looking in….

      Just sayin’.

      1. 18.2.1
        Kyra

        Oh, yea, Sophia, boy do I know. I have met a lot of married men who eventually get around to discreetly asking me to be their  “friend” because their sex life has all but disappeared with their wife and they’re seeking an outlet. One even tried to slyly ask me out on a date just three days ago.

        The sexual frustration is difficult, but it’s eased a lot of self-defeating behavior and anxiety about my sexual and emotional health. If I ever decide I want to find a dude for a quick release, I’m grown enough to. But, for now, I’m good and happy I’m not contributing to the fast and easy sex both married and single men think can be had with little to no effort on their part.

    3. 18.3
      Stacy2

      While I definitely can’t relate to what it feels like to be dating after 40, the fact that you haven’t had a boyfriend since you were 31 should have caused you to re-evaluate everything like, I don’t know, at least 8-9 years ago?? How is that even possible?

      1. 18.3.1
        Kyra

        Well, this post shows exactly how that is possible. At the age of 31 I met a man, we started dating, we began seeing each other ALL the time. We had sex. We had fantastic sex. I pretty much lived at his house on the weekends. But, because I was young, unknowledgeable about things like oxytocin, avoidant attachment, anxious attachment, etc I ignored every conversation that was him, essentially, saying he doesn’t ever want a girlfriend or made a decision long ago never to get married. He treated me like a girlfriend. He gave me a key to his home and had me staying up in his house like his wife. And, I gave up the goods regularly (and happily  – to this day he is still my best lover). That went on – on and off (because I still struggle greaty with an anxious attachment and a great love for and compatibility with him) for 11 years. We see one another once a month now, but I made it very clear a while back I no longer have sex with anyone who is not my boyfriend. And, because he chooses not to use labels, not to call what we’ve had over the years a commitment and chooses never to marry, he understands sex is no longer a part of the “friendship” we have. I have done this with another in the past I had a sexual “friendship” with and he and I have created quite a great platonic relationship.

        Also, I’m a Black woman. I’ve been HSV 1 positive for about 5 or 6 years. Online dating has been downright difficult for me and presented few to little options over the past decade. Those that seek me out do so for my body (I’m quite busty and big butt-ed) or my race (as some sort of racially-motivated sexual bucket list). So, while I certainly did take stock of my dating life several years back (I even took part in Evan’s group coaching) and have tried to date men I have had little luck getting first dates and near zero luck getting second dates over the years. The men that do ask me out are very aggressive at the end of the date and attempt to initiate sex with me on the first date (some seeking some sort of sexual adventure with a woman outside of their race and others just being dudes and going for it) and, when I do engage with them sexually, do not call me back after a first date.

        This leaves one single for ten… eleven years.

        When they say it’s hard out there for Black women, ya’ll. Believe them.

        1. Kyra

          Sorry, correction:   and, when I do not engage with them sexually.

          I do not have sex with men I go on dates with. Only one time in 10 years has a dating scenario gone past four dates for me and after the fact, I realized he “liked to stay in and have dinner” or “have to get up very early tomorrow” and was only really hanging in for the sex to happen.

          I realized a while ago my shape and my race attracts primarily men seeking sex and sexual escapades. So, dating online (both online and off) hasn’t been successful and has led to my single status of 11 years.

        2. R.

          Hi Kyra,

          I thought I read somewhere (maybe on here) that there are dating websites for those who have HSV?

        3. Kyra

          R., yes, there are dating sites for people with HSV. However, the largest one I know (and have tried a couple of times) are usually ghost towns. In the forums people complain quite a bit about it seeming like people have profiles, but no one responds/seems to be logged in to their accounts.  So, people go right back to the bigger sites (Match, OkCupid, Tinder, etc.). I’ve also been a part of a local HSV networking group. I sponsered and hosted speed dating and single’s events. I was very happy to see others meet and date. I, however, never met anyone.

          And, still, on any site I go on I am still a Black woman and my response rate and message rate is still the same: very low and , very low quality.

    4. 18.4
      Lisa

      You are spot on!  If you don’t give it up you will always remain single because it’s expected due to all the other women who are giving it up.

  19. 19
    Allison

    I don’t think that it is the concept of casual sex that so many women are averse to. The bigger problem is that most casual sex is JUST SO LOUSY. (For the woman, that is) When a guy picks up a woman and takes her home for the night, he usually isn’t doing it out of a desire to give someone pleasure. Guys are generally just doing it to get their rocks off without having to view their partner as a person. Because no commitment is involved, they end up treating the woman like a disposable human Fleshlight. And this is why so many women feel worthless afterwards.

     

    1. 19.1
      Ruth

      Yes! It’s terrible the disconnect that hookup culture has created, where women have become so objectified and disposable and men are lazily swiping through Tinder to find new dates. Before I matured and valued myself more, I saw one guy swiping through when I was still in his bed just waking up!! This was years ago when I was in my 20s and was ‘going with the flow’ of what the dating scene was…in truth I was naiive for a while after a few consecutive long-term relationships.

      I would never be with anyone who doesn’t see my soul anymore and avoid all of this culture like the plague. I do know/believe that there are real men out there who can see woman as human beings, as souls, but I’m convinced that the boys who are engaged in this behaviour, and those who participate willingly like lambs to the slaughter, are creating and reinforcing a dangerous culture. Where women’s sense of equality should be progressing in 2016, it takes things back a step and, to put it bluntly, we need to reclaim our bodies from this culture collectively.

      I also question how the brain is responding for those who are swiping on Tinder through looking at faces alone and appropriating objective faces and bodies for sex. This has led to an increase in sexual harassment on the streets. The repetitive and addictive nature of that objectification is a social concern that I believe, in a culture that is mostly desensitised to violence,  is going unnoticed.

      Truthfully though, I don’t believe either males or females are served by this. Guys believe they are getting what they want, but a true man who knows a worth of making a woman happy, knows that he has the gold. Like you’re saying, sex in this case is merely an energy release but there is more to sex than this that is a lot more fulfilling…those hooking up will always chase it, but never know.

  20. 20
    Linda

    I agree men need to wake up and smell the toothpaste, even us ladies over 50 face the same problem with men.

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