Casual Sex Caveats
August 25, 2008 3:03 PM   Subscribe

If you're a straight male college student how do you signal to women of the same age that you're interested in sleeping with them - while avoiding the extremes of coming across as objectifying or amorous?

I want to have sex without leading anyone on or being a chauvinist pig. For the sake of conversation, assume I'm not interested in a committed romantic relationship. If you're female: how would you like to be approached in this context?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Nice brain, wanna have casual sex?"
posted by rob paxon at 3:10 PM on August 25, 2008


"i'm not interested in a relationship. you wanna f*ck?"

for the record this line worked for a friend of mine, but i always needed to be bamboozled by the notion of an amorous relationship.
posted by ms.jones at 3:11 PM on August 25, 2008


I believe asking them if they want to watch a movie in your room is traditional. Everybody knows that "watching a movie" alone in a dude's room is a dog whistle for casual sex.
posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on August 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


In my day, we just got drunk and went to a bar. Everybody was pretty clear on why they were there. However, you may want to just get a number the first night you meet a girl in a bar. If you wait until she's sober, you won't have any ugly date rape issues....
posted by bananafish at 3:24 PM on August 25, 2008


Everybody knows that "watching a movie" alone in a dude's room is a dog whistle for casual sex.

There isn't anything that "everyone" knows - especially college-age women who might be inexperienced with relationships and what to expect. You might wake up with someone who now considers herself your girlfriend. As a woman, I would want to know before any sex took place that you considered it strictly NSA. "I'm not interested in a relationship" would probably work.
posted by frobozz at 3:29 PM on August 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Everybody knows that "watching a movie" alone in a dude's room is a dog whistle for casual sex.

In college, my roommate that was asked that and she was expecting casual sex, but the guy made her watch Star Wars IV instead because he was appalled she had never seen it before. She didn't enjoy it but the guy and I have remained friends ever since.
posted by spec80 at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2008 [51 favorites]


I believe asking them if they want to watch a movie in your room is traditional. Everybody knows that "watching a movie" alone in a dude's room is a dog whistle for casual sex.

Really? I thought that everybody knew that "watching a movie" alone in someone's room was just a way to try to suggest a casual private-ish date/hangout... thing. Now, that's not to say that putting two mutually interested college students in a private environment doesn't often lead to hanky-panky, but the "rules" about sexual cues in college or anywhere are, at best, rules of thumb. Some more than others, but this one especially.

There are no rules. And especially if you want to specifically not get into a relationship, you're going to have no choice but to say so outright unless she gets there first. Some girls want a relationship. Some don't. There's no code word for "I want to screw you, but I'm not romantically interested at all." (Unless you actually just, uh, say that right there.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of an anecdote that sounds like a joke, but honestly I knew a moron who used this. He would walk up to someone and say "You wanna get a six-pack and fuck?" and when invariably he would get slapped, told to fuck off or whatnot, he would say "What, don't you drink?"
posted by Ponderance at 3:35 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Honesty.

Anything less could lead to you taking advantage of someone whether you intend to or not.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:36 PM on August 25, 2008


Being honest about what you're looking for. Be willing to accept if a woman is not interested after you have been honest. You'd be surprised at the number of people out there who are not looking for a relationship, but still desire sex. I think that can work, but it does require honesty. You also need to be aware that while honesty is key in situations like casual sex, it isn't always enough. Sometimes (actually quite often) feelings will develop either for yourself or the girl. If you find that the situation is becoming more than you anticipated then you need make sure that you address those issues and act accordingly so that no one gets hurt. In other words, you may not be in for the long haul, but you still need to respect the people you are with in the same way.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 3:37 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Can I buy you a beer?"
posted by DarlingBri at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2008


Everybody knows that "watching a movie" alone in a dude's room is a dog whistle for casual sex.

In the old days, before every computer had a dvd player (and before dvd players at all, in fact), offers of back rubs tended to do the trick. It's the same thing, really — anything that gets you snuggled up together on a small dorm bed will send the right message.

And "do you want to get coffee/beer/pizza" is a great preliminary question before offering the back rub/private dvd showing/etc.

Honestly, there isn't some secret code for "wanna fuck but not be in a relationship?" other than the usual drinking/dating/snuggling, or the option of asking her directly. So I think you'll either have to live with the ambiguity (she could just really want to watch the entire LOTR trilogy with you, or she could be already planning your wedding, or she could be looking for a hookup, you just won't know until you get there), or live with the awkwardness of talking explicitly about hooking up before you're sure she's into it.

(I had a gay friend who was explaining to me about the casual sex in the basement bathroom in one campus building, and I was all "Dude, that's totally not fair that you get to do that any time you want!" and he pointed out that I'd be welcome anytime. The point being, you can have the ultra-direct, no-talking-needed casual sex, or you can date women, but you probably can't do both. Exceptions apply, YMMV, etc.)
posted by Forktine at 3:45 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was completely unaware that there was a way to approach folks of either gender you did not know to be promiscuous with the intention of wanting them to be so.

In my college days, what you're wanting to do was best done via late night IM-sessions where the conversation always strays into the "have-you's" and the "would-you's."
posted by TomMelee at 3:46 PM on August 25, 2008


I have it on good authority that once you are alone with a girl, perhaps watching a movie in your room, saying "I would really like to kiss you" works pretty well at sorting things out. If she lets you, then she is quite likely interested in more. If she doesn't, you haven't actually propositioned her, and neither one of you need lose any face.
posted by kindall at 4:05 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


No offense... but I'd start by taking yourself (and the situation) a lot less seriously. Honesty will also be appreciated. Frankly, most of the girls you're likely to meet will be equally inexperienced.
posted by designmartini at 4:21 PM on August 25, 2008


Here's another thought: why are you simply looking for casual sex? Sure, it is physically satisfying. But making a real connection is electrifying. Once you've had that kind of connection, a one-night or one-week stand seems insipid and shallow.

The advice I wish I'd received in college about communicating with women is to have fun communicating. And one way to have fun is to treat it like improv comedy: Don't deny. Say "Yes, and ..." instead of "Yes, but ...". You'll find that if the ball never stops rolling, it will roll all the way :-).
posted by Araucaria at 4:36 PM on August 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Personal ads or craigslist - places where others are actually looking for the same thing. If you're not willing to do that, then go to a bar or dance club. If I were a straight male, I'd flirt with a girl in a bar, buy her a drink (just one), make some small talk, tell her she's sexy, and tell her you're not looking for anything serious, just a little fun. Ask her if you can go somewhere quieter, like the back of the club or outside. See if she'll kiss you. Then invite her back to your place. Don't get miffed if she says no. This is one of the reasons women don't want to talk to guys in the first place, because some react really badly when rejected. Just say, oh, no problem, do you want to continue the conversation? If she gives you the you're-a-creep look then smile, thank her for the conversation and walk away. Don't pick girls who are in a big group, because they'll tell all the other girls in the group that you're a creep.
posted by desjardins at 4:38 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's hard to explain how to get that vibe out there in the first place. I've seen it discussed here several times, if you are a decent looking guy and decently self-assured [not like top 1% or anything, just maybe above average] you can often get away with pretty much anything as long as you say it with good nature and grace regardless of what the woman says. i.e. it's okay to be amorous as long as you chill out or back off or whatever seems indicated if your interests aren't returned. So, when I was in college, back in the hippie days, you could

- invite someone back to your room for a backrub, listen to records [oy!] or study together
- intoxicant of choice, though yeah it's a good idea to make sure you're paying attention, a late night drunken romp may or may not be a good idea in today's college setting
- "let's skip class and go back to my dorm room and fuck" was always my favorite proposal that I still kick myself for not accepting. I admire that guy's chutzpah.
- "want to go for a ride on my motorcycle?"
- ridesharing is a good way to get to know someone. I had a car in college and there were a few guys who would somehow need to get back to where I was driving to which means a few hours in the car together. If you have this sort of time together it's easier to establish the "what I'm looking for" "what you're looking for" outlines before anyone's pants come off

Of course there's a range of arrangements between not wanting a committed romantic thing and wanting a series of one night stands. Think a little about what you are going for so you can be clear about that and not just seem anti-dating or whatever it is.
posted by jessamyn at 4:42 PM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Casual sex is awesome if that's what you're looking for. And even speaking from the perspective of a blissfully happy eight-year marriage, I would hardly say that a serious relationship is "better" than casual sex at every point in everyone's life.

So put it out there. Be flirty, go for it, and let people know you're interested in a fling or a friends-with-benefits thing rather than a girlfriend right now. If you're in college, that word will get around.

"Amorous" used in this context generally means "interested in sex" rather than "interested in true love" so I found your wording very confusing at first (I was all, "Well, why don't you want to look like you're interested in sex? That's pretty key to interesting someone else in sex with you!)
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2008


"Would you like to come back to the Casual Sex Cave? It's like the Batcave, only, well, you know."

At parties, I had decent luck with "Wanna make out?" and "Wanna touch my beard?" but the latter only works if you have a beard, I think.

I'll also give the caveat that I never managed to hook up with a girl without it turning into a relationship (which, y'know, I was cool with, but it doesn't sound like that's what you want). Even when I tried to be like, hey babe, let's keep it casual, they were always so cool (and already obviously willing to make out with me!) that I just kept at it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:23 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's another thought: why are you simply looking for casual sex? Sure, it is physically satisfying. But making a real connection is electrifying. Once you've had that kind of connection, a one-night or one-week stand seems insipid and shallow.

Because relationships come with commitments, possible baggage, and a LOSS OF FREEDOM (sexual or otherwise). It is something that should be avoided until you're ready to have children or settle down. Having children and settling down is not a very good idea while you're still in college, you're too young, immature, and broke. OP, sow those wild oats, son. Explore!

As for buying girls a drink, do it tactfully. Let her see you buy the drink, just don't come out of no where with some booze, many young women are concerned about date-rape. And please don't force a drink on her, if she says "no", than don't push it. Guys pushing drinks on women is creepy. I come across so many guys who do this at bars, parties, and clubs. Please don't be that guy.
posted by sixcolors at 5:27 PM on August 25, 2008


objectifying or amorous?

it's college, just show up and the sex will take care of itself. try to wear a condom if at all possible. have fun.
posted by matteo at 5:36 PM on August 25, 2008


As a guy who has had his share of one-night stands, with the understanding that's there's truly no strings attached, let me offer a thought about why it's not so cut and dried and can be damaging to both if you're not really careful.

Jessamyn said it very well above and it's so true - there's a whole range of various sexual options between committed relationship and f**k buddies - it's not one or the other. Communication and specificity is key. Leaving room for ambiguity and interpretation of what "just happened," can be a very bad deal. But I'm going to focus on just getting to the point of having that mutual understanding as, truly, that's the trickiest part of all. For example, every girl on campus is not going to be into casual sex. Forget it. The very suggestion from you that it might be possible with a particular girl could be a moment you might never forget. Yes, believe it or not, life is not like the late movie on HBO. There are many girls who will respond with hurt that you would even think that she is capable of being, "that kind of girl." She will wonder what gave you the idea that she might be. What has she done? Who's saying what about her? Is it something she said? Something she wore?

The bottom line, and this is in itself tricky, you really should have some indication that the girl might be up for your idea before you suggest it. I know, that's hard and brings stereotyping into play, etc. But it's true. To suggest these things otherwise can be very rude, sexist and damaging to some girls who honestly try to maintain some sense of values and hope to project them. When they are asked to be a f**K buddy, many will be deeply hurt, angered and frustrated and blame themselves. When, really, it's you and the selfishness of thinking every young lady on campus is of the same sexual makeup as you and there are somehow just two choices: a) committed relationship and b) NSA sex. There are many shades of gray, many hues of your fantasy and before you start throwing up the "honesty" of what you want - try to think of the other person and, stereotype or not, look for signs that the girl might be up for it, because, surprise(!) not every woman is dying to have you - whether it be a relationship or strings-free sex. Remember feelings can be hurt and it can be easy to offend in the selfish pursuit of an on-call sex partner. Before you start a round-up of 'understandings,' remember your own hand, a little lotion and fantasies can prevent a lot of hurt.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 5:53 PM on August 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


"it's college, just show up and the sex will take care of itself."

Sorry to double-post, but that attitude, right there ^^^^, can get you in a lot of trouble.

Being on a college campus does not entitle you to on-call sex. Somebody's been watching too many movies.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 5:56 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


stereotype or not, look for signs that the girl might be up for it, because, surprise(!) not every woman is dying to have you - whether it be a relationship or strings-free sex.

I don't think that this was what Gerard Sorme meant to suggest, but the syntactical ambiguities of English make me feel like it's important to elucidate this point:

Don't use stereotypes as "signs" that women are interested in casual sex. Short skirts do not necessarily mean that a woman is interested in casual sex. Nor do high heels, push-up bras, makeup, green sleeves (lol medieval), wearing sweatpants with "HOT" on the ass, or any of that other nonsense.

Here are good ways to determine if a woman is interested in casual sex:

A) If you know from your mutual friends or acquaintances that she's had no-strings-flings in the past and enjoyed them, she might be up for something similar with you. Or she might not. But she's unlikely to be offended if you ask.

B) Listen to what she's saying about this stuff in general. People in college often talk about their dating and mating philosophies when they're shooting the breeze with friends.

C) Ask her.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:37 PM on August 25, 2008


I'd like to suggest against buying the girl a drink as a standard move. Starts things off on the wrong foot. No problem buying drinks (you or her) later of course.

Be engaging in a confident manner. Read the signs of interest ― or non-interest. If the light is green go from there. Kissing is good in itself. It can also lead on to other things.


posted by Sitegeist at 6:39 PM on August 25, 2008


I should say that what I meant by C) Ask her was not C) Ask her to have casual sex, but C) Ask her what she thinks about casual sex.

::razzafrazza syntactical ambiguity::
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


- "want to go for a ride on my motorcycle?"

I conducted a super-scientific controlled experiment with this, by buying a motorcycle part way through college. The results were unambiguous in favor of the motorcycle.

You don't even need to offer rides — women will beg for them. (Plan ahead and buy a spare helmet, jacket, and gloves. Don't be that turd who rides in full gear with an unprotected passenger.)

Actually, as Klangklangston suggests, this applies to almost anything that hints of testosterone (eg growing a beard) because most college guys are going a rather different route (jocky frat boys, or gormless nerds, or whatever), and an overtly masculine guy will often stand out more than you might think.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 PM on August 25, 2008


honestly, i think this is one of those things you're going to have to learn by trial and error. certainly we can give you anecdotes, but so much of it depends on the intangibles of chemistry and manner that what worked for one guy will crash and burn with another.

i will say, though, don't be afraid to try, and don't be afraid to fail. college is for learning how to negotiate these things as much as it is for learning shakespeare and physics. at first, you will probably meet girls at parties. this is fine, but be careful and try to look out for the lady as best you can. if she's completely trashed, walk her home and take care of business yourself. then you'll progress to flirting in other arenas, and maybe finding an occasional f*ck buddy to spend a lunch hour with.

at the party, invite the girl specifically to spend the night with you. don't ask her to come back to your place to watch a movie or listen to records--an 18-year-old girl could very easily mistake this for you wanting to get to know each other better in a relationship-sussing-out-way. say, "would you like to spend the night with me?" or "i think it would be a lot of fun if we spent tonight together." or whatever. the point is: you have posed it as a compliment, not a rejection of love. be prepared for some girls to think you are a cad. be prepared to be rewarded by other girls who appreciate your honesty.

chances are, you will be most successful if you are kind and sweet and complimentary and generous. one-night stands can be romantic too. find something about her body to delight in (besides her pussy). maybe it's her bellybutton, a funny freckle, soft skin, a dimple, a curl. you'll win huge points. if you must leave before dawn, leave her a cute note thanking her for making you feel so good. i am sure most girls secretly want their one-night-stands to fall in love with them, but the sting can be minimized greatly by leaving her with a great, ego-boosting memory.

but be smart--do not sleep with her immediate good friends afterward. you'll have to move on to a different group of girls.

and yes, in case it isn't obvious, always have a condom with you and lube back at your place. cheerio!
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:56 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somebody's been watching too many movies.

or maybe somebody's not as insecure and terrified by social interaction as not to understand the difference between the normal consensual sex between willing people that we've all had in high school, college and later in life, AND harassment / date rape. it's really quite sad that someone either has been conditioned to think of his own attraction to women as a shameful sign of depravity ("chauvinist pig"? for being attracted to women? come the fuck on) or that they're so clueless as to how to behave in women's company that they seriously need an instruction book to go to simply go to a party, meet someone there and see how if you click.

movies really have nothing to do with it. attraction between the sexes is perfectly natural, especially at that age; if you're surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people your age, and you're willing to get laid but actually can't, you have a problem bigger than anything askmefi can solve.
posted by matteo at 7:26 PM on August 25, 2008


As for buying girls a drink, do it tactfully. Let her see you buy the drink, just don't come out of no where with some booze, many young women are concerned about date-rape.
posted by sixcolors at 8:27 PM on August 25


I, and all of my friends, will only accept a drink from the bartender's hand. If the total stranger buying the drink hands it to me, I can't take the chance that he didn't drop a roofie in it. Sure, you'd never do that, but she has no way of knowing that. Also, I'm allergic to beer so having a guy send me a beer doesn't win him any points. If you must buy a girl a drink as an intro, then let her (a) feel safe drinking it and (b) choose what she's drinking.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:43 PM on August 25, 2008


(As a college-aged girl;)
Wait for a situation where people are thinking about sex (eg: a party. Don't ask that girl sitting next to you during maths class, unless you have a REALLY GOOD REASON to think that she's thinking about it too. IMO, bringing up sex/"hey you're a chick" in a work/unrelated situation is when it's objectifying.). They don't have to be drinking, but 'can I buy/grab you a drink?' is a good line, even if it's just a softdrink (some girls will offer to get you one in return, but this is highly contextual and can't in general be used as an indicator for how you're doing). It's usually necessary to talk for bit to establish that you're not a lunatic/Republican/whatever she hates. Probably better to get to kissing before suggesting sex, and as thinkingwoman says, go with 'wanna come back to my place?' rather than 'let's watch a movie at mine' to decrease misunderstanding.

Of course, it all depends - one of my friends went to our local meatmarket and brought home a guy who walked up to her and said 'you wanna make out?'.

Also: matteo's an idiot. Not being sure how to hook up nicely is not a huge problem.
posted by jacalata at 7:51 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Backrub" was pretty much understood as an opening in my college days (early 90s). Doesn't mean that there was an assumption of it being code, though...the nice thing about this was that an offer of a backrub was consent to a sort of fairly intimate contact, with the opportunity to see if the chemistry/interest was there. "Ummm, hands?!?!" or otherwise indication of the correct interpretation being "no, really. Backrub is nice. Thanx" were not (in my experience) greeted as some sort of betrayal.
posted by desuetude at 9:35 PM on August 25, 2008


Back in the day, I easily obtained ridiculous amounts of casual sex through a simple formula:

1) Be confident.
2) Gather the IM handles of individuals you're interested in; in person, asking for an IM handle can seem less intrusive than asking for a phone number.
3) Chat them up online. Get to know them. If they're scary or rub you the wrong way, don't proceed any further down this list — go back to step 2.
4) Walk the conversation towards sex. "So, what do you do for fun?" is a great transition question here. People discussing sex online tend to be much more open, and less awkward, about the subject.
5) If they start to openly discuss sexual interests/kinks with you, there's a pretty good chance they'll be receptive to casual sex, especially if actual past sexual experiences come up in the conversation. If they start backing off from the subject, do not push them, as they're most likely not interested; go back to step 2. If your kinks don't match, ditto.
6) You'll begin to get a feeling for when it might be time to flat-out proposition them; I've tended to use vaguer terms such as "fool around" here. If someone gives a flat-out refusal, it's back to step 2. Sometimes you won't get a straightforward acceptance or refusal — some people actually (::gasp::) want to hang out with potential fuck buddies, and it's completely up to you how much you like the person and how much effort you want to put in for "maybe" sex.
7) Always be honest. If someone asks if you're looking for a relationship, say no. (And remember, never lying means always having your story straight.)
8) Have sex! (And of course, use protection!)
9) Don't ignore them afterward; if they're interested in ongoing sex and you're not, be honest about it. If you're interested and they're not, accept it gracefully.

This formula can be something of a "shotgun" approach; don't expect it to work all the time, or even a majority of the time. The more prospects you have lined up, the better your chances.

(And yikes, did I just type "back in the day"? I'm still a couple of months shy of 30, dammit, albeit now married and monogamous.) ^_^
posted by korpios at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


korpios, I love the formula - I may even try using that myself...

Regarding the OP, there's no one way that works for everyone. You've probably heard of things like "The System" or any number of flirting / hooking up books or tips... The first and biggest tip is to be confident - not arrogant - and have fun with the whole thing, no matter what happens or where you are. I personally love swing dancing, and while the crowd isn't the most promiscuous, it's not I pursue it... But after a few dances where you're comfortable with each other, you get a drink, talk in the back corner, go from there... I suspect it would work well with most other forms of dancing - salsa, tango, or most other forms of sensual / passionate dancing...

I propose we MeFi's, in our infinite shared / collective wisdom, devise a codeword / name / number that universally means "I want to take you someone, f*** you, let you stay the night, then wake up with a fun memory; where we go from there is open"... Alternatively, what about a distinctive / colorful / non-tacky symbol that can be worn on a hat, a shirt, a bra, pants, etc....
posted by chrisinseoul at 10:16 PM on August 25, 2008


Some people have referenced this, but "the Game" is a pretty surefire way to lure a lady, drunk or sober, into bed. According to anecdotal evidence, anyways. Your results may vary, void in Tennessee.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss (non-referral link, I promise)
posted by indiewizard at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2008


The bottom line, and this is in itself tricky, you really should have some indication that the girl might be up for your idea before you suggest it. I know, that's hard and brings stereotyping into play, etc. But it's true. To suggest these things otherwise can be very rude, sexist and damaging to some girls who honestly try to maintain some sense of values and hope to project them.

Please don't assume that girls who would be interested in casual sex have no sense of values. Different values, perhaps, but not no values.
posted by shiny blue object at 8:33 AM on August 26, 2008 [4 favorites]



it's college, just show up and the sex will take care of itself. try to wear a condom if at all possible. have fun.


If at all possible?

Are you fucking kidding me? If a condom is not an option, but that dick back in your pants man.
posted by bilabial at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


if you're surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people your age, and you're willing to get laid but actually can't, you have a problem bigger than anything askmefi can solve.

I apologise that we're not all blessed with your perfectly normal social skills, matteo. And may I also say how very happy I am for you that you got lots of sex at college?
posted by chrismear at 2:20 PM on September 1, 2008


« Older smallest digital recoding device   |   My neighbors have poisoned the grass in my yard! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.