too horny for witty headlines
December 9, 2011 8:14 PM   Subscribe

I want to have sex without love but I can't love sex without it.

I guess I'd consider myself fairly sexually inexperienced - I'm a mostly straight female in my late 20s, been with 6 guys, made out with and fooled around with more. With the exception of my one real relationship and maybe a random hookup in the last year, I haven't really gotten off on sex or other forms of hanky panky with anyone, really.

When I was with my ex, I considered myself an intensely sexual person - I wanted it A LOT and when we had it, it was astounding. I'm sure this had to do with our wonderful physical connection but I think it was also that we were incredibly open with each other about what we wanted...which we felt comfortable doing, I think, because we cared a lot about each other.

So, I haven't really dated since him. I tried OkC but I hate it. I get crushes on guys and sometimes something comes of it, sometimes it doesn't. Usually my hookups come from nights out. I guess my social circle is female dominated and stagnating because friends of friends don't really come around. None of these hookups, save one, have really turned me on...and somehow I feel like I need emotions (or to at least be comfortable and feel sexy with these people*) to enjoy sex.

So here's the problem....I don't think I want a relationship right now (well hell maybe I DO want a relationship but have been so disappointed in who I've met that I've given up. Before you say "therapist!" I have one already that I talk to.) But I want to get off without getting into a relationship, for now at least, while I work through things. I also want to expand my sexual horizons (I'm curious about women, I'm curious about threesomes, I'm curious about kink. All these things are things I fantasize about but feel too shy to do. And uncomfortable bringing up to the rest of my circle. Plus, again, would I really enjoy this stuff without emotions? (yes, I know communication is important, and I do that...but most people at least enjoy the physical connection before the really intricate stuff starts happening, no?))

So basically, if you recognize yourself in me and somehow went from being a curious but shy, repressed flower, to a full blown lust goddess who *enjoyed* sex for sex's sake...how did you do it? Do you have tips? Self affirmations? Toy suggestions? I recently broke out of a VERY long self imposed dry spell...the fire is stoked but apparently can't be quenched. Please....help a girl out!

*if that parenthetical reads "esteem issues!" to you, then you're spot on...I generally get attention but feel like a lie has been exposed when the clothes come off...I feel like I know how to "dress skinnier" than I am. Working on it, see aforementioned therapist.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm male, but that sounds awfully familiar.

I thought I wanted to enjoy unattached sex more, but I think I'm just not terribly wired that way. Perhaps the same is you? There are a lot of approaches to sexuality that I have zero issue with other people doing (you know, all the consensual ones), but not all of them work for everyone. That's OK.

As for exploring the things I wanted to... it was all about finding the right partners. And a lot of that is luck. But... there are thoroughly awesome people out there! Really!
posted by flaterik at 8:21 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


do you masturbate? that is step one to figuring out what you enjoy w/ sex.

can you go out for drinks one on one w/ one of your mostly female-friends, get kinda tipsy, then disclose a little about what you're into? one-on-one, and a little tipsy, you might find that you're not so alone.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:27 PM on December 9, 2011


I am no expert at all in such matters, and I am still a shy repressed flower just as you are, but I once came across a book that contains tips about how to envision yourself in a more sexual way. It's called Barefoot Doctor's Handbook for Modern Lovers
The part that I remembered was a saying a daily mantra of "I am sexy" while imagining sexual energy traveling up and down your legs, or something like that. I think the point is to develop more awareness of your own sexuality and possibly be able to summon that whenever you want to.
Might help you, I dunno.
posted by costanza at 8:29 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm like that, but I didn't get that way, I just AM that way. If the sex is good I start getting attached. I think different people just need more trust before they can do X, where X is "meet in-laws" or "spend the night" or "get kinky".

Some friend groups are all about friend-sex, in a great feminist sex-positive and usually queer way, but I don't know how to advise you to find that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It sounds more like, to me, that you want experiences, not lack of emotion. See, when I read this:

somehow I feel like I need emotions (or to at least be comfortable and feel sexy with these people*) to enjoy sex

I think, that sounds really reasonable to me, why would you want to short-circuit that? Of course being comfortable with someone helps you enjoy sex with them! Sex is just scratching an itch on one level, but sex is profoundly intimate on another level, and those levels co-exist in every encounter.

I found casual sex to be less exciting overall than the fantasy or the anticipation of casual sex. Back in the day, I hooked up quickly because I wanted the experience, I wanted to buck expectations, I wanted the thrill of the possible connection clicking (sexual, friendly, or deeper), and I wanted not to bother with all the dating bullshit (does s/he like me? will s/he call me?) without knowing if the sexual spark was there or not.

But to be honest, many of my experiences happened when I had lowered inhibitions - usually, drinking - or with people I was already friends with. I guess partly my motivation was doing things so I could look back and say I did them - I sort of figured that I'd rather do and regret, than not do and regret not trying? I should say I think it's better that I went out and had the experiences that I did, overall - it's hard for me to be dissatisfied with monogamy now, because I know the grass is pretty assuredly not greener than what I have.

So if you want to acquire experiences, I wouldn't feel that you have to divorce emotion from it, even casually - I think that's the wrong way to look at it, and truly it seems... joyless, when sex should be joyous, to me. I would however examine if your emotional aspect is partially - faked is not the word I want here, perhaps more like overblown? or made to be more than it is? Because here's my theory - casual hooking up still has the "slut" connotation for women. So it's easier if you want to casually hook up if you've worked yourself up into well I really like him so it's okay to go for it. I'm sorry to say, some men are not very nice to women who hook up with them "too easily"; once you've realized this, whether consciously or unconsciously, then it's harder to lose your inhibitions and take that risk. "Emotion" is justification; "emotion" is security. But trying to gin up "emotion" so you can scratch your horny can make you overlook warning signs that it's not going to go well.

To be comfortable with hooking up you have to do it on your terms because you really want to and only when you want to. So listen to your internal tiny warning cues that someone may likely be a jerk (while or after fucking them), and walk away from that chance as soon as it feels a little off - don't feel like you have to pursue it just because they're ostensibly interested or "you led them on". Be open to anything that looks good, be open to all situations presenting themselves, but don't pursue something just because it's the only thing available even if it doesn't feel quite right.

In casual hooking up I enjoyed most the guys that I *liked*... I don't mean emotional crushing, I mean friendly likable. After ending up with arrogant jerks a couple times, I realized that took all the joy out of it, but likable guys were usually appreciative of a hookup and that made me feel comfortable doing it - even if it didn't end up being great sex, I knew they had a good time and they didn't take me for granted, so I could come out the other side feeling all right with the whole experience. And when it was great sex, it was easy to explore further, sexually and/or emotionally, with that out of the way.

Basically, in pursuing sexual experience, think of yourself as someone sharing something randomly awesome and special with this lucky person (or people), impulsively jumping into something exciting together to see what happens - anything could happen! - and avoid those who would think of you or treat you as a target to score and dump. And I have to say, experience itself makes you confident in further experiences, so you kind of have to hold your nose and jump in when you're starting out. (Cf. the drinking for the purpose of lowered inhibitions, above - not that I am advising you do so, I'm just saying, that was probably my way of holding my nose and jumping in when I would have otherwise found myself overthinking it all instead of enjoying my impulses.)
posted by flex at 9:34 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


IANAW but personally i think sex with *like* is great. with "friends with benefits" a key part of the equation is "friends". in some scenarios the "friends" part of the equation tends to grow out of an ongoing sexual relationship - the friendship comes naturally out of the "benifits" part of the equation. not to be crass, but waiting till date/meetup #2+ seems to help emphasize the ongoing personal connection with a lot of men. you meet someone you don't envision a permanent connection with, but you enjoy their company. sex ensues, and an intimate but probably-not-permanent relationship develops of it's own accord.

sometimes you have to make it through some not-so-optimal dating/lovin experiences to find those connections. this is an unavoidable part of dating. in your case you can easily make it about your expectations/demands. as a woman, if you work your girl-game, you can probably expect to call the shots in most of your encounters - there are plenty of guys who would only be too happy to fool around with you, and who will acquiesce to your idea of what the relationship should be like.
posted by messiahwannabe at 10:25 PM on December 9, 2011


I found casual sex to be less exciting overall than the fantasy or the anticipation of casual sex.

This. Not everyone is wired to enjoy casual sex, or can separate sex and emotions. It never worked for me, whereas relationship sex works great. If that is really the way you are (and I think the only way to know is to try it all out), then I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense to try and change such a fundamental aspect of your sexuality. It would be better to find ways to work with it, like FWB situations where the friendship came first and was very solid, or a relationship with an open component, or even just enjoying the intensity of your fantasies combined with non-casual sex.
posted by Forktine at 6:22 AM on December 10, 2011


Hi me! I think I am very much like you so allow me to give advice based on my own experiences. I, too, infinitely prefer sex when it comes in a loving, committed relationship. Like you, I am also on a break from having one of those until I sort myself out (this is in the wake of an incredibly acrimonious divorce from a man who was not at all my sexual type (I was young, dumb and idealistic and, bad as it was, still enjoyed it with him because I loved him nonetheless)).

Anyway, I ran an experiment over the course of the last year of being single. I have slept with a ridiculously large amount of men in that period. I find that I DO need an emotional connection in order to enjoy it. Strictly casual (one night or a few) does zero for me at all. I believe it is a wiring thing, as others have suggested. But I cannot have casual no-strings attached sex with someone I could envision myself being with in the long term. That just leads to heartbreak on one or both sides. Those were my first forays and they were just really mindfuck-y for both parties.

What have I discovered for myself, and your mileage may vary of course, is that it works well to meet someone that you could never see yourself with long term but you who like and respect all the same who you can have an ongoing thing with.

So, seeing that, I have taken to establishing friendships with either men whose worldviews are very different from mine but are still intriguing (professional artists fit this bill neatly for me) or are much, much younger than I am. I prefer the latter type as I can find the sort of mind I am generally attracted to but, being in my early 30s, I could never envision myself falling in love with a 22 year old. The added bonus to this dynamic is that the men tend to be very sweet, not jaded at all, but they are also very open to having something impermanent with an older woman while maintaining a respectful and friendly vibe. Aaaaaaaaaand they tend to be amazing in bed once you teach them a few tricks. I'd say I even have love for the ones I've been with but since we are both very clear about it going nowhere, there is no hurt to be found. By the by, I like to have that conversation on the third date, which is also generally when I first initiate sex. I find that men do tend to disrespect a woman who wants a casual relationship who sleeps with them right away. There must be exceptions to this, but I do think that's wiring as well. In any case, honesty and laying the cards out on the table early as to what you want is very key.

That's my solution. I am sure you can find one for yourself with a bit of self reflection.
posted by telomere at 7:30 AM on December 10, 2011


Casual sex or FWB when you're wired for an emotional response is a catch-22. If the sex is good, it's necessarily going to trigger that emotional response, otherwise you wouldn't consider it good sex. If the sex is bad, why would you want to do it again? So to have truly NSA sex it has to be mediocre. Bleh.
posted by desjardins at 7:56 AM on December 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing with enjoying sex for sex's sake is that it really really helps if it's good sex, and the chances that you'll have instantly good casual sex with people you've just met, and on a regular basis, are even lower than the chances that you'll regularly meet people with whom you share mutual attraction and chemistry.

Sex with emotions is often better not because it's inherently better to have emotions, but because the presence of emotions motivates the people involved to be good lovers to each other, or because the presence of good sex right away motivates people to develop emotions towards one other.

Are there tips to maximize the chances that casual sex will be good? I guess so. These are some things that come to mind:

-Get good at getting off in different ways and from different things - masturbating differently can help with that.
-Be really strict about only having casual sex with men to whom you are genuinely physically attracted.
-Get good at communicating with men during sex about how to make the sex mutually pleasurable, and at pleasuring yourself/masturbating during sex with a partner
-Educate yourself and make choices to help make sure you're really psychologically relaxed about the risks of pregnancy and stds (i.e., always use condoms and get on a super super reliable form of birth control).
-Don't compare every sexual encounter against your best sexual encounters, but enjoy each one for its own sake.
-Be strict about only having casual sex with men whom you think will behave like decent people not only during but after. But don't beat yourself up or have regrets if you make a mistake, the whole thing with casual sex is that you *don't* really know the other person.
-Don't judge the enjoyability of a sexual encounter by whether or not he calls the next day, i.e., try to take your ego out of it.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Agreeing 100% with Flaterik: Casual sex just isn't fun for me, no matter how much I wanted it to be in the past. You can't force what turns you on.

Find the right partner who wants to explore with you, and you'll be set.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:21 AM on December 10, 2011


*if that parenthetical reads "esteem issues!" to you, then you're spot on...I generally get attention but feel like a lie has been exposed when the clothes come off...I feel like I know how to "dress skinnier" than I am. Working on it, see aforementioned therapist.

I know this was an aside, but I wanted to address it. I'm coming at this from the position of a somewhat-larger bisexual woman.

First, if you aren't using shape-altering undergarments (like corsets or spanx or add-a-cup-size push up bras), you're probably not "fooling" anyone. Most people with any experience with women's bodies understand that breasts don't levitate when you take a bra off, and that hips and butts and bellies look somewhat different out of jeans than in them, and that generally naked bodies have folds and ripples and dents. This is true even for "skinny" women, by the way.

Second, on the other hand, this is costing you unnecessary psychic cycles. I'm going to suggest that you think about what it would take to stop "dressing skinny". I don't mean stop dressing attractively, but start dressing attractively in a way that clearly advertises what you consider to be your true body shape. I will admit I get a strong sense of security from knowing that my husband first met and was attracted to me when I was wearing a dress that left very little to the imagination.

I don't mean that you have to wear skin-tight sheaths all the time, but that there's a certain amount of "you get what you fish for" going on. If you feel like you're "fishing" for people who are attracted to a body type different from yours, you're always going to feel like you've "caught" people who are attracted to a body type different from yours, even if that's not true.

And even if you think there are more people out there who are attracted to your "fake" body than your "real" body (which may or may not be true, and I think it's actually pretty hard to evaluate), wouldn't you rather be with one person who thinks you are Hotness Incarnate than 20 who you suspect are disappointed? (Adjust numbers according to your predilections, which I realize is what this post is mostly about.)
posted by endless_forms at 12:41 PM on December 10, 2011


I guess in terms of exploring other sexual aspects of myself, its best done with a compatible sex partner who is also curious.

I think you might find it valuable to masturbate a LOT more. There's a whole internet out there, with a whole lot of sex blogs and erotica to read. Fantasize yourself a stable of compatible sex partners to explore how you feel about various sexual aspects of yourself.
posted by desuetude at 12:41 PM on December 10, 2011


Oh, hi! You're me! Or, you're the me of a couple of years ago. Except I still haven't quite figured out how to have sex without getting at least a little bit attached. I'm actually in kind of a complicated situation right now -- it was supposed to remain a nice, fun, just-sex thing, since the other party isn't exactly free to be with me if you know what I mean. And oops, we both got emotionally attached.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'll MeMail you.
posted by palomar at 1:02 PM on December 10, 2011


FetLife.com. You can expand your "circle" to include people who think more like you, who can be friends with benefits, or more, if that's what you want. Go to the local kink events in your town and socialize. It's fun and not awkward when you're talking to people who are there for the exact same reasons as you.

You can have friendships based on sex and explore and experience to your heart's content without getting all attached. I've been involved in some pretty spectacularly fun threesomes thanks to that site.

Oh, and, Hitachi Magic Wand. The ONLY vibrator you need to spend your money on. Find someone (or several someones) from Fetlife to help you find all the exciting ways you can use it!
posted by thrasher at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2011


Like many other people on here, I've been having the same exact problem lately! I've recently come to suspect that this is this problem:

Usually my hookups come from nights out.

You too, huh? And I also basically hate OkC. I decided I hated one night stands, because they were never good and I thought the reason had to do with my emotions. I still think that's a large part of it, but there's more. Basically, many of the dudes you meet and hook up with from bars and OKC just aren't gonna be that great. Not be captain obvious here, but one night stands are unsatisfying for a variety of logistical reasons. First of all, you're probably both drunk. This never helps. Second, you don't know each other, so you don't know what the other person's gonna do, what they like, they don't know what you like, etc. Third, a guy you meet at a bar most often won't give a shit how the experience is for you. They're in it for them. (Okay, fine, there are exceptions but the vast majority don't give a shit. That's why they're trolling for ass in a bar.) And that's why relationship sex is good- beyond the emotional aspect, they are also getting to know your needs/ wants and have a vested interest in keeping you pleased sexually.

So anyway, where are the exceptions? Here's the story of one I found. I had this new friend, and we were hanging out after I had basically sworn off one night stands for the above reasons. He seemed pretty cool but he was into things I wasn't so into- kink, polyamory, etc. Of course, I still wanted to be friends with him, but when he expressed an interest in sleeping with me I basically told him thanks, but not gonna happen. Anyway, after a night of drinking (and, okay, tripping on shrooms but they were pretty mild so I'm not sure how related that is) I started reconsidering and ended up sleeping with him. And uh, it was fantastic.

Afterwards I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I don't actually think it's a coincidence that he's an enthusiastic member of the kink community. Based on my experience with him and other friends I have who are part of the kink community (which, that sounds weird but I live in a big city and they throw parties and stuff!) they just seem to generally be more open, respectful, permission-asking, and INTERESTED IN PLEASING THEIR PARTNER than the bar hookups are gonna be. I felt safe with this guy and respected by him- when I originally told him I didn't want to hook up with him, he was perfectly fine with it and didn't bring it up again. (Until we started making out several hours later, and he very nicely and respectfully asked if I wanted to take it further, which by then I did.) And he turned out to be really good at sex. He knew what he was doing and he was actually interested in how it was for me. All these factors added up to make a huge difference, I really couldn't believe how great it was. (Everything I previously believed about one night stands, proved to be false!!!) You just have to find the right person. Based on my experience, I highly recommend meeting some people in the kink community and just making friends with some of them. Tell them what you told us- you're curious about this and that, but taking it slow. Don't be intimidated, they're extremely (IME) welcoming and nice to newcomers. And even if you turn out not to be that kinky, it's no big deal. My kinkster friend is more than happy to have boring, vanilla sex with me whenever. (also of note- I did not meet this dude in a bar, I met him through mutual friends/ interests. i think that matters.)

tl;dr- stop going home with men you meet at bars, explore the kink community for new friends if nothing else, and if all else fails, well, maybe it was just the shrooms. try that. (just kidding. unless you're into it. my top two one night stands of all time involved shrooms and MDMA, respectively. maybe not a coincidence? Aside from the enhancement from the drugs themselves, I have a theory that people who like the touchy-feely drugs just tend to be more generally in tune with the tactile experience and therefore better at sex . . . whereas alcohol is numbing and clumsy . . . ok i'm done now. good luck!
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 5:25 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er, I also feel it might be worth adding the data point that my current amazing relationship started with a pretty random hookup while both of us were attempting to do what you are now. It just turned out we both really, really liked each other and couldn't not keep seeing each other.

So I definitely can't say "avoid random hookups", because they can turn into awesome. But also don't like that them not being your favorite thing in the world is anything wrong with you.
posted by flaterik at 9:22 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm convinced that for at least some an ability to get down with casual sex can be developed as if it were a skill. From my own experience I was never really interested in casual sex but had a bad break up, figured what the hell, and enjoyed it, then again I'm still dating the first person I tried it with a year later so YMMV.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:45 AM on December 11, 2011


I don't think you're either wired for it or not; it's definitely got more shades of gray to it than that, for me! I agree Blasdelb's comment that it can be developed as a skill; but it requires a lot of reframing of the societal ideas we absorb, and how we approach sexuality, and unpacking how other people treat our expressions of sexuality (this is especially true for women I think). This internal work probably goes beyond many people's comfort level, and that's okay.

Because sex is an intimate bodily act, because sex is usually very much wrapped up in our self-images and the societal messages we receive, and it can easily touch these very primal impulses within ourselves that we don't even fully understand, I think it's important to be careful with ourselves as we explore - but I don't think that means we should hang back from being open to the opportunities that fall in our path, to make connections with other people whether simply sexual or beyond that. They are learning experiences. (I felt having a lot of experience was worth the risk for its own sake. But it also meant that when I met my husband I could truly know he was "it" for me. And I was so glad he'd had a lot of experience as well - I could believe him when he said I was "it" for him as well; he'd done plenty, he knew what he wanted. I truly felt he chose me, rather than settled for me - that is a great feeling. Much better, I felt, than a relationship where one or both partners are sort of pining for all the fantasies they never got to try, and feel trapped that they never will!)

Again I don't think there needs to be love - but I think affection (even fleeting) and likability is a really helpful part of successful casual encounters, and on my part that requires some emotional investment in the other person (again, even if it's only for a short time). I think this is tricky in the specific instance if you're looking for rougher and/or more intense sex, since that tends to require some negotiation of boundaries even within relationships; the men that will behave this way right away are sometimes not very respectful of the women they have sex with - it requires some sussing out on your part to make sure it's not hot in the moment but leaves you feeling used the next day. And more respectful men that would be interested in this sort of thing usually want some small measure of trust built up first, which takes multiple encounters. I'm not saying it can't be done - just, it's trickier in my experience. Anyway, you won't learn the (heh) lay of the land without jumping in.

As anecdata, two of my best lovers came from impulsive hookups (and were hot, enjoyable, and affectionate short-term relationships - that we knew had no future, and that was okay). And I hooked up with my husband the first time I met him. Although I will point out in all these cases, the sex was hotter after a few encounters, not the first time so much. That's part of what I meant when I said I found casual sex to be less exciting overall than the fantasy or the anticipation of casual sex. I too felt at one point in my life that it was overreaching to assume I could find almost everything I wanted - physically, sexually, emotionally compatible AND have that spark - in only one person. So I left myself open to experience whatever came my way. I learned a lot - and then I met him; an incredible surprise.

So I hope you don't feel discouraged. These things you're curious about - if you keep an open mind and a level head, if you're protective of yourself so you feel okay with it as you come out the other side of the experience - I think you can safely explore them, not so much without "emotion" but without too deep an investment on your part. I'd actually posit that threesomes and kink in particular can sometimes be easier to explore without a deep emotional investment entangled up in them.
posted by flex at 12:24 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Momma always said not to stick things in your eyes...   |   How to avoid traffic in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.