How do I relax and just get laid, rather than obsessing over it?
April 25, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I want to have more sex, but I don't want to get hung up about it. How do I stop obsessing about (not) getting any?

Brief history: mostly straight, early twenties male, recently left university and now in the world of work, history of depression. Mostly happy.

I had a few crushes at school, but nothing I acted on until I arrived at university. A protracted courtship led to a very fulfilling, very intense, very sexual, often tumultuous three-year relationship with a beautiful, wonderful girl, which ended four months ago on amicable terms.

That was my first kiss, first relationship, first sex. It was quite a journey. I like to think I'm now quite sexually well-adjusted; that I've 'caught up' with my peers who were having sex earlier than I did.

Except for one detail: whenever I hear about others' sexual escapades, particularly when they're unexpected (e.g. chaste-seeming acquaintance turns out to be very sexually experienced), I feel deeply jealous. It only lasts a few minutes, in which time I realise that my response is irrational, that sex isn't a game to be played for points against others.

Still, I think it's an indicator of something deep-seated that isn't right. Part of me feels left behind in the sexual scene. Only having had one sex partner doesn't help: I don't really have any experience of getting sex! I don't have the social mores by which people charm strangers into their beds, because the only sex I've had has been in the context of a long courtship in a committed relationship.

This tends to lead me to read about how to have more sex. Which, of course, is a dead end, because there is no line you cross after which you know everything about a subject. It's also a road that leads to all sorts of skeevy PUA material, some of which is fine (dress well, be confident, make eye contact) but a lot of which is awful. Flirting and fucking are universals, and reading more about them is probably like reading books about jogging without actually going for a damn run. For me, I suspect, it's an excuse not to be bold. Partly, the obsession over method is a belief on my part that people seem to just walk into sex, and that as that doesn't happen to me, I need to up my game.

My two (related) questions:

How do I negotiate having more sex? (specifically, without convincing myself there's some routine I need to learn, or some body language trick I should read about, or some weightlifting routine I should do first), and

How do I not be hung up about how much sex everyone else is having? That nagging feeling that I'm being left behind is still there. I'd rather just be flirty and have fun and see if sex comes my way, rather than be ruthlessly goal-oriented and feel I need to increase my 'number' for the sake of it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

I think the bigger question is: do you want more casual, one-night sex, or do you want more meaningful relationships with the possibility of developing into sex?

From your question, I'm going to assume it's the former. In that case, just start going out to bars/clubs and go home with the willing.

However, I think that this will still feel empty to you. Instead of concentrating so much on sex (which really is just due to inexperience), start focusing on meeting new people that you have things in common with. Once you start just having fun with people without the pressure of sex, that obsession will fade because you start focusing more on relationships. And hey, some of those new people might turn into sexual partners.

The other thing: quit hanging out with the kind of "bros" that only talk about their sexual encounters. That really is not an attractive mentality to women and it is not something I would recommend emulating.
posted by Eicats at 2:07 PM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

p.s. the kind of partner you want will appreciate that you haven't bedded a hundred women. Go with your gut and just "be flirty and have fun and see if sex comes my way". And remember that even if some guy says he's having sex with someone new everynight, it doesn't mean that it's TRUE. Really. Don't get caught up in comparisons.

Ok. I'm done now!
posted by Eicats at 2:10 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I need to up my game.

If you are a single guy, there are adult and hookup sites where you could presumably find sex partners. The odds are against you, but if you do not take stuff personally, you will end up in bed with people for NSA encounters.

If that is unpalatable to you (as it would be to me) then the only thing for it is to get out there and ask people out for dates and learn what works and what does not work, interpersonally.
posted by Danf at 2:35 PM on April 25, 2012

specifically, without convincing myself there's some routine I need to learn, or some body language trick I should read about, or some weightlifting routine I should do first

You are right- there isn't. It depends what sex means to you. Mostly anyone can have sex if they want to- you can pay for it.

Good for you for thinking PUA is skeevy, because it is and I'm guessing women can see right through it when you're trying those tactic. Second Danf for getting out there and asking for dates. You also don't need to "increase [your] 'number'" or be "ruthlessly goal-oriented"-- no one is keeping track except for you and no one will know unless you tell them.

As for the people who tell you how much sex they are having-- that's kind of weird and I believe it only appears that everyone is having sex because the people who aren't, aren't talking about it.
posted by ichomp at 2:42 PM on April 25, 2012

Other people can chime in with how to get happy, safe one-night stands, but that's not really my area of expertise. However, I will say, it sounds like you're an excellent candidate for the friends-with-benefits scenario that a close circle of safe, sex-positive friends that you like and respect could give you. As someone who is fortunate enough to have fallen into that by good fortunate and good taste and a healthy dose of luck, here's what I can tell you: make friends with a lot of people you like and respect. Look for sex-positive folks-- for me, that meant running in circles with a lot of people in open relationships, feminists, queer- and queer-friendly folks (which, admittedly, because I am so sociologically inclined, is where I would be anyway.) These people, on average, are probably a bit more open to the idea of fooling around with a friend or two-- but that's not true for everybody so take it on a case-by-case basis. Be open about what you want, be safe, be respectful, and don't play head-games. Friends first, fuck-buddies second. Understand that not everyone will be compatible; it doesn't diminish your friendship.

This is, of course, assuming you're comfortable viewing sexual activity as a 'fun and friendly' activity rather a romantic, committed one. If not, there's not a damn thing wrong with that, so feel free to just ignore me.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:44 PM on April 25, 2012

A perhaps more pertinent question is: what, specifically, are you looking for in the act of sex? Better technique? Better practice for acquiring it so you can get better relationships? Your male friends to accept you as one of the macho types? What are you looking for? It will be much easier to advise you if we know the root cause of your concern.
posted by corb at 2:45 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoa! You totally shouldn't feel jealous or inadequate. Your "number" really shouldn't be a concern-- it's useless. Quantity is completely unrelated to quality in this area.

1) A lot of people embellish their "unexpected" sexcapades. That doesn't mean they're not having as much sex as they say, but they might be leaving out details that make the situation seem a lot more awkward than they are saying it is.

2) In college, easy pick-ups happen by going to loud, dark, sometimes skeevy parties, dancing, making eye contact with a desired sex partner, and leaving together. Outside of college, you can replicate this situation in bars and clubs. Don't force yourself on women, obviously, just learn to dance and get good at making flirtatious eye contact.

3) You should be having as much sex as you want to be having. For many people that means "a lot!" but not necessarily with a bunch of random strangers, you know? If you're looking for emotional intimacy too, ask women out, go on dates. Be yourself and learn what works for you.

4) Random hook-up sex/spontaneous unexpected sex can have its downsides. Risk of STDs, uncommunicated boundaries, ... stalkers. I don't mean to scare you, but people who have these kinds of encounters have calculated the risk already, and so if you have hang-ups about any of this it might seem more difficult to have fluid, seamless, casual sex encounters.

I'm kind of wondering who your crowd is, because bragging about sexual encounters can be good, clean (well, dirty) fun, or it can be kind of douchey. Don't let it get to you!
posted by stoneandstar at 2:45 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

> a dead end

I disagree! I read the guide to flirting (and a lot of threads about relationships and dating) and I think it's helped me learn to employ awareness & sensitivity I was already capable of (instead of obsessively overthinking).
posted by morganw at 4:38 PM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could be... just about everybody who doesn't have regular access to fulfilling sex, which is many many millions and millions of people, INCLUDING those who brag about charming people into their beds for amusing-anecdote-making escapades, and those in long-term relationships, and those who would kill to have had the kind of relationship you had with your ex. I've had looooong periods of celibacy during which I could still tell stories to make your toes curl. Anyone who was jealous was wasting their energy, as was anyone who was feeling superior to me. In terms of "experience," I know I score lower on some online "purity tests" than many of my friends would, but I've done, fantasized about, and would be willing to do in the future, things that those tests never even thought to measure. I also have friends who are widely viewed as wild sex-getting gods/goddesses but are actually unable to orgasm with partners and/or uncaring about their partners' sexual pleasure -- or whose partners were one or both of those ways. Does that make me sexier, or more enviable, than they are? Or vice versa? Of course not! It's all a crazy, totally individual continuum that is, honestly, immeasurable and irrelevant.

My advice is to stop reading whatever it is that you're reading. No seriously, STOP. It's past the point of helping you. Keeping getting out in the world and meeting and talking to and flirting with and dating people. Some of them will want to have sex in general, and some of them will want to have sex with you specifically (note: these groups may or may not overlap). There will be awkwardness and rejection and adrenalin rushes and ecstasy and heartbreak and hot sex and terrible sex and the whole human condition.

There will always ALWAYS be people who have (and/or appear to have) more/kinkier/faster/"easier"/better sex than you have, even acquaintances who seem "chaste." And there will always be people whose sex lives you envy who are not exactly telling you the full story. You can only be you. It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to want more. It's okay to masturbate like crazy. What's not okay is to think that you have some deficiency, or that there's some magic "get laid" strategy that you just haven't picked up on. It sounds like you have had some awesome and valuable sexual (and romantic) experiences, and I bet you are great to date, hang out with, and fuck. Play your own game. I promise you, no one else is paying any attention and there ain't no leaderboard in the sky. (Even if there were, I doubt Pauly D or would be higher up than Paul ""Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?" Newman was... but regardless, who am I or you to know??)
posted by argonauta at 4:42 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Disclaimer: IANAPUA, this is not seduction advice.

1. Move to a large city, if you haven't already. I've done most of my sluttery in Boston and New York, but I assume this method with work wherever there's a big enough dating pool. Make sure your apartment is clean (even if its crappy) and that you have fresh sheets on the bed. Same goes for your clothes. Don't worry about being cool, just avoid anything embarrassing.

2. Start an OkCupid account. Answer as many questions as you can. Answer them honestly, but lean towards permissiveness when in doubt. Get some recent and attractive photos. Have AskMe take a look at your profile to work on it. In general: your profile should be a collection of conversation starters. These are my tips for writing a good profile and there are other great suggestions in both of these threads. I'm going to specifically re-emphasize this: talk about food -- its sensual even a little erotic without being explicit.

List yourself as bisexual -- the point of this is to have a broad range of new, potentially mind-expanding experiences, and the only women you alienate are not going to be fun to sleep with anyways.

Don't put yourself down for "casual sex;" that's for experts and creeps. "Short-term dating" is what you are looking for.

Be varied with your age range. I list my top as 40 but my oldest partner actually is that age currently, so it would be a little insulting of me to not put that. Going to bars is a big part of this strategy, so I'd suggest a range of 21-35.

3. Write to a lot of people. A lot of people. Like, 30 a week. Write something short but original: just as you put hooks in your profile, your target partners ideally have done the same. Don't write to them about their favorite books and movies unless there's literally nothing else to talk about; try to make a joke about something interesting in their profile. It doesn't have to be deep, it just has to be enough to get them to smile while looking at your profile.

ACTUAL MESSAGE I HAVE SENT: "From behind, your dog looks sort of like a wombat."

Don't say hi or introduce yourself. I don't know why, but I got noticeably more responses when I stopped doing that in the first message.

When I say "write to a lot of people", I mean a diverse range, too. Write to older people, people of different races and backgrounds, people with different body types. Write to women and men and trans* people and genderqueer people. Write to kinky people, swingers, and furries. Again, if you're trying to have lots of sex, you might as well have lots of different kinds of sex.

4. On the third message-response volley, ask the person out. Everyone is on there to meet in person; don't dick around any longer than you have to. If they haven't introduced themselves by name yet, you should add "I'm name, by the way" to this message.

Plan to meet them at a bar. Try to get them to suggest somewhere to go -- my bar-powered hookups have almost entirely been at places the other person has suggested, or places we've stumbled into after hanging out for a while. I have no idea why this is the case; maybe they feel more comfortable that way?

5. It will probably take about a week between confirmation and the date itself. Keep the OkCupid process going. Its can be grim and dehumanizing if you're not careful, but this process is sort of like an assembly line -- if you stop now and wait until after the date to start up again, it can be weeks until have another one. Keep up your momentum.

Also, if you're new at being a slut, this will help prevent you from forming unhealthy attachments. Love is great and sex is great but they're not the same thing, and part of this journey you're embarking on is learning the difference. Keep up your messaging pace until you are definitely committing to someone.

6. The date itself. I can't really help you much here. Be confident but not boastful. Listen more than you talk. Platitude platitude platitude. Get pretty buzzed but not drunk -- hookup won't be any fun if you go soft or the room is spinning. If you come back from the bathroom and your date is being chatted up by some other guy, be as friendly and smiley and polite as you can as you stare daggers into your rival's eyes. (This doesn't happen too often, and if your date is going well it won't be a big deal.)

This isn't mandatory, but its less awkward if you make out at the bar and then decide to go back to your/her place. I've done it the other way 'round before and its worked out fine, but YMMV.

7. Bonin'. Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment! Some of the most important sex you'll have will be with random hookups. Use protection, obviously. You do not want to deal with the dread of a random unprotected hookup followed by weeks of waiting for STI screening results to come back.

8. Stay the night. Have sex again in the morning if you can. Ideally you should have their full name and phone number at this point. Don't facebook them right away; wait until they've cemented themselves into your life before you do that. Text them saying you had a great time and look forward to seeing them again, and so forth.

Again, I remind you to keep the OkCupid process going. During my last "single" period, I messaged probably a hundred people, went out with a quarter of them, slept with a quarter of them, and eventually found one person that I made a strong enough mutual connection to actually date.

In conclusion, following my advice will not make you happy, and there's no guarantee that you'll even feel like you're having "enough sex" if you're getting laid every night. However, if you approach this with an open mind, you can learn a lot about yourself and the world around you -- I call this "education through fornication" -- and you will have life-altering and mind-expanding experiences if you are open to them.

Go get 'em, tiger!
posted by modernserf at 7:47 PM on April 25, 2012 [17 favorites]

Oh, and feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions.
posted by modernserf at 7:48 PM on April 25, 2012

Hi! Are you me? Because that's more or less what happened except the amicable terms was an amicable divorce, but the rest sounds spot on.

Let me offer a few suggestions. Be honest with yourself and decide what you really like. What is it that really floats your boat? Look for that. For me personally, it took too long for me to be clear with myself that I like curvy brunettes, having grown up in a culture that favors the skinny blonde. Once I got that into my head, life got way easier. Next, don't hit on waitresses. Waste of time. Next, do what you love outside of work or spend some time finding that. Then see if you share interests with people. When I met Mrs. Plinth, I was doing molding and casting for fun because I liked making things. Turns out that she worked in plastics doing design for manufacture. Next, hit up bars if you want to, but they're bars, OK? If it's not you, look elsewhere. If you're not into the shallow, don't look to the shallow. This is really the same as the first point: unto thine own self be true.

Oh and be prepared to be surprised. Yes, I know that doesn't look like it even parses. Trust me.
posted by plinth at 8:31 PM on April 25, 2012

One way you could think about it is to remember that your sex life was amazing with one person, in a depth-vs.-breadth way. This comes up in AskMe answers all the time, but some people just aren't wired for the casual hook ups despite the way culture currently makes it seem we're all supposed to be like that. Maybe exploring using the advice others here give you will help you venture into the world of casual sex/the numbers game only to remind you it isn't your bag. It definitely wasn't mine, or other folks on Mefi's...there's a lot to be said for having an incredibly intimate one-on-one sexual relationship that a thousand one night stands could never take the place of. So maybe focus on that? All the things you'd want to explore in a trusting deep relationship maybe? It's sort of what happened to me, and when people brag about how many tipsy hook ups they've had I just smile a secret smile and try to indulge them while knowing inside I have an awesome but private sex life.
posted by ifjuly at 8:31 AM on April 26, 2012

posted by spacefire at 6:21 PM on April 26, 2012

if you do not take stuff personally

This many times over. There's sufficient good advice here on how to present yourself to people who want to sleep around; but I'd emphasize that it's essential to your well-being to not take things too personally when you don't get what you want sexually. Owning your sexual needs and pursuing them in the world is a complicated and risky task. Like any risk-taking in life, there are a lot of ways things can turn out against you each time you try, and you must not internalize every disappointment as a personal failing.

(Much less fall into the trap of obsessive "strategic" thinking a la the ghastly PUA camp. A little technique, awareness and practice is a fine thing. A cultish set of rituals and dehumanizing logic, not so. Always remember that people are people, and treat hookups with decency and care.)
posted by ead at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2012

do not take stuff personally

That's really at the crux of the matter isn't it. I think it's quite telling that you have two mental processes going on that are tripping you up. The first seems to be a bit of frustration around sexuality in general -- both genders everywhere probably can related on that one -- and the second is on being behind in a competition.

To the first point, it helps to be attracted to yourself, which is not something that seems to be coming across. Do you feel comfortable being someone with sexual needs? I think a lot of people have a hard time saying "I want sex".

There's a very funny anecdote from Richard Feynman in < ahref=" ">Surely Mr Feynman You Must Be Joking. He walks into a bar and being the master of the universe as he is, realises quite quickly to cut to the chase. He chats up women, and then simply asks them if they would like to come home with him. It's a funny anecdote because it removes all of the games and mental chatter from the process.

Something realised far beyond the time is that basically bars and clubs are designed for promoting sexual activity for many people. There's a great flow I remember seeing from the club scene in Los Angeles. Around 11pm / midnight, pre-existing couples make their way home. Within a relatively short period of time, couples simply evaporate and there's singles left. From that point, there's a bit of Lord of the Flies, as singles from both genders start checking each other out and pairing off... as if the space was naturally meant for that. Which, apparently it is.

Chances are you have a mental models are getting in the way and that may be where the deep jealousy is coming from. Is it the sexual experiences, or is it the freedom to have them -- a subtle but essential difference.

As far as the PUA community, I used to know quite a few people in that arena, including a famous David. There's two levels operating. The marketing level you see -- which is about picking up women -- and a more fundamental level. You've picked up on the latter, in a way, it's about being a better man in your life, not just when you're out looking for women. The lesson on 'always make your bed' is a great habit to get into if you're planning on bringing someone home, but it's also just a great habit to be in -- taking care of your personal space.

The point you've made about clothing is a great one. I have a good friend who is always dressed to the tee, wherever he goes. He's always camera-ready and ready to roll. Consequently, he has tremendous adventures in life, because he's always dressed for it. Many people seem to dress according to the situation they expect -- he dresses as if something amazing may happen at any moment, and it works quite well for him.

When doing market research years ago, one of the findings was that men dress for the women they want to attract. Have a look at the kind of woman you want to meet, and dress accordingly.

And these lessons again are not 'dating' lessons, they're life lessons. Sri Kumar Rao says, "if you want to meet someone to be with, become that person, and they will appear." The women you want to meet are confident, secure women who can enjoy their sexuality in casual circumstances. Thus, can you become a confident, secure man who enjoys his sexuality in casual circumstances?

Perhaps as a next step, consider that you do not have a dating problem, you have a living problem. I imagine these thoughts and patterns occur in other areas of your life as well. If you are mindful of where this jealousy appears, you can begin understanding the triggers. Sex is one. What are the others?

As far as how to negotiate experiences, you already know the answer. Stop focusing on the outcome, and focus on the process. Enjoy meeting people. If you want to play a fun game, go out and try not to get laid. Say the things that pop into your mind. Relax and be completely at ease. Be yourself. Tease a little bit. When you learn to enjoy that process, chances are the rest will come relatively naturally.
posted by nickrussell at 6:59 AM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Proper Feynman link
posted by nickrussell at 7:02 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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