How do I do casual sex?
February 10, 2015 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to loosen up, have fun, and gain more sexual experience; however, I tend to be a bit emotional. By the same token I also tend to feel tied down sometimes in serious relationships and I want to "look around" more before deciding to be in a serious relationship. Looking for ideas on how to balance that.

To be more specific, I met a guy from okcupid last night; we had a really good conversation and I found him attractive as well, but he was clear from before we met and from his profile that he is ONLY looking for a sexual relationship; we made out and he wanted to have sex but I said I wasn't ready. He was pretty clear that he didn't want to wait too long. Therefore, I am reluctant to see him again because I don't want to feel pressured into having sex right away. On the other hand, he is attractive, smart and interesting; I do want to be having sex and getting more sexual experience, I am open to keeping things casual (also not against a serious relationship), and he happens to live about 2 blocks from me in a large city.

He seems honest and direct. Is there a question to ask him or a way to decide for myself whether I should see him again? What questions should I be asking myself and others? How do I "get ready" for sex, or is it more a matter or some people just having to wait longer than others to feel ready?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I think that you actually are doing a great job listening to your own emotions and needs here, and you shouldn't second guess yourself. If you felt pressured and reluctant in the moment -even if by someone emotionally honest and direct- then, well, that's your answer. Don't see him again. No harm, no foul.

My recommendation, if you want to actually try to do this whole having-more-casual-sex thing, would be to pick out someone from OKCupid with the express intention of hooking up with them without getting into a relationship. (This doesn't have to mean sex; it could just mean hot&heavy makeout sessions that don't lead to something more.) In other words, don't go on a date that you're hoping could turn into a relationship, and then settle for casual sex because that's what the dude is willing to put on offer. Decide beforehand what you want, and practice sticking with it, and being the one who is emotionally honest and direct about your desires and limits.

If you find that physical activity without an emotional connection isn't that pleasurable to you, then you've learned something important about yourself; on the other hand, you may find that having your physical needs met makes it clearer for you to sort out your feelings for the people you want to date.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:33 AM on February 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

Can you screw him and never see him again? Because that's what he's looking for.

If you need to be connected with your partner, if you need to feel something more than attraction to want sex with someone, then you're not made for casual sex. It really is that simple.

If he's flat out told you that all he wants is sex, why would you go out with him? Why get to know him? All he needs in you is someone to whom he is attracted and who wants to fuck him. He may ancillarily enjoy your company, but he is NOT going to be up for a relationship. You will be his booty call. Are you cool with that?

If you didn't want to have sex with him, when you were making out and attracted to each other, you want to invest more feelings into this than is appropriate.

I vote no.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:33 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

the fact that he gave you an ultimatum ("I won't wait too long") is a bit of a yellow flag to me. Because - you feel what you feel, because you are who you are. And who you are is composed of a whole host of factors that all influence the way you think and feel about things, and how long it takes you to feel ready for casual sex - and sometimes whether you even EVER WILL feel ready for that.

It's good that you're seeking to expand your comfort zone a bit, but I wouldn't take an active "I must make myself ready" approach; rather, concentrate on chilling and letting things happen. I also have sometimes been a liiiiitle on the emotional-connection side, and have just accepted that that just means that for me, a casual thing has to be either a the-stars-align spontaneous thing that can't be planned for, or I need to be in a situation where both the guy and I are agreed that we're going to hook up more than just once. I got that way through trial and error, and I'm still floundering and making mistakes.

But one thing I didn't do was try to deliberately make myself feel something I didn't. There's no way to do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on February 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

There are attractive, smart, interesting, and honest men out there who will respect you wanting to wait, and will enjoy spending time with you regardless or make you feel bad. These don't have to be serious relationships. It doesn't have to be "first meeting hook-up" or "longterm serious relationship". Don't make any choice out of fear (ignore this guy's ultimatum, that makes him sound like a jerk imo), if it was so easy to meet someone and click a little bit trust that there are more in the pipeline.

If you want to have casual sex you should spend time thinking about what you like sexually and/or what you'd like to try, and be prepared to communicate it to the men you're talking to once you're pretty sure there's potential for a good connection. Figure out what your boundaries are and what you don't want to engage in. Talk about safe sex, and sti testing, and condoms. If you find someone you click with who is into what you're into sexually and is respectful and open about these topics I think you're much more likely to be "ready" for a sexual encounter than if you're worrying about what the other person wants or how you'll be perceived, which is what your date sounds like (and frankly discussing this sort of thing with someone you're attracted to can be very very hot). Basically you need to do the work of empowering yourself to know what are your yay's and your no-go's and your musts so that there's less of a power imbalance and so that you're getting your needs met too. Figuring this stuff out counts as sexual experience too. :)
posted by lafemma at 8:57 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Seconding all the excellent advice above, adding: he lives two blocks away? That's too near, given that you're still figuring out whether casual hook-ups can work for you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:03 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, well, at least the dude was honest, I guess: As other pointed out, he wants a booty call, and he isn't willing to wait too long (i.e. date) for you to come across. You are absolutely entitled to want what you want, and to insist that your partners respect your boundaries. You can do better than this sort of fellow. In fact, if you're in a big city and on OKC, you probably will have many opportunities to do better.
posted by Gelatin at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think if you feel pressure rather than desire, the answer is "no, thank you."

I stepped out of a 12 year monogamous relationship with the express desire (no pun intended) to explore my sexuality, date a lot, and engage in safe but casual sex. I felt that I had a lot to learn and experience after a lifetime of serial monogamy.

More often than not, I found myself initiating the sex. Usually it took 2 to three informal dates to reach a level of comfort. With one guy, emailing and talking on the phone for a while, the attraction was so strong that we had a lunch date and our next "date" (again, my call) was passionate sex but with a common ground of conversation and laughter. That turned into a fairly long-term FWB arrangement, while I continued to see other men.

If you'd like to do some reading, I would recommend The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton (it's thought to be the bible of polyamory, but I found it very enlightening for safe and casual sex) and I also highly recommend Brief Encounters by Emily Coleman. Each book gave me something to think about as I engaged in online dating.

It really helps if you are the kind of person who doesn't get immediately emotionally attached to the person you have sex with -- by that I mean there is good will between you, but no fantasies that you are soulmates.

What you're embarking upon can be very interesting and satisfying. It can reveal what you're really looking for in a relationship now and in the future, it can be a lot of fun in the present.

I eventually returned to a monogamous relationship with someone I met IRL, but I don't regret the time I took to explore other options; rather, I embrace it and wish I had done this when I was much younger.

Trust your instincts most of all, and if you can't positively say "Yes" then say "No, thank you" and take a cab home alone knowing that you've taken care of yourself.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:16 AM on February 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would say that since you expressly want to "loosen up" and get a bit more comfortable with having sex just for fun you need to think about some of the rules and boundaries that will allow you to do that without setting yourself up for heartbreak. Some questions to think through would be:

1. How much and what do I actually need to know about someone before jumping into bed? Keep in mind you could learn all you need to learn in one evening.
2. How often can I have NSA sex with a single person? IMO once you're meeting up more than once or twice a week for sex you're treading into relationship/commitment territory.
3. Is there a maximum amount of hook-ups I can have before I start feeling attached? Maybe you can only do one-night stands because more than two encounters and you start to feel attached.
4. What are the signs that I'm getting too attached and need to break it off? Can I do that?

There's no right answers to these questions, just right for you. And there's no guarantee that you won't find yourself attached even if you set out to just have some NSA fun. I think if you really think through how you personally navigate sex and attachment and what level of emotional risk you're comfortable with you can probably figure out a way to have some fun sexy times that don't involved commitment.
posted by brookeb at 9:18 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's nothing wrong with him wanting a "booty call" - that's kind of what he advertised, and is also what you want. But I agree, maybe not with this guy; he does live too close to you, and impatience isn't a nice quality, even in a casual partner. That said, I think he's just got more experience than you have, and is clearer about what he wants.

It's very possible to feel connected just for a short time (whether that's just in terms of physicality or humour as well) and to take that for what it is, even if you're prone to emotionally attaching. Contrary to EmpressCallipygos, though, I've found it easier to actually limit the number of times I see someone. Three max, or else things get more complicated and require advanced negotiation.

I can't say I know much about the OKC method of selecting someone while you're in a "cold" state, and then going through an explicit date process (restaurant, etc.). I know more about the old-fashioned way of acting opportunistically on a strong attraction to someone met after a couple of drinks while out. Or while on vacation, everything's super clear and circumscribed that way. As an "emotional" person, I can't say I remember struggling too much with those experiences, even when I was younger. Because that connection is very obviously about chemistry from the beginning. Which, IME, makes it easier to keep other expectations out of it, everything's sort of happening at a 'below-the-belt', instinctive level. (There are safety issues to consider; I guess I've been pretty lucky as well as made reasonable judgements about the context and people I've been with. Look for respectful behaviour. If you're open to this sort of thing, keep a couple of condoms with you when you're in a situation where this could happen.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:35 AM on February 10, 2015

Casual sex is great, but this guy is an asshole with his "I won't wait too long" pressuring tactics. Nope. Nope. NOPE.

Fear not! This loser will contact you again and again, despite your initial hesitation, especially since you live so close by each other. Trust me, his shenanigans are not that successful, and he will continue to reach out to you in the future hoping he'll catch you at a weak moment. Don't fall for his social pressure. You owe him nothing.

Block his number and email. Do not answer and calls or texts. You don't owe this guy anything.

There is everything great to say about casual relationships. Don't try and have one with this guy, though.

Pressure tactics are the hallmark of users and emotionally immature types, the likes of which you can't make real friends with, so please for goodness sake don't get naked with one them!

Hope this clears things up for you going forward. The same rules you use for choosing platonic friends, evaluating new employers, and vetting roommates applies to finding casual sex partners. Character counts, so choose carefully. Good luck and have fun.
posted by jbenben at 9:58 AM on February 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

Casual sex is great, but this guy is an asshole with his "I won't wait too long" pressuring tactics.

I suspect it's more that he doesn't want to waste his time with someone with other goals or who is confused about what they want. It's not like he's forcing her to go with it, it's just a case of mismatched expectations, and it's actually fine, because everyone's talking about it. He's saying, "I want bananas, do you also want bananas?" OP is saying, "Maybe I could like a banana, but I think I might also want peaches".

OP, it's your job to listen to your gut and use that information to make decisions. If your gut says, "Hmm, I'd like something more from this" and that isn't something that's on the table, don't put your gut in a vulnerable position. Respect what it says and walk away.

There's nothing wrong with not being sure, but you've gone on a date with someone who definitely wants bananas. So when you're looking through profiles on OKC, choose someone who might also want peaches.

edit: bananas and peaches chosen for who knows what reasons, ignore other connotations please.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:22 AM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

You don't sound into this guy and this situation. Find another guy and see where things go. But right now listen to your gut and move on.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:35 AM on February 10, 2015

edit: bananas and peaches chosen for who knows what reasons, ignore other connotations please.

Wait. So this is really about butt sex? Because I totally didn't get that out of his statements, ha ha.

I'm trying to wrack my brain thinking of a time when a guy told me he won't wait to too long for sex, and then if that guy then turned out to be a quality person otherwise... yeah, no. I've heard that sentiment expressed, but never by anyone who turned out to be a mature lovely person. Pretty much universally it was only ever assholes who indicated they wouldn't wait around for me to feel comfortable or make up my mind about sleeping with them.

The info about his relationship preference is in his OK Cupid profile. He doesn't need to see you a second time if you guys don't fall into bed on the first date like he hoped. There is no need to make pressuring type statements unless he is keen to telegraph that he's not a nice grown-up person, which he's now successfully communicated.
posted by jbenben at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

It can be hard to pull off, but you can certainly make it clear that you're up for sex in a way that doesn't pressure the other person to have sex with you. Personally I feel like I wasted a lot of time in my younger days because I was too ashamed and embarrassed to ask for what I wanted, whether it was sex and/or a relationship. Saying, "hey, I'm attracted to you..." and going from there has been very empowering for me.

In terms of this guy, though, along with what other people are saying, you should definitely listen to your gut and instincts. It can be hard to do, but definitely continue to trust your inner voice. One of the people I ended up having a satisfying relationship with is a person I couldn't stand when I first met him. It didn't make sense on paper but it did in my mind. Trust yourself and even if it doesn't work out you will have learned and grown.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2015

Wanting to have more sex is cool. What's not cool is trying to make yourself ready for something you're not ready for. If you're not enthusiastically up for sex with someone, then it's probably a good idea to not go for it. It might be your gut telling you that something is off about the situation; it might be that you just don't the guy hot; it might be something else entirely, but whichever part of you is either holding you back or not pushing you forward is trying to keep you safe. Respect that part of you. Trust it.

Not getting laid leaves you horny, though, to put a fine point on it. Horniness on your part doesn't mean that a situation is going to be good for you. Speaking for myself, there's a point at which being horny overrules the sensible, logical part of my brain and says "go for it" when it's actually not a good idea to do that. I've put myself in situations in the past that could have gone very wrong because I was horny. Don't make the same mistake. Being ready for sex doesn't mean that sex is a good idea.

Look on this as a learning experience. You now have more information about what you want from a hookup. Get back out there and meet some more new people you might want to have sex with. You might also find it useful to hone your profile with this new information, somehow, to clarify the situation.

If you want to see this guy again, then see him again. If not, then don't. If you're "just not 100% sure", or "just not feeling it somehow", then keep looking. I don't think you're not ready for sex, I think you're just not ready for sex with this guy. And that's OK. You don't ever have to be ready for sex with anyone. When your inner god/dess is doing the salsa, you'll likely be more aware. When s/he's dancing is the time to actually consider whether or not it's a good idea to continue with the funtimes. For what it's worth, you seem to be handling the situation quite well already, which bodes well. Good luck.
posted by Solomon at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm someone who needs to feel connected for sex and normally in a relationship, but after one break up I decided to have a summer with older lovers... They can be fun, tender, great in bed, sexy, funny... They doted on me and I was a young butterfly sharing a moment with them before flying away into my future in which I met my soulmate and got married. (Which is exactly what happened! Yay!) I was never interested in more with them because they often had already been married and had children, and weren't interested in a second round... Where I knew that was what I wanted. So I never fantasized about being married to them and I didn't feel tied down... But I felt valued and cared for and I could always share about my day... Perhaps you might try it that way?
posted by catspajammies at 11:23 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Another thought:

It's possible to be okay with the idea of casual sex, but not be okay with the idea of casual sex with a particular person.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Two other options: Perhaps a friend of yours would be interested in adding sexytimes to your existing friendship (pro tip: if you're a biofemaleparts-haver interested in biomaleparts-havers, chances are there's a person or two like this). That way you have some familiarity and comfort with the person that comes from a friendship but without any particular romantic leanings.

Otherwise, maybe seek out an ethically non-monogamous fellow? Those who aren't total disasters tend to be pretty good at negotiating "here's what i'm looking for/here's what i'm not looking for/heres what scares me"-type conversations. If nothing else, it'd give you an opportunity to practice that conversation and actually figure out the rest of those sentences.
posted by softlord at 2:31 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Looking for ideas on how to balance that.

I am big on emotional attachment of the "I slept with him, I must love him and get married and have babies!" variety (yeah, I know: I have issues). Sex is not a casual thing for me. So, during my divorce, I intentionally had sex "the first time" with someone who meant nothing to me. I had been married a long time. I had watched at least a couple of other people get divorced and then marry the first person they slept with post-divorce, without really looking around. I did not want that to happen to me because I felt it would lead to really bad things.

So I saw this guy a few times, I don't recall how many, maybe 2 to 4 times. And I also hooked up IRL with a couple of other people, like once each. I am really, really glad I did that. But then I mostly pursued very, very long distance relationships with men online (and one guy got promptly dumped for saying "I am going to buy plane tickets and come see you next month." No. No, you are not. BYE!).

You can get pretty sexually and emotionally intimate in an online relationship, with no (immediate) risk of pregnancy or disease. For me, that took care of a lot of my concerns about "casual sex." One of the men I knew was kind of a swinger. A couple claimed to have open relationships. One was basically a Player. These were not men I would normally even give the time of day to. They all knew way more about female sexuality than I did.

It was an education. I learned to have a good time. Things ended on a no harm, no foul note. I have no regrets.

I will suggest that, if this guy doesn't seem like a creeper, you go ahead and sleep with him as a throw away experience. That's what "casual sex" is. You don't have to see him again if you don't want to. You can see him again if you do want to. And after you have gotten past the "oh. my. god. CASUAL sex!" mental block, decide what makes sense as the next step for you in the journey you desire to take here. If you decide this is not your cup of tea, you don't ever have to do it again if you don't want to. It's totally up to you.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2015

After being in a long-long-term relationship, I felt sort of the same way. For me, what really worked out well was being involved with a guy who was fun, met my sexual needs and was very up-front about not wanting a relationship. He was really direct about the fact that monogamy was not on the table for him, right from our second date. In spite of this, we ended up spending a lot of time together for a few months. This worked for me and allowed me to freely date other guys while having my sex itch scratched. Eventually, I found someone I was interested in doing monogamy with and there was a very amicable parting of the ways. We still remain friends, although we don't get together much, and then only for the occasional coffee. I was surprised, then, to hear from a mutual friend that he felt that opting out of a relationship with me was 'the worst mistake' he'd ever made and that it 'broke his heart' when I broke it off with him. However, I do feel genuinely indebted to him because his honest approach forestalled any big emotional investment on my part and really taught me to get over issues around jealousy. He left me far better off emotionally than he found me, and I'm really grateful for that. You can do the NSA sex, but you have to actually like the person for it to work, and to not have any ideas that you're going to change them or that they'll eventually want to settle down with you. If you can make this work, then you'll find that it helps you grow and mature as a person, without taking a toll on your feelings. Good luck!
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 12:51 AM on February 11, 2015

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