Are you one of those people who were young and free in their twenties and enjoyed all that went along with dating in university, when your end of term tests included a trip to the sexual health clinic too? Or have you always been in long term relationships and couldn’t image dating people casually, much less having a one night stand?
Maybe you’ve made the transition from the unbeholden youngster to the more stable “adult’? That’s the usual transition, the more socially acceptable one, from the former to the latter. I went from the latter to the former.
I had no experience of anything other than monogamous, fairly serious relationships up until the time I was 30. Even when I’d been at high school and university I think I maybe had one slightly wild night and ended up at some guy’s place. But it was a guy from my brother’s group of friends and nothing ended up happening.
I’d go as far as to say I was fairly judgemental about people who were looser with their sexuality, but I know now, as with most judgement, it came from a place of fear of the unknown. I was also probably jealous of the fact people had that level of comfort in themselves and their surroundings. It was totally alien to me.
When I got back into dating after my divorce, I was absolutely, 100% looking for a relationship. It never crossed my mind that I might like to date around for a while, keep things casual. And I don’t mean rush into a relationship, I obviously wanted it to be the right one. But to begin with I couldn’t even get my head around messaging multiple people at once so I never imagined I’d ever be just swiping on people for the night – like I had essentially been doing the weekend of rugby sevens or with The Tourist.
As I became more comfortable with myself, my boundaries, my needs, – and the more aware of the fact that a great relationship wasn’t easily falling into my lap – I also became more open to just having fun, exploring things, people, situations. Was I making up for my “lost twenties” (as one of my friends put it)? (Side note – I wouldn’t have said my twenties were lost, they were spent building a life I hoped I was going to be living for a very long time, in fact I think I remember planning for it til I died)
So at some point, needing to have a connection with someone or wanting something more than a night with someone was replaced with being ok with just having a fun night, or a fun couple of nights with nothing else likely to come of it. It was a refreshingly new outlook for me.
And I felt judged. I felt judged by myself – is that possible?!. I felt judged by friends – was that a projection of my own feelings?!. I felt judged by society – was society even paying attention?!. It was something I was worried about being honest about when I started this blog because of what light it might paint me in. I felt that there was the possibility that if the protagonist you’re reading about is sleeping around, you’re maybe not going to have quite the same empathy for her and her journey/struggles/stories. (Did you read the story about the 21 year old?!)
Society is undeniably judgemental of promiscuity – a synonym for “promiscuous” is “immoral” for God’s sake! And especially judgemental when it comes to women. Men get high fived for sleeping with women, while women get asked if they had feelings for them and if they used protection. Where the hell are my high fives?!
Of course there’s things to be said for being safe, sexually healthy and making sure all parties are free, or at least aware, of other ongoing relationships but in the cold light of day there should be no shame in the sex game! Creating a safe space to say that, to talk about it, to debate it, to explore it, understand it, question it, is something I have been trying to do more and more with my friends. There are some I’ve still not quite broached the subject with, but there are others who it’s totally normal with. I have two friends in particular that I know every time we meet up our conversations will always eventually turn to chats about anal. Yup, I said it – we talk about anal sex, normally while eating pie. Shocking… (where’s the rolling eye emoji)
For some of you, you’ll be like “what’s the big deal, you’ve slept with some guys and talk about sex?” but for a lot of women, me included, this isn’t or at least hasn’t always been the case. I’m grateful that this random life path I’ve found myself on has allowed me to explore this entirely new side to relationships and life and sex.
I’ve been told I talk like a guy now when it comes to sex… by guys. I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or an insult. But it says a lot that just the fact I talk openly and bluntly about it, (note – there’s a difference between bluntness and crassness) means that I’m deemed less womanly, less feminine. Oh well, suck it! (pun intended)
Swiping for the night and swiping for Mr Right can be very different but sometimes when you think you’re doing one you’re actually doing the other so who knows… but the good news is I’m now comfortable with both, whether society is or not, and that is a happy place to be.