Can I Maintain Independence Through Casual Sex?

I’ve been thinking about writing this article for a while. I guess one could say that I’ve been experimenting with my experience in casual sex and I think I’ve come to some conclusions. Fair warning, however, I do have a particularly cynical view of men, and especially college men. But by experimenting with casual sex, I basically mean that I’ve been engaging with casual sex for the first time.

The thoughts that have been rattling around in my head this semester as I’ve “conducted” this “experiment” are something that I’d like to unpack here. My only experience is with heterosexual relationships, and in that, I’ve been questioning the idea of pure equality in a relationship – especially a casual one. Is it even possible to have that equality within a casual hookup, and how do we achieve it?

In my experience it always feels like the ball is in someone’s court with a casual hookup, there’s always a game to be played, meaning that there really isn’t equality in that relationship. Whether you’ve hit a guy up the past two weekends and you don’t want to seem desperate, or you’re always a little afraid of being ghosted, there never seems to be an equilibrium. I have never felt that I have the power, but perhaps thinking of a relationship in terms of power is problematic in itself. There are so many nuances in a relationship of this kind, and so many social norms that keep us from getting what we want.

I know that I can be a strong and independent woman no matter what, but depending on a man for casual sex feels less independent. I’ve volleyed this question back and forth in my head for months and my initial answer would be yes, of course, I can be independent (wooo feminism). In an ideal world a casual hookup would mean mutual dependence on each other for sex – so why does it never feel mutual? I definitely think that men fundamentally have more power in this situation than women, and as I’ve grown more comfortable with my hookup, the stakes seem to be higher. Does that make the relationship less casual?

One roadblock in my experience is the “crazy bitch” trope for women who are sexually promiscuous. Not only does the relationship not feel mutual, but it’s also so hard to ask for what you want without sounding a little too attached to the person and/or hookup. Requests as small as a faster response over text and requests for more intimacy can be equally too scary to ask for – I mean what if you spook them out of the hookup all together? In this way I find even more inequality, now not only am I dependent on a man but I’m also too scared to ask for more. Am I selling myself short?

I suppose that you, reader, are following along now because you have similar questions. I regret to inform you that I don’t have the answers. I have come to the conclusion that as long as I am self-aware, confident, and don’t lose myself to a relationship (especially a casual one) then that equality might just be able to be achieved within a casual hookup. If not, however, I need to have the maturity and foresight to remove myself from that relationship.

If there’s anything I’ve learned this semester it’s that maintaining self-respect and being secure in myself is much more important than the validation I might get from a casual hookup.


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