Earlier this year I stopped having casual sex because the situationships I was in weren’t serving me. They were stressing me out and the source of some mental health issues. I deleted the dating apps on my phone. I cut off my fuck buddies. I focused on getting my money up and developing a self-care regimen. I didn’t give myself a timeline for the hiatus but I knew I wanted it to be somewhat long-term. It worked for a few months but I recently reactivated my Bumble and Tinder accounts because I felt like I was ready to dip my toes back into the unknown sea of online dating (re: I was horny). As a self-proclaimed love and sex addict this seemed like a potentially bad idea but I did it anyway, feeling like I had something to prove to myself.
It’s easy not to have sex with the majority of people I meet online for several reasons: most dates are mediocre, there’s no chemistry, my matches don’t look as attractive off-screen. But there’s always an anomaly where things go relatively well, the guy is as sexy as (or sexier than) his pictures indicate, and he takes initiative and pursues me in the way nature biologically wired me to respond. No matter how much I say I have no expectations when using them, it seems I subconsciously dig through these apps to find the small number of men who will devour me in the best way.
When I came across *Damien, bleach-blonde and tatted from the face down, I knew I wanted to be under him. His profile had all the trappings that make a bitch like me swipe right. It wasn’t too wordy. He had a two-line description and let his pictures do most of the talking. Each photo boasted wide, hazel eyes and a pronounced Cupid’s bow. There was a big, uninhibited smile in a couple of them. There was a link to his Instagram and his Spotify song of choice was a nostalgic nod to a ‘90s pop-rock childhood. Of course there was a chance that I wouldn’t be his type, so I was glad when the app alerted me that there was mutual interest.
I wasn’t going to push my luck and message first. I waited to see if he’d reach out or if this would be one of those matches that sits and collects dust. I don’t push unless provoked because I know I can sexually and emotionally spiral when I’m attracted to someone. He messaged me the next day. We talked about the popular chicken spot near where I live. When I told him where I work he said he’d stop by that night.
It was a little after 2am when Damien came through. I spotted him from a few feet away and we gave each other an acknowledging head nod. It was a slow night so I was able to sit and talk to him for maybe forty minutes. I couldn’t tell if he was into me but I enjoyed our conversation. Dame mentioned that a lot of his friends are sex workers and said he’d done some sex work himself. The more we talked and the more he revealed about himself the more intrigued I became. After he left I still didn’t know if he was interested in me, until he invited me to his place when I got off work at 6am.
I sleepily crawled into his bed and we fell asleep watching The Truman Show. I went there intending not to hook up with him, which wasn’t too difficult because we were both admittedly tired. We agreed that any sex we’d attempt to have would be sloppy. We talked about both of us not wanting a relationship. Damien went out of town a couple days later and I knew I wanted to fuck him when he got back. It sort of tortured me because I knew I was about to break my cycle of “good behavior”. I’d never had idle time to sit and contemplate hooking up with someone like that. Usually when I meet someone I decide if I’m going to have sex with him and then do it quickly. Having days to sit and consider my next move was unfamiliar.
Mostly what I thought about was wanting this to be different than my previous situations. I thought about wanting to challenge myself to be good at casual sex. Wanting to do it right—respectfully and in a communicative, mature way. Not wanting to be clingy, or passive, or to romanticize the friendship. Wanting to be present, straightforward, strong, responsible.
I liked that when Damien was out of town he reached out to me to say what’s up and that he wanted to hang out when he got back. Ongoing communication is so important to me. When he got back to Los Angeles he invited me over and we had “ice breaker” sex—just sex we’d been anticipating that felt like the elephant in the room.
I took initiative to kick it with him again after that, something I almost never do with men I’m hooking up with. We met up at a restaurant and just talked—no sex. It’s new to me but maybe this is what a healthy friends with benefits relationship is like.
It feels less like a relapse and more like…recovery.
*Name’s been changed