This was originally posted in slightly different form at My So-Called Polyamorous Life. Republished here with permission.
Now, first of all, I should say that casual sex is not for everyone. I don’t believe that just wanting to have casual sex makes you more awesome or that wanting to avoid it makes you less awesome. I feel like figuring out what you want and going after it, honestly, is the most awesome thing a person can do.
But a few years ago, I found myself wanting to have casual sex, but I found it extremely difficult to have a fulfilling experience. And I had no real resources to turn to. All this stuff I had to learn the hard way, and I wanted to share it so that other single women in my shoes can build on this knowledge.
Here it is, my personal guide to awesome casual sex for single girls.
So, let’s say you recently became single and/or went through a major life transition (graduated, moved to another city, got divorced) and you don’t feel like being tied down…but you still have certain needs. What do you do?
Well, single girls, listen up: Women can have awesome, fulfilling casual sex, too!
Forget Hooking Up at the Bar
Sure, when we think casual sex, we think about getting all dolled up and hitting the clubs with a few girlfriends, to pick up Mr. Right Now. It seems to be the perfect environment: dark, everyone’s out there to have fun, and there’s usually some liquor involved, so everyone’s inhibitions are low.
However, for years, both our own experience and the media has been telling us that the only person that gets off after the barroom hook-up is the guy. And if your experience was anything like mine, you know that’s true. But there are better ways to meet people for casual encounters.
And God Said: Let There Be the Internet, and There Was, And It Was Good
There is no more stigma against using the internet to meet someone. And personally, these days I wouldn’t choose to meet men any other way. I mean, you can’t sort men at bars by age, appearance, location, what they’re looking for and relationship status. But most meetup sites do all that work for you.
The other benefits of meeting on the internet are obvious:
No beer goggles. If the guy in question is someone you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole when sober, chances are you wouldn’t have had a fulfilling hookup anyway.
Personality does matter in casual hookups. Some people believe that the hookup is only about finding the hottest partner you can and a willing back seat. Well, that’s a great way to find hurried, selfish sex that is disappointing to both parties involved. The ideal hookup is someone you could be friends with as well as have sex with; that way, you can communicate about how to make the experience best for both partners.
Clear-headed, you will remember to be safe. From where you meet your potential partner, to condoms, dental dams and all our casual sex latex friends, at home in front of the computer you’ll be thinking of these things beforehand, and not scrambling at the last minute to get the act done before your martini buzz wears off.
Sites to Try
Craig’s List – The “Casual Encounters” section might be just what you’re looking for. The downside of CL is that there’s no photo on the ad itself, but most posters and respondents have photos that they will gladly email you after the first contact. If you’re feeling creative, read the other posts from the women looking for men, and write your own. But also don’t be afraid to read the mens’ posts and respond. You’ll be surprised by how many men will tell you that you’re the only response they had that wasn’t a spammer or an enterprising escort service.
Plentyoffish.com – Totally free dating site with photos on the ads, and you can sort by what the poster is looking for, location, and age. You have to make an ad to respond to others, and again, it’s best to look at other women’s ads first to give you an idea what kind of tone you might want your ad to have.
OKCupid.com – Totally free dating site very similar to Plenty of Fish, but caters to more alternative lifestyles. Want to try something kinky or maybe try dating a couple? You might want to try this site first. Also has a very cool internal IM system, so you can start chatting with potential matches right away.
Adultfriendfinder.com – For those few brave ladies who want to dive into the deep end first, AFF (and its sister sites like Hornymatches and Sexymatches) is the way to go. Be prepared to receive more attention and email than you ever have before. I got between five and 20 emails a day, and had no hope of ever responding to them all. On sites like these, there are typically 10 men to every woman, so you will run into many very anxious men.
Alt.com – The kink-friendly version of AFF. Have riding crop, will travel.
FetLife.com – Literally the kinky version of Facebook. It is totally free and you can use your profile for everything from meeting causal matches to finding people to have dinner with. I highly recommend this site for everyone who is interested in kink.
Respect is mandatory.
I have, from time to time, encountered people who feel that since they are not currently “in the market” for a relationship, they can behave as badly as they wish. These people are called Tourists, and everyone hates them. These are typically the people who barge onto the scene, ruin everyone else’s good time, make a huge mess and then leave before they can be held responsible for their bad actions.
There is nothing sexy about behaving disrespectfully. The best hookups come from a base of mutual understanding and compatibility. Treat all others with respect and expect the same. And if you don’t get it, leave.
No Cheaters – EVER!
All the websites listed above do, unfortunately, contain a large number of boyfriends and husbands who are looking to play around behind their significant others’ backs. These men are to be avoided at all costs. Cheating is highly disrespectful behavior, and if they’re willing to be that disrespectful of the person who is suppose to be the closest to them, they will not hesitate to disrespect you. (This can be any type of behavior to lying about their STD status to surreptitiously removing a condom during sex.)
Do all cheaters list on their profile that they’re cheaters? No (although you might be surprised to see that there are many that do). My own experience has taught me that anyone who lists “Discreet Relationship” as one of the things they’re looking for is a cheater. Other things to look for include people who can only meet during unusual hours (every Wednesday from 12 – 1pm, for example) and anyone who calls you and can only speak in a whisper when they talk.
When in doubt, ask. Most cheaters don’t want to have to put a lot of work into cheating, and if they feel that you will be a “problem,” they’ll disappear, which definitely works in your favor.
However, please keep in mind that many people have relationships that are open by agreement, so not every partnered person on the site is cheating. Again, when in doubt, ask.
Men You Might Want To Try
The older man – Older men really do have the experience and patience to show a lady a really good time. They are often the perfect partner for a hot and respectful fling.
The younger man – Full of energy and eager to learn, these guys will be very willing to listen to instructions and can go as long (or longer) than you can. They’re a bit of work, but always worth it if you pick the right one.
The non-man – OK, be honest: Have you wondered if maybe your ideal man is a woman? Have you ever been curious about what it would be like to kiss, make out with or have sex with a girl? Well, this may be the perfect opportunity to find out. Be honest about your experience level, and there will be many women who’d love to meet for a drink and see how things go.
After first establishing a connection with someone online, the next step is to meet in a safe, neutral public place. Choose somewhere conveniently located for both of you, but far enough away from your home to protect your privacy. You’ll also want to choose somewhere that people you know don’t hang out at 24/7. A little privacy to conduct matters without interruption is a very good idea.
A Note About Drinking
It is perfectly understandable and normal to have an alcoholic drink (or maybe two) to help yourself and your partner relax and speak more openly. It is the worst idea possible to have any more than that. You and your partner need to make responsible decisions to make sure that everyone has a good time and there are no ill consequences. If you or the person you meet looks like they’ve had even a little too much, simply call it a night and meet again later.
Make no bones about it, casual sex does carry with it some risk. You have to be willing to accept the risk and do whatever you can to mitigate it to have safe and fun casual sex.
Condoms are mandatory. It doesn’t matter if he can show you the paperwork from his last battery of STI tests; he will wear a condom, every time. Also, it is a good idea for you to carry your own. During my time playing the field, I bought myself a box of regular and large-size condoms and carried three of each in a discreet zippered pocket in the side of my purse. That way, you know that you’re covered in case he has a problem with the ones that he carries.
That being said, please be aware that some STIs can be transferred in unexpected ways. Oral sex can transmit most STIs. HSV and HPV can both be transferred via skin-to-skin contact and are pretty tough to protect against.
It is also a good idea to know as much as you can about all sexually transferred infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/std/) has a terrific site for information about STIs. You always want to know before you play what to look for and what you can do to protect yourself.
What we’ve been talking about here are two grown up, sober adults who have agreed to meet and see if they can have a little fun together. The difference between casual sex and relationships is that the individuals involved casually don’t want a relationship.
However, if you’ve been sleeping with a guy you like, it is perfectly natural that one day you’ll wake up and think, “Hey, I kinda like him, and I’m thinking I might want to try a relationship with him.” But the agreement you had specifically said it was not a relationship…What do you do?
The only answer is: Put the big girl pants on and deal with it. If you think he might also be interested, sit him down, tell him about your feelings and see what he thinks. The answer might be yes, no, or “I have to think about it.” Be prepared to accept any answer he gives, without trying to pressure him.
If the answer is yes, then you’re on your way to building an awesome relationship.
If the answer is no, if he gives no answer, or you know for a fact he won’t be interested, it might be best to move on. Ask yourself if you think you can continue to see him without doing yourself and your feelings any harm. Ignoring your own feelings is treating yourself without respect, and, as I said before, respect is mandatory.
Respect, Engage, and Enjoy
For millennia, women have been taught that to freely enjoy sex and their bodies is to be trashy and worthy of disrespect. And that just isn’t true. If you treat yourself and others respectfully, be honest to yourself and others and listen to your inner voice, you might open the door to one of the best times you’ll ever have.
Adaya Adler is a jacqueline-of-all-trades and has worked many jobs from Fortune 500 trainer to phone sex operator. She is a part-time citizen journalist and a full-time adventurer, and wants to use all her experiences as fodder for future blog entries. She blogs at http://adaya36.livejournal.