11 Rules for Smart, Safe and Sexy Hookups
Get the most out of casual sex: why being safe and smart is sexy.
Hooking up isn't for everyone. As I wrote recently, depending on your personality you may be more or less likely to benefit from casual sex. But regardless of where you stand on that continuum, there are certain things you can do to maximize your chances of benefiting from your hookup experiences and minimize your chances of being harmed by them. If you're having casual sex, here are some things that help make it a positive experience - rather than one you'll regret.
1. Do It for the Right Reasons
Hooking up for the right reasons, such as being attracted to the person(s), feeling horny, and wanting a pleasurable, new sexual experience, can improve your overall health and happiness. Research shows, however, that when you have casual sex for the wrong reasons, your well-being suffers
. Some of the wrong reasons for having casual sex include needing to feel better about yourself, being peer- or partner-pressured into it, believing the hookup was more than just casual, or doing it because you're too drunk to think clearly. So before you hookup, ask yourself why you’re doing it and what you’re trying to get out of it. If you're doing it for the right reasons, you're more likely to have a great time.
2. Say an Enthusiastic "Yes" to the Things You Want
The good news: Getting sexual pleasure out of your hookup is key for your well-being. The bad news: Your partner will not be psychic about your needs and desires - especially if they don’t know you very well. What that means is that if you want to enjoy your casual encounter, you shouldn't expect your partner to know your body and what makes it tick. Sometimes they may be lucky enough to guess what you like or pick up on the faintest of signs, but most of the time they won’t. If you want a good experience, tell your partners what you want by explicitly asking for it, verbally or non-verbally. Whisper in their ear how you want them to touch you, lead their hand to where you want to be touched, get them in the position that works for you. A lot can go wrong when you're jumping in the sack with someone you hardly know. This is not the time to be shy.
3. Say a Firm "No" to the Things You Don’t Want
Just as your partner can't know for sure what will make you moan, they probably also won't have a clue about what makes your cringe. Casual hookups are often ambiguous situations and the lines of consent are easily blurred. Subtle pressure or unwanted (yet consensual) sex is common in hookups, and this uncertainty is often the main culprit for feelings of regret and distress in the days that follow. The bottom line: Don’t get pressured into something you’re going to regret the next day. Know your limits and express them as clearly, loudly and forcefully as is necessary. (For more on the importance of consent, check out Yes! Why Consent is Totally Sexy
4. Communicate Your Expectations
People often get hurt after casual sex when they aren't aware that it was casual. Sometimes people misrepresent their intentions on purpose to get others into bed, but more often, it’s a simple misunderstanding resulting from an ambiguous situation in which both partners project their own intentions onto the other person. Don’t leave things to chance. If you’re certain that you want nothing more than casual sex, let your partner know and make sure they’re on the same page. On the other hand, if you're looking for something more than just casual sex, voice your concerns and give your partner a chance to share their expectations.
5. Be Safe
In casual sex, a condom is the only thing that keeps you truly safe. When you don’t know your partner, you can’t trust them to tell you the truth, and you shouldn’t assume they’ll try to keep you from harm. Carry condoms and lube on you at all times. And use them. Properly
6. Avoid the Jerks
At least when it comes to men, research suggests that those who are into casual sex may also be more likely to be manipulative, aggressive, narcissistic, arrogant and sexist
. While they may have excellent seduction skills, they are often not particularly good at caring about your pleasure, safety, consent, reputation or well-being. So if you are someone who likes hooking up with men, do yourself a favor and try to stay away from these kinds of guys. There are plenty of nice, respectful men out there to hook up with. (Similar advice may apply when it comes to hooking up with other genders, although statistical evidence is lacking).
7. Adore Your Partners
Casual sex may be not be built on a deep emotional attachment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about your partner while you are with them. Even if your hookup consists of a few short minutes in a bathroom stall, giving your partner all you’ve got will make for a much more pleasurable, fulfilling, and memorable experience for everyone involved. Be genuinely passionate, caring, attentive and respectful of your partner at all times.
8. Control Your Infatuation and Commitment
Infatuation with new partners is often an involuntary, neurochemical process. The more you have sex with them, the more your commitment will grow. If this is someone with whom, for whatever reason, you wish to maintain a purely casual relationship, you might have to fight your infatuation with reason and be cognizant of the involuntary nature of the neurochemical process. Keep yourself occupied and resist the need to text them 20 times a day, arrange to meet them five days a week, or talk about them and nothing else with all your friends. If you're really trying to keep things casual, you might also consider keeping a rotation of other partners.