So let’s say, you're on vacation and decide to get naked with a stranger. NBD, right? Well…it shouldn't be.
It's OK to Have Casual Sex on Your Summer Vacation - Here's How to Do It Safely
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with casual sex. Sure, there are risks associated with any sexual situation, but casual sex seems to bear the brunt of it.
"We live in a society that has conditioned us to think sex has to have emotional meaning to be good," says Gigi Engle, a sex educator, and writer. "When you've been told having casual sex makes you a slut or if he (or she) doesn't call you after, you're worthless — well, this can sting."
My advice? Screw the stigma and embrace the no-strings-attached (NSA) vacation hookup. Safely, of course. Done right, it can be a fun and stress-free romp that can scratch a much-needed itch. I tend to look at such on-the-road encounters for what they are, manage expectations accordingly, and not get caught up in what other people think. It's my vacation, after all.
That said, travel is one helluva aphrodisiac. Soak up all the good feelings that come from shaking up your everyday routine, and turn that sexual freedom into casual vacation fun. There’s really no good reason for casual sex to be fraught with such a stigma.
Here's how to hit the road and have safe, casual sex:
Have minimal expectations
No-strings-attached (NSA) sex can be a great way to explore your sexuality without a whole lot of emotional baggage. If you decide to engage in a casual sex scenario, let's be clear: NSA sex is not about holding hands and long walks on the beach, set your expectations accordingly.
Know your motivations
Before you jump into a casual sex situation, take a quick inventory of what you're looking to get out of the situation.
"First, know yourself and feel comfortable and aware about your motivations," Dr. Carol Queen, a sexologist, tells Kinkly. Queen says this means being honest about your reasons for wanting casual sex.
"It's important, to be honest with yourself and feel good about what you're doing," she says.
This also means being honest with the no-strings person too, so you can make sure you aren't actually incompatible with your so-called casual hookup's true motives. Failing to do so can open the door to potential drama."
Side note: My #1 dating mantra, casual or otherwise is: "Don't bring your drama to my door."
Don't be afraid to use dating apps to find what you're looking for
So, how to do you find an impromptu partner who wants similar things? Jennifer and Sean Rahner of GeekySexyLove are big fans of using dating apps. "They are a great way to zero in on what you are looking for and screen potential partners," they say.
The Rahners note that new apps are introduced all the time, so it's hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest way to meet a match. Tinder will share matches that are within geographic proximity, while OKCupid allows for a bunch of personalization in terms of sexual orientation, gender expression, relationship desired, etc., and matches you with other people who are like-minded through a series of questions.
Depending upon how you answer an app's questions, should signal if you're looking for an NSA scenario and making finding a like-minded partner more accessible.
Have the tough, but necessary conversations beforehand
Another reason the Rahners like meeting via an app is that it is often easier to have STI status and testing, safer-sex protocols, pregnancy-prevention options (if applicable), NSA expectations, and consent discussions before actually meeting IRL.
"If a potential partner balks at condom use or says they've never been tested for STIs, do you really want to invest your time and energy in meeting them?" they ask.
In most scenarios, I wouldn't advise going home with someone you've just met to do the deed. Just because someone seems like a legit human being, doesn't mean they are. It's really hard to get a gauge on someone after limited interaction, or fully understand their intentions. If you do decide to go home with someone, alert a trusted someone with your whereabouts.
Even a simple text with basic details have come in handy should things go sideways.
Steer clear of excessive alcohol
Queen admits it may be a little controversial, but she suggests trying to develop your casual-sex persona when you are more sober, rather than not. She believes casual sex can be a good thing but wants people to do this because they want to and feel good about it.
"A few cocktails can be great for so-called 'liquid courage,' but may make you less aware of your surroundings — which could be a safety issue," she says.
Always be safe
Of course, even if your intent is an NSA encounter, don't lock yourself into a particular situation sight unseen. "Meet for coffee or a drink in a public place and discuss how you'll proceed if one or both of you aren't into proceeding once you've met," says Queen. "Book your own room if you are traveling out of town, so you have a place to retreat if the situation isn't right.
Make sure a trusted friend knows who you will be with and where. Arrange for a check-in call so that someone knows you are safe.”
Always use barrier methods (condoms, dams, gloves, and finger cots) for protection, not only from pregnancy but also STI's (sexually transmitted infections) and HIV. "Since you're not in a serious relationship with the other person, you have no way of knowing his or her sexual history or background," says dating coach Jonathan Bennett.
"You don't want one night of unprotected sex changing your whole life."
Here are Planned Parenthood's guidelines on safer sex practices.
Advocate for your pleasure
So maybe it's a one-time encounter. That's fine, but it doesn't mean it shouldn’t be sexually fulfilling. Sexpert and tantra teacher Helena Nista encourages partners to speak up for what they want between the sheets, particularly if they want something specific out of the encounter (a particular kind of touch, experience or sexual activity).
And if the sex straight-up sucks, it’s okay to press pause and explain why you need to step out or he needs to go home.
"Remember we live in a small world, where everyone knows everyone, especially with social media today," says Tonia DeCosimo, author of Single and Not Settling: A Journey of Surviving the Dating World. “Your one-night stand could end up being someone’s tweet or text for the whole world to know.”
Screw any guilt you may experience
Although we live in a world where living in the moment is celebrated, let’s face it, women are not worshiped for engaging in casual sex like men are. "There's a lot of stigma and shame in our society around sex and promiscuity," says Nista. "Don't let that ruin your experience."
Aside from safety, NSA sex is all about enjoying yourself. "In reality, hookups are fun," says Engle. "When done safely, they rock." So, you go on and do you. "Having sex in a way that makes you feel good about yourself is most important."
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says