I’ve gotten around. I don’t feel bad about and I’m not necessarily proud of it – it’s a simple fact: I’ve slept with quite a few people.
The truth is, I crave sex. I want it at noon while I’m at work and an ad comes up for panty hose. I want it when I’m cleaning my bathroom and look at the shower, memories flooding my mind. I want it at 11 pm after three cocktails and in that moment, or any other, I’ll be damned if someone else’s judgment is going to stop me from getting laid.
I believe that for my generation, casual sex is definitely something more openly discussed and possibly even more sought after. Because of this, I’ve had plenty of conversations with women and men my age about our sex lives. My least favorite reaction to my admission of sleeping around is when other women seem astonished about me being ‘so out there.’ It can be hard to smile through the wide-eyed stares from other women when I openly discuss my sex life. I’m especially sick of guys asking how I don’t catch feelings with the men I sleep with, telling me every girl they have casual sex with wants to be their girlfriend. *cue huge eye roll*
Honestly, I’m getting sick of being perceived as ‘the sexually active girl.’ By myself included.
I waited until just before my 18th birthday to lose my virginity. I chose someone incredibly kind, who I felt comfortable with. I hadn’t done much sexually before dating him. Once I became sexually active, I slowly became aware that I have a high sex drive. My sexual journey post my first partner has been awkward and long-winded. It took me a while to figure out that not everyone has as high a libido as I do.
There was a period in college when I spiraled into having bad sex with boys I didn’t care about. I didn’t feel good about it. It was difficult to pull myself out of this period and get back to what I actually wanted. After that, I entered into a serious relationship in which we were having very regular, particularly great sex. When that ended, I realized I wasn’t going to all of a sudden turn celibate because I didn’t have a steady partner anymore. I knew I didn’t want to return to my old habits of drunkenly partaking in lazy, boring sex with less-than-enticing people,** but I was long past striving for purity – that didn’t feel true to who I am either.
It hit me one night senior year when my roommates and I were talking numbers of people we slept with and my male roommate was shocked by mine. He even said out loud that it was more than the guy who he knew who slept around the most. To that I said, “So fucking what?”
He even said out loud that it was more than the guy who he knew who slept around the most. To that I said, “So fucking what?”
This moment liberated me.
I vowed to myself then and there to stop counting numbers and stop letting myself get into conversations around that kind of information. Because it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m practicing safe sex. That I’m making sure to use condoms and when I don’t, to use Plan B and to get tested for STDs. I’m checking in with myself these days to ensure I feel good before, during, and after I have sex. What matters is that my mental and physical health are only affected positively by the sex I’m having, regardless of the number of partners.
I’m not shy about sex because I think it’s natural and fun. Sex can be liberating and intoxicating all at once. I feel sexy when I take control and express my desires to someone. I enjoy the nervous pressure of the moment before sex with someone new, when we’re both at the height of anticipation. I have no problem talking about these things because I don’t think anyone should have to feel bad about wanting them. Of course, I’ve endured some bad experiences with casual sex. I have gotten myself into some situations that were potentially unsafe with men I now cringe to think I let touch me. I’m embarrassed by certain encounters, the aftermath of which friends have been around to witness. But I’ve learned from those experiences and I’m finally forgiving myself for those encounters. I don’t feel the need to apologize to anyone else for them.
It’s not okay that I’ve had both men and women think less of me for my sexual activities. It makes me no less smart or successful or valid to want sex and to pursue having it. I shouldn’t have to feel your gaze of judgment down upon me.
The truth is that I’m so much more than the promiscuous one of the friend group, although that is one part of my identity. I am also the witty one, the loud one, the one that will protect her girlfriends at all costs and will fight tooth and nail for what I believe in. I’m the tough love, sharp eyebrows, messy hair, over-the-top dramatic, know-it-all bookworm. And I also am the one that sleeps around when I’m single. I still crave love and a relationship like anyone else. When I’m single I will do what and who I want when I want to because it feels good for me. I won’t apologize to my significant other for who I am before or after that relationship. I will not be made to explain or justify my prior tendencies to ease someone else’s discomfort. It’s nobody’s business, I am not ashamed and there is nothing to defend. I won’t pretend to be someone without a past.
**Author’s note: I did go back to this behavior for a short stint post-college and I want those out there who have also gone through this at various different times to know that it’s okay to make these mistakes. Sometimes I still lay awake at night reliving it and feeling myself as lesser and lesser until I remember that if I own these stories and I allow myself to laugh at these less-than-classy experiences, I take a little bit of the power back from them that I feel I lost.