How I ended up online dating for sex

by Amber Collins // 11 June 2014, 07:25

Tags: casual sex, online dating, relationships, sex

Rinoninha - Ilea.jpg

The scene: my relationship with the guy who was supposed to be The One (Or At Least The One Right Now) had reached an amicable end. I was approaching a milestone birthday with zero faith in lifelong monogamy as a system that would ever work for me and generally feeling pretty resigned to some time away from men.

Then I had a one night stand with an attractive man 10 years younger than me.

A week later I hooked up with an attractive friend of a friend.

The week after that a stranger approached me in a bar, and complimented me all evening until I ended up taking him home.

For full disclosure, Bachelor Number 1 very politely kicked me out at 4am, Bachelor Number 2's recent ex-girlfriend sent me threatening messages and Bachelor Number 3 may have been a pick-up artist who at the very least gave me a false number (that, my pride requires me to stress, I did not ask for...). However, by the end of this magical fortnight my body image was through the roof. I hadn't felt so good about myself in ages, and I remembered all the adventurous experiences I'd been unable to have in my committed, monogamous relationship. I was in the perfect position to tick off some sexy bucket list items ('fuck-it list', if you will, as in "Fuck it, I'm young and single and completely uninterested in a relationship"). It wasn't long before I'd signed up to online dating sites and starting searching for fuckbuddies.

I found them easily. I fucked frequently. I met visiting businessmen, much younger men, husbands in open marriages, all complete strangers. It was one of the most important and empowering periods of my life and will no doubt recur often in my posts.

As such, this post is my chance to get some disclaimers out of the way. I want to be absolutely clear on certain points:

  1. Using online dating purely for sex was one of the best decisions of my life. Key words: MY life. These experiences made me feel more confident than I ever had, but there were also times when I felt incredibly emotionally vulnerable. I'm a naturally resilient person, and very aware that this kind of experience would not be positive for everyone. However, it was for me. I invite you to comment on your individual experiences and views without invalidating my own. 
  2. I am a confirmed cisgender heterosexual woman and I apologise in advance for the heteronormativity of my POV. I would love to hear from people with different perspectives and experiences in comments, partly because I think it's important to talk about sex frankly and partly because one of the perks of blogging here is that I get to talk smut with like-minded individuals! Indulge me?
  3. I am now in a committed relationship with a guy whose response to "I've been asked to blog for a popular feminist website!" was "That's fantastic, I'm so proud of you!", a sentiment he reiterated after reading my first post last week. He is 100% aware of what I am saying here and is as supportive as anyone could be. I've always been fortunate with boyfriends, but I don't think I could have recognised just how incredibly lucky I am to have someone like him had I not previewed such a range of alternatives.

Now I've set the scene I look forward to blogging on the ssues I've encountered since beginning to hook up with complete strangers. There are so many topics I want to talk about, if you have questions or suggestions please do share in comments!

[Image shows an adult looking doll with a large head, long red hair and big blue eyes, wearing a strappy but unrevealing dress and posed to look confident and knowing. Image by Rinoninha, shared under a Creative Commons licence.]

Comments From You

my_a // Posted 11 June 2014 at 09:27

I've just (mutually) ended a very long relationship with the person I thought was the one. I'm in my mid 20s and I haven't quite got used to the idea of being young free and single just yet! I'm really interested to read about your experiences. I really think that everyone needs this kind of confidence boost, particularly when a long term relationship ends, and I honestly think that hooking up with strangers is a good way to achieve that. That said I wonder if it's something I would ever be able to do, I guess only time will tell!

Laura // Posted 11 June 2014 at 09:39

I can't wait to hear more! I'd be interested to hear how you screened the potential fuck buddies (friends who use online dating sites have mentioned how many irritating and often sexist messages they get sent from men) and the guys' attitudes towards giving you pleasure, not just getting themselves off.

Josiane // Posted 11 June 2014 at 09:51

Hi Amber

It is difficult to comment on a personal story, all I can say is that it is brave to share it.

Have you read 'The Sexual Life of Catherine M?'.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/may/19/biography.features

Amber Collins // Posted 12 June 2014 at 22:54

>my_a

Hooking up with strangers is certainly one way to achieve that! Your own comfort and sense of security and wellbeing are of the utmost importance though, always. If this isn't for you just keep in mind that there are other experiences that could give you the confidence boost you're looking for without making you feel anxious in any way. I'll talk more in future about the specific benefits this has given me, but I guarantee you not one item on that list couldn't be replaced with an alternative more palatable to someone just not into fucking strangers.

>Laura

All good ideas, thank you! There are so many facets of this experience that connect to meaty feminist issues like enthusiastic consent or displaying masculinity through sexuality, I can't wait to talk about them one at a time with The F Word commenters.

>Josiane

I appreciate the support, though there's nothing brave about writing pseudonymously about sex - so many feminists are doing truly courageous and incredible work while I'm planning out posts about oral sex. :) I have never read or heard of this book, but now I'd like to read it! If I get the chance I'll put up a review here, she seems to have a fascinating story.

ThoughtfulSwinger // Posted 14 June 2014 at 09:47

The Secret Life of Catherine M is interesting but flat and joyless. A period of ordinary promiscuity - conventional one-night stands of the sort Amber mentions - is not really comparable to the lifelong, industrial-scale shagging described in the book. Catherine Millet, a famous French literary figure, spent decades taking line-ups of men. It's a different league. Amber's experienes are well within the range of normal. Millet's are extraordinary, though of course not wrong.

Amber Collins // Posted 15 June 2014 at 00:11

>ThoughtfulSwinger

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Just kidding, I'm pretty sure "industrial scale shagging" is not for me! There was one week where I slept with at least one guy every night, just to see if I could, and I was drained by the end of it. I seriously underestimated how emotionally exhausting no strings sex with so many strangers could be; I spent the following week just watching TV in the slobbiest pyjamas I could find.

I met plenty of women of a similar mindset to me while I was online dating, I don't want to give the impression for one minute that I think I did anything incredibly unusual or pioneering. Part of the reason I'm writing these posts is to draw those women out so we can demonstrate through our dialogue just how common this really is. People should never be ashamed of a sex life with consenting partners that makes us and our partners happy, but society doesn't make that easy.

Gaptooth // Posted 15 June 2014 at 09:05

A couple of questions, which are both intended as genuine questions and not as veiled criticisms:

- Do you ever worry for your physical safety? I think the main thing that would stop me from doing something like this would be concern that I may not be safe going home with total strangers. Which is not to say that women are necessarily safer with long-term partners, as we all know that we're more likely to be subject to violence by a partner than a stranger, but nonetheless for me it would still be a concern. I'm not suggesting for a moment that you shouldn't do what you do, but would be interested to know how you feel about this and whether you have any way of vetting people as another poster suggested above.

- I feel a bit ambivalent about the idea of seeking self-esteem through men's approval/affections (as someone who has done a lot of that myself). I tend to subscribe to the idea that we need to aim to feel good about ourselves regardless of whether men are attracted to us or not. In practice that's very difficult though, and I think as social animals we inevitably care about what others think of us an there's nothing wrong with that per se. Perhaps it's about gaining self esteem from multiple parts of our lives and not only from one place? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Amber Collins // Posted 15 June 2014 at 10:37

>Gaptooth

Thank you for commenting! Each of these topics will likely get its own post, but I think you've raised some very important points and I'd like to give some quick answers to them:

1. I rarely worried about physical safety. This is perhaps part of my privilege as someone who has never been seriously assaulted. It's impossible to have these kinds of experiences without some sort of disregard for personal safety, and once I'd interacted with people online to get a feel for them I tended to trust my instincts. Which is not to say that protected me; rapists don't exactly make themselves known as such, and it was sheer luck on my part that I didn't encounter anyone with ill intent towards me. I took a risk and it worked in my favour. That's all this comes down, and I hold no superiority over anyone it did not work out for or who has decided the risk outweighs the benefits.

2. This aspect of my experiences is HUGELY problematic and merits some serious discussion. I will definitely go into this in more detail as soon as I can face a post that will be hard to write as it will paint me in a pretty terrible light. For now I will just say that while I absolutely agree with you in theory and respect the hell out of anyone who has managed this, I was unable to find reassurance in my own attractiveness from either myself or men I was in relationships with.

Even as I was critical of it I couldn't stop believing the programming I had received growing up that all men are only attracted to slim, white women. The reassurance of multiple strangers with superficial interests helped me to break that programming and see more clearly than I ever had before. I've never been much good with the abstract or the intangible; I genuinely feel I needed to experience other people's attraction to me to be able to believe in it myself, and that experience is paying dividends in terms of my self-esteem now.

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