Casual Sex Made Me Feel Manipulated, Until I Learned to Ask for What I Want

People sent me a lot of hate mail after I wrote about not giving blowjobs, but it took me a lot of time and bad sexual experiences before I figured out what I want out of sex, and how to get it.

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Apr 7 2015, 5:13pm

The author in her bed.

Recently, I wrote about why I don't give blowjobs. Apparently, that struck a nerve: I received more hate mail for that than I have for anything I've ever done, mostly from straight men telling me I'm a dumb cunt for having a preference on the matter. (By the way, if you want me back on #teamblowjob, this is definitely not the best approach.) I suppose I made things "worse" by describing my current situation with a man who, under no legal obligation, comes over to eat me out, and happily receives no oral sex from me in return.

Let's be clear about something: This situation is great, but it's not permanent. It's not like I'll never have a dick inside of me again. The reason why things are the way they are now is because I made a promise to myself at the beginning of this year to stop having penetrative sex until it's with someone I know I can trust.

Before that point, I had spent years engaging in casual sex that rarely benefitted me. My heyday of fucking started in San Francisco, the kind of place where asking someone if they'd like to have sex with you is about as serious as asking them if they have a moment to talk about the environment. (Both are likely to involve clipboards.) At the start of it all, sex really wasn't a big deal to me. I don't mean to say that I was giving any schmuck wearing a big grin and a condom admittance to my Cave of Forgotten Dreams, but I was more willing to accept sex with certain guys as a one- or two-time thing.

As time went by, though, my happy-go-lucky attitude about sex started to wear off. I found myself in a pattern of going out with men I was sincerely interested in, having sex with them, and then being tossed aside with the same dismissive line: Sorry, I'm not looking for a relationship.

The most memorable example of this is a guy I'll call Daniel, who messaged me multiple times over OkCupid. I ignored the first one, because I really was not interested. I responded to the second one, but was still hesitant about actually meeting. After three weeks of no communication, he messaged me again. I gave in and we went on our date.

Daniel was a lot more charming in real life, and we ended up getting along really well, despite not having much in common. We went on a second date that same week, and that's when I gave in to temptation and had sex with him. The next day, hungover (or maybe still drunk?) and stumbling into a 7-Eleven, I got a text from him saying that he planned on applying to grad school soon and since grad school would probably take him to a different state, it wouldn't be a good idea for him to get serious with anyone. You know, in case he goes to grad school a year from now.

What the hell is that all about? Casual sex was starting to make me feel less empowered, and more manipulated. It was getting harder for me to see men as trustworthy human beings; I became bitter, angry, and even traumatized. My anxiety triggered immense feelings of regret and fear. Worst of all, after all this rejection and manipulation, almost none of these men gave me orgasms.

As I mentioned in my previous article, most women do not orgasm from penetration alone. I am one of those women. Before I finally took matters into my own hands, I let men control how our sex was going to go. That usually meant that foreplay consisted of me being fingered—not long enough to make me climax, but long enough for them to deem me "wet enough" for the penetration to begin. Getting eaten out was especially rare. Rather than outright ask for it, I just hoped for it. But it would never come. And neither would I.

My initial reaction was a vow of no more sex at all. I didn't see the point. Why should I put myself through so much mental turmoil for little to no physical payoff?

Then, of course, after three whiskey drinks plus an attractive guy next to me, I remembered: Sex is great. Even if I'm not coming, sex with another person still feels better than going home alone, masturbating, and falling asleep to Netflix. If this wasn't the case, then I'm pretty sure the world's overpopulation problem would be solved by now.

So why was I having so much trouble asking for what I wanted? Outside of sex, I'm an outspoken woman. I always voice my opinion. I have no problem being seen as a "bitch" to get what I want, and could care less what people think of me. Why wasn't I like this when it came to sex?

Perhaps it's because the default setting for heterosexual sex ensures men get their fantasies fulfilled, while women are in charge of the fulfilling. This is especially true for casual sex: If a man goes out of his way to make sure his partner comes, he is considered an exceptional lover. For a woman to make sure her partner comes is considered standard. This is why people wished me dead for publicly admitting I hate giving blowjobs: A man's pleasure is no longer my number-one concern. I now have no problem shattering the fantasy, and that terrified a whole lot of men.

I know that my experience is not universal, and I am sure there are many straight women out there who have never experienced this kind of consistent treatment from their casual sex partners. I'm also sure there are many men out there who would never think to act like this. I've even been with some of these men. However, I can only base things off of my experience, and my years of experience have told me that the culture of casual sex needs to change. I got sick of having sex with men who were not open to the idea of commitment, yet slept with me assuming that after one night of sex I was desperate to be their girlfriend. I'm not trying to get married—I'm just trying to go on a second date!

Perhaps that's the real issue casual sex has created for me. To these men, casual sex equated a one-night stand, which is not what I wanted it to be. I engaged in sex with men who I felt wanted more than one night out of me, but was repeatedly let down. Personally, I could never bring myself to have sex with someone I'm not attracted to, but I guess these men were. That's why I'm no longer willing to partake in penetrative sex until I'm with someone I feel comfortable with—until then, I'm only having the kind of sexual encounters that prioritize my experience.

That's where my one-way arrangement comes in. Keeping things strictly oral evens the playing field: It ensures that I get off, and even if I don't suck dick, I can still provide other means of making sure my partner comes. In denying penetrative sex, I feel more at ease. I find myself more able to forgo emotional investment in that person, and less aggravated when getting the dreaded text message reading, "you're cool, but..."

Basically, I finally found my voice. I finally figured out exactly what it is I want from sex, and if I'm going to engage in casual sex, I'm going to make sure it's on my terms.

Follow Alison Stevenson on Twitter.

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