Our gazes were locked, lustily piercing into one another’s, until he broke eye contact—his grip tightened, the hair on his thighs stood up, and everything contracted inward before … it all relaxed.
Finally, I thought to myself. We both exhaled, expressing different types of relief, as I repositioned myself and rested my head on his shoulder. He turned and looked down at me through half-set eyelids, grinning before his brows pulled into a question: “Have we exchanged names?” This time, I looked away and frowned.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I like sex, like, a lot. And to the surprise of no one, I’ve found that there are plenty of other men who also enjoy a good romping, so I’ve had little trouble finding a fling when I’ve wanted it.
Up until I started college, however, the majority of my sexual encounters were within committed relationships, the kind of sex that started and ended with cuddling. Sex before college wasn’t always great, but it was substantive: There was always something else to it besides getting off, whether that ‘something’ was friendship, curiosity or (shudder) love.
But the days of high school fun were over, and I moved onto college, the ‘next chapter of my life.’ And as the newly single author of this chapter, I knew that I had to find myself a new pen.
In lieu of crashing QRC discussions and hoping to score a phone number, I decided to try something new: I made a Grindr account. For the lucky majority that is not familiar with it, Grindr is a location-based networking app similar to Tinder that caters primarily to gay, bi and queer men and trans women.
Despite my initial hesitancy, I took to Grindr rather quickly. The guys on it were nice enough; a lot of them sent me messages saying that I was “adorable” and that they’d love to meet sometime.
Now, as cute as I am (hey, they said it, not me), I’m not gullible. Once they all began asking for provocative photos, I knew that the sweet talking was them trying to pull the wool over my eyes and the cotton off my privates. But I told myself that I would give the app and hooking up the ol’ college way a try, so I buckled down for some unbuckling.
I soon found a candidate for my first hook up: a studly grad student with white teeth and dark features, the kind of face that always hints at a five o’clock shadow. After texting a photo of him to a friend as well as the address of where we decided to meet (seriously, if you’re going to meet someone from an app, regardless of the reason, take this precaution at the very least), we met, chatted for a bit and got down to business.
About an hour later, I sent the same friend a text: “Heading back. It was eh.” As I pulled my baseball cap over my tousled hair and made my way home, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. The experience as a whole was okay—nothing terrible, but nothing to tell the girls about, either. After my first experience with hooking up, I can’t say that I was eager to do it again.
But like any good college student, I persevered. Over the next couple of months, I had a series of encounters with a variety of men; like the first guy, none of them were bad lays per se, but I inevitably found myself bored with our ‘fun,’ usually in the midst of it.
Not all of my hook-ups were disappointments, however. Supplementing the string of strangers I’d seduced was the occasional fling with someone I knew outside of Grindr (acquaintances and exes, mostly), and these encounters were so much better. There was more to these engagements than physical stimuli: not love or romance (they were definitely still hook ups), but at the very least a mutual interest in and sense of care for the other person. This was the kind of sex I wanted, not a one-hour-stand with some stranger.
I can’t say that my series of sexual letdowns was entirely a bust, however, because I did take this (and thankfully only this) from them: I found out that I need some sort of emotional connection with someone if I’m going to have sex with them and enjoy it. Now, I’m certainly not condemning hooking up with strangers—if you enjoy it and you’re being safe, I say go for it—but it’s not something I’ll go out of my way to find anymore.
I’m also not saying that I’ll never hook up again, either—my thirst and judgment are still at the mercy of unchecked testosterone, after all. Instead, I’ve found a comfortable compromise between only having sex in relationships and having random hook-ups. I’m wiser now—when I have sex, I at least try to learn the guy’s name beforehand.