Podcast Host Ashley Kelsch Offers Lessons in Casual Dating
The dating scene has changed immensely, but one thing remains constant: the importance of communication
A PSA for the F-boys and girls: there is a way to play that can not only be fun and pleasurable, but also respectful.
A majority of people would agree that the landscape of dating has changed drastically.
However, I’ve noticed that even though we are embracing a hook-up culture and a more casual way of being in relationships, people are under the impression that the nature of one night stands or casual sex means we don’t have to treat one another with dignity and respect.
I believe that an individual is entitled to have sex how they want, with who they want and when they want. What I don’t really get down with is the ambiguity that comes with not discussing the nature of the relationship — having an “agreement,” if you will, defining what the relationship is and what it is not.
I can say from my personal experience, especially as I’ve gotten older and become more aware of how my dating and being in a relationship has changed, that I’m keenly aware when someone just wants to hook up. The comments or the sentiments haven’t changed much from high school when the boys were telling me they’ve never seen eyes like mine to the adult version of you’re so beautiful— and I really love a woman who runs her own business— I don’t fall for those lines like I used to.
Now, I kind of watch the other person attempt to figure out how they can compliment me in hopes that I’ll lean in to their lazy attempt to have sex with me. I laugh a little to myself knowing that it’s not going to happen.
If they only knew it was as easy as saying, “Hey, we’re both adults. How would you feel about having safe sex without any expectations? And if we both enjoy it, maybe we could have it again, but I’m not looking for a relationship and am not interested in texting on the daily,” and then I’d actually take it seriously. I know half of you rolled your eyes thinking, “That’s too much to say and not sexy. Spontaneity is sexy! You’re killing romance with all this conversation!”
The ladder causes unnecessary mental turbulence. I’d rather experience the 10-minute conversation talking about what the situation is and isn’t and start playing in those perimeters than spinning out while trying to figure out what just happened.
But no one wants to say what it is they are interested in. Even in their 40’s. Especially in this dating climate of having low commitment, little attention span and bare minimum accountability.
The truth is — they don’t have to. Someone will fall for it. Unfortunately, this person will be left thinking there’s a possibility. Waiting and wondering when they’ll hear from them. Daydreaming about their first date out.
Not only do I find it to be disrespectful, but it continues to perpetuate a behavior that is not serving anyone and enforces emotionally immature behavior.
You can move beyond hooking up and into sharing intimacy without commitment or attachment by simply acting like an emotional adult. Here’s how…
“ Watch your thoughts after hook-ups and have your own back.
Communicate. Use your words to say that you are only looking to have sex and don’t have anything else to offer.
If they express mutual interest, define what that looks like. Will you be going out? Is it private? One of my partners and I went so far as to communicate that when we were out together, we wouldn’t flirt or talk with other people, but otherwise, we had no commitment to one another.
Don’t express feelings of wanting more, missing each other or future tripping. This will only mess with your head.
Watch the clock on pillow talk. This is real, y’all. Oxytocin and other bonding chemicals are released after sex. The more time you spend in one another’s arms, the more attached you can become.
Practice safety. I don’t care what town you are living in. It’s only a matter of time before you realize everyone’s in the same dating pool.
Enjoy, acknowledge and appreciate. My casual encounters went on with the same people off-and-on over the course of 10 years. It was like reuniting with an old friend. We would spend time catching up on one another’s lives, sometimes cooking, sometimes going out. There was always an acknowledgement of how nice it was to be able to share that time and space with one another.
When it feels like it’s run its course, say so. If you’re grappling with feelings, say so. If you are falling for someone else, say so.
And I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say to all of you who are femme-socialized readers that, despite the empowering messaging you are seeing today about women being able to engage sexually and casually, our society’s collective thinking is still deeply conditioned to believe otherwise. You may not be aware of the internalized shame you are swimming in. Watch your thoughts after hook-ups and have your own back.
Ashley Kelsch, former owner of Teddies for Bettys, a lingerie and well-being store, is a top-certified coach who works with parents and caregivers of teenagers and young adults who are struggling to understand their child’s gender identity and sexual preferences. She helps guide her clients from confusion and conflict to curiosity and connection by teaching them how to manage their thoughts and emotions. She also has a weekly podcast called House of Other: a modern update and sex-positive education about human sexuality, gender sexual diversity, intimate justice, trauma healing, consent and loving relationships. Ashley continues to explore “your brain on dating, love and relationships” through her writing and with her private clients. You can follow her on Instagram @house_of_other and read more of her Tribeza columns here.