1. You realize sex is just sex.
Men, unless they are on Propecia, are perpetually horny in the same way that Taylor Swift is perpetually dumbstruck at award shows. If given the option, they would rather have a helping hand than use their own, leading them out of their caves to seek a casual lay. Sometimes sex is just two strangers coming together for a mutually enjoyable experience, like hobos convening on Union Square for a round of chess. It doesn’t have to mean anything; it doesn’t have to be poetic or pretty or surrounded by rose petals.
2. But that doesn’t mean you don’t feel anything.
There are almost always some sort of feelings when you’re lying naked with someone, even if it’s someone that you just met ten minutes ago and can’t recall if their name is Chris or John. Your mind tricks you into thinking that what you’re sharing is not just physical, but intimate, as you count their freckles and examine their tattoos. If they were attractive enough for you to want to sleep with them, chances are that your imagination picks up at the point where you get off. Since you know nothing about them, they’re like a blank canvas onto which you can project any fantasy of your choosing.
3. It will almost never last longer than a night.
You might be inclined to see the person again. “Round 2?” you suggest a week later via text. Maybe they’ll oblige and you’ll do it all over again. But it will lack the passion and excitement of that first time when you tore off each other’s clothes with a primal desire. The thrill of the new is gone; you’re yesterday’s catch, already fading in desirability like the old iPhone.
4. You gain more confidence…
Sex is a paradox; the more you suck, the better you feel. Experience leads to mastery in any field, and the more teachers you have, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more confidence you gain. You might wear your conquests like a badge of honor as you think about how many people you’ve seduced.
5. … But still question your desirability.
Since there are no Yelp reviews for one night stands, you don’t know if you’re the sexual equivalent of Tampax, good enough only for single use and discard.
6. It is still fun and exciting every time.
There aren’t many activities that don’t get old after years of practice. In that way sex is a bit like tennis. Each player (because, let’s be honest) brings their own technique and spin, making the game consistently fun and new. Also, everybody has a different body, and discovering it is akin to unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning.
7. You learn not to be clingy.
It’s possible that being inside you meant as much to them as an afternoon run to Rite Aid. Despite the fact that you’ve seen what they look like as they orgasm, the thought of texting them again frightens you. The possible ensuing rejection or non-response has so many implications — that you’re a bad lay, that they were only attracted enough to sleep with you once, that you’re the kind of person who develops feelings after a casual encounter.
8. It makes dating difficult.
If you’re used to sleeping around and can have sex relatively easily and string-free, it takes a special person to make you break the habit and want to get emotionally involved.
9. Intimacy is more valuable.
For some heterosexuals and nearly all homosexuals not related to the elephant man, sex is as readily available as HPV at a Miley Cyrus concert. That makes intimacy rare and special. Holding hands becomes a far deeper and more meaningful expression of affection than rolling around in bed.
10. It doesn’t cheapen love.
At the same time, sex can still be exalted and special with someone who inspires those sentiments. It’s not because a hundred lips have touched yours before that the lips of a true love are less magical. Maybe they are even more so because they stand out against the blurred history of all those that preceded.
11. Sometimes it’s forgettable.
After it’s done, it’s easy to forget the person, their name, and the smell of their body after a thorough shower. It was an insignificant, transient exchange that was never meant to last longer than an evening. Within those few hours a whole story is lived: Anticipation, discovery, climax, brief moments of closeness — and then a final goodbye.