I’m Tired Of Pretending I Like Hook Up Culture

@grisha4pz
@grisha4pz

I was in Brooklyn and bitter.

I hadn’t been to New York in almost two years and really wasn’t in a rush to return. The city has a specific heartbeat to it, one that some thrive on. It’s alive and sweating, with a pulse that seems to sway beneath the concrete.

But to someone like me? It’s overwhelming. It’s loud and in your face, all the things that make me want to hide under the comforter and only resurface when everyone has left.

And maybe the most difficult part of being in the Big Apple is one of sentimental value.

New York reminds me of the only person I’ve ever loved.

Every block is a reminder of his kind eyes, or the dimple on his cheek. It is whispers of the nights we spent in his tiny dorm room. New York is the embodiment of my most solid relationship falling apart. New York is my naive passion, my bold declarations, and my decision to finally end things.

So for me, being in New York is not a vacation. It’s not an adventure in the city that never sleeps. It hurts. It’s a huge open wound and I’m trying not to get more salt in it.

But I was in the city for work, something I’m lucky to be able to do and genuinely say I like it. Passion and paycheck don’t always coexist, so when they do, it’s a beautiful thing.

We had a few days before we were going into the office and for a few months I’d been talking to a guy who lives there. We figured this was the perfect chance to meet up. And of course you know by talking I don’t actually mean talking. We were regularly texting at around 11 pm.

The night bombed. Hard. I made the mistake of drinking while still having the muscle relaxants I took on the plane ride in my system. I was a mess. The guy was an asshole. It was nothing like I had hoped or pictured. And it ended with me crying until my eyes swelled shut wishing I could just hop another plane and go home. I didn’t want to be in that city with my bittersweet memories and men who saw me as disposable property.

Let me be clear, I didn’t even have sex with the guy. The night blew up far before it would have gotten to that point. But I’d be lying if I didn’t go into the evening thinking that’s where it would end. I rationalized it because I lived 3,000 miles away and when would we see each other again? I romanticized a hook up that, in reality, would have made me feel used, cheap, and even lonelier.

I’m sex positive, meaning so long as everyone is safe and consenting, I don’t care at all what people do. I applaud my girlfriends who are active in satiating their sexual appetites. I love them. I want to be like them.

But I don’t think I am.

Somewhere in my early 20s, I convinced myself I was. I’d kiss a boy in a bar because I thought I was supposed to. I thought to be young means you have to be a little reckless, that you shouldn’t be so stingy with your time.

I slept with a friend who I knew I’d never develop strong feelings for because I thought I should. I thought this is what you do. You hook up and you cut strings and you fly freely.

And then, it will be the next morning. The memories of having sex with someone I’m wildly in love with will come rushing back and even with a body next to mine, I’ll feel more alone than I’ve ever been.

I’m just tired of hook up culture. Not necessarily of it existing, but of convincing myself I have to like it.

I don’t. I’m allowed to want deep feelings. I’m allowed to crave emotional intimacy as much as I want the physical.

I’m too old to convince myself I’m something I’m not.

I want love and sex, and I want them to exist together. I’m done acting like I can separate the two. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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