As some of you might’ve noticed, I’ve created a new tab on my blog entitled “Ask Katy,” where my readers can pose questions and I’ll do my best (with my considerably limited relationship expertise) to answer them. Last week I received one message in particular that struck a chord within me and so—
One, two-week hiatus later, I’m back with yet another millennial rambling about sex.
“Sometimes I have moments where I'm like "fuck it, I'm young, I enjoy sex, I don't need the love" but then I have moments where I feel super guilty about enjoying sex and not having someone who loves me.
I know you said in one of your videos that you have yet to hook up with someone that you love and who loves you so I was just wondering how you keep yourself from getting down about not having that love?”
I hear ya, Bruna. On one hand, I’m that independent-creative-don’t-need-no-boyfriend-badass-bitch but on the other, I’m the hopeless romantic who constantly has her head on a swivel for love. Sometimes I feel empowered and other times I feel overcome with guilt.
This begs the question: why, so often, are we two-faced when it comes to our urges— both sexually and romantically?
By acting impulsively when it comes to casual hook-ups are we doing ourselves a disservice?
Taking the side of being pro-casual sex as a young, millennial woman is a very glorified concept these days. Swipe twice to the right on Snapchat and almost 90% of the “top news stories” pay homage to a celebrity’s breasts or “what he LOVES in bed.”
The times have certainly changed. It’s simply no longer “on trend” to be tight-lipped when it comes to your sexuality and what you do behind closed doors.
After all, we’re living in an age where it’s legal for women to walk around topless in New York City while our counterparts in the 1940’s were considered slutty for publicly showcasing their knees.
The millennial age might as well coin the tagline “getting what I want instantaneously with the least amount of effort.” The fact that with just several iPhone taps we can order a juicy burger to our bedsides is justification enough.
We want it now and lose interest when we don’t experience that instant gratification. Think Veruca Salt and the golden egg from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For this reason, we really can’t blame ourselves for being impulsive when it comes to casual hook-ups.
The hard-to-admit truth: we rarely have the patience to wait around for the real thing so we settle for anything that closely resembles it. We hate to admit this because it makes us look easy and desperate, but it’s the truth.
Granted, we won’t hook-up with just anyone, but if they have the audacity to text us in the daytime or even pay for our dinner, it’s a totally different story. A real love story in the making, am I right?
You can stand on your soap box and proclaim, “The casual hook-up culture is getting the Millennial age nowhere! We need to stop giving into our urges!” but still find yourself at the club just one vodka cran away from an impulsive, drunken hook-up. *sigh*
So as you lay in bed reliving your latest impetuous male encounter that you promised yourself would never happen again— but did, allow me to ease your mind.
It’s not you, it’s your cortex.
(And no, I’m not talking about a hair styling tool.)
The brain’s cortex is the wrinkly outer layer of gray matter that dictates decision-making and self-control. Not too long ago, some mega smart researchers in Connecticut lead a study on 1,200 healthy Millennial brains with no history of substance-abuse or psychiatric disorders. They analyzed the participants’ cortexes and their reactions to scenarios that could potentially involve acting impulsively.
The researchers found that of the participants, those who were inclined to “seek thrills and/or act impulsively” had a thinner cortex than those who didn’t. The thickness of your brain’s cortex and your aptness to commit impulsive deeds are directly correlated.
Not to say that this should encourage you to jump off a cliff proclaiming “it’s not me, it’s my cortex!!” but at least you’re now aware that it isn’t solely your conscious behavior that propels you into bed with a stranger. It’s your subconscious.
Going back to Bruna’s question— how do we avoid finding ourselves buried in the Millennial hook-up culture rut? And if we’re going to give in, how do we deal with the regretful aftermath?
Identify your interests, your hopes, your dreams; anything that gets you out of bed in the morning and leaves you exhausted yet satisfied at the end of the day.
If your participation in the Millennial hook-up culture threatens any of the above in your daily life, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Your thinner cortex might justify your rash behavior on paper, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to consciously evaluate whether your subconscious is getting the better of you.
For impulsive people like myself, it takes a lot of deliberate, conscious “I will not do this again. I can not do this again” energy to combat my bad decisions. Every time I encounter a trigger (late night text, flirty conversation at the bar, proposition for an intimate dinner date) I squeeze my eyes shut and tell myself “I won’t. I’ll wait. I won’t.”
But sometimes we get tired of fighting. Sometimes it just feels really good in the moment to leap instead of timidly standing at the edge of the cliff, weighing our options, watching the spontaneous situation slip out of our grasp.
It’s hard, simply because casual hook-ups align with the Millennial ideal of instant gratification that I discussed earlier. If we want it now, we can have it now, low-risk and casual. What could be better?
It’s exhilarating to participate in something so spontaneous that come Monday morning will be reduced to just a story we tell our friends. “And you won’t believe what happened next…,” she said, as her friends eagerly, hungry for every last detail of her steamy affair.
Bottom line: I can’t say that I’m entirely for or entirely against today’s hook-up culture. While it’s great that we’re open about our sexuality, I do feel that some people sleep around to avoid whatever deeper issues are nagging at their hearts.
If you find yourself like Bruna and myself, struggling with our constantly flip-flopping perception of ‘to sleep with him or to not sleep with him,’ you aren’t alone. In fact, I’d go to the extent of saying that every single Millennial has struggled with this at least once.
So you slept with that guy you said you never would? You responded to that sleazy 1:30 a.m. bootycall text? You did something that has sent you on a spiraling-out-of-control journey of self-hatred?
Perhaps you just got tired of fighting and wanted something exciting to happen to you for once?
You’re not a slut. What you did last night does not define you.
Be the type of person that could be so hurt but still manage see the good in the world; to find that silver-lining. After all, the greatest creatives, artists, and musicians to ever exist had experienced a bout of sadness or two. They channelled the melancholy that they felt into explosive and colorful works of art.
You’d be surprised how massive and full of opportunity the world appears to be when you’re sitting at the bottom. Like a series of levels at the subway station, sometimes you have to go down before you can go up and find the right track. A change in perspective, even if it takes a negative event to get you there, is necessary for growth.
If an author came out with a book with zero conflict, I doubt a single copy would be sold. Conflict and rising from the ashes makes for a great story.
Remember this: no one actually knows what they're doing all of the time. No one truly has their "shit together" 24/7. It's okay to be confused about it all. No one embarks on a seamless journey to self-discovery. Take each day as it comes. You'll get it right someday and when you do, you'll look back on all of this confusion as the winding path that eventually got you there.