Have you heard the news? Amber Davies, winner of 2017’s Love Island, has been giving advice to young people, who she thinks are having too much casual sex. Personally, I wasn’t aware that casual sex was a bad thing: surely it’s better than formal sex, where you have to get dressed in a full tuxedo or gown before you’re allowed to get down to it.
Joking aside: there’s no need to stigmatise casual sex. While sex with someone you know really well can be incredibly satisfying, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of joy to be had with people you’ve met fairly recently. I thought I’d have a go at rewriting Amber Davies’ 5 sex rules with a message that’s more inclusive and sex-positive.
1. Don’t have sex on the first date, if you don’t know the person, don’t have sex with the person. It’s all about self-respect.
Amber’s rule equates casual sex with a lack of self-respect, which is kind of strange when you think about it: having sex with people that you want to have sex with is a massive boost to your self-esteem, as well as a nice way to get physical pleasure (along with sex toys, of course). Amber’s rule rests on the assumption that sex is something people give away to a partner reluctantly, and that their self-respect takes a knock when they have to part with this precious thing. In reality, sex that you have because you want it is an empowering and downright enjoyable thing to do.
My replacement rule?
Forget arbitrary rules about the number of dates: shag someone if and when you both really want to do it. That might be on date one, date three, date twenty, or ten minutes after your eyes met across a crowded room at a house party.
2. If there’s alcohol involved ask yourself, are you going to regret it in the morning because when you’re under the influence of alcohol you become a lot more vulnerable, male and female
Where alcohol is involved you need to tread very carefully with sexual interactions, especially ones with people you don’t know well. However I don’t think your primary concern here should be whether you might regret the encounter the next day: it’s more important to be mindful of the impact that alcohol can have on both you and your partner.
First thing’s first: if someone is completely hammered, don’t sleep with them. That’s a nice, simple, blanket rule. If they’re really eager to tear your clothes off, your sex appeal won’t disappear in a puff of smoke if you wait until tomorrow when they’ve sobered up. Sex isn’t a race: you can take your time, and being too drunk is a very good reason to hit the ‘pause’ button.
The main thing to focus on is listening to what your partner wants – by tuning in to their body language and responses as well as listening to verbal cues. Don’t ever be scared to ask: “is this OK? Do you like this? What would you like to happen next?” and give them plenty of opportunity to stop things if they need to.
My replacement rule:
Certain things – like alcohol, drugs, or tiredness – can make consent harder to navigate, especially in casual sex scenarios. So turn your ‘listening’ dial up to 11, and stop if you think either of you isn’t able to give an enthusiastic ‘yes.’
3. Don’t think sex is to impress, I think females and males would be a lot more impressed if you don’t put out on the first date.
If Amber’s not impressed by sex on a first date, that’s fair enough, but plenty of people are. In fact, hookup apps like Feeld and Grindr are full to bursting with folks who’ll not just be impressed that you shag on a first date, that’s exactly what they’re hoping for! This rule’s all about compatibility, folks, so here’s my alternative:
Don’t think sex is to impress: sex is meant to be fun. Your partner is more likely to be impressed if you listen to them, communicate with them, and have a great time in bed together rather than if you pick an arbitrary date on which to ‘do it.’
4. We are absolutely binning the saying ‘no strings attached’ or ‘friends with benefits’, us females we all know we get emotionally attached after sex, so if you don’t want to get hurt, don’t do it.
Massive generalisation alert! ‘Us females’ are quite a broad group of people, and we all want different things. Some of us will get emotionally attached after sex (as will people of other genders), and some of us won’t. Personally, I used to feel like a bit of a freak when I was younger, because I very much enjoyed having casual (or ‘friends with benefits’) sex without feeling like that had to lead to a more romantic relationship. I’ve always enjoyed shagging my friends: my friends are nice! Why wouldn’t I?
Have whatever relationships work for you and the people you’re with. That might be romantic relationships, friends with benefits, casual/occasional shags or one-night-stands. The most important thing is that everyone involved is open and honest about what they want, and respects the others’ choices.
5. You’re not crazy, or needy to demand self-respect, don’t follow the crowd, only because sex has become so casual nowadays, doesn’t mean you have to do it, so stand up for yourself.
This one… Oh. Now this is a surprise! I actually entirely agree with it. You don’t need to follow the crowd or do what you think is ‘expected’ of you! If everyone around you is having casual sex, but you don’t fancy it, that’s totally fine. And likewise if everyone around you is pressuring you not to have casual sex, but you still want to do it, that’s fine too. I’m delighted that there’s one thing Amber and I agree on, and I hope that at some point this message of self-respect and acceptance can be extended to those who enjoy casual sex too.
As I go through these rules and try to write new ones, I know that even the ones I’ve written above will have their flaws – someone I’ve missed out, or scenarios I haven’t considered. So don’t take my word for it all: spend a bit of time working out exactly what you want from any sexual scenario, and maybe even come up with a few rules of your own that are tailored to your own personal needs, not what I or Amber Davies think you should do.