Hookup Culture Is Killing My Self-Worth

When I was 16 years old, someone once told me that the best way to know if you’re ready to lose your virginity or not is if you could handle all the repercussions that could come along with someone else finding out. You were ready if the thought of someone else finding out no longer came across as such a threat. Once word went out, you would be able to hold yourself accountable to your actions and take on whatever may be thrown at you. You wouldn’t be phased, swayed, or left in regret if the thought of losing your virginity was a conversation up for grabs. And it took me losing my virginity to realize the one thing that this ideology was missing: the idea that not feeling regret doesn’t mean you’ll never feel hurt.

This is what my relationship with today’s hookup culture has taught me about myself.

You can touch me, but you can’t look.

Sounds gross, maybe pathetic, but there I said it. I’m human and I’m in your bedroom past midnight for the very same reason you have invited me here. Let’s not pretend we don’t know exactly where this is going. But here’s the thing, I am going to make sure the lights are off.

My body is one of my biggest insecurities, so the only way we will get this far is if I don’t exactly give it all away. I’ll do everything I can to hide myself from you and to feel as little exposed as possible. I’ll hide my face behind my hair, cover my chest with my hands and my arms, and we’ll have sex as long as it’s under the covers and under the condition that I get to hide the parts of me I could never allow you see.

Because if you saw my insecurities you could tap into all the vulnerabilities I pretend don’t exist.

I just don’t want you to see me, and all of me with my clothes on the floor and insecurities on the table, just for you to take one good look and one quick f*ck only to watch you walk away. Change your mind and, move onto the next one.

I’ve been working really hard on accepting myself and accepting that my body is not just any body, it’s my family line. Although my gene pool didn’t evolve me into Kendall Jenner, my body and I are still something special and worthy of receiving nothing short of that—despite the circumstances of my past that have left me feeling otherwise.

Today’s hookup culture has become an outlet for the control in my life I feel I’ve lost and need to gain back.

Sex may not mean much if anything to some people—and while there’s nothing wrong with that, the fact is, nine times out of 10, sex has always meant a hell of a lot to me. So whenever it meant something to me, but that feeling wasn’t reciprocated, I would have this awful mentality of wanting to even the score. If I felt used, I would turn around and use someone else too. It was this vicious cycle of me running in circles trying to normalize the idea that all we could ever be to one another is nothing. An idea I am finally coming to terms with is something I never had to accept, until I convinced myself it was the only option.

For me, it took seeing and being part of the ugliest and worst side of today’s hookup culture to realize what I truly want and deserve. The times I had to learn how to say no, the times where I wanted more than I received. It’s the times they told me to hold their dick instead of their hands. The times they said they wanted to see my body instead of look into my eyes.

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photo of a man carrying his partner

So yeah, my relationship with today’s hookup culture is synonymous to my relationship with myself. And as you can see, my relationship with myself can be just as black and white as it is grey and every shade of grey in-between. I’m still learning.

And despite all the above, I do believe one day I’ll be able to leave the lights on. Be exposed. And really, truly, love and be loved in return. Not for security, not for control, but just because.

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