How to Do It

I Just Slept With a Guy for the First Time Since COVID. I Can’t Believe the First Thing He Said to Me.

Woman in bed, typing on her phone on her nightstand.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Viacheslav Peretiatko/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear How to Do It,

As a single woman in my 30s, I didn’t have much sex during COVID. Now that things (including my legs) are starting to open up again, I recently had my first one-night stand in years. I met him at a bar and sparks flew immediately. Despite being a nice guy all evening, including paying my tab, the first thing out of his mouth during sex just completely stunned me.

“You dirty little slut.” You dirty little slut. It hurt my feelings, and I made it clear that I was not a slut. He became very quiet, but I could tell from his eyes that he was into me, or at least having sex with me. Meanwhile, my confidence was shattered, but I decided to make the best of it. I’m not accustomed to calling the shots during sex, but I started telling him exactly what I wanted him to do, and he did a great job. The only other thing he said to me during sex was that my breasts were perfect, which I know is not true, but is maybe the nicest thing anyone has said about my body during sex.

Immediately after sex, he fumbled out “I love you.” I was definitely not feeling the same way, especially since he had called me a slut only a few minutes before, so I told him to leave. After thinking things over, I’m worried that maybe I reacted too harshly. I think we had a real connection, and I know I’ve said dumb shit over the years, but should I overlook his first statement and give him a second chance?

—No One’s Slut

Rich: This is just escalating cringe—the Cringeatron, just a roller coaster constantly ascending.

Stoya: I cringed so hard I had to put my forehead in my hand.

Rich: Honestly, the “I love you” made me cringe the hardest.

Stoya: I’m like, OK, we could have a great conversation about “slut” and “dirty little slut” and all that, but this first-date-sex-“I love you” …

Rich: So that’s oxytocin speaking, but still, you’re a grown man. Control your oxytocin.

Stoya: I don’t know if I have a pathological aversion to an early “I love you.” Maybe there’s a lot of love in the world that I’m rejecting based on it being super early, but it always gives me a lot of pause, because I’m like, “You don’t know me.”

Rich: Totally. All you know is the chemicals in your brain and your own experience, and it feels a very selfish kind of love, in a way.

Stoya: Yeah. If your love is based on “I made you feel good with my dick,” I don’t want that love.

Rich: I’ve felt that during sex with virtual strangers, but I feel like at least I have the good sense not to say it. And if I love this sex so much that I love you at this moment, I want to do it again, and if I say “I love you,” that might ensure that I never get it again. So let’s be pragmatic here, buddy.

Stoya: Yeah. So I would think through how you feel about this love. What does love mean to you? Do you accept this person loving you in the moment based on a one-night stand? And if the answer is no, then don’t even worry about the “dirty little slut” thing.

But if you’re like, “Yeah, I’m open to that. Love’s everywhere. I love freely, exuberantly, immediately,” then great, awesome. You had good sex after a hiccup. I don’t understand you, but I trust you to take care of yourself as an adult in her 30s.

Rich: Right. So I think similar to saying “I love you” way too early, calling someone a “dirty little slut” as the first thing that you say to them while you’re having sex is a bad miscalculation. It doesn’t necessarily bespeak a bad person, but this guy is not particularly well-primed with social etiquette it seems, at minimum.

Stoya: I think this is porn’s fault. I accept the blame for my part in this. I have definitely participated in scenes where I’m like, “Oh, you’re getting off on calling me a dirty little slut.” But now with the distance of age, I’m like, perhaps they weren’t—perhaps they didn’t enjoy it at all. But you’re in a sex scene, and so the boundaries are wider and things I don’t particularly like generally … on a porn set, if it seems it’s working for the other person, I will go with it longer and more intentionally than I would if I was in a recreational setting. And there’s a lot of, “You dirty little slut.” It’s all over the place. I don’t know if it’s the same in gay porn.

Rich: I mean, sometimes it’ll be like, “faggot.” There can be that verbal degradation. I think that a lot of guys get off on that. I think it’s probably less a problem, just the patriarchy being what it is (even though obviously, homophobia can reverberate through life), and maybe that is somewhat embracing it. I think to eroticize that can actually be very useful for people to kind of turn it around, flip it on its head, and be like, “Oh, no, I’m reclaiming this actually.”

Stoya: Yeah. That can definitely be almost like a healing experience for people. For me, the “little” thing is what’s the most… I’m like, OK, I am kind of dirty in a number of ways, but it’s the “little.” No, I am a grown human.

Rich: And what is that saying about your eroticization? And I don’t want to unfairly rake anyone over the coals for their fantasies, but I don’t know, you’re bringing “little” into it? So maybe keep that to yourself.

Stoya: Yeah. It’s just very socially awkward to come out with “dirty,” “little,” and “slut” all at once during a first hookup, it being the first thing that you say during sex. It’s like, “Whoa. Pump the brakes, slow down a little bit. Let’s have a conversation about nuance and what we’re into.”

Rich: Right. You just assumed a whole lot. In addition to porn, my reading is that potentially he had a sexual relationship in the past where this language was part of the lexicon. It worked for his partner. He’s like, “This is what people must like,” kind of like extrapolating, and it was a miscalculation.

Stoya: Sexuality is so complex and so individual, and for a lot of us, changes from moment to moment, or day to day. And so it’s really checking in, even with a long-term partner. I’m really into comets where it’s like, “I see you once or twice a year,” and it’s lovely. And so you want to get at the weather report, and be like, “Hey, I haven’t seen you, much less had sex with you in six months. Where are you at? How can we get on the same page today?”

Rich: I’m the kind of person that, if I have good sex with somebody today, then I’m going to want it tomorrow. But there are definitely guys that are not like that. And I think it’s kind of similar to the “I love you” too early; you don’t want to be so latching on, that it pushes them away. Oftentimes with these people, they might not seem too interested that week, but then you see them again in six months and it’s like, “Oh, yeah. It’s on.”

I think that the writer definitely wants to have sex with this guy again. I don’t think he did anything that’s so bad that he should be verboten to her. So maybe a conversation needs to be initiated that’s like, “What was up with that? Why did you call me that?”

Stoya: The great thing about a one-night stand, if you want to continue it, is you know where you stand. So you’re in a perfect position to say, “Hey, I’d love to see you again. Let’s have a frank discussion about sex. Let’s talk about the sex we had. Let’s talk about what I liked. Let’s talk about what I didn’t like. What does love mean to you?” The cards are all on the table. It’s not like a second date where you’re hoping you’ll kiss with tongue, but you’re not sure what else is going to happen, and so you feel like it might be presumptive to bring up sex. You’ve already done it. He called you a dirty little slut. You can ask very bluntly, “What was up with that?”

Rich: In other words, stakes are low. You have nothing to lose. You either initiate this conversation and it goes the way that you want, you end up having sex again, or you don’t. And at least you have a more sort of definitive conclusion than just not trying it again.

Stoya: Yeah. And then you know.

More How to Do It

I met a guy on a dating app in November 2019. We hit it off immediately and had a lot in common, and we were looking for something similar. We made several attempts to make plans that kept getting canceled (we both have busy, constantly changing work schedules), and then COVID happened. We ended up meeting in person finally (masked up and safe) later and continued to see each other. About a week before he was supposed to start a new job out of state, he didn’t return any of my texts. We didn’t normally go more than a few days without texting, so I was worried. I knew he wasn’t on social media, but ended up searching for him on LinkedIn, and it turned out we had a shared connection. It also turns out that the name he gave me when we met (and on the dating app) wasn’t his actual name—he gave me a different first name. OK, now I’m curious. So I Googled him, and my god.